From RX-78 To Unicorn: Exploring The Rich Gundam Timeline
For over 40 years, the Gundam franchise has told stories across multiple timelines and universes.
What began in 1979 with the iconic RX-78 Gundam has blossomed into an expansive lore with hundreds of mobile suits and pivotal characters. While casual fans may be familiar with the original series and its successors, the full breadth and interconnectedness of the Gundam multiverse spans eras, conflicts, and technologies far beyond Amuro Ray’s RX-78.
Let’s embark on a journey through Gundam’s rich, layered history.
Our starting point is Universal Century (UC) 0079 and the One Year War – the setting for the Mobile Suit Gundam TV series that launched the phenomenon. Focusing on teenage pilot Amuro Ray and the revolutionary RX-78 Gundam mobile suit, the original series established core Gundam themes of war, heroism, and coming of age.
This main UC timeline continues through pivotal conflicts like the Gryps Conflict (UC 0087), chronicled in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, and the Second Neo Zeon War (UC 0093) in Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack. Series like Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket and The 08th MS Team provide additional UC 0079 side stories.
Gundam Wing – Alternate Universes Begin
Branching into an alternate universe, After Colony (AC) depicts the political tensions between Earth and the space colonies leading to Operation Meteor in AC 195, covered extensively in the New Mobile Report Gundam Wing. This standalone timeline features heroic Gundam pilots Heero Yuy and Duo Maxwell battling the oppressive Organization of the Zodiac (OZ) using iconic suits like Wing Gundam Zero.
SEED And The Cosmic Era
The Cosmic Era (CE) timeline began when humans migrated into space and lived in orbital colonies after climate change and wars devastated Earth. There is prejudice between normal humans called “Naturals” and those genetically enhanced Coordinators.
The neutral space colony Heliopolis is attacked by ZAFT (Zodiac Alliance of Freedom Treaty), a military organization of Coordinators. Teenage Coordinator Kira Yamato takes control of the advanced Strike Gundam mobile suit built secretly on Heliopolis to fend off ZAFT, initially to protect his friends Like Gundam pharact.
Kira joins the Earth Alliance warship Archangel, though he is reluctant to fight. He battles ZAFT ace Rau Le Creuset and others across Earth and space to stop Le Creuset’s plans to cause nuclear devastation. The Archangel crew includes Kira’s friend Sai, captain Murrue Ramius, and pilots Mu La Flaga and Natarle Badgiruel.
On the ZAFT side, Kira’s childhood friend Athrun Zala pilots the Aegis Gundam against him. Their conflict symbolizes the divisions between Coordinators and Naturals. Kira and Athrun struggle with their loyalties while attempting to minimize casualties on both sides.
The sequel Gundam SEED Destiny shows a new conflict between ZAFT and the Earth Alliance’s OMNI forces 3 years later, with Kira and Athrun again caught in the middle. Other side stories like Gundam SEED Astray expand the CE universe with new mobile suits and characters.
Future Century – G Gundam And Build Fighters
The Future Century timeline forms the lively setting for 1994’s Mobile Fighter G Gundam series, portraying the action-packed Gundam Fight tournament occurring every four years to determine which space colony reigns supreme.
Hotheaded pilot Domon Kasshu fights for Neo Japan using his Shining Gundam amid egocentric rivals and intrigue surrounding the Devil Gundam system. The series’ arena-based mobile suit combat and wildly diverse Gundam designs, including windmill turbines and dragon heads, made G Gundam a uniquely thrilling and unorthodox alternate universe departure for the franchise.
In a similar vein, 2013’s Gundam Build Fighters envisions student rivalries, friendships, and competitive spirit surrounding Gunpla model battles featuring limitless mobile suit customization through kit-bashing and painting.
Both series proved that Gundam could successfully embrace more lighthearted, sports-drama tones than war stories.
Anno Domini And Gundam 00
The Anno Domini (AD) era timeline depicts an alternate science fiction history beginning in AD 2314 and forms the setting for 2007’s Mobile Suit Gundam 00. The series follows the exploits of the paramilitary organization Celestial Being and their fleet of revolutionary high-performance Gundam mobile suit units code-named after the Seven Swords.
Celestial Being’s controversial goal of eradicating global war and moving humanity toward a unified future leads to ethical dilemmas and uncovering a sinister alien conspiracy tied to extraterrestrial interventions in human evolution.
With its crisp digital animation and polarized world politics, Gundam 00 ignited renewed mainstream international interest in the greater Gundam fictional universe. Its balance of real robot military action and allegory for modern geopolitical tensions helped bring new generations of fans into the franchise.
Of course, discussion of Gundam’s legacy must include UC 0096 and the mysterious Unicorn Gundam hidden for decades. Its revelation triggers a fight over hidden secrets and forgotten histories tied to the very origins of human space colonization and new types. The epic scope and stunning animation of Gundam Unicorn make it required viewing for all Gundam faithful.
Gundam has proven its storytelling versatility across self-contained and interconnected histories, from military science fiction to coming-of-age dramas to strategic space combat.
As long as some dare to believe in a better future, the Gundam timeline remains limitless.