In Universal Century 0079, the Earth Federation is at war with the Principality of Zeon, located at the space colonies of Side 3. The Zeon have made devastating blows by dropping a colony on Australia and using nuclear weapons against colonies. Eight months of stalemate follow. Three Zaku II mobile suits piloted by Denim, Gene and Slender enter the space colony at Side 7 to spy on the Earth Federation Forces’ Operation V. An evacuation alarm is sounded inside the colony, but computer geek Amuro Ray doesn’t notice it until his friend Fraw Bow comes to tell him. Fraw scolds Amuro’s neighbor Hayato Kobayashi for not telling Amuro, and Hayato says the evacuation is the fault of military engineers like Amuro’s father. In space, the new Pegasus class assault carrier White Base is followed by Zeon ace pilot Char Aznable’s Falmer cruiser. Aboard the White Base, mobile suit designer Tem Ray is escorted by young officer Bright Noa, who spots Amuro’s picture. Tem asks about rumors that children as young as Amuro are fighting in the war as guerillas, and Bright notes that he’s heard the same. Inside the colony, Gene spots a truck carrying mobile suits and decides to violate orders by attacking it. He tells Denim that Char built his career on fighting, and no one prosecutes winners. In space, Char is surprised that he has stumbled upon the EFF’s secret new mobile suits, but his subordinate Dren doubts that the EFF has mobile suits at Side 7. Gene continues his attack and destroys carriers containing the EFF’s prototype Guntank and Guncannon mobile suits. Amuro hears the explosions from inside the shelter and decides to investigate. The citizens ask him to stay, and he says he’s going to find his father and ask for an evacuation to the EFF warship. When Amuro leaves and gets into his car, he is shocked to see a Zaku up close. He meets several EFF officers and asks where his father might be. A stray rocket kills them and destroys their jeep. Following the explosion, a book lands near Amuro. He begins to read it and is shocked to see that it is the instruction manual to the EFF’s top secret mobile suit, the Gundam.
Char is briefed on the situation by Slender and is surprised that Denim couldn’t control a rookie like Gene. He decides he might have to go inside Side 7 himself. Amuro begins to read the manual, and Fraw tries to get him to move. Nearby, Tem supervises the loading of the Gundam onto an elevator and says it must be loaded before the civilians. Amuro runs over to his father and asks if mobile suits are more important than people, and Tem tells Amuro to escape to the White Base. A nearby explosion kills many citizens, including Fraw’s mother, Fam. Amuro slaps Flaw to snap her back to her senses and tells her to run, so she slowly walks away with his Haro toy robot. As the Zakus approach, Amuro runs back to the truck and gets inside the Gundam. He activates it and begins messing with the controls. Gene spots the Gundam and shoots at it, but his bullets just bounce off. As Amuro tries to get the Gundam to stand, he fires the head-mounted vulcan guns. He misses, and Gene rushes in to fire at point blank range. The Gundam backs off, and Gene thinks it’s afraid of him. Amuro grabs the Zaku and manhandles it, knocking it aside and damaging its main camera. Denim orders Gene to escape and meet up with Slender. As Gene tries to escape, Amuro chases him and cuts the Zaku in half. The resulting explosion blasts a hole in the colony and sucks Tem into space. As Denim moves in to attack, Amuro aims for the cockpit so that it doesn’t explode and cause all the air to leak out. Denim leaps toward the Gundam, and Amuro drives the beam saber through the Zaku cockpit. Bright supervises the evacuation of the citizens to the White Base and says that the pilot of the Gundam will have to help out. Slender manages to escape, and the Falmer fires missiles at the colony.
So there’s the first episode of the series that started it all. It gets off to a slow start, and the first set of episodes aren’t as fast paced as its sequel, Zeta Gundam. Then again, this series had the task of establishing the Gundam universe, and it does it well. The One Year War is explained, Char is established as an ace pilot and antagonist, and Amuro unwillingly becomes the Gundam’s pilot. Though this series was groundbreaking and established the real robot genre, it still follows several super robot clichés. Note that the Gundam is an invincible mecha created by Amuro’s father, a scientist. Those are two common super robot clichés that are seen frequently. One of the biggest complaints I hear about this series is the dated animation. This show is decades old and looks it, but animation doesn’t matter much to me. What I care about is a good story and good characters. This series has plenty of that. Here we can see legendary anime characters like Amuro and Char for the first time. That’s enough for me to forgive the animation.