Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, Vol. 1

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin Volume 1 by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko

It has been a long long time since I’ve encountered the Gundam franchise. I’m familiar with the basic story, but the Gundam that made a big impression on me wasn’t the first series but Zeta Gundam, which I watched back in the day when people’s only access to anime was attending random university-affiliated clubs that showed fansubbed VHS tapes. I don’t even remember very much about Zeta Gundam other than the fact that young teenage me thought it was awesome. Most anime mecha featuring protagonists with daddy issues owe a lot to the original Gundam series, so it was fun to experience it again through this manga interpretation.

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin opens with a glimpse of a future where the human race has a tenuous hold on life in outer space. Humans have migrated to space colonies, which are now gripped in a civil war as the colony Zeon has decided to become independent. Amuro Ray is the young teenage protagonist, and while he does fit in generally with the type of character the reader would expect to see, he’s still interesting and sympathetic. He’s a moody teenage boy who spends his spare time neglecting to clean his room and hacking into his father’s work computer. His father is a scientist who has invented a new type of Zaku (mechanized battle suit). Amuro is out with his friend Fraw when their colony is attacked by Zeon fighters. Amuro stumbles across the unmanned Gundam prototype that he recognizes from his father’s plans and he throws himself into the defense of his colony. Amuro changes from frightened to angry when he sees the civilians under attack, and he stumbles through his first battle aided more by the Gundam’s advanced capabilities than his own skill.

One of the interesting things about Mobile Suit Gundam is the way the story doesn’t only focus on giant battle robots with light sabers fighting each other. The military ship protecting the colony has to take on a large influx of civilian refugees. Amuro is installed as the pilot of the Gundam, and Fraw starts helping out with the civilians. Char Aznable, the masked commander who is the Zeon ace pilot is the Red Baron to Amuro’s Snoopy, but Char is dealing with his own troubles related to the way he keeps losing Zaku that go up against the Gundam prototype. Char’s skills as a pilot outmatch Amuro, but he seems to enjoy the challenge provided by the advanced weaponry of the Gundam. As Char and Amuro clash, Char is toying with the young pilot in a gleeful way that makes him a very entertaining villain. In addition to the growing rivalry between Char and Amuro, there’s a well-developed supporting cast. I was particularly fond of Sayla, whose imperious attitude and willingness to brandish a gun were a good contrast to Fraw’s more gentle personality. Seeing Bright struggle with his new command responsibilities as well as Amuro’s issues with dealing with military protocol helped enhance the general sense of the story taking place in a larger society, where the civilian and military points of view were often at odds even in the middle of a war.

I had a pleasant jolt of nostalgia as I was reading when I encountered dialog like “Release the Minovsky particles at battle density!” and to and was able to experience again what an intriguing antagonist Char Aznable is. This is without a doubt one of the nicest manga volumes I’ve owned, since Vertical chose to print this in an oversized hardcover format with glossy paper. This is a must buy for any past and present Gundam fans, and if you haven’t encountered the franchise before, I’m betting this manga will win you over. I’m actually happy that I don’t remember the exact details of this story so I can be pleasantly surprised as the story unfolds in the next three volumes.

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.


  1. Very nice review. Just a small correction:
    Amuro’s father helped to develop a new type of *mobile suit*, which is the term for “mechanized battle suit” you describe. *Zaku* is a specific model of mobile suit, mass-produced by Zeon. Zakus were what allowed Zeon to dominate the early stages of their war for independence from the Earth Federation, despite their inferior economy and access to natural resources. (Backstory for readers unfamiliar with it: the invention of the “Minovsky particle,” which blocks electromagnetic signals such as communication and missile guidance, made long-range weaponry obsolete. This meant that military conflicts had to be fought at close range, which is where the mobile suits come in.)

    Gundam (along with Gun Tank and Gun Cannon) is the Federation’s answer to the Zaku, an all-around superior mobile suit hoped to turn the tide of the war. Throughout the series, superior mobile suits and other piloted mechs are introduced, revealing the technological arms race between Zeon and the Federation.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.