Anime DVD Review: Mobile Suit Gundam Complete Collection 1

The Mobile Suit Gundam Complete Collection 1 DVD box set includes four DVDs with 21 episodes of the first Mobile Suit Gundam anime series. The episodes in this set have Japanese dialogue with English subtitles and English dialogue.

Mobile Suit Gundam Complete Collection 1
English Publisher: Bandai Entertainment
Format: DVD
Release Date: September 13, 2011

When I heard about this series originally being released in Japan in 1979, I had wondered why there hadn’t been an attempt to dub the series into English and broadcast it in America in the early 1980s to capitalize on the success that Space Battleship Yamato had achieved when it was dubbed into English and renamed Star Blazers.

After watching this set, I understand why this had been the case. It turns out that there is some very noticeable death and pathos in some of the episodes, and it would have been too difficult to cover it up by saying these people were still alive and would be sent to the hospital planet. And since the anime that was being dubbed into English in the 1980s was being aimed at the children’s market, there was no way to make this series work for that market without destroying it.

As I watched the set, I realized that Mobile Suit Gundam was a missing “bridge” between Space Battleship Yamato and Macross and Southern Cross. There were some elements that I could clearly identify as having been inspired by Yamato, yet I could also see elements in this Gundam series that could be seen as having inspired some ideas that would later appear in the first Macross anime series as well as in Southern Cross.

The story of Mobile Suit Gundam is set in the Universal Century year 0079. Space colonies have been built, and one of the colonies (the Principality of Zeon) has declared independence from the Earth Federation. Zeon has launched a war against the Earth Federation, and has developed a new type of weapon called a mobile suit.

At the beginning of the series, the Earth Federation has developed a new ship called the White Base as well as its own mobile suit (which is called a Gundam). When the White Base goes to one of the colonies to pick up the mobile suit, the colony is attacked by Zeon.

Through a series of events, a young man named Amuro Ray finds the mobile suit and its manual; he is able to pilot the Gundam and neutralize the situation. Amuro, his friend Fraw Bow, as well as several others, end up aboard the White Base; those who end up on board are either civilians who are put into action or are refugees. The series follows the White Base as it returns to Earth and tries to get into Earth Federation territory.

Admittedly, this Gundam series does take a little while to get going; however, after you get past the initial episodes, the series really does improve. By the end of the final disc, I found myself wanting to watch more of the series in order to find out how the story progresses.

When it comes to the DVDs included in this box, each disc contains the following extras: English Credits, trailers for properties that Bandai was promoting at the time this DVD set was released, and DVD Credits. Among the trailers was one Turn A Gundam, and I literally groaned out loud when I saw it due to the fact that Bandai had cancelled the release of the title after this DVD set was released.

If you’re a die-hard Gundam fan, then this release should be in your anime collection if it isn’t already. If you’re not already familiar with the Gundam franchise or with this particular Gundam series but have an interest in mecha anime, then it would be worth it to find a way to watch the episodes on this set. Not only would it be a good way to get a feel for the Gundam universe, but it would also expose you to a piece of anime history.

Unfortunately, Bandai USA has gone out of business and this box set has gone out of print. If you’re interested in acquiring this box set, I would recommend shopping around at various online and brick and mortar retailers that sell used DVDs in order to find the best price you can for it.

I wrote this review after checking out a copy of Mobile Suit Gundam Complete Collection 1 through the King County Library System.

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