Gundam has only evolved visually in the slightest of ways since its inception in 1979, which has got to be a testimony to the ongoing credibility of the legendary Sunrise animation classic. Now a massive franchise that includes TV and film alike, it has even been ported to computer games, with its most recent incarnation being Gundam 3DS on the Nintendo 3DS.
Starting life as TV series called Mobile Suit Gundam on Nagoya Broadcasting Network, Gundam was actually not a massive hit straight away. The initial series was cancelled. However, a swooping move from Bandai for the rights to the series' toys and the release of Gundam model toys gave the concept a new lease of life.
The plot of the original Gundam centres around the aftermath of the declaration of war by the Principality of Zeon against the Earth Federation following its devolution. With the advantage of mobile suit technology, the Principality is able to steal a march initially. However, the opening storyline picks up on the arrival of a Federation ship at a top secret research base, with Zeon forces hot on their tail. When a Zeon squadron member attaches the colony where the research base is located, a young local, Amuro Ray, puts everything right when he stumbles across the new weapon being developed at the base, the RX-78 Gundam, by his father. The survivors of the colony and base return to the ship to escape and what follows is the epic adventure of the war.
The story was also converted to novel form in 1979 by Sunrise creator Yoshiyuki Tomino, with its slightly amended storyline from the original animated series.
Many of the old, original Mobile Suit Gundam series are now available to watch for free on video channels like You Tube. However, following the eventual, Bandai inspires success of Mobile Suit Gundam, Sunrise Studios returned with the next installment in 1985 entitled, Suit Zeta Gundam, and then again in 1986 with Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ.
Throughout the rest of the 80s, 90s and 2000s, TV series, compilation movies and films have continued on with the massive entertainment legacy of Gundam. Over its time in many media productions and toy models, Gundam has become a national treasure in Japan and a multi-billion dollar business.
It has been adapted to computer games too, with its earlier incarnations being released on the NES, Super Nintendo and even the old Virtual Boy that hardly saw the light of day. In more recent years it's been produced on the Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, as well as all of the Playstation devices. It's most recent development is delivered in stereoscopic 3D brilliance on the Nintendo 3DS. Gundam 3DS continues the hand held adaptation of the games that started life on the Nintendo Game Boy.
While Gundam has not really seen the same level of popularity throughout the rest of the world as it experiences in Japan, it has build a strong and loyal following. Maybe Gundam 3DS will be the entertainment news that takes the mecha-men to the world.