"What is 'Gundam', anyway?" This simple (?) question is answered in our seventh casual weekly column just for new fans!
by Ema Baba
Here we are making it rain with a 7th super-simple column for new Gundam fans!
was Gundam faces and coloring, and then
was masked men and Haro.
was all about the Universal Century,
was mobile suits,
took on MSVs, and
covered the "Zaku" and "GM", but this week we've got one more really iconic piece of Gundam.
What makes a Gundam? Lately, equipment swaps!?
This week we're talking about the new trend where Gundams, or at least the main character's Gundam, can "swap" their "equipment".
I know it seems like I'm setting up a pop quiz when I throw around new words like that, but don't worry.
Just think of it this way: if you're driving in the snow, you might "swap" on new "equipment" by putting chains on your tires, right?
So if you want to upgrade your mobile suit's performance, why not tune it up with new parts rather than trading it in for a whole new suit?
I mean, it makes perfect sense. Mobile suits may be weapons, but they're also vehicles.
The trend toward powerups based on equipment swaps is especially visible in the recent
Mobile Suit Gundam SEED
Mobile Suit Gundam SEED DESTINY
Mobile Suit Gundam AGE
However, each Gundam series has its own unique way of handling its equipment swaps.
What makes a Gundam SEED or Gundam SEED DESTINY Gundam? Parts swapping based on the situation!
In general, Gundam SEED's Gundams can take three forms.
To use the basic Strike Gundam as an example, it has the highly-mobile Aile Strike Gundam, ranged-combat Launcher Strike Gundam, and melee-focused Sword Strike Gundam forms.
There aren't evolutions of the Gundam itself; instead, they're situational loadouts of gear and weaponry made possible by the Striker Pack System.
For example: If the Strike Gundam equips the Aile Striker, it becomes the speedy Aile Strike Gundam. If it equips the Sword Striker instead, it becomes the Sword Strike Gundam.
Gundam SEED DESTINY's Gundams work like Gundam SEED's. The basic Impulse Gundam can take three forms: the Force Impulse Gundam for mobility, the Blast Impulse Gundam for ranged firepower, or the Sword Impulse Gundam for close-in melee fighting.
These two series also feature mobile suits which change their capabilities in response to the tactical situation with surface- or space-use parts.
What makes a Gundam AGE Gundam? Parts swapping for specialized capabilities!
On the other hand,
's Gundams come in a wider range op types.
The Gundam AGE-1 Normal from Flit's arc had powerful AGE-1 Titus and speedy AGE-1 Spallow versions, but the "Wears" the AGE System spontaneously evolves provide other specializations as well.
The Gundam AGE-2 from Asemu's arc began as the transforming fighter AGE-2 Normal but could also become the AGE-2 Double Bullet, designed to take on multiple foes at once. Kio's arc included the combining, transforming Gundam AGE-3 Normal; the AGE-3 Fortress, mobile artillery capable of covering lots of ground quickly; and the AGE-3 Orbital, focused on maximum mobility and speed in space.
, swapping parts means changing the mobile suit's core construction and capabilities to a more specialized form.
Recent Gundam series like
Gundam SEED DESTINY
Mobile Suit Gundam AGE
are distinguished by the protagonist's ability to use the same base mobile suit while swapping out equipment.
Now Char, on the other hand... He loves having all sorts of different mobile suits. Custom mobile suits.
mobile suits. I'll explain about that later. (laughs)
Anyway! How swapping parts works is different for each series! That's another one of the fascinating things about Gundam!
What makes a Gundam? Really, ever since Victory Gundam, parts swapping!
Actually, I've changed my mind. You know how I said parts swapping was a new trend?
I lied! (gasp) It's really been a thing since
Mobile Suit Victory Gundam
How it works here... The base V2 Gundam can equip devastating heavy weaponry to become the V2 Buster Gundam, or bolt on added armor for increased survivability on assault missions and become the V2 Assault Gundam. It can also equip both at the same time to become the V2 Assault Buster Gundam and
ruin someone's day.
See? It's even fun to compare new and old mobile suits that can swap parts..
Well, well, well, well, well, well, well, that's it for this week. Next week we'll be taking another laid-back look at what makes Gundam Gundam!
Scriptwriter. Troublemaking scenarist.
Learning more every day to teach you about the fun of Gundam!