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April Is Anniversary Month For Mecha Anime

Most mecha-themed anime shows had their original airings in April across Japan.

By Can TranPublished about a year ago 12 min read
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A photo timeline of the Gundam franchise provided by GundamInfo.

For any fan of mecha-themed anime series, April is the anniversary month for several series within the genre. This especially goes for Bandai Namco Entertainment's Gundam franchise (the most popular franchise of the genre) that envelops many series and spinoffs. Mecha has been a fixture of the genre of science-fiction and fantasy over the period of many decades.

Many anime shows aired in April such as Mobile Suit Gundam, The Vision of Escaflowne, Gurren Lagann, and more.

Mobile Suit Gundam

On April 7th, 1979, Nagoya TV aired the first episode of Mobile Suit Gundam which would lead to the creation of the successful Gundam franchise. The series takes place in a new timeline called the Universal Century in which humans have colonized space but are oppressed by the Earth Federation which leads the Principality of Zeon to declare its independence. This leads to the “One Year War” that affects all of Earth and virtually all of the outer space colonies.

The war claims the half of the human population.

The story begins in year 79 of the Universal Century calendar on a colony that houses the SCV-70 White Base. The colony gets attacked and destroyed by a Zeon recon team, though they were not ordered to attack the colony at all. Teenager Amuro Ray is caught in the scuffle and finds refuge in the Federation's newest mobile suit the RX-70 Gundam.

Amuro and his newly acquired Gundam escape onto White Base leading to a series of battles against Zeon, which leads to a rivalry between Lt. Commander Char Aznable a.k.a “The Red Comet.”

Mobile Suit Gundam would lead to the creation of a larger franchise and a big sub-franchise focused specifically on the Universal Century timeline. The rivalry between Amuro Ray and Char Aznable became a trend in future Gundam shows such as Heero Yuy's rivalry with Zechs Merquise (Mobile Suit Gundam Wing), Setsuna F. Seiei's rivalry with Mr. Bushido (Gundam 00), Banagher Links' rivalry with Full Frontal (Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn), and more.

The RX-70 Gundam made a cameo appearance in the mass battle in the film Ready Player One.

Mobile Suit Victory Gundam

On April 2nd, 1993, TV Asahi aired the first episode of Mobile Suit Victory Gundam, taking place in the Universal Century timline, which takes place in year UC 0153. The Principality of Zeon, in which the surviving remnants reformed as the Crossbone Vanguard, is no longer around. The Earth Federation still exists but has grown incredibly weak over the decades (for obvious reasons) and is struggling to keep control of the colonies.

A new threat exists in the form of the Zanscare Empire. Its armed forces, which is known as BESPA, attacks the Earth Federation. The only effective line of defense is a resistance movement known as the “League Militaire.”

13-year-old Uso Ewin becomes the pilot of the titular Victory Gundam as he is thrown into the fight where he joins up with League Militaire. Uso, who was living a peaceful life in Eastern Europe, will experience the horrors of war whether he wants to or not.

Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn RE:0096

On April 3rd, 2016, TV Asahi aired the first episode of Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn RE:0096, which is a rehashing of the original 7-episode OVA. The story takes place in UC 0096, three years after the events Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack, which centers on the corruption within the Earth Federation.

Banagher Links, a normal teenage boy, is thrust into the battle between the Earth Federation and Zeon, when he becomes the pilot of the titular Gundam Unicorn. He is sought after by both factions after his father, Cardenas Vist, entrusts the Gundam to him. The Federation seeks out Banagher because the Gundam he pilots is connected to an item called the “Laplace Box.”

Bright Noa from Mobile Suit Gundam makes an appearance in the story.

MS IGLOO: Apocalypse 0079

This CGI-animated OVA spans three episodes and takes place at the same time as the events as Mobile Suit Gundam. The first episode was released on April 26th, 2006, which tells the story of the One Year War from the perspective of Zeon's 603rd Tactical Evaluation Unit which is stationed on a former civilian space vessel known as the Jotunheim.

The 3-episode OVA focuses on events that are barely mentioned in the main series. In the first episode focuses on attacking Federation warships launching from Jaburo (in which the location plays a crucial part in the PS2 title Mobile Suit Gundam: Journey to Jaburo).

Mobile Fighter G-Gundam

On April 22nd, 1994, TV Asahi aired the first episode of Mobile Fighter G-Gundam which is the first series in the franchise to take place in an alternate universe. While the previous series took place in the Universal Century timeline, G-Gundam takes place in the newly introduced “Future Century” timeline and centers on a fighting tournament that takes place every four years.

While everything related to the Universal Century was politically heavy, it's NOT necessarily the case with G-Gundam. In the story, most of humankind has left for outer space because the planet is left in ruins.

The world governments, well most of them, are headquarted in outer space colonies such as Neo Canada, Neo France, Neo India, and so on. Neo America is an exception as the United States government is still headquartered in Washington D.C. To avoid war and bloodshed, the world governments agree to hold the “Gundam Fight” tournament.

Each country sends a representative to Earth and is given a Gundam. They are tasked with traveling the world and fighting each other until they make it to the final matches, which are hosted by the ruling country. The country that wins the tournament gains the legal right to rule Earth and space for four years until the next Gundam Fight tournament.

The entire planet, except Washington D.C, is the arena for the Gundam fighters. It shows that the world governments don't give a s—t for the people still living on Earth. When the Gundams battle each other, they're expected to keep fighting until one of their heads is destroyed. If the head of your Gundam gets destroyed, you're out of the competition.

Even though this is a simple premise, the behind-the-scenes machinations are another story.

Domon Kasshu of Neo Japan is instructed to compete in and win the tournament which is part of a bigger mission he has been given, investigate his missing older brother and the missing “Devil Gundam.”

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing

On April 7th, 1995, TV Asahi aired the first episode of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, which brought back story elements that were present in the previous series. This is the one series that effectively introduced the franchise to Western audiences. My gateway into the franchise was through Gundam Wing which aired on Cartoon Network's Toonami block at 5 P.M. The story takes place in the “After Colony” timeline in which humankind has colonized outer space but Earth maintains an oppressive control over the colonies.

In AC 175, an independence movement leader named Heero Yuy is assassinated by the Order of the Zodiac (OZ) which is the armed forces wing of the United Earth Sphere Alliance. Disgusted by what OZ has done, five scientists defect from the organization and enact a 20-year plan. The story takes place 20 years later in AC 195 in which the five scientists individually recruit trained operatives and send them down to Earth with their Gundams.

The mission of the five Gundam pilots is to wipe OZ from the face of the map.

Things get more complicated because OZ knows the scientists' plan. This leads to OZ launching a successful coup against the rest of the United Earth Sphere Alliance. It leads to an ultimate showdown in outer space.

After War Gundam X

On April 5th, 1998, TV Asahi aired the first episode of Gundam X, like G-Gundam and Gundam Wing, which takes place in an alternate timeline. It is year 15 of the “After War” (AW 0015), seven years after the end of the “7th Space War.

War has ravaged the planet and claimed many lives.

What's left of humankind struggles to stay alive but that's not so simple as relics of the previous wars, especially the Gundams, lie around, and are still functional. A man named Jamil Neate forms a group called the “Vultures” in an effort to keep these weapons and special-type humans (Newtypes) from being exploited.

The Vultures get dragged into an inevitable war between New United Nations Earth and the Space Revolutionary Army.

Turn A Gundam

On April 9th, 1999, Fuji TV aired the first episode of Turn A Gundam, which takes place in the year 2345 of the “Correct Century” (CC 2345). Humans have fled space and settled in colonies on the moon where they become the “Moonrace.” While there are plenty of humans still on Earth, they're technologically stagnant as they depend on steam.

The Moonrace invades Earth and it leads to a war.

All attempts at peace get shot down because of militaristic elements on both ends of the spectrum.

According to the series director, Yoshiyuki Tomino, the series serves as an “acceptance” of all of the Gundam series.

Gundam Build Divers

On April 3rd, 2018, TXN aired the first episode of Gundam Build Divers, which is a spiritual successor to Gundam Build Fighters and its sequel Gundam Build Fighters Try. The series takes place in the modern world where Gundams exist as a popular franchise and “Gunpla” is the universal hobby.

It centers on a new online game called Gunpla Battle Nexus Online (GBN) that allows players to upload themselves and their Gunpla where they battle other players.

Gurren Lagann

On April 1st, 2007, TXN aired the first episode of Teppa Tengan Gurren Lagann, which takes place in the far future, where the remnants of humankind live in underground colonies. The colonies are isolated from each other with no means of communication. A young boy named Simon is recruited to be part of a group of “diggers” who are charged with digging further underground to expand the colony.

Simon and his best friend Kamina discover a mecha that allows them to reach the surface.

On the surface, they learn that the Spiral King and his army of demihumans rule the planet. It leads to a battle between the humans and the demihumans. The story mostly centers on humans recolonizing the surface while battling it out with the demihumans at the same time.

Humankind is victorious at the end of the war and begins repopulating on the surface but it leads to the emergence of a new threat called the “Anti-Spirals.”

The Vision Of Escaflowne

On April 2nd, 1996, TV Tokyo aired the first episode of The Vision of Escaflowne, a mecha-themed anime series that is set in a fantasy world. In the story, the mythical city of Atlantis actually existed on Earth before it ended up becoming a “lost city.” The inhabitants of Atlantis banded together and wished for the existence of an alternate dimension called “Gaea.”

Gaea became the new home for the displaced Atlanteans when Atlantis sank into the sea. The Atlantean population grew and Gaea ended up with over 100 countries.

High school student Hitomi Kanzaki experiences a normal day at school until a portal between Earth and Gaea opens. A mysterious swordsman named Van crashes on Earth while he's fighting off a dragon, then he is taken back to Gaea while Hitomi gets dragged along with him.

This leads to Hitomi helping Van fight against the villainous Zaibach Empire, the one superpower on Gaea, which seeks to covet the hidden power of Atlantis.

Van leads the battle in his mecha, the titular “Escaflowne,” which is connected to his life force.

While on Gaea, Hitomi's latent psychic powers are awakened and heightened.

The music is composed by Yoko Kanno who is known for doing the music for other anime shows such as Cowboy Bebop and Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex.

Macross Frontier

On April 4th, 2008, several Japanese networks (MBS, CDC, TBS, TBC, and more) aired the first episode of Macross Frontier. The story centers on the 25th New Macross-Class Colonial Fleet which is headed to the galactic center. This fleet is like a nomadic colony as it is composed of civilian-class vessels and military-class vessels.

The humans and Zentradi join together to deal with a new alien threat known as the “Vajra.”

Politics play a huge role in the story such as the relationship between the two races. There is another political dynamic, the introduction of a private military contractor known as “Strategic Military Services,” in which the main hero is a member.

Music and entertainment play a crucial role in the story's progression, too, as it is one of the things that tie the three protagonists together. Alto Saotome, the main hero of the series, is a former member of his father's Kabuti theater troupe. Ranka Lee is a friend of Alto and becomes a professional singer after being discovered in a competition. Sheryl Nome is an established singer who was once a homeless orphan who was taken and used for some secret government experiment.

Macross Delta

On April 3rd, 2016, several Japanese networks aired the first episode of Macross Delta. The story takes place in a section of the Milky Way, called the Brisingr Globular Cluster, eight years after the events of Macross Frontier (where the 25th New Macross-Class Fleet ends up settling on the Vajra homeworld), where people mysteriously go berserk.

A group of idols team up with a pair of ace combat pilots to deal with the mysterious infection.

There is a faction, the Windermere Kingdom, that gets in the way of the heroes, as it has a way to use the infection for its benefit. It leads to a war between the New United Government and the Windermere Kingdom.

Gigantic Formula

On April 4th, 2007, TV Tokyo aired the first episode of Mechanical Gods' War Gigantic Formula, which centers on a unique kind of war called the “World's Wisest War.” Greek mythology plays a huge role in the story as 12 large stone heads were discovered across the world. These heads were modeled after the Greek gods and contained immense limitless power.

Once all of the heads were excavated, part of the world got destroyed in an inferno.

The heads were discovered to be capable of communication and “translators” were hired to communicate with them. It led to the creation of the World's Wisest War in which the 12 heads were used to power up 12 different mechas with each one belonging to a specific country.

Gigantic Formula centers on two young pilots of the Japan Republic.

This is similar to G-Gundam in which the mechas fight against each other to see which country controls the world at the end. When the battle is finished, the winning mecha gets to assimilate the gear of the losing mecha.

Dancouga

On April 5th, 1985, TBS aired the first episode of Dancouga. The story centers on four mecha pilots who control individual mechas that combine into and form the titular “Dancouga” which is the main weapon against the Muge Zarbados Empire.

It is a series that is similar to Voltron and Power Rangers.

There are a lot more April premieres...

I could go on but that would make this piece longer. It is common for anime shows to premiere in April and mecha-themed shows are no exception. This is one of the reasons that April is one of the anniversary months for the anime genre.

Sky Devilsaur Gaiking aired on April 1st in 1976, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 aired on April 6th in 2008, Chodenji Robo Combattler V aired on April 17th in 1976, God Mazinger aired on April 15th in 1984, Go-wapper 5 Go-dam aired on April 4th in 1976, Lord of Lords: Ryu Knight aired on April 5th in 1994, Eureka Seven aired on April 17th in 2005, Eureka Seven AO aired on April 13th in 2012, Tetsujin 28-go aired on April 7th in 2004, SSSS.Dynazemon aired on April 2nd in 2021, Sakura Wars aired on April 8th in 2000, Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure aired on April 8th in 1999, Armored Trooper Votoms aired on April 1st in 1983, Heroic Age aired on April 1st in 2007, Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet aired on April 7th in 2013, Valvrave the Liberator aired on April 12th in 2013, Captain Earth aired on April 5th in 2014, Dai-Shogun – Great Revolution aired on April 9th in 2014, Knights of Sidonia aired on April 11th in 2014, Kuromukuro aired on April 7th in 2016, ID-0 aired on April 9th in 2017, Last Hope aired on April 4th in 2018, Space Battleship Tiramisu aired on April 3rd in 2018, 86 aired on April 11th in 2021, Basquash! Aired on April 3rd in 2009, and Re:Creators aired on April 8th in 2017.

Many of the protagonists and their respective mechas would be brought together for the Super Robot Wars game series.

April is unofficially the month of mecha.

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About the Creator

Can Tran

I am a seasoned online writer who contributes to a number of platforms under the moniker "AeonXTrigger." I also contribute to Medium, Hubpages, and more. https://ko-fi.com/aeonxtrigger

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