Why is Gundam still a niche franchise?

The anime is currently at its zenith of international popularity, with mainstream franchises reaching more audiences than ever before. A franchise that is important in Japan but not so much elsewhere is Mobile Suit Gundam. While the series is an absolute phenomenon in its home country, it has yet to achieve slightly similar success elsewhere.

Part of GundamThe s obscure status stems from its decades-old heritage, as well as its less than ideal handling in Western countries. However, its greatest tool for reversing that niche status may not be one of the anime, but rather the ever popular Gunpla model kits. here’s how Gundam got to where he is today and how he can get out of Zeong’s waist hole.

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Why Mobile Suit Gundam is Big in Japan

Mobile Suit Gundam is considered the equivalent of the American Star wars franchise in Japan, touching countless generations and becoming an overnight pop culture sensation. Kicking off the ‘real robot’ subgenre of the giant mecha anime, the elements that set it apart from its competition are part of what made the franchise so timeless. Instead of wacky battles with superheroic robots and ridiculous monsters, the story of the original Gundam and its successors are fairly realistic accounts of wars and conflicts between space colonies, the advancement of human technology in the future failing to prevent a horrific war.

The darker storytelling and reversal of young robot pilots suddenly being A-OK with their roles in piloting mecha made the series a prime example of how more mature animes could be compared to most cartoons. American anime of the time. Combined with sales of Gunpla model kits representing the franchise’s many mecha hats, GundamThe cartoons have been incredibly successful in Japan since the show’s debut in the 1970s. Along with several different shows, it has inspired countless other media representations, including a gigantic live-action version of classic mechs. Sadly, the same can’t be said for the franchise in America.

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Why Gundam continues to struggle abroad

The main mobile combinations in the Gundam wing

The first one Gundam coming to America on a large scale was Mobile combination Wing of Gundam, which aired on Toonami in the year 2000. It was during a time when the first big wave of anime popularity in America was still significant, with shows such as Dragon ball z and Sailor moon making this weird alien way of making cartoons suddenly huge. Wing of Gundam was a huge success on the programming block, which led Toonami to also air a voiceover of G Gundam and finally the original series. However, that’s part of the reason the show hasn’t made so much noise in America.

Much of the Gundam the franchise is based on or linked to the original series, with alternate universes such as Wing of Gundam being exceptions rather than the norm. This meant that America’s introduction to the series was unique, with nothing else in the franchise related to Wing. Likewise, as much as it made sense to eventually bring the original Gundam, it was a much older show than either one Wing Where G Gundam. Its outdated nature made it much harder for modern viewers to access, leaving them with no real connection to the main franchise continuity that came out of the series.

Plus, while viewers were keen to watch some incredibly old shows, there’s quite a backlog to catch up with to catch up with the original timeline of Universal Century which still has productions made for it today. In addition to the first show, there is also Zeta Gundam, Gundam ZZ, Char Counterattack, War in the pocket, Stardust memory, F91, The 08th MS team, Unicorn, Victory Gundam and Gundam Hathaway mobile suit. There are also even more disparate alternative continuities such as Gundam X, turn a Gundam, Iron Blood Orphans, the diminutive and comical permutations of SD Gundam and the cosmic era of Gundam seed. It’s a more than daunting task, and newcomers likely won’t have a clue of what show takes place when or if it’s hooked up to another. Gundam series.

Part of the current increase in anime popularity is also due to manga sales, and although there is Gundam manga, the franchise is much more represented by the anime. Likewise, the biggest names in anime and manga currently lack the many decades of history and alternate continuities that Gundam done, which makes them much easier to enter. Never mind that the franchise’s tendency to kill swathes of cast members and ruminate on how war is hell is a much less acceptable concept (although the success of franchises such as The attack of the Titans beg to defer). Overall, however, these problems combine to Gundam a franchise nearly impossible to grasp for the average Joe.

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How Gunpla can push Gundam into the mainstream

Besides manga, another avenue in which various anime franchises are hitting hard in America is through toys, action figures, and collectibles. This has seen large big box retailers such as Walmart and Target suddenly hauling these types of items, including the iconic Gunpla models of the Gundam series.

Have these toys on the same shelves as those for Dragon ball, My hero university and A play, as well as other popular toy franchises such as Marvel, DC, Transformers, and Funko Pop! figures are sure to pique the curiosity of more than one consumer who does not know Gundam. This could see them seeking out the franchise in manga and particularly anime form, with tangible toys and models providing a more visceral entry point into the Universal Century and other timelines than an anime ever could. . The fact that there is now an anime based on Gunpla only builds that bridge to the franchise at large.

Whether or not that translates to wider attention remains to be seen, but for now it’s probably the franchise’s best hope to finally go consistently mainstream outside of Japan.

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