The Gundam franchise shares many similarities with Star Wars. Here’s what the two popular space opera franchises have in common.
Mobile Suit Gundam, the original Gundam series, created by Yoshiyuki Tomino and first airing in 1979, has been slightly influenced by the popular space opera franchise Star Wars. As a result, the two share very similar ideas and concepts aside from the fact that both are extremely popular space opera series.
That’s not to say one copied the other entirely, as Mobile Suit Gundam was released right after Star Wars: A New Hope. However, it’s been officially stated by Mobile Suit Gundam’s character designer Yasuhiko Yoshikazu that Star Wars: A New Hope, as a massive cinematography achievement worldwide, provided an idea of how a space opera with explosions could look and that the team constantly took note. Fans of Star Wars can quickly recognize these similarities by watching Mobile Suit Gundam and the subsequent Gundam spinoffs. Here are the major similarities between the Gundam and Star Wars franchises.
Gundam Always Features a Protagonist With a Natural Talent for Combat and Piloting
Like in Star Wars, each Gundam series portrays a young child who has exceptional natural talent with the first mech they get their hands on. The latest Gundam protagonists that portray this include Mikazuki Augus from Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans and Suletta from Gundam: The Witch from Mercury. This is similar to Anakin or Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, as they quickly became the undisputed best starfighter pilots and Jedi knights in the galaxy.
Every Gundam Series Has a Powerful Darth Vader-Like Masked Character
In every Gundam series, there’s a masked villain who shows exceptional strength and is the most feared and capable in the show next to the main character. This masked villain is coincidentally always motivated by revenge, loosely similar to Star Wars Pillow iconic and infamous Darth Vader. This first started with Char Aznable in Mobile Suit Gundam, who bore a white helmet strikingly similar in shape to the one Darth Vader wears. In spinoffs, the masked character became known as a “char clone” due to having a similar type of mask. Mobile Suit Gundam’s character designer Yasuhiko Yoshikazu has officially stated that the inspiration for Char Aznable’s helmet was Darth Vader’s helmet — with added horns. Funnily enough, when the true identity of the Darth Vader-like character is revealed, it comes as a huge shock to the other series’ characters.
Gundam and Star Wars Both Revolve Around Political Schemes and Seats of Power
It’s clear in both franchises that a huge chaotic war is started because of some Game of Thrones-style political scheme. At the beginning of Gundam shows, there is typically some behind-the-scenes plotting going on in order to take over a government, company or weapon — usually a Gundam machine. This is similar to how the Empire gained power over the galaxy through the Sith’s political scheming and how the Rebellion has endless espionage and secret wars to regain order as depicted in Star Wars’ Rogue One and Andor.
Both Franchises Are Heavily Inspired By World War II
Both Gundam and Star Wars were inspired by the many horrifying events of World War II, such as Zeon and the Empire being loosely similar to Nazis in space with their uniforms, equipment, titles and rise to power. In Star Wars, Palpatine’s rise to power was the same as Hitler’s, being appointed Chancellor and then assuming the position of Emperor — and immediately issuing the command to cause mass genocide of all force-sensitive people. In Gundam, viewers see that Zeon is loosely based on Nazi Germany, with Char and Zeon Gundams having the same helmet as those of the German soldiers in World War II. There’s also an entire mecha history regarding the power struggle of technology in Gundam, just as the Allied and Axis powers constantly competed to source superior technology regarding tanks and other weaponry.
There are Special Types of Humans Similar to Star Wars’ Force-Sensitive People
In Star Wars, those that are force-sensitive are often much more capable compared to normal humans because of their ability to use the force to their advantage. This concept of special humans exists in every Gundam series, such as the Newtypes, coordinators, and those who are able to use GUND effectively like Suletta in Gundam: The Witch From Mercury. Being one of these special types of humans allows them to effectively excel at certain things such as fighting or piloting, similarly to force-sensitive people. Newtypes in Gundam Mobile Suit were actually so similar to those that are force-sensitive that they were able to telepathically communicate or read the minds of others and understand their emotions from afar, just as Yoda in Star Wars constantly does.
Lightsabers in Gundam Are Beam Sabers Wielded by Giant Mechs
One of the main weapons of the giant mechas known as Gundam consists of giant lightsabers, called beam sabers, which are capable of cutting through fabricated metal like slicing through a cake. Instead of Jedi and Sith dueling to the death with lightsabers, there are giant mechas duking it out in space with beam sabers, beam weaponry or brute metal impact in the Gundam franchise.
Gundam Often Features a Han Solo-Like Character and Millennium Falcon
Each Gundam series features a Han Solo-type character that acts like an older brother figure to the main character. The closest resemblance to this is Mu La Flaga in Gundam Seed. Mu la Flaga was the only one to achieve a feat in space combat that was considered impossible. Akin to the Millennium Falcon being deemed the fastest ship in the galaxy, he also achieved a feat that was considered impossible by making the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs. Other examples of these older, Han-solo-like, mature older brother/best friend figures are Lockon Stratos in Gundam 00 and Naze Turbine in Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans.
Gundam Seed’s Main Characters Resemble Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa
Gundam Seed likewise features the fated meeting of twins who don’t know their family history. Similar to Luke and Leia, the male twin, Kira Yamato, is just a regular student that ended up in a war, while the female twin, Cagalli Yula Attha, is a royal princess. Kira has more of a natural combat skillset, while Cagalli is more political and strategical. The two end up saving the galaxy together — and there’s even a part where the male twin’s best friend asks Cagalli if she likes her male twin, then finds out they’re siblings.
Early Mobile Suit Gundam Posters Are Parodies of Star Wars Covers
Some of the covers of Mobile Suit Gundam are exact parodies of Star Wars. The Mobile Suit Gundam Movie III and Mobile Suit Gundam: 0079 posters are parodies of Star Wars: A New Hope, while Symphonic Suite Z-Gundam’s poster is pure inspired Star Wars fan-gushing.
For Star Wars fans, Gundam newcomers and current Gundam fans, the latest Gundam spinoff title, Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury is now streaming on Crunchyroll.
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