Otaku Obsession: Gundam - The Official Guide

Originally posted to MAHQ.net on 12/21/05

Although there are countless numbers of Gundam reference guides in Japan, precious few available in America. Of those few, perhaps the best is Animerica's Gundam: The Official Guide. Published in 2002, the book is the collective work of Gundam experts Mark Simmons and Benjamin Wright. Longtime fans will probably recall Simmons' comprehensive website Gundam Project, which shutdown in early 2002. Although much of the content from GP has reappeared on Gundam Official, the official website only covers the series domestically released in America. Therefore, the best way to describe this book is as a "portable Gundam Project."

The book starts off with an essay from Simmons about the continuing evolution of the RX-78 Gundam's design. Next is a detailed Production History by Wright, which covers everything from the original 1979 series up to the 2000 TV movie G-Saviour. The article also includes brief profiles of notable Gundam figures such as Yoshiyuki Tomino, Kunio Okawara and Hajime Katoki.

The meat of this 128-page book is the individual coverage on each animated series, starting with the original 1979 Mobile Suit Gundam. Each section gives a brief description of the series, along with a staff listing, glossary, timeline and character and mecha profiles. Due to the size limitations of the book, you won't get profiles for every mecha and character, but the most important ones are represented. After Gundam, the book follows the Universal Century series in chronological order and then dives into the first four Alternate Universe series, ending with Turn A Gundam.

The remaining 28 pages in the book are devoted to covering manga side stories, model kits, video games and Gundam science and politics. You'll read about side stories such as Blue Destiny, or about Master Grade model kits or the mechanics of O'Neill Island 3 space colonies.

It would be an understatement to say that this is the most complete Gundam guide available in English in print. Every possible aspect of Gundam is covered in this book to some degree. My only complaint is that it's too short. Before this book, the now defunct Animerica magazine devoted an entire issue to Gundam. This book is double the size of that special issue, but there's still plenty more that can be crammed in. Also, because this book was published nearly four years ago, it's a bit out of date. The years since this book's publication have brought us Gundam SEED, SD Gundam Force, MS IGLOO and Gundam SEED DESTINY. You won't find any mention of those animated series or side stories such as Ecole du Ciel or Advance of Zeta. With so many new Gundam projects having appeared in the last four years, it would be ideal for Viz to publish a second edition of the book. Even without an updated edition, the book is highly recommended as-is for Gundam experts and newcomers alike.

Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars