The Gundam Series is a metaseries of anime created by Sunrise studios that features giant robots (or "mecha") called "Mobile Suits" (MS); usually the protagonist's MS will carry the name Gundam.
The metaseries started on April 7, 1979 as a serial TV show called Mobile Suit Gundam. That first TV series has since spawned a franchise that has come to include works released in numerous media. Titles have appeared in the form of multiple television series and OVAs, movies, manga, novels and video games, among other modes.
The story from the original 1979 series has been considerably extended with sequels, prequels, side stories and alternate timelines. As a result, the title Gundam has become a collective term for the seven distinct but related timelines that can be pieced together from the stories that appear in the Gundam franchise.
Generally speaking, the timelines do not intersect, but they do contain a few common elements such as the titular war machines called Gundam. However, all Gundam timelines and worlds, long after their own anime series, do eventually intersect and combine in the series Turn A Gundam.
The original timeline for the Gundam series was the Universal Century (UC) series, which included Mobile Suit Gundam (1979) and Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam (1985). Since the 1990s, alternative timelines have been produced and developed, including the Future Century, After Colony, After War, Correct Century, Cosmic Era and Anno Domini timelines.
As of January 21, 2008, the Gundam franchise is a 50 billion yen trademark. A year 2000 press release stated that retail sales of Gundam items had totaled $5 billion. In the 2008 ranking of average sales figures for anime copies sold in Japan (1970-2008 total sales figures averaged by episode), Gundam series were in four of the top five places: Mobile Suit Gundam ranked second, with Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny third, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED fourth, and Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam fifth. Also, Mobile Suit Gundam Wing ranked 18th and Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ ranked 20th. Gunpla's (Gundam Plastic model) holds 90% of the Japan character plastic model market.
Academic fields in Japan have also viewed the series as a good inspiration in research fields, with the Gundam academy (or officially International Gundam Society) being the first academic institution based on an animated TV series.
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