Netflix has a frustrating history of making its own versions of pop culture franchises rather than licensing the original things they’re based on, like how it made a new Ghost In The Shell but doesn’t have the original Ghost In The Shell or how it picked up those Knives Out sequels but doesn’t have the first one (not to mention its many Lifetime and Hallmark-style movies), but it looks like the streaming service is at least making some commitment to introducing its users to Mobile Suit Gundam before Kong: Skull Island’s Jordan Vogt-Roberts starts making that live-action version. That project, a joint production between Netflix and Legendary, was announced back in April and is most likely very far off, but Netflix announced last week that (outside of Japan, at least) it will be the streaming home of Mobile Suit Gundam Hathaway, the most recent animated installment in the mainline Gundam storyline that’s been running off and on since the ‘70s. (Netflix hasn’t announced a premiere date or responded to our requests for one.)
Hathaway is about the son of a character from the original Mobile Suit Gundam and looks like it might involve even bigger robots and even more complex political intrigue than the usual Gundam thing, most of which might be completely incomprehensible to the sort of person who doesn’t know the difference between a Char Aznable, a Quattro Bajeena, and an Édouard Mass (which is perfectly okay, because anime nerd gatekeeping is bullshit). Luckily, Netflix is also going to do some of the homework for you by streaming the three Mobile Suit Gundam movies and sequel movie Char’s Counterattack, beginning on June 18.
The three Gundam movies are adaptations of the original anime, with some stuff trimmed out or streamlined to go quicker and (in theory) make a little more sense, and while that means that they’re not necessarily the ideal way to experience the story, they are a perfectly valid way to do it. Char’s Counterattack is a little more complicated, because it takes place after two sequel shows (Zeta and Double Zeta) that aren’t easy to find without shelling out for Blu-ray collections, and they set up some important background information about the political environment of Char’s Counterattack.
Then there’s Gundam Unicorn, which takes place a few years after that but a few years before the new movie Hathaway, but the good news there is that Unicorn is pretty easy to find on streaming services. Again, though: It’s dumb and gross to say “you can’t watch the new movie without watching everything before it because otherwise you don’t deserve it” because there’s a shitload of stuff to deal with (we didn’t even get into the spin-off shows!) and anime nerd gatekeeping is bullshit, but just know that Hathaway might be confusing if you go in fresh (and don’t let anyone stop you from doing that if that’s what you want to do). In conclusion: Gundam is rad and it will soon be easier than ever to watch some important Gundam stuff. If you want to get into it and don’t know how, reach out to someone who won’t be a jerk about it.