Gundam Evolve (ガンダムEVOLVE Gandamu Iborubu?), also known as Mobile Suit Gundam Evolve, is a series of short films set in the different timelines of the Gundam series. Originally there were only five Evolve episodes, produced from 2001 to 2003, Bandai started to create new Evolve episodes in 2004. While the first few episodes took place in the Universal Century, the new clips also show Gundams from the other timelines.
The clips often show alternative scenes, side-stories or omakes for fans. The clips feature a mix of animation media which go from traditional cels to 3-D CG rendering to even cell-shaded 2-D animation. The target is to show the Gundams and other mobile suits in high-quality CGI. Currently 15 episodes has been released in three separate volumes, namely Gundam Evolve ../+ ("Plus"), Gundam Evolve ../Ω ("Omega") and Gundam Evolve ../Α ("Alpha"). Each volume consists of 5 episodes.
01 – RX-78-2 Gundam
This episode is the only one that features no CG. Instead it is a short clip show of the original Mobile Suit Gundam series. In this episode Amuro Ray, waiting to start in the final battle of A Baoa Qu, sits in his RX-78-2 Gundam while the other forces are already fighting. He recalls many of the battles he has fought until now, beginning with his fight against the mobile armor Elmeth when he killed Lalah Sune. Afterward he recalls the battle against the Black Tri-Stars, Ramba Ral and Char Aznable. He also thinks about the people important to him who died, including Ryu Jose, Matilda Ajan and Sleggar Law. Then he hears Sayla Mass who tells him that if they can overcome war, humanity should as well. Soon afterward, Amuro launches.
02 – RX-178 Gundam Mk-II
The events of this episode take place after the Gryps Conflict. The story revolves around a video tape which is sent to Kamille Bidan by Argama chief engineer Astonaige Medoz. On the video Astonaige wishes him a quick recovery and it also contains a video scene from a battle training at which Kamille participated during the Gryps Conflict. In the training he uses the Gundam Mk.II to fight against several drones and two Rick Dias in a combat simulation. Although he thinks it is too easy he accidentally destroys the camera probe recording the training. The episode ends with a written report by Kamille apologizing over damaging the suiveillance pod, in which he angrily wrote in later sections denying himself of any responsibility for the incident, protesting over having to write such a formal apology at all, and going further on to accuse his superiors Quattro Bajeena and Henken Bekkener of being totally irrational and incompetent.
03 – GF13-017NJII God Gundam
The third Evolve clip is about G Gundam. It features Domon Kasshu, who is practicing Tai Chi with the God Gundam. However suddenly Rain Mikamura appears in the Rising Gundam and attacks him because he was away for two days. He tells her he was only training but she believes that he was off chasing skirts, and the two fight. Trying to end the battle, Domon attacks with the God Gundam’s God Finger, causing Rain to counter with the Rising Gundam’s Rising Finger attack. Both attacks clash together with an immense power, but Rain's attack breaks through. When the smoke clears, Rising Gundam is performing Tai Chi while God Gundam looks on, with insults like "Womanizer" and "Lazy Bum" written all over its head.
(It's worth noting that nothing within the actual G Gundam series implies Rising can perform a Finger attack in the manner shown; in the series, the Rising Gundam's strongest attack is the Rising Arrow, which is fired from the beam bow on its left arm. Likewise, Rain being able to outmatch Domon in actual Gundam combat seems strictly for comedy.)
04 – RX-78 GP03 Dendrobium
After the last clip played in the Future Century, this episode returns to the Universal Century. It is revealed that several people leaked information about the Gundam Development Project to the Zeon Forces because Jamitov Hymem dislikes it. Afterwards a ruined MS-14A Gelgoog is shown floating in space after a group of Gelgoog Marine Types and MS-06F Zaku II mobile suits attack the La Vie en Rose. To counter them a woman named Defrah Kar pilots the Gundam GP03 Dendrobium Stamen to destroy them. To make this easier she uses the Orchis platform and, thanks to its powerful weapons, is easily able to destroy them, and thanks to her I-field she is even able to defend herself from the attack of a large battleship. However, after the battle and while ejecting the Stamen from the Orchis, a severely damaged Gelgoog is able to shoot at the cockpit of the Stamen, killing Defrah and incidentally destroying the experimental cockpit. Afterwards the people who looked on the Gundam data examine the data of the GP04 Gerbera. This animation may explain the confusion concerning the two types of cockpits for the Stamen unit.
05 – RX-93 ν Gundam
This episode shows a bright alternative scenario for Quess Paraya from Char's Counterattack, as Tomino's attitude during Char's Counterattack was rather grim and depressing. The episode begins with Quess, who had apparently used the NZ-333 Alpha Azieru to severely damage Hathaway Noa's RGM-89 Jegan. Afterwards Amuro Ray in his RX-93 Nu Gundam has a Newtype reaction to her and confronts her. He accuses her of not understanding Hathaway's feelings, but Quess doesn't listen and attacks him. However Amuro is able to trap her inside the Fin Funnel's beam barriers. Afterwards they hear Hathaway who tells Quess not to be angry, and Amuro tells Quess that Hathaway isn't dead. Thanks to this and Amuro's words she calms down and she finally uses the Alpha Azieru to rescue Hathaway.
This episode was written by Yoshiyuki Tomino, whose change of outlook used this animation to give Quess a happy ending as an alternative to her death in the movie.
06 – YMF-X000A Dreadnought Gundam
The clip starts off with a battle between the YMF-X000A Dreadnought and several ZGMF-600 GuAIZ. Although Prayer Reverie tells them that he doesn’t want to fight they continue and one of them slams him in an asteroid. Suddenly a DRAGOON-equipped Dreadnought "ghost" appears, separates itself from the real Dreadnought and attacks the GuAIZ, destroying all of them very easily. Afterwards it fires all its weapons on the real Dreadnought but the attack is stopped by the CAT1-X1/3 Hyperion. Then the two suits battle and finally Prayer joins the fight and together with the Hyperion he destroys the "ghost". At last the two suits turn their weapons on each other. In the end, this turned out to be a dream of Prayer's, foreshadowing his eventual battle with the Hyperion.
07 - XXXG-00W0 Wing Gundam Zero
This episode begins with a figure in a spacesuit (Heero Yuy) setting bombs, then fades to Gundam engineer Doctor J, apparently imprisoned. He talks to a shadowy visitor about history and his young protege as the person in space suit tries to escape the facility he has just sabotaged. The guards catch up to him, but he uses a nearby Virgo II mobile doll to distract them and escape to his machine - Wing Zero. Heero uses the twin buster rifle to break out of the base's hangar, but loses the weapon in the escape and resorts to using a Virgo II beam rifle. He is chased by several Virgo IIs along the length of the facility, which is actually a gigantic colony cannon. After dealing with his pursuit, Heero attacks the cannon directly with his beam rifle as the bombs begin to go off. Doctor J finishes his narration, commenting to his visitor (now revealed as Relena Peacecraft) that he chose Heero's codename personally. As the colony cannon explodes, Heero flies away to his next mission.
Gundam Evolve 7 was written and directed by Shukou Murase. The original Japanese voice actors are used; Hikaru Midorikawa for Heero Yuy and Minoru Inaba for Doctor J. The 3D animation was based on Bandai's Master Grade "Wing Gundam Zero - Endless Waltz" model.
It should be noted that this Evolve's place within Gundam Wing continuity is unclear, but it appears to take place during the last story arc of the series, after White Fang captures Relena but before Doctor J dies. During this period, Heero was working with the other four Gundam pilots; their absence from this mission is a source of much of this confusion.
08 - GAT-X105 Strike Gundam
In a secret ZAFT desert base, the Aile Strike Gundam faces off against several GINN OCHER Types. The animation adapted the style of visual special effect seen in The Matrix, and featured the Grand Slam Sword included with the Perfect Grade and later Master Grade Strike Gundam model kits.
09 - MSZ-006 Zeta Gundam
In space there lies a giant mobile armor called the Psycho Weapon and it's decimating the EFSF fleets so it's up to 3 Zeta Gundams to destroy the huge weapon...
Although numbered 9, this Evolve is the last to come out in Gundam Evolve ../Ω. It is said to feature three Zeta Gundams, three pilots with the aliases Red Snake, Grey Wolf, and White Unicorn as well as an enormous MA of unknown affiliation in orbit (listed as "QRX-006 Geminus" by MAHQ, but the ending credits suggest a name "Blue Rose"). There is also the mentioning of the Chakra Laboratory of AEUG/Karaba and a top-secret mission.
Red Snake's Zeta Gundam is red, with redesigned armour on the chest, feet, skirt and lower leg. The new armour sports a spiked look. In addition, the wings are wider and pointed, and there is a large vertical spike behind its head, apparently prodruding from the middle of its back. The pilot apparently is a young Newtype girl named Yurii Ajissah, who holds a special feeling towards her squadron leader, White Unicorn.
White Unicorn is believed to be the legendary ace Amuro Ray, based on the physical appearance, personal logo, military ranking, Yurii's memory of their encounter at Side 6 during the One Year War, and most importantly, Toru Furuya being the character's voice actor. His Zeta Gundam unit appears to be the same one that Amuro piloted in the short CGI film Green Divers (white with purple stripes, plus Amuro's signature "A" symbol on the left shoulder armour).
Grey Wolf's Zeta Gundam (nicknamed "Buster Zeta") unit is a yellow colour with two additional fins/airfoils on its upper back. Grey Wolf is unhappy with his machine's colors and would have preferred it to be grey. This, coupled with his nickname, his "Grey Wolf" logo and the fact that he is a former Zeon pilot, seems to imply that Grey Wolf is actually Zeon ace pilot Shin Matsunaga, the infamous "White Wolf of Solomon". Similarly, the original pilot of Red Snake's Zeta is implied to be Johnny Ridden, who was reassigned since Red Zeta is a Newtype-use machine.
10 - MSZ-010 ZZ Gundam
Judau is assigned to protect/escort the space transport ship Jupitris on his (probably also his girlfriend Roux Louka's) birthday. While on the recovery missions he encounters Neo Zeon forces pursuing a AMX-004-3 Quebeley MK.II. Seeing the Quebeley posing no threat, Judau assists it in destroying the Neo Zeon squad composed of Doven Wolfs riding on sub-flight platforms, allowing the Quebeley to land safely on Jupitris.
The last image of this short film shows a pilot whose face isn't seen, yet it bears a striking resemblance to an old friend (Puru 2)...
11 – RB-79 Ball
A Baoa Qu, the grounds of the final battle of the One Year War. As the scars of war remain fresh in the battlefield, novice Federation pilot Hiden surveys the area in a RB-79 Ball. Word comes in that Zeon remnants are about to attack. Though afraid, the young pilots proceed through the silent interiors of A Baoa Qu. Without warning, gunshots echo through the air and his party is decimated one-by-one. When Hiden, the sole survivor, presses further into the depths, he discovers the harsh reality behind war...
12 – RMS-099 Rick Dias
Quattro Bajeena boards his Rick Dias for a battle simulation to transfer combat data to the mass-production model. The data personnel has some fun with him, turning the Rick Dias's monitor red, revealing his own old Zaku from his "Red Comet" days as his opponent. Quattro is gradually cornered by the Zaku... Can he win against the legendary Red Comet?
And then he switches to the Hyaku Shiki, and faces off with an old rival...
13 - RMS-108 Marasai
The storyline of this clip centers around a young Titans pilot named Jonathan, as he deals with the battle and his difficult personal affairs at the same time.
14 - SD Musha Gundam
As evil Zaku bandits terrorise the country of Ark. Rekka Musha Gundam comes to the rescue chasing their leader Mazaku for the Scroll of Light he had stolen. Stopping briefly at a teahouse, Rekka informs three young kids about the Seven of Light Gundam team he leads. Suddenly Mazaku's Gelgoog minions set the building on fire. After defeating the minions, Mazaku appears and uses the Scroll to transform into the gigantic Hadou Musha Mazaku. Rekka is easily defeated by his gigantic and powerful foe. The children prepare to surrender but Rekka stands up and cries out. His noble spirit causes the Scroll to abandon Mazaku and give Rekka its true power, gifting him with the Armour of Light. With his new power and cheered on by the children, Rekka slices Mazaku in half and saves the day.
15 - "Newtype Challia Bull"
The short is a re-imagined version of an episode of the TV series with updated mechanical designs.
"Challia Bull was found to have the attributes of a Newtype during his activities in the Jupiter Energy Fleet. While doubtful of his own abilities, he is recruited and assigned by commander-in-chief Gihren to serve in Char Aznable's combat unit under Kycilia's command. Even as he senses the girl he met, known as Lalah Sune, to be something of a Newtype, the fierce combat with the Federation ace-piloted Gundam changed his convictions...."
- Black Stars by Sumitada Azumano (Evolve 6, 7)
- SOLDIER -Kanashimi No Shi- by Chino (Evolve 8)
- Konnamon Janai! by Shoichiro Hirata (Evolve 10)
- TIME IS ON MY SIDE by LISA (Evolve 11)
- shift by Sachiko Tsujimoto (Evolve 14)
- Owaranu Mirai by Jiro Kawakami
- Gundam Evolve../+ - Evolve 1-5 (9/6/2003) Re-Release (5/25/2007)
- Gundam Evolve../Ω - Evolve 6-10 (10/27/2006)
- Gundam Evolve../α - Evolve 11-15 (1/26/2007)
- Gundam EVOLVE../ - official site
- Gundam Evolve @ Bandai Channel
- Gundam Evolve (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia