Well I have to begin by saying that Mobile Suit Gundam was one of the anime that changed me from enthusiast to hardcore fan. There has always been something about this franchise that has always kept me intrigued. To tell you the truth, when I first got my hands on a copy of the original series a number of years ago now, I was almost intimidated to watch it. Gundam has had such a rich history, and when I thought about how little I knew about anime at the time, it felt like I was taking on a huge task to watch this. When I look back on it, I am glad that I didn't let this deter me from watching because Mobile Suit Gundam has ended up becoming one of my favorite series to date.
The story is predicated around two factions in a war, The EFSF (Earth Federation Space Forces) and Zeon. The war takes place during a time period known as Universal Century (U.C.) 0079. Humanity has moved into space during this time into colonies known as Sides. The Zeon forces inhabit Side 3 and have declared war on the Earth Federation. The conflict ensues because The Prinicipality of Zeon believes that the Earth's gravity weighs down the potential of people. By being in space, humanity is able to develop enhanced skills and form a superior race known as New Types. The Earth Federation does not believe in the same ideals as Zeon and as a result they are at war.
After an 8 month stalemate, Amuro Ray accidentally begins piloting the RX-78 Gundam during an attack on the Side 7 colony. Ironically, Amuro hates the war and his father is the creator of the RX-78 Gundam. This theme is common across many of the Gundam series such as Z Gundam and Gundam F91. The protagonist's parent(s) are often responsible for the development of their mobile suits.
Amuro is able to naturally begin controlling the Gundam with ease. His rival in the show is the main antagonist, Char Aznable. The two pilots possess New Type abilities and as such end up in many fights that no other pilots sand a chance in. Through the course of the show, Amuro and Char engage in numerous battles, with Char acquiring increasingly better and more advanced mobile suits (upgrading from the Zaku II -->Z'Gok-->Gelgoog-->Zeong). The final battle ends up being an indecisive one. Both pilots fight to the point where they are completely incapacitated with no clear indication of which side really won the war.
The answer to the final battle is answered in the sequel, Z Gundam. The Gundam franchise is huge, but a strong aspect of the original branch of the series is the ability for the writers to keep the story timeline together and allow elements from previous series to be explained and reintroduced. Anther excellent aspect of this series is the way that the sides are presented in the story. There is no clear indication of who the good and bad guys ares. The story is presented on such a way that both sides feel justified in their actions. This aspect made is very easy to get behind characters on both sides because neither side was portrayed as being the villain.
The cast of characters is great and the writers are not afraid to kill of characters either. This helps to keep a sense of mortality in the series so that the cast is not overwhelmed with powerhouses. The animation style of this segment of the series is fairly primitive, but considering that the show was animated in 1979, it is phenomenal in relation to other shows produced at that time. The music of Gundam has always been a favorite of mine. The soundtrack to this series is decent and if you are a fan of the PS2 games, many of the background tracks will be familiar to you.