Mobile Suit Gundam’s nearly 50-year history exists in part down to two things: creator Yoshiyuki Tomino has long professed that it is female fans who kept interest in the cancelled original series strong, while of course the evolution of Gunpla model kits likewise helped transform what could’ve been a one-off into an anime juggernaut. So what happens when you combine the two? A very good year for Gundam.
Bandai Namco released its yearly earnings reports for the end of FY2023, and revealed that the Gundam franchise delivered a record-high of 131.3 billion yen among the group’s major subsidiaries—bested only by the iconic Dragonball franchise, but otherwise dwarfing the rest of the companies’ major brands, including the likes of Ultraman, Super Sentai, Kamen Rider, and more.
It’s a high Gundam, already a largely popular series, has not seen in recent memory, and it’s one that makes sense. This is the first year since 2016 that there has been a mainline Gundam anime series broadcasting, so interest in the broader series has been bolstered—and that’s even before you get to Witch From Mercury’s generally strong critical reception. And then, of course, there’s the model kits, which have kept pace with the airing of the series with regular releases, and they’re also some of the strongest model kits in Gundam’s 1/144-scaled “High Grade” line Bandai has ever made.
Interest in the series and the quality of the models themselves has meant Witch From Mercury sets have regularly sold out almost immediately both in Japan and overseas—in an interview for Bandai’s internal newsletter last March, president Masaru Kawaguchi even specifically noted that the kit for the series’ first primary Gundam, the Aerial, has been one of Bandai’s highest-selling model kits since it launched late last year, and has remained in high demand even as the series has self has moved on to an upgraded version of the Aerial’s base design, the Aerial Rebuild, as its primary mecha.
There’s a lot of reasons that factor into Gundam’s runaway success with Witch From Mercury, but it’s difficult not to put at least some focus on the introduction of the franchise’s first-ever primary female protagonist in Suletta Mercury. And to go a step further, making a driving aspect of the series’ story Suletta’s close, romantically intertwined relationship with another female character, Miorine Rembran, has garnered the series even more interest as the franchise begins to explore what could be one of its first major, explicitly queer relationships in its half-decade history.
Witch From Mercury has yet to be confirmed to run more than 24 episodes, released across two seasons, the latter of which is currently still airing. But if it’s delivered Gundam to highs its never seen before, there’s probably a good chance the end of season two will not be the last time we see Suletta, Miorine, and their friends. Unless someone gets splatted before then, of course.
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