Kido Senshi Gundam was produced by Nippon Sunrise in 1979. The story was written by Yoshiyuki Tomino and the character designs were from Yoshikazu Yasuhiko. By the end of the 43-episode series the show had achieved an incredible following, especially among older teens and adults. In 1988 the series was compiled and edited into three 140 minute feature-length films and released on LaserDisc.
The original Gundam series begins in the Fall of U.C. 0079. A new EMF Mobile Suit Carrier named the White Base has just been completed, and for its maiden voyage has been dispatched to pick up the RX-78 Gundam and other experimental mobile suits from Side 7. No sooner does the White Base arrives at Side 7 than it is attacked by a Jion scouting expedition led by Major Char Aznable. Acting against Char's orders, three Zaku pilots invade the colony and try to capture the Gundam for Jion. During the confusion of the attack, a young colonist named Amuro Rey finds himself at the EMF research base and near the brand-new Gundam. Enraged by the destruction the Zakus are causing, Amuro boards the Gundam and quickly familiarizes himself with the controls. (Amuro's speed learning is later attributed to the emergence of his New Type powers.) He quickly activates the Gundam and proceeds to destroy all three Zakus before they know what's going on.
Meanwhile, the White Base has suffered serious damage at the hands of Char's forces. All of the command staff have been wounded or killed, leaving the ship's young quartermaster named Bright Noah the only person in command. Bright receives orders to take the new mobile suits and as many civilian refugees as he can and escape to Luna 2, an orbiting EMF base. Bright recruits several civilian members into the crew to help fill up the missing ranks, including Amuro Rey and a young medical student named Sayla Mass. During the evacuation, Sayla accidentally runs in to Char Aznable, who is secretly trying to get a closer look at the Gundam. Char immediately recognizes Sayla as his sister! Furthermore, we learn that Char is actually Cassoval Rem Daikun, the son of Jion Zum Daikun. Char is trying to rise high enough in the Jion military that he will be able to avenge his father's death on the Zabi family. Sayla tries to convince Char to give up his quest, but the arrival of Amuro in the Gundam scares him off.
The White Base escapes Side 7, in the process handing Char the first of many defeats at the hands of Amuro Rey and the Gundam. After arriving at Luna 2 and unloading the wounded, Bright is ordered to take the White Base down to the Earth's surface with the Gundam and to become the spearhead of a new attack force against the Jion invaders. Over the next two months Amuro, Bright, and the crew of the White Base proceed to acquire an amazing string of victories against various Jion forces occupying the Earth. Slowly the Jions are driven off Earth by the EMF, until finally most of the Earth's surface has been recaptured. Meanwhile, the White Base finally arrives at Jaburo, the EMF's central command headquarters located deep underground in the jungles of South America. The White Base is refit and resupplied, and then sent back into Earth orbit, there to take part in a new offensive against the Jion forces. The ship is attacked while reaching orbit and stops at Side 6 for quick repairs and resupply.
By this time Amuro has discovered the real source of his incredible battle record; he is what Jion Zum Daikun called a "New Type." New Type humans are people with increased perception who can sense things normal humans cannot. Amuro can actually sense when an enemy is near and act accordingly. Remember that with Minovski particles there is no longer any radar, so this is a very powerful ability indeed. In fact, a secret Jion research base at Side 6 is working on a new development called the Psychommu Interface (short for Psychic Communicator Interface). The Psychommu Interface will theoretically allow a New Type to control remote-controlled drones (called bits) over an unlimited distance; this is also a very powerful weapon in a world without radar. In order to help test this new device, the research base has temporarily gained the help of two powerful Jion New Types: a young girl named Lalah Sun, and Char Aznable.
Lalah and Amuro accidentally meet on Side 6. Lalah already loves Char, but cannot help but feel a strong attraction to Amuro. Amuro clearly has a crush on Lalah from the start. Amuro and Lalah talk about themselves and New Types, but are separated during the next battle between the White Base and Char's forces. After the battle, Amuro and the White Base are ordered to the war front via Side 5, an abandoned space colony. After a brief encounter with Char and Lalah at Side 5, the White Base crew learn their final destination; they are to lead an assault on Solomon, one of the last Jion fortresses between the EMF and Side 3, the Jion Archduchy's home colony.
Meanwhile, Giren Zabi, son of Degin Zabi, learns of the planned attack and prepares for it in two ways. First, he begins construction of the "Colony Laser," a huge weapon made by evacuating one of the colonies and turning it into one giant laser. Second, he gives permission for Lalah to use the Elmeth, an experimental Mobile Armor equipped with the Psychommu Interface. A mobile armor is a large mobile suit equipped with much heavier armor and a more deadly variety of weapons. They are EXTREMELY expensive to make, however, so only a few are made during the course of the One Year War. During the battle of Solomon, Lalah (in the Elmeth) and Char confront Sayla and Amuro. During the battle Lalah and Amuro accidentally form a "New Type bond," where the two share memories and feelings on a level beyond human understanding. The bond is interrupted by Char, who is jealous at Amuro's and Lalah's relationship. Amuro and Char fight, and Lalah tries to stop them by flying between the two combatants, just as Amuro is about to finish off Char with his beam saber. Amuro accidentally impales the Elmeth on the beam saber, instantly killing Lalah and forcing Char to retreat. Sayla and a grief stricken Amuro also retreat to the White Base.
The Battle of Solomon ends with the total destruction of the Jion forces. As the EMF prepares to finish the war by capturing Side 3, Degin Zabi requests an armistice to meet with the EMF and surrender. A large fleet under command General Grenville of the EMF meets with Degin Zabi's forces to officially accept Jion's surrender. However, just before Degin surrenders Giren Zabi fires the Colony Laser, instantly destroying both the EMF fleet and Degin Zabi. In the resulting confusion the Jion forces regroup and attack the EMF forces that are approaching Side 3.
The final battle between the EMF and the Jion forces is the fiercest battle of the One Year War. During the battle Giren Zabi is killed by his sister, Kishiria, for the crime of patricide. Amuro in the Gundam and Char in his new Mobile Armor, the Zeong, fight their climatic final battle. The two continue to fight even after both their suits are destroyed, until they are interrupted by the arrival of Sayla, who manages to convince Char not to kill Amuro. Char saves Amuro and Sayla, and then returns to Side 3, where he finally avenges his father by killing Kishiria Zabi. The EMF defeats the remaining Jion forces, and the One Year War ends with victory for the EFG.