There's nothing more enjoyable than watching two giant robots go at it. There's a satisfying impact to the combat as metal goes against metal, and two pilots duke it out to see which one is superior. In the Gundam series, often most people take the combat for granted, thanks to so many scenes where one side or the other contains an ace pilot that can easily slice through all the lesser opponents on the opposite end.
However, Gundam also has some of the roughest, most brutal combat encounters in all of mecha anime. Ones where the suits are absolutely destroyed by the end, and often only one pilot gets to leave. For this list, we're looking at ten of the most brutal fights in Gundam history.
10 00-RAISER VS. REBORNS GUNDAM
The final fight of 00 Gundam comes down to two different ideologies on how to best run Celestial Being. Ribbons Almark believes more than anything else that Innovators should control humanity’s destiny because they don’t know what to do on their own. Meanwhile, as someone who began a child soldier, Setsuna simply wants Celestial Being to do what they always claimed: stop conflict everywhere. With no other recourse, the two of them battle so long they actually destroy one another’s suits. But even that isn’t enough to put an end to their battle, and they wind up finishing their conflict with the 0 Gundam and the Exia in one final, dramatic clash.
9 TRANSIENT GUNDAM VS. BUILD BURNING GUNDAM
Build Fighters Try isn’t quite as good as the original Build Fighters series, but it has some pretty fun fight scenes in it nonetheless. Like this battle from the middle of the series, where main character Kamiki Sekai faces off against the World Champion of Gunpla and leader of Celestial Sphere, Wilfrid Kijima. Given an opportunity to face off against Kijima in a friendly sparring match, things quickly get heated as they both realize the talent their opponent has in hand to hand combat that could only come in a series like this. In the end, Sekai pushes his Build Burning beyond the limit to create a massive flaming phoenix that destroys the playing field’s moon in an attempt to defeat Kijima, destroying his Gundam’s arms just after the battle reaches a time limit draw.
8 WING ZERO VS. EPYON
For people who grew up watching Gundam Wing, Heero and Zechs’ battles over the course of the series must feel about as iconic as Char and Amuro. In the last episode of Wing, the two face off one last time as Heero and his allies try to stop Zechs’ crazy-pants plan to crash two giant ships into Earth as a way to put a stop to war.
Much like Char vs. Amuro’s final battle, Heero and Zechs’ fight isn’t just a physical one, but the two converse at the same time, talking about their opposing views. In the end, the Wing Zero stands victorious, and Zechs goes out in a sacrificial blaze by helping to destroy the Peacemillion battleship.
7 STAR BUILD STRIKE VS. WING GUNDAM FENICE
This battle was supposed to be a walk in the park for Sei and Reiji. Meant to decide their place in the Best 16, they find themselves up against their friend Ricardo Fellini, who has already secured a spot for the tournament. Though Fellini hints at throwing the battle for their sake beforehand, when the battle begins his pride as a warrior won’t allow him to do so. Instead, what follows are two evenly-matched Gundams throwing literally everything in their arsenal at one another. By the end, they’ve destroyed their weapons and are fighting purely with hand to hand, taking the battle to a draw as neither suit is able to move.
6 TRY FIGHTERS VS. TEAM SRSC
It’s no surprise that one of the best fight scenes in Build Fighters Try is directly inspired by 08th MS Team, one of the best Gundam series ever created. The main characters find themselves up against the Seiren Technical College, a group of veteran fighters with a love of One Year War-era mobile suits and experts in tactics. They quickly block all communication, making it impossible for the fledgling Try Fighters to coordinate, then capitalize
off their opponent’s weaknesses. It’s only thanks to a secret weapon from their team leader that the Try Fighters are able to clear the regional qualifiers and move on to the next level.
5 IO FLEMING VS. LIVING DEAD
The characters in Gundam Thunderbolt are proof that a character’s alignment with a given group does not decide whether they’re good or evil. Io Fleming is an Earth Federation Forces officer that’s an absolute jerk, battling against the Zeon’s Living Dead, a group of amputee pilots. In the midst of an encounter in the first episode, Io viciously kills two of their three members. He takes sadistic joy in wiping out their numbers, even using one’s body as a shield from some of the others’ sniper fire. In the end, only Daryl is left remaining, starting a vicious battle for the remainder of the One Year War.
4 KAMPFER AMAZING VS. GM SNIPER K9
The concept of a Char-like character in a world where Gundam is just an anime and there’s no need to hide one’s identity is pretty hilarious. But the Meijin’s quarterfinals match against the GM Sniper K9 is anything but, leading to a tense showdown amidst a ruined cityscape. The entire battle centers around the GM Sniper’s remote attack ability and desire to prove that proper tactics are the superior way to have a Gunpla battle. On the Meijin’s side, he relies on his superior piloting skills and the Kampfer’s absurd amount of weapons to take the victory. Nonetheless, by the end both suits are nearly completely destroyed.
3 NU GUNDAM VS. SAZABI
By the time Char's Counterattack released in the late ’80s, Amuro and Char’s battles during the original Mobile Suit Gundam series were legendary. Two completely different men from wholly different backgrounds, tied together only because of their meetings on the battlefield in the stars. But Char’s Counterattack finally gives viewers a decisive victor in their battles, as the two face off in their “psycho-frame” suits which bolster their NewType powers. With the fate of billions of people on the line, their encounter is a brutal match up until only one mobile suit is left standing while the other is sliced to pieces.
2 GOUF CUSTOM VS. 08th MS TEAM
Much of the appeal of 08th MS Team relies on the series lack of NewTypes, slicing their way through entire squadrons of mobile suits with ease. But while they don’t have that, they do have Norris Packard, Zeon forces and ace pilot. With his customized Gouf unit he’s able to rush into battle against the 08th MS Team while they’re protecting some Guntanks for a mission and make them look like complete novices. Though they work together to battle him, ultimately his superior experience and knowledge of the battlefield leads to his victory. He sacrifices his life, but takes out all the Guntanks, making their mission a failure.
1 GUNDAM BARBATOS VS. GRAZE RITTERS
By far the most brutal battle in Gundam history...is barely even a battle. So much of Gundam comes down two opposing ideologies hating one another, but maintaining some mutual respect. But the forces of Gjallarhorn and Carta Issue don’t respect Tekkadan seeing them as a threat to the natural order. Before they stood up and tried to make a place for themselves, Tekkadan were slaves meant to toil their lives away. So it’s no surprise that when Carta shows up and offers them thirty minutes of prep time for a “duel” that he ignores them, taking advantage of them having their guard down and obliterating their mobile suits before they even know what happens.
NEXT: 10 Best Mecha Anime Ever