Super Deformed Gundam or SD Gundam originated from a contributed illustration of a junior high school student from Nagoya by the name of Koji Yokoi to the "Model News" magazine that Bandai was issuing in the 1980s. The illustration is of a Gundam but with the weird proportion where the overall height of the Gundam is equal to 2 of its heads. This illustration interested the chief editor and so leading to Koji Yokoi serializing SD Gundam in 4 frame comics in "Model News".
The super deformed designs were suitable for capsule toys, and so they were first merchandised as small SD Gundam-shaped erasers as part of the Gashapon series SD Gundam World in 1985. Built with a hole so they could be skewered into a pencil, the series was a hit with Japanese schoolchildren, and the concept soon expanded to other forms of merchandising and media, including gunpla, manga, trading cards, anime and video games.
The popularity of SD Gundam was such that between the late '80s and early '90s, sales from the SD Gundam franchise far exceeded those of the rest of Gundam. And whereas Gundam pioneered the real robot branch of mecha anime, SD Gundam's more comical and exaggerated approach to the genre served to move it away from the ultra-realism that it was shifting towards in the '80s, and inspired a new flood of super-deformed robot shows the late '80s and early '90s such as Sunrise's Mashin Hero Wataru and Haō Taikei Ryū Knight, as well as video games such as the Super Robot Wars franchise.
Although the SD Gundam franchise initially started out featuring characters and mecha from the mainstream Gundam series, by the 1990s SD Gundam spawned numerous spin-off series, SD Gundam Sengokuden (Musha Gundam) which has a Japanese Warring States setting, SD Gundam Gaiden (Knight Gundam) which has a fantasy medieval setting and SD Command Chronicles which has a modern military style to name a few.
Recent depictions of SD Gundams now use a 3-head scale as opposed to the classic 2-head scale.
The SD Gundam designs were also used throughout the earlier Super Robot Wars games (up through SRW F and F Final, stopping at SRW Alpha for the PS1), as well as other similar crossover games, as can be seen by the pupils present in the eyes of the various Mobile Suits that appeared. From SRW Alpha and beyond, however, the eyes of Mobile Suits remain blank, though the robots themselves are still super-deformed (just as all mechs represented in typical SRW games are), they also adhere to the new 3-head scale.
Musha Gundam first appeared from a toy model comic titled Plamo-Kyoshiro. The popularity of the Musha Gundam series has led to the domination of Musha style Gundam dominating BB Senshi line.
Although the stories themselves are parody, SD Gundam models is a serious business. While regular Gundam model lines strive for realism by introducing High Grade, Master Grade, and Perfect Grade models, SD Gundam models are designed for (and sometimes by) the customization crowd. Many SD Gundam models are designed such that variations of the stock models, as seen by SD Gundam comics, can be made by using parts from other SD Gundam kits. Modifying SD models is very popular in Japan, more so than the full-sized counterparts. In addition to made-up robots contributed to SD Gundam comics, Bandai also held monthly contests for custom Gundam (usually Musha-based) models.
Some SD Gundam models can be combined into a non-SD unit, either by design or via customization. Alongside SD kits of standard Gundam mecha, each year usually offers a stand alone line (usually supported by a separate manga) with each of the kits sharing a common gimmick. As of early 2006, the current line are designed as combiners. Whilst each kit can build a Gundam with at least two forms, all of the kits are designed to double as part of a combined form in various ways.
- Mobile Suit SD Gundam (1988 to 1993): A series of animated shorts released in movie theaters and OVA format during the peak of SD Gundam's popularity in Japan. Contains the following entries:
- Mobile Suit SD Gundam (1988)
- Mobile Suit SD Gundam Mk II (1989)
- Mobile Suit SD Gundam's Counterattack (1989)
- Mobile Suit SD Gundam Mk III (1990)
- Mobile Suit SD Gundam Mk IV (1990)
- Mobile Suit SD Gundam Mk V (1990)
- Mobile Suit SD Gundam: SD Gundam Gaiden (1990)
- Mobile Suit SD Gundam The Movie: Musha Knight Command: SD Gundam Scramble (1991)
- Mobile Suit SD Gundam Festival (1993)
- Doozy Bots (1991) An attempt to market SD Gundam in North America, but wasn't picked up. A rarity among Gundam fans.
- SD Gundam Mushaparaku (2001): A short music video produced by Sunrise D.I.D. (Digital Imaging Department?) that first appeared in Tokyo Hobby Show in 2001/10/13. The video uses cel-shaded versions of SD Gundam Mushamaruden characters. The video is bundled with the limited special color clear version of BB Senshi #178.
- SD Gundam Mushaparaku 2 (2003): Debuted in 42nd Shizuoka Hobby show 2003 on 2003/5/17, this video uses SD Gundam Mushamaruden 2 and 3 characters.
- SD Gundam Force (2003)
- BB Senshi Sangokuden : Brave Battle Warriors (2010)
In Japan, SD Gundam comics was included in Bandai's BB Senshi Sangokuden plastic model kits, titled 'Comic World'. The popularity of SD series lead to stand-alone publications of SD Gundam comics, initially serialized in Comic Bom Bom by Kodansha. Comic World stories may contain different continuity from the expanded counterparts. G Beagle is only shown in Comic World format. In later BB Senshi kits, especially the musha-themed kits, contain side story for the separately published series.
Most of the SD Gundam manga were serialized in Kodansha's Comic Bom Bom with the exception of Musharetsuden ZERO which was serialized in Hobby Japan.
Some of the SD Gundam books are translated into Chinese and published by Rightman Publishing Ltd. in Hong Kong.
Below is a rough list of manga works, a more accurate and complete list is available at the Japanese wiki entry.
Musha Gundam series
Musha Gundam series is the longest running SD Gundam series, lasting over 15 years. With exception of Musha senki, characters, items, and places are named with excessive use of kanji, which usually makes no literal sense unless you read it, similar to the Mad Gab. For example, '頑駄無' is pronounced 'Gan Da Mu', or 'Gundam'.
- SD Sengokuden (1988-1992)
- Shin SD Sengokuden (1992-1996)
- Chō SD Sengokuden (1997-1999)
- Musha senki (1999)
- SD Gundam Musha Generation (2000)
- SD Gundam Mushamaruden (2001-2004)
- SD Gundam Force Emaki Musharetsuden (2004-2005)
- SD Gundam Force Emaki Musharetsuden Zero
- SD Gundam Musha Banchō Fūunroku (2006-)
- SD Gundam Fullcolor Gekijou (Ongoing)
- Produced by Azuma Yuki (あずま 勇輝), this series is based on the SD Gundam Fullcolor Gashapon toy line, which are capsule toys for SD Gundam figures.
In the past most of the SD Gundam games are turn-based strategy games but recent SD Gundam games started appearing in other genres.
Below is a rough list of game works, a more accurate and complete list is available at the シリーズゲー 作品一覧#SDガンダ 関連 Japanese wiki entry.
- SD Gundam Gachapon Senshi series
- SD Sengokuden series
- SD Gundam Side Story series
- SD Gundam Eiyūden series
- SD Gundam G Generation series
- SD Gundam Force
- SD Gundam Force: Showdown!
- SD Gundam Online
- Gundam Comic Chronicle - detailed information on all SD Gundam comics ever published (Japanese)
- Red Basara's homepage - detailed information on Musha Gundam timelines (Japanese)
- Inugoya's homepage - information on all SD Gundam timelines (Japanese)
- SD Gundam history page (Japanese)
- STRIPE's home page (Japanese)
- Bandai Hobby Site (Japanese)
- SD Sengokuden history (Chinese)
- ToYaMeI's homepage (Chinese)
- SD Gundam Mushaparaku press release (Japanese)
- SD Gundam Mushaparaku 2 news release (Japanese)
- Bandai Hobby Site(Japanese)