Now of the series I know here, I have to disagree with some of the choices. However I'm not so conceited as to think I'm absolutely right and I could very easily have missed something. Hence this topic where I'm looking for more informed opinions.The Gundam franchise is all over the scale with Zeta Gundam, Gundam 0080, Gundam 0083, Victory Gundam, MS Igloo and Gundam Age as the most cynical, G Gundam, Gundam Wing, Gundam X, ∀ Gundam and Gundam 00 as the most idealistic and rest like the original Mobile Suit Gundam, The 08th MS Team, Gundam ZZ, Gundam SEED and Gundam SEED Destiny somewhere in the middle.
In general, the Universal Century is widely regarded as the most cynical, affected by Tomino's battle with depression, conflict with Sunrise, and hatred of Japan's actions and attitude towards World War II. It's a continual cycle of From Bad to Worse and Kill 'em All, though it has a tendency to flip-flop to idealistic from time to time, as evidenced best by the massive Tone Shift between Zeta Gundam and Gundam ZZ and the ones in some of the OV As and Compilation Movies.
The Future Century is a Super Robot show, which predisposes it for idealism. Although it takes place in a Crapsack World with plenty of corruption and Scenery Gorn, it is also the only timeline that actually found a way to end mass-casualty warfare; the problem is fixing the system used to replace it.
After Colony features heavily damaged Child Soldiers. It proceeds to break the pilots who didn't come pre-broken, and then breaks the Child Soldiers again for good measure. There are twisted politics that leave the heroes as continual Unwitting Pawns, and the destruction of many colonies and nations but does not Kill 'em All and ultimately presents an idealistic message about pacifism and the ability of people to heal.
The After War era starts off as a Crapsack World in the culimination of an apocalyptic war and a mass Colony Drop leading to the death of 99% of the human race, and everyone trying to survive by whatever means necessary, however it gets much better. In the end, the Frost Brothers are defeated, the Satellite System is destroyed, the myth of Newtypes as weapons of war or the next step of human evolution, which drove the world-ending war in the first place is refuted, the warmongering leaders of the New Earth Federation and the Space Colonies are both wiped out(by the Frost Brothers) and the remnants of the governments finally making peace with each other, and the various protagonists all survive in a world that is gradually recovering, making this one of the most idealistic series in the franchise to date.
The Cosmic Era is pretty much the darkest of the non UC Gundam universes, with Kira, Lacus, Athrun and their friends being the only thing that kept humanity from destroying itself. When they weren't there, well as Rau Le Creuset summarizes life in CE:
"It's like we're walking through a maze of sorts. There are always so many paths to choose from. We pick a path, and we follow it. You people walk your path believing that something you desire is waiting for you. I walk it to confirm that there is nothing there."
The first season of Anno Domini starts as cynical. The heroes are part of what is arguably a terrorist organization trying to end war by brute force, and all of them are deeply scarred in one way or another. Governments are corrupt and the first part ends on a decidedly unhappy note. In the second season, idealism begins to triumph over the angst episode by episode, followed by a cautiously upbeat ending. The Movie moves this timeline firmly on the idealistic end, showing that even the most war-weary of soldiers can find true understanding, even if it takes a long time to do so.
The Advanced Generation slides down towards cynical over the show's three-generation timespan, with Flit Asuno going from Wide-Eyed Idealist to Knight Templar, Asemu deciding that the only way to keep both sides from destroying each other is to keep things at a stalemated Forever War, and Kio's attempts to connect with his foes meeting with repeated failure. The Vagans, meanwhile, see-saw from enigmatic villains to legitimately aggreived and then back to unsympathetic with The Reveal of their leader's true goal and ultimately all perishes for it. Although at the surface it seems to slide back into idealism at the end, it is at best a Bittersweet Ending for the finale.
And finally the Correct Century displays White and Gray Morality, with a conflict largely stemming from misunderstandings and confusion between two societies rebuilt after a world-ending war. The Hero is also an All-Loving Hero, and both sides are portrayed as not being evil. The reason it's at the end? The Correct Century is the Distant Finale to every other Gundam timeline.
I would agree that UC tends to be the most cynical, especially in the case of Zeta, but calling SEED "dark" is stretching things a wee bit don't you think? Oh sure, the N-Jammers being deloyed killed millions and the rest of humanity is starving to death but we don't see any of that and it's only mentioned a handful of times so I don't count it. Moreover, the final "battle" is Kira screaming about how humans can change and be better and yada yada yada. I don't see how this can be called a "cynical" setting at all.
From what I remember, G would have to be the most idealistic simply by its nature. It's a very light-hearted show (relatively speaking) and the hero saves the day through THE ULTIMATE POWER OF LOVE.
My two cents to start off things... Which would you guys say is the Most Idealistic and Cynical?