Ultimate Mark

Production Reference:
Char's Counterattack Encyclopedia
> Back to Gundam Unofficial


Translator's Note: Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack Encyclopedia, volume 327 of the pocket-sized Keibunsha Enyclopedia series, was published in March 1988. This little book includes brief but entertaining interviews with several of the creators.


—Exactly what kind of work does a director do?

Tomino: When you're making a movie, it's a managerial role. But in anime, not just this movie, it's confusing because there are a lot of people called "directors" such as animation directors, art directors, and recording directors. Please think of it something like this. They all manage their own areas, and then I manage all of them in turn.

Actually, it would be nice if I could manage everything myself, but there's just too much work and I can't do it all alone. So a single anime will have a lot of these "directors." But I'm the only one in the role of the director of a normal movie.

—What's the hardest part?

Tomino: It's that the characters have gotten older. When I first made Gundam, I made it a story about the characters growing up. That was in order to distinguish it from other works. It was successful, but soon, they'd all grown up too much. I never thought I'd be doing Gundam for this long. (laughs) Because of that, it's hard to make it a work that even little children can watch.

But while Char and Amuro have gotten older, they haven't become what you'd call adults. They're the ones who challenge the adults. It seems strange to call them children, but that's what they are. What would happen if people like that really did what they wanted to do? That's the story of Char's Counterattack.

—Kamille from Z and Judau from ZZ don't appear, do they?

Tomino: I wanted to make the story as simple and easily understood as possible. I really meant it to be just a story of Char and Amuro, but it didn't work out that way. Since I'm a wicked director (laughs), I ended up depicting the people around those two as well.

Also, people who've previously been watching Gundam are probably saying, "It's not just about those two." (laughs) No matter what, you can't leave out the rest of the family... In the end, it wasn't so simple. (laughs) (1)

—What about the design of the mobile suits?

Tomino: Honestly, I'm not that interested in the mecha anymore. I'll be scolded by the sponsors for saying this, but I don't really like mobile suits now I'm almost fifty years old. (laughs) The one thing I can say, though, is that I'm constantly asking youngsters to do the designs. That way, I don't have to be constrained by Mr. Kunio Okawara's designs. The new generation of Gundams should be created by a new generation of people.

After all, isn't it like that with actual mecha? For example, with things like the Corolla, the old and new types have different designers. There should also be a difference between enemy and ally. With fighter planes, it's very unlikely that the same person would design both sides.

—As a director, what's it like making a Gundam?

Tomino: It's like writing a novel. There's a reality called the Gundam world, and I'm depicting the people who live in it. I think it's difficult but enjoyable work.

Translator's Notes

(1) Literally, Tomino says you can't leave out the "blood relatives" or "immediate family" (肉親, nikushin), but none of Amuro's and Char's living relatives appear in the film.


—First, please tell us when you started working on the character designs.

Kitazume: I think I received the initial orders around February of last year. Storyboards were completed in May and June, and from then on I was drawing newly appearing characters.

—Char and Amuro, as well as Bright and the others, are characters who've been appearing for a while. Was that hard for you?

Kitazume: Naturally, it was difficult to decide. I tried to make them feel like Mr. (Yoshikazu) Yasuhiko's designs up until Z Gundam, plus my own image of them, but... They both looked more middle-aged, but they're supposed to be the protagonists. Amuro's face, for example, gradually grew rounder.

In terms of which aspects of the two should be emphasized, I was a little off the mark from what the director had in mind. Char isn't a villain, and while Amuro isn't just a youngster, he's not middle-aged either... Those nuances were difficult.

—What about the Newtype Quess?

Kitazume: Even after reading the script, I didn't really understand which Quess was the real one. She showed a harshness that came from her naivety. It was hard figuring out to express her naivety as a Newtype, when she's so different from Four and Ple.

—And the other female characters?

Kitazume: I drew many versions of Chan, but I never quite got an OK. One was a bit like a college student, and another was very girly, but she ended up feeling more straightforward. Since she's a mechanic, I had to think about how to show her affection for Amuro.

I gave Kayra short hair because she's a pilot. That was the hairstyle of the director's wife at the time.

—So did you draw that after meeting her?!

Kitazume: No, no, it was in a rough drawn by the director. And after that, I finished up Rezin more or less as per my rough.

This time, I didn't really have much opportunity to talk with the director. I think that's probably because he didn't want me to have an image fixed in my mind from the beginning.

—By the way, you also served as an animation director. What was that work like?

Kitazume: I mainly did animation direction on the opening part, which was about one-fifth of the whole thing. Since I'd been working with the key animators for a long time, it was relatively easy, but I think it must have been hard for the other animation directors.

—Director Tomino's demands for character performance must have required a lot of effort... (1)

Kitazume: Of course, it was a work that wasn't supposed to look like anime, or rather one where performance was more important. So it would have been hard work unless we had enough capable people.

Since it's a movie, the screen is in CinemaScope size, so it might seem like the top and bottom are cut off. But really, it's that the left and right sides are wider. Unless you keep that in mind, the screen ends up getting smaller.

So this time, I did the layout checks for the whole thing. I'd send back the layouts submitted by each key animator with corrections based on the director's wishes. That's the part of the job that had the greatest weight. I think it actually took the most time, too.

—Thank you very much.

Translator's Notes

(1) The Japanese term 芝居 (shibai) can mean "drama" or "theatrical play," but it can also mean "acting" or "performance," and that's generally the sense in which it's used in discussing animation work.


—Your job this time was to handle the mobile suit design, but how many did you draw roughs for?

Izubuchi: About as many as appear onscreen. There were mass production types on both sides, a mass-produced version of the Zeta, a Newtype machine based on a mass production type, and then a new Gundam and Char's personal mobile suit. The Alpha Azieru, though, was an idea that I proposed.

—What did you have in mind as you were designing?

Izubuchi: First of all, I tried as much as possible not to cheat with detail, and to keep it simple. Otherwise you wouldn't understand the size of the mobile suits, and since there wasn't much drawing time, it would also put a burden on the animation directors.

Also, I felt I wanted to treat them like characters. I designed them with the impression from the first Gundam, of giant infantrymen, in my mind.

—That's also reflected in their armament.

Izubuchi: I added the panzer fausts to give them the image of a soldier. In recent mobile suits, all the armament was built in, right? That makes it pointless to give them manipulators. So aside from mobile armors, I made all the weapons handheld.

I also tried to create a sense of unity among each side. The Neo Zeon forces are unified by the image that they're wearing helmets. I wanted the Sazabi to look like it has the same helmet Char used to wear, plus the Hyaku-Shiki's face, but...

And in some places, I was just being playful. Giving them funnels that looked like depth charges...

—What kind of concept was behind the fin funnels?

Izubuchi: There was an order from Director Tomino asking that we give it cloak-shaped funnels. The idea itself came from Mr. Masahisa Suzuki (the illustrator of Blassty and Ariel) and then I cleaned it up for animation.

Many people's designs are incorporated in the Gundam. With the chonmage-style shape of its head, and the idea of putting a bazooka on its back, I had personal help from Mr. Koichi Ohata (the designer of Super Attack Speed Galvion and Hagane no Oni). The concept is probably close to that of the Gundam Mk-II. When it came to my own work, I tried to design it as a continuation of the original.

—What would you like to try doing in future?

Izubuchi: I want to feel comfortable betraying the people who have accepted my work. With these designs, when I asked what comes next after the dinosaurian evolution of the mobile suits up through ZZ, I just swerved and make them look really simple.

—Thank you very much.