Ultimate Mark

Production Reference:
Gundam Great Complete Works Part II
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Translator's Note: Published in August 2002 as part of Kodansha's "TV Magazine Special Collection" series, Mobile Suit Gundam Great Complete Works Part II was a followup to the 1991 Great Complete Works which provided a single-volume overview of the second decade of the Gundam series, from Mobile Suit Gundam F91 to ∀ Gundam.

As well as information on the story, characters, and mobile suits, it included in-depth features on the production background and exclusive interviews with some notable directors, producers, and mechanical designers. I'm in the process of translating these features below.

The following text is copyright © 2002 Kodansha.


—Could we hear your thoughts on the span from F91 to ?

Tomino: Ten years ago, when I'd made F91, I thought there probably wouldn't be any more Gundam after that. I originally undertook F91 as the first installment of a new TV series, but it didn't work out, and it was a work we couldn't continue. At that point, I felt even more strongly that Gundam was over than I did at the end of First Gundam.

So after that, I didn't expect them to say "We have to do another Gundam." My response to that was V Gundam, but it was only natural that I had a lot of trouble at the start of planning. It was mentally even tougher than when First Gundam ended and I had to relaunch Gundam in the form of Z. Another thing that bothered me as an author was the requirement that the planning of V Gundam be more toy-oriented than First Gundam. The planning line they requested continued from V up until X, and we all know how that turned out. But since it was my job, I had to come up with a way to set up the work accordingly. Given that I had to make it Gundam-like while still meeting the requirements of the job, my only choice was to begin the production of V Gundam despite a certain feeling of confusion.

This is embarrassing as a creator, but I remained confused all the way up until the end. Nonetheless, even when V Gundam was over, they told me "From a business standpoint, we have to do more Gundam." I'd managed to keep going for a year with V Gundam, but I said "I can't do any more, no matter what," so I gave the OK to entrust the following series to other people.

—Those would be G Gundam and the following works.

Tomino: That's right. And at the time, I honestly thought that handing it off to other people might help expand the overall Gundam series. Simply put, I had a positive feeling that it would be interesting to turn over the role of creator to younger people from the generation after mine. I also thought we should do that for the sake of the business. So when they asked me about the direction of G Gundam, I suggested they try doing it as a fighting show.

Whether I like it or not, Gundam has been firmly established as a market, and it's our mission to supply it with content. From that point of view, I thought that might ensure Gundam's survival.

—What are your impressions of G Gundam, Gundam W, and Gundam X?

Tomino: I don't know the detailed back stories of those three works. Of course, I'm aware that G Gundam and Gundam W each achieved their own unique popularity, and I've accepted that with the feeling "Good for you." Even though it's frustrating when other people succeed. (laughs)

I never had any intention of forcing Gundam into a stereotype that says it has to be a certain way, or bringing up an intellectual theory that says it's good or bad accordingly. But when I heard the back story of Gundam X, I clearly understood the problems it faced due to the accumulation of series. And I understand that's a serious issue I need to bear in mind.

—And after a brief blank, there was .

Tomino: That's right. They approached me about planning a new work to commemorate Gundam's 20th anniversary. At the time, the thing I was really most conscious of was, "Don't let the fire of the Sunrise works go out!" I wasn't thinking about "Gundam, etc." at all. ∀ Gundam is a projection of that desire. Whether or not Sunrise itself was now a Bandai subsidiary, I wanted the Sunrise works to survive, and so I decided to borrow the Gundam name once again.

The first thing I thought was necessary for the new Gundam was to choose, looking at everything from F91 to Gundam X, whether to take the stance of completely disavowing or completely affirming it. I thought it would be easier to completely disavow it, but while I felt F91 and V Gundam hadn't gone well, I'd heard that G Gundam and Gundam W had a decent reputation. In that case, I decided I shouldn't disavow them. Otherwise, it would become a work that was all about me. And what's more, I thought I'd end up inheriting the very Gundam that I'd previously withdrawn from.

The current president of Sunrise was also fully conscious of this. (1) "Thinking about it as an inheritance," he said, "that would be dangerous, wouldn't it?" The question then was what kind of setting we should use for that complete affirmation, and everything about ∀ Gundam began with that as a starting point.

Translator's Notes

(1) Sunrise's president at the time was Takayuki Yoshii, who occupied that position from 1994 to 2008. It was apparently Yoshii who first approached Tomino about doing a new Gundam series in April 1997.


As it entered the Heisei era, Gundam was firmly established as a character genre. It would then expand in diverse ways. In order to review the positioning of the visual works released therein, we'll look back on the situation at the time, following these works in chronological order.

The prehistory of "New Gundam"

With the release of Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack in March 1988, the Gundam works had reached a kind of stopping point. The story that began with First Gundam, centered on the two characters of Amuro and Char, had been resolved. One could say that, with this, Gundam was trying to break away from its past. Neither Amuro nor Char, nor any of the other characters familiar to the fans, would appear in new Gundam works set further in the future. They would be depicting completely new stories.

Meanwhile, in March of the following year, the release of the OVA series Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket began, spanning half a year at a monthly pace. Aside from the SD series, this was the first visual work in which Yoshiyuki Tomino was not directly involved. This gave birth to yet another lineage. The method here was to treat the Gundam story as a history of the Universal Century, and discover untold stories within the eras that already been depicted. This was a method previously used by many side stories, starting with MSV, but this was the first time it had been proposed in the official form of a Sunrise anime. After this, a succession of Gundam OVA works were produced following this method.

The lineage of Gundam up until this point was discussed in the previous "Gundam Great Complete Works" volume. Here, we'll discuss what followed after that.

New attempts—F91 and 0083

In March 1993, Mobile Suit Gundam F91 was released as a completely original theatrical work. Set in U.C. 0123, it was planned as a new Gundam in which Amuro, Char, and Zeon wouldn't appear. At the same time, this work aimed to return to the starting point by gathering the staff who had created First Gundam, with Yoshiyuki Tomino as chief director, Yoshikazu Yasuhiko as character designer, and Kunio Okawara as main mecha designer. This was loudly proclaimed, and it's still advertised that way even now.

However, these three were the only main staff members of First Gundam involved. And Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, who had served as animation director on First Gundam, participated only as character designer. The subtle character movements that had added depth to First Gundam, and the mecha design refinements that made them look so good in the animation, didn't reappear here. With that in mind, one could say that the actual staffing was very different from that of First Gundam. Nonetheless, fan expectations were high that Yoshiyuki Tomino, the creator of Gundam, would create a new Gundam which would be a break from the past.

A multimedia expansion, which was rare at the time, was also planned from the beginning. Kodansha published a limited-run "Gundam Magazine" for half a year, and the manga Mobile Suit Gundam F90 (original plan: Hajime Yatate, Yoshiyuki Tomino / original work: Hiroshi Yamaguchi / art: Rei Nakahara / published by MediaWorks) and the Super NES game Mobile Suit Gundam F91: Formula Wars 0122 (Bandai) were billed as the first official side stories. (1) As these examples indicate, the level of enthusiasm was very high. In terms of its content, too, there were some aspects that suggested Yoshiyuki Tomino himself was trying to disassemble the elements of previous Gundams and reconstruct them into a single story.

At the time of release, however, some unfinished scenes had to be cut. Partly because of that, it's hard to say it was entirely a commercial success. Though a final edition was released on video in December 1991, the planned sequel was ultimately never produced in animated form.

There was also one more scheme that had been prepared for the release of Gundam F91. This was the "GXG Unit," a set sold for 2,000 yen which included an advance ticket for Mobile Suit Gundam F91 and a VHS cassette containing the first episode of new OVA called Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory. This set went on sale at the end of 1990, and the first volume of Gundam 0083 was officially released at the end of May 1991, after the release of Gundam F91. During its initial release, Gundam 0083 basically included one episode per volume, but this first volume contained episodes 1 and 2. The opening which wasn't included in the GXG Unit version, and a scene of the battle of A Baoa Qu that preceded it, were added to episode 1.

A theatrical edition titled Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: The Afterglow of Zeon was produced and released in the summer of 1992, just before the conclusion of the series. Next year, in 1993, Mayfly of Space was produced and delivered as a bonus for people who had purchased every volume. Music CDs, drama CDs, and plastic models were also released in an organic fashion.

Gundam 0083 is known for giving Hajime Katoki, who was highly esteemed for Gundam Sentinel, his first chance to design for an animated Gundam. While veterans like Fuyunori Gobu and Ryosuke Takahashi worked on the scripts, there were many younger staff who were already well-regarded, such as Takashi Imanishi, who served as director of the second half of the series, and character designer and chief animation director Toshihiro Kawamoto. The high quality throughout the series won praise from the fans. Nonetheless, this was purely the evaluation of hardcore fans, and the search continued for a new Gundam that would appeal to a wider general audience.

The revival of TV series Gundam

While Gundam focused mainly on the development of toys, whose acceptance was based on the lower grades of elementary school, OVA works were targeted at hardcore fans from middle and high school up. This created a demographic gap between the upper elementary grades and middle school. Thus another TV series was planned, as a new Gundam with broad appeal to this age group. This was Mobile Suit V Gundam, which was broadcast for one year starting in 1993.

However, the "Brave" series sponsored by Takara was airing in the time slot used by previous Mobile Suit Gundam series, 5:30 PM Saturdays on Nagoya TV, and so it couldn't be broadcast in the traditional time slot. Thus it was decided to change the flagship station to TV Asahi, and broadcast it at 5:00 PM Fridays.

This was a completely new Gundam, created by Yoshiyuki Tomino after reflecting on F91. The lineup of participating staff was also extravagant. The design of the main Gundam was entrusted to Hajime Katoki, following on from Gundam 0083. The series structure was by Hideki Sonoda, highly regarded for his work on Matchless Raijin-Oh (his position became chief writer after the start of actual production). The initial enemy mobile suits were designed by the famed Kunio Okawara.

Though fan expectations were very high, there was much confusion in the studio. For one thing, V Gundam was first introduced in the autumn of 1992 as a new program for the autumn of the following year. (2) However, the schedule was suddenly moved up, and the broadcast started in the spring. Due to poor communication between the sponsor side and the production side, it also became an issue that the V Gundam wasn't supposed to appear between the start of the story and the fourth episode. As a result, the story was restructured to make episode 4 the first episode. The episodes that had been produced as episodes 1 to 3 were turned into flashbacks from the end of the first episode, and then played back one by one.

While the idea that the V Gundam should appear from the first episode onward wasn't necessarily wrong, rearranging the order of episodes that had already been produced made it hard to understand the situation just by seeing the first episode. The story itself, perhaps reflecting the mindset of chief director Yoshiyuki Tomino who was in poor health at the time, also left a peculiarly bad aftertaste. Ultimately, the series managed to survive the long span of a full year, with video releases starting while it was still on the air. But until the end, it struggled hard in terms of both audience ratings and toy releases.

A new development, the battling G Gundam

Mobile Fighter G Gundam, broadcast in 1994, was based on these kinds of reflections. In fact, a completely different plan was initially being imagined as a followup program to V Gundam. This work was said to be a serious remake of First Gundam, taking place on Mars. However, for various reasons, this plan came to a standstill. The idea of a martial arts Gundam was proposed as a substitute.

This work also had a difficult start, and ultimately the production ran out of time. Thus the first three episodes became special features broadcast as a "prologue chapter," in which Michael Tomioka and the child actor Shinji Uchiyama served as navigators to introduce the previous works. These special programs were never released on video, and have become legendary among fans as a phantom work.

The G Gundam that subsequently aired was a clear departure from the preceding Gundams. Though it was a TV series, it wasn't directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino but by Yasuhiro Imagawa, who had drawn attention with Mr. Ajikko and the OVA version of Giant Robo. Moreover, while previous Gundams had been created as chronicles of the Universal Century, this work would be set in a completely different era (or different world) called the Future Century.

What caused the greatest confusion among longtime fans was that the basic setting involved mobile fighters rather than mobile suits, which fought martial arts battles as representatives of each nation. Some longtime fans even declared that they'd refuse to watch it, as they felt a work considered an icon of real robots was suddenly turning into a "robot pro wrestling show" in the style of a Hong Kong action movie. On the other hand, the story revolving around the Gundam Fight was easy to understand, and above all, the Gundams representing each nation had an abundance of unique appeal. These were readily accepted by young viewers who had grown up with SD Gundam, and achieved substantial success in terms of toy sales as well.

Episode 12, "His Name is Dongfang Bubai! Master Asia Appears," was to be a turning point. (3) The longtime fans who had been watching uneasily until then began to accept the flashiness of G Gundam. As a result, new blood was successfully infused into the work called Gundam. This made it possible to continue with two more TV series directed by staff other than Yoshiyuki Tomino, and not set in the Universal Century. As Syd Mead, who would later work on the designs for Turn A Gundam, aptly expressed it, the success of G Gundam deepened Gundam into a kind of iconic character and symbolic essence.

Expansion of the non-Universal Century world

Next, in 1995, New Mobile Report Gundam W was produced. This was set in yet another new history, called After Colony. The director was Masashi Ikeda, who had directed the first half of Yoroiden Samurai Troopers. In place of Hiroshi Ousaka, who was responsible for V and G, the character design was by Shukou Murase, who had likewise worked on Yoroiden Samurai Troopers. As for the mecha design, the seven main Gundams that appeared were by Kunio Okawara, while Hajime Katoki was responsible for the non-Gundam mobile suits and much of the mecha. Katoki was very particular about the details, carefully considering the purpose of each mobile suit and making various suggestions for their combat scenes.

When creating Gundam W, director Masashi Ikeda reviewed and reconstructed all the previous Gundam. But its greatest popularity came from the five boys who flew the Gundams, and the women who carved out their own destinies with just as much strength. The story of these eccentric characters unfolded like a historical picture scroll, winning many of the female fans who had kept their distance from previous Gundams. After G Gundam had broadened the fan base to include younger age groups, Gundam W became another work that expanded the fandom.

Due to its popularity, three volumes of the OVA sequel New Mobile Report Gundam W: Endless Waltz, directed by Ko Aoki, were released in 1997. In 1998, New Mobile Report Gundam W: Endless Waltz Special Edition was released, combining these three volumes into one theatrical feature with additional new scenes.

Following Gundam W, the broadcast of After War Gundam X began in 1996. It was directed by Shinji Takamatsu, who was highly acclaimed for Brave Express Mightgaine and Brave Police J-Decker. Set in the After War world, which had been devastated by a space war 15 years earlier, it was the first work not directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino that attempted to directly address the theme of Newtypes. The character design was by Nobuyoshi Nishimura, who had served as an episode animation director on every Gundam TV series of the Heisei era, and this was to be his masterpiece work. The mecha designers were Kunio Okawara, who did eleven versions of the six hero and enemy Gundams, and Junya Ishigaki, who had singlehandedly designed the majority of the enemy Zanscare mobile suits in V Gundam and was responsible for most of the other mobile suits here.

Metaphors for Gundam itself were hidden throughout this work, and it was well received by longtime fans. However, due to program scheduling at the TV station, from the third cours onwards it was moved to a new time slot early on Saturday morning. Perhaps because of this, the Gundam TV series that had resumed in the Heisei era came to a temporary halt.

An OVA series focused on the One Year War

Meanwhile, the release of a new series in OVA format began in January 1996. (4) Directed by Takeyuki Kanda, known for Fang of the Sun Dougram and Round Vernian Vifam, its depiction of ground combat during the One Year War was highly anticipated. The third volume, however, wasn't released until October of that year. (5) This was more than half a year after the release of the second volume in March. After this, volumes four and five were released at a monthly pace in November and December, but then production fell behind again and the release of volume six had to wait until October 1997. This was because director Takeyuki Kanda suddenly passed away in July 1997.

Ultimately, the production of volume 6 went ahead in accordance with Takeyuki Kanda's directorial plan. From volume 7 onward, Umanosuke Iida, known for works such as the Devilman OVAs and Mighty Space Miners, took over as director. As the successor to director Takeyuki Kanda, he concluded a series which had taken four years to complete. Starting with volume three, which contained episode 4, bonus "Universal Century Anecdotes" videos were also included. These elaborated on various keywords that had appeared in First Gundam, revealing many new facts to entertain those who had been fans since the first series.

In addition, as a spinoff from this work, Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team Miller's Report was released as a double feature with the theatrical New Mobile Report Gundam W: Endless Waltz Special Edition while the series was still in progress. This was a re-edited version of the story up through episode 8 of the OVA series, with added new material. And in July 1999, after the end of the series, the sequel OVA Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team Last Resort was released, which could be called the true conclusion. Incidentally, Miller's Report was directed by Mitsuko Kase, director of the first half of Gundam 0083, while Last Resort was directed by Kunihiro Mori.

As of the summer of 2002, there are no plans for additional Gundam OVA series. Instead, one could say that "another stories" based on the One Year War that is so popular with core fans are being released in the form of various games.

Turn A Gundam, a revival for the 21st Century

No TV series aired in 1998, and the end of the 08th MS Team OVA series was imminent. It was at this point that the Big Bang Project commemorating Gundam's 20th anniversary was launched. It began with a "Big Bang Declaration" event held on August 1 at the Pacifico Yokohama. It was here that Yoshiyuki Tomino first revealed he was preparing a work called the "Gundam A Project" as a new program for the following spring. The venue was then sent into an uproar with the the introduction of the new Gundam's mecha and character designers. The new Gundam itself would be designed by Syd Mead, a famous industrial designer known for designs such as the Blade Runner spinner. The character designer was Akira Yasuda, known for designing game characters for Capcom's Street Fighter II and Star Gladiator and for his many promotional posters. Each of these announcements involved a leading figure in an industry other than anime, though they overlapped in many respects.

Director Yoshiyuki Tomino also said, "I've come up with a way to affirm all the previously created Gundams." In addition to all the Gundam series he himself had directed, he declared that even G Gundam, Gundam W, and Gundam X would be made into a single history. This remark would lead to the title ∀ Gundam which was officially decided afterwards. This is because, in mathematics, the ∀ symbol is a so-called universal quantifier which means "any" or "all." Incidentally, the ∀ character originally had no specific pronunciation, and the "Turn A" reading was invented for ∀ Gundam. If you like, you can interpret it as "any."

The planning of this new Gundam had begun at a fairly early stage. It seems that Yoshiyuki Tomino started working on the plan in April 1997, and Akira Yasuda joined him soon afterwards in June. But with prospects for a broadcast uncertain, and director Yoshiyuki Tomino beginning production on Brain Powerd, planning work on the new Gundam was temporarily suspended. After Brain Powerd began airing in the spring of 1998, the planning resumed, now with the tentative title of "Ring of Gundam."

Fan interest was growing in anticipation of this new Gundam, and in February 1999, the ∀ Gundam title was announced in the weekly pictorial magazine "Friday," along with a lineup of the Turn A Gundam, WODOM, and FLAT drawn by Syd Mead. Another surprise was the decision to leave the TV Asashi network that had broadcast the previous Gundam series, and air the new series on Fuji TV.

Many of the staff overlapped with director Yoshiyuki Tomino's previous Brain Powerd, but the truth is that the unprecedented Gundam design and situations created a mood of mingled expectation and apprehension among the fans. In particular, the Turn A Gundam and the other unique mobile suits designed by Syd Mead provoked heated controversy even before the start of broadcast.

At the production presentation, unexpected words also came from director Yoshiyuki Tomino. Newtypes and space colonies, elements which could be called sacred symbols of the previous Gundam, weren't expected to appear in ∀ Gundam. And this would indeed be fundamental to the work called ∀ Gundam.

Rather than a culmination of the previous works, the ∀ Gundam that was thus born was meant to be a new starting point for Gundam, which had been created in the 20th Century. This could be felt from the design of the Turn A Gundam, which was completely different from previous Gundams, in the serene setting reminiscent of the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, and above all from the almost mythological overall narrative.

It remains to be seen who will create the next Gundam. But it will probably be essential for it to adopt a perspective that takes ∀ Gundam as its starting point.

Translator's Notes

(1) I think the Japanese phrasing here is a little unclear as to whether the "first official side story" description applied to both works, or only Gundam F90.

(2) This presumably refers to the public announcement of V Gundam. The actual planning of the series began in late 1991 and was well under way by mid-1992.

(3) In the context of G Gundam, the name 東方不敗 is usually translated into English as "Undefeated of the East." However, this is supposed to be the character's actual name, and he's named after a character from a famous wuxia novel and an even more famous series of Hong Kong action movies. I've thus used the Cantonese rendition of this name, as is usually done for those works.

(4) This series was Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team. For some reason the actual title is never mentioned in the Japanese text.

(5) As with Gundam 0083, the first volume of The 08th MS Team contained two episodes, and so the third volume corresponded to episode 4.


—How do you think of "Gundam," Mr. Okawara?

Okawara: After Z Gundam, I didn't really touch it again until we started F91. I think Gundam was originally a work that everyone rallied behind, so it's better for the work if it's done by the people who want to do it.

—What's your emphasis when it comes to MS design?

Okawara: When I'm designing a Gundam, the first and most important thing is that anyone can tell it's a Gundam just from looking at it. (laughs) With the F91, since it was for theatrical use, it reflected Director Tomino's intentions more directly than it would in a TV series. At the time, I was told "It's for a movie, so please put in as many lines as possible." If were for TV, they'd say "Please reduce them." (laughs) As a result, it ended up being more detailed than previous Gundams. As for the enemy mecha, I think I made them look Babylonian.

—How about V Gundam and G Gundam?

Okawara: I wasn't that involved with V Gundam. Mr. Hajime Katoki and Mr. Junya Ishigaki did the designs for that work, and I feel all I did was respond to their requests when they said "I want something like this."

As for G Gundam, I thought I'd just enjoy myself. (laughs) It's impolite to say this, but they let me have fun with it. I designed about half of what we had at the start of planning. (1) At that point we were having a lot of discussions with the sponsor side. From the rough draft stage onwards, I always give great consideration to requests from the sponsor side. I'm a craftsman, not an artist. The director himself was also doing something bold, and it was a job that made me realize anew that you could do things like this even in Gundam.

—I have the impression that G Gundam successfully lowered the age group to the point where they became devoted fans.

Okawara: Of course that's the critical tendency now, but at the time, SD Gundam was also getting pretty crazy, so we thought it might be permissible to a certain extent. This, too, is a kind of Gundam that everyone rallies behind. Even with MSV, I'm not doing it all on my own, right? And the original work develops through various people contributing their strengths. (2) Even the plastic models are renewed accordingly.

—How do you feel about new interpretations in the form of plastic models?

Okawara: When First Gundam ended, to me, Gundam was over for the time being. So I think it's great that people who watched and enjoyed it interpreted the imagery afterwards. After all, people who enjoy doing something can do it better, right? So even when it comes to making MS three-dimensional, it's only right that everyone interprets them in a way they think is cool.

—Do you have three-dimensionality in mind when you're designing them?

Okawara: I'm often asked that, but I'm always conscious of the three-dimensional form when I create a design. In fact, I often create the three-dimensional form before the drawing. As I'm making it, I'll decide the size and the arrangement of the parts. I build prototype models in the workshop next to my office, and that's the most enjoyable time for me. (laughs) I've always liked three-dimensional objects more than drawings.

—On that subject, is there a difference between yourself and people who entered the design field from anime?

Okawara: I've always been the type who'd try anything if interested me. From "hard" content to things with a gag touch, I'm constantly digging into whatever seems interesting. In doing that, naturally you're also refining your own abilities and design sense. That improvement in skill is fun as well. On the other hand, when I look back now at my previous work, I sometimes think that it might have been better if I'd used different lines...

In any case, it takes a certain amount of time to complete something that satisfies me. When I'm doing Gundam, I often have other jobs in progress at the same time. I'm rarely able to take my time doing a single job. I've been doing this work for almost 30 years, and it's always like that. (laughs) That probably won't change in the future.

Born in 1947, in Inagi, Tokyo Metropolis. After working at Onward, he joined the art department of (then) Tatsunoko Production in 1972. He became involved in mechanical design starting with Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, and was also responsible for the design of Takara's Microman toys. In 1976, he established the art and design studio Mechaman with Mr. Mitsuki Nakamura, who was his superior at Tatsunoko, and began participating in the works of (then) Nippon Sunrise. After Zambot 3 and Daitarn 3, the mobile suits of Gundam created an explosive boom. His following career is probably familiar to all of you.

Translator's Notes

(1) The original Japanese text here reads 「企画立ち上げ時のものの半分程度をデザインしています」. I think Okawara means that he only designed half of what they originally considered, rather than that the designs were halfway done at this point. He may be alluding to the idea that the original concepts were even wilder, which has been mentioned in other interviews.

(2) I think Okawara means the main work on which an MSV series or other spinoff is based, rather than the first Mobile Suit Gundam. The Japanese term here is simply the loanword オリジナル.


—First, Mr. Ishigaki, how did you encounter Gundam?

Ishigaki: I watched it on TV like everyone else, but I didn't go see it in the theater. My hometown is Shizuoka, where plastic models are a local industry, so I ran around all the shops buying Gunpla. I guess I liked Gunpla, rather than liking Gundam. I'm more into three-dimensional objects than images.

—Were you working on mecha design at Sunrise from the beginning?

Ishigaki: Yes. Sunrise was famous, and every month I'd send them stuff I drew on my own, saying "Please look at this!" Then, when I came to Sunrise, it was just as they were working on Char's Counterattack. But I never thought I'd get involved with it, or that it would last this long.

—What was the first Gundam you worked on?

Ishigaki: When I was working on Exkizer in the planning office, they told me they were going to do a theatrical feature, so I should try drawing for it as part of my study. Now I was working on Gundam, and at first I was doing rewrite work for animation use, eliminating lines from Mr. Okawara's designs. At some point, Director Tomino saw that I'd been playing around with drawing the Jegan that appeared in Char's Counterattack. It seems he felt it would be okay to ask me for things like a rewrite of the Jegan, cockpit hatches, and details like cars.

Then Mr. Okawara was hospitalized. Filling in for him, I ended up doing one design for the next Brave series, as well as the final mobile armor. That was the mobile armor that preceded the Rafflesia. I spent quite a lot of time on it, but it was rejected just before the finishing stage. "It's not quite big enough," I was told, "so we'll use it next time." But when would that be, I wondered? I don't know what they're doing with it now, so I shouldn't make any careless comments about it.

After that came the Rafflesia. But that was just me polishing up Mr. Tomino's own rough sketch.

—What was your involvement with Gundam after F91?

Ishigaki: This is a secret, but after F91 I worked a bit on 0083. In sequential order, there was V Gundam and Gundam W, and around the same time I did just the cockpit for the Zaku from The 08th MS Team. I worked on Gundam X, the Gundam W videos, and then ∀ Gundam. I wasn't involved in G Gundam.

—The mecha design for V Gundam was really consistent.

Ishigaki: At first I wasn't giving them eyelids. Mr. Okawara came up with that idea at an early stage, so I thought I'd use that to unify them. I'm pretty sure the idea that they had compound eyes came from the director.

On V Gundam, I designed about 30 machines by myself—just off the top of my head, the Jamesgun, Javelin, Godzorla, Memedorza, Galguyu, Contio, Abigor, Recarl, Galicson, Shokew, Rig-Shokew, and Twinrad. The Einerad was by Mr. Okawara, but I did the Twinrad. Then there were the Domuttlia, Zanneck, Dodgore, Birknau, and Zolo Custom. That was actually only a redrawn body, and the Rig-Shokew was just freehand, too. There were the Gottrlatan, the Rig-Contio and Sandhoge, the Macedonia forces' Heavygun... and also Angel Halo.

—So, basically all the mecha?

Ishigaki: That's right. Even though I'm a mecha designer, I do the interior designs too, not just the exteriors. At first they were having Mr. Katoki do everything related to the V Gundam, but since I was on site I did the really trivial things like the V Gundam's damaged parts and a missile pod that never really appeared. I was also doing a lot of accessories, too. But it was a work where the schedules weren't yet anything like they are today, so I could draw properly and seriously.

The Zeon forces basically didn't exist any more in V Gundam, to a certain extent I could do as I pleased. Then, in Gundam W, Mr. Katoki was doing the enemies, so I did things like the Maganacs. Somehow I was conscious of Mr. Katoki's lines, and I did them in a way that wouldn't really be out of place in that world. Since Mr. Katoki wasn't using mono-eyes, I decided to do that a little bit. Though there weren't any Zeons, I thought the fans would be happy if there were a few mobile suits with mono-eyes. By the way, I also did the cockpits.

I also redrew the face of the Wing Gundam Zero for animation use, added boosters to turn the Sandrock into a space version, drew the cockpits of the Vayeate and Mercurius, and so forth.

—Were there a lot of cockpit designs?

Ishigaki: There sure were. It was hard work, so I tried to slack off. (laughs) For example, in Gundam W, all the OZ mobile suits have the same cockpit. The Maganacs have a different one, and each of the Gundams have differences in the headrest area. At first, the director said he wanted them to be completely different, but he let me get away with changing only the headrest so that the difference could be seen from typical angles.

—You also designed a lot of mecha for Gundam X. The Gundams were by Mr. Okawara, but did you do most of the rest?

Ishigakaki: Mr. Katoki did the Daughseat, but most of the others were by me. I also did the bit mobile suits and the so-called G-Bits, and even in the Gundam itself, I did the cockpit, including the G-Controller that was merchandised as a product. I was also working on Escaflowne at the time, so I could only get home every other day. During the day I was doing Gundam, and I was doing Escaflowne at night.

Anyway, it's a pity that I couldn't devote attention to each and every machine because I had to get them finished up. And that's not all. But even in that sense, I'm fond of the Crouda and Bertigo. I think things like the Balient were nice because they were a little different, and I also like that the Pyron resembled a Zaku. But all I can remember now is how difficult it was.

—What were the director's orders like on Gundam X?

Ishigaki: They were just general concepts. For example, I had a lot of trouble with the Correl. The director's order was for a hunchbacked construction, and if I'd done just as I was told, it would have turned into an Evangelion. So I stuck pipe-shaped parts on its back to make it look hunchbacked.

I actually wanted to draw them properly with more detail, but for scheduling reasons, I had to steadily keep eliminating the lines.

—It would be nice to be more like an artisan.

Ishigaki: But in the end, I still wanted to do Gundam. And I didn't want to divide the labor, but do everything myself. That's not quite possible, though.

—Finally, what would you say to people who want to become mecha designers?

Ishigaki: I wouldn't recommend it. It's a job, after all, and in many ways a tough one. There are pleasures in it as well, but you end up forgetting those.

Born November 22, 1967. A Scorpio. He worked as a mecha designer on Gundam works such as Mobile Suit Gundam F91, Mobile Suit V Gundam, New Mobile Report Gundam W, After War Gundam X, ∀ Gundam, and the PlayStation game SD Gundam G-Generation 0. Aside from Gundam, he's also worked as a mecha designer on anime such as Whirlwind! Iron Leaguer, The Vision of Escaflowne, The Candidate for Goddess, and Hiwou War Chronicles, and on games such as Xenogears and Xenosaga. He currently belongs to Studio Trapezoid.


—How did you initially encounter First Gundam?

Minami: It was around my second or third year of senior high school. I was in college in 1981, when the movies came out, and I was working part-time at a movie theater. It was great when Gundam was playing.

—And how did you become involved in anime?

Minami: It was when I joined Sunrise. I originally wanted to go into film, so I went to Osaka University of Arts for college. But while I was on break, I saw the theatrical edition of Ideon at the movie theater where I was working, and I was intrigued. (1) You could say that's where it started.

—What kind of work were you doing at first?

Minami: I was a production assistant, responsible for the production of individual episodes. At first I didn't have a particular work I was responsible for, but I joined in at the end of Vifam to help out, then went on to Galatt. After that I worked on a single episode of Z Gundam, "Reunion." That was Scirocco's first appearance. Then I think there was Layzner. My first job as a producer was on SD Gundam Scramble, a supporting feature for F91. Then I became assistant producer (AP) on 0083, which Mr. Ueda was producing. That was like being the producer in the studio.

—On 0083, was there anything you wanted to push for in the studio?

Minami: Well, since I was just an AP, I wasn't involved in the planning at all. At the start of the drama, we were trying to set up the enemy Gundam. There was also the question of how to depict a side story of the Gundam world. After all, the Gundam depicted by Director Tomino can only be made by Director Tomino.

—What was the hardest part?

Minami: Even for the time, OVAs were very expensive, so you had to make something of corresponding value. Thus, while we were originally supposed to be delivering one episode a month, we ended up doing about two episodes every three months. We were going over budget and falling behind schedule, and I got called in to the president's office. (laughs) But it became a successful film, and it was wonderful on site in the studio. Most of the main staff were people I'd worked with before, so I had a good idea who should do what. They were all in their twenties, myself included, and I think their growth was also reflected in the work.

—And what about G Gundam?

Minami: It was a radical change from previous Gundams. Or rather, that was the original order. Before that, I was in charge of the TV series Iron Leaguer, and I'd been planning Escaflowne as a followup work. But orders came from the company that "Esca" could wait until later, and we were doing Gundam instead.

To expand the world of the Gundam robot genre, we tried to use the Gundam character to create something completely different. Mr. Yasuhiro Imagawa was chosen as the director, and we went ahead with a plan that was different from the Universal Century.

Though kids graduated from SD Gundam around the end of elementary school, it would be tough for them to go straight to Z Gundam and Gundam ZZ. They're hard to get into. So we set out to establish a work that could play the role of a bridge between SD and "real" Gundam, with late elementary school to middle school as our target age range.

—And that was a world full of Gundams?

Minami: Before G Gundam, there was another rejected plan. Tentatively called "Porta Gundam," it was being planned with Mr. Okawara doing the Gundams, Mr. Izubuchi doing the enemy mecha, and Mr. Kawamoto doing the characters. (2) We'd gotten as far as scripting the first episode. When it was canceled, we started talking about a Gundam with a martial arts motif. And this was in December, even though we were going on the air in April. (laughs)

So we suddenly threw away everything we'd been planning up until then, and worked out a new plan in about half a month. I asked Director Imagawa what he wanted for character creation, and he said "I'd like a manga artist." We asked Mr. Kazuhiko Shimamoto to join the company for just one day, told him, "Draw an American fighter, draw a Russian fighter," and we were off and running. We took those to Osaka to meet with Mr. Ousaka, and he made character sheets for us over New Year's.

This gave the characters the unique power of a manga artist. And since Mr. Ousaka had also worked on V Gundam, we needed to have him draw in a different kind of style.

—Mr. Okawara also produced an amazing number of Gundams.

Minami: He seemed uncertain when he was drawing the main five. But after that, it looked like he was enjoying himself. It was like "Oh, of course the Mexican representative should be a cactus." (laughs)

—How did you come up with the ideas for these?

Minami: Basically, when the Gundam from each nation showed up, we cut it down to the most characteristic traits. The initial structure had five fighters at the center of the battle, so after the main five nations were decided, the question was what to do with the Gundams of the nations that fought against them.

The director also felt the Gundams would get stuck in a rut if they were all just two-legged humanoid robots. So around the middle, he started coming up with ideas using various approaches such as a windmill Gundam and the temple bell-shaped Mandala Gundam. (3) In terms of characters, too, people like Master Asia appeared along the way.

—Did Director Imagawa come up with the story ideas as well?

Minami: In the first half, the director and Mr. Gobu, who did the series structure, worked out the fights for each episode and the drama of the overall series. (4) But it would have been hard to create a series just from an accumulation of fights. So the story revolving around Master Asia, including the Devil Gundam and the Deva Kings, was established as a vertical axis, and it was built in a fashion where the Gundam Fight developed around that.

—There were many unique characters, but which made a particular impression on you?

Minami: Domon's brother was really interesting. I loved how he changed between the first and second half.

—How was the reaction to G Gundam?

Minami: Actually, at first it wasn't very good. It must have been confusing for the viewers, and it seemed like the products weren't moving well, either. But at the hobby show in May, when we were playing the opening, grade-schoolers would come over and sing along. (5) I was relieved to think that we'd be okay. It seemed to have become a work that created a bridge to them and expanded the audience range.

Initially, though, I was worried about the reaction from Gundam fans. Director Imagawa and I were saying, "Let's be careful walking home at night." (laughs) I'm glad I trusted the audience.

—As a robot show, I feel like it's very soundly made.

Minami: At the beginning, I thought I'd try completely changing the production style. First we'd advance the human drama, and then the Gundam battles would come later. I said I'd like it to feel like a live-action sentai show, where the action and giant robot battle scenes are shot separately. (6) The mecha scenes would be like special effects. (7) Thus, the animators of the mecha scenes and the character scenes were working separately, but eventually this became a problem because we ended up only talking about the mecha scenes.

Born in 1961 in Mie Prefecture. He joined Sunrise in 1984, and after being a production assistant and chief production manager, he debuted as a producer on Whirlwind! Iron Leaguer. After this, he worked on a succession of much-discussed TV series including Mobile Fighter G Gundam, The Vision of Escaflowne, and Cowboy Bebop. He left Sunrise in October 1998, founding the production company Bones with Toshihiro Kawamoto and Hiroshi Ousaka and becoming its president. In 2000, he released the theatrical version of Escaflowne and the original TV series Hiwou War Chronicles. Since then, he has gone on to produce topical works such as the movie Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door and the TV series Battle Doll Angelic Layer and RahXephon.

Translator's Notes

(1) Presumably during the summer holidays. The Ideon movies were released in July 1982.

(2) The title of this rejected plan is given here as ポルタガンダム ("Porta Gundam"), but in at least two other sources it's reported as ポルカガンダム ("Polka Gundam" or "Porca Gundam"). It's possible that both titles were under consideration.

(3) As usual, the Japanese text is vague about exactly who was doing this, but since the previous and following sentences refer to Imagawa I assume he's being credited here as well.

(4) The credited role of scriptwriter Fuyunori Gobu changed after G Gundam episode 25. Previously credited with series structure, he was subsequently listed as "chief writer." Based on Minami's comments here, it seems this reflects his reduced involvement in the overall plotting of the series.

(5) This would be the annual Shizuoka Hobby Show, which is held every May.

(6) Sentai, literally "squadron," is a subgenre of Japanese live-action TV shows featuring teams of costumed heroes. Power Rangers is an archetypal example.

(7) The Japanese term 特撮 (tokusatsu) literally means "special effects," but it also refers to a broader genre of effects-driven live-action entertainment which also includes sci-fi heroes like Ultraman and monster movies like Godzilla.


—"G Gundam" was the first to depict a world other than the Universal Century, but what was the hardest thing about planning it?

Ueda: Everything was difficult. After all, we were completely changing the previous Gundam worldview. And we were anticipating the razors of the fans, too. (1)

—I have the impression that the subsequent Gundam W, including the OVA series, was the biggest hit of recent years. What was the secret of its success?

Ueda: We highlighted the appeal of the characters, with the intention of winning new female fans we didn't have before. Maybe that's a result of narrowing down the point of the work.

—And how about Gundam X?

Ueda: Mr. Shinji Takamatsu was helping us with the editing work on the second half of W. Partly for that reason, Mr. Takamatsu was the only choice for the following Gundam X, so I asked him to direct it. But doing two works in a row was really exhausting for Mr. Takamatsu, and I think I may have done wrong by him.

Still, by highlighting Newtypes for the first time in a while, the finished work became quite deep. The unfortunate thing is that we had to end it after three cours. The last part was really packed with story, right up to the end.

—The voice cast from Gundam W was also very popular. How is casting normally done in Gundam?

Ueda: I think it's basically no different from any other work. It's all decided through auditions.

—As a producer, do you have any regrets about these works?

Ueda: The schedules for W and G and V all ended up being difficult, and conditions in the studio were terrible. (2) On reflection, maybe I should say that's a regret. Our essential duty is to strictly keep to the deadlines, budget, and schedule, while letting the director demonstrate their ability and complete a good work.

This isn't just limited to Gundam, but an original work rarely progresses as smoothly from script to storyboards as a work based on a previous manga. At any rate, you can't count on it. And there are many people who are really fussy about every little thing, Mr. Tomino first and foremost. But Gundam is particularly tough. It has a unique weight, and it involves a lot of people because it has such a broad scope, including merchandising. So even among original works, it's a brand that's especially hard to manage. And the eyes of the viewers may be the harshest of all. (laughs)

Born in 1955 in Tokyo Metropolis. He joined Nippon Sunrise (now Sunrise) in 1978. Working on the Gundam series as a producer, he turned the "Gundam brand" into a longtime worldwide best-seller. He is currently a freelance producer on Inyuyasha.

Translator's Notes

(1) Presumably a fanciful way of saying they were prepared for the worst. It was such a colorful phrasing that I couldn't bear to tinker with it.

(2) Ueda was also the producer for V Gundam, so even though he hasn't previously discussed it in the interview, I assume he does mean V Gundam here rather than Gundam X.


—How did you begin working to depict a worldview different from the Universal Century?

Tomioka: I started with the question of who should direct it. When I became involved with Gundam W, G Gundam was already on the air, and they said they were doing another Gundam next year. So I said I'd produce it, and they could leave the rest to me! That's what it was like. At the time, I was working simultaneously on the Ryu-Knight TV and OVA series, and I thought Mr. Masashi Ikeda was the only choice for director.

—Did the setting start with the main Gundams?

Tomioka: First, the basic premise was that there would be five main Gundams. Next, that the lead one would fly through the sky. After that we decided them one by one. For example, since the Dragon Gundam was popular in G, we'd use that for one of them. Various other motifs were also proposed.

—How did the scriptwriting proceed?

Tomioka: I gave Mr. Ikeda videos of everything from First Gundam to G Gundam. He probably spent about a month continually watching all of them as he worked out a plan for the story structure. That was the initial material for Gundam W, then we brought in writers and had them start working based on it.

—Did you expect Gundam W to be a hit?

Tomioka: I thought the characters and story were sound, and I'm very pleased that they drew in female fans and got them so excited. But I think the fact we were able to get so much out of the characters was because of Mr. Ikeda's abilities. All I did was assign the staff as Mr. Ikeda requested.

—These was also some criticism at first, but as time passed, the evaluation changed.

Tomioka: At first it was popular with female viewers, but ultimately the entire audience appreciated the characters and story. First Gundam was certainly well made, and the same goes for Z and ZZ. But with W, Mr. Ikeda was cramming in all of their best parts, so of course it was enjoyable. The scripts were also great. Mr. Sumisawa, Mr. Chiba, and Ms. Omode are still doing good work together even now.

—The theme songs were also big hits.

Tomioka: Mr. Tetsuya Komuro was putting out a lot of hits back then, so we were talking about something in a Komuro style. I didn't know much about Two-Mix, but Ms. (Minami) Takayama was there when I went to the recording... In fact, this was how I first learned it was Ms. Takayama's group. (1)

—Was there any pressure on you when you became involved?

Tomioka: Naturally there was. At first I was sure I wouldn't be doing Gundam, and then suddenly I had to. I myself didn't know much about Gundam, so I wasn't sure what to do. The pressure was terrible. And what's more, it was only my third work as a producer. (laughs)

Born August 18, 1959, in Tokyo Metropolis. He joined Nippon Sunrise (now Sunrise) in 1982. His works as a producer include the TV and OVA versions of Lord of Lords Ryu-Knight, New Mobile Report Gundam W, After War Gundam X, Brain Powerd, and ∀ Gundam. He is currently a producer on Inyuyasha.

Translator's Notes

(1) Takayama is the main vocalist of Two-Mix, which did the opening songs for Gundam W. She's also a regular anime voice actor, so perhaps Tomioka already knew her in that context.


—Could you tell us how you got into the industry?

Takamatsu: When I was a senior high school student, I watched Mobile Suit Gundam with no idea I'd later join Sunrise, just like other people of my generation. At the time, SFX works like Star Wars and anime movies were booming, and 8mm independent movies were also becoming popular. So I dropped out of college and was just making 8mm films. I wanted to get some kind of film-related job, and while I was doing various things, I found myself joining Sunrise as a production assistant.

At first I was working on Votoms, then Galient and Vifam, and on Z Gundam I was put in charge of setting management. A setting manager is a production assistant for character, mecha, and background art setting. And since Z didn't have a script manager to handle the scripts, I did that as well.

—Did that continue on to ZZ?

Takamatsu: As of ZZ I became an assistant episode director, and I debuted as an episode director with episode 24. That's the one where the Capule shows up. Then I worked on Char's Counterattack, 0080: War in the Pocket, and SD Gundam. Going from the original to a spinoff to a parody, I spent a few years immersed in Gundam. (laughs) Finally there came the "Brave" series, and I debuted as a series director on Mightgaine.

—What brought you back to Gundam?

Takamatsu: They told me to keep quiet about this at the time, but Mr. Ueda (producer Masuo Ueda) is also talking about it now, so the statute of limitations has expired and I can speak frankly. Mr. Ueda called me in when the director, Mr. Masashi Ikeda, left halfway through the previous program Gundam W. (1) "Mr. Ikeda is gone," he said, "but we still have to keep going for another half a year." When he told me this, they were only halfway through checking the storyboards for next week's recording session! (laughs)

This was my unhappy reunion with Gundam.

That's how I ended up spending day after day shadow-directing W while I was still directing a "Brave" show. (2) And when it was finally over, they told me that I'd be planning the next new Gundam. It was important for Sunrise and the sponsors that Gundam keep going. So I forcibly roped in the scriptwriter Mr. Hiroyuki Kawasaki, who'd been working with me on the "Brave" series, and the two of us started on a new Gundam. (3)

At first we were thinking of doing something self-indulgent, like a realistic Musha Gundam where mobile suits time-slipped back to the Warring States period and had sword fights wearing kimonos, or a domestic soap opera where a life-size AI-equipped Gundam is living with an ordinary family. But when we started working on it in earnest, an indelible image appeared in my mind. It was a single Gundam with its back turned to us, standing in a wilderness where everything was destroyed. That was the image. No matter what, I couldn't get rid of it, and from that came the opening narration of episode 1, "Once there was a war..." I wrote down roughly that sentence and gave it to Mr. Kawasaki, asking him to start the story from there.

Later, I realized that was pretty meaningless, and it was just my mental landscape at the time. There were people forcing Gundam to continue even through it should have ended. Poor Gundam! I had no idea that this little sentiment would later come back in the form of a hundred times as much hardship. If it hadn't been for this unhappy reunion, I might have been making a very different Gundam. How much easier it would have been to make a stupid Gundam where a hundred swordsmiths were hammering away at a Gundam's MS-cutting sword. (laughs) (4)

The war in "Once there was a war..." is a metaphor for the Gundam phenomenon. Then came a new century, just like the New Century Declaration in Shinjuku. (laughs) But it was a war of self-destruction. That's what happened in the past, and now it was over. Then 15 years passed. In this desolate wasteland, where not even weeds would grow, Mr. Kawasaki created the character of Garrod. He was a character who wasn't tied down by Gundam. It wasn't Gundam that would create the world of the future. In short, we decided to do a coming-of-age story about Garrod. But Tiffa, who fell in love with him, was a Newtype. This "Newtype" represented a symbol of Gundam.

I'm talking about it as if we'd been trying to do this kind of story from the beginning, but we weren't actually conscious of all this when we first started making it. As the narrative progressed, though, various correspondences appeared...

—Did that naturally happen as you were deciding on the theme?

Takamatsu: I was told to do anything I liked, and I originally intended to do as I pleased, but I realized that I myself was "someone whose soul was drawn to Gundam." (5) About 16 episodes into the broadcast, I was working on some storyboards in which Jamil was asked "Why do you want to protect Newtypes?" I had him spontaneously reply, "Back then, I saw the reformation of humanity. I want to see whether or not it's true."

Jamil was somebody who tried to protect Newtypes and wouldn't permit them to be used as tools, and that resonated with me because somewhere in my heart I wanted to protect Gundam. I'd meant to create the work as an objective outsider, but I'd gone from being a creator to a character. So from then on, the theme became "Gundam and me." (laughs)

In Gundam X, various people and groups contend over "Newtypes." The New U.N.E. is trying to use them for world domination. The Space Revolutionary Army, meanwhile, worships them as gods. There are artificially created ones who are labeled as counterfeits. And buffeted around in the middle is Tiffa, a girl who is called a Newtype. If you replace "Newtype" with "Gundam" in all of this, it becomes a metafictional construct about the current situation surrounding Gundam. I guess this is how I always do things, but this time I ended up losing my objectivity, and I really got caught up it it.

—Did you always intend to go with the conclusion that Newtypes are an illusion?

Takamatsu: No. I became convinced of that around episode 15. The artificial Newtype Carris showed up, and he had special powers. But Garrod, who wasn't a Newtype, had to fight him and win. No, he ought to win. The answer we arrived at led us to the final episode. It wasn't Newtypes, meaning Gundam, that would create the future. That was just the illusion everyone was seeing.

From that point, whenever Jamil said "I want to see the reformation of humanity," that was because I wanted to believe in Gundam. When I suddenly said to Mr. Kawasaki, "Jamil is me," he was shocked. The character of Jamil was originally supposed to become Garrod's mentor, and maybe the fact that someone who was meant to lead young people seemed so uncertain was because he'd become a reflection of myself. (laughs)

In the final episode, Tiffa is released from the Newtype curse and sets out into a new world with Garrod. Newtypes were never the reformation of humanity. And Mobile Suit Gundam was certainly a great work, but that doesn't mean it changed anime. The final message was that we should stop trying to create an "Anime New Century" that never arrived. But I guess it was me who was consigned to oblivion. (laughs)

After joining Sunrise, he worked as a production assistant on Armored Trooper Votoms, Panzer World Galient, Round Vernian Vifam, Z Gundam, and so forth, then debuted as an episode director on Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ episode 24, "Sibling Love Blooms in the Southern Seas." He debuted as a director on the OVA SD Gundam: SD Sengokuden, then worked on the SD Gundam series and went on to the "Brave" TV series. After directing individual episodes, he served as series director on Brave Express Mightgaine, Brave Police J-Decker, Goldran the Brave of Gold, and then After War Gundam X.

Translator's Notes

(1) Ikeda is credited as scriptwriter and storyboard artist on episodes 25, 26, and 29 of Gundam W, so his departure from the series must have been around this point. The intervening episodes 27 and 28 were largely recap episodes, which it's tempting to interpret as a way of stalling for time.

(2) Takamatsu describes himself as the director's 影武者 (kagemusha) or "shadow warrior," a term used for a decoy double of a military leader (as in the title of a famous Akira Kurosawa movie). The other series Takamatsu was directing at the same time would be Goldran the Brave of Gold.

(3) Since Takamatsu describes this as a two-person effort between himself and Kawasaki, I've attributed most of the creative choices he subsequently describes to "we" rather than "I." In the original Japanese, as usual, it's generally unclear exactly who he's talking about.

(4) The Japanese term Takamatsu uses here, 斬MS剣 (zan-MS-ken), is a play on the 斬馬剣 (zanbaken) or 斬馬刀 (zanbatō), the semi-legendary "horse-cutting sword." He's presumably referring to his abandoned scenario of a realistic Musha Gundam.

(5) Obviously a play on the similar saying about gravity that comes up in Z Gundam. The Japanese term 引かれた just means "pulled" or "attracted," so I didn't use "pulled down" here because it might seem unduly negative.