Ultimate Mark

Production Reference:
Gundam ZZ in Animage
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Translator's Note: These interviews with chief director Yoshiyuki Tomino and other staff members, discussing the end of Z Gundam and the launch of Gundam ZZ, appeared in the March 1986 issue of Tokuma Shoten's Animage magazine. This issue was published on March 10, and it seems the interviews were conducted around the end of January.

Special thanks to @combattlerRickV for generously scanning and sharing this historic publication! You can find the entire issue on Rick's Patreon site.

From Animage, March 1986

Continuing on from Z Gundam, director Yoshiyuki Tomino, who has always pursued "novelty" within the genre of robot anime, is bringing us ZZ, the third installment in the series. A Part 2 is a kind of "original work spinoff," so it seems strange for Director Tomino, who is obsessed with creating original new works, to do a Part 2 not just once but twice.

Did he feel he'd reached a limit in the direction of trying new things, or is he challenging himself to do something outrageous within the boundaries of Gundam? We questioned him closely about that, along with his impressions now that Z is over.

Z fully exposed the author's characteristics

AM: Kamille, the protagonist of Z Gundam, was a very hard character to empathize with. I think Amuro and Four were relatively popular because they gave us insight into Kamille. First, could you tell us what you were aiming for with Kamille's character setting?

Tomino: Kamille was was the foundation for creating a Part 2. He was a character you couldn't understand in the first place, and could never be any more than that. In that sense, it went pretty much as I planned.

When I wrote the proposal, I said Z Gundam was just a story about acknowledging the situation, and since I don't really understand Newtypes myself, I didn't intend to depict them. (1) What I mean by "acknowledging the situation" is that, in reality, everyone is messing around doing things for incomprehensible reasons. So I had no choice but to stick with that character.

AM: He's a character who can't grow up.

Tomino: Right. Simply put, he shows what people's limits are. That's where we are right now. So in the end, Kamille had to go mad. I never deviated from that at all, and this was the only way I could have made it.

AM: In the original Gundam, the White Base was just a single unit on the battlefield. Even though they couldn't bring the war to a conclusion, at least the Newtype concept gave them a chance to deliberately end it. But in Z Gundam, Kamille doesn't have the power to conclude the war.

Tomino: Right, and he never did.

AM: In that respect, the story was too real, and the only powerful catharsis was a sad one.

Tomino: I don't think there was much of that either. I intended to take it to the point where you can't even feel sad, because reality is just like that. So there's no catharsis.

AM: Looking at the mail we get in the editorial department, it seems some people were wondering "Maybe Z wasn't created for us."

Tomino: Maybe so. I was only thinking about myself, but if I'd focused on anything else, I don't think I would have been able to create a Part 2 under such pressure for a full year. Once I'd abandoned the approach of doing a traditional Part 2 where Amuro is still like this and Char is still like that, and formed the ambition to do a story about acknowledging the situation, I couldn't afford to worry about anything else. That's the honest truth. That said, I suppose the story of Four was a response to the aspect of "Whatever you do, it's awful."

AM: It felt like there wasn't much emphasis placed on the mecha combat itself in Z.

Tomino: I didn't devote that much attention to it. Just as I didn't devote much attention to the fans.

AM: So as an author, when you were creating a Part 2, the only way you could keep making the work under such enormous pressure was to stubbornly push ahead with something you yourself really wanted to do, rather than doing the same thing as before.

Tomino: If you're wondering why I made Z like that, it's because I was wondering whether there might be a way of doing it that didn't follow the pattern of previous Part 2 shows, and that was all I had. In that sense, I don't regret it. But this was my first experience making a Part 2, and the fact is that I really found out how difficult it is.

I'm very grateful that, along the way, at least we were able to create the story of Four that everyone could enjoy. At first I was worried that we wouldn't even be able to make one thing like that. In fact, at the proposal stage, even Four's story was relatively small. But after we'd done five or six episodes, I was really feeling a sense of urgency, and the Four and Amuro stories suddenly expanded. They doubled in length.

At least I was able to make that adjustment because, as a professional, I could use my sense of how to construct a series. But if I'd said we were just going to go ahead and make a Part 2, I'm sure Four's story wouldn't have ended up looking like it did, either. So I'm really thankful we were at least able to achieve something like that...

That said, I'm not trying to completely disavow Z. In fact, it's something I've been working on for a whole year and really like. I can't say that something that exposes my own faults so honestly isn't entirely mine. I doubt anyone will ever again let me make a work so completely as I please. I think that was a real blessing.

Of course, I do regret that it was so hard to understand and empathize with, and I wish it could have been a little better made. But I did the best I could.

I won't be doing this again next time, though. I definitely won't make something like this. Over the course of this year, I came to understand that this is the sort of thing I end up making when I get serious, and I'm aware that this is the biggest danger for me.

AM: As you were working on Z Gundam for a year, it seems you somehow resolved the question of who you were after Gundam.

The next goal is a "throwback anime"

Tomino: After I'd had a year to reach that realization, one day they suddenly asked me whether we could continue it. But there was a reason I immediately went along with that idea. In short, I hate Part 2 stories like this. I'd had enough. But after getting that out of my system by doing it for almost a year, I realized that the original story genre of anime, Gundam included, had been doing things like Z ever since Yamato and Gundam. So I felt it was time for a "throwback anime." (2)

If I could make a throwback anime even while continuing Gundam, then that would be worth doing. So I had the idea that I really could do it if I could changed gears that much. Depending on the situation, couldn't we use the Gundam name to do a throwback anime? So, as we were continuing Gundam, I thought "Let's do this!" And that became the base for creating a character like ZZ.

I can do this because I did Z. Otherwise I wouldn't be able to change gears this much. I'd like to do things that are typical of me, but when I do that, they end up like Z.

AM: With Z, the fact that it was a sequel put a kind of pressure on both the viewers and the creators. But this time, it seems you're going to drastically change the worldview. In a sense, you're aiming for something like a "new Gundam."

Tomino: That's basically it. Even so, the Mk-II and Z Gundam will still show up. The appearance of the ZZ has been delayed, so we have no choice but to carry some things over from Z. Nonetheless, I'm determined to completely change the style. I've already asked the opinions of each individual staffer, and their reaction was "It would be great if we could go that far." In that case, I feel this might be a very good job.

AM: After Yamato and Gundam, the creators have become too conscious of themselves as authors, which actually reduces the intrinsic power of anime. And that situation is exactly why you're trying to establish genuine entertainment value, right?

Tomino: That's right. I think that's essentially what making stories is all about, and it'll be a very interesting job for me to attempt that without using an original work.

ZZ, a return to the origins of robot shows

AM: On Z, at first you were extensively revising the scripts, and you were jointly credited on them as well. How do you feel about your involvement in this new work?

Tomino: With ZZ, I think I'd like to use a lighter hand than on Z. For better or worse, the works up until Z were supported by a "Tomino color," but this time I want everyone's responsibilities to be more clearly defined. However, since I'm personally interested, I can't help meddling. (laughs)

In terms of process, we're trying to keep it to the bare minimum of the "Gundam world" in the scriptwriting stage, so from the storyboards onward we can do as we please. But the episode directors aren't used to making things like ZZ just yet, so I'm still better at it. (laughs) I keep thinking, "I wouldn't do that if I were you, but..." I'd encourage the studio to hurry up and get everyone into good enough shape that they can do without me.

AM: You may say that, but it seems like you're more enthusiastic this time than you were with Z.

Tomino: Thinking back on Z, just looking at the storyboards was a tough job. Now I'm working on ZZ, which I think is a slightly better work, and even storyboard checking is fun. During Z, when I was looking at scripts and storyboards, I couldn't say whether they were right or wrong unless I had at least three reasons. I actually think I held up well in such a tiring job.

We haven't seen a proper robot show in the last four or five years. In that sense, I think ZZ is a good thing, and I can say it's pretty good even without seeing the film. But what's more important is whether this work can stay afloat in an era like today. Speaking of how anime lacks power these days, since this certainly isn't an "anime, anime" era like we had up until three or four years ago, I'm not sure how a throwback anime will be received. I'm very anxious about that.

AM: So "throwback anime" is basically about recapturing the intrinsic entertainment value of robot anime.

Tomino: I believe the fundamental power of the robot show is still amazing. Some people seem to be looking to replace robots with superheroes, but I think that's most unlikely. Let's make less sophisticated robot shows that children will watch. It's exactly because the power of original anime is decreasing that we need to go back to the era of Mazinger, right?

It seems like they'll still let me do whatever I like within the territory of Gundam. In that case, I think it's more meaningful for me to go right back to the question of "What were TV robot shows all about," even if I have to borrow the Gundam name, than to make something like Z according to my personal tastes as an author.

Perhaps next year, we'll be in situation where people ask, "What's wrong with having a hundred-meter-tall giant robot?" I think it would be nice if ZZ could be a springboard for that.

Director Tomino has always been a director who constantly takes on challenges. From Zambot 3 to Daitarn 3 to Gundam, the content and atmosphere of each work was totally different from the previous one, and yet he brought forth a series of fascinating works that dumbfounded the fans. Before long, fans began to have excessive expectations just because something was a "Tomino work," wondering "What kind of outrageous thing is he going to show us this time?" After Ideon came Xabungle, Dunbine, and L-Gaim, and though they didn't always live up to these expectations, at the very least they tried to meet them.

Then came Z Gundam. Initially, Director Tomino said "It's possible to create a work of art for business reasons." Was the director finally exhausted? But after spending a year with it, regardless of its evaluation as a work, we can certainly attest that Z had a kind of unprecedented originality. Director Tomino was continuing to take on challenges after all.

And now there's ZZ. What he's trying to do here is terrifyingly bold. He's trying to directly repudiate the so-called "Tomino anime" that followed Gundam, a series of adult-oriented works with conceptual themes, with his own two hands. This is undeniably one of the greatest challenges he's ever tackled. Will he succeed or fail? All we can do is wait for the broadcast debut! (Editorial department)

Translator's Notes

(1) The phrase here is 現実認知, but Tomino phrases this in other interviews as 現実認知, or "acknowledging reality."

(2) The term Tomino uses here, アニメもどり (anime modori), is literally something like "anime regression" or "anime reversion."

From Animage, March 1986

I hadn't been involved with any Sunrise works for about a year after L-Gaim ended, but around autumn of last year, they told me they'd decided to extend Z Gundam and asked me if I'd like to be the art director. All I'd done on Z was the background art for the ending in the second half, but this time they want to change the image and make it lighter. For example, the setting for Shangri-La itself is that it's America's first colony. So it should be depicted with background art that has a sunny warmth like that of America's west coast.

I'd also like to focus on things with a lived-in feeling. There are warships like the Argama, but since we're in the Gundam world, I can't change the artwork for the armor parts and so forth. if I can carefully depict things like the private rooms, though, I think the power of the civilians will come across on the screen.

Anyway, I've completed boards for about twenty scenes so far. The work has barely begun, so I don't yet know how it will come out in the end. And just because it's Gundam, that doesn't mean you can draw good art just by furrowing your brow. (laughs)

From Animage, March 1986

Character designer & animation director Hiroyuki Kitazume
"It was really worthwhile drawing the Four arc."

• Born July 24, 1961. He served as animation director on six episodes of Z Gundam, including episodes 19 and 36. On ZZ, he is now in charge of character design for the first time. Of course, he is also continuing as an animation director. He is currently the president of the animation studio "Pack."

Scriptwriter Meigo Endo
"This time, I'm asking Judau to do his best."

• Born October 6, 1959. His scriptwriting debut was Galatt. He joined Z Gundam with episode 17, where Four Murasame first appeared, and aside from episode 18 he was responsible for every episode involving Four. The scripts for ZZ are being written by the duo of Mr. Endo and Ms. Yumiko Suzuki.

On ZZ, Director Tomino says that he wants to make the work by leaving a considerable portion to the young staff. Of these, we'd like to take note of these two who proved to be a superb combination on Z Gundam episode 19, "Cinderella Four," and episode 36, "Four Forever." One could say it was this duo who brought us Four Murasame, a character of uniquely vast popularity. They talked with us unreservedly about their doubts, regrets, and aspirations concerning Z and ZZ.

Memories of the "Four arc"

AM: It seems episode 19 of Z Gundam is extremely popular among the fans. What kind of impression did you have as creators?

Endo: When I saw episode 19, I was very impressed, and I thought "Now this is directing!" I remember that very strongly. Episode 19 is my favorite in all of Z, but in watching it, I understood the role of the script. In short, the script is nothing more than a foundation. But if that foundation is shaky, it's all over.

Kitazume: It was really worthwhile drawing episode 19. When I read the storyboards, I thought the images were so exciting. That's because the drama was really being imagined like a proper movie, rather than a stage play. All the necessary steps were taken to create the desired effect, and above all, the storyboards themselves were fun to read. Nothing's more boring than storyboards that are just explanatory.

AM: Mr. Endo, I gather you originally visualized Four as a very different character.

Endo: That's right. My image was a little more slender, and if anything, I assumed the character would feel something like Sarah. So the truth is that Four was a character fleshed out by all the directors and artists, rather than one created by the efforts of a single writer.

AM: Perhaps that's why she's the most popular. Mr. Kitazume, what do you like about the character of Four?

Kitazume: Well, of course there's the fact that she only halfway knows who she is. Even though she's acting by her own will, there's a part of herself she doesn't know, and that casts a shadow. So she's always haunted by a feeling of melancholy.

In episode 36, there's a scene where she and Kamille drink a cola in her room. The shadow completely disappears there, and she cheerfully enjoys being with Kamille. I tried drawing it with an immersive feeling, but on the contrary, I thought that precisely because there are dark aspects, it's great to include drama like that as well. If someone who is always cheerful enjoys drinking a cola, it won't stand out. After all, if you want something to stand out, you somehow have to create a contrasting color.

AM: Mr. Kitazume, after episode 19, you also did animation direction for episode 36, right?

Kitazume: During the second half, I was busy with various things. In the end, I only worked on two episodes of Four's story in Z, episodes 19 and 36.

AM: Did you at least want to do Four's last episode yourself?

Kitazume: The producer arranged it for me. (Laughs) I was doing a lot of different jobs, so I'd asked him to make some space for me, and he said "Okay, then please do episode 36."

AM: Did you know Four had survived?

Kitazume: I actually didn't. "Huh? She was still alive?" (laughs) He replied, "She's going to die, so could you do this one?" They sent me the script, and when I read it, I said "Oh, in that case I'll do it." I decided with that kind of feeling.

AM: By "In that case I'll do it," you mean...

Kitazume: Her expression when the drugs wears off and she goes crazy, and the way she messes up her hair, really suited Four. I wanted to fully bring that to life.

Endo: In terms of the scripts, I couldn't relax at all with either the Kilimanjaro arc or the Hong Kong arc. Those were really tough. In the Hong Kong arc, I hadn't grasped the atmosphere yet. When I was writing the Kilimanjaro arc, it should have been easier since I'd done so many episodes, but it was tough when Four showed up. There was extra pressure that time, because I knew she was so popular... (laughs) How could I do this so that nobody complained? I just remember agonizing over it.

AM: The way Four died in episode 36 felt a little abrupt.

Endo: I wanted one more episode. Everyone always says that, but I feel that that most of all. I wrote that clearly in Animage (in February's Top 100 News) as well. (laughs)

Regarding Z

AM: Mr. Kitazume, I gather you were very fond of the original Gundam. What was it like working for a year on the sequel?

Kitazume: I thought we'd keep going with the same atmosphere, but in fact it was rather different. That atmosphere was very hard in terms of mechanics, but the human drama often depicted people how people behave when they're in a desperate situation. This time, it felt like both aspects were somewhat lacking. I thought the handling of the robots was fresh compared to what had come before, but the handling of the mecha in Z was really boring.

Previously, the distinction between how the normal suits and mobile suits were depicted was very clear. The mobile suits looked really big. That's not a matter of design and so forth, but of how they're handled.

On the other hand, the previous show also had the Core Fighter. That meant the torso couldn't move, so they cheated in various ways. (laughs) It's certainly weird when you think about things like structural strength, but it seemed realistic in terms of both setting and presentation, like when the Core Fighter becomes an escape pod at the end.

AM: And the final episode was possible because of that, right?

Kitazume: So it's not a matter of whether the internal structure is realistic, or the surface details are weird. I wish the direction in Z had done a better job of making them seem realistic, or rather, depicting them with a sense of presence.

Endo: There really wasn't much consideration of that at the beginning. But starting in the second half, I talked with Mr. Tomino and Ms. (Yumiko) Suzuki about being as careful as possible with that. For example, when the mobile suits were about to sortie, instead of having the characters board them and go out immediately, we'd show how they moved around inside the ship to convey how big they were.

Kitazume: Of course, the original Gundam was the Gundam precisely because Amuro was controlling it. Nowadays, when Kamille boards it, it's just another mobile suit. That's a little lacking, too.

AM: So we don't feel a sense of unity between the mecha and the humans. What about the characters?

Kitazume: As side stories, I think things like Four's story are pretty close to the old Gundam. And I feel sorry for Fa. (laughs) I really understand how she feels. She's just a normal girl, and she doesn't have the same kind of emotional distance as the other characters. She's really brave. I was very careful with the facial expressions when dramatizing her scenes.

Endo: I liked Kamille. It's hard to tell a story unless you're emotionally invested in the person at the very center. I can say I did well in that respect.

Kitazume: Kamille's involvement with Four was also good. It humanized him. Normally he wasn't very... And generally, the older characters were played down. I guess that's only natural. Otherwise the new characters wouldn't stand out. But that doesn't mean there was really anyone who stood out among the new characters.

Endo: When you see Char and the others in the Gundam movies, you think "Wow, they're so cool." (laughs) In the past, didn't he do terrible things like nonchalantly shooting civilians? (laughs)

Kitazume: Even if you're trying to hold him back, I think there must have been a way to make him reasonably active.

Endo: But at the beginning of Z, whenever Char spoke, it felt like he already knew everything. I don't think that was very interesting. He seemed to just be showing off. I gradually came to hate that...

AM: He became a pathetic character. Kamille hits him and he cries. (1)

Kitazume: We all thought that was the funniest thing at our studio. "It's so nice to see a cactus after you get punched out." (laughs)

AM: He did get punched a lot.

Kitazume: As a fan of the previous work, things like that seem wrong to me. He didn't hesitate to shoot people like young Amuro in the back. (2)

Someone like me just draws the pictures. The old image is still strong, and whatever tragic lines he has in the script and the storyboards, or how pathetic they make him seem, I try to draw him so he looks cool anyway. I make his proportions as broad-shouldered as possible, and in scenes where he takes off his sunglasses, I give him sharp eyes so we don't ruin his old image...

Endo: But Char isn't that pathetic in my episodes. The bit with the cactus was Ms. Suzuki. In the recent "Haman's Laughter" (episode 43) he was a bit pathetic, but I didn't write "he holds his head in his hands" at the end. (general laughter) It seems like even if it's not in the script, that's the image all the staff have of him now. So I wonder what will happen when Char is revived in ZZ...?

AM: When is he supposed to be showing up?

Endo: Maybe he won't show up. That's not decided yet. But if he does appear, he'll be a completely changed Char who's reflected on what he was like in Z, so I think he'll be a great Char. It'll be a clean break.

Kitazume: Of course. As the Gundam story continues, I don't want it to ever deviate that much from the basic feeling of "Why is this Gundam?" If we're going to do it, I really want it be a true Gundam. (laughs)

AM: Mr. Endo, you didn't watch much of the old Gundam, did you?

Endo: Honestly, I preferred tokusatsu shows, and up until I was in high school I kind of despised anime. (3) I saw the movie version, though. When I was writing my Four novel ("Four Story," included with last month's issue), I actually borrowed and read the Complete Works from the previous series. I was astonished to learn the whole story of Gundam for the first time. Of course I knew the flow of the story, but I wondered whether it was really such a cheesy narrative, like a naniwa-bushi. (4) Once I realized that, I thought it was good that Z was so different. I wouldn't want to do the same thing.

In short, I think that if you branch off from Gundam then you're on the way to Z Gundam and, for example, Vifam. In that case, I feel we can leave the naniwa-bushi behind. ZZ is yet another different Gundam, and I think it's nice to have three different kinds of Gundam. So what is Gundam? It doesn't mean that a robot called Gundam has to show up. All you have to do is convey the worldview. And I think that can be summed up with the word "Newtype."

Kitazume: The narration in the original Gundam starts with "Universal Century 0079." With that phrase, Gundam began. It's a story where everything is built up through accumulation, and the Gundam mobile suit developed there was its origin point. However comedic or dark the story gets, I hope we never forget that it all started from that one phrase.

Towards ZZ

AM: Mr. Endo, how do you feel about the new characters in ZZ?

Endo: I really like them, and I'm not just trying to flatter Mr. Kitazume's drawings. I think that gentle touch is really nice. In the previous work, Kamille wasn't very popular, but I think this time we have a protagonist who people will like a lot. It's weird when a guest character like Four is the most popular one. (general laughter) This time, I'll have to ask Judau to do his best.

Kitazume: Even Kamille wasn't such a hard character to figure out. Someone like Kamille doesn't become popular just because everybody understands them. If the staff hadn't all understood Kamille's personality, I think they'd have made him look really cool because he was the hero. But then he wouldn't be Kamille.

On the contrary, I think it's because it was a Tomino work that we were able to depict the character as an introvert—or rather, as a sensitive boy who isn't popular with girls—with such a sense of reality. If we can depict characters as being that human, I'd like us to keep on making ones who will be better received.

AM: This time, are there fewer instructions from Director Tomino—his so-called Tomino memos?

Endo: On Z, there would be three or four pages of word processor manuscript, but this time there's sometimes just one line.

AM: One line?! (stupefied)

Endo: Like "An episode where the ZZ appears." (laughs)

AM: So it's often all up to you?

Endo: It depends on the situation, but sometimes I'm writing the entire story. I have to be careful, since if I do it badly, it'll end up like the Kilimanjaro arc. I think you have to look at the whole thing in overview, so you don't end up wishing in hindsight that you'd added one more episode. Anyone can realize that afterwards, but it's important to understand it at the time.

Kitazume: With Z, the animation often wasn't visually interesting. Even the characters seldom had anime-like movements, so it felt more like live action. The main job of the animation director was to increase the level of perfection of the individual drawings, and that took a lot of time.

AM: It's boring when they're endlessly throwing lines of dialogue back and forth.

Kitazume: I think so, and it feels stiff just watching it. ZZ will have a different direction as a work, and I hope we can show that through movement and development in the scripts and storyboards.

Endo: In that sense, it's hard writing scripts for ZZ, and the page counts only get higher. But that's what makes it worth writing. I'll be giving it my all, so please look forward to it.

AM: And as for the animation...

Kitazume: That's right. Compared to Z, which was like a taiga drama, I think on a case-by-case basis ZZ still allows for the fun of showing the development through movement. (5) In particular, since many of the characters are kids, I think it would be nice if we could express their active side.

Translator's Notes

(1) The discussion here refers to Z Gundam episode 34, "A Call From Space."

(2) I don't know whether Kitazume is referring to a specific scene here.

(3) Tokusatsu (特撮) literally just means "special effects," but it's also a genre of Japanese live-action entertainment.

(4) Naniwa-bushi (浪花節) is a traditional narrative form in which stories are sung with shamisen accompaniment. According to the Japanese Wikipedia, comparing something to naniwa-bushi means that it's "emotional and aimed at a mass audience, with speech, action, and thinking that place an emphasis on duty and human feeling." I suppose we could sum that up as "corny and sentimental," which matches Endo's description of it as 臭い (kusai) or "cheesy."

(5) Taiga drama (大河ドラマ/span>) is NHK's term for its annual historical drama series, and is commonly used to describe this entire genre of historical epics.

From Animage, March 1986

Episode director
Toshifumi Kawase

Mr. Kawase is currently 27 years old. After joining Sunrise at age 20 and working as a setting manager, he became an episode director as of L-Gaim. Mr. Kawase, who says "I wanted to try doing an episode right before the end," was responsible for the final episode of Z.

"The last episode of Z isn't a complete ending, and in some ways it's still continuing. Unfortunately, for that reason we couldn't make it feel quite like a finale. I feel like I wanted to create flashier dramatic scenes."

"Working on Z was pretty easy for me. The thing about serious shows is that they'll take shape as long as you follow the story. But a comedic work like the new ZZ is harder than a serious one. You have to flesh out the script, so it really brings out the full power of the episode director. I'm feeling the pressure."

Mecha animation director
Yorihisa Uchida

Working for a year as a mecha animation director, I felt that for schedule reasons, I was always left with frustrations about the presentation of the mecha. Even at the best of times, the production schedule on Z was a bad one, but drawing mecha still takes time. So the key animators ended up reducing the number of drawings, and due to time constraints, I couldn't ask for revisions either. All I could do was make partial corrections.

Personally, I was envisioning mecha battles like those in the Gundam III movie, but unfortunately they ended up being more like L-Gaim. Although that's also due to the story... Combat scenes without any drama are unsatisfying, and they don't inspire me either.

Recently, people often ask me whether it's tough just drawing mecha. I'm not really conscious of that, but if time permits, I'd like to draw some characters in ZZ as well.

Mecha animation director
Toshimitsu Kobayashi

Right now (January 22), I'm in the middle of animation direction for the final episode... It's pretty exhausting! This is my first time being in charge of such an important episode, and there's such pressure! Z is also the first time I've been an animation director on a single work for a full year. In some ways that was harder than I expected.

Personally, the episode that made the biggest impression as I was working on it had to be episode 7, where Lila died. I'm also fond of episode 33, where Haman Karn first appeared. On that one, I tried to draw Haman's face so she looked a little more villainous than in the setting.

Everyone says it's good, but episode 20, "The Burning Escape," didn't make much of an impression on me. Since the drama in that episode was conveyed purely through dialogue, there was nothing for me to do as an artist. There were a lot of episodes like that in Z.

It seems ZZ will be a lighter story, so perhaps that will help out the animation directors as well?