Ultimate Mark

Production Reference:
Gundam ZZ in Animec
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Translator's Note: The anime magazine Animec, and the associated Rapport Deluxe books, played an important role in promoting the original Mobile Suit Gundam series. Its role in the later development of the series, however, was more minor. This interview with Gundam ZZ chief director Yoshiyuki Tomino, recorded on March 6, 1986, and published in the May 1986 issue of Animec, is presented here for historical interest.

Note that Animec recorded this interview on the same day as the Z Gundam-focused one published in the Rapport Deluxe "Z Gundam Encyclopedia," which has some overlap in topics. See English translation by Zeonic|Scanlations.

From Animec, May 1986

He is someone who doesn't need much of an introduction at this point, a representative of the production side of Japanese animation. Following Z Gundam, he is serving as the chief director of Gundam ZZ.

Turning from Z to ZZ

Editor: ZZ gives a very different impression compared to the previous Z. What was the thinking behind that?

Tomino: If possible, I'd like to cleanly make an anime as an anime, and a movie as a movie. So for something like Z, I think Z is enough by itself. If you want an example, there was a movie called Superman, and they made up to Superman III, but it seems like they won't be making any more of those for a while. (1) The reason is that it's become difficult for them to use the actor (Christopher Reeve) who played the role of the hero. Of course, the same reasoning also applies in the case of anime...

In fact, it may just be an idle dream, but I think in two or three years the time will come when we have to fundamentally change the positioning of the characters. What I'm thinking in terms of the work is that if I can settle things with Amuro in ZZ, then I'd like to do that. But even so, I can't say anything right now, because I don't yet know whether Amuro will actually appear in ZZ.

Editor: Will you be considering characters like Lalah or Four in the upcoming story?

Tomino: I'm not thinking about that at all. Every time we do that, it gets more repetitive, right? So I wasn't planning anything like that. But what I'm wondering right now is, in short, how to develop the story from episode 20 onwards. Frankly speaking, it's giving me trouble. ZZ is a work that belongs to the Gundam series, so there's a danger the program's viewers will reject it if it turns into a different story.

In any case, so far it's only been decided to broadcast ZZ for two cours, so I don't yet know how long we can keep making it. But in business terms, to a large extent I'm thinking of it as something different. Because Z and ZZ are being made in succession, there would be no point in doing the same thing again. Besides, I don't think it would be good for television animation to continue making works like Z.

The program might continue two or three years into the future, but if we're trying to continue it, I don't think you'd be able to watch it unless it feels like we're making a clean break here.

Can you see it?! Judau and his friends

Editor: Looking at the characters, what kind of person is the new protagonist Judau Ashta?

Tomino: As I imagine him, I feel Judau is a person who can get out his gloomy feelings without storing them up in his mind, but that's hard to show onscreen. (2) It's up to the ability of the episode directors, so I'm not sure how it will ultimately look on film. As I said earlier, at this point it's not yet decided whether we'll be making 50 episodes, so I don't know whether we'll be able to depict that. And then there wouldn't be enough time to show Judau's nature as a Newtype, either. One thing I'd like to say is that it would be foolish to describe Judau as simply a contrast to Amuro and Kamille. But that won't make sense unless you can see how I feel.

Editor: And what's Mashymre Cello like?

Tomino: I can't tell you anything about that either. It's a problem because his first appearance didn't make as strong an impression as I expected. His performance, for example the part in episode 3 where he's waving a rose around, would be fine if it was just a drawing. In that case it would still come across to some extent, but unless it comes across, it's nonsensical to say "Let's do it like this"... Well, I'm having some trouble. I still haven't done even a tenth of what I wanted to do with ZZ.

Editor: How about Yazan? Even he gave a different impression when he showed up in ZZ.

Tomino: Personally, I'd say that was a mistake as well.

Thinking about Char...

Editor: And what about Char?

Tomino: It's yet to be decided whether or not he'll appear, but if he does, he might get to the point where he feels he could run the Zabi family himself. (3) That would make the Argama his enemy.

The most unfortunate thing about ZZ is that it's a sequel program to Z, and in particular, the fact it inherited those generational relationships means that as long as the woman called Haman Karn is around, there are things Char won't be able to do. In that respect, the story of Char and Haman is rather frustrating.

Nonetheless, I don't want to do that. If various things happen and Char eventually gets over his "troubles," he could become tremendously strong. How strong? Enough that the story would be over in the blink of an eye, and something like ZZ wouldn't even last five episodes. So for now, the enemies should be petty villains like Haman and Mashymre.

Editor: He's already gotten ridiculously strong, then.

Tomino: Strong enough that he could do it without using any cunning stratagems. First of all, he'd kill Amuro and the others before they even realized it. That's how strong he is. But if he's that strong, the drama would end instantly unless a Newtype appears who can defeat Char. As I said, it would take less than five episodes.

In other words, as long as Gundam is continuing as a TV series, Char probably won't show up. The story wouldn't end until they either kill Char or get killed by him, and we'd have to take our time getting there. (4) But even if he does that, he'll be the one who loses in the end. (5)

Editor: I'd really like to see Char like that.

Tomino: I don't think I would. That's because I'm not working just as I please. When you're constantly working within this kind of framework, you try to do work that's responsive to it. And besides, that kind of talk just turns into anarchy.

The ZZ yet to come

Editor: What are you thinking about when it comes to ZZ?

Tomino: Of course, ZZ is also a work derived from Gundam. So you can't really say anything about it, or whether it's good or bad, until you've watched about one cours. I can't say anything about it myself, either. I have some objectives, but unless there are people watching it...

Editor: As the chief director of ZZ, is there anything you'd like to say to the viewers?

Tomino: One way or another, I'm doing this without holding back. I'll do it until they tell me to drop dead.

Translator's Notes

(1) In fact, Superman IV: The Quest For Peace was released in 1987, four years after Superman III. But perhaps it would have been better if it hadn't been.

(2) The Japanese term 発散する (hassan suru) means to "release" or "emit," and is often used in the sense of letting of steam or relieving stress. I think the idea is that Judau has negative feelings, like the previous Gundam heroes, but he expresses them immediately instead of brooding about them.

(3) The Japanese phrase 「自分がザビ家をやっても良い」 is somewhat ambiguous. I feel "it's fine to run the Zabi family himself" is the most plausible interpretation, but there are other possibilities.

(4) It's unclear to me exactly who Tomino is talking about here—Char's longtime rival Amuro, or the hypothetical protagonist of a future Gundam TV series.

(5) Likewise, I don't know who "he" refers to here.