Ultimate Mark

Production Reference:
Gundam ZZ in Animedia
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Translator's Note: Another anime magazine that covered Gundam ZZ during its broadcast run was Gakken's Animedia. As well as feature articles and insert booklets, the staff of Animedia produced two books devoted to the series, imaginatively titled "Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ Part.1" and "Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ Part.2." These were published in October 1986 and March 1987, respectively.

Along with staff commentary, production reports, and behind-the-scenes anecdotes about creative decisions and story setting, these books also included longer interviews with key creators. Here, I've translated the interview with mechanical designer Mika Akitaka from the first volume, and some insider info sidebars from various insert booklets.

From "Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ Special Book" included with June 1986 Animedia

Director Tomino's influence on the characters

The personalities of Judau Ashta and the other energetic characters can be seen on the TV screen. But what about their blood types and astrological signs? Only a few people know. Among them is a member of the production staff, so we asked them about this.

"Actually, in the initial stages, things like Judau's blood type and astrological sign hadn't yet been decided. As the story progressed, the episode directors and scriptwriters made a reverse calculation and decided that Judau was a Scorpio and Type B, the girlish Leina was a Pisces born on March 3 and Type AB, and so forth."

But what's the truth...?

"In fact, the personalities of the main characters are influenced by the director, Mr. Tomino. That's why they're usually Scorpios with an AB blood type."

Glemy Toto, the little prince?? (1)

And now for Glemy Toto, a newly appearing character who is expected to play a major role in the future. It seems that he's actually a relative of Haman. There will be scenes in which this little prince of Neo Zeon falls for Roux Louka at first sight in mid-battle, then tries to kidnap her from the Argama. We asked a staffer about that as well.

"According to the setting, the little prince Glemy Toto will be placed under Mashymre's command as part of his training journey. He's a capable person with some talent, but also someone prone to self-delusion."

Apparently, based on these delusions, he'll try to turn the strong-willed Roux Louka into his first lady. Such developments are also in store.

A Beatles song in the hero's name

One of the charms of Gundam ZZ is its rather unique naming. The names of the characters, in particular, have a playfulness we haven't previously seen. One example is the protagonist's name "Judau Ashta." If you're a music connoisseur, you may have heard that somewhere before. That's right, the name is taken from the famous Beatles song "Hey Jude." The name was completed by adding the characters for "tomorrow."

Many other characters appear with names that are fun to hear, such as the R-Jarja from "Jajauma Musume," and Mondo Agake due to his red hair. (2) What secrets will the names of the characters who appear in the future hold?

The rose image of the Hamma-Hamma!

As well as the characters, the naming of the combat mecha is also interesting. Among these is the Hamma-Hamma piloted by Mashymre Cello. It's fun just hearing this mobile suit's name, but in fact, this mecha is imbued with all of Mashymre's feelings towards Haman Karn.

At first, Mashymre intended to place a special order for this combat mecha to be a female-type mobile suit that resembled Haman, but this was far too inappropriate for a combat mobile suit. So instead, the Hamma-Hamma was custom-made in the image of the rose given to him by Haman. The green colors in which it is painted were actually inspired by the thorny stem of a rose. In any case, he's so devoted to Haman that he's made her rose into an artificial flower and carries it about with him at all times. Haman's influence may show up in the mobile suits he uses in the future as well.

Translator's Notes

(1) The Japanese phrase お坊っちゃん (obocchan) means a pampered princeling, or a young master who has been shielded from the ways of the world.

(2) "Jajauma Musume" (Unruly Girl) was a 1978 pop song recorded by Taeko Onuki. The Japanese term 赤毛 (akage) means "red hair."

From Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ Part.1, October 1986

Secrets of the ZZ Gundam's birth that can now be told

The process of creating the ZZ Gundam is now revealed by up-and-coming designer Mr. Mika Akitaka!! Also, a great unveiling of preliminary drafts drawn by Mr. Akitaka. The ZZ mecha world expands again!!

—First, please tell us how you got started working with mecha.

Akitaka: Naturally, it's because I liked mecha. I was influenced by Studio Nue as well... and I loved robots and space warships. So I joined Shindosha right after high school.

—How did you come to be working on designs for ZZ?

Akitaka: Shindosha had been doing designs since the time of Z, right? So I'd actually been involved since Z as well. I came up with things like the international airplane that Fraw flew on. After that, it felt like I was drawing nothing but landing gear.

Then, around October of last year, there was talk of extending the broadcast run of Z. That was around the time I was working on the Nippon Sunrise game software Blassty. They asked, "What should we do with the next Gundam?" and I said something like, "Shouldn't it combine?!" Then Shindosha received a design request. At that point, I submitted something where A- and B-Parts combined with a Core Fighter to form something like the G-Armor, and then transformed into a Gundam. But I was told they were going with Mr. Nagano's design, so I thought my work was done.

—That was optimistic...

Akitaka: Yes, it was! Then, at the end of the year, I was suddenly called in to the studio, and they asked me to come up with a main mecha and several mobile suits over the New Year... The deadline was January 6. (laughs) I thought I was going to die, but I turned in two Gundams, and Mr. Hideo Okamoto did two or three.

—In the end, what was the process leading to the decision of the ZZ's design?

Akitaka: Well, the design I submitted in October was more or less the basis. Then Mr. Nagano did a few drafts, and after that I auditioned for it at the beginning of the year. I was just talking about the ones I turned in at that point.

At the meeting in January, mine and Mr. Makoto Kobayashi's were the only ones remaining, and then they settled on Mr. Kobayashi's design for the overall line. Mr. Kobayashi's was a combination of A-Parts and B-Parts, so I added a Core Fighter and leg gimmicks. I did various things like making the leg parts look less like legs in G-Fortress form, and turning the A-Part's hands around to reveal nozzles.

—How long did it take until the final draft?

Akitaka: Only one month! I still had to do a lot of drafts, almost one a day... It would have killed an ordinary person.

We had a few people working on it back then, but now I'm pretty much doing it all alone. I'm feeling a bit of pressure.

—Aside from the ZZ, what else did you do?

Akitaka: As far as mobile suits, there's the Gaza D. There was a provisional rough by Mr. Nagano, but they let me do as I liked with the transformation mechanisms and so forth. After that came the Ga-Zowmn, as well as two new space types. (1) I also did a new Argama and the Mega-Rider. (2)

I design various small items as well. As far as character-related ones, there are things like Ple's bathtub and washing machines. Communication with the episode directors Mr. Sugishima and Mr. Kawase is going smoothly, so it's a fun job even though it's difficult. (3)

—Thank you very much.

☆ Click the image thumbnail below to see it at full size! ☆ Captions are listed below from right to left ☆


▸ One of the concept designs that became a base for the ZZ Gundam.

◂ A design drawn on January 10 of this year. It is a revised version of the preliminary draft above. The design of the legs was inherited by the final draft.

▸ G-Fortress (G-Armor). This is a combination of the A-Parts, B-Parts, and Core Fighter of the Gundam on the right. It can transform directly into MS form.

◂ The high-speed mobile aerospace fighter G-Sonic. This is a transformed version of the A-Parts, the upper body of the ZZ Gundam on the right.

▴ The Core Fighter. It can function as an ordinary fighter even like this, but since it can't be guaranteed that there's space for a passenger in the B-Parts, it can be used as a cockpit core for the B-Parts. This concept survived into the final draft.

◂ The heavy attack aerospace fighter-bomber G-Breaker. This is the ZZ's B-Parts plus the Core Fighter.

☆ Click the image thumbnail below to see it at full size! ☆ Captions are listed below from right to left ☆


▴ The docking form of the Core Gundam. This transforms into the upper body of the Omega Gundam.

◂ The Core Gundam (Gundam Mk-III). As its name suggests, it becomes the core of the Omega Gundam.

▾ Power-up parts are added to the Core Gundam to form the Omega Gundam.

▸ The Omega Gundam. Its core is the Gundam Mk-III, which combines with the G-Parts to become a heavy mobile suit. As in the final draft, it can transform into a G-Fortress after combining.

▸ The G-Armor when docked with the Core Gundam.

▸ The G-Armor when separated from the Core Gundam.

▴ The Core Gundam transforms like this to dock with the G-Armor. The Omega Gundam's shield can be attached to its underside to form a Core Fighter.

☆ Click the image thumbnail below to see it at full size! ☆ Captions are listed below from right to left ☆


▸ One of the concept designs submitted for the ZZ Gundam. It gives a toy-like impression, but the large fins on the shoulders, large mega cannons on the back, and landing gear in the knees survived into the final draft.

▾ A new model of Core Fighter.

◂ The Core Block is inserted between the A- and B-Parts.

▾ Core Booster I, a light fighter. This is a combination of the A-Parts and Core Fighter.

▴ Core Booster II, for heavy attack. This is the B-Parts plus the Core Fighter.

▸ The G-Fortress. This is a combination of the A-Parts, B-Parts, and Core Fighter.

☆ Click the image thumbnail below to see it at full size! ☆ Captions are listed below from left to right ☆


▸ A rough draft of the Mega-Rider. A transformation was being considered at this point, and the high mega launcher couldn't be used until it transformed.

▸ Another Mega-Rider rough draft. The director advised that, since it was too big for a toy, the transformation mechanism could be eliminated.

Translator's Notes

(1) I think one of the "new space types" would be the R-Jarja. The setting art for this and the Ga-Zowmn was completed early in February 1986.

(2) The Nahel Argama setting art was completed in August 1986, so this interview may have been recorded around that time.

(3) Kunihisa Sugishima and Toshifumi Kawase. Sugishima directed a total of nine episodes of Gundam ZZ, including episodes 2 (the first full episode) and 47 (the series finale), and Kawase directed eight.

From Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ Part.2, March 1987

"Animator annihilation?! Terror of the rejected mecha!"

In episodes 40 and 41, we were entertained by the appearance of many replicas of amphibious mobile suits and rejected mecha in the weird colony of Tigerbaum. But behind this was a painstaking effort by the staff! From the start, episodes 40 and 41 were amusing episodes completely unrelated to the main story, created as part of the extension of the broadcast. To make it even more playful, the staff decided to include the Zogok and Agg Guy, rejected mobile suits from the old Gundam. However, though these were released as plastic models, there was no setting for them. Thus the animation staff were given copies of the plastic model blueprints, and the models themselves, to draw from.

"The Geymalk was a giant mobile suit!"

The Geymalk is a mobile suit piloted by Chara Soone which resembles a moving mega cannon. In the mobile suit's setting, it has a head height of 22 meters, but at the stage when the drawing was done it was supposed to appear as a Quin Mantha-class giant mobile suit. The reason it ended up being smaller is because the original plan was to release the Geymalk as a plastic model, and it couldn't be released in 1/144 scale unless it were about 20 meters in size. However, the maker cut the Geymalk from the release list in order to release variations of old mecha (such as the Dwadge) that appeared in the terrestrial chapter. What an unfortunate mobile suit.

"The adorable fairy Elpeo Ple"

Elpeo Ple is very popular, and her name also has a respectable basis. (1) It was Chief Director Tomino who named her. When he was looking at a book, the director saw a description of a clan of adorable fairies, and he used their name just as it was. (2) In other words, "the El People."

However, there was one problem in choosing this name. When the director brought it to the scriptwriter Mr. Endo, he rejected it, saying "Don't we already have an Elle and a Roux?" (3) But the director was attached to the name Elpeo Ple, and in the end they used it anyway.

"The Döven Wolf is a Gundam?!"

Rather than its current Zaku-series face, the Döven Wolf initially had the face of a Gundam. The reason its face design was revised is that the Döven Wolf was originally designed as a psycommu mobile suit which could be used even by ordinary soldiers, developed from the Psycho Gundam. Thus it had a Gundam-series face and was called the G-5 (fifth Gundam). But Chief Director Tomino said "No more Gundams on the enemy side," and so it was hastily redrawn with a new head design. Therefore, mecha designer Mr. Kobayashi designed a fifth Gundam in Mr. Akitaka's place. (1)

"Glemy and Ple are siblings!"

The relationship between Elpeo Ple and Ple-Two wasn't made clear on the screen, but it's a point of concern for fans. Thus we'll look at Elpeo and Ple-Two, throwing in Glemy as an extra bonus, and tell you the secrets of their birth. Even though these relationships weren't clearly explained onscreen, they were firmly established in the setting.

First, let's start with Glemy. He was actually a test-tube baby created by artificially inseminating the eggs of a woman who had Newtype attributes with the sperm of Gihren Zabi, who appeared in the old series. (5) The Ples were also artificially created in the same way from Gihren Zabi and a Newtype woman, making them Glemy's younger sisters. However, they used the eggs of a different woman from the one used for Glemy, and they appear to be artificial twins with exactly the same chromosomes (genes). Thus Elpeo Ple and Ple-Two are identical, but Ple-Two's personality was changed through subsequent imprinting.

What's more, the Newtype Corps that Glemy kept in reserve for the final battle were also test-tube babies created in the same way as Glemy and the others. Since Cyber-Newtypes like those used by Haman were too unstable, and their Newtype abilities were limited (as shown by the fact that Ple-Two was able to control the Psycho Gundam Mk-II that the Cyber-Newtype Rosamia couldn't use), Glemy formed a corps from test-tube babies rather than using Cyber-Newtypes. How ruthless, though, to turn his own siblings into soldiers.

Translator's Notes

(1) The Japanese term ちゃんとした (chantoshita) means "proper" or "decent." Perhaps the writer is alluding here to some of the other suggested explanations for this name.

(2) The Japanese term 一族 (ichizoku) means "tribe" or "family line," something more extensive than a single family household. Though the term "El People" has been used occasionally to refer to fairies, the efforts of Western Gundam fans to identify this book have been fruitless.

(3) The character names in question are written in Japanese as エルピー・プル (erupī puru), エル (eru), and ルー (), which are indeed fairly similar.

(4) I'm not sure which Kobayashi design this is referring to.

(5) A similar explanation in B-Club Vol.15 describes Glemy as "a clone created from sperm left behind by the dictator Gihren Zabi," which suggests that he was created after Gihren's death and then somehow artificially aged.

From "All Gundam Guide" included with November 1987 Animedia

The secret of Sayla's appearance

Sayla wasn't intended to appear in ZZ. This is because they were trying to save her for the movie, and because Sayla's voice actor, Ms. Yo Inoue, was out of the country. But when it was decided to save Leina, who was supposed to have been killed, someone was needed to rescue her. After considering who this should be, the staff chose Sayla for the sake of fan service. That's how Sayla came to appear without saying a single word.

It was also necessary to let the viewers know about Char's whereabouts to create a connection to the movie version. This led to the conversation between Sayla and Bright in the final episodes. Ms. Inoue had also returned to Japan, but it was really the fans' voices that brought about Sayla's two appearances.