Ultimate Mark

Production Reference:
Gundam ZZ in B-Club
> Back to Gundam Unofficial


Translator's Note: An interview with chief director Yoshiyuki Tomino, previewing the upcoming Gundam ZZ, appeared in Vol.3 of Bandai's B-Club magazine. Recorded on November 20, 1985, and published on December 20 of that year, this interview was one of the very first public announcements of the new series.

I've also included some material from later issues of B-Club, retracing the design evolution of the ZZ Gundam and other mobile suits from the early episodes of the series.

From B-Club Vol.3, December 1985

This interview with Director Tomino was conducted on November 20, 1985. We apologize if names and other details have subsequently changed.

Z Gundam was a failure...?

BC: First, we'd like to ask how it feels now the end of Z Gundam is in sight.

Tomino: Ultimately, because ZG was preoccupied with the idea of "the next Gundam," it became a strangely grown-up story. There are some parts that satisfy my own personal taste, but that doesn't mean it was fully accepted by the audience watching. After all, TV isn't supposed to be like that.

In the end, over the course of one year, we were unable to do anything more than scrape away the sediment of old Gundam. We were able to tell Kamille's story, but we never reached the point of talking about the Gundam world itself. It would be frustrating if Gundam ended here. Now, I thought, we have to go back to the previous Gundam once again! So when Bandai approached me to ask whether an extension would be possible, I immediately replied "it's possible."

BC: Up until now, there had never been a Part II story where the former heroes reappeared in older form.

Tomino: A work like that might sound interesting, but it actually isn't. I shouldn't say this, but since ZG was a Part II story of that type, you could call it a failure event. That's certainly not a good thing. But I'm grateful they let me do something I wanted to try at least once.

Along the way, I wondered repeatedly how we could make it more interesting, but in short, we could never escape the fact that it was a mistaken undertaking. Thinking of TV as an entertainment medium, that's probably the worst thing you could do. I can't believe they didn't cancel it. (laughs)

The aim is a light Gundam! (1)

BC: What specific form will this extension take?

Tomino: There still hasn't been an official decision, but I'd like to go with the tentative title ZZ. (2) That naming might seem perfect for a continuation, but while the Zeta will appear, Kamille and Char won't show up. If you ask why, I'd say "Well, it's like a new work." That's exactly what ZZ is. As to what I'd like to accomplish with it, first of all it's simply that Gundam isn't a story that can be told in a single year, as I was just saying. In the end, this past year was only the story of Kamille as Kamille, so I'd like to look at the big themes of Gundam from a viewpoint other than Kamille's. I'd also like to put the Newtype idea which exists in Gundam into a form that's easier to understand.

BC: So, even if it's called an extension, the impression will change quite a bit.

Tomino: At present, the scripting work has started about as far as episode 6, but the scriptwriters are really happy. That's because, although it's a successor to the old series ZG, it's becoming a new work of which you could say, "Isn't this what giant robot anime is all about?" I really want to make this one lighter, so it will be more appealing to a general audience than ZG. With this style of depiction, we can make a Gundam world that will last ten more years.

Because it's a giant robot show, the premise of this production is that the work also needs to incorporate the humor of things like Mazinger Z. So now, among the staff, we're all talking about "a light Gundam, an enjoyable Gundam, a Gundam for everyone." In short, that's the way I'd like to do it. The mobile suits will still be treated seriously, so we're not going to have someone call "Double Zetaa!" and the Gundam comes flying out. (laughs) I just want to have a structure that says it's a giant robot show.

To be honest, right now I can't help enjoying this job. So it's unavoidably annoying to be working on the ending of ZG in parallel. (laughs) You'd think we couldn't make something that heavy for a 5:30 TV program! (burst of laughter)

BC: In terms of your previous works, is this like Super Machine Zambot 3 or The Unchallengeable Daitarn 3?

Tomino: Even if it doesn't go as far as Daitarn, I'd like to do something like Zambot or Xabungle. If I weren't doing that again, we wouldn't have characters like Shinta and Qum. Those two became a falsehood in ZG. So this time, I think Fa and the rest of the Argama crew will be following their lead, with Bright being like the Argama's daddy.

People who only liked ZG will probably be dubious about this work. But if the general audience can accept it without resistance as a giant robot show, then ZZ could really become a turning point for Gundam. In that sense, I'm trying to be workmanlike about it.

BC: So will there also be the traditional scene where the Zeta Gundam and Mk-II are in trouble, and the Double Zeta suddenly appears?

Tomino: (laughs) There might be something like that. People who don't like that kind of scene don't have to watch it. Thinking about it now, weren't the problems with the various unsuccessful original projects that appeared after Gundam beautifully demonstrated by ZG? It was as if the creator were forcing the audience to watch whatever they wanted to make. (3) So right now, it's also the job of Gundam to present a robot show in the form of TV anime. Thinking of it like that, this one year of ZG wasn't wasted after all.

Character design—Hiroyuki Kitazume
Mechanical design—Mamoru Nagano

BC: Will Mr. Yasuhiko continue on as character designer?

Tomino: Older characters will also appear, so that's true to a certain extent. But I've asked Mr. Hiroyuki Kitazume, who is currently working with us as an animation director, to do the new characters who will be appearing from now on. The protagonist is Judau Ashta, whose age is decreased to 13 years. (4) Bright is the only old character who will play an active role, and Char won't show up for the time being. As to why, it's simply because he looks cooler as an enemy, and in that case he should appear after a cooling-off period.

BC: Who will being doing the mecha design?

Tomino: I'm thinking of leaving it to Mr. Nagano. But the Gundam called ZZ isn't a so-called Nagano mecha. (5) Its lines are close to those of an Okawara machine. As he does each design, he's conscious of both traditional designs and Okawara-like designs. He must know he can't survive indefinitely doing only designs like the Hambrabi, so we can expect more variation in his mecha from now on.

The disposable bad-guy mecha he's now drawing for the first episode are manga-like things reminiscent of Osamu Tezuka. (6) Because he's also doing orthodox designs as well, I think his scope may suddenly expand in a good direction. And for me, who started with the Tezuka manga Mighty Atom, it also feels like a return to my starting point.

Early mobile suit designs by Mamoru Nagano, as reproduced in the interview pages.


What is now demanded from mecha designers

BC: On ZG, you took the approach of having mecha designs by multiple designers. Was that successful?

Tomino: Of course, if you look at the variety of mobile suits in ZG, it's clear that it produced some results. But on the other hand, the problem was that individual designers didn't stand out. Originally, we had multiple designers so that individual designers could be produced, but it turned out like this because making them compete turned the whole thing into a classroom. In a classroom, you can't stand out from the crowd and become number one unless you're a really excellent student. So even if they stimulate each other, all they end up doing is copying other people...

What I felt there was the weakness of the designers' intelligence. (7) The intelligence I'm talking about includes their knowledge, their information, and their ability to control them, but these were all weak. So I'd like to ask something of the people who want to enter this world in the future. Up until college, I want you to increase your intelligence as an individual by studying in your own way. For example, whether it's industrial design, architecture, or in some cases even oil painting, first of all you should thoroughly study that field of design, and only then enter the world of anime itself. That kind of depth and cultivation will be required from now on.

There are a lot of designers right now, and those among them who don't have much individual personality can't use it in their work. The skills and individuality of an amateur karaoke champion aren't useful for business. So first, I want you to acquire basic academic skills and the intelligence to control them. Mecha design has become a profession that requires that kind of ability. By taking the aforementioned approach with ZG, I saw that fact very clearly. Isn't that true of the world of modelers as well?

BC: The world of modelers has certainly become a virtuoso one, emphasizing individual ability and personality to the extent that you're not really interesting unless you studied sculpture in college.

Tomino: It seems that, like other genres, it's come to require intelligence. But I can't say that generally means the level has been raised. For technical purposes, it has to be versatile and properly applied, and that requires a minimum degree of drawing ability. For a modeler, you probably also need a sense for materials that amounts to an instinctive talent.

From now on, design work will also require being able to look at a flat surface and see what it will be like as a three-dimensional object. Simply put, when you draw a design only from the front, you must already have all three views in your head. Professional designers always have to present their original designs in that format, so I want pros to be fully aware of that as well. At this point, the era of being able to work at the level of high school or child's play is certainly over.

Meanwhile, since there aren't any episode directors at Sunrise who have a sense for dealing with this, it's an absolute necessity for aspiring directors to acquire their own unique intelligence as well. For example, in my case, it seems strange that I've been directing robot anime for so long. But I believe it's thanks to the sense I cultivated by reading huge quantities of rocketry-related materials in junior and senior high school. Even I was surprised when I came across that mountain of materials the other day. That was all I ever read, so my grades weren't so good. (laughs)

That's why I've never been able to get away from the subject of space. I want young people who aspire to be designers and directors to spend a long time acquiring their own sense and intelligence, too, before entering the professional world. That much, at least, is definitely needed now.

Translator's Notes

(1) The adjective Tomino uses to describe Gundam ZZ, 明るい (akarui), means "light" or "bright," in contrast to the darkness of Z Gundam.

(2) In this interview, Tomino doesn't give the full title. Since a Mamoru Nagano mecha design sketch dated one week earlier bears the label "ZZ Gundam MS-1," it's possible the title was initially ZZ Gundam rather than Gundam ZZ.

(3) I think Tomino must be referring, at least in part, to his own post-Gundam works here.

(4) Revised to 14 years in the actual animation.

(5) Since the name Gundam isn't written in quotes here, I think Tomino is referring to the star mobile suit rather than the series as a whole.

(6) The phrase Tomino uses here, ヤラレメカ (yarare mecha), means minor mecha that show up just to be thrashed. It's similar to the gaming term "mob" but that seemed anachronistic for a 1985 interview.

(7) The Japanese term 薄さ (ususa) literally means that something is thin, faint, or diluted. Tomino is also using the English word "intelligence," transcribed as インテリジェンス in phonetic kana.

From Mokei Jōhō, January 1986

Translator's Note: This announcement in Bandai's Mokei Jōhō (model information) magazine was published on January 1, 1986, shortly after B-Club Vol.3.

As reported in the previous issue, it's been decided that Z Gundam will conclude at the end of February, and its sequel Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ will start. The story begins with the battered Argama entering port at Shangri-La, a Side 1 colony, after the battle at Gryps 2. The Argama draws the attention of a group of youngsters who are working as junk dealers at Shangri-la. One of their central members is Judau Ashta, the protagonist of the series. It seems that Fa and Yazan, from the previous series, will also play important roles in the story.

The enemy will be Haman Karn's faction. One of its young members targets the Argama with the warship Endra, and Judau becomes the new pilot of the Zeta in order to meet this attack. The first episode, broadcast on March 1, will be a prelude film which presents famous scenes from the older Gundam and Z Gundam, then connects them to the new work. By the way, the mecha and character designs published here are all preliminary drafts, and may differ from the final versions.

★ Character design by Mr. Hiroyuki Kitazume!

Judau Ashta
(Protagonist, 13 years old)

Leina Ashta
(Judau's sister)

Elle Vianno

Mashymre Cello

★ Mechanical design drafts of the new Gundam by Mr. Mamoru Nagano!

Core Base
(Transforms into body of new Gundam)

Core Fighter
(Forms chest parts of new Gundam)

Equipped with various weapon parts

MS Form
The new main mobile suit is scheduled to appear in May. The design feels like a new development in Nagano mecha.

Flight Form
(No Core Fighter)

☆ Click the image thumbnail below to see it at full size! ☆


From B-Club Vol.4, February 1986

Design: Mamoru Nagano
Modeling: Tohru Kobayashi

The mechanical design for Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ was being carried out by Mr. Mamoru Nagano, but he stepped down as designer as of January 1986. The ZZ design plan by Mr. Nagano that was featured in the interview with Director Yoshiyuki Tomino in B-Club No.3 was his first draft, submitted in the Gundam design meeting held in mid-November.

The version shown in the MJ Forum in January's Mokei Jōhō magazine was the second draft, submitted in an early December meeting. There, the idea was that the flight forms of the A-Mecha and B-Mecha combine with a Core Fighter and transform into the ZZ or the C-Mecha (a power-up mecha like the G-Armor). It was decided that the ZZ name came from the fact that the A-Mecha and B-Mecha combine.

The design shown here is the final draft submitted at the end of December.

☆ Click the image thumbnail below to see it at full size! ☆


Transformation process of the "ZZ" final draft designed by Mr. Mamoru Nagano. This is based on the concept of combining A-Mecha and B-Mecha, a plan by Mr. Mika Akitaka of Shindosha, which was one of many designs (about 30) submitted in the first design meeting in late October.

The A-Mecha and B-Mecha transformation planned by Mr. Nagano would have produced problems when it was reproduced in three dimensions, so it was deemed NG (No Good).

A reversed image of Nagano's transformation plan.


From B-Club Vol.4, February 1986

ZZ Gundam
Design / Makoto Kobayashi

At the beginning of January '86, it was decided that Mr. Mamoru Nagano would be replaced as mechanical designer for Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ. Mr. Makoto Kobayashi was now responsible for the main mecha, the ZZ, while the Neo Zeon mobile suits were entrusted to Yutaka Izubuchi (who creates "Aura Fhantasm" for this magazine) and Shindosha.

Mr. Kobayashi's work as a mecha designer on Z Gundam was discussed in Vol.3, and his ability as a modeler is also famous from works like "Hyper Weapon" (Model Art). The fact that he has finally arrived as a talent, going from a modeler to having his name in the title credits, is big news for the modeling world and a suitable way to mark the new year of '86. We'll be paying attention to Mr. Kobayashi's future activity as a mecha designer!

Idea Sketch
A Gundam plan by Mr. Makoto Kobayashi submitted at a ZZ design meeting in mid-November. Since the combining mecha plan hadn't yet been decided, the impression was quite different from the final draft. A flying mecha known as the Back Up Fighter can be docked on the back to make flight possible. Large beam sabers protrude from the shoulders.

First Draft
Equipped with an ultra mega beam cannon in the center of its head. This was considered the most promising design for the ZZ as a replacement for the Nagano plan. (Design completion date January 6, 1986)

Second Draft
A cleaned-up version of the first draft. The basis is still that the A-Mecha and B-Mecha combine to become a mobile suit or a power-up mecha. (January 9, 1986)

Third Draft (revised head close-up)
This design, dated January 17, is a revised draft of the head. The final draft design won't be completed until February. In the next issue, we'll see the complete transforming "ZZ Gundam" that Mr. Kobayashi made himself.

☆ Click the image thumbnail below to see it at full size! ☆


Neo Zeon Mobile Suit
Design / Yutaka Izubuchi

Mr. Yutaka Izubuchi joined the mecha design staff of ZZ at the beginning of '86. Before ZZ was decided, Mr. Izubuchi was originally on the design staff of a new project that was scheduled to begin airing in March. At the same time, he's also handling character design for Toei's Chōshinsei Flashman (starting in March), and so he joined ZZ amid a very busy schedule. The designs presented here are roughs (partially decided), but he'll surely be designing "Buchi MS" completely different from his WM (walker machines) and AB (aura battlers)!

At first, all the mechanical design for Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ was to be done by Mr. Mamoru Nagano, but due to his sudden departure it became a joint effort by Makoto Kobayashi, Yutaka Izubuchi, and Shindosha. Shindosha is the planning and editing production company that composes "Future Technology" for this magazine, and Kazumi Fujita, the designer in charge of ZG, is one of its members. In addition to Mr. Fujita, both Mr. Hideo Okamoto and Mr. Mika Akitaka are also participating as designers on ZZ. The plan is that a few of Mr. Nagano's designs will be used as well.

Gemon's Geze
One example showing how the mechanical design of ZZ is being done is Gemon's mobile suit "Geze." The Geze is a mobile suit built by Gemon, one of Shangri-La's junk dealers, from miscellaneous parts. After losing his new Galluss mobile suit, Mashymre Cello hires Gemon as a stopgap measure. It appears in episode 5.

◂ The first draft by Mr. Mamoru Nagano has a very massive form, reminiscent of the Zock or Gogg. This disposable bad-guy mecha feels somewhat different from Mr. Nagano's usual designs.

◂ The second draft by Mr. Makoto Kobayashi is a revised version based on on Mr. Nagano's design. The silhouette is the same, but details like the arm attachment points (shoulders) and thigh covers have been changed.

◂ The cleaned-up draft (third draft) by Shindosha. This is basically unchanged from Mr. Makoto Kobayashi's second draft, with the lines slightly reduced for animation purposes. The rear view was drawn only in this draft.

☆ Click the image thumbnail below to see it at full size! ☆


From B-Club Vol.5, March 1986

Translator's Note: This model was created over a span of five days by mecha designer Makoto Kobayashi, as reference for Bandai's plastic model developers. The accompanying text mostly discusses Kobayashi's career and doesn't have a lot of Gundam ZZ-specific content.

1/100 scale full scratch model
Mecha Designer: Makoto Kobayashi
Cameraman: Yuji Takase

☆ Click the image thumbnails below to see them at full size! ☆


From B-Club Vol.5, March 1986

ZZ has finally started, and there are a variety of reactions to its mobile suit design. This time, we asked the famous deforming designer Mr. Otoru Toriyama to discuss the mobile suits of ZZ with the eyes of a professional... (1)

Left to right:

Gyazam by Masahiko Miyashita
A Gyazam based on Mr. Izubuchi's rough. It will appear onscreen under the name R-Jarja, with the same red colors used in this prototype sample.

Mr. Otoru Toriyama (left) and Mr. Yutaka Izubuchi (right) at a cafe, on a certain day in February.

B-Club reader creations were submitted in the ZZ design meeting! Sunrise producer Kenji Uchida (center) evaluates designs by B-Club readers. On the far left is Mr. Kazumi Fujita.


BC: Good to see you again.

Toriyama: Yes, same here.

BC: By the way, why are you in Tokyo today? Don't you live in Nagoya?

Toriyama: What are you talking about? I'm here for university entrance exams.

BC: Huh? When were you born, Mr. Toriyama...?

Toriyama: March 12, 1968. And by the way, my blood type is A. I came to Tokyo to apply to a fine arts university, but forgive me for not naming it, because I'll be embarrassed if I don't get in.

BC: So that's it. Sorry about that.

Toriyama: And despite that, Bandai's had me working the whole time up until now, ha ha.

BC: What kind of work? It must be those deformed designs.

Toriyama: I've also been doing a lot of deforming work, but this time it's for deformed designs of the Double Zeta mobile suits. They'll be used for erasers.

BC: So you've already seen the ZZ mobile suit designs?

Toriyama: Yeah, a little bit.

BC: That's perfect timing. In this issue of B-Club, we're doing some research pages on the mecha design of ZZ, and I'd like to ask you a little about that as well.

Toriyama: I'm worried that you're calling it research.

BC: No no, it's fine. I've heard you're a passionate fan of Mr. Izubuchi.

Toriyama: Ulp.

BC: Then let's start from there. When did you first become aware of Mr. Izubuchi's mecha? It must have been around Aura Battler Dunbine, right?

Toriyama: That's right. It was a terrific shock when I saw those aura battlers. Of course I'd previously seen his name in anime magazines and so forth, but the appearance of the aura battlers impressed me the most.

BC: Did you know he'd done guest mecha design for Daltanious and Daioja before that?

Toriyama: I was studying diligently at that point, since I had no idea I'd end up doing this kind of work.

BC: So what was the appeal of the aura battlers?

Toriyama: I couldn't put it into one word, but first of all, I think they expressed the full appeal of Mr. Izubuchi's mecha. It wasn't because he came from fandom, but I felt he had a maniac-like aspect that stimulated the sensibilities of fans like me.

There were many people around me who became fans of Mr. Izubuchi because they were attracted by the aura battlers. Recently, rather than anime, those people have been watching Dengeki Sentai Changeman, which Mr. Izubuchi has been designing for. So even now, I can't help wanting to do deformed designs of aura battlers. In fact, I'm drawing them in my own fanzines...

BC: I'd love to see those, and I'd like to show Mr. Izubuchi, too. And it seems there are a lot of fans who want kits of the as-yet-unreleased aura battlers... But you must be happy that, this time, you're deforming Mr. Izubuchi's mobile suits.

Toriyama: Of course, but somehow I didn't quite recognize the mobile suits Galluss-J and Zssa as so-called "Buchi mecha." Don't they feel a little different?

BC: You really are perceptive! The mobile suit designs being unveiled now can't be called purely Mr. Izubuchi's designs.

Toriyama: What does that mean?

BC: Hmm. I guess first, I'd have to explain how the mecha designs for Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ came into being.

Toriyama: Then please do.

BC: First of all, the production of ZZ was decided in October of last year. It was supposed to be an extension of Z. At that stage, the last part of Z's story may have been slightly altered as well.

Toriyama: Was Mr. Izubuchi working on it at that point?

BC: Don't be so impatient. According to the announcements in the anime magazines, at that point the mecha design was going to be entrusted entirely to Mr. Mamoru Nagano. After that, for about 40 days, they held a series of design meetings. A particular problem, of course, was the new main mecha.

Toriyama: The Double Zeta, you mean?

BC: That's right. I should mention first that it was given the name Double Zeta because they'd decided that the main mecha should be made up of two combining machines. That's why it's "double."

Toriyama: Come to think of it, Mr. Nagano's ZZ, which appeared in Vol.4, was also made up of two combining machines.

BC: The direction for the main mecha had been more or less decided, but as a result, it ended up narrowing the scope of Mr. Nagano's ideas. He did a lot of design drawings, but the design never satisfied the designers, makers, or manufacturers.

Toriyama: Since I'm also working as a professional, I can understand these kinds of difficulties.

BC: They then adopted an audition format with several designers, and many designs were submitted in a meeting. They even requested some from B-Club readers, and a few of their designs were also presented.

From all this, it was decided that Mr. Makoto Kobayashi would design the ZZ, based on Mr. Nagano's design. One by Mr. Mika Akitaka of Shindosha, however, served as a reference for the two-machine combination method.

Toriyama: What's Shindosha?

BC: It's a production company that mainly does planning and editing, and Kazumi Fujita from Z belongs to it as well. It's credited with design cooperation in Z's ending credits.

Toriyama: I had no idea the story was like that.

BC: It's unfortunate, but at this point it was decided that Mr. Nagano would step down. His concepts for the petit and middle mobile suits, Gaza-D, Endra, Geze, and so forth were adopted, but...

Toriyama: And what about Mr. Izubuchi?

BC: Oops, I almost forgot, but designs for the enemy mobile suits were also submitted during that audition process. Of these, it was Mr. Izubuchi's designs that drew the most attention. The approximately ten rough designs he submitted were all accepted. The reason given was that "They inherit from Mr. Kunio Okawara's designs, while also introducing a new sensibility."

Toriyama: Even for things like Panzer World Galient, the world of the work itself is really important to Mr. Izubuchi's designs, isn't it? Since he was a fan of the old Gundam, he must have tried to follow Mr. Okawara's original designs in particular.

BC: I think there's a great possibility of that. That aspect must have been highly appreciated. But as you know, Mr. Izubuchi is also busy with jobs like Toei's Chōshinsei Flashman, so Mr. Mika Akitaka and Mr. Hideo Okamoto of Shindosha were placed in charge of cleanup, weapons setting, and so forth. That's why, apart from Galluss-J's head setting, Mr. Izubuchi didn't do any of the cleanup. Does that answer your questions, Mr. Toriyama?

Toriyama: I see. I guess the impression is different when the finish is done by somebody else. Nonetheless, for someone like me who never got used to the mobile suits of Z, I'm relieved to see these Galluss-J and Zssa designs. :-)

BC: Actually, somebody working at Bandai said the same thing.

Toriyama: Oh, better cut that bit. (Don't worry, it's already too late.) But the way, you said Mr. Izubuchi did ten designs?

BC: We published nine in the previous issue, and although the concept was by someone else, he added a mobile suit called the Gaza-E to make ten. Mr. Izubuchi gave each of them its own name and setting.

The one that became the Galluss-J was a successor design to the Zaku called the "Baou." The Zssa was a high-mobility mobile suit called the "Zonos." The Hamma-Hamma was the "Raja" (Rajasthan), a mobile suit equipped with a psycommu system. The "Gyazam" was the base for the R-Jarja, a mobile suit used by a female Axis pilot named Chara Soon. It's in the image of the Gyan.

The "Batalou," whose appearance hasn't been decided yet, was created by Axis as a successor to the Dom, using the Rick Dias as reference. The "Highpass" is supposed to be the Federation Forces' next-generation main mobile suit. The "Hiryu" is a prototype, and the mass-produced version is named "Koryu." The "Zupang" is a heavy raiding mobile suit. There's no particular explanation for the "Gaza-E" and "Nuba."

Of course, these names and settings were Mr. Izubuchi's original creations, and I don't know whether they'll appear onscreen...

Toriyama: Wow, I'm really getting fired up hearing about this setting. I can't wait to try deforming them...

BC: By the way, in hearing about these, did you notice Mr. Izubuchi's characteristic playfulness?

Toriyama: Huh? No, I don't get it.

BC: Don't the names "Hiryu" and "Rajasthan" sound familiar? Those are actually the names of robots that appeared in Super Robot Red Baron.

Toriyama: What?! I watched that too. I believe they were designed by Mr. Ryu Noguchi, who worked on things like the Space Sheriff series.

BC: Red Baron and Mach Baron were live-action giant robot shows broadcast around 1973, so many of the younger people in the anime industry grew up watching them.

Toriyama: They had an even bigger impact than things like Mazinger Z. That naming is just like Mr. Izubuchi.

BC: And if you look at the Zupang, doesn't its abdomen resemble the Sadespar that appeared in Toei's Inazuman Flash?

Toriyama: And it also resembles the Cannon Megas from Chōdenshi Bioman. I'll have to ask Mr. Izubuchi about that if I see him tomorrow. Actually, my friend asked me to get him Mr. izubuchi's autograph, so I'm going to request that.

BC: Well, it's a bit pathetic. We mustn't disrupt the B-Club article.

Toriyama: Mr. Izubuchi's anime mecha design is certainly appealing, but the recent special-effects shows like Changeman are good too. (2) Even when I came to Tokyo, I made sure to bring Changeman on video. No matter how many times I watch "Booba Dies on Earth" (an episode in which Booba, an adjutant of the enemy Gozma, falls at the end of an epic duel), which aired a few days ago, I never get tired of it. I like the ZZ mobile suits, but I'm also looking forward to the upcoming Flashman.

BC: Speaking of Changeman, Mr. Shohei Yamamoto, who played Commander Giluke, was really good too. He's so powerful. Mr. Izubuchi's design suited the character as well.

Toriyama: When it comes to Mr. Yamamoto, I liked Commander Halkan, who he played in Star Wolf. (3)

BC: If you bring that up, then in Aztecaser... Huh? (4) When did this turn into a special-effects discussion? (laughs) Thank you for today.

☆ Captions are listed below from left to right ☆


Batalou (prototype model)
The Batalou is also known as the Zomm. It is not yet scheduled to appear.

Zupang (prototype model)
The Zupang's design is quite unique. How will it be used?

Hiryu (prototype model)
The cleanup of the Hiryu is already completed, and it's now just waiting for an appearance decision.

☆ Captions are listed below from left to right ☆


Highpass (prototype model)
You can feel Mr. Izubuchi's affection for Gundam in the Highpass's orthodox lines.

The powerful form of the Nuba is cool enough to be worthy of the "Buchi mecha" name.

The Gaza-E, envisioned as a successor to the Gaza-C and Gaza-D, will probably appear soon.

Translator's Notes

(1) A pen name then used by SD Gundam designer Koji Yokoi. At the time, the term "Super Deformed" (SD) had only just been introduced, and Yokoi's illustrations were just called "deformed."

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

(3) Released in the U.S. in edited form as Fugitive Alien.

(4) A pro wrestling-theme live-action series in which Shohei Yamamoto played a character named Satan Demon.

From B-Club Vol.5, March 1986

Translator's Note: In this issue of B-Club, the final version of the ZZ Gundam appeared at last. Well, almost—the Core Top and G-Fortress forms were subsequently revised so that the Gundam's beam rifle served as the vehicle's nose. This setting art was accompanied by a couple of preliminary drafts, one by Hideo Okamoto and the other presumably by Mika Akitaka.

☆ Click the image thumbnail below to see it at full size! ☆


From B-Club Vol.7, May 1986

Revealed for the first time! Fujita's ZZ Gundam
(cleanup of the Nagano draft)

BC: First, please tell us how old you are.
Fujita: I was born on September 9 of the year Showa 39. (1) That's easy to remember because it has three nines in a row.

BC: And where are you from?

Fujita: Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture. It's near the Bandai Shizuoka factory where the B-Club editorial department is located.

BC: How long have you been working in Tokyo?

Fujita: For two years. I initially wanted to be an animator, so I joined Nakamura Production, and then I was introduced to Shindosha when I visited Nippon Sunrise. At first I was doing secondary key animation on Votoms, but along the way I started working as a mecha designer. The ZG mecha design job came to me while I was drawing illustrations for "Dual Magazine," for which Shindosha was doing editorial work. (2)

BC: You must have drawn a lot of designs for ZG.

Fujita: I joined ZG to do cleanup for Mr. Okawara and Mr. Nagano, and we'd only talked about me doing guest mecha and warships. But because Mr. Okawara and Mr. Nagano left in the middle, I ended up doing it all myself. As well as mobile suits, I also had to do guest mecha and accessories, so it was really tough. It was taking a lot of time at first, but by the time I'd gotten the hang of it, other people had started contributing mobile suit designs...

BC: And you didn't participate in the design work for ZZ?

Fujita: Back when the design for the ZZ Gundam hadn't yet been decided, I drew a God Gundam that was a parody of Reideen the Brave, and they gave the job to somebody else... (laughs) And personally, I was a little tired after doing this for a year, so I was itching to draw some manga. This is insider info, but I did a cleanup of Mr. Nagano's rejected ZZ, and the Zssa cleanup was my work.

BC: So you weren't entirely uninvolved with ZZ. By the way, what are your hobbies?

Fujita: Motorbikes and radio-controlled cars. As far as bikes, I only have a 50γ now, but once I have my mid-class license, I'll try a larger one next. (3) As for radio-controlled cars, I haven't done that recently, but I'm thinking of starting again.

BC: Bandai is planning to release a full-fledged electric RC car, too.

Fujita: I'll look forward to it. When that happens, please let me build one. I'll do a better job than I do with mecha design. (laughs)


Translator's Notes

(1) 1964 in the Western calendar.

(2) Dual Magazine was a short-lived anime and modeling magazine, co-published by Takara and Maruzen from 1982 to 1985. Its focus was on anime for which Takara held the model franchise, such as Dougram, Votoms, Giant Gorg, and Galient.

(3) The RG50 γ (Gamma) was a sport variant of the Suzuki RG50 motorcycle. I believe its 49cc engine wasn't big enough to require a mid-class driving license.

From B-Club Vol.8, June 1986

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


1. Mr. Mika Akitaka's plan was considered the most promising in the October 1985 design meeting. It was a transforming mecha that turned into a tank and a fighter.

2. Based on Akitaka's draft, the baton was passed to Mr. Mamoru Nagano. This design is his first draft. A flying mecha docks with its back to become a backpack.

3. Completed Nagano design, based on the concept of two flying mecha plus a Core Fighter. It was ultimately rejected since the transformation process was too difficult.

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


4. A design submitted by the toy design company TT Brain. Its transformation system was the most sound.

5. A design arranged by Mr. Makoto Kobayashi, based on number 4. All the concepts of the ZZ's final draft were decided with this design.

6. A design arranged by Mr. Akitaka, likewise based on number 4. He also did a cleaned-up design based on Nagano's draft.

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


7. An arrangement by Mr. Hideo Okamoto, which also revised the transformation system. This design is almost finalized.

8. Final draft I. The legs were made quite short for the sake of the transformation system. The details of the transformation gimmicks were a collaboration between Mr. Okamoto and Mr. Akitaka.

9. Final draft II. This is a proportion draft for animation use, drawn by Mr. Hiroyuki Kitazume. Essentially, one could say that the 1/144 plastic model uses these proportions, while the 1/100 model is based on number 8.

From B-Club Vol.9~11, July~September 1986

Translator's Note: This was a series of character illustrations by animator Masami Ozone. The first three were published in color with background commentary by scriptwriter Akinori Endo (then known as Meigo Endo), which I've translated here.

Portrait of a Warrior: Glemy Toto

Illustration: Masami Ozone
Text: Meigo Endo

At first, Glemy was just named "Soldier A." This was when he first appeared in episode 9, "Judau in Space." At that point he was simply a naive young soldier who was tricked by Roux Louka, but in the second draft stage, I was given the instruction "It would be better if he had a name," and I christened him "Cleyu Oy." I thought it would be nice if it was slightly feminine. (1)

This has happened a lot since the days of Z, but in the next meeting, Director Tomino said "That's a character we could expand more, so let's flesh him out in various ways." (2) In that case, the feminine name would be a handicap, so after thinking about it for a week I came up with the name "Glemy Toto." Is it too simple to say I got the name because the "Toto" label caught my eye while I was bathing? (3) By the way, so as not to waste the "Cleyu" name, I ended up using it for a member of the Endra crew.

We ended up inflating Glemy's role in the form of Char Aznable in ZZ. (4) So if you feel like he was initially a lightweight character but is gradually getting heavier, then please assume we planned that from the start. Glemy isn't just Haman's subordinate, but is acting based on his own true objectives. As to what his true objectives are, that may be revealed at the end of the story. From the beginning, it was always possible that Char might not appear in ZZ.

According to the setting, Glemy may actually be a descendant of the Zabi family, so Mr. Kitazume designed him with that in mind. Isn't that how he's drawn? Ultimately, a three-way battle will probably unfold between Glemy, Haman, and Judau, but I'd like to let him go on looking cool until the end.

(Note that Axis doesn't have military ranks.)

Portrait of a Warrior 2: Amatha Pola

Illustration: Masami Ozone
Text: Meigo Endo

She's an unfortunate character. That's because the first and second parts of "Leina's Blood," in which she originally appeared, were my personal favorites and packed with stories I wanted to depict. But there were few guest characters, and in particular, the impression of the women was very weak. The director requested that I add a character like this, and that's why she appeared. Had it been a different episode, I think we could have given her more room for activity. But I couldn't create a showcase for her in the story, and even in the script, the story often proceeded in a way that ignored her completely.

Her image is that of Lila Milla Rira from Z. A self-made career soldier, she's also a tough auntie type. In the setting, her age is about 29 or 30. As a member of a surviving Zeon force, she learned of Mineva's descent and rushed to join her, bringing her Dwadge team with her. So emotionally, she has something in common with Rommel, as well as a strong sense of rivalry with the forces that came from space. That's probably why she didn't get along with August Guidan and Glemy Toto.

It's very unfortunate she ended up being killed like that, and the director and I were both disappointed since we really liked the name "Pola's Dom." But it would have been frustrating for Leina to meet her fate at the hands of a nameless pilot, so we let her die.

August, who appeared alongside her fighting in a Dreissen, also has some quirks. He was originally a spy sent by Haman to join Glemy, but becomes Glemy's underling after learning of his true intentions.

Although they're not replacements for Amatha Pola, some strong enemies are coming up in the space chapter that begins in episode 37. Rakan Dahkaran, who hasn't appeared since the Earth landing operation, will be among them. I believe he'll adopt the Zaku III as his machine. (5)

Portrait of a Warrior 3: August Guidan

Illustration: Masami Ozone
Text: Meigo Endo

Actually, I've already finished writing all the episodes in which he appears, but in all that time I was never able to see his character setting art. He ultimately appears in five episodes, and I was just responsible for the first and last ones (episode 28, "Leina's Blood Part 2," and episode 32, "Across the Salt Lake"). So I have only a vague impression of him.

The problem is that I feel he ended up resembling Rakan Dahkaran, and not just because he also piloted a Dreissen (though I think it's a good mobile suit, with a rather orthodox look). It's because I received the character setting art for Rakan Dahkaran just as I was writing the episode where August appeared, and so my impression of Rakan's face was reflected in August.

Still, if you compare the two, Rakan (even in the story) has the strength to fight for survival to the very end. August is strong in some respects, but he's the type that can only act based on logic. You could say he died because he only made trivial arguments.

After serving as Haman's aide at Axis, he descended to Earth and went to the front lines. Then he was sent to Glemy's side as a spy, but finally joined Glemy after learning his true identity(?). It's a pity, but he merely acted as a substitute for Rakan during the Earth chapter.

Translator's Notes

(1) The Japanese kana クレーユ could be read as as the French name "Clair," the masculine form of "Claire."

(2) The Japanese verb 膨らます (fukuramasu) means to blow up or inflate something like a balloon.

(3) As painstakingly documented in Episode 3.11 of the Mobile Suit Breakdown podcast, "Toto" is the name of a Japanese toilet manufacturer.

(4) A fairly literal rendering of the Japanese sentence 「グレミーは、「ZZ」におけるシャア・アズナブルという形で膨らませてきました」. I think the meaning here is that Glemy became a Char-like character, rather than that he was given Char's role in the story, but there's room for interpretation.

(5) In fact, Rakan uses the Zaku III in episodes 35 and 36, then reappears in the space chapter piloting a Döven Wolf. It's possible that this was decided after Endo wrote this article, which was published at the end of August 1986. I'd also note that episodes 35 and 36 were written by other scriptwriters.