Ultimate Mark

Production Reference:
Gundam Wars II: Mission ZZ
> Back to Gundam Unofficial


Translator's Note: The Model Graphix special Gundam Wars II: Mission ZZ, published by Dai Nippon Kaiga in February 1987, includes a variety of interesting material about both the production history of Gundam ZZ and the Universal Century story setting.

As well as the "Variational Mobile Suit Design Note" discussing the mecha concepts proposed by the Model Graphix staff for the second half of Gundam ZZ, the book features a discussion among several of the mechanical designers who worked on the series, and I've translated both here.


Translator's Note: The use of honorifics is somewhat inconsistent in the original text, and I've tried to match this in my translation. In particular, Masahiko Asano's name is generally written without honorifics, which suggests to me that he's the author of this feature.

Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, following on from Mobile Suit Z Gundam, livened up the screen with mobile suits from a variety of design lineages. From the middle of the program onward, mobile suits such as the Dwadge which followed the design lines of the old Zeon forces began appearing onscreen. Here we'll present the process leading up to their appearance, as well as the setting which formed the background for each of these mobile suits.

In May of last year, a design presentation was held for the mobile suits that were to appear in the second half of the program.

First, the program production staff presented the storyline from episode 23 up until the final episode. Since the scripts for each episode were being written as needed, this presentation included requirements not only for the design of the featured weapons, but also for devising setting (the background and application of the mobile suits that appeared) that would match the contents of these scripts.

Following Shindosha, Model Graphix staff also participated in this presentation. In addition to Masahiro Oda, Kazuhisa Kondo, and Sunao Katoki, the design team also included editorial staff such as Masaya Takahashi and Masahiko Asano of Artbox. (1) As previously mentioned in the pages of Model Graphix, the design work and setting for everything from the Dwadge and Desert Zaku to the Zaku III was done through the cooperation of this team.

The setting memos presented below were created with various factors in mind, such as the mobile suit production capabilities of Axis and the AEUG, the idea that the mobile suits' designs should make it easy to imagine their functional purpose and the circumstances of their onscreen activity, and that the development of the mobile suits within the world of the story should seem natural. We've also added supplemental explanation for each mobile suit.

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


The five designs presented here were drawn by Mr. Oda in the autumn of '85 for use in Model Graphix. Though they have remained unpublished until now, they were used as reference in last year's presentation, and the designs were (albeit partially) repurposed.

▴ A hoverjeep designed to operate alongside desert combat mobile suits. It's used for recovering mobile suits and transporting armament, and a mobile suit can also be loaded and carried on the rear deck. It is equipped with large nuclear thermal jet engines.

◂ A psycommu mobile suit following after the Zeong. Both arms can be wirelessly controlled, searching for enemies with the mono-eyes on the backs of the hands, and then firing mega particle beams from the fingertips. It rotates 90 degrees backward below the waist to change into mobile armor mode.

▴ Based on the MS-06D Zaku with added details, and equipped with a jetpack for airborne operations. The details of the design were borrowed by the Desert Zaku. Its powerful armament consists of a 180mm machine gun, 360mm rocket bazooka, and 240mm rocket launcher.

◂ This type, described as a Zaku Cannon, is a heavy armament type arranged for space combat. An automatically targeted rotating turret and folding long cannons are installed on its back.

▸ A Marine Zack refined in the image of a submarine. Its backpack is equipped with subrocs that attack from beneath the water surface, and it is connected to a long-distance cruising boat that carries more subrocs.

• Zeta plus

This mobile suit adorned the cover of the previous "Gundam Wars: Project Z," and reappeared in the December '86 issue of Model Graphix, so many of you will already be familiar with it. We'll describe it once again here.

One of the machines born from the mobile suit development project known as the GUNDAM System (General-purpose Utility Non-Discontinuity Augmentation Maneuvering weapon System) is the Zeta plus, a quasi-production model of the Zeta Gundam manufactured by Karaba. (2) Accordingly, it isn't a large-scale mass-produced weapon. It was created in large part to advertise the anti-Earth Federation movement, and due to his fame and piloting skill, Amuro Ray was chosen to fly it. He is the leader of a mobile suit team based aboard the Audhumla, which is widely known as "Karaba's lucky charm."

This setting was brought up in the presentation because it incorporated the Zeta plus into the story world without too much effort. But since the appearance of the "Gundam Team" made up of the ZZ, Zeta, Hyaku-Shiki, and Mk-II had already been decided, it was rejected in order to avoid the confusion of adding additional Gundam-type mobile suits. The Hyaku-Shiki Kai designed by Mr. Kazumi Fujita and published in B-Club, and the Hyaku NEU designed by Mr. Mamoru Nagano for use in ZZ (a fairly sensational design that was never made public), were not adopted for the same reason.

• Sturm Dias

A Rick Dias custom type designed by Mr. Mamoru Nagano, published in the August '85 issue of Model Graphix.

A Rick Dias for use by commanders and assault teams. Simply put, it's a model with improved performance like the Red Comet's Zaku, and its production cost is accordingly high. Unlike the GM IIs and Nemos run into the ground by rookie pilots, this is a quasi-production type mobile suit for specialists, provided to highly skilled pilots from the One Year War and those who have been trained by them.

Assigned to the La Vie en Rose garrison or the AEUG's perimeter fleets, the Sturm Dias is deployed in defense operations and to suppress hostile forces. The units formed with it are similar to West Germany's GSG 9 special forces or the U.S. Marine Corps' Force Recon. They are treated as a necessary evil within the AEUG, an organization formed to resist the oppression of Spacenoids with armed force. In this sense, they may be a good contrast to Karaba's Zeta plus team.

Compared to the original Rick Dias, the Sturm Dias's integral tanks have increased capacity, and it is equipped with high-output grye binders like those of the Epsy Gundam. Thus, if maneuverability isn't taken into consideration, it has almost twice the payload of the Rick Dias.

This setting, like that of the Zeta plus, was created to address the military background of the AEUG and Karaba, and as proposed reference for onscreen mobile suit tactics. In fact, due to the development of the story, it wasn't possible to feature the activities of the AEUG and Karaba. Thus the Sturm Dias produced for the AEUG appeared in the form of machines seized by the "hidden Zeon faction," and used under Mashymre Cello's command. It's regrettable that this fascinating design was never turned into a kit.

☆ Click the image thumbnails below to see them at full size! ☆ Captions are listed below from top to bottom ☆


▴ Sixth draft of the Zeta plus, a painstaking labor (?) by the Asano/Katoki combo. They'd been striving for good proportions in both Wave Rider and mobile suit forms, so a considerable amount of time went into this. It also incorporates elements from modern aircraft, making it almost a Gundam version of the VF (variable fighter).

▾ Fourth draft of the Wave Rider. Note the lack of a vernier stabilator, as well as the Takai-chan on the left!

◂ Also published in "Project Z," the Sturm Dias is a Rick Dias custom type by Mr. Mamoru Nagano, originally designed for Char's use. The partial draft (of modifications from the Rick Dias) that Mr. Nagano drew for modelers was arranged and cleaned up by Mr. Mika Akitaka.

• Dwadge

In seizing control of the Earth, mobile suits capable of flying freely in the atmosphere could provide tremendous fighting strength, but it seems unlikely that the resource-poor Axis would have many of these high-end items. As far as mobile armors, it might have some Asshimar-class machines. If Earth occupation forces led by Haman descended from orbit, they'd probably drop mobile suits with ballutes, and send support equipment with HRSLs (assault landing capsules).

However, for long-term operation in local areas, they'd have to overcome the regional environment and would also need supplies of food and water. Moreover, the ability to function as a caravan would be indispensable for forces traversing the front lines. And Base Jabbers and Do-Dais would be unable to operate without supply bases.

Thus, the Rick Dom was chosen from among the old weapons retained within Axis, refitted for land warfare, and used to form armored units. Pilots with ground combat experience, who had belonged to the Earth Attack Force during the One Year War, were selected for these units. It would be only natural to choose soldiers who had already been through the wringer on the African front, rather than those raised in a mild artificial climate (inside colonies).

The heavily armored high-performance model of the Rick Dom that remained on the production lines, or the Dom's final production type, is known as the Dwadge. This Dwadge was chosen for the Earth invasion force mainly because its ancestor, the Dom, was a mobile suit capable of hovering movement with its nuclear thermal jet engines, and had the best mobility in land warfare. Thanks to advances in Gundarium alloy, its armor has been dramatically strengthened, and it can also deflect direct hits from beam attacks with its deflection field generator. However, the heat saber and giant bazooka that are its standard armament must be replenished after every sortie, and a sub flight system (and some kind of transporter) are required for long-distance movement.

These armored units are special commandos chosen to operate alongside Haman, and are made up of Dwadges, Zakus equipped for tropical warfare (Desert Zakus), and transport hover-jeeps (Zaku Tankers).

As you can see from the above setting, at this point there was no notion that warships like the Sadalahn would descend to the surface with ballutes and fly around as Minovsky craft. Thanks to this, the resupply and movement constraints were eliminated, and the Dwadge appeared onscreen as a mobile suit deployed at the end of the One Year War, rather than one dropped onto the surface by Haman.

The idea of tactics that made full use of Earth's environment was employed in the sequence with the Rommel team, which demonstrated the ability to give Judau and his friends trouble even though they were Oldtypes. Moreover, because the large beam cannon couldn't have been brought from space, its setting was changed to an item seized from a Federation Forces base.

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


▸ The original setting for the Dwadge was that it was a mobile suit dropped from Axis by Haman. The design flow went from Mr. Oda's first draft (close in form to the later H type) to Asano's second draft (the form of the G type was almost complete at this point). Based on this, Mr. Oda went on to do a plan for Rommel's machine. The beam cannon in the rough draft at far right was drawn by Mr. Oda as a large weapon suitable for a Dom.

• Desert Zaku

Zakus with desert combat equipment are used as support mobile suits for the Dwadge. When fixed armament is installed, the weapons themselves become dead weight in their empty state (when all shells have been fired and the magazine is empty), and naturally require resupply before they can be reused. This is a serious issue for the mobile suits of units with no organized supply routes.

Thus, in units which could be described as desert caravans, a Zaku type with interchangeable armament (attached and removed via external mounts) was chosen. The Zaku's versatility wasn't neglected either, and it can also be equipped with optional jet packs to increase its mobility in mountain regions and airborne operations (when it has support from large transport aircraft).

This setting was invented at the same time as the Dwadge. However, since it was based on the assumption it was dropped from Axis, the base machine was a normal Zaku rather than the D type Zaku from the MSV series.

The design work was done after the setting for the Rommel team was created, and it was designed as a field modification based on the MS-06D, with enlarged propulsion systems in its legs, reinforced chest armor, and additional propellant tanks. Various option weapons were designed at the same time. The bazooka/rocket launcher strap on its shoulder was based on a rough by Mr. Hiroyuki Nakazawa, and the jet ski idea on an design by Mr. Koichi Tokita.

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


▸ At far right is one of the rough drafts drawn at an early stage. Because the setting for the Desert Zaku had it descending from Axis like the Dwadge, the design is based on the normal and R types.

▸ The optional weapons at center and near right were designed by Mr. Oda, and cleaned up with virtually no changes.

• Zaku Tanker

A support mobile suit used by Dwadge teams. With the upper body of a Zaku placed on the front section of a hoverboat, it can be used for work in the field as well as transport (a Zaku can be loaded on the rear deck) and recovery. It carries 3~5 passengers in addition to the pilot.

In the initial setting, this was a half-mobile suit like the Zaku Tank. The design was repurposed from a series of mobile suits that Mr. Oda began drawing in the autumn of '85 for use in Model Graphix, but was changed from a half-mobile suit to a trailer type.

• Zaku Mariner

When an HRSL capsule splashes down in the sea or a lake, amphibious mobile suits are needed to escort it to land. The Gogg and Z'Gok series require dedicated maintenance beds for resupply after using their fixed armament, so the Zaku type was essentially chosen as a base because it can use the same weapons as other mobile suits after landing.

Because this is an amphibious version of the final model of the Zaku (the Zaku III), it can use mega particle cannons. These are shared with the underwater model of the Gaza-C (see below).

Of course, this mobile suit was based on the premise that it was brought from Axis by Haman. It was initially imagined as an amphibious type based on the final model of the Zaku, namely the Zaku III (at this point, the Zaku III's design was not yet decided).

Mr. Oda's first draft, designed with activity before and after landing in mind, had an organic form and a strikingly styled arm structure with detachable rocket pods. Then Director Tomino gave instructions to "make the form more like the Zaku." Masahiko Asano drew a second draft, and then the third draft was drawn by Mr. Oda once again. In the end, they settled on a design in which underwater combat equipment was added to a normal-type Zaku.

In the animation, the Zaku Mariner is used by Neo Zeon soldiers alongside the Capule, but in the form of a machine left on the surface by Zeon, fitted with a linear seat by the Federation Forces, and then recaptured by Neo Zeon.

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


▾ A rear view of the Zaku Tanker, a slightly smaller version of the hoverjeep on the left page. Loading a Desert Zaku onto the rear deck was meant to evoke the Desert Fox, but in the animation it appeared as a large trailer type.

▴ First draft by Mr. Kazuhisa Kondo. The design is based on the Marine Zaku, arranged in a Federation Forces style.

▴ Mr. Oda's second draft. The balance of the first draft is rearranged into an organic form. The missile pods move around the elbow, and are discarded after landing so the arms can be used.

▴ Asano's fourth draft, which emphasizes the Zaku resemblance. Note that the mono-eye slit extends all the way around, and a magnet anchor is attached to the left arm. To its right is Mr. Oda's final draft. Here, optional hydrojets can be attached to the fronts of the lower legs to increase its mobility. The Zaku Mariner is named after a DC Comics hero, the Sub-Mariner. (3)

• Zaku III

Until the very end, the Zaku was unable to carry beam weapons, and its place was taken by the Gelgoog. However, Axis turned its attention once again to the Zaku as the culmination of the traditional mobile suit, which emphasized interchangeable armament. This is the Zaku as a heavy combat mobile suit, a successor to the Gelgoog and Galbaldy. Various custom types based on this final model of the Zaku can also be imagined, as well as the Zaku Mariner and Desert Zaku. This marks the revival of the Zaku mobile suit as a symbol of Zeon.

This plan was initially proposed as the final model based on the Zaku type. The exact appearance of the Zaku III can't be seen from this setting draft, but it was was supposed to be a minor change in which the proportions remained the same and only the details were altered. After this, the discussion proceeded in the direction of a full model change which inherited the "Zaku" name, and the final draft was along these lines.

Mr. Oda's Zaku III is a Zaku-type Gundam—an all-purpose mobile suit—created by Axis. Thus he prepared a variety of options for it. As the backpack mount section extends upwards from the waist, the upper body is separate from it and can move freely. The backpack can be replaced depending on the mission details, and extension boosters for medium-range cruising can be attached to the skirts. The part corresponding to the mouth is a mega cannon.

Among the ideas considered in the initial plan were a mega cannon in the chest like that of the Geymalk, optional funnel containers, and brainwave communications jamming functions (these two ideas make this machine usable by both Newtypes and non-Newtypes). However, these were rejected because the machine was too all-powerful, and it needed a functional distinction from the Döven Wolf and Geymalk. Ultimately, the Zaku III became purely a heavy combat mobile suit.

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


▸ To the right are three drawings of the Zaku III by Mr. Oda. Of these, the front view on the left shows a mount latch for an anti-ship mega cannon in its armpit, and various weapons built into the shield (with written notes). The center image is fitted with a large backpack for medium-range cruising. The dramatic increase in propellant volume is obvious. The one on the right is equipped with extension boosters.

In this fashion, many options were prepared for the Zaku III, but these ideas were consolidated into the Mashymre Custom.

• Regelgu

Gelgoogs and Galbaldys remained at Axis at the end of the One Year War. These were Zeon's final mass-produced heavy combat mobile suits. Like the Zaku III, the Regelgu is a state-of-the-art machine with Gundarium Gamma armor and a new model of generator, and though it can't transform its performance is Gundam-class. In other words, this is a brand new machine with the Gelgoog's frame and form. Unlike the Gaza series, its production efficiency is poor, but pilots with One Year War experience surely prefer the Gelgoog's form.

The Regelgu designed by Masahiko Asano is like an Axis version of the Gelgoog, to which Qubeley-style binders and a new type of backpack have been added. Its current form was already complete at the time of the first draft. Masaya Takahashi named it the Regelgu since it was a refined Gelgoog. Its setting was also used in the animation with essentially no changes.

• Galbaldy

As in the case of the Regelgu, new setting for the Galbaldy was also considered, clarifying its Zeon styling and incorporating it into the lineage of mobile suit development. The idea was to base it on the Gelgoog, with each part increased in volume and a head design connected to the Galbaldy Beta. But to avoid complication, these ideas were used for the Gaz-R/L and the Regelgu instead.

• Gaz-R/L

A mobile suit based on the above-mentioned Galbaldy, used by the Axis royal guard. These serve as escorts for the Newtype Corps and their Qubeleys. There are Right Guard and Left Guard types, which protect the Quebely while it's controlling its funnels. Another five Galbaldys also watch the perimeter as a circle guard. All seven machines have female pilots.

Because the concept resembled that of the Zaku III and Regelgu, the new design for the Galbaldy itself was rejected. Considering the combination with the Qubeley in design terms, the decision was made to base the Gaz-R and Gaz-L that appeared on the Galbaldy Beta, which was also designed by Mr Mamoru Nagano.

The image color was wine red with golden engravings, but in order to clearly distinguish the two paired machines, they were made silver with pearl red and blue accent colors.

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


▴ Asano's first draft of the Regelgu. Its simplified Qubeley-style binders associate it with Axis. Note the stabilator on its back.

▴ First draft of the Gaz-R, based on the Galbaldy Beta. The design could already be called complete at this point. Below is a plan for a formation centered on the Qubeley (the Geymalk in the animation).

• EWAC-Zack

The EWAC-Zack was designed with the concept of a mobile suit purely for reconnaissance missions, without any setting for specific activities. Two plans were proposed, with the design goal that the external appearance would show at a glance it was a recon type.

Plan A was similar to the MSN-01, with the entire lower body replaced by rocket engines (in other words, it was legless). Plan B was based on the Zaku III, with the head and backpack replaced aboard a ship by an integrated set of reconnaissance parts. In the event it was detected, these parts could be detached and ejected, and they alone would be recovered. Ultimately, this Plan B was adopted, and the same kind of equipment was applied to the Hizack. (Design by Mr. Sunao Katoki.)

After this, a bomber type was also proposed, in the form of an integrated head, radome, and backpack. However, this never went beyond the plan stage.

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


◂ The EWAC-Zack was designed completely by Mr. Katoki. As you can see, he considered two versions of the backpack, including the seeker pack. At far left is a front view with some minor differences in the head details.

This EWAC-Zack may be the most direct expression of function through form. It was intended purely for space use, but in the animation it is used in surface combat.

• Rick GM

The Rick GM is a machine used by the Federation Forces aerobatic team "Blue Lightning," which appears in the original side story "The First Step" (by Masaya Takahashi), published in "Project Z." This was considered with the objective of featuring pilots belonging (or formerly belonging) to the Blue Lightning team, and thus showing the viewer the difference in ability between them and other pilots. (The image was based on the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels.)

To match the era of ZZ, the machine was based on the GM II, and since the team performed football formation attacks, its additional equipment was designed in the image of a football player's protective gear. Image sketches by Mr. Takahashi and Mr. Oda were combined by Mr. Sunao Katoki. The machine's colors were supposed to be phthalo blue with gold stripes.


This GM III, designed in parallel with the Rick GM, was also based on the GM II. The machine's development was supposed to be Gundam Mk. II to Barzam to GM III, and it used some parts from the Gundam Mk-II. At first, the Rick GM was intended to be a customized GM III, but since the Blue Lightning setting wasn't used, it was decided to concentrate entirely on the GM III as a weapon system, including the additional equipment prepared for the Rick GM.

• Gaza Mariner

The Gaza Mariner was an improved amphibious model of the Gaza-D, conceived of as an escort machine for the Capule. Aside from the setting that it descended with a ballute, the concept was identical to that of the Methuss Mariner. Naturally, this was invented before the Zaku Mariner was chosen as the Capule's escort. In retrospect, it's fun to imagine that the onscreen effect would be to make the Gaza Mariner look like a scooter, and the Zaku Mariner like a diver.

Because there was ultimately no need for mobile suits to enter the atmosphere on their own, the design work stopped at the point where the first draft was completed.

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


▸ Rough draft of the head, which is extended lengthwise.

▸ The two images on the right are first drafts of the Rick GM by Mr. Oda. The image is from Mr.Takahashi's original story "The First Step," with football player gear. The image at far right was also drawn as a Rick GM. Mr. Katoki drew many other weapon plans as well.

▸ The Gaza Mariner was designed as an escort machine for the Capule. As an amphibious model of the Gaza-C or Gaza-D, it is depicted here as being based on the Gaza-D. Like the Methuss Mariner, it was rejected because there was no longer any need for mobile suits to enter the atmosphere under their own power.

• Methuss Mariner

Because the appearance of the Capule and its escort machines had been decided, there was an idea that the AEUG side should also have an amphibious machine to counter them. The Methuss was chosen with the idea that the rectifying effect could be enhanced through improvements. (4)

The Methuss Mariner is a Methuss with underwater equipment installed in its backpack and various other parts. With a dedicated flying armor attached to its underside, it can perform atmospheric entry under its own power. The flying armor can also be used as a boat after splashdown, but is detached during underwater navigation. Two other mobile suits can be towed using the shackles on its back.

Like the Zaku Mariner, this setting for an amphibious mobile suit was created before there was setting for warships descending to the surface. The design work progressed quite far, but since it was decided that it wouldn't be used, the design of the flying armor never started.

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


◂ Since it seemed to have the highest rectifying effect of all transformable mobile suits, the Methuss was proposed alongside the Gaza as an amphibious mobile suit. The mobile armor form was intended for underwater navigation, and was meant to tow Gundam types and other AEUG (or Karaba) mobile suits.

The illustration at far left depicts the towing shackles on its back. The center illustration also shows a periscope, and seen like this, it resembles a midget submarine. A dedicated flying armor was also considered in the initial plan, but this was never drawn. It was designed completely by Mr. Katoki.

The above is a summary of our design work (and setting). Many rough drafts were drawn in addition to those presented above, but it would be impossible to publish them all here. After this work, we exchanged ideas about the finishing work for each design with Mr. Mika Akitaka, and most of them were cleaned up by Mr. Akitaka.

In designing each mobile suit, thought was also given to making each one interesting when it was reproduced in three dimensions. In that sense, we would be delighted if you used these as reference when creating original designs. Finally, we would like to express our gratitude to the many people who advised us on the design work.

Translator's Notes

(1) Mechanical designer Sunao Katoki soon changed his pen name to "Hajime Katoki."

(2) Here given the Japanese explanation 「全領域汎用連続強化型機動兵器機構」, which is something like "all-region general-purpose continuously enhanced type mobile weapon system."

(3) Yes, I know.

(4) The Japanese term 整流効果 (seiryū kōka) is literally "rectification effect" or "commutation effect," an electronics term whose metaphorical meaning eludes me here.


"ZZ G.I.G," a special round-table discussion with ZZ's mechanical designers!

Attendees: Makoto Kobayashi, Yutaka Izubuchi, Mika Akitaka

Moderators: Masahiko Asano + Kazuo Matsui
Pix: Masahiko Asano

Makoto Kobayashi
As you know, a mecha designer and modeler. He joined Z Gundam in the middle, designing the Marasai, The-O, and then the ZZ Gundam. His other animation work includes Birth. His popular Labyrinth City is currently being serialized in B-Club magazine.

Yutaka Izubuchi
Responsible for ZZ's enemy mecha, he designed the Galluss-J, Zssa, and R-Jarja. Discovered by the late Mr. Tadao Nagahama, he became a designer and worked on Sunrise's Blue Gale Xabungle, Aura Battle Dunbine, and Panzer World Galient. He's also doing designs for Toei's sentai series.

Mika Akitaka
Responsible for cleaning up most of the mecha that appear in ZZ. He designed the Geymalk, Döven Wolf, Jamru Fin, and others that appear in the second half of the series entirely on his own, making ZZ his full-scale TV anime debut. He's presently handling mecha setting for the Dirty Pair movie.

Left to right: Makoto Kobayashi, Yutaka Izubuchi, Mika Akitaka


—Well, let's begin. Thank you for joining us today during the busy end of the year. To get started, since you've all been involved since the stage of the first design competition, let's begin with that story...

Kobayashi: Mr. Izubuchi, who was it who approached you?

Izubuchi: In my case, it was Mr. Yamaura on the (Nippon Sunrise) planning office side.

Akitaka: I think there were about 20 people in total, right?

Izubuchi: There were designs by Mr. (Mamoru) Nagano, and the rumor was that they were having trouble getting them past the sponsor. Then, right around the end of the year, I suddenly got a phone call saying "We're very sorry, but could you draw something for us?" I asked, how should I draw? And they said, about nine. Huh? Nine?! By when? And they said, they'd like them within the year. (laughs)

Kobayashi: It's certainly an unusual way of doing it. I think it was even more impressive during Z Gundam. It seems like they gathered even more. (1)

Izubuchi: The idea must have been that you'll hit the target if you take a lot of shots. Gather all the good parts and combine them into one, right?

—Mr. Izubuchi, you usually do everything up to the cleanup by yourself, right? Was this the first time you'd handled orders this way?

Izubuchi: It was the first time. I'm not sure how to put it, but as a dry explanation, it felt like a part-time job. Although I had the vague idea that I shouldn't think of it like that as I was doing it. And I was a late addition to the project, right? People who were already working on something always resent those who join in later. Even if they laugh and smile, they still don't like you. It's just that kind of system...

Kobayashi: As otaku, we naturally get angry. (laughs)

Izubuchi: Moving on... how did it start for you, Mr. Kobayashi?

Kobayashi: It was December 27 of last year, the day before the Model Graphix year-end party. They said they were going with a transformation plan by a toy planning company called TT Brain. But it wouldn't work in its current form, so they asked me to complete the transformation and make it stick together perfectly.

—So they'd nailed down how it would be used in the story, and then based on that, they passed it around so that it could be fleshed out?

Kobayashi: That's right. They told me it was a competition with a January 6 deadline.

Izubuchi: I passed on the ZZ Gundam. I said something like, "Transformation is too much trouble" (laughs) and ran away immediately.

Kobayashi: I guess they figured I was a transforming mecha otaku. But it turned out (Producer) Uchida hadn't told me everything. What about the Core Fighter? At first he said they didn't need one, and they'd be OK with just A- and B-Parts. But in fact there was a Core Fighter, and later I was told that even though there was a Core Fighter, people could also ride in the A- and B-Parts and use them to escape. I said, "Any more than this, and it's impossible!"

Izubuchi: Good for you. If they'd asked me for something like that, I'd have said "Eh, can't do it." (laughs)

Kobayashi: Then, after I submitted it on the 9th, I had a phone call from Department Chief Matsumoto at Bandai. (2) If possible, they wanted me to make a three-dimensional model as well, and they said I could revise the transformation at that point. I think I finished that around the 15th. And after that, it went to Shindosha, right? So now you should talk to Mr. Akitaka. That's a good flow. (burst of laughter)

Izubuchi: It feels like a proper conversation. (laughs)

Akitaka: At first, it wasn't decided whether Mr. (Hideo) Okamoto or I would be the main one doing it. That's why, for the time being, the TV captions just said "Shindosha."

Kobayashi: I was shown (Mr. Akitaka's) cleanup about five days after it was finished.

Akitaka: Oh, really?!

Kobayashi: They said, "Thanks to you, it's going to be like this." "It doesn't have a nose. Are you going to add it later?" "No, this is it..." "So is there a cockpit here?" "No, that part's empty." (burst of laughter) "Are you sure about this?" "Well, I'm fine with it. But how about you, Mr. Kobayashi?" (laughs) "I can't stand it," I said. I was pretty flustered, and I thought "This is serious." So I asked Sunrise to fix it.

—And that was the plan where the rifle became the nose. The version without the nose circulated quite a bit, didn't it?

Kobayashi: I guess it got out. It would have been nice if they'd hushed it up. (laughs)

A little discussion of Z Gundam

Izubuchi: How long did Mr. (Kazumi) Fujita work on ZZ?

Akitaka: Up until the Zssa.

Izubuchi: When I saw Mr. Fujita's Zeta, I thought "Oh, there's somebody who draws the Gundam world this much like (Studio) Nue." Did the cleanup person change along the way?

Akitaka: The Gaza-C was done by Mr. Sayama, who did things like the Dreissen in ZZ.

Izubuchi: When I saw the Gaza-C, I said "This is a great design, but does it feel like Mr. Kobayashi?" (laughs) I thought they should have put a label on it. (burst of laughter) When I saw it (the original design) later on, it was completely different. Anyway, even The-O's face is amazing.

Akitaka: I couldn't tell the face and the stabilator apart. At first, I and the Sunrise people thought it had two stabilators...

Izubuchi: Yeah yeah, I see.

Akitaka: Where on Earth is the head? Oh, I said, maybe the chest is the face. Mr. Uchida said, "No it isn't!" (laughs) How far did you work on it, Mr. Kobayashi?

Kobayashi: It's completely different with the feet and stabilator, because it didn't have those. I only drew the first draft.

—At the time of Z, how did they approach you, Mr. Kobayashi?

Kobayashi: Through the president of Kaname Production. (3)

Izubuchi: Through the president of Kaname?!

Kobayashi: Kaname's president was a friend of Z's producer. (laughs) Because I was working on Birth, he recommended me as a designer who could handle transformation.

—Is that why you focused on transforming things like the Baund Doc and Gaza-C?

Kobayashi: Yes, that's right. I also submitted plenty that didn't transform, but they were all dropped. (laughs) There was the Marasai, though. I did the Gaza-C at the same time as the Marasai, but it was rejected at first, and then hastily used at the end of the year. (4) I submitted all of them around April.

About three-dimensional ZZ models

—Well, since this is a modeling magazine, what's it like to see the mobile suits you drew turned into three-dimensional models? Starting with Mr. Kobayashi...

Kobayashi: Well, I'm a modeling otaku, after all. So I'm delighted. (laughs) I like it when they're full of nozzles. (5) The Hamma-Hamma was really great, and I bought about ten.

Akitaka: The foot nozzles of the 1/100 ZZ are really nice, aren't they? I'd like about 20 molds of those.

Kobayashi: It's better to buy them than to mold them. That's better than buying silicon. It's unusual to have a series with this many nozzles, isn't it? Whatever people might say, there weren't a lot of them in Z. There was nothing but the round bowl type. The Hamma-Hamma is the best kit because it's full of rectangular nozzles, so you can even make Star Trek-like things with them.

—So in conclusion, it would be nice if there was a kit that was nothing but nozzles.

Izubuchi: (Looking at Geymalk made by Mr. Suzuki.) Is this... The-O?

—It's the Geymalk.

Akitaka: I had The-O in mind when I originally drew the Geymalk. On the other hand, what about the ones initially drawn by Mr. Izubuchi, which we cleaned up? Like the Galluss-J?

Izubuchi: It's not here, and neither is the Zssa! This is a conspiracy. (6) Mine are pretty old, after all. (laughs) Boo hoo.

—The ones here are just the ones created for the special issue.

Kobayashi: That's a pity. (laughs)

—Oh no, we'll be sure to stuff the special issue with Galluss-Js and Zssas and Bawoos. Maybe that's excessive, though.

Izubuchi: Isn't this Geymalk rather different from the setting?

Akitaka: The proportions are different, aren't they?

Izubuchi: So the modeler comes to it with a feeling different from what you drew...

Akitaka: Well, I was just discussing this with Mr. Asano last night, and he said "Nobody builds it according to the setting, and that's just fine."

Kobayashi: Anyway, this one's cooler than the setting, isn't it? (general laughter) But who made it orange?!

Akitaka: The director said to make it orange because it's Chara Soon.

Kobayashi: And these colors? (Indicating Döven Wolf.) Black and green?

Akitaka: That was the director too.

Izubuchi: The colors are fantastic. (Looking at Gaz-R.) And this one too. I think the model was silver, but the blue and red are great.

—At first it was supposed to be like this model, but somehow it ended up wearing a bikini.

Akitaka: Mashymre's Zaku III has nice colors, doesn't it? Since the Galluss and Hamma were green, I said to the director "It's green, right?" And he said "...Yeah."

Kobayashi: You're powerful on set. (laughs)

Akitaka: Just that one time.

—Mr. Izubuchi, you've given us some good topics. What do you think about the recent trend of modelers who rearrange the setting when they build it? Mr. Kobayashi will probably feel like he's being used as an example here. (laughs)

Kobayashi: Not at all. (laughs)

—Well, we'll ask you all about it afterwards. (burst of laughter) How about you, Mr. Izubuchi? When we publish a Galluss-J that's different from the one you drew, do you think "Oh, yuck"?

Izubuchi: I'd say I found it annoying.

Kobayashi: You should say no, it's fine. It's better to be funny. (general laughter) It's better to be funny, and it might be funnier if we wrote "I'm so very happy."

—I guess it depends how you write it.

Izubuchi: That's the art of the editor. Well, what should I do?

Kobayashi: I think it's better not to get angry. Because I'm an otaku. (laughs)

Izubuchi: I think it's fine. Honestly, where the roughs are concerned, I drew them quickly thinking that they were just provisional. Then, if by any chance they were chosen later on, I figured I'd do something completely different and say "Now it's decided, so please don't change it." On the other hand, if I asked a modeler to change it, I'd probably be thinking "Yeah yeah, like this!" I mean, it wouldn't be cool to just build it as is, would it?

—I don't think that would ever happen. (general laughter) And now Mr. Akitaka. We were talking about this last night.

Akitaka: It's fine as long as it's cool.

Kobayashi: If it's cool?

Akitaka: ...If it's cool. (laughs) To put it another way, it's a method we can't do on TV, so I think it's good.

Kobayashi: You can't do this kind of piping in anime.

Izubuchi: "Oh, this won't come out of the mold." (laughs) After all, when it comes to mobile suits, things like the Marasai are really nice.

Akitaka: I heard the Marasai was a top seller.

—Well, thank you for waiting, Mr. Kobayashi.

Kobayashi: I don't mind. (general laughter)

About the design of ZZ Gundam

—So, Mr. Kobayashi and Mr. Izubuchi, did you watch the original Gundam on TV?

Kobayashi: Yes, because I'm an anime otaku.

—So that's all. (laughs) But that aside, even though it's ZZ, what's it like to be working on Gundam after seeing it as a fan eight years earlier?

Izubuchi: It made me sad.

—Oh my!

Izubuchi: No, really. Though I didn't hate the mobile suits, when I was watching Z, I thought "So this it how it turned out, huh?" I preferred the things that showed up in the original work and the beginning of Z, so when they first approached me, I was really unpopular with Mr. Tomino. (laughs) They let me draw whatever I liked because it wouldn't go through anyway. Hearing about all these hardships, I thought "Oh, maybe I was doing the easy job."

Kobayashi: You shouldn't think that. (laughs)

Izubuchi: As works, Z, and ZZ are both pretty dubious. They make you think children shouldn't be watching.

—I do think it might be hard for a child to watch Z,.

Kobayashi: Can't they find it in hobby stores without watching it on TV? The Marasai sells even though it barely showed up. They must have seen it in books. That's why you need the transformation, right? They don't feel compelled by the movement on TV, but it's like the toy itself has some movement. They look at the box art in the hobby stores, the photos on the side of the box, and then Model Graphix and Hobby Japan and catalogs, and say eh, never mind. Then they buy it just from seeing the finished product at the store counter.

—There also aren't many people home at that time (5:00 PM on Saturday), although there is video. (7) Mr. Akitaka, I'll ask you the same question.

Akitaka: I saw Gundam when I was in middle school. How come I'm working on Gundam now?

Izubuchi: I've heard you say more impressive things. "I've conquered Gundam!" (general laughter)

Akitaka: That wasn't me. It was Mr. Okamoto.

Izubuchi: So Mr. Okamoto was saying that.

Akitaka: I made it! I made it! (laughs)

Kobayashi: Then I'm going to conquer Bakuraiou. (8)

Izubuchi: I heard he's been saying "I'm big."

Kobayashi: It's fine to say I'm big, I'm big. If you went to the trouble of doing it, you make some money from it, right?

Izubuchi: What I've been saying lately is, "I'm the only one who's done Yamato, Gundam, and Macross!" (general laughter)

Akitaka: Huh. You must be happy to have so many models out there.

—And you, Mr. Kobayashi?

Kobayashi: I'm a Gundam otaku who used to be a Yamato otaku. No, I really loved it. It was interesting to see that kind of structure in animation. But Z was better. In any case, I'm valuing it highly for now. In ten years, maybe people will be saying it was really good. It's dark, but... it's like New Music. (laughs) (9)

Izubuchi: If kids watch it, they'll have no idea who's an ally and who's an enemy.

Kobayashi: The setting is that both ally and enemy are made by Anaheim Electronics, so it's hard to understand. If you read it very seriously, it's just a fight between terrorists.

—It's a civil war, isn't it?

Izubuchi: But if you think it's a civil war, they're still fighting a war.

Kobayashi: I guess you can't deviate from a schema where the Federation is the ally and Zeon is the enemy, like in the old days.

Izubuchi: The Titans are using Hizacks and GMs together... and besides, they're the same types (as the AEUG), right?

Kobayashi: And there's a Dom-like thing (the Rick Dias) on the Gundam side.

—I think it might have been better if they'd gone with the original plan. A super-weapon called "Zeta Gundam" appears, they'll be in trouble unless they can stop it, so they carry out an operation to steal it. Then they spring the imprisoned Amuro, and everyone teams up... That way, the story is focused into a single unit.

Kobayashi: At any rate, the anime industry is coming to an end. (10)

What should we do this year?

—Well, then. If you could tell us about your work and your aspirations for the coming year, it might make a good punchline.

Kobayashi: I don't have anything to say. (laughs) It's terrible. I'm going to be dependent on B-Club. (burst of laughter) After that, I want to spend the rest of my life writing for Model Graphix.

—I see... And Mr. Izubuchi?

Izubuchi: I'm unemployed.

Akitaka: Oh, me too.

Izubuchi: I have no work. If you're reading this and you're in the anime business, or anything related to it, please give me an easy and well-paying job. (laughs)

—So that's how it is.

Kobayashi: Yeah, something like that. (laughs)

Izubuchi: ...Is that everything?

—Yes, probably. Thank you all very much for today.

Left to right:

• A rough sketch of the ZZ II featured on the cover. It's almost Space Battleship Yamato!

• The mobile suit Bawoo is the only one that Mr. Izubuchi handled from rough sketch to cleanup. He says, "I drew it with the image of a one-eyed Zeta Gundam."

• The Akitaka version of the Neo Core Booster, drawn with a TV appearance in mind. Though it didn't appear on TV, it's scheduled to apear as a model soon!


Translator's Notes

(1) I think Kobayashi is responding to Akitaka's comment about the number of people in the initial design competition. In his response, Izubuchi seems to be following up on this change of subject.

(2) Kobayashi submitted his second draft of the ZZ Gundam, which included a Core Fighter, on January 9, 1986. This draft was the basis for his three-dimensional model.

(3) Akihiro Nagao, according to an interview with Kobayashi in B-Club magazine.

(4) I think Kobayashi is just talking about the Gaza-C here. The Marasai was accepted, and Kazumi Fujita's cleanup completed, in early 1985. The Gaza-C didn't appear onscreen until episode 32 of Z Gundam, broadcast in October 1985.

(5) As in the nozzles of rocket thrusters.

(6) The Gundam Wars II book features models of the Galluss-J and Zssa, but these evidently weren't in the room during this discussion.

(7) Presumably the moderator is talking about recording TV episodes on VHS tape.

(8) A Model Graphix serial for which Hideo Okamoto did the mecha design.

(9) A genre of Japanese pop music from the 1970s and 1980s.

(10) I don't know what Kobayashi means here.