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Production History:
Mobile Suit V Gundam
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The following is a record of the planning and development of the fourth Gundam television series, Mobile Suit V Gundam, which debuted in 1993. (Following my usual convention, I'm using V Gundam to refer to the animated series, and "Victory Gundam" to refer to the star mobile suit.) The following details are pieced together from a variety of sources, including:


Unlike most other Gundam works, setting art for V Gundam is fairly difficult to find, and my own collection currently only covers the first twenty episodes or so. For this account I'll be relying largely on published interviews, plus artwork from the beginning of the series and the early planning stages.

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


After the disappointment of the 1991 theatrical feature Mobile Suit Gundam F91, which had been intended to lead into an ongoing TV series, longtime Gundam director Yoshiyuki Tomino assumed that the series had been laid to rest for the time being. In an interview in the 2002 "Gundam Great Complete Works Part II," Tomino recalls:

Ten years ago, when I'd made F91, I thought there probably wouldn't be any more Gundam after that. I originally undertook F91 as the first installment of a new TV series, but it didn't work out, and it was a work we couldn't continue. At that point, I felt even more strongly that Gundam was over than I did at the end of First Gundam. So after that, I didn't expect them to say "We have to do another Gundam."

However, there were commercial calculations at work. In the last few years, the parody series SD Gundam and its associated merchandise had become wildly popular with younger elementary-school students, surpassing "real" Gundam in terms of toy and model unit sales. Now, with this boom beginning to taper off, the Sunrise studio and Gundam's sponsors were eager to draw these "SD kids" into the mainstream of Gundam fandom. An essay in "Great Complete Works Part II" outlines the reasoning behind a return to television:

While Gundam focused mainly on the development of toys, whose acceptance was based on the lower grades of elementary school, OVA works were targeted at hardcore fans from middle and high school up. This created a demographic gap between the upper elementary grades and middle school. Thus another TV series was planned, as a new Gundam with broad appeal to this age group.

There was also the fact that Gundam's merchandise sales rebounded each time a new series made its television debut. A chart from Kenji Inomata's 1995 book "The Legend of Mobile Suit Gundam" serves to illustrate the business logic:

Gundam goods (plastic model & toy) sales data from 1980 to 1994, as published in "The Legend of Mobile Suit Gundam."

Vertical axis shows unit sales in tends of thousands, with increments ranging from 5 million to 45 million units per year. Solid line represents "real" Gundam goods, and dashed line represents SD Gundam series.

The bars at the bottom showing when TV series were broadcast aren't quite aligned with the year-by-year totals. For example, since Z Gundam began airing in March 1985, its merchandise sales are mostly reflected in the "1985" tally.

Note also that chart depicts unit sales rather than total revenue. Inomata comments that current prices are two to three times those of initial product releases, so at time of publication, combined real and SD revenues had already exceeded their previous peak.

In a February 2022 Twitter thread, V Gundam producer Masuo Ueda recalls the discussions that took place among Sunrise management.

Following First Gundam, we'd produced real Gundams such as Z, ZZ, Char's Counterattack, 0080, F91, and 0083. But while these were unable to match the sales of the old days, a certain fad called SD Gundam had taken the market by storm. Sunrise was horrified when its sales were briefly four times those of real plastic models.

Under the name of Gundam, content over which the original creator Sunrise had no control was winning the support of the children. The editor in chief of a publishing company central to this content even said that the era of real G was already over. There was much debate about this situation, but Sunrise decided not to intervene. For a creator, this was a defeat. And then...

As the production of 0083 was nearing its end, the question of what to do for the next Gundam came up at a board meeting. The company's business situation was good. Gundam royalties were coming in, and Takara's and Tomy's works were doing well, as was City Hunter. Nonetheless, the meeting was shrouded in a heavy atmosphere.

This heavy atmosphere was the pressure that we felt. The then-president concluded that, now it had expanded into theatrical films and OVAs, of course Gundam's future was a new TV series. But who would be in charge of it? After a brief silence from the three executives responsible for production, he said "Then you're in charge, Ueda." I'd be working with Director Tomino again, for the first time in 10 years.

There was an additional, more secret motivation for launching a new Gundam series. The acquisition of Sunrise by toymaker Bandai, which was officially completed in April 1994, was already being negotiated behind the scenes. Because Gundam plastic model kits, or "Gunpla," were a major part of Bandai's business, it seems Sunrise was required to relaunch the Gundam series as a condition of the deal. In an interview in the 2004 DVD Memorial Box, Tomino says:

I think that was already presupposed when they first asked me "Please do another Gundam, or we'll be in trouble," and we began the planning. About one year before V Gundam went on the air, as the managers were meeting the conditions to negotiate the transfer of the company, it seems that Sunrise was required to make another Gundam. But I wasn't told about that until after the broadcast was over.


At the time, looking only at Sunrise's studio work, I couldn't see any need to do a new Gundam. So I was puzzled when they suddenly launched the project, and it seemed strange from the beginning.

—At the time, there was already Mobile Suit Gundam F91, and I didn't understand why something made two years later was V Gundam rather than F91.

I'd also been talking with the managers about turning F91 into the first installment of a subsequent TV series, so I thought that was strange as well. I figured that was just because they were running an artisanal production company, so I didn't think about it any more deeply.

Tomino duly embraced the challenge of making a fresh start. In an interview in Keibunsha's 1993 Anime Mini Album, conducted in the middle of the series production, he describes his intentions for V Gundam as follows:

The truth is, when I began the current V Gundam, the first thing on my mind was to make a complete and absolute break with everything about the preceding Gundams, up to and including the worldview. That was the idea with which I started out.

I know that past fans continue to remember and enjoy different parts of Gundam. But when it comes to making a new Gundam, there are many parts they won't like. Whatever new thing you try, there will be an overwhelming majority of people who don't like it. In that case, I thought it was better to make a complete break. In terms of characters and everything else, we've severed ties with the previous Gundam in every sense.


In fact, my intention this time is to turn Gundam back into an orthodox robot show. I want to make it something that can sincerely be shown to children. That's because I'd like to revive the kind of robot anime that's liberated from the tendency to put too much emphasis on overpowered mobile suits and hardware.

Rather than continuing the story of Gundam F91, the new series would once again jump forward in time and introduce a new generation of characters and warring factions. Mechanical designer Junya Ishigaki, who became involved in the new project at an early stage, describes his bemused reaction in the Summer 2023 issue of Great Mechanics G:

When they first called me in, Director Tomino gave me a proposal-like memo. I recall that when I looked at it, it said "Victory Gundam," and I thought "This isn't 'F92'?"

As part of his work in the Sunrise planning office, Ishigaki had already been doing some exploratory designs on the assumption that the new series would be a continuation of F91. It wasn't until this initial meeting at the end of 1991 that he learned the details of the new story, and began working on his own entry for the competition that would select the designer of the next main Gundam.

Late 1991
"Study designs" and mecha concepts by Junya Ishigaki. The "Next Gundam" shown here was a study design drawn for the Sunrise planning office, to explore what a hypothetical F92 might look like.

Left: Study design dated October 26, 1991, recently posted to Ishigaki's @gakky1967 Twitter account.
Center: Study design dated November 6, 1991, recently posted to Ishigaki's @gakky1967 Twitter account.
Right: Mobile suit concept design drawn around November~December 1991.

Mobile armor concept designs drawn around November~December 1991.

Early "Victory Gundam" sketches recently posted to Ishigaki's @gakky1967 Twitter account. These were apparently drawn in preparation for the upcoming design competition.

By December 1991, Tomino had begun compiling a detailed series proposal and story outlines for the initial episodes. The title "Victory Gundam" seems to have been established at this point, although Tomino was still considering alternative titles in an April 1992 draft of his proposal. A full translation of this revised series proposal can be found at Zeonic|Scanlations:

As well as the title, the major characters and world setting were already in place. The fact that the story was largely decided 16 months before the broadcast debut seems somewhat unusual for an anime TV series of that era. In an interview in Rapport's 1994 "Victory Gundam Encyclopedia," Tomino suggests that this extra planning time created some problems later in the production:

Another major mistake was that there was too much content, because I had a lot of time to think about it before starting work on the TV version. [...] While I can't quite say whether it was good or bad, there was a lot of material where I was overthinking things in a somewhat abstract way. Don't you think? So now I understand only too well that you shouldn't have too much preparation time for a TV series. (laughs)

Rather than starting in space, as per the tradition established by previous Gundam works, the new story would begin in Eastern Europe—a region where, even as Tomino was planning his story, the ongoing breakup of Yugoslavia was ushering in a series of brutal civil wars. Tomino explains the motivation for this in a post-series interview in the "Victory Gundam Vol.2" Newtype 100% Collection:

—Was there a reason why the setting placed Kasareria in Eastern Europe?

First and foremost, because it's the most challenging location for Japanese people. There's also the fact that it's the intersection of Europe and Asia. The latter is something the Japanese have finally come to understand due to things like the recent conflict in Yugoslavia, but that doesn't mean I chose it because of the significance of that position. When I was considering it in terms of human problems, I felt this was no longer an era for thinking in terms of ethnic homogeneity, and that's why I set that as the location.

—Is that why you completely eliminated everything that might represent Japan?

Or alternatively, the Japanese flavor vanished because we were setting aside ethnic homogeneity. But characters appear with names like Oliver Ino(u)e and Junko Jenko, which means they have Japanese lineage mixed into their ancestry, and I wanted that to suggest the spread of ethnic groups as well. So in a strict sense, we haven't completely eliminated Japan, and personally I'm proud that we were able to depict these characters' issues so well.

Though the proposal wasn't finalized until April of the following year, by the end of 1991 the story was sufficiently established for the design work to begin.

December 1991~April 1992
Series proposal by Yoshiyuki Tomino, as reprinted in Blu-ray Box I. Originally compiled in December 1991, this revised version is dated April 30, 1992, with candidate titles "Mobile Suit Mega Gundam" and "Mobile Suit Garuba Gundam."

Excerpts from Victory Gundam "Try Story" outline by Yoshiyuki Tomino, as reprinted in Blu-ray Box I. Dated December 13, 1991.

The competition to select a designer for the new Gundam appears to have taken place around the beginning of 1992, with only three contenders under consideration—Junya Ishigaki, veteran Gundam designer Kunio Okawara, and rising star Hajime Katoki of Gundam Sentinel and Gundam 0083 fame. In his Great Mechanics G interview, Ishigaki says:

At the time, I was at the Sunrise planning office, so I was brought in by Mr. Koichi Inoue. I believe Mr. Katoki was nominated by Director (Yoshiyuki) Tomino, and Mr. Okawara probably continued on from F91.

The candidates were asked to design a transforming and combining mobile suit made up of upper and lower body parts connected to a Core Fighter, in the tradition of the original Gundam. In his comments for the 2009 Master Grade Victory Gundam Ver.Ka, Katoki explains:

At the time, it was the first TV series since the story of Amuro and Char had been concluded, so I think the production staff were conscious of making a fresh start. It was probably in this spirit of "a new first step" that they accepted a design that returned to the Gundam's starting point, with an orthodox combination and transformation centered on a Core Fighter.

When the order was placed, there were no particular specifications for the Gundam itself. I thought it would be natural to inherit elements introduced in F91, such as the beam shield and making it a small fifteen meter-class mobile suit, so I proposed those ideas on my own.

As part of their presentation, each designer was asked to create a three-dimensional model to demonstrate the transformation process, a requirement which Ishigaki found especially challenging. In an interview for the 2004 DVD Memorial Box, he recalls:

Director Tomino showed me his own balsa-wood models, and with those as reference, I made mine from balsa and toothpicks according to my own interpretation. When I went to the competition, Mr. Okawara had a sturdy carved wooden figure, and Mr. Katoki had made something splendid by gathering parts from models and toys. I was embarrassed, but I stealthily submitted mine at the very end. (laughs)

In his own DVD Memorial Box interview, Katoki adds:

I brought in something I'd made by assembling broken parts from five or six store-bought models and toys. Mr. Okawara carved one of his legendary wooden models, and I'm not sure what Mr. Ishigaki did...

—Apparently he'd prepared something by carving it out of balsa wood, but he lost his nerve when he saw what you and Mr. Okawara had brought in.

Oh, was that it? I'd tried to put a lot of effort into making mine, too, but I felt my craftsmanship had been beaten when I saw Mr. Okawara's wooden model. They said the quality didn't matter since it was just for explanatory purposes, but it still bothered me.

The requirement to include a Core Fighter wasn't communicated clearly to Okawara, whose design separated into just two parts, with the upper body transforming into an attack helicopter. This concept was later used for the enemy mobile suit Zolo, while Katoki's design was chosen as the basis for the Victory Gundam. Katoki's Core Fighter design, which incorporated the head of the Gundam itself, survived essentially unchanged into the final version.

Early 1992
Core Fighter version 0.0 and Victory Gundam version 1.0 by Hajime Katoki.
Core Fighter is dated January 11, 1992. Gundam is dated February 19.

Left: Design competition model by Kunio Okawara, made using the head of a 1/100 Gundam, the lower body of a 1/60 F91 Gundam, and an original upper body carved from wood.
Right: Diary memo by Junya Ishigaki, depicting his "Balsa Gundam."

From the various interviews I've seen, it's unclear exactly who came up with the idea of storing the Gundam's head inside the Core Fighter. Katoki incorporated this feature in his presentation model, but Koichi Inoue—the head of the Sunrise planning office, who was credited as script manager on V Gundam—also claims to have suggested it, and it was Inoue who communicated this idea to the Gunpla developers at Bandai.

In an interview in the Autumn 2023 issue of Great Mechanics G, Inoue discusses this with Hirofumi Kishiyama of Bandai's Hobby Products Department, who was in charge of Gunpla product development during V Gundam:

Kishiyama: I think the concept that the Core Fighter should bring the head back with it, since "the Gundam's head is important because it contains the computer, so it's pointless to return without it," arose from our meetings with Mr. Inoue. This led to the Victory Gundam's Core Fighter, in which the head was stored.


Inoue: That's how it went. By the way, part of the reason I suggested putting the Gundam's head in the Core Fighter was actually due to my involvement with Mobile Suit Gundam F91.

The weapons built into the Gundam's Core Fighter were wasted, since they became useless after docking. But they wouldn't be so pointless if the mobile suit's head vulcans could be used as Core Fighter weapons. And what's more, creating a space within the main body to accommodate the head meant that this storage space would be empty while in mobile suit form, so couldn't we reduce waste by putting the aircraft nose in there?

Kishiyama also discusses this in a 2018 Japanese-language interview on the Gundam Base official website:

When product development for the new program began, I heard from someone in charge of production at Sunrise, "The next Gundam will be a small mobile suit with a height of 15 meters, but it'll have a Core Fighter. Since important combat data is recorded in the Gundam's head, we'd like the Core Fighter to be constructed so that it can store the Gundam's head." I recall those were the setting elements, or rather the setup, that they initially requested.

Since the mobile suits from Mobile Suit V Gundam were small types, we wouldn't be able to represent their gimmicks in plastic models unless they were in 1/100 scale. So first, we built a mechanical prototype model to see whether we could make a Core Fighter that stored the Gundam's head in 1/100 scale. The result was that it seemed spatially possible to implement the head storage gimmick, so we conveyed that to Sunrise.

After these preliminary discussions, it appears Mr. Hajime Katoki began the V Gundam's design in earnest. We weren't talking directly with Mr. Hajime Katoki at the time, and the work proceeded with Sunrise as an intermediary.

With Katoki now working on the star Gundam, Okawara and Ishigaki were assigned to develop the enemy mobile suits. This was another challenge for Ishigaki, whose previous experience designing mobile suits was very limited. In an interview in 2015's Blu-ray Box I, Ishigaki says he didn't initially have a clear idea of what a mobile suit should be like:

At the time I was young and fearless, so instead I was wondering "Why don't mobile suits have more varied shapes?" and "Can't we have any new lines?" I assumed anything that appeared in Gundam would be a mobile suit. That's why, looking at my first roughs, I was drawing things that didn't look at all like mobile suits. So it was fortunate that a new enemy was appearing in the form of the Zanscare Empire.

Ishigaki's early sketches were critiqued by both Tomino and Inoue. In his Great Mechanics G interview, Ishigaki recalls:

Since it was my first time designing mobile suits, there was a lot of trial and error. At first they had a complex surface structure, but after Director Tomino and Mr. Inoue lectured me about that, I started making them simpler. At the beginning, Mr. Inoue also told me the things I'd drawn weren't really different from each other.

In Tomino's proposal, the forces of the enemy Zanscare Empire were named BESPA (Ballistic Equipment & Space Patrol Armory). In Japanese phonetics, this is written identically to vespa, the Latin and Italian word for "wasp." Perhaps for this reason, Tomino requested that the BESPA mobile suits have insect-like compound eyes, but otherwise the designers had been given no specific directions.

January~February 1992
BESPA mobile suit image designs by Junya Ishigaki, drawn around January~February 1992.
Second and third designs in middle row are dated February 18. The design at bottom left has a Minovsky drive unit in its tail skirt.

After this initial exploration, Ishigaki began drawing more polished designs for presentation purposes. In an effort to appeal to younger SD Gundam fans, he attempted to give each one an easily understandable gimmick. As Ishigaki comments in the DVD Memorial Box:

At this point I started drawing things to show to other people, which also served as cleanup practice. I drew them with the self-imposed restriction that each should include some kind of gimmick, but at the time I really wanted to give them sub-arms, so there are a lot of that type.

Many of the designs Ishigaki created at this stage incorporate wasp and insect motifs, taking inspiration from BESPA's animal namesake. He also borrowed some ideas from the concept designs Okawara was producing at the same time, in order to create a common image for the enemy mobile suits. Nonetheless, as Ishigaki says in "Victory Gundam Vol.2":

At the beginning the director said, "The image style is close to Mr. Okawara's, isn't it?" So I intentionally tried to change it. Although they deliberately divided up the mecha design among three people, if we'd all drawn things with the same atmosphere, it would have made it less appealing.

Ishigaki's designs from March 1992 went on to provide raw material for his initial round of V Gundam mobile suits, and they include recognizable precursors to the Shokew and Godzorla.

March 1992
BESPA mobile armor concepts by Junya Ishigaki, dated March 10, 1992.

BESPA mobile suit concepts by Junya Ishigaki, dated March 10, 1992.

BESPA mobile suit concepts by Junya Ishigaki. First three designs are dated March 18~19, 1992, and final one is dated March 24.

As Kunio Okawara was working on his own concept designs, he added in the combination and transformation gimmick from his Gundam competition entry. In the "Victory Gundam Vol.1" Newtype 100% Collection, Okawara recalls:

The idea of transforming into a helicopter was actually one I'd proposed for use in the new Gundam. But then everyone else thought it would be more interesting to use that for an enemy mobile suit, so I hastily revised the design accordingly. I came up with this gimmick for the sake of a fun toy, but since this was the first mobile suit used by the enemy, I also drew it with the sense that it would become the basis for all the mecha that appeared afterwards.

Though the dates of Okawara's early designs aren't precisely documented, they appear to have been created roughly in parallel with Ishigaki's, and the junior designer went on to borrow Okawara ideas such as ear-shaped antennas and "yellowjacket" wasp emblems for his own designs.

Spring 1992
BESPA mobile suit head concepts by Kunio Okawara.

BESPA mobile suit concept designs by Kunio Okawara.

BESPA mobile suit concepts by Kunio Okawara, incorporating the ideas of a helicopter transformation and two-part combination from his design competition model.

BESPA mobile suit concept art by Kunio Okawara. It appears that upper and lower parts from different mobile suits can be combined.

A final round of Junya Ishigaki concept designs, created between March and May 1992, include his own interpretations of Okawara's "yellowjacket" emblem and a variety of giant mobile armors. As he comments in the DVD Memorial Box:

If I recall correctly, Mr. Koichi Inoue, the script setting manager, told me to draw these. That was probably the point at which they were finally deciding how the narrative of V Gundam was going to unfold, so maybe they were thinking of putting in giant mobile armors. After all, giant mobile armors like the Alpha Azieru from Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack and the Rafflesia from Gundam F91 kept on showing up.

These appear to be the last of the exploratory designs that Ishigaki drew before receiving specific orders based on the machines that were to appear in the story.

March~May 1992
BESPA mobile suit concepts by Junya Ishigaki. Most of these appear to be refined versions of earlier designs.
The two designs at right are dated March 26 and April 27, 1992. The design at far left has a Minovsky drive unit in its tail skirt.

BESPA mobile armor concepts by Junya Ishigaki. The designs at middle and bottom left are armed with giant beam sabers.
Designs in top row are dated April 23~27, 1992. Middle left design is dated April 27, and bottom right design is dated May 11.

Hajime Katoki, for his part, continued to refine his Gundam design as well as the convoy of trailer trucks that would carry the Gundam's separated components during the first phase of the story. At Tomino's request, Katoki's futuristic interpretations of the Camion truck and the Core Fighter carrier were revised to look more like conventional modern-day vehicles.

April~May 1992
Victory Gundam version 3.0 designs by Hajime Katoki, drawn around April~May 1992.

Camion version 0.0 by Hajime Katoki. This was a first impression drawn in May 1992 after reading Tomino's series proposal.

Camion version 1.0 by Hajime Katoki. Though these sketches are undated, the design of the Gundam itself resembles the version 3.0 shown above.

Meanwhile, as Tomino was completing his final revision of the series proposal, another competition was held to select a character designer for the series. Among the candidates were Nobuteru Yuuki—then known for works such as Record of Lodoss War, Angel Cop, and the Five Star Stories theatrical film, and later for The Vision of Escaflowne—and Gundam 0083 character designer Toshihiro Kawamoto.

April~May 1992
Character design competition entries by Nobuteru Yuuki and Toshihiro Kawamoto. At this point Suzy had the last name "Wolf," and there was an additional character named Yan Lee.
Yuuki's Üso and Shahkti sketches are dated April and May, 1992. Kawamoto's character sketches are dated April 30.

The winning character designer, however, was someone who hadn't even entered the competition—Hiroshi Ousaka, formerly best known for his work as an animation director on titles such as Gundam 0083. As Ousaka recalls in the 2004 DVD Memorial Box:

I heard that several people participated in the competition, but all of them were given an idea of V Gundam as a work, and then they did character image drawings in accordance with that. But in my case, image boards that I drew for the planning of a previous rejected project, completely unrelated to Gundam, were submitted as reference. When I asked about it afterwards, it turned out that Mr. Ueda, the producer in charge, showed those image boards to Director Tomino, and the director took a liking to them.

According to Ousaka, this rejected project had been something along the lines of the "World Masterpiece Theater" series produced by Nippon Animation. This was a series of anime adaptations of classics of world literature, such as A Dog of Flanders and Anne of Green Gables, and is widely cited in creator interviews as a stylistic influence on V Gundam.

In his DVD Memorial Box interview, Ousaka mentions another major source of artistic inspiration:

First they gave me the proposal document, and then I met with Director Tomino... that's the process we followed. During that meeting, what I heard from Director Tomino was that we were doing Future Boy Conan in Gundam. Those were his words. For people around my age, who watched Conan when we were in school and said "this movement is amazing, anime is really good," it was one of the works that led us to enter this world. So I was delighted they were letting me do it.

With the story established and the key creative team in place, the production of the new series began in earnest. While the planning phase had been relatively straightforward, complications would soon arise.


The production of Mobile Suit V Gundam began around July 1992, roughly nine months before its eventual broadcast debut. From Z Gundam through Gundam F91, the mainstream Gundam series had been produced by Sunrise's Studio 2 under the supervision of Kenji Uchida. This time, however, the series was assigned to producer Masuo Ueda and Studio 3, who had just finished working on the video series Gundam 0083. The day-to-day production work would be managed by assistant producer Masato Mochizuki.

With the bursting of Japan's bubble economy in early 1992, V Gundam presumably faced tighter financial constraints than the previous installments in the series, but there were additional reasons for the simple visual style it ultimately adopted. Koichi Inoue discusses some of these in the DVD Memorial Box:

Following the theatrical Mobile Suit Gundam F91 and the OVA Mobile Suit Gundam 0083, Mobile Suit V Gundam was planned as the first TV series in six years. Partly because they weren't TV series, F91 and 0083 were meant to represent the highest grade of Gundam visuals at that point in time. Since this TV series was following afterwards, it was important we find a way to give it a new appeal distinct from them. That was our intention in giving the characters a soft but substantial presence, like the so-called "Masterpiece" series.


That's also one reason why there was almost no shading in the early part of the series, even though there was a tendency at the time to take onscreen shading as a given. It was produced via a process where shading was added only to the cuts where we really wanted it, as specified by Director Tomino. Since around the time of F91, Director Tomino himself had been giving instructions to reduce excess shading as much as possible, specifying it for each cut. His reasoning was that if we overdid it, it would make the screen too noisy.

Another factor mentioned in staff interviews was the desire to ease the burden on the animation staff, especially the finishing companies who were responsible for inking and painting the animation cels. In Great Mechanics G, mechanical designer Junya Ishigaki recalls:

With the shading, for instance, there was a feeling that the finishing companies wouldn't take on the job, because the fact it was Gundam meant it would be too much trouble. Since the style of depiction expanded as the theatrical works and OVAs accumulated, the burden on the finishers had increased, and it may have been a reaction to that.

This imperative extended to the design work as well. In the "Victory Gundam Vol.1" Newtype 100% Collection, character designer Hiroshi Ousaka describes the instructions he received from Tomino:

First and foremost, he wanted the characters to be simple. [...] This time, both to change the atmosphere of the work and to reduce the working time, he wanted me to try to simplify the characters.

—And what about Üso and Shahkti?

Since they're the hero and heroine, it naturally took a long time until their designs received the final OK, and they also changed a lot along the way. At first I was drawing them in my usual style, putting in lots of lines and using them to emphasize everything down to the clothing folds. But when I was given the aforementioned instruction to make them simpler, I eliminated the extra details and ended up with the designs you see today.

In the DVD Memorial Box, Ousaka adds:

But since this was right after 0083, which had a really crazy amount of lines and shading, I was worried I wouldn't be able to do it. So even after the series began, at first I was filling in black shadows under their chins as a stopgap measure, and trying to make the characters look complex by stretching the definition of "necessary lines."

I remember I was actually relieved when the decision was eventually made, around the middle of the series, to add some shading after all. I'd used all the ingenuity I could, but it's hard to express three-dimensionality without lines and shadows.

The hero Üso Ewin, at age 13, was the youngest protagonist in Gundam history—and thus closer in age to the elementary- and middle-school students the creators were hoping to attract. Üso was described in the original setting as "an active boy," and Ousaka says he initially drew him as a somewhat feral juvenile delinquent, an image that was ultimately transferred to the secondary character Odelo.

Early drafts of Üso Ewin by Hiroshi Ousaka. In previous drafts he apparently had a wilder appearance, with spiky hair.

Early drafts of Shahkti Kareen by Hiroshi Ousaka.

Early drafts of Katejina Loos by Hiroshi Ousaka. The leotard costume in the center was intended for use after she joins the enemy side.

Early drafts of Cronicle Asher by Hiroshi Ousaka. Many designs were considered for Cronicle's mask, and Ousaka comments that "I was told he looked like he was wearing panties on his head."

Early drafts of Odelo Henrik and Warren Trace by Hiroshi Ousaka. As Üso evolved into a well-groomed "good boy," Odelo became more of a delinquent.

Early drafts of Karlmann Dukatus, Marbet Fingerhat, and Oi Nyung by Hiroshi Ousaka. Originally based on Ousaka's own children, Karlmann was redesigned to look more ethnically European. Meanwhile, Oi's design was revised to make him less scary-looking.

Meanwhile, Kunio Okawara was closing in on the final design for the Zolo, the BESPA mobile suit that would serve as the template for all the enemy mecha. While it retained the compound eyes and helicopter transformation from his earlier concepts, Okawara had added two new features, as he describes in his Anime Mini Album interview:

The Zolo's compound eyes were an instruction by the director. Then I added eyelids to give it some expression. [...] And as for the helicopters, in live action they'd probably create an eerie and frightening atmosphere. But maybe they didn't quite work in anime. The beam rotor setting was invented purely with the drawing workload in mind. After all, when they stop, you don't have to draw them. (laughs)

In their closed form, these expressive eyelids were reminiscent of Inuit snow goggles or Japanese shakōki-dogū figurines. (According to scriptwriter Hideki Sonoda, the name "Shokew"—originally given to the Zolo, and later transferred to a different mobile suit—was derived from the latter of these.) Along with the beam rotor, which served as both a flight device and a protective shield, they were soon borrowed by Ishigaki and incorporated into his own designs.

Zolo design drafts by Kunio Okawara. Beam sabers are eventually added to the back wings, and beam rotor is moved to the left arm in mobile suit form.

Final Zolo setting art and transformation process by Kunio Okawara, dated July 18, 1992.

Additional Zolo weapons by Kunio Okawara, featured in the early episodes of the series. Dated September 18~22, 1992.

Junya Ishigaki, for his part, had been tasked with creating two BESPA mobile suits and a large mobile armor described as a "flying tank." One of these machines would become the Shokew, a captured enemy prototype that Üso briefly pilots before receiving the Gundam. In "Victory Gundam Vol.1," Ishigaki recalls:

I drew one machine after another before the planning of the program began, but this was the very first one I drew in earnest based on a specific order. The setting that this would be the first mobile suit used by the protagonist wasn't yet complete at that point, but it was clear that it would appear from the first episode and be important to the series, so I went back and forth with Director Tomino many times as I was refining it. That's why, although it took a lot of time, I have a pretty strong attachment to the Shokew.

In an effort to give his mobile suits a distinctive look, Ishigaki experimented with the hip and ankle joints, giving the Shokew a unique foot mechanism and a slimmed-down pelvis that he compared to the high-cut legs of a swimsuit. After struggling with the face design, he ended up giving it a Gundam-like mouth section.

Like his fellow designers, Ishigaki also tried to simplify his designs to make them easier to draw and animate. In his Blu-ray Box I interview, he explains:

The request that I reduce the number of lines was also difficult. Mr. (Yoshitaka) Kawaguchi, the setting manager, would sometimes ask me "Do we need this line?" I'd heard that at the time, it was hard to find staff for each section because people were avoiding Gundam, so they thought it was better to reduce the workload even a little.


The problem is that if you reduce the lines, it becomes impossible to show the thickness of the armor's edges. So what I came up with was to put a single line on the inside of the shoulder and calf armor, making them look wedge-shaped as they approached the edge of the part. I don't know if anyone noticed, but I think I was able to make the armor look adequately thick, even with fewer lines.

While the mobile armor Ishigaki was developing would eventually appear in the series as the Recarl, he was unable to finalize the other mobile suit while focusing on the Shokew, and so it ultimately became an unused "phantom" design.

May~July 1992
Shokew design drafts by Junya Ishigaki. Though first two designs are undated, based on dates of subsequent versions, they were probably drawn in May 1992. Ishigaki comments, "It was only the face that I wasn't happy with, so I used it for the Godzorla."

The two designs at top right, which incorporate eyelids and a beam rotor, are dated June 3 and June 10. Version at bottom left is dated June 17.

Final Shokew setting art by Junya Ishigaki. Front and back views are dated July 13, 1992. Side view and head details are dated July 17. Weapon setting and foot mechanisms are dated July 20~24.

BESPA mobile suit cockpit setting art by Junya Ishigaki, dated July 22~24, 1992.

Early drafts of BESPA mobile armor Recarl by Junya Ishigaki. Second and third versions below, recently posted to Ishigaki's @gakky1967 Twitter account, are dated June 9 and June 16, 1992. The second version is equipped with a Minovsky drive that generates beam wings.

Design drafts by Junya Ishigaki for another mobile suit ordered alongside Shokew and Recarl. This was abandoned after a final version dated July 9, 1992.

Hajime Katoki, the third member of the mechanical design team, was still finalizing the flagship Victory Gundam. According to the story plan, the Gundam itself wasn't scheduled to debut until episode 4. Only its Core Fighter would appear in the first episode alongside the Zolo and Shokew, and so this part of the design was completed in the same July 1992 timeframe.

The Victory Gundam had now evolved into a streamlined form, with smooth, curved surfaces and a minimal backpack. As Katoki explains in the Anime Mini Album, this too was an attempt to ease the burden for the animators:

Overall, I tried not to make it as extravagant as the ZZ. I made it as simple as possible, to the point of looking weak. (laughs) But I'd already done a simple Gundam in the form of 0083's Gundam GP03, so this time I designed it using mainly curved lines. I thought that might reduce the number of lines, which was something I was aiming for to make it easier to animate. But since I did that on my own, assuming it would make things easier at the production site, I think it also created some misunderstandings.

At some point during the Gundam's development, Kunio Okawara stepped in to give his fellow designer an example of how it could be represented onscreen. Okawara's interpretation of the Victory Gundam would later be adapted into the mass-produced mobile suit Gun EZ.

Left: Victory Gundam design plan by Kunio Okawara. Though undated, its details resemble Katoki's version 3.0.
Right: Victory Gundam version 5.0 by Hajime Katoki, dated July 10, 1992. The design progressed rapidly from this point, reaching version 7.0 by late July.

Final Core Fighter setting art by Hajime Katoki. Views at top left are dated July 17, 1992. Cockpit setting is dated August 18.

Victory Gundam version 8 by Hajime Katoki. Version 8.5 was completed on August 4, 1992.

Katoki was also responsible for the Camion transport truck and Core Fighter carrier which would play a major role in the first part of the series, including the Camion's expansive cabin interior.

August~September 1992
Final Camion setting art by Hajime Katoki. Core Fighter Carrier is dated August 11, 1992. Basic Camion is dated August 12, and gimmick diagram is dated September 13. Leftmost Camion cabin interior is dated August 25.

Before completing the final setting art for the main characters, Hiroshi Ousaka drew a set of image boards showing the characters in action, based on scenes from the opening episodes.

July 1992
Image boards by Hiroshi Ousaka, dated July 23~24, 1992.

Hiroshi Ousaka's designs for the main characters were finalized in late July and early August 1992. Ousaka discusses some of the specific challenges in his "Victory Gundam Vol.2" interview:

At the very beginning, there was nothing special about the orders I received. But when I submitted a first draft of Count Nyung with the image of a pretty scary character, I received instructions from the director that many such characters would be appearing in the future, so I should make him seem more gentle. So after that, I went by the rough theory that the Zanscare characters should be drawn with a scary image. But since there are no absolute villains in this work, all of them still have some degree of normality. In that sense, I didn't distinguish them thoroughly in my drawings.

—This time, there were characters of various ethnicities...

I did my absolute best to draw multinational faces that weren't just limited to Japanese people. But to be honest, personally I'm still not sure how well I succeeded. This was the aspect that challenged me most as a designer, so I paid a lot of attention to it while drawing, but...

—What was the hardest part?

Rather than the characters, I had trouble with the BESPA uniforms. It might have gone faster if I were interested in that sort of thing, but it's something I didn't know much about. What's more, the director also requested a design that could be cosplayed... (laughs)

A few of the main characters were further simplified after production began. The highlights on Üso's and Odelo's hair were eliminated, as were the cheek marks on Shahkti, Marbet, Suzy, and Karlmann. These changes seem to have taken effect as of episode 4 (the third one produced) and can be seen in episode 1 (the fourth one produced).

July~August 1992
Final Üso setting art by Hiroshi Ousaka. First three sheets are dated July 26, 1992, and normal suit design is dated August 8.

Final Shahkti setting art by Hiroshi Ousaka, dated July 26~29, 1992.

Final Cronicle setting art by Hiroshi Ousaka. Normal suit design is dated July 27, 1992. Mask and uniform designs are dated August 10.

Final setting art by Hiroshi Ousaka. Katejina is dated July 28, 1992. Marbet is dated July 29, and Oi Nyung is dated July 29~30.

Final setting art by Hiroshi Ousaka. Odelo is dated July 30, 1992. Suzy is dated July 31, Warren is dated August 5, and Karlmann is dated August 7.

Final setting art by Hiroshi Ousaka. Flanders is dated August 3, 1992. Haro is dated August 17.

Left: Main character comparison by Hiroshi Ousaka, dated August 12, 1992. Though the enemy characters Fuala Griffon and Tassilo Wago are included here, their setting wasn't finalized until later in the year.
Right: Character design revision memo dated November 9, 1992.

One noteworthy aspect of V Gundam's character designs was the inclusion of dark-skinned characters in the main cast. In "Victory Gundam Vol.1," Ousaka explains that he didn't initially know how the characters would be colored:

I actually had no idea at all. When they showed me Shahkti's colors in a meeting, I was surprised in a positive way. The same goes for Marbet, and the worldview was dramatically expanded thanks to their color setting.

The selection of colors would usually be the responsibility of the color designer, a role played for the first half of the series by Sumie Komatsu, and we can assume this was done at Tomino's direction. In his "Anime Mini Album" interview, Tomino cites this as an example of the progress made since the days of the original Mobile Suit Gundam.

The most symbolic thing is that, this time, we included the dark-skinned girls Shahkti and Marbet among the regular cast from the beginning. None of the things that would have been unthinkable or problematic in the era of First Gundam came up this time. Things have changed that much when it comes to skin color, too. It's a shift on our part on the question of how we look at race. I don't know whether the intermingling of cultures will happen fifty or a hundred years in the future, but it's an era that would overlap with Gundam.

Tomino elaborates on this in his "Victory Gundam Vol.2" interview:

At the time of the first Gundam, I wanted Ryu Jose to be Black, but I was forced to change that because of objections from the TV station and the advertising agency. This is is a good example of the outdated values of adults that we were just discussing. But there have been no complaints this time. Perhaps that's evidence that the consciousness has begun to change just a little.

With the starting lineup of characters and mecha complete, work on the first episodes now began.

A color version of the main character comparison chart.

For reasons we'll discuss later, production of the series began with the episode ultimately aired as episode 2, "The Day I Met the Machine." Mechanical designer Junya Ishigaki was tasked with designing the props and accessories such as firearms, computers, and paraglider equipment which appeared in each episode. He also created a variety of small hovercraft, called "wappas" after the vehicles used in episode 14 of Mobile Suit Gundam.

July~August 1992
Setting art for episode 2. Üso's notebook computer and paraglider are by Junya Ishigaki. Üso's paraglider costume is by Hiroshi Ousaka.
Notebook computer is dated July 27, 1992. Paraglider is dated August 7. Costume is dated August 18.

Wappa hovercraft featured in opening episodes, designed by Junya Ishigaki.
Camion wappa is dated July 31, 1992. Üso's wappa is dated August 3, and Shahkti's standing wappa is dated August 13.

Art director Shigemi Ikeda, who had previously worked on Gundam ZZ, Char's Counterattack, and Gundam F91, was responsible for designing the backgrounds and locations. This time he was faced with the challenge of bringing the Eastern European setting to life, as he discusses with an interviewer in the 1999 book "The Complete Works of Yoshiyuki Tomino."

—It seems Director Tomino often travels overseas for location scouting. Do you ever go with him?

Not at all, because he's going in a personal capacity. But he gives me the photos he takes on these occasions as reference, along with the negatives.

—Where was he going at the time of V Gundam?

I think he probably went to Germany. He went to America during ZZ, too.

V Gundam had a European feeling, even in things like the forest setting.

Since it had been decided to set it in Europe, I tried to create that atmosphere. To begin with, the colors of the trees in Europe are different from Japan, and the color of the sky is different too. In Japan, the forests are usually vivid green, but in Europe they're so dark that there's even one in Germany called the "Black Forest." The mountains aren't rounded like those in Japan, either. And as for the sky, it's so different that if you just dash off a painting of a blue sky, French people will say "This isn't the sky of France."

The opening episodes of V Gundam were set in modern-day Germany and the Czech Republic, and it appears that Ikeda drew heavily on Tomino's own travel photos in designing these locations.

August 1992
Background setting art for episode 2 by Shigemi Ikeda.
Aerial view of Point Kasareria is dated August 17, 1992. Nearby ruins are dated August 20.

Exteriors of Shahkti's and Üso's houses by Shigemi Ikeda, dated August 18, 1992.

Interiors of Üso's house by Shigemi Ikeda, dated August 19, 1992.

As a final step before animation began, simplified and stylized versions of the mechanical designs were created for animator reference. Reference drawings for the mecha featured in the opening episode were drawn in the second half of August 1992, indicating that the animation work began in earnest some seven months before the start of broadcast.

August 1992
Mobile suit reference art for animation use, dated August 18~19, 1992. I believe these were created by animator Hirotoshi Sano, who was given a special credit for "mechanical design cooperation."

Simplified versions of mecha setting for animation reference, dated August 25~27, 1992.

Just as the production was getting underway, however, an unexpected complication arose in the form of a direct command from the sponsor to Tomino himself. In an interview in Go Sasakibara's 2004 book "That's V Gundam," after lamenting V Gundam's creative shortcomings, Tomino continues:

We were led to that because there was one other shadow producer. It was someone at Bandai at the time, and because this person exercised his power, we were forced to include stupid things like motorbike battleships.

—So the bike battleships weren't there from the start of planning?

Around the time we began production, I was summoned to the Bandai head office for the first time in my life, and this executive told me directly, "Put in battleships." I said, "If we're really going to have battleships float and fly around on the surface, then we could even have motorbikes flying around, right?" He said "Make them fly," and I said "You're really serious."

Thus, on V Gundam there was another person who could be called a producer capable of exercising absolute power.

—I guess he wanted to create works for the sake of business development after the transfer of ownership.

And since that's how it was created, it's basically the work of Bandai that's expressed in every aspect of the design logic. The people at Bandai now may not like it, but those were the words of an executive who had overwhelming power at Bandai. It was an exercise of authority, and he told me, "If you don't do this, we'll have you step down." When I wondered whether a bike battleship would really work, he replied "It's cool, isn't it?"


It was amazing that an adult thinking about running a business could be convinced he was a creator. Even today, he has absolutely no idea how crazy that is, and I think it's an incredible thing that can ruin companies and even nations.

I was a little astonished that an adult over the age of fifty could still talk like that. He seemed to think that everything made under their umbrella had to be toy-oriented in order to boost sales.

—So basically, he wanted you to put toy-like things in the work?

I wonder what someone like that, who's still making and selling "Gundam"-related goods even though "Gundam" means nothing to him, thinks of himself? I'm sure he doesn't even remember. I don't suppose he thinks there's anything strange about it.

Later in the interview, Tomino adds:

I think it was after we'd storyboarded four or five episodes that I went to Bandai and talked with that executive.

He provides further details of this conversation in his 2000 book "The Cure of Turn A."

This was after the bursting of the bubble economy. So as well as the sponsors, I myself, who had been doing this for many years, was sincerely aiming to make something that would sell toys. But an executive in charge said the following...

"Kids love things like battleships. You don't understand that. If something like the battleship Yamato shows up, and you draw the camera swirling around it with a roaring sound, won't that be cool? And I also want you to do something like a sentai show."

"Sentai show" meant things in the style of Goranger, a work for which Bandai was the main sponsor. It was a team show.

"You mean we should have five Gundams show up at once?"

"That's right."

This manager had demonstrated his professional ability because he had confidence in his track record and position. I'd known what he was like for more than twenty years, so I wasn't surprised. But it was still frustrating that I was being confronted by these demands because I didn't have any power. If I had a consistent record of results, not even he would make such demands.

"Then we'll put in battleships that run across the ground. How about that?"

When I coughed up this unbelievable reply, I was naive enough to think he'd never go along with it.

"Why not?"

"So we'll stick tires on them. On the battleships."

"Do it."

Thus it was decided.

Along with this directive, Bandai supplied image boards of battle bikes and warships left over from an earlier project. Mechanical designer Kunio Okawara was tasked with developing wheeled battleships based on this concept, which ultimately evolved into the Motorad Fleet featured in V Gundam's second half.

Heavy tank and warship concepts by Kunio Okawara. Originally created during the planning stages of Metal Armor Dragonar in 1986, these were submitted by Bandai as a starting point for V Gundam's Motorad Fleet.

Motorad Fleet warship concept designs by Kunio Okawara.

Okawara also began exploring ideas for exotic new mobile suits and wheeled support mecha to accompany these "bike battleships."

Motorad Fleet mobile suit concept designs by Kunio Okawara.

Motorad Fleet mobile suit concept design by Kunio Okawara. Here, the wheel-shaped "Einerad" support mecha is attached directly to the mobile suit itself, an idea eventually used in the mobile suit Bruckeng.

To lay the groundwork for the eventual appearance of the bizarre new machines that Bandai had demanded, Tomino directed his designers to insert bike-themed mecha and characters in the early episodes of the series. As recounted in Tomino's interview with Go Sasakibara in "That's V Gundam":

—And all the tires in "V Gundam," like the Einerad and Twinrad, were added to the work en masse after that.


—Which means the character of Duker Iq was also born at the same time, correct?

Yes, that's exactly right.

—So in order to introduce the tires, you created a character with a tire worldview.

My reasoning was that if I didn't create one, they'd be out of place. That's why I put him in.

At this point, the bike battleships themselves were still being kept secret from the rest of the staff. During the production of the Tomino-directed Wings of Rean in 2006, former V Gundam setting manager Yoshitaka Kawaguchi described this for the accompanying "Ura-Tomino Blog":

Around the time the production of V-Gun began, it seems Executive M of Company B gave an order to include bike battleships. Looking back on it now, I have a feeling the the director was really agonizing over how to introduce them to the Gundam world in a natural way. But since the bike battleships were a top secret known only to the director and the producer, I and the rest of the staff were perplexed by the instructions the director sometimes gave us.

First, there was the Galicson bike corps. The idea of the Zanscare Empire having a force of battle bikes was setting we could still accept without difficulty. I had no particular questions when I placed the order with the designer Mr. Ishigaki. But it was peculiar how strangely huge the bikes were in the director's roughs.

Mechanical designer Junya Ishigaki was asked to create a variety of battle bikes, based on rough drawings provided by Tomino. In his DVD Memorial Box interview, Ishigaki recalls:

At first they just told me to give them some battle bikes. I asked what it was about, but Director Tomino didn't reply. (laughs) I had no choice but to draw what he told me to, and this time he wanted a big motorbike, so I drew the Galicson.

As to what he was thinking, I heard he had to put in bike battleships, or something like that. I think Director Tomino was trying to foreshadow that with the Galicson. But I can say now that, if he'd told me about the bike battleships when I was doing the battle bikes, I might have made something a little different.

These first of Ishigaki's wheeled mecha, a battle bike glimpsed in the background in episode 3 of the series, was completed at the beginning of September 1992. This suggests that the "bike battleship" directive was given earlier that summer.

September~November 1992
Left: Battle Bike (Otsu) setting art by Junya Ishigaki, briefly shown in episode 3. Dated September 3, 1992.
Right: Battle Bike (Kou) setting art by Junya Ishigaki, featured in episode 7. Dated October 7, 1992.

Left: Duker Iq early draft and setting art by Hiroshi Ousaka. Final setting is dated October 6, 1992.
Right: Mobile armor Galicson setting art by Junya Ishigaki, featured in episode 11. Dated November 14, 1992.

Shigeru Horiguchi, who had contributed to several previous Gundam works—first as a member of the student group Viscial Design, and later as a Sunrise production staffer—was called in to contribute ideas as an outside "idea brain." In the DVD Memorial Box, Horiguchi says:

I recall it being temporary. When they brought in the Motorad Fleet, they also wanted new images for the mecha that were going to appear. So I think they were looking for ideas from a slightly outside perspective, from people within Sunrise who weren't involved in the series production. I was probably pretty perfect for that, since I'd also assisted with setting production on Gundam F91.


—Were these drawn on the assumption that they'd be shown to Director Tomino? Or was it more more like an exchange of ideas among the staff?

I believe they were handed over to Director Tomino after being judged by Mr. Inoue. But since they were ideas from an outside perspective, I was just drawing whatever ridiculous things I liked, so I'm not sure how useful these memos actually were... (laughs)

Though Horiguchi's elaborate ideas went largely unused, one of his concepts was later refined by Junya Ishigaki into the mobile armor Dodgore.

Dodgore and Dricome idea sketches by Shigeru Horiguchi.

Additional idea sketches by Shigeru Horiguchi.

Production continued despite this unexpected complication, with the creation of setting art still running half a year ahead of the broadcast. Hajime Katoki's detailed designs for the Victory Gundam, which was scheduled to debut in the fourth episode of the series, were completed around the end of September 1992. In his comments for the 2009 Master Grade Victory Gundam Ver.Ka, Katoki observes:

In the Gundam's setting, the head is a valuable part packed with sensors and avionics, so I thought it would make sense for it to be an object of recovery as part of the escape mechanism. And since the V Gundam's setting size was so small, I couldn't secure enough space for the cockpit using the previous method, so I had no choice but to come up with a new style of combination.

This is something I realized afterwards, but in the film, there are impressive depictions of the V Gundam's parts being used for ramming tactics. If the Top Limb had a face in those scenes, they'd probably have taken on a very different meaning, as if an imaginary character had been killed off. It's interesting to consider that the idea of making the Top Limb and Bottom Limb disposable might have been influenced by the design itself.

The relative fragility of the Victory Gundam, and the appearance of multiple Gundams made from mass-produced components, were to become distinctive features of V Gundam within the broader series.

September~October 1992
Final Victory Gundam setting art by Hajime Katoki. Front and back views are dated September 20, 1992. Head, arm, and leg details are dated September 29~October 1, and weapon setting is dated October 1~2.

Final Victory Gundam setting art by Hajime Katoki. Top Fighter is dated September 24, 1992. Bottom Fighter is dated September 25, and transformation patterns are dated September 26.

Once the basic Victory Gundam was completed, Katoki turned his attention to its successors. In addition to the "Victory Gundam Mark II" that was to take over the starring role in the second half of the series, Katoki was also working on a booster-equipped version that would appear in the interim.

Though this powered-up "V-Dash" Gundam didn't appear in the story itself until episode 20, the setting was completed before the start of broadcast, and this long lead time enabled it to make a teaser appearance in the opening animation.

January~March 1993
Left: Victory Two Gundam version 0.0 by Hajime Katoki, dated January 5, 1993.
Right: V-Dash Gundam version 0.0 by Hajime Katoki, dated early February 1993.

V-Dash Gundam version 1.0 and 4.0 by Hajime Katoki. Version 4.0 is dated February 25, 1993.

Final V-Dash Gundam and Core Booster setting art by Hajime Katoki.
Mobile suit setting is dated March 9, 1993. Core Booster is dated March 21.


The broadcast of Mobile Suit V Gundam's first episode on April 2, 1993, marked Gundam's return to television after a gap of more than six years. However, it was doing so in a new time slot and on a new network.

Every previous Gundam TV series had aired at 5:30 PM Saturday on the Nagoya Broadcasting Network. Even before the original Mobile Suit Gundam, this time slot had hosted Tomino's Zambot 3 and Daitarn 3. Then, in 1982, Tomino reclaimed it for a succession of five full-length series that began with Blue Gale Xabungle and ended with Gundam ZZ. In recent years, however, this spot had been occupied by Sunrise's popular "Brave" series, which launched with 1990's Brave Fighter Exkizer.

With its traditional time slot now reassigned to a rival franchise, V Gundam had to find a new home, and was ultimately relocated to 5:00 PM Friday on TV Asahi. In the "Victory Gundam Vol.2" Newtype 100% Collection, TV Asahi producer Yoshiaki Koizumi explains that this came at a late stage in the production:

They'd already completed three episodes' worth of rush film when I came in as producer, and the development of the story was more or less decided. Saying this may sound like I'm making excuses, but in that kind of situation, the meddling of a station producer would only create confusion in the studio. So, with few exceptions, I didn't really participate in the story decisions. Actually, where our station is concerned, it's usually customary for us to be deeply involved from the start of production. So this was a pretty irregular situation.

This change also led to some dramatic last-minute changes in the opening episodes. According to the original plan, the Victory Gundam itself wasn't meant to appear until episode 4. There were concerns, however, that the younger audience that came with this Friday afternoon time slot wouldn't wait that long for the star robot to show up. Tomino discusses the problem in the liner notes from the second laser disc volume:

In short, the first episode began with Üso and Cronicle meeting in Kasareria, and the entire form of the Gundam mobile suit wasn't shown onscreen until episode four. However, at the point when the broadcast time was determined, we decided to reconsider this structure. That's because we thought that, for a work airing at 5 o'clock, it would be awkward if the main character didn't show up for three episodes.

Now I think about it, that may have been a groundless worry. But on a production site, you're aware that you can't just create whatever you like, with no thought of how to deal with the reality that the work is being broadcast. Thus we had no choice but to discuss it.

Considering its impact as a robot show, we started by deciding to move episode 4, which could serve as a showpiece, up to the first episode. We adopted the format of Shahkti's memories as a linking device purely out of craftsmanship. (Hah ha ha ha...!!)

I don't think it was very skillfully done, since it was a makeshift job. But to the extent that it can be done this way, personally I have confidence in this method of organization. One good thing that came from this is that the character of Shahkti became clearer than in the original structure, and together with her catchphrase "Please watch it" in the trailers, I'm proud that we were able to highlight Shahkti.

Since the first few episodes had already been animated at this point, Tomino's solution was to rearrange them so that the broadcast began with what was originally episode 4, "White Mobile Suit." The events leading up to this, originally episodes 1 through 3, were then presented as flashbacks within newly created framing sequences. Though this made the narrative rather confusing, it did have the desired result of putting the Gundam onscreen in the very first episode.

April 1993
Scenes from the first broadcast episode, "White Mobile Suit." The opening narration is accompanied by a panning shot of the Moon, a battle around a space colony, and the planet Earth—familiar Gundam images otherwise missing from the opening episodes.

The action begins in mid-battle, as Üso is forced to eject from his captured Shokew and then forms the Victory Gundam for the first time. His initial docking attempt fails as the Gundam's vulnerable "Boots" are destroyed in midair.

As the episode ends, Shahkti anxiously watches Üso emerging from the Gundam.

Scenes from the second broadcast episode, "The Day I Met the Machine." As she watches the Gundam's post-battle maintenance, Shahkti recalls how the adventure began, leading into the story that was originally produced as episode 1.

V Gundam's initial opening song, "Stand up to the Victory," was composed and sung by Tomohisa Kawazoe, the bassist of the rock band Lindberg. Koichi Kaminaga and Ryuzin Inoue assisted Kawazoe with the arrangement, and the lyrics were written by Reo Mikami and Yoshiyuki Tomino (under his "Rin Iogi" alias).

The initial ending, "Winners Forever ~shōrisha yo~" (To the Victors), was written and composed by Josei Nagatomo of the rock band Infix. The arrangement is credited to Infix and Masakazu Itakura, and the vocals to Infix. Originally created for the 1993 movie Kamen Rider ZO under the title "Riders Forever," the unused song was then retooled for use in V Gundam.

Thanks to the substantial lead time between the creation of the setting art and the broadcast of the actual episodes, the opening and ending animation includes sneak previews of many characters, mobile suits, and spacecraft from the second cours of the series.

April 1993
Scenes from the first opening, "Stand up to the Victory." According to production assistant Kunihiro Mori, the running animation of Shahkti was inserted via optical compositing, which had the unfortunate effect of darkening the overall image.

After showing off its transformation process, the Victory Gundam poses in front of a mysterious spaceship, the first of many midseason spoilers in the original opening.

Another spoiler. The "cats-eye" effect used for the open eyes of the Zanscare mobile suits isn't depicted in the mecha design setting, and I'm not sure when or by whom it was introduced.

In contrast to the earthbound setting of the opening episodes, the spoiler-laden opening animation promises space action, fleet battles, and launch sequences in a more traditional Gundam mold.

The first ending, "Winners Forever," featured dynamic illustrations of the Victory Gundam by animator Hirotoshi Sano. Here too, there are spoilers for Victory Gundam variants and equipment which won't appear onscreen until later in the series.

"White Mobile Suit," the first broadcast episode, was written by Akira Okeya, the most prolific of V Gundam's four scriptwriters. Okeya would ultimately write a total of 25 episodes, amounting to half the entire series. (He then went on to script 12 episodes of G Gundam and the first nine episodes of The 08th MS Team.) In Rapport's "Victory Gundam Encyclopedia," Okeya recalls:

Not only was it my first time on a robot show, but I didn't know anything about the previous Gundams. I feel like Mr. Tomino was aiming to make a brand new Gundam by gathering staff who weren't dragged down by the past. And now it's over, was it difficult...? It's strange to say this, but it actually wasn't.


Fortunately, over the past year my work was narrowed down to just V Gundam, so it wasn't that tough. I was so focused on it that I had nothing but V Gundam in my mind. The reason I said just now that it wasn't difficult is because I was prepared for the worst as I attempted something in an unknown field. When I started on V Gundam, my state of mind was, "Mr. Tomino, I'm putting myself at your disposal, so please do with me as you will for the next year."


Of course, the work Mr. Tomino does is amazing. At first I was still in awe of him, and since some of the content was specified in detail in Tomino memos and some of it was just a skeleton, I wasn't sure how much of myself I should express. I didn't know how to balance that at the time. With the first two episodes in particular, the scripts I initially submitted came back with tons of notes. It was incredible. (laughs)

I'd get notes that amounted to, "What happened to all the things I wrote?" Until then, I'd always hated getting revisions. But on V Gundam, I personally looked forward to seeing how Mr. Tomino would correct me. Perhaps I can say this now... At first it was painful, but gradually it started to feel good, and to be honest I ended up being drawn unresistingly into Mr. Tomino's world.

Episodes 2 and 3, which were originally meant to be the opening episodes, were written by Hideki Sonoda, who scripted a total of 13 episodes including the series finale. According to Tomino's comments in the laser disc liner notes, Sonoda wrote the original series structure and then Okeya served as chief writer once production began. Unlike Okeya, Sonoda came to the series with extensive robot-show experience from titles such as Exkizer, Raijin-Oh, and Tetsujin 28 FX. In the liner notes for the first laser disc volume, Sonoda writes:

"What, they're doing Gundam again?"

I couldn't help muttering that when I received the offer to write scripts for V Gundam. It had been 15 years since First Gundam. In that time, Gundam continued to survive while taking on a variety of forms. And now there was V Gundam. My honest reaction was, "Are they trying to make it the Sazae-san of robot anime?"

Personally, while I was aware that Gundam and Director Tomino's works were exemplars of Japanese anime and directors, I felt they were very different from my own style. I'd certainly never imagined that I might end up writing scripts for this program. But now I'm totally immersed in the Gundam world. No, I'm soaking in it.

The lineup of storyboard artists and episode directors was more fragmentary, and only three of the directors who worked on the first few episodes made it until the end of the series. Ikuro Sato, the director of the first episode, went on to direct a total of eight episodes. Sato is also credited with storyboarding the first episode, but according to Go Sasakibara's "That's V Gundam," his boards were extensively revised by Tomino, and Sato would only storyboard three more episodes after that.

Other notable contributors include Akira Nishimori, who only directed six episodes but storyboarded a total of 18 over the course of the series, and Mitsuko Kase—the original director of Gundam 0083—who storyboarded nine episodes of V Gundam.

Heavily revised storyboards from "White Mobile Suit," the first episode of V Gundam, which was originally meant to be episode 4. Though episode director Ikuro Sato is credited as the storyboard artist, "That's V Gundam" claims that 80-90% of the original boards were redrawn by Tomino, mainly due to issues with the episode direction.

The strict rules governing the animation, and the resource constraints of the post-bubble era, proved especially challenging for the animation staff. As well as eliminating most of the shading on characters and mecha, the staff were ordered to limit the animation to eight frames per second, rather than a more fluid 12 frames or the 24 frames of "full" animation—a practice known as "shooting on threes."

In a round-table discussion from Blu-ray Box I, episode director Yusuke Yamamoto, assistant director Tetsuya Watanabe, and production assistant Kunihiro Mori discuss some of the difficulties these rules created:

Watanabe: I think at the beginning they said they wanted to make it easier. I recall being told "Don't do things with a higher density of detail, like 0083."

Yamamoto: There was probably also a desire to reduce the burden on the finishing companies. Or perhaps the Sunrise higher-ups told them to reduce the production burden? But even if that were the case, Mr. Tomino didn't show any hint of it on the production site.

Watanabe: Yeah. But the rule changed a little, and around episode 3, it became "When the Gundam is standing in the background, put shadows on it."


Watanabe: Speaking of which, I struggled a bit with the background explosions. They told us to do the explosions by swapping out backgrounds with explosions painted on them, like in the old Reideen the Brave, but I didn't know how to do it and even Mr. Tomino said "I don't really remember." We started out stumbling through it, but in the end it didn't matter, because we started doing more and more of the explosions with animation.

Yamamoto: By the end we were doing the explosions normally. Ultimately the restriction of only shooting on threes, and never ones or twos, went away as well.

Watanabe: When you have a lot of key frames, at that point you can't do it with threes.

Mori: Mr. Tomino's storyboards tend to have detailed performances even in short durations, and it's hard trying to pick up on that when you're shooting on threes.

According to Watanabe and Yamamoto, after the first ten episodes, production expenses were further trimmed by switching to a cheaper film stock:

Watanabe: Speaking of changes along the way, at first we were shooting V Gundam on 35mm film. But as we were working on episode 10, they told us "It's been 35mm up until now, but starting with episode 11 it'll be 16mm." I said, "Whaaa...?!"

Yamamoto: I recall hearing the staff were confused that we were using valuable 35mm film even though were shooting on threes with no shading. There was also a charismatic animator at the time who was very critical, saying they didn't understand why we'd bothered to adopt the restriction of shooting on threes.

In another accommodation to changing times, many of the episodes were outsourced to animation companies such as Studio Dove, Nakamura Production, and Anime R. Production assistant Mori comments:

It was hard to gather key artists, so we ended up with a system in which we used a loose crew made up of freelancers for Mr. (Yasuhiro) Seo's and Mr. (Shukou) Murase's episodes, and the rest were done by Dove, Nakamura Production, and Anime R. We'd decided to have Dove do the in-between animation and Emuai do the finishing, so I didn't have to worry about where to send things.

The first episode was animated by freelance staff under the supervision of animation director Yasuhiro Seo, who would play this role on a total of eight episodes. Another 11 episodes were supervised by other freelancers such as Shukoh Murase and character designer Hiroshi Ousaka, and the remaining 32 were entrusted to outside studios. Veteran animator Nobuyoshi Nishimura of Studio Dove, who contributed extensively to the sequel series G Gundam, Gundam W, and Gundam X, served as animation director for 16 episodes of V Gundam.

A selection of painted explosion effects from the opening episodes of V Gundam.

As with Z Gundam, V Gundam was accompanied by a serialized novelization written by director Yoshiyuki Tomino. The first volume was published on April 1, 1993, one day before the first episode aired. The series concluded with the release of the fifth volume in July 1994, three months after the end of the TV series.

April 1993~July 1994
Mobile Suit V Gundam novel covers by Haruhiko Mikimoto.

Introduction of the "Second V" from the fourth volume, illustrated by Hajime Katoki. This is a successor to the Victory Gundam which fills the role played by the Victory Two in the animation.

Naturally, the new series was accompanied by the rollout of an accompanying Gunpla product line, beginning with a 1/100 Victory Gundam in April 1993 and continuing with the launch of a 1/144 scale series the following month. Thanks to the downsizing of the mobile suits that took place with Gundam F91, the 1/144 series consisted of miniature models barely ten centimeters (four inches) tall, and the initial goal was return to the price point of the original Mobile Suit Gundam kits. In the Autumn 2023 issue of Great Mechanics G, Koichi Inoue explains:

When we were wondering what to do for V Gundam, we said "Let's use as much multicolor molding as possible, so you can build it as is" and "Let's bring back a series that can be purchased for 300 yen." We wanted elementary school students to buy it.

With the adoption of multi-color molding, as well as new features like a standard internal "V-Frame," a display stand with diorama backdrop, and clear parts for the beam shields and beam sabers, the base price eventually crept up to 500 yen. In the same issue of Great Mechanics G, Bandai's Hirofumi Kishiyama recalls:

The 300-yen price range we'd originally been aiming for was a result of the era of single-color molding. But by the time of V Gundam, people had started demanding color reproduction. In the 1/144 V Gundam series, the setting size of the mobile suits also allowed us to change the previous structure and specifications of the product.


With the 1/100 and 1/144 Victory Gundam, we made different uses of Mr. Katoki's model sheets and the sketches used for animation. The 1/144 version was made in the image of the model sheet, and the 1/100 version was based on the animation sketches. Even with the later Mobile Fighter G Gundam, the 1/144 versions were made according to Mr. (Kunio) Okawara's drawings.

While the original plan had been to reproduce the transformation perfectly in the 1/100 scale Victory Gundam, the Bandai designers encountered problems here as well. In his 2018 Gundam Base interview, Kishiyama comments:

We had a lot of trouble trying to reproduce the transformation mechanisms that Mr. Hajime Katoki had drawn in the setting. The V Gundam's arms are mounted on armor plates located on either side of the Core Fighter. But with the technology of the time, they were structurally unable to support the arms' weight, and when we turned it into a plastic model it was hard to implement the docking and separation.

At the time, we'd created a prototype of a 1/100 scale V Gundam that could transform perfectly, but the structure was too complex for the average person to complete it properly. The result was that the 1/100 scale version simulated the docking and separation with a Bottom Limb and a combined Core Fighter and Top Limb. That seemed to be the limit of the current technology.

Despite the effort that had been devoted to their design, in the end neither Ishigaki's Shokew nor Okawara's Zolo were included in the Gunpla lineup. In his Great Mechanics G interview, Inoue explains:

The Shokew showed up in episode 1 and was already gone by episode 4, but we ended up starting with the fourth episode. When they said "It's simply no match for the Victory," we understood and said "Okay, that's fine." Even if you think it looks cool when you see it in action, that only applies to customers who've been able to see the completed film.

Nonetheless, 1/100 scale prototypes of the Shokew and Zolo were exhibited at the Shizuoka Hobby Show in May 1993, alongside a 1/60 scale version of the Victory Gundam.

May 20~23, 1993
V Gundam products displayed at the 32nd Shizuoka Hobby Show, as pictured in B-Club magazine. In addition to the upcoming 1/100 V-Dash Gundam, these included prototypes of unreleased items such as a 1/100 Zolo and Shokew, and a 1/60 Victory Gundam.

Another experiment was a series of 1/144 scale action figures, launched in May 1993 under the "MS in Pocket" brand. These rugged figures retailed for 1,000 yen apiece, and the lineup included not only two versions of the Zolo, but also the first small-scale version of the F91 Gundam.

May 1993
The early MS in Pocket lineup, as recorded in a toy catalog shown in the Yuta's Power Pro Assessment Room blog.

As for the production of the TV series itself, we can get a sense of the timing from the dates on the character, mecha, and background setting art. The artwork required for each episode would usually be created after it had been scripted and storyboarded, and prior to the start of animation. Throughout the first cours—a block of roughly 13 episodes, or three months of broadcast time—the dates on the setting art were six to seven months ahead of the air date, and all the artwork for the first cours was completed by the end of 1992.

In addition to the mobile armor Recarl, part of his original design order, Junya Ishigaki also designed the guest enemy Godzorla featured in episode 5. This combined a "ninja-like" concept from his March 1992 explorations with a rejected head from the Shokew. In his Great Mechanics G interview, Ishigaki explains that he gave it hidden weapons so that "the animators wouldn't have to draw any unnecessary parts."

August~September 1992
Fuala Griffon early draft and setting art by Hiroshi Ousaka. Setting art on right is dated August 31, 1992.
According to Ousaka, Fuala was based on Michelle Pfeiffer's portrayal of Catwoman in the recently released Batman Returns.

Gettle Dupré early draft and setting art by Hiroshi Ousaka. The original design for the Ra-Gaine base's deputy commander was deemed too handsome, and was repurposed for Fuala's superior Tasslio Wago.

Mobile armor Recarl setting art by Junya Ishigaki. Final setting is dated September 8~9, 1992. Cockpit setting is dated September 28.

Godzorla rough draft and setting art by Junya Ishigaki. Final setting is dated September 21~25, 1992.

Background setting art of Ra-Gaine base by Shigemi Ikeda.
Aerial view is dated August 31, 1992. Office interior is dated September 1, and control tower is dated September 29.

New enemies and allies began to appear around the middle of the first cours. In addition to Cronicle's friend and rival Arbeo Pippiniden, episode 7 also introduced the aforementioned Duker Iq and his Gattarl battle bike team, as well as Duker's loyal sidekick Renda De Paloma. In the liner notes from laser disc volume 12, Tomino describes how the actors' performances affected the later development of their characters:

Since Renda was originally just "Female Soldier A," we decided to double-cast her with Ms. Rika Matsumoto, who plays Warren. But Mr. Kazuhiro Nakata's Duker turned out be very manly, and her interaction with him was really good, so it also elevated the female Renda. In the end, I created the North Sea episodes just for those two.


In another case, we'd made preparations to pair Katejina's mother up with Pippiniden. But the moment Mr. Junji Kitajima started playing Pippiniden, I had a hunch that bringing in Katejina's mother would make it too much a story of the world of adults, so I ended up cutting that.

Okawara also contributed a new enemy mobile suit in the form of the transforming Tomliat, which went on to replace the previous Zolo and successfully made it into the Gunpla lineup.

August~October 1992
Arbeo Pippiniden early draft and setting art by Hiroshi Ousaka. Final setting art is dated September 23~28, 1992.
According to Ousaka, the initial draft was deemed too old for a character who was slightly senior to Cronicle.

Renda De Paloma and Oliver Inoe setting art by Hiroshi Ousaka. Dated October 5 and October 17, 1992.

Tomliat design drafts by Kunio Okawara. Helicopter form is dated August 26, 1992.

Tomliat final setting art by Kunio Okawara.
Head & back details and transformation process are dated October 7, 1992. Weapon setting is dated October 21.

Episode 10 saw the introduction of one of V Gundam's most memorable elements, the all-female ace pilot squadron known as the Shrike Team. In the Anime Mini Album, character designer Ousaka recalls:

Speaking of groups of six, I also had a hard time making it so the Shrike Team members could be distinguished at a glance. That's why I had to go around buying books of hairstyles for research purposes. (laughs) By the way, the director's vision for those six was a volleyball team. That must be why they're all so tall and in such great shape. (laughs)

Introduced alongside the Shrike Team was a mass-produced mobile suit called the Gun EZ, based on Okawara's earlier interpretation of the Victory Gundam.

October~November 1992
Shrike Team setting art by Hiroshi Ousaka, dated November 16~17, 1992.
Aside from team leader Junko Jenko, the members are all named after well-known American and British vocalists.

Left: Gun EZ setting art by Kunio Okawara.
Right: Setter H926 setting art by Junya Ishigaki, dated November 4~5, 1992.

Aside from the Shrike Team, other new additions to the cast included Pippiniden's eccentric subordinate Lupe Cineau, Federation Forces officer Robert Gomez, and our first glimpse of Üso's long-long parents. According to Tomino's liner note comments from laser disc volume 12, his plans for Gomez and Lupe were once again influenced by the actors' performances:

If the planning is solid, characters might grow to a certain extent or disappear from the stage. But aside from that, there are also some who grow more than expected due to the development of the narrative or an encounter with a well-matched actor. A clear example this time would be the matching of Lieutenant Gomez with Mr. Osamu Kato. I hadn't intended his appearance to make such a strong overall impression.


As for Lupe Cineau, though I had plans for her, we couldn't dramatize her properly. I kept complaining about that to the writer Mr. Akira Okeya, and then at some point he resonated with Ms. Miki Ito's performance, and that gave her the physicality she brought to the bathing scene.

As Üso and the Camion team made their way across Western Europe, art director Shigemi Ikeda provided a continuing series of carefully detailed location drawings.

November~December 1992
Lupe Cineau early draft and setting art by Hiroshi Ousaka. Ousaka's original concept of "a tough beauty with a bob haircut" was abandoned when the character's setting was revised to make her a hot-blooded Spanish woman.
Final setting art is dated November 3~5, 1992.

Early draft and setting art of young Üso and his parents by Hiroshi Ousaka.
Final setting art is dated November 18, 1992.

Robert Gomez early draft and setting art by Hiroshi Ousaka. The initial draft was deemed too cool for a slovenly Federation Forces soldier, and was repurposed for the PCST executive Mandella Soone.
Final setting art is dated November 24~25, 1992.

Design drafts and final setting art of Federation Forces mobile suit Jamesgun by Junya Ishigaki.

Background setting art for episode 11 by Shigemi Ikeda, dated December 1~2, 1992.

Left: Background setting art for episode 12 by Shigemi Ikeda, dated December 9~10, 1992.
Right: Guillotine setting art, dated December 8, 1992. Originally drawn for episode 7, this was redesigned slightly for the version that appears in the Barcelona town square in episode 12.

At the end of the first cours, Üso and his comrades launched into space from Gibraltar. This stage of the story also added a new background element to the Universal Century world in the form of a non-governmental organization called PSCT (Public Corporation of Space Transport).

In a final attempt to prevent the heroes' shuttle launch, the BESPA forces deployed a new mobile suit named the Memedorza. Originally intended as a personal machine for Fuala Griffon, it ended up as a guest enemy that appeared for only a single episode. In his Great Mechanics G interview, designer Ishigaki comments:

Since it was awkward to raise the arm to fly with the beam rotor, I put tilt rotors on the shoulders and gave it built-in engines in the legs, so it could use both hands freely. My idea was that if the engines were directly visible, then kids could easily understand when they saw them.

As for the head ornament, I thought it would be cool if it fluttered during flight, and I wanted to create an idiosyncratic effect by incorporating something with a different texture. The name was Director Tomino's idea, and he explained that it had a slightly strange pronunciation that sounded somehow like a foreign language.

Üso's escape into orbit in episode 14 marked the end of his initial journey across Earth, and the beginning of a series of space adventures and fleet battles very much in the tradition of previous Gundam series.

October 1992~January 1993
Left: Setting art for PSCT executive Mandella Soone by Hiroshi Ousaka.
Right: PCST shuttle setting art by Junya Ishigaki.

Background setting art of PSCT mass driver facilities and Gibraltar airport by Shigemi Ikeda. The dates on some of these drawings suggest that the mass driver was originally meant to appear much earlier in the series.
Setting art in top row is dated October 3, 1992. Bottom row is dated December 23.

Memedorza design drafts and final setting art by Junya Ishigaki. Draft at top left was recently posted to Ishigaki's @gakky1967 Twitter account, with a note that beam wings were meant to be installed in its shoulders.
Final setting is dated December 24, 1992 to January 9, 1993.

As the production continued, Tomino occasionally drew his own "image boards" to explore the story's visuals and show the staff how its exotic new concepts should be presented onscreen. When work began on the second cours, around the end of 1992, he also provided some sketches of ships and other mecha as guidance for mecha designer Hajime Katoki.

December 1992
Image boards of the Hiland solar power satellite by Yoshiyuki Tomino, dated early December 1992.

Rough sketches of the Squid, Sinope, and Keilas Guille by Yoshiyuki Tomino.

With the shift to the new stage of space, the series introduced a fleet of striking Zanscare Empire warships designed by Katoki. These included the huge battleship Squid, a small patrol ship called the Sinope which could carry two mobile suits clinging to its spine, and the mile-long satellite cannon Keilas Guille. In his 2006 "Ura-Tomino Blog" entries, former V Gundam setting manager Yoshitaka Kawaguchi explains how Tomino's instructions regarding Keilas Guille were influenced by the still-secret plan to introduce bike battleships:

Then there was the time when I ordered a design from Mr. Katoki for the space fortress Keilas Guille, which appeared in the second cours. The director's instructions were that it should be a beam cannon fortress with two ring-shaped particle accelerators, but Mr. Katoki gave us a design rough with four rings. His reasoning was that it would be better balanced in terms of design if there were four.

It looked really cool, with a good sense of scale, but the director insisted there should be two rings. He said "When the beam fires, it would be nice if the light circling around the accelerators looked like a motorbike riding through space." Mr. Katoki and I said, "Huh? Why does it need to look like a bike?" The director just gave us a mysterious smile.

Kunio Okawara and Junya Ishigaki contributed additional designs to the warring space fleets. While Okawara designed the mass-produced enemy mobile suit Zoloat, Ishigaki drew the upgraded Federation Forces warships used by the League Militaire, as well as the Federation mobile suit Javelin. The Gundam F91-style shot lancers on the Javelin's back were suggested by Tomino as an alternative to traditional cannons.

December 1992~March 1993
Zanscare warship and Keilas Guille setting art by Hajime Katoki.
Squid (originally named "Octopus") setting at top left is dated December 15, 1992. Callisto setting in middle row is dated December 16.

Zoloat design draft by Kunio Okawara, reference art for animation use by Hirotoshi Sano.
Animation reference art is dated December 18, 1992.

Javelin design drafts and final setting art by Junya Ishigaki.
Final setting is dated January 21, 1993.

League Militaire warship setting art by Junya Ishigaki.
Reinforce (originally named "Gilgamesh") is dated January 28, 1993. Gaunland (originally "Garandu") is dated February 5~10.

Warship interiors by Shigemi Ikeda.
Squid and Adrastea bridge is dated February 27, 1993. Reinforce MS deck is dated March 5.

Meanwhile, Ishigaki also contributed a couple of more eccentric designs. The transformable mobile suits Abigor and Galguyu, which appeared during the heroes' various escapes into space, were originally based on the same rough sketch. In his Great Mechanics G interview, Ishigaki says of the amphibious Galguyu:

When transformed, its silhouette resembles a Principality of Zeon mobile armor. The same is true of its arms. At the time, the only mobile armors were Zeon-made ones, so I couldn't help being influenced by them when I was designing it. The periscope-like thing on its head comes from the football-fish.

Though the Abigor's mobile suit form was glimpsed onscreen in episode 15, its mobile armor form and exotic weaponry weren't shown—or designed—until its return in episode 22. These were to be its only appearances, but it was selected for inclusion in the Gunpla and MS in Pocket lineups because its size made it impressive even in 1/144 scale.

January~April 1993
Abigor/Galguyu design drafts by Junya Ishigaki. Draft at top right shows a separated mobile armor form similar to the Zolo.

Final setting art for Abigor (originally named "Leviathan") by Junya Ishigaki.
Mobile suit form is dated January 20~21, 1993. Mobile armor form is dated April 27.

Galguyu design draft and final setting art by Junya Ishigaki.

This was also the point at which the leaders of the opposing sides began to appear onscreen. BESPA commander Tassilo Wago, the Zanscare Empire's Queen Maria Pure Armonia and Prime Minister Fonse Kagatie, and League Militaire "leader" Jinn Jahannam were all introduced in the opening episodes of the second cours, along with enemy ace Godwald Hein.

December 1992~February 1993
Tassilo Wago setting art, Godwald Hein early draft and final setting by Hiroshi Ousaka.
Tassilo setting is dated December 15, 1992. Godwald setting is dated December 16.

Early drafts of Queen Maria and Jinn Jahannam by Hiroshi Ousaka. Though Ousaka was fond of his original Jinn Jahannam design, the rest of the staff felt it was too exaggeratedly vulgar.

Setting art for the children of the Hiland solar power satellite, by Hiroshi Ousaka. Though they're depicted in the opening animation, they don't join the main cast until the start of the second cours.
Setting art is dated February 1, 1993.

Though the exact details are unclear, it seems that at this point Tomino—who had previously been giving freer rein to his scriptwriters—became more actively involved in steering the story. He discusses this in an interview in Rapport's 1994 "Victory Gundam Encyclopedia," recorded shortly before the end of the broadcast run:

I think it was probably around the second cours, but eventually I started to realize various things, and made a course correction. I was conscious of making a great effort to bring it back back to the TV pattern, the way things are made for television. In short, my main impression is that in the first cours, we were doing a lot of unnecessary things. That's because I wanted to do it as much as possible according to the youngsters' scripts, rather than running things myself. Thinking about it now, these good and bad aspects may be because I wasn't able to control the work.


To be honest, around the middle of the second cours, I got angry and started running everything myself. That's what happened.


—On V Gundam, the Tomino memos that served as the narrative blueprint were very detailed, so I had the impression that it would be disruptive if other people tinkered with them.

That's why, to be honest, the fact they were tinkered with introduced too many uncertainties, especially between the start of the first cours and the middle of the second. Up until about episode 20, in other words. The worst thing you can do is to be too permissive about that, and I really feel that's the main reason the narrative became so complex. But after all, I only learned that by trying it. As I was doing it, it's not like I was trying to make something bad.

The fact is, I was trying very hard to consciously make maximum use of the abilities of the staff who were involved. My initial idea was actually to step aside along the way, if possible, especially during the first cours. I wanted to let the individual scriptwriters and episode directors keep things rolling. But they were overwhelmed by the first six or so episodes, so I stayed on.

After all, as you point out, my initial plan was already pretty massive. I also added a lot of things along the way, so it couldn't help getting messed up.

Based on the timing that Tomino mentions here—the middle of the second cours, around episode 20—I think this is probably around the time he experienced the realization he describes in his interview in the April 1993 issue of Newtype Magazine (recorded in early February of that year):

Honestly, up until recently, the entire studio was in a continual process of trial and error. But that changed drastically two weeks ago. As the production progressed, I could finally see the world and concepts of V Gundam, which previously hadn't been clear. So my thinking is quite different from our last interview a little while ago.

It was around this time that Tomino at last revealed the plans for the infamous bike battleships to his staff. Former V Gundam setting manager Yoshitaka Kawaguchi recounts this in his his 2006 "Ura-Tomino Blog" entries:

At last, when we were about to start the scripting work for the third cours, the director finally brought out color sketches of the bike battleships that he'd requested from Mr. Okawara in anticipation of that day... It seemed the director was worried that some of the staff might leave the program when the bike battleships showed up. He showed the sketches around the studio, person by person, to gauge their reactions.

When we saw the color sketches of the bike battleships, I think the response from the staff was naturally divided. But orders from the sponsors were only to be expected when you were working on a TV program, so everyone seemed to take it relatively calmly.

Tomino also drew new sets of image boards to illustrate his ideas for the Motorad Fleet and its onscreen depiction. These were accompanied by images of the battle around Angel Halo that would end the series, indicating that the director already had a plan for the story's conclusion by the time V Gundam's broadcast began in April 1993.

February~April 1993
Image boards by Yoshiyuki Tomino, dated February 24~25, 1993.

Image boards by Yoshiyuki Tomino, dated March 12, 1993.

Image boards by Yoshiyuki Tomino, dated April 14, 1993.

Episode 17 of V Gundam, "Queen of the Empire," served to set up the direction for the rest of the series. A recap episode written and storyboarded by Tomino under his Minoru Yokitani alias, this was hastily inserted into the broadcast order after the program was already on the air—thus throwing off the episode numbers of the setting art created for the next several episodes.

July 1993
Scenes from episode 17, "Queen of the Empire." Starting with a space map identifying the homeland of the Zanscare Empire, it continues with a briefing to Queen Maria Pure Armonia which sums up the story thus far from the enemy's point of view.

Also introduced in this episode are Zanscare prime minister Fonse Kagatie and admiral Mutterma Sugan. Motorbike maven Duker Iq is now revealed to be a high-ranking member of the ruling Gatie Party.

As part of his briefing, Duker provides the first onscreen glimpse of the Motorad Fleet's wheeled battleships.

The episode ends with an address by Queen Maria to her loyal soldiers. Üso and his comrades anxiously watch the broadcast, in a scene reminiscent of Mobile Suit Gundam episode 12.

As the space adventures continued, Ishigaki contributed a succession of new enemy mobile suit designs. The formidable Contio, which served as Cronicle's new machine during the battle over Keilas Guille, was originally meant to have four arms and ended up with scissor-shaped beam claws instead. In his interview in Blu-ray Box I, Ishigaki explains the thinking behind this gimmick:

In Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory, there was a mobile armor called the Val-Walo. When I saw that, I thought if they could have scissors even in the world of 0083, then we could do it in V Gundam as well. So I put them in with the SD kids in mind. Originally it had giant magic hands on its back, and the action I envisioned was that it seized enemy mobile suits with these and then destroyed them with the beam cannons in its chest.

When Üso and his friends infiltrate the Zanscare homeland of Side 2, they encounter new enemies such as the Shy-tarn—a name previously attached to various machines that Ishigaki had been designing for Cronicle's use—and the spider-like mobile worker Sandhoge.

Hajime Katoki, who at this point was working on the Victory Two (V2) Gundam, also designed the heroes' new mothership Reinforce Jr. As with the Sandhoge, the battleship's design was completed just in time for the Reinforce Jr.—or at least, a rough draft version—be featured in the original opening credits.

January~April 1993
Rough designs for new mobile suit and mobile armor, both intended for Cronicle and tentatively named "Shy-tarn," by Junya Ishigaki. These include images originally posted on Ishigaki's personal website, and recently reposted to his @gakky1967 Twitter account.
First version of mobile suit is dated January 13, 1993. Mobile armor on right is dated February 2.

Design drafts and final setting art for Contio (originally named "Behemoth") by Junya Ishigaki.
Final setting art is dated March 22~26, 1993.

Design drafts and final setting art for Shy-tarn (originally named "Gigim") by Junya Ishigaki. The designer describes this as a "face mecha" whose torso is deliberately meant to resemble a giant face.
Final setting art is dated April 8~12, 1993.

Design drafts and final setting art for mobile worker Sandhoge by Junya Ishigaki. After seeing Ishigaki's early drafts, director Yoshiyuki Tomino drew a sketch that became the basis for the final design.
Final setting art is dated April 16~20, 1993.

Design drafts of Reinforce Jr. (originally "Gilgamesh Jr.") by Hajime Katoki. Version at right was used as reference for opening animation.

Reinforce Jr. final setting art by Hajime Katoki, and bridge interior by Shigemi Ikeda.
Bridge interior is dated April 21, 1993.

At the climax of the first half, Üso's friend Katejina Loos returns as an enemy pilot, going on to become a major antagonist in the remainder of the series.

Katejina's initial mobile suit was the Rig-Shokew, a more orthodox version of the Shokew with symmetrical shoulders and traditional ankle joints suitable for a commercial product. As noted in the "Victory Gundam Vol.2" Newtype 100% Collection, Junya Ishigaki's initial Rig-Shokew sketches included another feature he'd long been pushing for:

Like the Recarl, this was drawn with beam wings. But Mr. Katoki was also considering that idea at the same time, so after some discussion, it was decided that these would be used in the protagonist's mobile suit as part of the V2's Minovsky drive.

Incidentally, Ishigaki's Rig-Shokew setting art was completed about three and a half months before the broadcast of the corresponding episode. From here on, the time lag between setting completion and episode air dates became progressively shorter, and by the end of the series it seems to have shrunk to about two months—suggesting an increasingly frantic production pace during the second half.

May~June 1993
Katejina in pilot suit and BESPA uniform by Hiroshi Ousaka, dated May 27~30, 1993.

Rig-Shokew design drafts and final setting art by Junya Ishigaki.
Final setting art is dated June 11, 1993.


The break in V Gundam's narrative between episodes 27 and 28, in which the reunited heroes make a devastating attack on the enemy homeland and then spend some time as prisoners of war at a neutral space colony, is a natural point at which to separate the first and second halves of the series. Starting with episode 28, "The Great Escape," the action turned back to Earth as the Motorad Fleet launched its armada of bike battleships. A new flagship Gundam debuted in episode 29, "The New Suit, V2," and new opening and ending songs were introduced with episode 32.

The second opening "Don't Stop! Carry On!" was composed by Seiji Koizumi and arranged by Yasuhiko Fukuda, with lyrics by singer-songwriter Yui Nishiwaki and vocals by the duo known as RD (Kenji Morooka and Hiroshi Shinriki). The new ending "Mō Ichido Tenderness" (Once Again, Tenderness) was performed by the J-Pop duo KIX-S, with lyrics by Tsukasa Hamaguchi, composition by Miharu Ataka, and both providing vocals.

November 1993
Scenes from the second opening, "Don't Stop! Carry On!" The animation begins with a transition from the V Gundam title logo to the V-shape formed by the chest and back engines of the V2 Gundam.

Rather than its transformation, the opening animation highlights the Minovsky drives mounted on the V2 Gundam's back, and the "wings of light" they generate. We're also given a sneak peak of the Angel Halo which appears at the end of the series.

The obligatory transformation sequence also shows Odelo and Marbet in their roles as backup pilots.

The new ending, "Mō Ichido Tenderness," reuses the original sequence of vertical scrolling images. It also includes new drawings of the V2 Gundam and its core fighter by animator Hirotoshi Sano, plus a floating space baby. That's Tomino for you.

Hajime Katoki completed the design for the new Victory Two Gundam shortly after the start of the broadcast run, based on the original "Victory Gundam Mark II" concept he drew in January 1993. The distinguishing gimmick of the new machine was the "wings of light" generated by the Minovsky drives on its back, a feature that would reappear in various forms in many later Gundam series. The Gundam's chest and back engines were designed to form an oversized "V" emblem, from which the wings extended. In his comments for the 2015 Master Grade Victory Two Gundam Ver.Ka, Katoki recalls:

For the V2 Gundam, I proposed the ideas of a silhouette that spanned the chest and Minovsky drives, the radiance of the drives looking like a V-shape from the front, and their light looking like wings sprouting from its back. A lot of time had passed since the One Year War, so I wanted to give the impression that the technology of the Gundam world had advanced, and I figured that every main Gundam in the series ought to be given some kind of special features or functions.

Considering this idea from the standpoint of Gunpla, when the beam shields of the mobile suits in F91 were reproduced with clear parts, the contrast in materials compared to the mobile suit itself was really nice, so I wanted to make further use of that. The V2 Gundam's "wings of light" were designed so that, at normal size, each one would be the exact size of a single beam shield. In recent Gunpla there are a lot of "effect parts" that reproduce the anime effects with transparent plastic, but in hindsight, this may have been the forerunner to that concept.


The "V2" name was a nickname from the preparatory design stage, but in the end they decided to stick with it. I was sure they were going to come up with a different name, so at first I was a little surprised, but at this point I can't imagine calling it anything else.

Though they'd struggled to reproduce the Victory Gundam's transformation in a 1/100 scale Gunpla, Bandai's engineers were able to implement the new version with a minimal amount of parts-swapping, and its docking and separation process was fully implemented in the large-size 1/60 scale version. In a 2018 Japanese-language interview on the Gundam Base official website, Hirofumi Kishiyama of the Bandai's Hobby Products Department explains:

As the program continued, we learned the V Gundam would be replaced by a V2 Gundam with the same basic transformation concept. We also successfully presented a product plan for a 1/60 scale version, so we'd be able to achieve the perfect transformation that had been impossible in 1/100 scale.

But as we were trying to reproduce the storage gimmick, the chest ended up becoming taller because we were worried about the height of the head. At the time, I regretted that its styling as a mobile suit wasn't really acceptable. We were able to make it transform, but I still wasn't satisfied with how we reconciled that with the styling. It seemed like that was the most we could do with the product technology of the time.

It wasn't until twenty years later that Kishiyama, now supervising the development of the Master Grade Ver.Ka model, was finally able to deliver a satisfactory version of the V2 Gundam and its subtly complex transformation.

April~July 1993
V2 Gundam version 1.0 and 2.0 by Hajime Katoki. Version 1.0 is dated April 14, 1993.

V2 Gundam version 3.0 and final setting art by Hajime Katoki.
Version 3.0 is dated May 3, 1993. Final setting is dated May 24.

V2 Gundam Top Fighter & Bottom Fighter setting art and transformation patterns by Hajime Katoki, dated June 25~29.

V2 Gundam Core Fighter setting art and transformation pattern by Hajime Katoki, dated June 28~July 4.

Also introduced alongside the V2 Gundam was a miniature mothership called the White Ark, designed by Junya Ishigaki. This was originally intended as an accessory for 1/144 scale toys and models. In Great Mechanics G, Ishigaki recalls:

At the time they were putting out a product series called "MS in Pocket," and this was designed to accompany it as a small warship that the heroes could ride around on. It was originally about the size of the Zelerna from Aura Battler Dunbine, but that was too big, and when I was wondering how to make it smaller I was given the advice that "since it's made from Gundarium alloy, it's okay to ride on the wings." So I made it about the right size for mobile suits to ride on the main wings.

Tomino contributed his own sketches to help refine the White Ark's details. Ultimately, however, it was never released as a commercial product.

July 1993
Rough sketches of White Ark by Yoshiyuki Tomino.

Final White Ark setting art by Junya Ishigaki, dated July 12~19.

White Ark bridge exterior by Junya Ishigaki, interiors by Shigemi Ikeda.
Exterior is dated July 21, 1993. Interiors are dated July 17.

Meanwhile, Kunio Okawara completed his designs for the "bike battleships" of the Motorad Fleet, along with some accompanying mobile suits and a unique wheel-shaped support vehicle called the Einerad. In his 2006 "Ura-Tomino Blog" entries, former V Gundam setting manager Yoshitaka Kawaguchi singles out the Einerad for particular praise:

Alongside the bike battleships, the director presented the idea of mobile suits attached to ring-shaped mecha, and when these actually appeared onscreen they brought variety and a feeling of speed to the mobile suit action scenes that previously been monotonous. When they started coming to life as we filmed the third cours, even the director, who had seemed embarrassed by the introduction of the bike battleships, came to acknowledge this.

As well as the compact Gedlav, designed to fit comfortably inside the Einerad's ring, Okawara also created a mobile suit called the Bruckeng with a built-in Einerad that folded up onto its back.

Adrastea and Lysithea setting art by Kunio Okawara.
Lysithea flight form is dated June 15, 1993.

Einerad (originally named "Schwarzrad"), Gedlav, and Bruckeng setting art by Kunio Okawara.

Ishigaki contributed a few designs of his own to the Motorad Fleet arsenal. The mobile armor Dodgore, based on an idea sketch by Shigeru Horiguchi, developed from a wheel-shaped Einerad mecha into a modular dragon monster. The Domuttlia was a revised version of Okawara's Tomliat, and the Jabaco was intended as a powered-up successor to the Gedlav.

Ishigaki also provided a new version of the Einerad, called the Twinrad, which could carry two mobile suits and split into separate halves.

Dodgore design drafts and final setting art by Junya Ishigaki.

Rough designs for Motorad mobile suits, Domuttlia design draft and final setting art by Junya Ishigaki.

Design drafts and final setting art for the Jabaco (originally named "Goolugu") by Junya Ishigaki. The shoulder parts were initially meant to function as beam-emitting boomerang weapons.

Twinrad setting art by Junya Ishigaki. Sketches in middle show how Twinrad splits in two, jettisoning weapon unit.

In one of the image boards Tomino created in March 1993, the Victory Gundam could be seen confronting a pair of mobile suits modeled on the mythological deities Raijin and Fujin. Ishigaki was tasked with designing these giant enemy machines, although the final versions diverged considerably from their original inspiration.

The Gengaozo, originally meant to evoke the wind god Fujin, ended up with a detachable back engine unit which resembled the thunder god Raijin's pellet drums. Tomino specified that this unit should form a wing shape when detached, and Ishigaki recalls in his Blu-ray Box interview:

I was also struck by his instructions to make the wings of the Gengaozo's back engine unit bowed during flight. At the time, I had no idea Director Tomino was so fond of aircraft, but he was very particular about how I drew it. Anyway, Director Tomino was relentless in ordering revisions, so I devoted myself to drawing it.

An abandoned design for Cronicle's personal mobile armor, drawn in February 1993 under the tentative name "Shy-tarn," was revived for a brief appearance as Pippiniden's mobile armor Birknau. The design was ultimately turned upside down to make it easier to draw.

October~November 1993
Zancock design drafts by Junya Ishigaki. Modeled on the mythological thunder god Raijin, this giant mobile suit was intended for use by the returning Fuala, and would have appeared alongside the Fujin-inspired Gokuack. These designs were eventually supplanted by the Zanneck and Gengaozo.

Design drafts and final setting art for the Zanneck and Gengaozo by Junya Ishigaki. The Zanneck's crescent moon motif originally extended to its feet as well.

Design drafts and final setting art for the mobile armor Birknau.
Final setting is dated November 10, 1993.

As production of the series continued, the studio's business partners explored new merchandising avenues. V Gundam was the first Gundam TV series ever to be released on home video while it was still on the air, with the first VHS volume appearing in September 1993 and the first laser disc volume following a month later. Cover art for the LD releases was provided by character designer Hiroshi Ousaka and mecha designers Junya Ishigaki and Hajime Katoki. In Great Mechanics G, Ishigaki comments:

I recall that when it came out on laser disc, I drew the jacket art based on the TV setting. Then they asked me to revise it, saying "Please make the drawing more detailed." I did it while looking at Mr. Katoki's drawings of the V Gundam, thinking "Something like this, huh?" I was also drawing it at poster size. Personally, I thought it looked good even without the details, but given the trends of the time they probably wanted it to look more like Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory.

Perhaps due in part to the attractive cover art, Bandai Visual's video releases were reasonably successful. According to the series's Japanese Wikipedia page, the combined VHS and LD sales averaged 15,000 units per volume.

October 1993~October 1994
Cover art for the first four laser disc volumes of V Gundam by Hiroshi Ousaka and Junya Ishigaki. Hajime Katoki also contributed mecha illustrations for some of the later volumes.

Bandai's Hobby Products Department, likewise, rolled out some accessory products designed to appeal to the nostalgia of older fans. A set of extra weapons and marking stickers, resembling those provided for Mobile Suit Gundam and Z Gundam, was released in November 1993.

Alongside this weapon set, Bandai published the first volume of a "New Mobile Suit Variation Handbook" with the same format and cover design used for the original MSV series ten years earlier. This 36-page booklet, distributed mainly via hobby stores, included detailed technical explanations, a sheet of marking stickers, and many new illustrations and mecha variations by Kunio Okawara. A second volume was published in May 1994, after the end of the TV broadcast run.

November 1993~May 1994
Box art and sample photos from 1/144 scale "Weapons for Mobile Suit" set.

Front and back covers of New Mobile Suit Variation Handbook 1 and 2, with illustrations by Kunio Okawara.

Left: Sticker sheet from New Mobile Suit Variation Handbook.
Right: Marking explanations from 1/144 scale "Weapons for Mobile Suit" set.

As the new year began, V Gundam was entering the home stretch. Episode 41, "The Battlefield That Father Made," returned the action to space as the League Militaire and their Federation Forces allies mustered their fleets to lay siege to the enemy's final weapon, the psycommu fortress Angel Halo.

Tomino had visualized Angel Halo itself in his image boards back in March 1993, and mecha designer Junya Ishigaki completed the final design according to the director's precise instructions. For some reason, Tomino was also very particular about the design of the skimpy bikinis worn by the enemy Neneka Team in episode 49, providing detailed reference sketches for character designer Hiroshi Ousaka.

Top: Angel Halo rough sketch by Yoshiyuki Tomino, final setting art by Junya Ishigaki.
Bottom: Background art setting by Shigemi Ieda.

Neneka Team costume sketch by Yoshiyuki Tomino, final setting art by Hiroshi Ousaka.

Among Junya Ishigaki's last creations for the series were the final mobile suits used by Katejina and Cronicle, who had become the major remaining antagonists. From his rough drafts, we can see Ishigaki was still pushing for pet ideas like boomerang-shaped weapons and beam wings, and his original plan for Katejina's final machine featured a Minovsky drive like that of the V2 Gundam. As he explains in Great Mechanics G:

I'd initially drawn another plan, which was a mecha that deployed beam wings like those in my Rig-Shokew rough draft. But as it happened, Mr. Katoki was thinking of the same thing for the V2, so I decided to abandon it. I wanted to give mine wings because it had the image of an insect, but in the end we figured it would look better on the lead mecha.

As a compromise between Tomino's apparent fondness for big backpacks and Ishigaki's aversion to them, the final version of Katejina's Gottrlatan was given a detachable cannon unit. Likewise, the oversized backpack of the Rig-Contio is drawn to look larger from behind, although in his Great Mechanics G comments, Ishigaki recalls that Tomino scolded him for making it too big.

December 1993~January 1994
Early design ideas for Katejina's final mobile suit, Gottrlatan design drafts, and final setting art by Junya Ishigaki.
Final setting is dated December 26, 1993.

Rig-Contio design drafts and final setting art by Junya Ishigaki.
Final setting is dated January 13, 1994.

Hajime Katoki's final contributions to the series were two sets of enhancement parts for the V2 Gundam. While the previous V-Dash Gundam had been planned ahead of time, these upgrades were hastily requested after the V2's design was already complete, in order to shore up the anime with new Gunpla releases. Katoki describes the process in an interview in the April 1994 issue of Newtype Magazine:

When I was designing the V, I was thinking ahead to the existence of the V-Dash from the very beginning, but I didn't initially have that kind of enhancement plan in mind for the V2. Then came various requests from the parties involved, and I put these designs together after that. As for why I did two types, "Assault" and "Buster," that was based on the work order. Then I tried to design them with a meaning that made sense to me, or rather, while thinking about their reason for existing.

For example, I thought of the additional golden armor parts on the "Assault" as having a kind of psycommu functionality. Combined with elements like VSBR rifles and a mega beam shield, that positioned the machine as a psycommu weapon. The "Buster," on the other hand, was designed with the idea of equipment that augments its normal weapons. I don't know if they'll be used this way in the animation, but as shown in the illustration, the "Assault" and "Buster" parts were made so that they won't interfere with each other if they're both used at the same time.

In addition to forming the powered-up V2 Assault Gundam or V2 Buster Gundam, both sets of equipment could be installed at the same time to create the almighty V2 Assault Buster Gundam. In the Autumn 2023 issue of Great Mechanics G, Hirofumi Kishiyama of Bandai's Hobby Products Department explains that this feature came as a surprise to the model developers:

When the time came for the V2 Gundam's Assault and Buster versions, (Katsumi) Kawaguchi served as the intermediary, and weapon enhancement versions of the V2 Gundam were drawn that you'd look at and say, "Oh, these are like the Three Sacred Treasures in an RPG..." By the way, we never released a kit that combined the V2 Assault and the V2 Buster. Kawaguchi may have known, but I didn't realize that both could be equipped at once (the V2 Assault Buster Gundam) until I saw it on TV.

Left: V2 Buster and Assault design drafts and final setting art by Hajime Katoki. The Buster form was originally called the "V2-Dash," while the Assault form was known as the "Full Armor V2" or "V2 Gundam Cloth."

Left: V2 Assault Buster Gundam drawing by Hajime Katoki.
Right: Color illustration as published in March 1994 issue of Newtype magazine.

One more multimedia tie-in was a symphonic performance of Akira Senju's V Gundam soundtrack, recorded by Poland's Cracow Radio Symphony Orchestra at the end of October 1993, and released on compact disc in early March 1994. Senju and Tomino took advantage of the opportunity for some additional Eastern European tourism during the recording...

March 1994
CD booklet cover for "Thousand Nests" album.

...and it seems that some of the location photos Tomino took during this visit served as background reference for the final episodes of the TV series.

Poland location photos by Yoshiyuki Tomino.

Background art from final episode of V Gundam.

The broadcast run of V Gundam ended with episode 51, "Ascension of the Angels," on March 25, 1994. Despite its mixed reception in terms of viewership and toy sales, and the creative frustrations that would send Yoshiyuki Tomino into a multi-year depression, the series had achieved its fundamental goal of returning Mobile Suit Gundam to television. This TV Asahi time slot would continue to host new Gundam series until the autumn of 1996, partway through After War Gundam X.

According to Tomino's 2000 book "The Cure of Turn A," the management of Sunrise approached him halfway through the production of V Gundam about doing a followup series next year. Tomino describes his reaction in the 2002 "Gundam Great Complete Works Part II":

When V Gundam was over, they told me "From a business standpoint, we have to do more Gundam." I'd managed to keep going for a year with V Gundam, but I said "I can't do any more, no matter what," so I gave the OK to entrust the following series to other people.

—Those would be G Gundam and the following works.

That's right. And at the time, I honestly thought that handing it off to other people might help expand the overall Gundam series. Simply put, I had a positive feeling that it would be interesting to turn over the role of creator to younger people from the generation after mine. I also thought we should do that for the sake of the business. So when they asked me about the direction of G Gundam, I suggested they try doing it as a fighting show.

Whether I like it or not, Gundam has been firmly established as a market, and it's our mission to supply it with content. From that point of view, I thought that might ensure Gundam's survival.

Under the leadership of the new chief director Yashuhiro Imagawa, 1994's Mobile Fighter G Gundam would take the series in a radical new direction, drawing in younger audiences and breaking with Gundam's past in a way that V Gundam had been unable to do. But that's another, and very different, story...