Ultimate Mark

Production Reference:
Anime Mini Album: Mobile Suit V Gundam
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Translator's Note: Published by Keibunsha in October 1993, around the middle of Mobile Suit V Gundam's broadcast run, this Anime Mini Album was a compact book providing an overview of the story, characters, and mecha thus far. It also included a handful of creator interviews, which I've translated below.


It's been about thirteen years since I started on the first Gundam. Given that much time, views of the era and of the environment will clearly change.

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.

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. (1) 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. The times are likewise changing on the creative side as well, so in making the next story, the people who appear in Victory have nothing to do with the things in the previous narratives—for example, Zeon and Char, and even the existence of someone called Amuro Ray who seemed to have been a Newtype. Those things don't dominate the story at all.

Speaking of the relativism of cultural values, even in the work itself, we see the phenomenon of BESPA pilots looking at the V Gundam and wondering "Why didn't our side make this?!" Even when it comes to justice, it's said that the ones who come on camera first will be presented as allies, and the side that appears next can only be seen as enemies. (2) The question of which is more righteous is a whole other matter.

In a TV series, however, I think you need clarity and simplicity. So I don't want to make that aspect a major theme.

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.

Translator's Notes

(1) In a conversation with fellow director Isao Takahata, published in 1981's Roman Album Extra 42, Tomino claims that he couldn't feature Black characters in the original Mobile Suit Gundam because anything that touched on issues of racial discrimination would run afoul of TV production codes.

(2) Tomino may be alluding here to the phrase 「正義の味方」 ("ally of justice") which appears frequently in Japanese children's entertainment such as Moonlight Mask and Tetsujin 28.


When the V Gundam was being designed, the request from the director was that A, B, and C Parts should transform and combine, with a total height of about fifteen meters. So I built and presented a kind of mockup using plastic model parts, just to show the transformation. It was like a design competition. As a result, they decided to go with my design for the V Gundam, and the Core Fighter was turned into a plastic model more or less unchanged from how it was back then. (laughs)

The first thing on my mind while designing it was the balance of the A and C Parts. I didn't want to create an extreme disparity. Recently, the lower bodies of robots have gotten bigger, and the upper bodies have shrunk. If I left that alone, the C Parts alone would have been huge, and the A Parts would be nothing but hands. That's why I attached the skirts to the A Parts.

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.

Then there are the round parts on places like the waist. Those are hardpoints. There was a plastic model called the F90 with poly-caps that let you attach and remove parts, so I wondered if that would be possible here. That's where I got the idea.

The beam shield gimmick is also something I proposed on my own. Then I wrote on the sketch "Let's do something weirder," but it unexpectedly stuck. (laughs)

Since Mr. Ishigaki is coming up with various ways to use beams, I'm also thinking about Gundam-like beam equipment for the new V2. The V2 is a design that seems like it would have sharp angles.

This time, they had me do all the Gundam-related work myself, but I'm also doing the BESPA spaceships. I think I was able to create something flashy and interesting with things like the Squid. The Sinope, a spaceship custom-ordered by Director Tomino that the mobile suits cling to, has also been well received. I didn't like the way they stood on top of previous spaceships (laughs), so I designed it to carry the weight of the mobile suits in the direction of acceleration.

Born December 3, 1963 in Saitama Prefecture. Though he majored in mechanical engineering in college, he entered this industry via word of mouth. "I didn't study drawing in particular." His major mechanical design works include Gundam 0083 and Patlabor 2.

▾ Unlike previous transforming mobile suits, it transforms so that the cockpit doesn't spin around. This was an instruction from the director, as well as a preoccupation of Mr. Katoki's.


I designed the Zolo, Zoloat, Tomliat, Gun EZ, and Gedlav, as well as the Einerad and the Motorad ships. The wooden model I created at the initial stage for use as a new Gundam didn't take the Core Fighter into account. In short, it was a Federation design with a Zolo upper body, and it ultimately became the basis for the Zolo.

The Zolo's compound eyes were an instruction by the director. Then I added eyelids to give it some expression. I've already done a lot with silhouettes and so forth in the Gundam world, so I'm leaving the rest up to the directors. 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)

From now on, as long as we can reach a consensus between the staff and the sponsors, I'd like to keep putting out visually interesting things like the Einerad. We're making a change from what we've done in the past, even though we may be going too far. But if you think something is interesting, I think it's important to accept it wholeheartedly and do it without embarrassment.

Honestly, to me, the work called Gundam ended fifteen years ago. That's why I want younger people to try different things, including things like this.

Born December 26, 1947, in Inagi, Tokyo Metropolis. He began working as a mechanical designer with Tatsunoko's Science Ninja Team Gatchaman. His major works include a wide range of robot series, starting with the Time Bokan series and Daitarn 3. Iron Leaguer is among his latest works.


This is the first time they're letting me do main design, and I'm also designing things like accessories for each episode and the Federation spaceships other than the Reinforce Jr. As for mobile suits, there's the Shokew, Godzorla, Recarl, Memedorza, Shy-tarn, Contio, Galguyu, Abigor, Jamesgun, and Javelin. I'm trying to design more interesting things, basing them on Mr. Okawara's standard ones. Then I'll turn in a first draft and start going back and forth with the director.

Of course, the one that changed the most was the Shokew, the first one I worked on. Come to think of it, that was a bit of a stopgap measure. (wry laughter) To change the visual impression, I tried to alter the crotch and ankle joints as much as I could without affecting the movement. I also considered variations of the face and eyes, aiming to make them as interesting as possible. With the Godzorla, at first I was thinking of slits that opened to become a single compound eye.

As for the Sandhoge that appears in the opening, the staff call it a spider, but they let me do that one because I begged them to. Even drawing the roughs was really fun.

From now on, a variety of mobile suits and mobile armors will appear, from basic ones to really weird ones. This will come much later, but there'll be some mobile armors you'd never imagine, so please look forward to that. For example, there's one like a deep-sea fish. (laughs)

Born November 22, 1967, in Shizuoka Prefecture. He began doing mechanical design after debuting on Brave Exkizer. He's also assisted with setting for Gambaruger, Iron Leaguer, and Gundam F91.


Before V Gundam, I was doing animation direction for 0083, but this character design job really came out of nowhere. Although there was an audition of sorts, it seems the director happened to see some drawings I'd done for a completely different project, and for reason he decided "Let's go with these." After that, based on the designs I'd submitted at the time of the audition, I went over them with the director in considerable detail and we refined them into the current characters.

Actually, one character who changed a lot from the rough stage was Üso. In the planning stages his setting was "an active boy," so at first I drew him like a mischievous kid, and put him in a vest and wristbands that looked like he'd removed the sleeves from a jean jacket. I made him a total juvenile delinquent. (laughs)

It was hard to make the children distinctive as characters. Odelo, Suzy, and so forth were established from the beginning, but I ended up having to draw six more with the Hiland children. (laughs) For adults, you can change the image quite nicely just by adding a mustache and a couple of wrinkles, but you can't use those tricks with kids.

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)

Born June 20, 1963, in Osaka Prefecture. He entered the anime industry as an animator on Armored Trooper Votoms, and debuted as an animation director on Star Musketeer Bismarck. His recent animation direction work includes Yawara and Gundam 0083.