Ultimate Mark

Production Reference:
Victory Gundam Blu-ray Box
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Translator's Note: Two volumes of the Mobile Suit Victory Gundam Blu-ray Box were released simultaneously in July 2015. Each volume was accompanied by an exclusive "Archive Book" and "Subtext Book" which included various new and reprinted creator interviews, galleries of early production art, and so forth. Much of the production art was previously featured in the 2004 DVD Memorial Box, so my translations here will be focused on the most notable new material.


The days when we learned "You should be looking at the screen in front of you"

—Please tell us how you came to be working on V Gundam.

Watanabe: They called me in after I'd left my previous company and was working as an assistant director on various works. I said, "It's Mr. (Yoshiyuki) Tomino! I'm in!" and signed up without a second thought.

Mori: I'd been a production assistant on Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory. After that ended, the producer Mr. (Masuo) Ueda called me and asked, "Would you rather be a production assistant on Mr. Tomino's new Gundam TV series, or setting manager on the next Gundam OVA?" Since I aspired to become a director, I wanted to study on a Tomino work.

Yamamoto: I joined later than the other two, beginning with episode 28. After starting out doing production work at Sunrise, I did some episode direction at Lead Project, a company run by Shuji Iuchi, the chief director of Mashin Hero Wataru. Then I think a vacancy opened up, and Mr. Iuchi told me, "You should train with Mr. Tomino for a while." I'd heard from acquaintances that Gundam production sites were really tough, so I was honestly a little reluctant. (laughs)

—What was your first impression of Chief Director Tomino?

Yamamoto: I was terribly intimidated, but Mr. Tomino was quite gentle, wasn't he? (laughs)

Watanabe: (laughs) Likewise, when I was doing production work at Studio Deen, I'd hear anecdotes about Mr. Tomino from Mr. (Kunihisa) Sugishima, who'd been with Sunrise for a long time. So when I saw him during V Gundam, he asked me "Has he (Mr. Tomino) yelled at you lately?" I had to tell him I'd never gotten yelled at, and he said "Lucky you, he must have mellowed out." I thought "Oh, so this is mellow."

Yamamoto: According to my seniors, his scariness peaked around the time of Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack. I only got yelled at twice, but the stronger impression was that he was basically nice to me.

Mori: He almost never yelled at the production staff. But I have the impression he said a few things to Mr. Masato Mochizuki, the assistant producer.

Yamamoto: I'd hear Mr. Tomino getting mad in the conference room. He'd feign anger with Mr. Mochizuki, saying things like "Because of you, the directors are using 200 cuts of underlighting!" (1) It seemed like he was doing that so the episode directors outside the room would hear it.

—What kind of work does an assistant director do?

Watanabe: Their main tasks are shooting the materials that the episode director has finished checking, and doing retake work. I and Mr. (Yoshiyuki) Takei alternated the responsibility between even- and odd-numbered episodes. If the effects were inadequate at the time of shooting, I'd draw them in myself, doing things like adding underlighting or brightening the eyes. (2) Then I'd add some dirt to the mecha cels with a Dermatograph pencil.

Yamamoto: If felt like the directors of each episode would say, "You do it! You do it!" But when it was my turn, the assistant director wasn't available so I was all on my own. (laughs)

Watanabe: In Mr. Yamamoto's case, I'd heard he said he didn't need an assistant director. (laughs)

Mori: That's right.

Yamamoto: I never said that! (laughs)

Watanabe: Meanwhile Mr. (Akira) Nishimori, who was there from the beginning, would say "You can do it. Do as you please!" and give me complete freedom.

Yamamoto: Mr. Nishimori storyboarded 18 episodes. That's more than a third of the series, which is amazing.

—I gather that on V Gundam, the rule was shooting on threes and no shading. But how was that decided? (3)

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. (4) 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."

Mori: We started adding them in along the way.

Yamamoto: The individual animators all wanted to add shadows, didn't they? After all, everyone in Mr. (Yasuhiro) Seo's crew was including them. (5)

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.

Yamamoto: But meanwhile, I was learning from Mr. (Osamu) Sekita, who said "You really can do it with threes." (6)

Watanabe: That's right.

Yamamoto: We were trying desperately to to put up a bold front and make something that wouldn't look inferior, but Mr. Sekita did it so naturally, and it was a real learning experience to say "We should do it like this."

Watanabe: Every day a huge amount of material would arrive from Studio Dove. (7) It's amazing we could finish it up by the evening and go home.

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.

—What was the average number of cuts per episode?

Watanabe: The number of cuts was about 300 to 400. Never more than 400, or less than 300.

Yamamoto: Yeah, that's about it.

Mori: And how many drawings was it again? (8)

Yamamoto: They told me about 3,500 drawings, but in practice it took more than 4,000.

Watanabe: I used about 6,000. On episode 39, my first time doing episode direction, I was scolded for using too many drawings. When Gainax was doing the key art, they'd sometimes do it on ones, but I couldn't take out that many key frames. (9)

Yamamoto: Yeah, we didn't have the courage to take them out.

Watanabe: Mr. Tomino hit the nail on the head, saying "You can't control the drawing, right?" I've remembered that many times since then.

Yamamoto: Hmm. Come to think of it, we held preview screenings of each episode, didn't we? We'd all go to watch them at the processing lab. Then on the way back, we'd be together in the car with Mr. Tomino for about 30 or 40 minutes, and he'd talk to us about all kinds of things. Those were good postmortem discussions.

Watanabe: That's right.

—Did you have any difficulties as a production assistant?

Mori: I don't think there were many direct difficulties. But 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. 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. (10)

The hardest part of the production was episode 24, where Mr. Murase was serving as animation director. That time, they'd decided that Mr. Murase would draw the first key art, and after that it was sent to a company in China (Hong Kong Japan Sunrise Limited). So pretty much every day, I had to go to Baraki in Chiba Prefecture (where there was a reception counter for international deliveries) to send them the key art.

Yamamoto: You were going all the way to Chiba Prefecture?!

Mori: Yes. They were being sent to the site by air delivery from Baraki, via Narita. But this system was supposed to end as of that episode.

And one thing that's always bothered me is how dark the images are in the opening. I also produced the opening, but the square cut-in image was optically composited (a compositing process using film), so it got pretty dark, didn't it? I hope they can brighten it on the Blu-ray.

—I'd like to ask you a little about the story. What was the reaction around you when the appearance of the bike battleships was decided?

Watanabe: I'm sure everyone said "We're doing bike battleships?!"

Yamamoto: I said that, too. (laughs)

Watanabe: But they insisted "It's fine! Let's do it!" So we said "We're doing it..."

Yamamoto: I listened very earnestly during the storyboard meeting. (11) I asked, "Is it okay to put something like this in the Gundam world?" And of course they said "It's fine, it's fine!"

Mori: But they were actually fun, weren't they? (12) Bike-type mecha even showed up in Reconguista in G.

Watanabe: Eh, really?!

Yamamoto: At the time, though, Mr. Tomino didn't say anything to us about the sponsor pressure that's been described in the mooks.

—And how about the story?

Yamamoto: To be honest, I didn't really understand it. And Mr. Tomino didn't ask me to watch the previously broadcast part, either. I felt he was saying I only had to carefully watch the part I was responsible for, and ideally I shouldn't watch any anime at all. So it's a little surprising nowadays when younger staff tell me they liked it. As far as the content, you probably understand it best, Mr. Tetsu. You said V-Gun was interesting.

Watanabe: I guess it's because I was involved from the beginning. It was interesting to watch it while understanding the whole story. That said, since it was broadcast during working hours, I could only watch it sporadically. The story was supposed to be aimed at children, but the guillotine showed up right away, so it wasn't at all suitable for kids.

Mori: It's the same with G-Reco. (laughs) Üso was the youngest main pilot in Gundam history, and he was surrounded by children as well, so in that sense you could say it was aimed at kids.

Yamamoto: And Üso was just on the brink of sexual awareness, right? The adults, on the other hand, are all syrupy. (13)

Watanabe: That's harsh.

Yamamoto: Well, the performances were vivid. Given my situation, I didn't really understand Katejina, including how she became like that. But when Katejina ends up mowing down the Shrike Team one after another in episode 50, that was fun to dramatize. (laughs)

Watanabe: And at the end, there's a still image depicting a giant Katejina, laughing "Wah ha ha ha." I thought that was really cool when I watched it.

—Was that in the storyboards?

Yamamoto: It wasn't in the script, but I added it in the storyboards. Then Mr. Tomino revised it, saying "If you you want to do that, then do it like this!" He said that if I wanted to make Katejina look huge at the end, I should reduce the other close-up cuts. The revisions on V Gundam felt like corrections, and it was really educational.

Mori: He was doing his checks with an understanding of what the storyboard artist was trying to do, wasn't he?

Yamamoto: There are some directors who compare the storyboards against the script when they're checking them, but Mr. Tomino never does that.

Mori: He never looks at the script.

Watanabe: And he'll scold you if you bring in the storyboards during cutting (editing).

Mori: Right, he'll tell you not to look at them.

Yamamoto: You're risking his wrath if, during the cutting process, he asks "Why did you do it like this?" and you reply "Because it was in the storyboards."

Watanabe: He'll say the screen is over there, so look at what's on the screen. You should be looking at the screen in front of you. He's really consistent about that.

Yamamoto: Come to think of it, he got mad when I first did storyboards on episode 34. (14) As I was working, I heard a distant voice angrily saying, "Who drew these storyboards?! Get me the script, the script!" Then when he saw the script, he said "I see, it's just like the script," and that satisfied him.

All: (laugh)

Yamamoto: Then he said "Please call Yamamoto in for a moment." As we were talking, we ended up discussing the school I went to. I'd kept this a secret from Mr. Tomino, but I'd been his junior at the Nihon University College of Art. When he realized that, he suddenly became really nice.

Watanabe: Aha! (laughs) Mr. Tomino always yells at the first-timers. After that he gets more informal.

Yamamoto: (laughs) Mr. Tomino told me "I see. That place is no good. You can't help it because they didn't teach you how to do it properly." (laughs) Thinking about it now, that whole conversation may as well have been directed by Mr. Tomino. (laughs)

Watanabe: Speaking of yelling, there was also the cutting process. He'd do the cutting in a conference room, but you could hear his angry voice coming from within.

Mori: Mr. Tomino's method at the time was that first he'd play it through and give instructions on the sections he was cutting. After that, he'd go back to Office AI (Chief Director Tomino's private office), and then return once he'd almost gotten it down to standard length (matching the broadcast time). Then he'd watch it one more time and make the final minor cuts.

Yamamoto: I see. I was only there at the very end.

Watanabe: During the second viewing, it might still be about a minute longer than standard length. The pattern was that we'd say "What should we do?" and then he'd say "Hmmm," and start cutting with a grin. To Mr. Tomino, it's no fun unless it's about two minutes over.

Yamamoto: Two minutes is a long time for an ordinary work.

Watanabe: There was one cut where a mobile suit flew in and exploded, but the explosion was cut at the line test stage (film shot using key frames and in-between drawings). Later on, I was told to add an explosion from the bank (reusing existing cels)... but I stubbornly sought out the key art for the part that had been cut, and created the explosion from that.

Mori: Yeah, it's the same even now. Even if it's been deleted, you should keep it, because you don't know when you might use it again.

—Was there anything particularly difficult about working on V Gundam?

Watanabe: I think this was on episode 4, but I was scolded because the movement speed of the background was wrong. At the time, the episode director Mr. Nishimori covered for me, saying "It's my fault because I wasn't checking it myself." So the two of us tried to figure it out afterwards, asking "Well, how many millimeters (per frame) would be good?" Generally, when we were moving the sky, we fixed it at 7mm to 10mm.

Yamamoto: Right. In Tomino works, at least, the tracking speed always becomes an issue. (15)

Mori: It was like that up until the end on G-Reco, too.

Yamamoto: Every episode director gets tripped up by that at first. They'll get scolded because "The tracking is too slow! It should be faster in combat!"

Mori: So on G-Reco we moved it at about 7mm, but he said that was too slow. When I checked a cut that he called "just right," it turned out to be 30mm or 40mm! Is the sensation faster than it used to be, or have I just slowed down?

Watanabe: When we were puzzling over it, we wondered how fast the backgrounds moved in the old Gundam. We looked at layouts published in the magazines, and it was just 2mm. We were disappointed that was it no help at all.

Yamamoto: When I was doing episode 28, Mr. Tomino told me "everyone gets the tracking speed wrong, so if you're not sure, bring the background and come ask me." He said, "I'll look at the actual background and make a decision."

Watanabe: Wow, amazing. That's so nice.

Yamamoto: Mr. Takei was really good at processing.

Watanabe: He was so good.

Yamamoto: He also had various techniques that he'd stolen from people like Mr. Shinichiro Watanabe on 0083. His calibrated movement (a technique for adding camerawork to match the subject's movement) was very cool. (16)

Mori: Mr. Takei worked very hard to calibrate the part in episode 2 where the paraglider is flying around.

Yamamoto: And his shaky camerawork for Odelo's death scene in the final episode was fiendishly calibrated.

—What kind of a work was V Gundam for each of you?

Mori: It was my first TV series, so I experienced it as a model for how to make anime. And since it was being delivered on a weekly basis, in a sense it was easier than a OVA, because it absolutely had to be done by that point.

Watanabe: It was like that for me, too. It was one of the robot shows I loved, as well as a work by Mr. Tomino, so I was doing it with a smile.

Mori: You seemed to enjoy it the most. (laughs)

Yamamoto: Mr. Tomino told me at the beginning, "Working on this series should give you ten years' worth of education." "There he goes again," I thought. But rewatching it later, it got better with each episode. Once I finished, I realized his words had been true.

Watanabe: The episode directors Mr. (Takeshi) Ashizawa and Mr. Nishimori told me, "Everything we're doing here is against the rules." (17) But I grew up thinking it was normal, and now when I'm teaching others, I'm thinking "I guess this is unusual."

Yamamoto: It's difficult, isn't it? What Mr. Tomino says is entirely correct, but it's not normal. It seems like a paradox. There are things that are correct in terms of film theory, but when you're doing actual anime work, they just feel like a hassle. I think on V-Gun, we absolutely obeyed the rules that other works skip over by doing it in an anime style.

Mori: Doing weird things based on principle.

Yamamoto: Exactly. Tomino direction means doing very tricky content with an orthodox directorial approach. If you don't understand that, Tomino direction becomes very difficult.

Watanabe: Maybe that's why they said it was against the rules. But over a few months of production, Mr. Tomino takes the staff to a different place. Ever since I became a series director myself, I've always wondered whether I could do something like that.

Yusuke Yamamoto / His major works as a series director include Okojo's Happy Apartment, Sgt. Frog, and Encouragement of Climb.
Tetsuya Watanabe / His major works as a series director include Z.O.E Dolores, i, Rumbling Hearts, and Strain: Strategic Armored Infantry.
Kunihiro Mori / His major works as a series director include The Mars Daybreak, SD Gundam Sangokuden: Brave Battle Warriors, and Chōsoku Henkei Gyrozetter.

Translator's Notes

(1) 透過光 (touka hikari), or "underlighting," is a technique for creating glow effects in cel animation. 200 cuts is roughly half the number of shots in a typical TV episode, so that's a lot of special effects.

(2) The Japanese expression 「目を光らせる」 normally means "keep a careful watch," but I went with a different interpretation here since we're talking about anime special effects.

(3) Full animation is done at a rate of 24 frames per second. This is often reduced to 12 frames per second, so that each frame is shown for twice as long, which is known as "shooting on twos." On V Gundam, this was reduced still further to 8 frames per second, or "shooting on threes."

(4) 仕上 (shiage), or "finishing," is the last stage of the animation process in which the drawings are traced onto cels and painted. This work is usually done by outside companies. The Japanese term 負担 (futan) is literally "burden" or "responsibility," which isn't necessarily the same thing as "costs."

(5) Yasuhiro Seo served as sole or joint animation director on eight episodes of V Gundam, including the first and last ones.

(6) Veteran director Osamu Sekita, who had worked on Sunrise productions since the studio's early days—including every previous Gundam TV series—directed four episodes of V Gundam.

(7) Studio Dove is an animation studio based in Fukushima Prefecture, originally established as a Sunrise spinoff. Dove has worked as a contractor on Sunrise productions—including most of the Gundam series—since the early 1980s. The studio provided all the animation for 17 episodes of V Gundam, and handled the in-between animation for 18 others.

(8) The Japanese term (mai) is a counter for flat objects such as sheets of paper or animation cels. The original text doesn't indicate exactly what objects are being counted here—key art, in-between frames, or painted cels. I've seen similar discussions in which the staff specify that they're counting cels, but for the time being, I've called these "drawings" for maximum vagueness.

(9) The Gainax animation studio contributed key art to six episodes of V Gundam.

(10) Based on the episode credits, Yasuhiro Seo and Shukou Murase served as animation directors for nine episodes of V Gundam. An additional ten were supervised by other freelancers such as Meiju Maeda and Hiroshi Ousaka, with the remaining 32 completely outsourced to Studio Dove, Nakamura Production, or Anime R. The finishing work was handled mainly by Emuai and Studio Bogey.

(11) Presumably the storyboard meeting for episode 28, the first one directed by Yamamoto.

(12) Literally, Mori is saying that somebody liked the battle bikes, but I've phrased this as vaguely as possible because I'm not sure if he means Tomino, Yamamoto, the staff, or the audience.

(13) The Japanese term ネットリしてる (nettori shiteru) literally means "sticky" or "viscous." I'm not sure quite what it means in a metaphorical sense, but I think it might be simular to the English "syrupy" or "treacly."

(14) Though Yamamoto directed episode 28 of V Gundam, it wasn't until episode 34 that he did the storyboards as well.

(15) A "tracking shot" is one where the camera follows a moving subject. In animation, this is simulated by keeping the subject still and moving the background behind it. In Japan, the English loanword "follow" is used to describe tracking shots.

(16) The Japanese term Yamamoto uses here is 目盛り引き (memori-biki), literally "calibrated pulling" or "graduated pulling." Throughout this discussion, the staff use the term "pulling" for the movement of the background in tracking shots.

(17) The Japanese term 反則 (hansoku) means a violation or transgression of rules and etiquette.


Junya Ishigaki worked mainly on the Zanscare Empire's mobile suits. Along with his roughs, we look back on his work at the time.

I put in gimmicks that would resonate with the SD kids

—When you started working on Gundam, did you have your own personal image of "mobile suits"?

Ishigaki: No, I didn't have anything like that. 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.

—I gather that first there was a competition for the new Gundam.

Ishigaki: Yes. I was invited along with Mr. Kunio Okawara and Mr. Hajime Katoki. Then they requested that we submit a gimmick plan for "a Gundam consisting of A and B parts, with a Core Fighter in the middle." And furthermore, they said, "we want you to create and present a three-dimensional version." I'd never made a three-dimensional model, so I was like, "Huh?!" (laughs)

But I somehow managed to create one by carving it out of balsa wood, and then I faced the competition. Mr. Okawara's and Mr. Katoki's models were really well-made, so I felt somewhat apologetic... (laughs) I think the one Mr. Okawara presented was like a prototype for the Zolo, while Mr. Katoki combined plastic model parts to create something pretty close to the Victory.

—How was the concept for the Zanscare Empire's mobile suits determined?

Ishigaki: I don't remember very clearly. At some stage, Director (Yoshiyuki) Tomino came up with the idea of compound eyes, and I think Mr. Okawara suggested giving them eyelids because otherwise they'd look too obviously insect-like... I was looking at Mr. Okawara's roughs as I worked, and I recall I borrowed things like the ear-shaped antennas because Mr. Okawara was drawing them.

—Was there anything you focused on when you were designing your mobile suits?

Ishigaki: Somehow and somewhere, I always tried to include some kind of gimmick. SD Gundam was very popular back then, and its popularity surpassed that of "original" Gundam. Mobile Suit V Gundam was expected to play a role in making the children who were fans of SD Gundam interested in the original version as well. So I tried to incorporate gimmicks that could be easily understood.

—So it was related to the target audience the program was aiming for.

Ishigaki: That's right. The Contio's shoulder scissors are a perfect example. 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.

—What was the first machine you completed?

Ishigaki: It was the Shokew. I had trouble with its face. I couldn't come up with anything good, and in the end I designed it by using a Gundam's mouth section for the lower part of the face.

—Did the design orders follow along with the story?

Ishigaki: At the time, I was coming into the studio to do my work. Then, as they constructed the plot, orders would be placed accordingly. But there were a lot of them, so there was absolutely no time to spare. Looking back on it now, I guess I did a lot of drawing. (laughs)

Back then I'd come into the studio in the early afternoon, and work until late at night. I was drawing idea roughs, final roughs, and final cleanup, doing multiple tasks in parallel. And when I came into the studio, at first I was working at the desk next to Director Tomino, so I was really nervous. (laughs)

—You were next to him?

Ishigaki: I came in right after they set up the studio, so I could pick any desk I wanted. Then Director Tomino came in afterwards and, for some reason, chose the one next to mine. I could hear him happily laughing "Wah hah hah" as he was drawing storyboards for the first episode. And when he was drawing rough key art himself, he'd show it to me and ask "What do you think?" At first I wasn't sure how to react. (laughs)

After that, when full-scale production began and the individual episode directors came in, the desks were rearranged. We went from being neighbors to being back-to-back.

—What do you remember about your orders from Chief Director Tomino?

Ishigaki: I have the impression that Director Tomino likes big backpacks. But I prefer it when the backs are streamlined, so with the Gottrlatan, I tried to add volume by equipping it with a cannon unit. The horn on its head was added with Char's Zaku in mind, because I thought Director Tomino might like those kinds of lines.

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.

—What were the most common kinds of revisions?

Ishigaki: I think he was looking for designs that were simple and appealing. For example, the Memedorza's chest originally had a more complicated structure. But through repeated revisions, it became simpler. And both Director Tomino and Mr. (Koichi) Inoue, the script setting manager, told me to pay attention to the balance of the parts.

—The balance?

Ishigaki: At first, the design was monotonous because the same amount of emphasis was placed on each part. Anyway, of all my mecha, Director Tomino especially praised the Zanscare dock ship Marilyn. He said that one was definitely well-balanced.

—Which of the Zanscare Empire mobile suits were most memorable?

Ishigaki: All of them were memorable, but... With the Memedorza, when I saw the Zolo and the others flying with one beam rotor, I wondered whether it might be more logical to have two for better balance, so I put them on both shoulders. As for the Galguyu, I gave it those hands because it's for underwater use, and the horn on its head was inspired by the football-fish.

The Shy-tarn and Jabaco are face mecha. Both of their torso sections have parts and markings that look like faces. Properly speaking, mecha design should reflect functionality, but I wouldn't know what to do without these elements. It may be simplistic, but I incorporated face-like elements to give them a cool appearance.

—Were there any mecha that gave you trouble?

Ishigaki: All of them gave me trouble, but cleaning up the Recarl's setting was especially hard. It's made up of circles, curved lines, and curved surfaces, so it was very difficult to get the perspective. When I was cleaning up the setting, I couldn't really draw it unless I sketched out all the lines on the other side, like a perspective drawing.

And though this isn't an individual mecha, 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.

—Even so, it can't have been easy to maintain the mecha's realism while reducing the lines.

Ishigaki: 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.

—Did you design anything other than mobile suits?

Ishigaki: There was the White Ark. The order was for "a mothership that can carry 1/144 plastic models," and I considered the option of putting big holes in the hull, but it didn't work out and I ended up with the current shape. I made a model of the White Ark out of balsa wood, too.

There was also the Gattarl team's bike mecha. Director Tomino showed me a rough, and I drew it without really understanding it. Thinking about it now, it seems Mr. Okawara must have been working on the bike battleship order at the same time.

As for Angel Halo, I simply drew the overall picture based on Director Tomino's roughs.

—How was the response at the time?

Ishigaki: Back then, the core fans had been enthusiastically watching 0083 which was released right before it, so my impression was that they were harshly critical. But recently, Director Tetsuro Arakai of Guilty Crown told me "I liked the Shy-tarn, so I bought the plastic model," and Director Kenji Nagasaki of Gundam Build Fighters also told me he loved V Gundam. Maybe that's why the Abigorbine was treated so well in Build Fighters. (laughs) I think it resonated pretty well with the kids at the time, too.

—What do you think is the appeal of the Zanscare Empire mecha?

Ishigaki: Appeal? That's hard to say... I don't know if this is appealing or just a peculiarity, but their balance is slightly off. The belly section is about one block short, and they have big feet. I think because of that, they ended up somehow giving a cute impression.

—WHat's it like to look back at your own designs with your current eyes?

Ishigaki: Though I don't think my concepts and aims were mistaken, my own expressive skills were poor. But they've been accepted for almost 20 years in their existing forms, so they've been incorporated into the fans' memories. That's why I'm not sure I could make them better by redrawing them now. Even if they looked more detailed, I'd lose that cute impression.

—How have you yourself changed since then, and in what ways are you the same?

Ishigaki: I've changed in many ways, but I'm still designing with pencil and paper. Though I sometimes use Photoshop for the finishing, it's basically all pencil and paper. I just love how the pencil's energy comes across in the drawing.

Junya Ishigakai / His major works include New Mobile Report Gundam W, Macross Zero, and Expelled from Paradise.

Roughs drawn between November and December 1991. Though Ishigaki had been approached about working on V Gundam, he hadn't yet heard about the story content, and for the time being he was drawing these as an extension of Mobile Suit Gundam F91 on which he provided design support. "They sounded me out about working on the next Gundam, and when we had a meeting at the end of 1991, I learned that it had the different title of V Gundam. I was surprised because I'd been thinking it would just be a continuation of F91." (Ishigaki)

Roughs drawn around March 1992. It's believed that the machine at bottom left was further developed into the prototype for the Godzorla and Shokew. The one at top right seems like a Zanscare version of a Gundam. The two at bottom center and bottom right are mobile armor ideas, and the middle one resembles a wasp as per the BESPA name.

Roughs drawn between April and June 1992. From this point, they were approaching the mobile suits that appeared in the animation. The one at bottom left became the prototype for the Shokew. "It was only the face that I wasn't happy with, so I used it for the Godzorla." (Ishigaki)

Roughs drawn between July 1992 and January 1994. As Chief Director Tomino continued working on the plot, a variety of roughs were drawn on the assumption they'd appear in the animation. The top three are Shy-tarn roughs. In the bottom row, from the left, are the Rig-Shokew, Domuttlia, and Dodgore. The Dodgore, which was depicted as being dragon-like in the animation, was originally proposed as one of the wheel mecha that would lead to things like the Einerad. The idea came from Shigeru Horiguchi, who was involved as an idea brain.


It's been more than ten years since the DVD Memorial Box in which he said "Don't buy this DVD!" What does Chief Director Tomino think about Mobile Suit V Gundam now?

What was wrong with V Gundam?

—We came to you today to talk about V Gundam.

Tomino: Umm... Unfortunately, all I remember about V Gundam is being forced to do things that I really hated.

—You've already said as much, and yet...

Tomino: Before V Gundam, there was the failure of Mobile Suit Gundam F91. The movie was supposed to be the first part, and after that we were going to develop it into a TV series, but that never happened. That's because the hero Seabook and the heroine Cecily didn't work as characters. Their situation resembled that of the hero Bellri and the heroine Aida from the recent Gundam Reconguista in G, but...

Anyway, given that situation, it was decided to start the next Gundam over from scratch. Unlike F91, which was created by staying completely within the traditions of Gundam, I thought it might be better to introduce more elements focused on children and parent-child relationships. I set out to properly establish the subject of family as a theme... But in that area, the depictions of Üso and his family were also major failures.

—Where did they fail?

Tomino: With V Gundam, I wanted to use a family dispersed all over the world as subject matter. But in doing so, I created too much distance between Üso and his parents, so it didn't end up looking like a family story. As a result, I feel the main theme of V Gundam fell by the wayside. In Eastern Europe, it's not that unusual for families to live apart, but since I'd never had that experience myself, I was unable to come up with episodes that could be understood in a straightforward way. (1)

The character depiction in Mobile Suit Gundam is still great when you rewatch it now, and even when the characters' onscreen time is short, they instantly create a lasting impression because the episodes are straightforward. During V Gundam, I started out thinking I should be able to do the same thing, but I realize now that it was a little rash to think I could depict parent-child relationships in a striking way within the complex dramatic structure of V Gundam...

I was re-reading my interview printed in the "Mobile Suit Victory Gundam Encyclopedia" (Rapport) in preparation for this one, and I keep saying the same kind of boring things over and over again. The reason the interview ended up like that is because I had this sense of failure. And I also regret that, on V Gundam, I did the one thing I should never have done.

—The one thing you should never have done?

Tomino: Denying the tire battleships. (2)

—You shouldn't have denied them?

Tomino: That's right. About ten years ago, there was a Gunpla exhibition where they displayed a fairly rough model of a tire battleship. (3) When I saw that, I was able to completely disavow my feelings of disgust from the time of broadcast at having the tire battleships forced on me by the sponsor. "This is just fine for anime," I thought. The nice thing about hand-drawn anime is that it can accept something that ridiculous.

And look at the live-action Avengers movie, where giant aircraft carriers are flying in the sky. Even in live action, they can brazenly do things like that without the story losing its plausibility. It should be even more natural that we can do that in anime. So I've come to realize that I was wrong about the thing that most disgusted me at the time of broadcast.

About twenty years have passed since V Gundam, but from what I've learned in that time, the one thing I should never have done was to go along with something while being disgusted by it. (4)

—On the contrary, at the time you thoroughly denied the tire battleships.

Tomino: Indeed. At the time, my intention was to make it from the viewpoint of the protagonist Üso Ewin, leading up to the appearance of Angel Halo as a dramatic stage. So I thought of the tire battleships as nothing but "In the way, in the way, in the way!" As a result, to be honest, I was unable to construct a worldview for V Gundam. Compelled by business reasons, I made the twisted choice to go along with the tire battleships while still completely denying them.

That's why I ended up falling into a depression about two years after V Gundam was over. I couldn't get into the mindset of "It's just a giant robot anime, so why not play around with it?" My self-loathing at going along with the bike battleships, and the weird over-seriousness that accompanied it—and I mean that in a bad sense—led to my depression.

—In Mobile Suit Z Gundam there was a line about "You'll be consumed by an over-seriousness that will kill you," and that's exactly how it ended up. (5)

Tomino: Fortunately, I was able to escape that depression and survive. I was even able to make something like G-Reco, and thanks to that, I could finally escape that seriousness as I was creating a work. Thus I said G-Reco was "a giant robot anime, and a cheap one at that, so let's make it frivolous and fun." Then all you need to do is to hide something within that frivolity, like a spice. That methodology became clear to me on G-Reco.

—So you were able to do it with G-Reco?

Tomino: Right. First, I skipped a thousand years of time. By doing that, I was freed from the over-seriousness of things like "Universal Century continuity." If I'd tried to continue the Universal Century without doing that, I'd have succumbed to over-seriousness. Then, because I'd skipped ahead in time so boldly, I could use that as an excuse to talk about a variety of important matters. In the case of G-Reco, I was able to introduce the setting that in the past, humanity was on the verge of annihilation. Then the question arises, "What we should do to rebuild humanity to prevent that from happening?"

Up to that point, it's nothing more than the kind of tall tale you'd only see in anime. Someone with a realistic mindset would make the obvious response that it'll be very difficult to rebuild humanity. But that response automatically gives you the concrete message that "Even if it can't be rebuilt, we should do at least this much." If you can build a cycle like that into a work, then people won't get depressed.

—So, by blatantly presenting an outright lie in fiction, you can actually illuminate reality.

Tomino: I've discussed this in various places, but expressing things through anime is a form of public entertainment. So your first priority is to depict dreams and adventure in an attractive way. The elements that remind you of irksome realities, on the other hand, can just be left as personal elements for individual characters.

Thanks to that kind of storytelling method, I think I was able to make G-Reco a departure from Gundam. (6) The Gundam name was attached only for business reasons. What I regret about G-Reco is that I was so relieved by this overall structure that, because I was just trying to finish it without my already weakened self collapsing, I couldn't attend properly to Bellri and Aida.

—There are many aspects of G-Reco that seem like a reaction to V Gundam.

Tomino: When I came up with the idea of Angel Halo, I was proud of myself for thinking of such a great idea. But after making G-Reco, things like Angel Halo are just a "meh." In terms of G-Reco, it's just an idea on the same level as the Crescent Ship.

What I'm grateful for now about V Gundam is that such a terrible work stayed on the air for a whole year just because it had the Gundam name attached. I thought that was really amazing. But at the same time, it shows that the people involved weren't thinking about it. I'd just say "V Gundam? It's mediocre," and leave it at that. That's because it was simply left unattended with the feeling "It's the same as always."

—I think the distinctive feature of Angel Halo, that it puts humanity to sleep and returns it to a state of infancy, was based on an idea that defied easily understandable images like the Bugs from F91.

Tomino: Angel Halo came from the question of how to visualize the power of the religion known as Marianism in film, so it certainly didn't start out by trying to defy easily understandable images. It was just a straightforward expression of an idea. Rather, the fact that it seemed to defy easily understandable images was due to the director's lack of ability. If I'd depicted it in a more readily understandable way as a weapon, it would have made a very different impression.

—You're saying the way Angel Halo was presented was a mistake.

Tomino: Angel Halo was basically just floating around. I should have had it make a full circuit of the Earth. Had I set up a drama along the lines of "If Angel Halo goes around the Earth, the Angel Halo side wins," and "We have to stop it," it would immediately have seemed understandable as a weapon used by the enemy. But I didn't think of that at the time. Film is about moving images, so it's no good if the subject isn't moving. It was hard to understand as an image because that one thing didn't occur to me.

At the very beginning of First Gundam, we see the space colonies originally proposed as living space being dropped onto the Earth. I wasn't able to do that kind of "showing through movement."

—I thought that Angel Halo might be depicting the dark side of motherhood, as embodied by Marianism.

Tomino: No, I wasn't really thinking about that. The original idea behind rendering humanity helpless was basically that it's better not to gain knowledge than to gain it carelessly. There was an image of returning to the womb, but that doesn't mean motherhood and so forth were central to my thinking. That isn't depicted in detail in my novels, either.

The reason I didn't think about it that much is that I'd been doing nothing but the Gundam series. I thought I could create a proper work just by putting a somewhat unusual idea like Marianism into the vessel of Gundam. Behind this was the assumption that I'd be able to do the job even in my fifties, based on the accumulated experience of my previous career. In a word, it was arrogance.

Even if it was just a robot anime, I should have been thinking more boldly. Whether it was Marianism, or the depiction of Üso's dispersed family, there needed to be straightforward episodes that could be intuitively understood. I thought I could get around that with logic, but that over-seriousness prevented the work from going in a sufficiently outrageous direction.

—In "That's V Gundam—Mobile Suit V Gundam Complete Guidebook" (Go Sasakibara, Ginga Shuppan), published in '04, you wrote the words "Empty principles run wild. Empty knowledge runs wild. That's V-Gun."

Tomino: A good example of not being over-serious would be One Piece. Mr. Eiichiro Oda sets up one new stage after another with the intention of overturning previous conventional wisdom. I was particularly amazed that, rather than depicting it as a concept, he took the idea of "darkness is scary" and turned it into a character (Marshall D. Teach, who ate the Yami Yami no Mi). Such an approach is possible only in anime and manga, and compared to ideas like that, the idea of Angel Halo was trivial.

—When it comes to V Gundam, people often talk about harsh aspects such as Katejina's betrayal and the death of Myra Miggelle. But when you rewatch it, you realize that the narrative progresses from the children's viewpoint, and there are also many wholesome scenes where they seem to be playing happily.

Tomino: My aim was to have many scenes of the children. That's because the character I liked best—should I just say I liked her? no, I really did like her best—was Katejina Loos. Katejina is a character who's completely rejected, but if I were going to take her story in that direction, then I had to deliberately include those kinds of depictions of the children as a counterpoint.

It's just something I did out of the arrogance I had before my depression, but I don't like how the deepening of Katejina's character tends to become simply a return to the womb. At the time, I did that thinking it might constitute realism. I discussed this indirectly in my "Encyclopedia" interview, but in hindsight that meant her character, which was already ambiguous, became blurry again in the final episode.

—Still, I think the ending of the final episode is a great scene because the direction suddenly makes that clear.

Tomino: Watching the final episode on its own, it may seem like a half-baked finale, but I'd intended to go in that direction from the very beginning. That was the established plan. In other words, it was the only way we could do something like that.

The thing I felt really bad about when V Gundam ended up being a boring anime was that the photography department apologized to me after the series was over. "We're sorry that we couldn't shoot it well," they said. But the failings of V Gundam weren't because of such technical issues. The biggest problem there was a mistake I myself made, and I was really bothered that they were apologizing for it.

—Nonetheless, I had no idea you were so fond of Katejina.

Tomino: Really? I like the name "Katejina Loos," too... The reason it suddenly occurred to me to bring that up is because just one hour ago, I remembered the source of the name "Katejina."

—Wait, there was a source?

Tomino: Mmm... I don't think most people nowadays would know this, but given the name of the Katejina character and the keyword "Eastern European literature," knowledgeable people should instantly be able to place it. (7) I saw it in a volume of an Eastern European literature collection some time ago, and I wanted to imbue Katejina with the feeling I found there.

※ This story appears to be A Prayer for Kateřina Horovitzová by the Czech Jewish author Arnošt Lustig, which was included in "Complete Works of Modern Eastern European Literature 11" (KobunSha).

The story I read there was about Jewish people in the Holocaust during World War II. As I was reading it, I thought about creating Katejina as a character who sees herself as the perpetrator, for whom fighting as a combatant is nothing but killing something inside herself. For a while I completely forgot about it, but a few years ago I happened to see that book of Eastern European literature on a bookshelf and recalled "Oh, that's right."

—So the character of Katejina came from Eastern European literature, then? It's like the anecdote about how the name of the protagonist Kamille in Z Gundam came from the female sculptor Camille Claudel.

Tomino: They're nothing alike. I was trying to do something much more impactful with Katejina. So when it comes to her voluptuousness, that's derived from the sturdy attributes that endure within her Jewish heritage. (8)

—Oh, so that's also why Katejina's father Tenglacy Loos is depicted as being so short...

Tomino: It's no coincidence. I did that because I thought I'd seem lazy unless I put that much effort into it, but ideas like that were a byproduct of over-seriousness. Even when I'm taking about it now, I want to say "You're just making anime, so would you stop doing things like that?" (laughs)

—Hearing that it's rooted in Eastern European literature, I can understand why the narrative begins and ends in Kasareria.

Tomino: Eastern European literature has a unique atmosphere, but I think that kind of introverted, refractive feeling is something Japanese people don't understand at all, so it's hard to get used to it. They have a history of being occupied over and over again, without acknowledging it even though they're enduring it every day as they live their lives. And then if you're Jewish, you're in an even more complicated social position...

When I went to Prague to record the V Gundam soundtrack, I wandered out as far as Auschwitz. This was before it became a World Heritage site, so it wasn't as well maintained as it is now. I couldn't bring myself to look at the incinerator, so I was just looking at the surrounding scenery while I basked in the sun by a building at the entrance. The women walking by outside the site were cheerful, with sturdy, healthy physiques. I had the strange sensation that these women, the anxieties in Eastern European literature, and the Holocaust that once took place were all overlapping without overlapping. But that experience gave me the conviction that Katejina's direction wasn't a mistake.

So V Gundam became a mixture of the feeling that I had to do something with this Katejina, and my frustration about the tire battleships.

—Speaking of Eastern Europe, I think you could say that's one of the places that really made an impression on the post-Cold War world, through things like the war in Yugoslavia. Was V Gundam influenced by the post-Cold War situation?

Tomino: Not particularly. It wasn't directly related to the end of the Cold War, but rather because I was thinking about the gap between those who plan wars and those standing on the battlefield. That's something I'd been pondering since Gundam...

As for the feeling of Eastern Europe, all that overland travel in the first half was because I was trying to give a sense of the continuity of Europe's neighboring lands. But in the end, that kind of depiction couldn't be properly digested in the form of a robot anime.

—Since you've discussed the naming of Katejina, please tell us about Üso's name. Is "Üso" really derived from "uso" as in "lie"?

Tomino: That's right. All words are lies, so even if they seem true, words can turn into lies as you keep on repeating them. I remember it incorporated that kind of meaning. But calling him "Uso" would have been too harsh, so I decided to use the name "Üso". (9)

—Then it doesn't mean that Üso is a lie, because there are no good children like him?

Tomino: Correct. It doesn't mean that, but rather, I gave him that name with the implication that it symbolized the work itself.

—This is a naive question, but might it be possible to make a "new translation" of V Gundam as was done with Z Gundam?

Tomino: Eh? This is the first time anyone's ever said that to me. it's hard to come up with a reflexive response when you're asked so suddenly.

If I used the structure I previously created, then yes, it's possible. I think the framework of the story is fine, but given my regrets about the visuals I'd have to change them completely. I don't think it's something that would be easy to revive.

Anyway, I don't feel like doing it. In the end, it's just more Gundam, right? I don't have time for things like that. If I wasted my time on such things, I'd be as good as dead.

—Looking at it like that, I can see that the themes of war and ethnicity you had in mind at the time of V Gundam were passed on to ∀ Gundam and G-Reco.

Tomino: That's right. Otherwise, I'd never have started reading Hannah Arendt. But that kind of relationship between works is just a matter of the creator's schedule, and I don't think the creator should be talking like that unless G-Reco gets more recognition.

Looking back over the past twenty years, though, I'm honestly glad that it didn't end with the V Gundam that I made so over-seriously, but got as far as G-Reco, which talks with the outrageous realism of of 800 lies about what humanity should be. (10) I believe those of us who earn a living from Gundam have a duty to move forward like that, even if it's just a little bit.

Yoshiyuki Tomino / Animation director, born in 1941. His major works as a director include "Triton of the Sea," Super Machine Zambot 3," "Space Runaway Ideon," "Aura Battler Dunbine," and "Wings of Rean." He has also written many novels and song lyrics.

Translator's Notes

(1) Here, I think Tomino is using the English loanword エピソード to mean an individual scene or subplot, rather than a broadcast episode.

(2) The Japanese verb 否定する (hitei suru) means contradicting, renouncing, or disavowing something. This is distinct from rejecting or refusing, which Tomino wasn't in a position to do.

(3) Most likely a diorama at the 2009 "Gundam Big Expo," where Tomino's short film Ring of Gundam premiered. You can see photos from this event at Miyashita no Kimagure Blog.

(4) The Japanese term 受け入れる (ukeireru) can mean receive, accept, or comply. I think the latter nuance is most appropriate here.

(5) This line is spoken by Reccoa to Kamille in episode 40 of Z Gundam.

(6) Based on other Tomino interviews, it seems this is how we're meant to interpret the phrase 「脱ガンダム」.

(7) The phonetic characters カテジーナ, written as "Katejina" in the case of the V Gundam character, are also used for the Czech name Kateřina.

(8) The term 肉感論 (nikkan-ron) means something like "discussion of sensuality," while the adjective 骨太 (honebuto), literally "big-boned," means something like "sturdily built," "stocky," or metaphorically "solid." Tomino goes on to use the latter term to describe the physical appearance of Eastern European women, and the interviewer segues to a comment about her father's height, so I think Tomino is literally just saying that Katejina is short and curvy.

(9) In terms of Japanese phonetics, this is a distinction between ウソ (uso) and ウッソ (usso).

(10) "The realism of 800 lies" is a concept that Tomino discusses at some length in his interview for the 2004 DVD Memorial Box.


In this corner, we'll introduce some of the concept art that Kunio Okawara drew for Mobile Suit V Gundam. This partially duplicates the illustrations in Blu-ray Box I, but we felt that was necessary to explain the flow of design, so we hope you'll forgive us.


In this first section are rough designs that Okawara proposed for the enemy mecha of this series. We can see he was searching for a new motif to follow up the gas mask-style goggles in Mobile Suit Gundam F91. Okawara first thought of the compound eyes of insects, and created a large number of rough designs for mobile suit faces with huge compound eyes.

▴ Choosing heads from among the many rough designs, he began drawing bodies. At this point it seems he was trying to make the body's power pipes look distinctive.


Okawara was now drawing various styles of mobile suit with the motif of insectoid compound eyes. During this process, we can see an emphasis on insect-like sharpness. Eventually he added the theme of transformation and combination, blending this in to create a combat helicopter form.

▴ A mobile suit with distinctive waist parts reminiscent of a rhinoceros beetle's wings. It appears the shape of its head was inherited by the Tomliat.

▴ Rough designs drawn after the incorporation of combining and transforming combat helicopters. We can see the direction was now clearly established.

▴ A two-part combining plan. This later became the Top Heli and Bottom Terminal.

▴ A single-machine transforming type. It could be considered the prototype for the Tomliat.

▴ Though this is quite close to the Zolo, the rotor is folded up on the back. The shape of the tail section also resembles that of a wasp.


By turning the compound eyes into snow goggles, and incorporating a beam rotor, the Zolo's prototype was born. The combination system was presented in considerable detail, conveying Okawara's enthusiasm. This isn't surprising given that this combination system made up of combat helicopters was an idea Okawara originally came up with for the lead mobile suit.

▴ Top Heli and Bottom Terminal. In their separated forms, they're virtually indistinguishable from the Zolo.

▴ The biggest difference from the Zolo is that the beam rotor is mounted on the back in mobile suit form.

Docking Process
An illustration of the combination pattern. The movements of the parts are carefully explained via nine drawings. To follow the process accurately, it begins with the transformation of the Bottom Terminal on the middle left, continues with the transformation of the Top Heli, and then ends with their combination. Mr. Okawara also created his own three-dimensional model to explain this transformation.


Based on the rough design introduced in the previous section, minor adjustments were made such as changing the position of the beam rotor and adding beam sabers as fixed armament. Okawara drew a design close to the final draft, and also colored it.

▴ Aside from the head, this is almost identical to the Zolo. The base of the beam rotor has been moved to the left arm. Another change is the mounting of beam sabers on the back wings.

▴ Head. The opening and closing of the dual eyes, which resemble snow goggles, is also depicted. From here, the Zolo's design was completed by whittling the details down to a simpler form.

▴ The Top Heli and Bottom Terminal have been refined to a level where they can't be distinguished from the final Zolo design.


After the Zolo was completed as the basis for the enemy mobile suits, additional variations were requested. Okawara also submitted some variant machines based on the Zolo, and a design plan for the Victory Gundam.

▴ Zolo variation plan. The basic transformation pattern was unchanged, but a different silhouette was produced by altering the shoulder and chest parts.

▴ Head of the variation plan. Aside from the protruding part on the top of the head, this was adopted in the Zolo's final design.

▴ Separated form of the variation plan. The wasp-type tail introduced in Phase 2 is used in the Top Heli.

▴▸ A single-machine transforming version without a combination system. This later became the Tomliat. The main wings have a distinctive rectilinear form, and it appears Okawara was trying to change the silhouette via the shape of the wings.

▴ Victory Gundam. A design plan submitted as reference for the final version. This design itself later became the Gun EZ, and the coloring of the shoulders was used in the V2 Gundam.