Monday, April 08, 2013

Sunrise Panel Otakon 2012

Recently there was a post on the UC Gundam Twitter:

このΞガンダムが登場する「機動戦士ガンダム 閃光のハサウェイ」は、時代的にはガンダムUCの約9年後となる宇宙世紀105年が舞台。ep7では、これくらい先の時代への布石となるようなものも登場する予定です。 (広報いぬ)

This is actually the continuation of

バンダイコレクターズ事業部さんとの打ち合わせで、ROBOT魂Ξガンダム(クスィーガンダム)の試作品を拝見。これロボ魂か!?ってくらいデカイです。 http://bit.ly/11rDGAj  プレミアムバンダイにて4/9まで受注中 (広報いぬ)

It's a shoutout for the upcoming Ka Signature Robot Spirits release of the Xi Gundam, and the tweet that continues is that there may be elements from the era of Hathaway's Flash in Episode 7.

And then I remembered that Shin Sasaki, one of the core Sunrise producers for Unicorn had mentioned last year at Otakon 2012 that Hathaway's Flash was a personal favorite.  Wait, what's that you've never seen this?  Well for some reason or another neither ANN nor any other anime related site seems to have posted a transcript of that panel.  I'm actually disappointed that there is no breakdown.  ANN supposedly had an hour interview with the man, but it's never surfaced.




What's more is that a transcript of the Gundam Unicorn panel that followed after for the screening of Gundam Unicorn Ep 5 doesn't exist to my knowledge either.  The transcript for the Sunrise panel I attended last year is below.  If anyone has a recording or the transcript of the Unicorn Ep 5 panel, please let me know, I would love to find it since I could not attend (I was judging a model competition =D).


Shin Sasaki: General Manager, Gundam Division, (Planning producer Gundam UC) Sunrise, Ltd.
Kaori Shida: Manager, Gundam Division, Sunrise, Ltd.

Video compilation of various Gundam animated works
Preview Gundam UC Ep 5


Initial comments: Gundam Age is a collaboration between Sunrise and Level 5 to create a new Gundam geared toward a younger generation.  Simulcast in 33 markets, unavailable in the U.S. unfortunately due to licensing obstacles.

Texts of Fukui too dense to compress into 6 episodes, which led to the decision to create episode 7.

Seed Remaster: Original Seed was made during transition of analog to digital. Fukuda and staff returned.   Available for Eng audiences at gundam.info.  JP government did not want the statute to be discarded after 2010, now located in Diver City.  All 1700 GunPla models on display at Gundam Front Tokyo along with lifesize bust of Srtike Freedom.

Interview:

How are new Gundam animation works brought to life?

Sasaki: We want Gundam to be suitable to many ages and audiences.  So, when we decide to do a new Gundam production, we first have to decide what that target generation is. Once that is decided, we have to determine what parts of old Gundam do we keep in the show and how much of it will be new inventions.  For instance, if it is to be aimed at a teen audience, we come up with new character designs, new mecha designs, use teen oriented music and flashy visuals.  On the other hand, shows like Unicorn, require a vast respect for the ongoing Gundam universe, and we have to make careful decisions of what we can change. Once all these concepts are decided upon, then we need to choose a director and screen writer.  These days many of the directors out there are Gundam fans.  So we can have lots of fun from here on out.

Projects like Gundam Front Tokyo and the Gundam statue are completely different from animated productions, how are these planned out?

Shida: Well in 2008, we were planning on what to do for the 30th anniversary of Gundam.  We knew a film would be considered an authentic way to celebrate, but we also knew that many first generation Gundam fans are parents now themselves.  In fact, many here today are younger than Gundam.  We wanted to handover Gundam to a newer generation, and we felt that the best way to get them to relate to Gundam in a personal way was to create something big.  And that’s how we reached the conclusion that we needed to build an 18meter statue!  We made sure we had the resources and technology to do it and the rest was a rush to make the 2009 deadline.  Also, since we couldn’t build something this big without government permission, we needed to get the permits in line to do it.  But, the hardest part of the project was to explain it to director Tomino.

Sasaki:  When it was finished, Tomino told us, “Next time, it needs to move.”  Perhaps next time we can use American technology to make a Zaku.
What are some of the hardest and challenging aspects of working on Gundam anime?

Sasaki: I have to say, the hardest part about producing Gundam anime is the supervision from Mr. Tomino.  Other pressures come from the expectation of not only how the fans receive it, but also looking at it from a business standpoint.   For me personally, my job is to oversee the vast number of staff members and other people required to make Gundam anime and that is a challenge.  Another challenge is that the settings are meticulously planned. For example, in the Universal Century, everything has to be correct.  Even the brand of tea used in Unicorn needs to be specified.

Shida:  When we were in the studio working on the settings and characters for Gundam Seed Destiny, we had to deal with Mr. Fukuda changing things on us.  Mr. Fukuda is a fickle man.  I remember one time he decided that a certain character was to have red hair and that decision was relayed to the rest of the staff.  The very next day however, he said, “Mmmmah, how about we make that character’s hair green instead?”  Managing these types of changes was the hardest part.

Can you share some of your memories from working on Gundam anime?

Sasaki: From my generation Gundam was always considered something for boys.  I remember when I was at a SEED event, and a scene was shown when the Freedom and Justice Gundam hold hands, and I heard a loud cheer from the crowd and I realized we were entering a new age.

Shida: So who here has seen Gundam Seed and Seed Destiny?  Are you familiar with the character Mwu La Flaga?  At the end of Seed, Mwu “apparently” dies.   When we were holding production meetings from Gundam Seed Destiny, we had a meeting with myself, 10 other writers and staff members and Mr. Fukuda said, “Perhaps he [Mwu] may show up again.”  The entire staff did a double take.  That was my biggest Gundam related surprise!

G Gundam is a very popular anime.  Has there been consideration for producing another series like Mobile Fighter G Gundam?

Sasaki: G Gundam is a good example of the way we want to expand.  We learned a lot from the spirit of G Gundam staff and it is a spirit we try to imitate. The fighting style may not have matched traditional Gundam tastes, but the show was very popular world wide.

You mentioned how you would like to branch out Gundam into new areas.  Are there any plans for making a new show for target audiences, especially female viewers?

Shida:  We realized that the potential of attracting female fans with Gundam Seed, but something inherent in all Gundam is mobile suits in action, so it makes it difficult for a gundam show to be targeted with female audiences exclusively.  We recognize that many females like Gundam Unicorn, but they aren’t really the target audience.  We do have things in vision, but nothing we can talk about now.

Were you aware of the weird reactions you might get from English speaking fans for naming the character Full Frontal and how did you come to that name?

Shida: In the 2006 production meeting when the novel was being written, we were deciding on character names.  We wanted a name that meant “container,” “taking on something uncolored.”  We looked up “full frontal” and saw that it meant “untainted” and decided to go ahead with that name.  It wasn’t until someone from our overseas division that told us that “full frontal” referred to nudity that we all became really surprised.  The original intention was to convey that this character was to be a “blank slate,” so we ask you to please understand.

When Bandai Entertainment announced that it was closing its doors, we thought it would mean there would be no more Gundam in America, but here you are and it makes me happy.  Will we ever have other older Gundam shows like X, Turn A, etc. here?

Sasaki:  We want to give Gundam to North America.  We are trying our best.  Please continue to be fans of Gundam to be there for us.

It has been documented that Mr. Fukui is a fan of Hathaway’s Flash and events in Unicorn seem to point to it as the next event.  Are there any plans to visit it after Unicorn?

Sasaki: Hathaway’s Flash is very popular amongst Universal Century fans, in fact I am a fan of it myself.  Right now however, I’m up to my ears in Unicorn, and have no plan to think of anything else.

Can you share any information from Tomino’s current project G-Recko?

Sasaki: I’m not in a position to say anything about that.  We may make an announcement about Mr. Tomino’s project within a year.

Sasaki: Thank you all for coming, I’m glad to see so many fans of Gundam in the U.S.  It’s a relief to me, and I realize your love for Gundam is no less than the fans in Japan have for it.  From here on, it is our goal to provide you Gundam with as little time delay as possible

Shida:  I find it interesting that we had a question about Gundam for girls from a male audience member and it is a project we want to do.  The suits in Japan are all men, so, it is difficult.  I have been really been encouraged and want to do it without mutating what the essence of Gundam is.

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