Toonzone @ MCM London Comic Con May 2016 – Gundam The Origin III Panel
Following the screening it was time for both Osamu Taniguchi and Mika Akitaka to take to the stage, joined by Anime Limited president Andrew Partridge and interpreter Bethan Jones.
Andrew began by explaining that the screening of the episode at MCM London was held in tandem with ones occurring in the franchise’s native Japan. At these screenings audiences were filmed performing the infamous Principality battle cry of ‘SIEG ZEON’ and we were asked if we’d be willing to do the same. While some might question such an act given the phrase’s roots, this was done in good taste with the audience initially erupting in laughter at the concept. Filmed by Sunrise’s Eri Suzuki (who attended last October’s event to discuss granting Anime Limited the UK license) and coached by Taniguchi, the audience allowed their souls to break free of gravity for a united powerful chant.
Akitaka and Taniguchi introduced themselves by providing a brief introduction of their careers and hobbies. Taniguchi explained that The Origin was of course an adaptation of the manga by original character designer and animation director Yasuhiko Yoshikazu, which presents an altered version of the original founding story. This occurs most prominently in the new content covering the childhoods of Char and Sayla, the content of which is being adapted by the OVAs.
The decision to animate content from The Origin was decided on roughly five years ago, with the project marking the first time Yasuhiko has worked in animation in over twenty five years. His career was highlighted, including the influence he has had over younger professionals working within the Japanese animation industry today. Taniguchi jovially highlighted that Yasuhiko also owns a big dog named Warawa-chan, wryly commenting it attacks him every time he visits Yasuhiko’s house.
Focus then moved to discussing the mecha designers for the project, highlighting that Hajime Katoki mainly handled the mobile suits, Kimitoshi Yamane mainly designed the ground vehicles and Mika Akitaka generally produced battleships and aircraft. Akitaka guided us through the design procedure, beginning with early concepts for the Zeon Musai battleship. He explained that part of the job for this specific project required pouring over the entirety of the manga to note the ship’s standardised design and any variants. After both the series director and animation director are happy, a final detailed lineart of the design is prepared as an animation reference. Given the usage of cel-shaded CGI for most mechanical elements in The Origin these finished designs are in turn built into a 3D model on a computer.
A similar process is used in the realisation of mobile suits, which was charted by comparing Kunio Okawara’s original design for the Gundam from the manga, refined line art by Katoki and finally a CGI animation model. Attention was drawn to the added details Katoki gave Okawara’s basis and in turn how colour tests are performed to see which shades and tones look best.
Taniguchi next commented that it was difficult to discuss Gundam without mentioning Gunpla, the popular plastic models that have been tied to the franchise since 1980. The Origin of course has its own line up of kits covering not only the designs that have appeared in the animation but the Mobile Suit Discovery line which presents early test prototypes of iconic MS in the Zeon and Federation forces plus a Master Grade kit of the Gundam itself.
Summarising the key points of Episode III, Taniguchi highlighted that fans who had read the manga will recognise the character of Lino Fernandez was not present there. This was due to the anime staff wanting to make more of the character that would present Char with his iconic mask. Turning attention to the next instalment, fans can look forward to seeing the first meeting between Char and Lalah, the first genuine battle between mobile suits and the events in which Zeon declares war on the Federation. Further to this the newly announced ‘Battle of Loum’ chapter will depict many familiar faces and their motivations, show the infamous destructive colony drop in full detail and present newly added scenes. Taniguchi also stated that adapting the central First Gundam story is a possibility but will only occur if the Blu-ray sales are strong, asking the audience for their support. Andrew asked if the audience would be interested in seeing that happen, leading to much cheering and applause.
The panel concluded with a brief round of questions. Asked for his favourite Gundam he’s designed, Akitaka answered the GP04 Gundam Gerbera (the original form of the Gerbera Tetra from 0083). He highlighted that Bandai recently released a kit of it in their RE/100 model line and he was a hoping to find it at one of the Gunpla sellers at the convention, leading to an audience member to helpfully inform him that japan:cool had one. Asked about the mass popularity of the franchise, Taniguchi commented that currently within Japan Sunrise’s Love Live was actually eclipsing Gundam in popularity. He added the caveat that Gundam had been going strong for nearly four decades while Love Live was still relatively new. The final question was for Akitaka; what was your favourite Gunpla to build? He answered recently it had been the Real Grade 00 QAN[T].
With that, all that was left was a reminder that both guests would be signing later that day before a final photo of the audience was taken. [Image credit: Eri Suzuki/Gundam Global Portal]
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