Translator's Note: This essay by Mobile Suit Gundam character designer and animation director Yoshikazu Yasuhiko appeared in the Animedia special issue Mobile Suit Gundam I • II • III Special Collection, published by Gakken in April 1982. Though fairly brief, it provides some insight into the circumstances surrounding Yasuhiko's sudden hospitalization towards the end of the production, and his feelings about being unable to complete his work on the series.
Yasuhiko's collapse took place on October 7, 1979, and he remained in hospital for roughly five months. After the following essay translation, I've added a supplemental note regarding the timing and production credits for the last part of the series.
The following text is copyright © 1982 Gakken.
As the sole animation director on the Gundam TV series, it would have been physically impossible for me to properly correct the episodes to my own satisfaction every week. Thus, I decided that my general rule should be to fix one out of every two episodes myself, and leave the rest of the work to relatively reliable people. But around episode 33, when there were just ten episodes remaining, I thought I'd try to correct two out of every three episodes in a so-called "last spurt." It was just as I'd started this last spurt that I fell ill...
I started after skipping one episode, and then I planned to supervise the consecutive episodes 33, 34, 35, and 36 myself. These were all episodes that I took an interest in after seeing the storyboards. Since I hadn't seen the storyboards for episodes 37 onward, it wasn't so true of them, but I was strongly attached to the episodes up to 36... I wanted to do those. I also felt strongly about the final episodes, since I intended to supervise those myself no matter what.
It's terribly unfair to the people who did the job in the meantime. But, during the roughly two years from when I fell ill and left the majority of episodes 33 and 34 undone, to when we started animating the new Gundam III, I felt like it didn't exist.
This time, I'm doing everything up to the last scene and last cut after all, so in that sense it's a great relief. But it doesn't mean I did everything, and I still wish I could do it all, if that were only possible.
Before I fell ill, although there wasn't a script, I knew how the last scene ended from reading Mr. Tomino's story memo. I thought that was a good way to end it. I'd thought that Gundam was a story that could only have a dark conclusion, but wrapping that dark conclusion in a happy ending was a very nice way to end it, and I thought it would give the viewers a feeling of relief. If anything, I myself came away with a dark impression, but I think after this Amuro and the White Base crew will be abandoned, in both good and bad ways. Thinking about their way of life from here on, I don't believe they'll be able to live very cheerful lives.
Translator's Note: To illustrate the production situation Yasuhiko is describing, here are the main staff credits for the second half of the Mobile Suit Gundam TV series. "Minoru Yokitani" is an alias for chief director Yoshiyuki Tomino, who storyboarded the majority of these episodes. And yes, aside from Yasuhiko himself, all three of the other animation directors on these episodes have the same first name.
Note that there are no official animation director credits for episode 34-36 and 38-41. In the essay above, Yasuhiko says that he was supervising episode 33 himself prior to his hospitalization, but the animation direction on this episode—as well as episodes 37 and 42—is credited to Kazuo Nakamura.
Nakamura actually had—and still has—his own animation production company, Nakamura Production, and in all of his Gundam episodes he was supervising the work of his own staff. In other words, the animation of these episodes was effectively outsourced to Nakamura Production, so it's possible that Yasuhiko may be misremembering. In other accounts by Yasuhiko and others, we're told that he was working on episode 34 when he fell ill.
|Episode||Subtitle||Script||Storyboards||Episode Director||Animation Director||Air Date|
|22||Break the Siege of M'Quve!||Kenichi Matsuzaki||Shinya Sadamitsu||Shinya Sadamitsu||Yoshikazu Yasuhiko||September 1, 1979|
|23||Matilda Rescue Operation||Hiroyuki Hoshiyama||Ryoji Fujiwara||Ryoji Fujiwara||Kazuo Nakamura||September 8, 1979|
|24||Triple Dom Pursuit||Yuu Yamamoto||Minoru Yokitani||Osamu Sekita||Yoshikazu Yasuhiko||September 15, 1979|
|25||Fierce Battle at Odessa||Yoshihisa Araki||Shinya Sadamitsu||Shinya Sadamitsu||Kazuo Tomizawa||September 22, 1979|
|26||Char Returns||Kenichi Matsuzaki||Minoru Yokitani||Ryoji Fujiwara||Yoshikazu Yasuhiko||September 29, 1979|
|27||A Female Spy on Board||Hiroyuki Hoshiyama||Minoru Yokitani
|Hiroshi Kuno||Kazuo Yamazaki||October 6, 1979|
|28||The Atlantic Dyed in Blood||Yuu Yamamoto||Minoru Yokitani||Osamu Sekita||Kazuo Nakamura||October 13, 1979|
|29||Fallen in Jaburo||Yoshihisa Araki||Minoru Yokitani||Shinya Sadamitsu||Yoshikazu Yasuhiko||October 20, 1979|
|30||A Small Defense Line||Yuu Yamamoto||Ryoji Fujiwara||Ryoji Fujiwara||Yoshikazu Yasuhiko||October 27, 1979|
|31||Zanzibar Pursuit||Hiroyuki Hoshiyama||Minoru Yokitani||Hiroshi Kuno||Yoshikazu Yasuhiko||November 3, 1979|
|32||Breakthrough Operation||Kenichi Matsuzaki||Minoru Yokitani||Osamu Sekita||Kazuo Tomizawa||November 10, 1979|
|33||Conscon's Assault||Yuu Yamamoto||Minoru Yokitani||Shinya Sadamitsu||Kazuo Nakamura||November 17, 1979|
|34||A Fateful Encounter||Hiroyuki Hoshiyama||Ryoji Fujiwara||Ryoji Fujiwara||—||November 24, 1979|
|35||The Battle of Solomon||Kenichi Matsuzaki||Hiroshi Kuno||Hiroshi Kuno||—||December 1, 1979|
|36||Terror of the Byg-Zam||Kenichi Matsuzaki||Minoru Yokitani||Osamu Sekita||—||December 8, 1979|
|37||The Duel in Texas||Yuu Yamamoto||Minoru Yokitani||Shinya Sadamitsu||Kazuo Nakamura||December 15, 1979|
|38||Char and Sayla Reunited||Kenichi Matsuzaki||Ryoji Fujiwara||Ryoji Fujiwara||—||December 22, 1979|
|39||The Newtype Challia Bull||Yuu Yamamoto||Minoru Yokitani||Hiroshi Kuno||—||December 29, 1979|
|40||Elmeth Lalah||Yoshihisa Araki||Minoru Yokitani||Osamu Sekita||—||January 5, 1980|
|41||A Cosmic Glow||Kenichi Matsuzaki||Shinya Sadamitsu||Shinya Sadamitsu||—||January 12, 1980|
|42||Space Fortress A Baoa Qu||Hiroyuki Hoshiyama||Minoru Yokitani||Ryoji Fujiwara||Kazuo Nakamura||January 19, 1980|
|43||Escape||Hiroyuki Hoshiyama||Minoru Yokitani||Osamu Sekita||Kazuo Yamazaki||January 26, 1980|
Mobile Suit Gundam is copyright © Sotsu • Sunrise. Everything else on this site, and all original text and pictures, are copyright Mark Simmons.