Ultimate Mark

Production Reference:
Gundam F91 Rapport Deluxe
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Translator's Note: Published by Rapport K.K. in June 1991, Mobile Suit Gundam F91 Rapport Deluxe includes interviews with the major creators and a two-page overview of Gundam F91's production history. Broadly similar to the Production Side Story from Bandai's "Official Edition" book, this account provides some additional information and approximate dates for the major events.

The following text is copyright © 1991 Rapport K.K.

PRODUCTION SECRET STORY

Behind the screen of F91, from planning to completion

A theatrical premiere is impressive, but the staff members must put in a tremendous amount of hard work beforehand. In any anime, even when it looks like the progress is smooth, the production site is as chaotic as a battlefield. Even more so for the production site of F91, which was aiming for high quality. Here is a summary of the situation on the scene, as told to us by a member of the staff.

█ At the beginning of 1989, the planning department begins independently developing new mobile suit designs for a new Gundam work. Mr. Yoshiyuki Tomino is chosen as director, and begins working on a draft plan for the overall structure.

█ Around April, the creation of a Gundam work is officially decided.

█ Around June, selection of designers and scriptwriters begins. Since it has not yet been decided whether this will be a movie or a TV series, preparations are made in anticipation of various situations, such as who should be the main scriptwriter and which writers might participate in the event of a TV series.

█ Around July, Mr. Kunio Okawara is chosen as mechanical designer. The mobile suit that Mr Okawara draws at this point does not become the F91, but Bandai will later release it in plastic model form as the F90.

█ Starting in July, meetings are held to discuss the story content, based on Director Tomino's memos. With these as a basis, scriptwriter Mr. Tsunehisa Ito goes on to create a synopsis through episode 13. These 13 episodes of story will later become the basic skeleton for the movie. At this point, however, there is no plan for Cecily to return at the end.

█ Around August, Mr. Okawara submits rough drafts of the Federation mobile suits.

█ Around September, it is decided that Mr. Yoshikazu Yasuhiko will participate as character designer. Around this time, Director Tomino, Okawara, Yasuhiko, Ito, grand producer [Eiji] Yamaura, and producer [Hironori] Nakagawa are holding frequent meetings.

As character design progresses, the hero and heroine receive second and third drafts. There is an order to make the heroine more beautiful.

█ In October, a "go" is briefly given for a TV series, but three days later there is talk of calling it off. This happens two or three times, and although a TV proposal is created, it is ultimately not possible to launch a TV series in April of the following year. At the end of October, screenplay work begins on the assumption of a movie version. Director Tomino adds the idea of resolving the story of Cecily and Seabook by having her return to the hero's side at the end.

█ Around October and November, tentative drafts for enemy mobile suits are submitted, but they are not yet approved. Referencing Babylon, which created the first laws in human history, the director suggests using the name Cosmo Babylonia for this new power, the first lawmaking body in outer space. The distinctive large eyes seen in references such as Babylonian relics are then incorporated into the mobile suit designs. As well as the ordinary Den'an-Zon and Den'an-Gei types, officer types are created along the same lines, adding elements of aristocratic doctrine. These are the Bega-Dalas and Berga-Giros.

The Den'an-Zon and Den'an-Gei are completed in November. Cleanup of the officer types is completed around December.

█ Around October or November, Mr. Shigemi Ikeda is selected as art director. As he and the director discuss the staging, they wonder whether to use CG this time, and decide not to. Instead they will try photographing real objects, and end up having a three-dimensional colony model made. This is completed at the end of January, and taken to Tokyo Laboratory for filming with a motion camera. When this is filmed while rotating, the perspective lines naturally change, and so all the mobile suits need to be adjusted accordingly. Though this is effective, compositing and so forth would make the working process very difficult, so it is decided that the three-dimensional model can't be used.

█ In December, the first script draft is completed, and work begins on the second draft.

█ At the end of January 1990, the second script draft is completed and work on the third draft begins. The director starts storyboarding the first half.

Work on the Gundam F91 itself begins, but proves quite difficult, and it takes longer than expected to differentiate it from the F90. Encouragement is provided by the participation of manga artist Mr. [Kohei] Nishino as an idea man, suggesting ideas such as a Jūnihitoe Gundam and a Ninja Gundam. (1) The director, playing with the idea of it leaving afterimages as it moves, also creates image sketches of an electrical-shock finishing move and a Thousand-Armed Avalokiteśvara Gundam. (2) These will be used in the story's final scenes.

These various ideas for the Gundam are collected together and then entrusted to Mr. Okawara. As he attempts to make revisions to what has been produced here, it eventually turns back into a traditional Gundam. He thus tries to change it as much as possible, and comes up with a new idea for the chest area. At this point, the size has not yet been decided, so he proceeds in such a way that the design will work even if the mobile suit is smaller.

Soon afterwards, the director says that if they only change the chest it will still be a Gundam, and suggests they try giving it a mouth. Mr. Okawara tries drawing a mouth, but since adding a mouth makes it seem like a character, Mr. Yasuhiko is asked to provide a sketch. Mr. Yasuhiko is strongly opposed, since depending on the artist it might not resemble a Gundam's face. But he is asked insistently, and returns it to Mr. Okawara for finishing (in May). (3)

█ In February, storyboards for the opening are completed. These are then sent to the writer, producing a phenomenon in which the storyboards precede the final script. The script is finished in March, and the storyboarding continues.

█ In April, new staff arrive. Scriptwriter Mr. Ito is the sole departure.

█ In May, Mr. Okawara finishes his work, and Mr. Yasuhiko is also basically done. Since the storyboarding work is ongoing, catchup work continues to design guest characters and accessories. There is also a deluge of questions from the animators about expressions and small character details, and Mr. Yasuhiko continues providing collections of expressions (until July).

█ In July, Mr. Okawara is hospitalized. Designs for the Bugs and Rafflesia are still pending because their setting remains undecided, and Mr. [Junya] Ishigaki is asked to help out. The Rafflesia is initially a different mecha called the Medzack, but the director says that it's too cool to dispense with in the final few minutes, and they should leave it for next time. The Rafflesia, based on a different rough by the director, is entrusted to Mr. Ishigaki. Mr. Okawara takes charge of the cleanup when he is discharged from hospital (in August).

Ms. Hiroko Moriguchi is chosen to sing the theme song, but the music is still unfinished.

█ By August, the background art design is mostly finished. Storyboards for the final scene are completed at the beginning of September. After the catchup setting is taken care of, work begins on the art boards and backgrounds. There is a tremendous amount of this, and Mr. Okawara and Mr. Ishigaki have their hands full designing small items, so they can't keep up with setting such as maintenance beds and the details of the hull plating seen during ship closeups. Mr. [Kazunori] Nakazawa is thus asked to assist.

█ By the end of December, the final animation cuts are completed, but there are still many parts that have yet to be colored.

Casting is also finalized at the last minute. (The initial plan was for Zabine to be played by Mr. Kazuki Yao.)

█ Postrecording is hastily performed in January 1991.

Translator's Notes

(1) Jūnihitoe is a kind of multilayered traditional Japanese costume.

(2) Avalokiteśvara is a figure in Buddhist tradition, known as Guanyin in China and Kannon in Japan.

(3) "He is asked insistently" is my attempt at a fairly literal translation of the Japanese phrase それを無理にお願いして . I think the point is that Yasuhiko was compelled to do the sketch.