“Mecha Designers Summit Vol.08” Event Report

Full report: “Mecha Designers Summit Vol.08” Meister Kawaguchi, Okawara, others, talk about this!

The talk event “MECHANICAL CITY INAGI PRESENTS Mecha Designers Summit Vol.08” hosted by Kunio Okawara, a pioneer of mechanical designers in the animation industry, will be held on Saturday, March 20th at “Inagi Information Base Pair Terrace” in Inagi City, Tokyo. It was delivered live from.

At the event, in addition to the main host, Mr. Okawara, Mr. Masahiro Oda from the character modeler team unit “Stream Base” and Mr. Katsumi Kawaguchi, who is familiar to Gunpla fans as “Kawaguchi Master”, will appear. In addition, Keisuke Hirota, a freelance writer who is active in monthly model graphics, was in charge of the moderator.
Now, let’s take a look at the event, which is full of deep topics.

This event was scheduled to be held in 2020, when Gunpla celebrated its 40th anniversary. Although it was canceled due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus infection, it will be held again in 2021 as an online distribution event for non-audience. At the beginning of the program, Mayor Katsuhiro Takahashi and voice actor Hatashiori will appear to liven up the event.
And the topic started from the episode 40 years before the release of Gunpla. In 1979, when “Mobile Suit Gundam” was first broadcast, the only three-dimensional objects released during the broadcast were toys made by toy maker Clover. Since the model was not on sale, Mr. Okawara himself used to make Zaku from wood, but in the model magazine, Zaku’s vignette (small diorama) and Char were fully scratched as readers’ contributions. Zaku begins to be posted.

Mr. Oda, who was a general model fan at that time, was shocked by the material called “polyester putty” used in his submissions. Until then, there was only a method that took time and effort, such as putting putty that takes time to cure and scraping a piece of plastic plate stuck together, but with the appearance of polyester putty that can be cured and shaped in a short time, work efficiency is improved. It seems that it has improved dramatically.

In the “Space Battleship Yamato” boom around 1976, the model scene had not changed significantly, but after that, plastic boards began to line up in general model stores, and with the opening of home centers such as Tokyu Hands, models such as automobile supplies. Various materials and tools other than those for use are now available. At the same time as the “Gundam” broadcast, the realization of multiple situations overlapping prompted explosive technological innovation in the Japanese model scene.
One of them is the duplication technology using “silicon rubber”, and it is said that Zaku and other mass-produced Zeon machines can be duplicated and lined up in a row, and shared parts are created within the stream base to improve the quality.

In addition, before the technological innovation, there was also an announcement of “there is a model making” at that time, when scraping a piece of plastic board stuck together, it was scraped by rubbing it against the asphalt or block wall of the road.

Regarding the mechanical design of “Mobile Suit Gundam”, “Gundam” was designed by Mr. Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, animation director, and “Guncannon” was finished by Mr. Yoshikazu Yasuhiko. Mr. Okawara reveals that it was designed to propose to the sponsor a toy that can be recombined with high play value.
Also, regarding Zaku, director Yoshiyuki Tomino said, “You can design freely as long as you protect the mono eye.”

Mr. Okawara, who participated in the staff preview of the first episode of “Gundam,” said he was stunned, “Is it okay to make (this amazing thing)?” Especially, “The scene where Zaku infiltrates the colony is all about” Gundam “” is highly evaluated. He seemed to be strongly impressed with the part that was created by Director Tomino, such as the relocation of people to the space colony.

The first Gunpla was released in 1980, and after the Gunpla became a big boom when the movie version of “Mobile Suit Gundam” was released in 1981, Mr. Okawara started MSV on his own. He was free to design MS so much that he himself described it as “all you wanted to do”.
In “HOW TO BUILD GUNDAM”, which can be said to be the gold standard of the Gundam model book published around the same time, the modeler side also entered the world view of “Gundam” and created the original setting, and in the mook book “Gundam Century”, the model number etc. The world view of “Gundam” has developed in various genres, such as the character setting of “Gundam”.

Also, at that time, Mr. Oda, who saw the illustration of the MSV “MS-06R High Mobility Type Zaku II” for the first time, was shocked by a lightning bolt running in his head and felt “I can’t help making a three-dimensional object!” .. On the contrary, Mr. Okawara also replies that he may refer to the modeler’s example for research on mechanical design that changes according to the demands of the times. It may be said that the mutual stimulation of designers and modelers has supported the 40-year history of the “Gundam” series.

When asked by viewers, “What has changed with the advent of Gunpla?”, Mr. Oda replies, “Manufacturers are now facing users.” Until then, toy makers had developed products based on their own interpretations, but the presence of users has increased as modelers such as stream bases have led the model scene. In addition, there is a growing demand for more “similar to anime settings and images.”
As an episode in the 1980s, Mr. Oda was invited to Bandai’s Shizuoka factory, which develops and manufactures Gunpla, and explained his request directly to the designer. It seems that the fact that the vectors of the manufacturer and the user are facing each other greatly contributed to the development of Gunpla and fostered a long-lasting series.

Mr. Oda explains that the production of three-dimensional objects such as Gunpla is “to reproduce in the hands the shape that you understand with your eyes.” The real thrill of three-dimensionalization is to be able to create the ideal image that the creator envisions, but since that ideal image differs from person to person, even in the case of Gunpla, different designers will have different shapes even if they are the same Zaku. Mr. Hirota also repeats that the range of expression will come out depending on the staff and the director who draws the animation. It can be said that there is not one correct answer, but as many correct answers as there are creators.

Mr. Kawaguchi says that many of the current Gunpla users like MS as a character and buy it, so if you enjoy making it, I want you to go one step further and like the model itself, and try even more challenges.
In addition, he said that it is a recommended hobby for female modelers, who have been increasing in number recently, because they can make use of their usual makeup and color-conscious coordination.

At the end of the event, Mayor Takahashi and Ms. Hatashiori will reappear, raising expectations that “I want to hold a real event next year!”
The live distribution of “Mecha Designers Summit Vol.08”, which was so hot that it greatly exceeded the scheduled time, ended safely in about 2 hours.
In addition, the state of this event may be delivered again as a complete version in the future?

Gundam Info Editorial Department

Date: March 20, 2021 (Sat / holiday)
Venue: Inagi Information Base Pair Terrace