Interview With The Gundam Twilight Axis Staff — Part 1

Since the final episode of Twilight Axis has been released, I present an interview conducted by Gundam Fan Club with director Kim Se Jun, chief mechanical director Abe Shingo, and producer Taniguchi Osamu from the main staff of Twilight Axis from August 9th (no final episode spoilers!)

On another note, the final question for the 3 has spoilers for 0083 Stardust Memories and 0080 War in the Pocket! Be careful!

— A brief introduction for our Gundam Fan Club members.

Taniguchi: I’m Taniguchi from Sunrise, the producer of Twilight Axis.

Kim: I’m Kim, the director, and overseer of various sections. I started out at Sunrise’s animator training program and have worked as an animator with them nearing on ten years. I’ve worked on shows like Unicorn Gundam, Gundam AGE, Gundam Build Fighters, and now Twilight Axis.

Taniguchi: This is your first as a director, right?

Kim: First time as a director, first time directing animation, first time drawing out storyboards, first time writing a screenplay.

Abe: I’m Abe Shingo, the chief mechanical director this time around. Gundam series I’ve worked on up until now include the first season of Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans and Gundam Build Fights. I’ve also worked on Star Driver and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann as the animation director.

— Thank you, all. Taniguchi, delving a little deeper, what is the job of a producer?

Taniguchi: As the producer, I draw up a rough schedule, take care of staffing, recruit financial backers, and whatever odds and ends might come to pass. There are also times when I invest in our own company. I staff the project, see it created, screen the finished product, broadcast, and distribute. Sometimes I’ll deal in publicity and business deals. There are also series related goods or secondary products, like plastic models or clothing, discussions that happen with the respective companies during production that get wrapped into the bundle of what makes me a total producer.


— Thank you very much. You’re attending to the whole process, from the conception of the plan to the making of the final product.
Moving on, Kim, aside from being director of this show you are also performing various other jobs for it, what exactly are you doing?

Kim: Listing out the jobs I’ve done from when we initially got the plan; first, I took the prototype from Ark Performance and reconstructed it for an animated version. Then I wrote the scenario, drew up the storyboards, moved onto the character and mechanical designs, and finally entered into my typical job of key frames, all to finish up by compiling everything.

— That’s a pretty versatile way of working. I’m pretty surprised you worked on the mechanical designs on top of everything. For this show, the attention to detail of the mechs seems high. Can you tell us the story of how you came around to designing the Gundam AN-01 Tristan, for example?

Kim: Gundam AN-01 Tristan was an original design. A mobile armor that hasn’t appeared in the anime is also an original design of mine. It’s not that the idea was my original, just the final design of the machine. I talked to Taniguchi about wanting to release a particular kind of Gundam, and with his acknowledgment, used the NT-1 Alex as a base and created the design.

— The Tristan is a Kim original design! That’s a surprise! On top of that, a mobile armor? Could it be what we got a brief look at in chapter five, part two of the novel?
Anyways, speaking of mechanical design, we also have Abe! Abe, you’re also credited as the mechanical designer, but would you mind telling us what it is you usually worked on?

Abe: Normally I’m focusing on drawing the robots as the mechanical animation director. I also work on key frames. My job as a mechanical designer, this time around, was to take the designs give to us by Ark Performance and refine them for an animated version. Incidentally, the mechanical designs that I received and revised from Ark Performance were the Zaku III Kai, Byarlant Isolde, and R-Jarja, while the AN-01 Tristan and the mobile armor in the later half of the story were created from scratch by Kim. When the AN-01 Tristan first made its appearance with the novel’s debut, that was, in fact, the anime design being redrawn by Ark Performance for their novel.

— All the mobile suits had very different beginnings. Well, going back to introductions, what is your favorite Gundam series (not including Twilight Axis).

Taniguchi: I wonder…?

Abe: I think answering with The Origin is the best course of action (laughs).

Taniguchi: I do like Origin (laughs), but if we’re going by art I like Gundam F91. F91 has charming characters and unique mech designs. I think it’s a prodigious work, and rather like it.

— What is your favorite scene in F91?

Taniguchi: My favorite scene is in the franchise is actually from a different series. It’s also not as much a favorite scene as it is my favorite suit is the Sazabi, it’s glorious. I love the introduction scene of the Sazabi. I was so ecstatic that the Sazabi was making an appearance in Twilight Axis that I told my son (laughs).


— Oh ho ho, so you might go so as far to say your favorite scene is in Twilight Axis, as well! Kim, what about you?

Kim: Out of all the Gundams my favorite is 0083 Stardust Memory. When it comes to dramatic development, I like 0080 War in the Pocket.

If I had to pick a scene from each that stuck with me, the last scene from 0083 where Nina doesn’t choose Kou, but Gato. I thought women were pretty scary (laughs sarcastically).

For WitP it was also the last scene. I felt for the drama of Chris and Bernie, pilots who could never be together, dueling without knowing who the other was, all while Al rushes over to try and stop them before it’s too late.

Taniguchi: Are you speaking from personal experience?

Kim: It’s because I don’t have that kind of experience I’m satisfied by those scenes (laughs).

— Abe, how about you, what is your favorite series?

Abe: Speaking from an animation perspective, 0083 Stardust Memories is also my favorite. I love Sano [Hirotoshi]’s work [1]. From a story, perspective Turn A Gundam is my favorite. On a personal level, I have a fondness for the SD Gundam series, like Knight Gundams. My favorites are all over the place, but these three stand out.

Kim: Abe is the most knowledgeable when it comes to Gundam.

Abe: My favorite scene is in Zeta Gundam: A New Translation III – Love Is the Pulse of the Stars with the colony laser battle. The three colors of the Hyakushiki, Qubeley, and The O standing out in battle with Zeta Gundam — that scene. From a direction standpoint, that had me on edge. The Qubeley’s funnels, the beam confuse, I’m partial to that kind of content.

— Ah, that scene did bring up a whirl wind of emotions!

[1] Sano Hirotoshi worked as the chief mechanical animator director for Gundam 0083 Stardust Memories.

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