Here we continue the interview with Bandai’s Hirofumi Kishiyama by online hobby shop Ami Ami. This portion was published on April 4, 2013. See the original post here.
Imagination tied to the Mecha Collection that wants the users to keep following along in anticipation, as they wonder what will be included next
Kishiyama: The pedestal of the Cosmo Zero in the Yamato 2199 plamodel series has a standard in common with “action base 2,” and I gave the example that can be used for Yamato, Garmillas warships, and others. Following in response to the users who asked “How shall I play with these?”, I think this is a point where I want to give them a big grin when they assemble these from now on. Therefore, speaking of plamodels in the Yamato Mecha Collection [translator's note: the series of 30 mini-kits released from 1978-1981], there is something printed on the box bottom of the Yamato from 2199, now on sale.
Interviewer: It’s sold as a “package within a package!” I was also surprised to see it.
Kishiyama: The lineup of the triple-deck carrier, number 16 in the Mecha Collection, was carried out. Green, purple and blue ones were seen in the story, but the Mecha Collection kit is only green. When the Gundam era came about, “color variation” products began to appear, but there wasn’t an example of that during the Yamato era, so there were no purple and blue variants in the Mecha Collection.
Therefore, when your eyes are drawn to today’s “Gundam aesthetic,” I think, “this method of approach will also be accepted,” so the mold color which used to be green was perfectly changed into blue as a bonus for the Yamato 2199 kit that came out in 2012, and purple as a bonus for Earth Fleet Set 1.
Interviewer: As for the package, besides reproducing the complete atmosphere of the old days, it can also be cut out at the perforations and assembled.
Kishiyama: The pattern of the 2199 plamodel series coming with something extra is continuing with a reflection satellite that comes with Garmillas Warship Set 1. The Polmeria-class assault carrier planned for May release will come with a carrier-based Melanka plane that launches from it, and furthermore a Mecha Collection-sized Melanka will be bundled with it.
Interviewer: Separate from the 1/1000 Melanka scaled with the mother ship? If it’s a fighter plane of the Mecha Collection, it will conversely become quite large compared to other vessels.
Kishiyama: Since the wingspan is approximately 17cm, it is fairly large. In fact, making it in that size also has some meaning. When the 2199 models are released one after another, they come with something extra. I want to remind everyone’s imagination that “the Mecha Collection size was fun, too.”
When we have resale of existing models and development of new products, it greatly increases the sales of the Mecha Collection. By making one that can fit in your hand and let you arrange them side by side, the “bonus” demonstrates the effect of pleasant memories. By continuing to overdo things like this, I want the users to keep following along, looking forward to them and wondering, “I wonder what else they’ll include.”
Interviewer: The Mecha Collection is a time-tested series with constant sales and new 2199 additions for fans. It’s really nice that in addition to the release of plamodels, the collection is enhanced for the first time in decades.
Interviewer: Other than Yamato, you recently dealt with the MG [Master Grade] Nu Gundam. Do you like thinking about elaborate gimmicks?
Kishiyama: It is a Gunpla model of comparatively complex mechanisms to be in charge of. I do love twisting and turning the parts. (Laughs) The nature of it is that it makes me happy to watch the user’s face light up with pleasure, I make it material to draw upon as I ask myself how to make the 2199 plamodel series just as much fun.
In both Yamato and 2199, the detail markings have increased, including wavy lines and letter characters. When we made the Yamato model, there was no decal sheet since that information didn’t exist when the kit was made, so we released them at a later time with the hull markings for Earth Fleet Set 1. Since the ship names, such as Kirishima must be put on, a decal sheet was inevitable. So we decided to put in the extra markings for Yamato if they became clear later.
Interviewer: It is the white lines on the bow.
Kishiyama: If you buy Earth Fleet Set 1, you get the markings for Yamato‘s bow, and you can detail-up the stern if you buy Earth Fleet Set 2, released in March. Because these items have something in common, it’s a gimmick that makes the series more interesting and enjoyable. A concept learned later gets replicated, and the plamodel is made along with the progress of the story. Even Bandai says there’s no reason all the answers have to be known in advance. As the story progresses, these things will increase even more. (Laughs)
There’s a base in the package with Yamato, but if you also use the optional action base [packaged with the "Space Panorama" version], you can also display it in the state of “submarine action” from Episode 5.
Interviewer: That was a novel interpretation. When Yamato goes upside-down‚Ä¶
Kishiyama: We saw it in the preview and said, “well, okay, let’s do some more processing.” It’s interesting to watch a video and be able to reproduce a scene in real time. The people making this plamodel really love Yamato. (Laughs)
“As Yamato performs a space warp, so too does development know-how get immediately injected into the the next product”
Kishiyama: For example, because Gunpla has a history of more than 30 years, know-how is accumulated and we can now make a plamodel of amazing quality. Now, you naturally can’t suddenly ask to make something just like that. On the other hand, we’ve still only just started making Yamato. Gunpla has a certain “this item in this time” equation that directs the manufacturing, but how to make a Yamato ship cannot materialize from the Gunpla know-how because it’s a different field.
Interviewer: If MG [Master Grade] is the concept for Gunpla, is there another common concept for this, like HG [High Grade]?
Kishiyama: We’re in the midst of accumulating Yamato know-how as we make them. Although Gunpla harnesses decades of accumulation, there isn’t much for Yamato, so each project has its own trials and we grope for solutions to problems. Development know-how continues to get injected into each item exactly like doing a warp.
For example, with Earth Fleet Set 1 there was the problem of “circular-sliced color arrangement.” This is a peculiarity of the Earth fleet, and since Bandai has an image in the world for “color separation on its no-coating label parts,” we had to have a trial to recreate the color design in how the parts were split up. As it turns out, some parts sadly didn’t come out as I hoped they would.
In terms of “How do you fit together this combination of colors?”, it was hard to fit them to the surface, owing to how the metallic molds are made, making it easy for a wedge-shaped crevice to open. Thus, the composition methods exposed some of the bad habits we got into.
Interviewer: A crevice will inevitably open due to the restrictions of metallic molds.
Kishiyama: Even a small ship like the Yukikaze is composed of 40 parts, and I wonder how far we can stick to the color reproduction and split parts at this size. If there was one trial with Earth Fleet Set 1, it was pursuing the accuracy of the mating surface of the parts, raising a problem on that point.
In the following Garmillas Warship Set 1, though the ship’s body is divided into three main parts, in this area (see image) there’s a dividing line. It’s easy for large parts to become distorted, so the metallic mold is made so that the finished seam will be inconspicuous. It allowed us to instantly reflect upon the lessons of Earth Fleet Set 1 from just a little while earlier. The early and comprehensive speed of evolution between items is one of the surprising points of the 2199 plamodel series.
Interviewer: This one here is still unpainted and unfinished, but even though it’s composed of such complex curved surfaces, the joins between parts are fairly inconspicuous. (The part joins are more conspicuous in the photo than they are on the actual model.)
Kishiyama: Even as we naturally went along, thinking “I want that to be there,” we weren‚Äôt able to deal with some priorities on some points, and when I reflected on it after development, one point I realized was that in Gunpla, since there’s a strong continuity between items, you can influence the next item in the line. However, in the 2199 plamodel series, a lesson learned on one item can be immediately reflected in the next one. By doing this repeatedly, the evolutionary process of plamodel technology is carried out with the threat of warp speed.
Interviewer: It’s exactly like the speed of evolution Yamato experiences while en route in the story. Make sure the people at Bandai’s Shizuoka factory don’t get “warp sickness”‚Ä¶
It’s not just the ships that are amazing! State-of-the-art technology used on the fighter plane models
Kishiyama: The Cosmo Zero is the fighter plane used by Susumu Kodai and Akira Yamamoto on board Yamato. Though it was made into a 1/72 scale plamodel, the builders of other model airplanes may be a little surprised by the things we took into consideration. Given that this is mostly a snap-together kit, I think we did a good job of reproducing the yellow trim of the wing with different parts composition. The yellow and silver trim is attached only to the thick portion of the wings.
Interviewer: They’re separate parts, despite being so thin and in such complex forms?
Kishiyama: It is not difficult to make separate parts, but it becomes easier for us if the customer can finish it by following the direction to “attach it with glue.” We take advantage of the “sliding metallic mold” technology of plamodels. The slide makes a small hole in the thick portion of the wing, and the position of the color trim parts is decided by using the hole.
Interviewer: I would say that, generally, a mold for a plamo is top and bottom (or left and right) like a taiyaki, and is pulled in two directions. However, a “slide mold” is multidirectional, to produce a more complex shape. On the Cosmo Zero, a slide mold makes the hole in the image, since that shape could not be made by two molds coming together. (See photo below)
Kishiyama: On the 2199 plamodel series, know-how is picked up and increased on development of the ships and particularly on the planes.
Interviewer: The Cosmo Zero was released because it’s the personal machine of both Kodai and Yamamoto, but I’m still expecting a Cosmo Falcon‚Ä¶
Kishiyama: I want to put out a Cosmo Falcon. As the person in charge, I want to commercialize all the mecha in 2199.
“The joy of knowing things”? The love of seeing the big picture of Gundam and Yamato
Kishiyama: 2199 is really well-made, and while I imagine that those who are following the new show are well-aware of the changes, even as this is a remake of the old show, it’s setting things up to follow in a sequel as well. This is a point where it’s similar to Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, in that during the battle between Char and Amuro from original Mobile Suit Gundam up through Char’s Counterattack, it acknowledges that Kamille and Judau also existed. Unicorn‘s author Harutoshi Fukui takes the point of view that there’s a “joy of knowing things,” telling the story while constantly weaving in all these various historical threads.
Interviewer: “The joy of knowing things?”
Kishiyama: Fukui says “Gundam Double Zeta is the most unfortunate, and I feel sorry for it,” so he puts a lot of references to Double Zeta in Gundam Unicorn. This allows the Axis Mobile Suits to appear, which differ from contemporary image quality, and we work to reattach a “cool” factor to this same dimension again. Gundam Unicorn raises the stock of Double Zeta, and Mr. Fukui makes Unicorn by pulling a thread through the “cloth” of Gundam so that both people who are familiar and unfamiliar with Double Zeta are exposed to it in Unicorn. It’s not just a Universal Century sequel, it’s like “all Gundam love.”
Interviewer: He has Mobile Suit Variation mecha show up throughout the series, making Unicorn a real joy to watch for Gundam-lovers.
Kishiyama: Characters from Yamato 2 and Yamato III appear in 2199 from the beginning. Ryu Hijikata from Yamato 2 appears in Chapter 1 as a friend of Captain Okita. The story is given depth by incorporating characters that fans know. Even the character called Captain Wolf Frakken who appears with the dimensional submarine in Episode 13 appeared in Yamato III with the name Frakken. This is the exact same reasoning as in Unicorn. These things cause some people to say, “I saw all of Yamato and I like the originals. It’s good to have a sequel.” This makes for “a work that is more pleasant by knowing.”
(Hijikata is seen on board the Kirishima in 2199)
Also, as Yamato continues its advance, it is thought that the Garmillas empire may be weakening, so then the White Comet Empire (Gatlantis) appears in 2199.
Interviewer: “White Comet Empire” is a reference from a later Yamato work, like Hijikata.
Kishiyama: From Farewell and Yamato 2. With the direction that the Garmillas empire defeats powerful enemies, it brings on the fun while showing off the strength of Garmillas. My dream plan is to rapidly come out with merchandise for each new ship that appears, and release it in 1/1000 scale as it interlocks with the charm of 2199.
Special thanks to Neil Nadelman for translation support.