Turn A Gundam episode 43 audio commentary
Translation by Mia U.
Contextual assistance by Feez
The Turn A Gundam BD BOX 1&2 include select episode commentaries by various voice actors & actresses and staff members. This episode features Paku Romi (Loran), Akira Yasuda (character designer), Hideyuki Tomioka (producer), and Tetsuko Takahashi (writer).
Romi: Turn A Gundam, episode 43 Dark History! Staff commentary!
Romi: Hello everybody! This is Paku Romi, and I played Loran!
Akira: My name is Akira Yasuda and I did the character design.
Tomioka: My name is Hideyuki Tomioka and I was the producer at the time.
Tetsuko: My name is Tetsuko Takahashi and I wrote the script.
Fujitsu: My name is Ryouta Fujitsu and I’ll be keeping the dialogue going. These staff members will be hosting the commentary for episode 43. Thank you!
Fujitsu: I wanna start off with Tomioka-san. When you first started setting up and planning for Turn A Gundam, what were you feeling?
Romi: Yeah, I’m definitely interested in that.
Tomioka: That’s a loaded question, and it’s a lot to handle without any kind of head’s up, but...
Romi: It’s been a while!
Tomioka: That’s true. We can talk together later about...things.
Tomioka: As far as Turn A Gundam goes...
Tomioka: So right before Turn A Gundam there was a project called “Brain Powerd”. And...I worked with the director Tomino on it. That was our first collaboration.
Romi: Oh. That was the first collaboration?
Tomioka: Yeah. So up until then, I was with Sunrise for about twenty years. And I worked on other works. Well, I always knew about Gundam, but...while working on “Brain Powerd,” it was announced that Tomino-san was going to do the next Gundam. And I was runner up to work with him.
Tomioka: And so I thought to myself “This is going to be a lot of work.” And I asked him “What are you thinking about making?” So he brought out all his plans, and the plot, and the drafts. And we had to decide on the designer, the character designer, the writer, etc. So we started with that. And then the scenario kept getting bigger. We started to do a little more drafting. And then Bandai got in, and then Daiten, and the TV studio...ideas became a lot more solidified.
Tomioka: That’s how it went.
Romi: Was this all during “Brain Powerd”?
Tomioka: Yes, this was all during the making of the second half of “Brain Powerd”. Two projects were going on.
Romi: Seriously? Then that means...Tomino-san lied to me. A little bit.
Tomioka: Oh really? I bet. What kind of lie? But casting happened so much later, I mean...didn’t this air in April?
Tomioka: So that means that we started recording the previous year in...
Tomioka: August. Wait, no. If it aired in April...then it had to be the previous year in...oh, wait.
Takahashi: It would be soon after the new year. It was February.
Tomioka: Really? That late?
Romi: I believe it was February.
Tomioka: Oh, I didn’t check before coming here. It was that late!?
Takahasi: It was February.
Romi: It was February, or maybe even March, right?
Takahashi: About a month before.
Tomioka: Wow, that is so tight.
Takahashi: Yes. It was a really tight schedule. At the earliest, it would have been January.
Fujitsu: Tomioka-san, as a producer from Sunrise...
Fujitsu: ...was it a little special to be working on Gundam? In both good and bad ways.
Tomioka: Yes, it was.
Romi: Wait, what do you mean both in good and bad ways?
Fujitsu: I just assumed that there’d be a lot of pressure.
Tomioka: Back then...yeah there was a lot of pressure. I mean, a few years before that I did one too...
Takahashi: In 1996 you did X.
Tomioka: And in 1995 I did Gundam Wing. And that wasn’t with Tomino-san. The following year I worked on Gundam X. It was one Gundam after another. I figured that the Gundams were done and over with. And then I get to know Tomino-san, and he says he’s going to do another one, so...I went with the flow, really. I didn’t have a choice. So I worked with him. It was exhausting.
Romi: What exactly was so exhausting?
Tomioka: For one, it’s another Gundam.
Tomioka: Doing a Gundam series is so hard. And working with Tomino-san can be very hard. Those two combined is a challenge! You just...there is no comparison.
Romi: I don’t even know how to respond to that. I hear this from everyone, about how difficult it can be to work with Tomino-san.
Tomioka: Yes, it is.
Romi: What exactly is so difficult? I mean, specifically...
Takahashi: You end up working three times more.
Romi: Like, the lines?
Takahashi: No, the manual labor. The entire workload. Seriously.
Tomioka: The thing about Tomino, is...
Takahashi: He works non-stop.
Tomioka: I mean, with Tomino-san, it’s just...wait. How many years has it been?
ALL: Fifteen years.
Tomioka: Fifteen years?
Tomioka: Fifteen years, so I imagine that Tomino-san has calmed down significantly, but...as far as Tomino-san before, well, he’s just frightening. He would shout a lot, he was irate, he’s truly terrifying.
Yasuda: During “Victory”, it was quite a unique work environment.
Tomioka: Yeah, seriously though. Think about back in the days of “Zeta Gundam”.
Yasuda: Of course.
Tomioka: It was so overwhelming.
Romi: I’ve really only seen him yell once during Turn A Gundam.
Tomioka: I bet you that he was yelling a lot more back in the studio. A few dozen times, in fact.
Yasuda: Actually. He yells more now.
Tomioka: Oh man, he’s back to how he used to be!
Yasuda: Yeah. He rebounded.
Takahashi: Back to square one.
Tomioka: I’m so sorry!
Romi: Are you serious!
Yasuda: I couldn’t say for “V,” but. He’s doing much better than during Turn A.
Romi: Wait. He wasn’t well during Turn A?
Tomioka: Yeah, he must’ve recovered a lot.
Yasuda: I think he was just holding it in a lot during Turn A. To not get mad. I was yelled at four times in a row.
Romi: Wait. Is this present day?
Tomioka: It’s rare that he’d get mad at you.
Yasuda: I think it’s because we’re closer now. More like relatives. Back during Turn A, I was treated more like a guest.
Tomioka: I mean, like...
Romi: So now that you’re practically relatives, he’s just all out...? You get yelled at more?
Yasuda: Yes, I get in trouble often.
Fujitsu: Yasuda-san, Turn A was the first time you worked with director Tomino. What were you first impressions? What was it like?
Yasuda: He actually called on me first about two years before Turn A, around 1996. We were in touch since then, but really though, I started working with him in October of 1998. Looking back, that is amazingly late. At first he wanted me to come in to do lines, but I ended up doing more of the character developing, because he asked me to.
Fujitsu: I had a question about after Turn A. You’re known now as Aki-man. But, why were you credited as Akira Yasuda in Turn A?
Yasuda: I always wanted to go as Aki-man. When I was asked about the credit rolls, and I said “Put me as ‘Aki-man,’” the director just cracked up. And I thought “Oh no, this is no good”.
Fujitsu: Oh, so you were discouraged.
Yasuda: Yes. I mean, this Godly person just laughed at me.
Yasuda: I could never use such a name. So after that, I went with Akira Yasuda in Gundam.
Fujitsu: Oh, please go first.
Romi: The workload triples...?
Takahashi: We’re storyboarding until late into the night. You’d only go home to eat. Even now. It’s just endless work.
Romi: Is there a lot of re-doing, or rewriting? Or...
Takahashi: The director’s just...thinking. He comes up with so many ideas, and he approaches scenes, questions how to work out the gimmicks, the visuals...or how to move the mechanics that Yasuda-san comes up with...and he really thinks about how to make everything interesting. He writes and draws all of this. And he researches a lot.
Romi: So the staff is just dragged into all of this?
Takahashi: I mean. We have to work.
Yasuda: As far as how my current work goes...when you’re on the planning board, you have a lot more leeway.
Yasuda: But once the director starts to look over the storyboard, he’s working ten times faster.
Yasuda: No one can keep up.
Takahashi: Exactly. It’s just...totally amazing.
Yasuda: And once that...that starts...it doesn’t matter what kind of pace you were working at before. You can’t produce at the rate that he wants, and the director ends up working so much more than us. No one can say anything against him. He’s working. He’s working so much, that we have nothing bad to say to him. I’m sure that if I were working more than him, I’d have negative things to share.
Romi: He’s just that focused, huh!
Takahashi: I mean, even back then. Even during Turn A, he’d do the storyboard, check it, he’d add more, and he just does all of this so quickly.
Yasuda: We’re just left behind.
Takahashi: Once there’s some sort of scenario, he runs with it. Never looks back.
Romi: So...the amount of work he completes in a day, is just an impressive amount...?
Takahashi: It’s not the amount.
Yasuda: No, the panels are an average amount.
Takahashi: It’s not the amount of completed work.
Romi: Not the amount...
Takahashi: He comes up with ideas. He comes up with interesting scripts.
Yasuda: Right. He comes up with stuff like what’s happening in the background.
Takahashi: How the actors should act...
Fujitsu: I wanted to ask you, Takahashi-san...how do your meetings about the screenplay go? How do you guys proceed?
Takahashi: Tomioka-san mentioned this earlier...so the planning goes on and on. Nothing is set in stone until the very end.
Fujitsu: Is this the so-called “Tomino memo”?
Takahashi: Yes. So then Muraita-san or...Hoshiyama-san at the time, would receive all of these memos, or Takayama-san, or Asakawa-san...Okochi-san...would work on it.
Tomioka: They’re all the staff on Dai-issen.
Takahashi: Yes, they all are.
Tomioka: This was Okochi-san’s first work.
Takahashi: Kaguchi-san called him in.
Tomioka: I’m reminded now, after hearing you speak, Yasuda-san. Before starting the designs, I remember going with Tomino-san to your old company- you know, because you were still contracted with them...
Tomioka: ...and we went into the city, to the office...
Takahashi: So you met him?
Tomioka: No, not with Yasuda-san himself...
Takahasi: Wait...you said hi to his superior?
Tomioka: That was the beginning.
Yasuda: Yes. I was with Capcom. I was actually technically working for Capcom, but on top of that, I worked for Sunrise for half a year.
Tomioka: Right, right! I remember now. You were with Capcom!
Takahashi: But you were always at the desk.
Tomioka: I remember!
Romi: Wait, is that even allowed?
Takahasi: No, that’s why they had to go to Capcom...
Yasuda: At the time it was allowed.
Takahashi: They contracted him.
Tomioka: Yeah, they gave us permission.
Tomioka: That’s why he had to come all the way to Tokyo.
Yasuda: Yes. They provided lodge too.
Romi: Why was Tomino-san so determined to work with you?
Yasuda: I think it’s because he wanted to make a connection with the gaming industry.
Yasuda: So he kinda looked up a lot of people working with video games.
Tomioka: Yeah, we found you.
Yasuda: We went out to eat once.
Tomioka: We scouted you out.
Yasuda: And from the get go, I got in trouble for a video game I made. He was like “Fighting games are not good! You keep attacking opponents that have already fallen to the ground!” He was so mad. I was like “He’s totally right.” I bet he knew how useful I’d be, just because he could see how much I looked up to him like a follower.
Romi: Like a follower!
Yasuda: I don’t think he was into me for my skills. He just knew I’d do everything he told me to do. I still think so.
Takahashi: So the director would give out these memos, and every week we’d meet to look over the scenarios. And we’d build on top of them. The director would then come out with a broad storyline for a few episodes, like between episode x and y. So we’d all work together, the writers would come up with a plot, the plot would be molded into the storyline...and then the director would put it into the storyboard. So there were a lot of...it’s not that the storyline changes much, but...
Takahashi: The memos were really just guidelines...like the bones that kept the meat together. And the writers would just bite in, and try their best to incorporate their ideas. And you had to keep it exciting, so you’d have to include battle scenes...I mean, you have writers like Ai Ota who just throw in Machu Picchu, and I put in my touch with the cow.
Romi: Oh, you did that!
Takahashi: We were really competing with our own ideas, to see whether or not the director would be willing to work with them.
Romi: Wait, so the Machu Picchu...and the cow...did the director not...
Takahashi: No, it was already in place, but the writers had to develop them. They had to play along, and make it go this way or that. If we had something interesting to add, the director would consider it. Maybe Hoshiyama-san would make Loran cuter.
Romi: You know how you had said that these memos would be around from the beginning until the very last episode?
Romi: Are they totally unbending?
Tomioka: No, no. Things changed in the middle.
Romi: In the middle?
Takahashi: Yeah, that’s what made it interesting.
Tomioka: Ha! Well...
Romi: Wow! What was it like in the beginning?
Takahashi: It was a lot more cut and dry.
Yasuda: Kihel was only supposed to be around for one episode. I’m pretty sure...That’s why she was named “Kieru”.
Takahashi: Haruin Fukuhito was a lot more invested in the original plots...he used it in the novels. You could read it in his works.
Tomioka: Yeah, it was a lot different from how it turned out.
Takahashi: I think it’d be an interesting read. He used a lot of what the director had originally planned.
Yasuda: I think it was cut and dry until the last second, too.
Romi: So, were they not supposed to go back to the moon in the end?
Takahashi: No, they were always going to go to the moon.
Romi: That was set. But...was it not supposed to be a good ending? Or...
Takahashi: I don’t think it really steered too far away from the idea of how people went to the moon and came back.
Romi: Wow, I mean...
Romi: Just to think that...I mean. I’d like to see those original Tomino memos.
Tomioka: I bet they’re still around.
Takahashi: I brought them. But it won’t mean anything, if you read them now, it’s so hard to understand.
Romi: Wow. You know, I didn’t watch too much animation back then.
Tomioka: So “Brain Powerd” was your first...
Romi: It was my first one.
Tomioka: Yeah, because Turn A was your second.
Romi: Yes. I mean, people called it the “masterpiece theater in house”...and I didn’t really care.
Tomioka: Oh, about Turn A?
Romi: Did you anticipate that kind of...reaction?
Yasuda: I don’t know. At first when we first started drafting, they wanted the characters to be dressed like modern day people. After a few meetings, they told me that they wanted to change the clothes to be about 100 years old. So then...I think that’s how it made that kind of turn.
Fujitsu: I’ve also heard that Loran changed a lot too. I mean, he went from a boyish character to...what we know now.
Yasuda: That’s true.
Yasuda: I think that when they made that kind of change in setting...it was a lot easier to design the character. If it weren’t for that...
Takahashi: I remember lending you Takarazuka Elisabeth videos.
Yasuda: Oh, right.
Takahashi: For the clothes.
Yasuda: Thank you very much for that.
Takahashi: You asked for dainty clothes, so...
Yasuda: It was difficult though.
Takahashi: I mean...it’s around the era of Ludwig.
Yasuda: That’s true.
Takahashi: It’s a perfect source...and I mean...we were always looking for more sources of inspiration
Yasuda: We were looking for Victorian era, up to Edwardian times...And then finally, Sochie was wearing 1900s clothing. I did a lot of research.
Tomioka: It was interesting.
Takahashi: Yes, it was.
Fujitsu: When did you guys really start developing around the “dark history”?
Tomioka: Yeah, that came up in the middle of the series. It wasn’t something we had planned from the beginning.
Takahashi: I don’t think there even was a term “dark history”. It started with Turn A.
Yasuda: That’s so true.
Takahashi: The director was reading a lot into that sort of literature...conspiracies, and such. So the director is the first person to coin the words ‘kurorekishi’ “dark history” with its current meaning.
Romi: I know, right? I hear people use it now, like “Ah, my dark history, blah blah,” and I’m always like, “that’s from Turn A”.
Romi: Yes it is!
Takahashi: We were the ones to make it popular...
Fujitsu: It’s a common term now.
Takahashi: You know, the director was looking into historical texts, with discrepancies.
Tomioka: I had no idea!
Yasuda: She’s right.
Takahashi: He’s the one who coined it.
Tomioka: I had no idea it was Turn A!
Yasuda: I always think of Turn A too.
Romi: I know that people use it, without having watched Turn A, but I always think “Yo, that’s from Turn A!”
Tomioka: I had no idea at all. I mean, I used it myself, but do other people too?
Takahashi: Yeah, it’s been popularized.
Romi: The general populous is so...
Fujitsu: It’s used quite often.
Romi: Young girls totally use it.
Tomioka: I use it quite often. I had no idea it originated here.
Romi: Yes, it did.
Romi: Girls are like “don’t look into my dark history!”
Yasuda: It’s true.
Takahashi: We were looking at old Gundams too, and watching the older footage.
Tomioka: With Tomino though...
Tomioka: I know that he was just in total denial of all of the old Gundams, ready to start fresh and completely new. He was constantly looking into the future of Gundam, at the next project, and the next...
Romi: Even that scene...
Takahashi: This time though, I think he really took it all in.
Yasuda: That’s true
Takahashi: Even with the scenario, he’d end up writing out “G Gundam,” or like...
Takahashi: He did that.
Yasuda: He did do that.
Tomioka: That’s totally understandable though.
Romi: Incredible. I mean, like, even with G-Reco and other ones, I’ve heard people call Turn A “the newest Gundam”.
Takahashi: That’s true. It’s set over two thousand years into the future, so...I know it’s in what’s called the “Correct Century”
Yasuda: I mean, more so than the years that went by and Turn A happened, within Gundam...
Yasuda: I think no matter what happens, the ending in Turn A is the end of Gundam.
Romi: It’s a really phenomenal work!
Yasuda: I think so too.
Romi: And like...whenever I watch...when I watched it recently, it’s so hard to not notice how good the lines are. Is this Tomino-san’s language?
Takahashi: I mean, when you listen in...
Tomioka: Yeah, it’s mostly Tomino-san. He comes up with the scenario, does storyboarding...and I mean...I’m pretty sure he rewrote about 70% of the script. I think he didn’t touch about 30% of it.
Romi: This is episode 43, so I don’t know if it’s appropriate to bring up the last episode, but...
Fujitsu: That’s okay.
Romi: In the last episode, when Lily says to Guin, “why don’t you wear a skirt!”
Romi: Guin says something along the lines of how the world isn’t ready for someone to rule while wearing a skirt. I think that’s really progressive. And then at the end, she’s like “I’ll rule while wearing a skirt” and she parts ways with Guin. It’s just...so amazing. All I can say is that’s amazing! How could “a skirt” be used so often in the dialogue, and be interesting! I think that’s so fascinating! For instance...
Fujitsu: But Tomioka-san. When you’re watching Tomino-san just working so hard, as a producer...did you ever feel that you needed to balance things out better, for the overall project?
Tomioka: Balance...I don’t really know what you mean, but...back then, I spent so much time with him. I was with him most nights, and while dubbing, there were no breaks. He was just drawing things out the whole time.
Tomioka: We were always talking. I can’t really come up with anything specific right now, but...as far as balance goes...once you get going, and you’re in the later half of the project, my part was mostly done. Until the last episode aired, it was a lot of work.
Fujitsu: A year is a long time.
Tomioka: It was long. At that point he was...sixty...or just turned sixty.
Takahashi: No, it was before he was sixty.
Tomioka: It was before he was sixty. And he’s still at it. That’s just fantastic. And working similarly to then! I thought that he would be done working after this...but he’s still working! And he’s healthy again! There was this one episode where...the project had some set backs, and the illustrations weren’t done. Tomino-san took over.
Tomioka: That was just...he stayed up two nights in a row, and finished it all himself.
Fujitsu: Oh really?
Tomioka: Back then I was like...
Fujitsu: That’s amazing.
Tomioka: I mean, I could only apologize then
Takahashi: That’s 300 cuts.
Tomioka: It was just so...
Yasuda: To think that someone can do that alone...
Romi: Whenever we’d finish recording, I’d see him drawing in the cafe downstairs, and...
Tomioka: He was always drawing.
Romi: I had no idea what that meant at all then, so I’d just be like “Oh what’s that! Cool!” He’d be like “You know, I’m actually not that good at this”. He’d be using red pens, and everything.
Fujitsu: We could go on forever, but, the ending theme’s started.
Yasuda: That was so quick.
Fujitsu: It is.
Romi: It’s too quick! We really need to do another episode with these people!
Tomioka: The first ending would have been so crazy though. He was so determined to use Araki-san’s photograph!
Tomioka: We needed to get permission, go meet him...
Yasuda: But it was so cool.
Yasuda: It looked like a spaceship too.
Tomioka: And then the opening...it was just so...He was so determined to have Hideki Saijo sing it! So we had to go meet him too!
Romi: It’s so cool though.
Fujitsu: I can only imagine...you had to go through and do all of the paperwork, and figure out the logistics...so. Yasuda-san, any last words?
Yasuda: Watching this, I just remember how hard I worked then. I’ll keep working hard.
Fujitsu: Thank you very much. Takahashi-san?
Takahashi: Yes. This was my second time working with director Tomino. I’m working on my third one now. I really want to continue our great relationship. Thank you very much.
Fujitsu: Tomioka-san, please.
Tomioka: Yes. I just want to make another amazing work.
Fujitsu: Finally, Park-san, what do you have to say after hearing everyone speak?
Romi: It was so inspiring, hearing you, and I want to hear more.
Fujitsu: Thank you very much.
ALL: Thank you very much.