Gundam Creator Tomino @ NYAF

Mobile Suit Gundam celebrated its 30th anniversary this year, and creator Yoshiyuki Tomino (富野 由悠季) was the guest of honor at New York Anime Festival.  Anime Diet recorded his keynote address.

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(Edit, 9-30, 10:13 AM: the progress bar and time are now working. Plus, the video is watermarked, for the convenience of all the video thieves out there.)

Tomino was very dignified throughout his appearance at the convention.  In keeping with his professional demeanor, he made a great effort to be polite.  Even when asked directly, he refused to say anything bad about his experiences working with Osamu Tezuka, creator of Astro Boy (鉄腕アトム). It has been widely observed that in the early days, Tezuka’s budget was tight and his deadlines were brutal, which many have speculated may have led to a hostile working environment.  During the Q&A session following his speech, Tomino suggested that anime creation in general creates friction, noting, “If working together with others was easy, I would have produced thirty more works like Gundam.”

Tomino signing a sketch of the R78 Gundam. Photography by Eric M Chu.
Tomino signing a sketch of the R78 Gundam. Photography by Eric M Chu.

In person at his autograph signing, Tomino was charming and playful, joking with fans, posing for pictures, and drawing smiley faces alongside his autographs.  However, his patience was tried by a poor translator, who was unable to keep up with him despite stopping him a few times to request clarifications.  A bit of checking revealed that the translator used for Tomino had prior experience in translation, but almost none in live translation.  The translator apparently wanted the honor of handling the keynote address, and Tomino assented, a decision that he later regretted.  At just over nine minutes into his speech, Tomino’s staff issued a statement that “a proper translation will be available later,” causing a strong reaction from the frustrated audience.

To be fair, Tomino’s discussion became very complex.  I was not able to follow it all myself.  Essentially, his rhetoric went along the lines of, “A picture may be beautiful, but that alone does not make cinema.  A story may be excellent, but it alone does not make cinema.  What is it, then, that elevates work to the level of cinema?  It is only through the synthesis of disparate elements from different creators that cinema is produced.”

It was an attempt by one of Japan’s finest creative minds to give a deep discussion of art, and I truly appreciated being in the presence of a genius willing to share a glimpse of how he viewed his work.

Tomino posing.  Photography by Eric M Chu.
Tomino posing for us. Photography by Eric M Chu.

8 thoughts on “Gundam Creator Tomino @ NYAF”

  1. I don’t really know about ‘finest creative minds’ and ‘genius,’ but he is a very entertaining man, and his talk was quite entertaining as well.
    The best moments was when he made the bald-faced admission that the Zeta movies were done to follow the money, and how civilians made for good leads because they are ‘easier to kill.’
    He mentions cinema as if it is above ‘mere’ entertainment or at least he suggests that there is a hierarchy to art. It isn’t something I agree with, but it is interesting should he consider his animated works as artistic heights.
    As for your embedded media player, somehow I can’t see a progress bar (maybe it’s just my screen) so I couldn’t tell how long the video is and how much of it is left. I thing these are good considerations to look into; as it would suck to not be able to finish it and have no idea how much I’ve missed.

  2. @pic no. 2: Tomino wants you! XD
    and why the heck Tomino didn’t create a sequel to Brain Powerd. Well, a spin-off would do, LOL!
    Anno can’t beat Tomino. Tomino good storyteller indeed.

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