Even though I was nervous, this interview turned out great. I am extremely honored to be able to have this experience, and have learned a great deal more about this legend in the process. You can either watch the video above, or read a cleaned transcript below.
Anime Vice: Given how popular Gundam is in America, if given a chance would you consider working with an American studio instead of a Japanese one?
Tomino: No, thank you.
Anime Vice: Your most recent project was the Ring of Gundam short film, many fans are wondering what kind of message you are trying to convey with that short film?
Tomino: Ring of Gundam is actually a small preview of what Gundam would be like if we continued making Gundam, and what fans could expect. It’s like a trailer.
Tomino: If I could find financial backers, absolutely.
Anime Vice: Fantastic! I know one of the reasons why you wanted to make the Zeta “A New Translations” trilogy was so that you could change the ending, are there any other parts of the Gundam universe that you would like to go back and change?
Anime Vice: That’s good.
Tomino: Why is that good?
Anime Vice: I love the original, and the New Translation movies as well, but I think the original is perfect the way it is.
Anime Vice: Now on that note, do you have any plans on directing a double zeta “A New Translations” trilogy as well?
Tomino: I haven’t heard anything about any sort of possibility of me directing one.
Anime Vice: Ok, it’s probably never going to happen then. How are your American fans different than your Japanese fans?
Anime Vice: What do you see are the greatest advantages of using animation as a storytelling medium? What do you see as the greatest disadvantages?
Tomino: It is possible using anime to do the story creation in a much more logical stepwise fashion than live action. But I have to say, given that how there are a lot of Hollywood movies that use CG techniques, one might think that they picked up a logical “anime-like” production process. However, that is not, unfortunately, true. I think they attempt to imitate animation as a production process, but they fail.
There are two main disadvantages to animation. One in particular is due to hand-drawn cells, because you can not move the cells easily without going over budget. The budget constraints really limit what you can do with hand-drawn cells. I think the other main disadvantage is that animation gives off the illusion of freedom. The freedom to do anything you want, the freedom to create any type of environment, creatures, ect; but it is very hard to achieve control over the process. I believe a lot of people have lost sight of the fact that the beauty of animation is that you can control the production process in a very logical manner, and unfortunately, a lot of that has now been lost.
Anime Vice: Speaking of Hollywood, what would you say to a Hollywood director who says he/she wants to make Gundam into a live-action film?
Tomino: I would not be able to accept such an offer, because I don’t believe there is someone who has more talent than I do in the Gundam franchise. They might understand Gundam as a concept, but Gundam is more than just robots. That is where I think a lot of people fail to see the true deeper meaning of the work.
Anime Vice: If given the opportunity, would you direct it?
Tomino: In the process of creating the Ring of Gundam short film, I realized I do not work well with the live-action filming process, nor do I have a lot of experience working with live-action, so I can not accept the position. Although I do have one director in mind.
Anime Vice: Who would that be?
Anime Vice: Very nice, though I have faith that you would be able to direct it.
Tomino: Actually, Ring of Gundam is CG, however we actually did have elements of live-action filming that were later transformed into CG; and through that I discovered that there are certain live-action techniques that I do not have, willingly, because I do not work with this medium. Because of that, I do not believe I would be the best choice for a live-action Gundam film.
Anime Vice: What company or creator would you like to work with if given the chance, be it in America or Japan?
Tomino: There is really no one studio per say I would want to work with. What is more important to me is that I am able to retain the creative control, so if there is any studio that has the technological ability or techniques that I use in my films, then it does not matter where I work.
The only one qualification that I require is that I hope that there would be a staff of people that truly understand the cinematic process and the cinematic feel of animation, which I do not believe is possible anywhere.
Anime Vice: Yeah, that is very hard to come by.
Tomino: So if it is possible, it really wound’t matter where I work.
Anime Vice: Now back to Gundam, how do you feel about Char, the antagonist, being more popular than Amuro, the hero?
Anime Vice: Would you ever make a story as dark as Victory Gundam, or Runaway Space Ideon again?
Tomino: The longer time passes, the more I do not feel the need to create such darker works, in fact right now my goal is to create entertainment for the masses. The very medium of anime lends itself to cheeriness, in converse to that I do not feel the need to produce anything that is too mature or for adults only.
I find it rather disappointing that worldwide animation and movies in general are becoming more serious. I want to continue seeing works that inspire events such as the ones today that bring people together in celebration of the medium. So even if it’s a horror movie, I want it to be a happy horror movie!
Anime Vice: I agree 100%, there are enough bad things that go on in the world already that we do not need to be bombarded with it on the television.
Anime Vice: Other than working on animation, what do you like to do for fun?
Tomino: I do not have any free time at all. Though two or three times a week I do go to the pool to swim some laps, but that’s about it.
Anime Vice: A lot of fans have asked me this question, and I probably already know the answer, but have you ever assembled a model from one of your shows?
Anime Vice: Do you know which ones they are?
Tomino: The first couple of models when the series just came out. The very first Gundam model, and maybe the second one, something like that. And unfortunately the more Gundam kits that came out, the more complicated they became, so they became a little bit beyond my capabilities.
Anime Vice: Do you still have them?
Tomino: Of course!
Anime Vice: Thank you so much for your time here with me.
Tomino: Thank you.