by J. M. Alcala, staff writer, Inside AX- Anime Expo
After we interviewed him at FanimeCon 2011, director Seiji Mizushima made his appearance at this years Anime Expo as a Guest of Honor. During his interview, he had hinted that he would reveal his newest project at Anime Expo 2011 and he did, but it was a stealth announcement as the project’s title was revealed a few days after AX ended.
On behalf of Bandai, Mizushima-san was joined with a member of Sunrise during a question and answer panel after the English dubbed premiere of Gundam 00: Awakening of the Trailblazer. Available now on DVD and Blu-Ray, the movie itself is a direct continuation as well as finale of the Gundam 00 storyline and has been five years in the making. When asked about whether or not there were any alterations to the overall plot to Gundam 00 to connect to the movie, Mizushima-san replied that there were minimal changes that needed to be made; originally there were to be two more additional Gundam Meisters added in season two, but the idea was dropped. The decision to have aliens as the main villains for the movie was a necessary one, though many people involved, including the president of Sunrise, did voice their concerns.
For the aliens in the movie, metal was chosen over humanoid or mineral because the main plot revolved around alien first contact and communication rather than human conflict. The aliens themselves had a shape-shifting quality as well as excellent adaptation to fighting in battle because Setsuna had to be the one to save everyone, thus creating an impossible situation for everyone but him. Setsuna’s Quanta system was introduced very late in the series and in the movie due to Setsuna’s desire to end conflict by direct communication versus through violence. Other details that fans seemed to pick up on is the how the Gundam 00 universe’s calendar is the current one (Mizushima-san preferred to use a real one versus a fake one), Setsuna being a Kurd (it was an intentional decision due to critique Japan’s apathy towards religion and to create a character that Japanese youth could identify with) and similarities to the movie‘s plot to 2001: A Space Odyssey were wholly unintentional (Mizushima-san admitted that he had never seen the movie, though thinks some of his staffers may have added the details).
During his official panel, Mizushima-san touched upon similar ideas that were brought up during the Sunrise/Bandai panel the previous night, as well as other ideas. One idea that seems to have an as-of-yet ramification is the recent passage of the revised version of Tokyo’s Youth Healthy Development ordinance, which is a bill meant to prevent the sale of “harmful publications” to youth under the age of eighteen. While the work that Mizushima-san tends to not fall under the scrutiny of the ordinance, he did say that it is something to think about when pursuing other projects. An advocate against censorship in general, he did go on to say that he is interested in seeing how the bill will affect the media from now on, especially as he is saddened by the way youth have been ‘degraded’ in recent times.
Regarding how it seems that the anime industry in Japan seems to play it safe, Mizushima-san is rather critical of this line of thinking but understands that due to the huge number of anime that is constantly being released, sometimes playing it safe is the only way to garner an audience. Unfortunately, it is this line of thinking that prevents some really great shows that have a fanbase from gaining needed support to continue. Mizushima-san prefers that his own show have a more wholesome appeal to gain traction with a wider audience, rather than having to resort to showing explicit material – which he feels should only be shown with caution. Like the series that he chooses to have the widest appeal, Mizushima-san also chooses to have flawed individuals as the main hero or heroes due to the fact that they are easier to relate to rather than have perfect individuals.
Lastly, Mizushima-san ended his panel by showing a clip of his latest series, but did not reveal the title. He did share that further news regarding the show would be revealed on July 8th, Japan time and indeed, the title was revealed on time. This fall, UN-GO, will be making it’s debut in Japan.