- CoroCoro Interview with Tokuyama!
Tokuyama, the creator of Zoids, and 56,560,000 Characters!?
NOTE: This article was translated using google translate, so please be aware that there are bound to be mistakes! It is only presented as a slightly more coherent-to-read alternative to automatic translation.
- Mitsutoshi Tokuyama
One of the staff members involved in launching Zoids. In Zoids Wild, he was responsible for the design concepts of the Zoids. He strives to convey the overflowing love of Zoids to the younger generation.
The Exceedingly Long Interview: Part 1
Zoids Wild Secret Development Story, Part 1!
Mr. Tokuyama's great positivity is a treasure, and when he expresses his style it leaves those around him with a sense of amazement!!
When we visited TAKARATOMY headquarters, the entire CoroCoro Online Editorial department was unusually nervous. The interview was with Mitsutoshi Tokuyama! He's one of the fathers of Zoids, among the first to work on the series. It's not unreasonable
to say that he's a legend!
Moreover, Mr. Tokuyama is involved in the latest series, Zoids Wild, which has been a hot topic of discussion. We were supposed to be able to hear the secret story behind the development of both new and old Zoids. I can't believe I'll be able to meet Tokuyama, who has become a living legend... We were told in advance that he'd answer anything, but how much will he really answer? TakaraTomy said "If you don't stop him, he'll talk forever" but this is our first meeting. There's no reason not to be nervous!
While waiting here, sitting motionless...
At last, the door to the conference room has opened!
Ahh—!! Mr. Tokuyama!
— It's nice to meet you! This is the CoroCoro Online Editorial Department. Thank you for your time today!
Mitsutoshi Tokuyama: (Hereinafter referred to as Tokuyama, has stood up and suddenly started talking)
Yes, it's nice to meet you! So, since I thought today would be rather interesting, I've brought the initial designs of the original Zoids from Zoids Wild. These are the first concept designs that they were based on. And...
— Ah, hold on, Mr. Tokuyama, please sit down first...
Ah, yes yes. So, these are the ones I was able to prepare.
— Ah, no, let's do this in interview format for today...
Oh, that's fine. I've already seen the questions.
It's hard to say which part of development we should start with, but since it's currently in progress, in my opinion, we should begin with Zoids Wild! So, going back to the planning stage, I thought we'd have a look at the first designs. This for example.
It's the initial design of the Gannontoise, but, you know, the colors are completely different now.
Since "Zoids" is an original work, I first create an initial design to serve as a base.
At this time, there weren't any gimmicks at all, but we just wanted to make something that was roughly consistent in terms of the mechanisms.
These pictures were all done in 3D on a Mac. If you don't draw them in 3D, you can't see the various angles.
And from here, these plate-like parts are assembled to make a sample model. At that stage I'd hear comments like-
"It's not very interesting, is it?" or
"It'll have other parts to it, right?"
There were a lot of opinions bouncing around, and the whole team decided on the "Wild Blast (*1)
Zoids are three-dimensional, and even if the design is rough, if you don't understand its shape to some extent you can't proceed.
Moreover, it must be able to move, as the basic concept of the product is that it's a living thing.
That's where Zoids differentiates itself from other products.
This (the initial design of Grachiosaurus) also started out like that.
— (We give up on asking questions and start to talk) And, the name is a pseudonym, unlike the actual product.
When I'm still at the initial concept design stage, naturally, the name of the product hasn't been decided yet.
*1 Wild Blast, also called "Instinct Release". It's a special ability of the Zoid that activates when the feelings of the Zoids and people synchronize, and their fighting instincts increase to its greatest. Weapons that exaggerate the original features of the biological creature appear, and can be used to launch aggressive special techniques.
That's why the name "Brachiosaurus" and other varieties of dinosaur names are used.
The old Zoids were mecha-like, so we wrote down what the "type" was, but this time it's what "variety" it is.
This is a Stegosaurus that also appeared in the bonus poster from CoroCoro Comic's July issue. This one is a triceratops.
This is the early concept design, it hasn't really changed much.
— Eh, is that so? The first impression seems kind of messy...?
When it takes actual shape, various parts (like cylinders and protrusions) as well as slits (cuts for heat dissipation and ventilation) are added. Also, the bone structure (skeleton) becomes more realistic.
— Since it's now based on a realistic design, it seems like it could be difficult to make a precise build.
At first it was hard to make the bone parts.
With the old Zoids, I didn't have to go that in depth, but this time they're more animalistic, and there are more varieties than dinosaurs. More animals, and more picturesque motifs.
Furthermore, since there was a skeleton basis (bones), as well as the concept of excavating and restoring those bones, in some ways it took a lot more work.
With the old Zoids, you could draw the whole thing, then look back at that picture and just add in the cockpit.
However, the concept this time wasn't just "the human and machine are one", but "Man and horse as one."
That's why, strangely enough, I start the designs off with the seat, like a person riding a Zoid.
There's a specific rider position for motorcycles, right? It's like starting with the seat in that riding position, then drawing a Zoid from there.
However, if we drew the whole thing like the old Zoids, and just put people inside, it'd feel more like they were being forced to ride the Zoids, so they wouldn't really be one with their humans.
There are a lot of things that have to be considered, such as how large it has to be for it to work.
— And if when Wild Blasting, whether the moving armor might hit the person! (Laughs)
Yes, that's right (laughs). I have to think about those things.
But first, I make the concept design.
— Is that so? I'm sorry, but I don't think we've been introduced since we started talking.
Yes. (Everyone laughs) I hope you have a name for the readers.
Ah, yes, well. Heh, I'm Mitsutoshi Tokuyama. I was in charge of the first "Zoids" series, and in "Zoids Wild" I've been in charge of the original designs for the Zoids. It's nice to meet you all.
— It's nice to meet you. Let's continue.
No hesitation. (Laughs) From there, "Zoids" is an original, both in design and in the world view set.
That's why when I start designing, I draw these sorts of world view images.
—This... is amazing! You start drawing from the view of the world, not the Zoids.
The world of Zoids Wild must be shared with everyone.
Now this, you'll probably understand, but there's a big line in the world lore that says a Zoid Core (*2)
came to Earth. This time, Zoids possess a new element called Wild Blast, but my original concept was that they release their instincts. In other words, they bare their fangs like their animal counterparts.
There was also an "Organoid System" (*3)
in past Zoids works, but it was hard to imagine that the body would change as well.
But if you think about it, that's also true for real animals. Isn't there an owl that when surprised, uses mimicry to make itself thinner?
— The Northern White-faced Owl, I think? I've heard a lot about this on Twitter. It's buzzing with images of animal ecology like that (laughs).
That's right. The idea was that if the Zoids bared their fangs, and if humans simultaneously released their instincts, the Zoids would reveal new extensions of their body. So, in this concept art, I drew a world view image to support that setting.
First of all, when the age of the dinosaur extinction came to Earth, the dinosaurs desperately tried to survive their impending death, and in that moment they had fierce instincts. At that time, the Zoid Core from Planet Zoid (*4)
collided, and the instincts of the Zoid Core and those of the doomed dinosaurs merged, and it steadily evolved throughout the story. There are various futures for Earth, and it's a world that has reset once already and regenerated in the form of teraforming (*5)
. As a result, the world of the current anime "Zoids Wild" is quite rich in nature.
There are so many varieties, and these Zoids are something like an "Earth Version" of Zoids, that fused with the instincts of the dinosaurs that were originally on Earth. Right. Moreover, when it comes to the skeleton, they're quite realistic, like the bones of the dinosaurs on Earth.
I think this picture might have been drawn around October 2016. In this picture here, the original design was mostly completed, and then it became the initial design here. It's exhausting.
But if you don't start here, you can't finish the design.
— So you've been planning for quite a while. Would you say that it has been a long span of time?
Its been a long time (laughs). And from here you have bones, and then add armor, with some reason.
The idea of armor this time is more like blinkers on a racehorse (a harness which limits the horse's field of view). When you train ferocious animals, you narrow their field of view, and that was the inspiration for this armor.
— I see! It's like a horse!
It's not added just because it seems cool, but Earthlings are trying to train these ferocious Earth Zoids. Of course, the basic idea for these things follows the original world of Zoids, and the history of Zoids that was drawn in the past.
*2 Zoid Core: The heart of a Zoid, which incorporates the genes of creatures from Earth into the metal life forms of Planet Zoid.
*3 Organoid System: A system that activates the Zoid Core and dramatically improves combat capabilities.
*4 Planet Zoid A planet that is about 60,000 light-years away from Earth, on the opposite side of the galaxy. A star that has become the stage of the previous Zoids series.
*5 Terraform A plan to artificially change the planetary environment to create a world where humans can live.