- 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.
The Exceedingly Long Interview: Part 2
What, you didn't release your instincts!? How "Wild Blast" became "Zoids Wild"!
This is an interview with Mitsutoshi Tokuyama, the legend behind Zoids!
Last time, CoroCoro's editorial staff was taken aback by Mr. Tokuyama, who suddenly started talking about valuable materials before even introducing himself.
However, thanks to his exceptionally friendly personality, the conversation grew more and more lively.
This time, we got to hear some valuable stories about the early days of Zoids Wild's development!
—You said that you were following in the footsteps of the past series, but how exactly did you mean that?
In the old Zoids series, there was a history of conflict between the Empire and the Republic on Planet Zoid, which was later settled. Afterwards, they decided to go explore the Zoid Zone (*1)
, so they formed an exploration fleet. When the fleet was about to explore, the Plasma Photon Belt (*2)
formed and they went into a warp, but their destination was Pangaea, which was what was on Earth before the five continents separated. When they arrived on Pangaea, they landed with human-sized Zoids that could be loaded onto an exploration ship. They were the Republic's people, so they basically lived in harmony with Zoids using reins. So the history of Zoids was that they were part of a super-civilization, like stories in my favorite magazine "Mu."
And this is where we get to the part I was talking about earlier, where the Zoid Core comes down during the dinosaur extinction period and fuses with the doomed creatures. Humans were still living as humans on Earth, but the end of the century was approaching. They tried to survive, and some of them took a migratory ship to Planet Zoid, but the rest of them stayed in a shelter and waited for the natural disaster to pass.
—So it's a futuristic world world like Osamu Tezuka's "Firebird: The Future".
Something like that. In the mean time, they were sleeping and terraforming the planet, but when they woke up, the environment was still unstable. There was also some radio interference, so vehicles were useless. During that time, something like a Zoid was found, and humans tried to excavate it, restore it, and train it, using such creatures to aid in infrastructure.
One day, the solar storm (*3)
came, and all at once the Zoids released their instincts, and for the very first time, humans witnessed their aggressive form. Zoids were then treated as something to be feared by humans, and forces like the Death Metal Empire (*4)
would try to forcibly use them. On the other hand, some people who loved Zoids formed vigilante groups, and the rest is history.
—Oh, I finally made the connection! The Empire and the Republic in the old Zoids series were also like that, weren't they? There was a difference in how they thought about Zoids, with the Empire treating them like weapons while the Republic chose to coexist with them.
That's right. In short, the theme is that no matter where you are on Earth, or wherever else the mechanical organisms called Zoids are, as long as humans are involved, if the people of that planet don't coexist, the planet may be in danger. I think the main point is that humans and wildlife must coexist.
In my mind, that's the key setting for Wild Blast, and that the people who originally landed on Earth during the days of the super-civilization rode small Zoids as pilots. They must have had some kind of controller or reins. That's why I designed them this way, thinking that they might now be orphaned. Of course, the story so far, and to what extent that'll be used in the anime and other works, is another story.
— So you mean these are just your own personal ideas for it, right?
I can't design them without it. For example, this is a picture of a cockpit, and this lever is connected to the cockpit. These are the reins of "Man and Machine as one". On the other hand, the Empire only treats Zoids as machines, so I had to think about how that would work.
— Did you have these elements, like "Man and Machine As One" and "Earth" in mind when you first started planning Zoids Wild?
Let's see, this is a document from an even earlier stage...
— Is it really okay for us to see more and more valuable materials? (Laughs)
It's fine (laughs)
. Well, from this point on, there was a type that was more like a "human vehicle", and this was also the basis for the ZOIDS Concept Art (*5)
, so the idea was there from the beginning. At that time, the designs were a bit more mechanical, with an iPad-like device on board, and the background was a bit more modern. In addition, I also wanted to make it more kid-friendly, so I drew the characters with CoroCoro Comic in mind a little bit (laughs)
— (Laughs) Thank you very much.
But at this stage, there wasn't any "Instinct Release" yet. Zoids is all about action, so if we were to use this "Man and Machine As One" concept and control them using a terminal, there wouldn't be much difference in the action. So, in this day and age, unlike the old Zoids, we wanted to create something that wasn't a weapon, but something that was still action-oriented. Since this is a world of living things, there had to be a realistic motif. Zoids isn't a world where you shoot a lot of beam guns (laughs)
— Well, it's clearly different from a typical robot anime. (Laughs)
Also, recently, the Discovery Channel (*6)
and other media outlets have been showing us various aspects of animal ecology, as well as images and videos that we didn't know existed before. There are many new theories about dinosaurs. For example, Spinosaurus may have swam. I wondered if it would be possible to use the "Special Move motif" of the children's world as a gimmick, to recreate these sorts of things.
Then I thought about the motif of "dinosaurs", the "Man and Machine as one" concept, and the idea of "fighting with fangs bared" when the characters' feelings worked well together. That's how I came up with the concept art that I showed you at the beginning. I think we were all talking about "Wild Blast" and "Instinct Release" from the beginning in the meetings. As catch phrases to share with everyone.
— The catchphrase "Instinct Release" is certainly easy to understand, isn't it? ... You still have some materials set aside, what are they?
Well, this is also an early design...
— Oh, these are also trendy (*7) (laughs)
It's a fad (laughs)
. During my early design stage, the name of the creature was clearly written, so there were no dreams or romance (laughs)
. But as the products are made, ideas and gimmicks for young people will come into play. From now on, young people will be more and more embodied in the design, and things are getting more interesting. And this...
— I'm sorry, but there are a lot of ideas for Zoids that I haven't seen before, are you okay with that?
This is ---, but I personally think it's interesting. I used to do a lot of diorama work for Shogakukan magazine, and I was there for most of the Zoids Battle Story (*8)
. So I thought, "there's definitely a place for dioramas" and I figured I'd make something like the ones I used to have on the back of my Gustav. I'm thinking of things like "What if I put this on the back of this?" Since Zoids Wild is 1/35 scale, I'm sure I could make all sorts of things using my favorite Tamiya model accessories, so I'm looking forward to it.
*1 Zoid Zone: The star system where Planet Zoid is located.
*2 Plasma Belt: A mysterious energy belt that surrounds planets and other celestial bodies.
*3 Solar Storm: An explosion on the surface of the sun, also known as a solar flare, which discharges electromagnetic waves and particles that can reach Earth.
*4 Death Metal Empire: An enemy force in the anime that stands in the way of Arashi, Bacon, and the others. They manipulate Zoids as weapons.
*5 ZOIDS Concept Art: A series of art books by Mitsutoshi Tokuyama and published by Hobby Japan. The Zoids world has been rebuilt, redrawn, and compiled with illustrations and simple text stories. Four volumes have already been published.
*6 Discovery Channel: An American satellite and cable television channel specializing in documentaries on nature, animals, science, history, vehicles, and more.
*7 ---: The identity of the foreground characters is still a secret! Perhaps it'll be revealed in future issues of CoroCoro Comic? Please look forward to it!
*8 Zoids Battle Story: A diorama story book about the first generation of the Zoids series, published by Shogakukan from 1987 to 1990. There's a total of five volumes.
- Mitsutoshi Tokuyama
One of the staff members involved in the launch of Zoids. He's in charge of the original Zoid designs in Zoids Wild, and strives to pass his overflowing love for Zoids on to the younger generation.