- 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 3
The Secret Story of Zoids Wild's Development, Part 3!
Three generations of Zoids staff have come together to create the Wild Liger!
This is the third interview with Mitsutoshi Tokuyama, a legend in the field of Zoids, both old and new! During the last interview, Mr. Tokuyama was so open with us that he even started showing off Zoids proposals that (probably) shouldn't be disclosed yet, leading to the hidden text / mosaic incident! However, Mr. Tokuyama seemed to be enjoying himself as he continued to talk about the secret story behind the development of Zoids. This time, we'll get into the main character of Zoids Wild, Wild Liger!
— Oh, this... isn't Liger. Excuse me, but isn't this the Zoid that Bacon (*1) rides on?
This is the initial design for Fangtiger. Of course, the initial design has nothing to do with the anime, but at first I thought that it should be the main character. But during a meeting, we started saying that "it must be a Liger after all", and so we ended up with Wild Liger. But, it's similar to Liger, don't you think?
— Is it okay to say something like that? (Laughs)
Well, they're in the same cat family, so personally I think its a good thing. (Everyone Laughs)
Also, I'm one of the oldest members of the Zoids staff, having worked on the first generation of Zoids. The people working on the development scene are mainly the third generation, or in other words, young people in their 20s. They've been with the company for two or three years, which is right around the age that I first discovered Mechabonica (*2)
. They were the ones who finalized the design for the current Liger, so the current Liger is probably the result of the combined efforts of the first, second, and third generation of Zoids staff members.
— That's a very neat summary. (Laughs)
But it's true. (Laughs)
Right now, I'm designing the initial concept for the entire Zoids Wild series, but I'm an endangered species. (Laughs)
Rather than continue like this forever, I'd like to gradually pass that task on to future generations. That's why Zoids Wild is such a great opportunity, and the main character, Liger, was created through the combined efforts of all generations, so I'm looking forward to it.
— By the way, the second generation is the generation that created the Zoids from the early 2000s, when the TV anime started, right?
That's right. The people from the anime generation are now in managerial positions. So they're in charge of development, marketing, and overall management.
— So the people who know the most about the days when Liger (*3) was the most popular are the ones who are in charge of the whole project.
That's right. So, the new generation joining the company will be around the same age as my children. Now's the time that they need to make the most of their efforts. That's why I think it's such a great opportunity. I'm currently starting the second year of concept designs for Zoids Wild, but since the younger generation is all grown up, I'm only doing about half of the work. I think most of the work will be done from scratch by the younger individuals involved, so in that respect, I think Zoids will take things to a new stage.
— So you did the initial concept designs, but when it comes to gimmicks like this, for when they become actual products, are there a lot of ideas from the younger third-generation people involved?
Well, it's not like this is the first step. We talk about it with everyone on the team, and we come up with a general motif, and how to make it move. Based on this, the younger members create a concept base and then make a mechanical prototype. Then, we look at the final form, consider the volume, and reduce the number of parts due to cost, and then we all think about what points we should show off. Also, this time around, I said "The bones are still cool, even if the armor is off." (Laughs)
So, the attention to detail is extraordinary. I think it must've been extremely difficult for the toy development team.
— That's what I figured. (Laughs)
As I said before, young people are working out the details. It'd be nice to be able to master the modeling of Zoids in that regard, and eventually be able to incorporate it in the direction that we want to go with. Also, when it comes to Zoids, there are those who do the designs and those who work as engineers, and those who handle the gimmicks. It's not all about the design in that world. If it were something that didn't move, you could, to an extent, give priority to the design, but with Zoids, they're moving things, and they also have a world view. The design, the world view, and the gimmicks are the three parts of that world, so it's impossible for just one person to balance every aspect. I think Zoids is special in that respect.
— Is there anything else you pay attention to when designing?
This time, CoroCoro Comics also has a manga, so I made it so that the people riding the Zoids are as close to the Zoid's face as possible. On the other hand, it caused problems for the people over at OLM (*4)
. As you said earlier, what would happen if the Zoids collided while someone was riding them? (Laughs)
In the initial design stage, the humans were wearing some kind of protection. So, I thought they could ride them as long as that was included... but when the work was actually made, I was surprised to see that Arashi (*5)
was wearing little more than casual clothes. (Laughs)
— Hmm... I guess it's better not to spread that story around. (Laughs) By the way, the video posted on Takara Tomy's official Twitter on May 16th has become quite popular. It's cute. (Laughs)
Ah, the Gannontoise video. Those of us in charge of Zoids try to appeal, but the ones in charge of Twitter at Takara Tomy look at things from a different angle and come up with all sorts of ideas. What's more, I love Zoids, where the people in charge are already amazing, so they know how to present it in a way that captures the user's point of view. They're both a 2nd generation Zoids user and a 3rd generation employee.
— Ah, I can see why someone from the user's point of view would aim for something like that.
Still, turtles are quite popular for some reason. (Laughs)
In the old Zoids, we had the Cannon Tortoise. This time around, I wondered what would happen to a turtle when it comes to Gannontoise' Wild Blast... but turtles have interesting shells. So, we exposed the shell. The turtle's shape itself is also very tank-like, and it's fun to imagine how it would look if we attached weapons to the boss, which is a personal favorite of mine.
— So, why was the Cannon Tortoise a turret?
I had an image in my head of the Cannon Tortoise as a pillbox (*6)
or something along those lines. For a long time, I used to only draw pictures like this... (takes out a rough sketch of a military type)
— Wow, you're very good! Have you been drawing for a long time?
Yes, though I'm self-taught.
— So you're self-taught!
I've been drawing ever since I can remember, so it wasn't like I was studying. On top of that, I've always liked military stuff as well. I drew this picture when I was in college. In the case of Zoids, the original motif was "From a mechanical creature to a battle machine beast", and somehow the turtle conjured up an image of a pillbox in the Battle of Maginot (*7)
in France. (Laughs)
Also, at the time, the trend of military-style sci-fi mechs was becoming more popular among children, so I thought it'd be a good idea to add a little military flavor. That's why a cannon turret is mounted on the Cannon Tortoise. However, this time we're going to do Wild Blasts, so we decided to activate it from inside the shell.
— The fact that it's inside the shell makes it more tank-like, doesn't it?
It does look like a tank! I also think that the fact that instead of baring its fangs, it has a cannon extending from inside its shell fits well with Wild Blast. Zoids is an amazing world of mecha, right? There's no denying that it's a bit of a weapons-oriented world. However, Zoids Wild is a wild world, so the weapons can't simply be laser guns. At the same time, this means that they use some special moves, so for example, with a crocodile, its best weapon would be its mouth, and it'd be interesting to make it open as wide as possible. My general idea is that it should be dynamic in terms of action.
As long as we all share the same 'standard' for direction, to some extent, we can actually try to make them stronger and more impactful. I think it takes a lot of effort to be that particular, but it's well worth the effort.
*1 Bacon: A character from Zoids Wild and leader of Team Supreme.
*2 Mechabonica: Made in 1982, the micro-spring toy that was the predecessor of Zoids.
*3 Liger: A generic name for Shield Liger, Blade Liger, Liger Zero, and Murasame Liger, which were the main mecha of the second phase of Zoids animes.
*4 OLM: The production company of the Zoids Wild anime.
*5 Arashi: The main character of Zoids Wild and the leader of Team Freedom.
*6 Pillbox: A defensive position made of concrete. It's equipped with machine guns and artillery.
*7 Battle of Maginot: The battle against German fortifications built on the French-German border.
- 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.