Who comes up with the basic design for mecha?

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Mafty
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Who comes up with the basic design for mecha?

Post by Mafty » Sat Dec 12, 2020 11:00 pm

I know what a mechanical designer in anime is for, but how much control do they have over the final design? Do they formulate the complete design of the unit: or do they get the basics of what the unit is desired to look like from the director/writer/sponsor/whoever, and then turn it a viable final design? Or does all of this depend on who the mechanical designer is and where they work?

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Seto Kaiba
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Re: Who comes up with the basic design for mecha?

Post by Seto Kaiba » Sat Dec 12, 2020 11:55 pm

Mafty wrote:
Sat Dec 12, 2020 11:00 pm
I know what a mechanical designer in anime is for, but how much control do they have over the final design? Do they formulate the complete design of the unit: or do they get the basics of what the unit is desired to look like from the director/writer/sponsor/whoever, and then turn it a viable final design? Or does all of this depend on who the mechanical designer is and where they work?
Really, it depends on a combination of a few factors including:
  • Whether the series is an original development, adaptation, or sequel.
  • How many mechanical designers are working on the project.
  • How much of a free hand the designer is being given by the production committee.
The designer almost never has a completely free hand to design whatever they want. If it's a manga or a light novel, the publisher and any attached illustrators are certainly going to have their own thoughts on the designs and will try to maximize the marketability of the design. If it's a TV anime, the production committee and show's merchandising partners are going to have to approve it and will naturally have their own feedback on the design.

If it's an original work, if the designer is also the author then they'll have a mostly free hand to decide what it looks like up until the publisher has to give a yea or nay. If the designer is an artist engaged by the publisher, then they'll have direction coming from the author and the publisher.

If it's an adaptation, design direction will come from the source material but it may end up being tweaked to make the design more marketable for merchandising.

If it's a sequel, the designer's hands are probably tied by pre-existing design decisions.

The only way you really get a totally free hand is if you hit that level where a highly reputed designer is also on the production committee and/or occupies a showrunner level position at the studio like Shoji Kawamori.
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MythSearcher
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Re: Who comes up with the basic design for mecha?

Post by MythSearcher » Mon Dec 14, 2020 11:01 pm

Mafty wrote:
Sat Dec 12, 2020 11:00 pm
I know what a mechanical designer in anime is for, but how much control do they have over the final design? Do they formulate the complete design of the unit: or do they get the basics of what the unit is desired to look like from the director/writer/sponsor/whoever, and then turn it a viable final design? Or does all of this depend on who the mechanical designer is and where they work?
Depends.
The very basic design of Zaku, for example, was basically a very cruel drawing of Tomino depicting something that look suspiciously like a Storm Trooper.(He denied he watched SW beforehand and Gundam had anything to do with SW, but the beam sabre is just too obvious that even if he himself didn't watch SW, someone in the production team obviously had) Okawara changed that to the current Zaku design.(I mean, he did a really good job in identifying what Tomino was drawing)

The GM III, was designed by Katoki Hajime, but since he was not famous back when ZZ was aired, they had Yoshinori Sayama redesign the head and labelled Sayama's as the designer. The Katoki's design is the one you see in Sentinel's Nouvel GM III. This is typical in the industry, not only for mecha, but for all character design. There are series having unnamed original character designs to have all of the designs done, and then the designs are handed to a famous artist, did minor changes to the work and be credited as THE character designer of the series. During the production of Zeta and ZZ, they had multiple mecha designers competing for the designs, and this likely happened a lot. The design of Gundam Mk-II was also pretty much a combination of the designs of a few designers.
(BTW, Psycho Gundam was originally the concept design for Zeta Gundam.)

So the answer pretty much is, whatever works.

Okawara said the director had a lot of say in SEED and SEED-D, like he is obsessive of wings on the design of Freedom and Strike Freedom, requested those Zaku, Gouf, Dom designs to be as close to MSG's as possible(As you can see the Zaku Warrior is still a greater modification from the UC Zaku, both the Gouf and Dom deviate very little from the UC ones, so likely Fukuda didn't like the deviation of the Zaku.)

And if you look at the original toys Clover made for MSG, with Gundam, Guncannon and Guntank having lots of attached weapons, that is requested by the sponsor and we have no idea how much of it is reflected into the show itself.

False Prophet
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Re: Who comes up with the basic design for mecha?

Post by False Prophet » Thu Dec 17, 2020 9:27 am

MythSearcher wrote:
Mon Dec 14, 2020 11:01 pm
Depends.
The very basic design of Zaku, for example, was basically a very cruel drawing of Tomino depicting something that look suspiciously like a Storm Trooper.(He denied he watched SW beforehand and Gundam had anything to do with SW, but the beam sabre is just too obvious that even if he himself didn't watch SW, someone in the production team obviously had) Okawara changed that to the current Zaku design.(I mean, he did a really good job in identifying what Tomino was drawing)

Okawara said the director had a lot of say in SEED and SEED-D, like he is obsessive of wings on the design of Freedom and Strike Freedom, requested those Zaku, Gouf, Dom designs to be as close to MSG's as possible(As you can see the Zaku Warrior is still a greater modification from the UC Zaku, both the Gouf and Dom deviate very little from the UC ones, so likely Fukuda didn't like the deviation of the Zaku.)
Both of those things you said are confirmed in these two articles respectively"
- http://www.zimmerit.moe/gundam-gerard-o ... o-utopias/
- https://www.reddit.com/r/Gundam/comment ... _panel_ft/

On that topic, are the MS that appeared in Tomino's novels such as the Hi-Streamer version of Nu (not the Hi-Nu we know) or the Gaia Gear created by him, then touched up by some other designers?

Also, I wonder if you can see much in the MSG designs the "vestitude" of the Mobile Infantry. I have only read the translated version of Starship Trooper with illustrations. Did Henlein even leave any sketch telling how Mobile Infantrymen look like?

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Seto Kaiba
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Re: Who comes up with the basic design for mecha?

Post by Seto Kaiba » Thu Dec 17, 2020 2:03 pm

False Prophet wrote:
Thu Dec 17, 2020 9:27 am
On that topic, are the MS that appeared in Tomino's novels such as the Hi-Streamer version of Nu (not the Hi-Nu we know) or the Gaia Gear created by him, then touched up by some other designers?
The basic concept (a textual description) of the Nu Gundam as illustrated in Hi-Streamer was put together by Yoshiyuki Tomino, but the actual art of it in the novel was drafted by Masahisa Suzuki and the final design was done by Yutaka Izubuchi who also designed the Hi-Nu.

Most of Gaia Gear's mechanical designs were done by Mamoru Ito, though Yoshinori Sayama is credited as the designer of the Zorin Soul and a contributing designer on the Bromb Texer.

False Prophet wrote:
Thu Dec 17, 2020 9:27 am
Also, I wonder if you can see much in the MSG designs the "vestitude" of the Mobile Infantry. I have only read the translated version of Starship Trooper with illustrations. Did Henlein even leave any sketch telling how Mobile Infantrymen look like?
AFAIK, Heinlein never produced any sketches of the powered armor from the novel himself... but the novel spends a fair amount of time describing the suits in detail. Admittedly, almost none of the illustrations produced for various editions of the novel remotely resemble what was actually described in the novel and only Studio Nue's 1988 anime adaptation actually followed the design descriptions to the letter. Everyone else either omitted the Marauder suits altogether (e.g. the live action movies), turned them into giant mecha (e.g. Starship Troopers 3: Marauder) or turned them into more form-fitting spacesuit-like designs (e.g. Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles).

Kazutaka Miyatake's design for the Marauder Suit is as close to you'll get to an authentic representation of Robert A. Heinlein's description in the novel: http://www.gearsonline.net/series/starship+troopers/
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MythSearcher
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Re: Who comes up with the basic design for mecha?

Post by MythSearcher » Thu Dec 17, 2020 10:17 pm

Seto Kaiba wrote:
Thu Dec 17, 2020 2:03 pm
False Prophet wrote:
Thu Dec 17, 2020 9:27 am
Also, I wonder if you can see much in the MSG designs the "vestitude" of the Mobile Infantry. I have only read the translated version of Starship Trooper with illustrations. Did Henlein even leave any sketch telling how Mobile Infantrymen look like?
AFAIK, Heinlein never produced any sketches of the powered armor from the novel himself... but the novel spends a fair amount of time describing the suits in detail. Admittedly, almost none of the illustrations produced for various editions of the novel remotely resemble what was actually described in the novel and only Studio Nue's 1988 anime adaptation actually followed the design descriptions to the letter. Everyone else either omitted the Marauder suits altogether (e.g. the live action movies), turned them into giant mecha (e.g. Starship Troopers 3: Marauder) or turned them into more form-fitting spacesuit-like designs (e.g. Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles).

Kazutaka Miyatake's design for the Marauder Suit is as close to you'll get to an authentic representation of Robert A. Heinlein's description in the novel: http://www.gearsonline.net/series/starship+troopers/
Actually, the Kazutaka Miyatake design was in the 1977 Japanese translation published by Hayakawa, only drawn by Naoyuki Kato.
The story goes like this:
Haruka Takachiho of Studio Nue thought the ending of Starship Troopers is interesting, and introduced it to the production crew of Gundam, the production crew instead took the idea of the power suit.
We can see that Studio Nue was in pretty good relationship with the production crew at the time, and also involved in Gundam Century's interviews.

In Gundam Archives, they also mentioned the work as an inspiration, but didn't have too much details. The original design of the RX-77 was said to be influenced by it. While not specific, I think they are talking about the Kazutaka Miyatake's version since the obvious connection with Studio Nue. You can also see that the original Gundam design is very suit like, that I think is more akin to the more space suit like depiction in the non-translated version where they ditched pretty early. But later because of Sponsor intervention, they have to go with giant robots, so the idea of powered suit phased out.

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SonicSP
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Re: Who comes up with the basic design for mecha?

Post by SonicSP » Wed Jan 06, 2021 11:56 am

Seto Kaiba wrote:
Thu Dec 17, 2020 2:03 pm
Studio Nue's 1988 anime adaptation actually followed the design descriptions to the letter.
Wait......there's an anime adaptation of Starship Troopers? :o

I must watch it. That's one of my favorite sci-fi novels.

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Seto Kaiba
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Re: Who comes up with the basic design for mecha?

Post by Seto Kaiba » Wed Jan 06, 2021 12:49 pm

SonicSP wrote:
Wed Jan 06, 2021 11:56 am
Seto Kaiba wrote:
Thu Dec 17, 2020 2:03 pm
Studio Nue's 1988 anime adaptation actually followed the design descriptions to the letter.
Wait......there's an anime adaptation of Starship Troopers? :o

I must watch it. That's one of my favorite sci-fi novels.
It's probably the most faithful adaptation of Heinlein's novel... albeit only the first part of said novel.

(It's on YouTube.)
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