Gundam Wing Producer And Writer Pull Back Curtain On Series Secrets

Newtypes, Endless Waltz and the Heart of Outer Space
gundam wing mecha design
The mecha of Gundam Wing. (c) Sunrise

For many fans of a certain age in the U.S., Gundam Wing was a major entry point not only into the storied Gundam franchise, but into the world of anime at large. At Otakon, we spoke to Gundam Wing producer Hideyuki Tomioka and scriptwriter Katsuyuki Sumisawa about some of the secrets behind Gundam Wing, including the thought process behind its creation and the elements that make it so popular even today.

Gundam Wing isn't canon in the Gundam universe, and many of its elements, such as the appealing character designs and romantic plot points, make it stand out among its peers. “That was the effect I wanted to go for,” said Tomioka. “What we wanted to do was make something new and fun. If that was seen as a new departure, that was the effect we were going for, so we have succeeded.”

Another aspect of Gundam Wing that stands out is its treatment of Newtypes, which aren't mentioned even once throughout the show. Newtypes are part of the extensive Gundam canon and are an evolved type of human with special abilities. Quatre Winner's empathic abilities that allow him to sense something he knows as the Heart of Outer Space echo back to the Newtype tradition.

“The Tomino Gundams are the background to all the Gundams, so we have the original Gundams and Zeta and whatnot,” said Tomioka. “You will notice that their title is ‘Mobile Suit Gundam.’ As opposed to that, the Gundam that came after that was G Gundam, and G Gundam has the title ‘Mobile Fighter G Gundam.’ So it was a kind of thing inside our industry, a voice going around that said,’'You must not use the title Mobile Suit Gundam. You are going to go too close to Tomino-san if you do that. You must not get in close contact.’”

“With regards to those kinds of voices: the word ‘Newtype,’ specifically, was also taboo,” Tomioka explained. "’If you mention Newtypes, you're going to put yourself too close to Tomino-san. You might not want to do that.’

“That being said, we didn't really want to delve too deeply into the idea of the Newtype because, let's face it, if you go too far into Newtypes it would make the story so much more complicated. Director [Masashi] Ikeda kind of gave up near the middle, so if we had delved too deep into Newtypes, that might have come a bit sooner than what we even intended. I personally thought we were going to start with the Zero System and everything, but let's put that to the side.”

Sumisawa added, “I'm pretty sure Ikeda-san was meaning to get into Newtypes. But the idea of the Newtype in the Tomino world is that a man, once he's in space, would be able to expand his abilities and evolve into a new being called a Newtype. We noticed that the main characters in Gundam Wing are all from the colonies, so with that, we're thinking war might be the catalyst that would evolve the people in space.

“But then we got into a question of, would that be considered evolution? So in the sense of the original Gundams, the word Newtype is more for a new kind of human race, humankind 2.0. But in Gundam Wing, the word Newtype is more like an attribute, so it's different.”

Next Tomioka discussed the thought process behind Endless Waltz, the three-episode OVA that provided a self-contained story with our favorite teenage Gundam pilots.

“With regards to Endless Waltz, firstly, I must say, Wing is my proud child that I have. While making Wing, as I said earlier, Mr. Ikeda kind of burnt out through the story, and the rest of the staff had to put all our might together to finish it in one piece. After that, I was quite literally burnt out, and I didn't really want to make something new for a while.

“But the people called for an encore, so an encore they got, though it was quite a bit later. We said, ‘We can't really make something like Wing again that's so long, but we want to see it come together in one piece, so why don't we make a series that's 30 minutes long, three episodes?’ That was our beginning point,” Tomioka explained.

Tomioka ascribes the enduring popularity and appeal of Gundam Wing to director Ikeda as well as character designer Shuko Murase. The story and characters ensured Gundam Wing 's place in fan's hearts. “I personally think that as long as he could finish it, Ikeda is probably the best person that I know for the job,” said Tomioka.

Finally, Tomioka discussed what lies at the heart of all Gundam series, no matter the timeline or place in canon.

“What I believe is the most dominant feature of Gundam is the fact that there are warring nations, and there is no good or evil within that war. And the fact that in such a war, each individual life has its own value. They're all lives, they're all important. And a young man, within that story, gets inside that mobile suit and develops over the course of the war. I believe that's the main essence of Gundam,” he said.

What do you think makes Gundam Wing stand out amongst the many other Gundam series? Do you have fond memories of Gundam Wing ? What do you think bonds all the Gundam shows together? Feel free to discuss Tomioka and Sumisawa’s insights in our comments section below.

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