Mobile Suit Gundam is Japan’s monumental mecha anime that began its broadcast in 1979. The original story was retold by its character designer and animation director, Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, as the manga series Mobile Suit Gundam The Origin. The series became a mega-hit, boasting a circulation of 10 million copies and has been adapted into five anime movies so far, directed by Yasuhiko himself.
The fifth movie, Clash at Loum, depicts the beginning of the Zeonic War for Independence against the Earth Federation. The war, also known as the One Year War, commenced with the battle of Loum, which quickly turned into an unprecedented war that used mobile suits, robot-like war machines that humanity had never experienced before.
Following the first stage greeting on 2 September, the second stage greeting for Mobile Suit Gundam The Origin: Clash at Loum took place on 9 September. Star voice actors Megumi Han (Sayla Mass), Shigeo Kiyama (Ramba Ral), Kenta Miyake (Dozle Zabi), and Ai Kayano (Zenna Zabi), as well Sunrise producer Osamu Taniguchi, gathered on stage at Cinecitta’ Kawasaki.
Each guest speaker revealed their thoughts towards Gundam and shared untold stories behind the recording. At the end of the event, the audience chanted ‘Sieg Zeon’ as is the tradition of the Gundam stage greeting. Ai Kayano, the voice of Zenna Zabi, joined the chant for the first time since Zenna married into the Zabi family in this episode. During the stage greeting, the venue was filled with the excitement of Gundam fans nonstop. I’m going to tell you about everything that happened at the talk event in this article.
‘What Were You Conscious About When Playing Your Character?’
Han: Artesia had always been protected by someone. However, in this episode, no one call her ‘Artesia’ or protects her, so I focused on acting as Sayla Mass.
Kiyama: I had made up my mind prior to the recording that I wouldn’t do anything against the directorial decisions, though I did it again. [laugh] I couldn’t resist because it was so much fun to play Zenna from the first scene to the scene of him visiting a bar, because it was different. I’d love to go back to battleground again, though. [laugh]
Miyake: I think Dozle shows many sides of him in this episode. He destroys equipment after an argument with his troops at one time, and comes home in high spirits and makes his baby cry another time, but he is a great commander after all. I think he starts to give a glimpse of his fate, therefore I tried to play every small detail of his actions.
Kayano: I played the role of a married woman in this episode. Zenna pulled a gun on Dozle and made a bold confession in the past, though in this movie she calms down and gives birth to a baby… I’ve never had a baby myself, but I guess it must be hard work to make them sleep…
Miyake: I’m sorry. [laugh] I was touched when Dozle was whining in her lap. He doesn’t join the battle in this episode, but gives moral support, which made me glad that he is in the flow of the story.
‘Tell Us About the Scene of the Colony Drop’
Miyake: We had to record the colony drop scenes so many times, as it’s an important scene that shows the fierce conflict of opinions.
Kiyama: Not only the cast members, but also the production staff members were committed to the scene, so we did 5 or 6 takes each to painstakingly create it.
Miyake: We sometime had conflicts while recording, because we are all so passionate about this anime. However, we weren’t having childish quarrels but instead wanted to express the dilemmas and beliefs of each character in the scene. It was a really difficult scene to play.
Kiyama: When the recording of the scene was finished, I saw the Black Tri-Stars smile at me. It was a Jet Stream Attack Smile. I apologized to them for taking so long for the recording.
How About The Raid Scene in the Village?
Han: Only Lieutenant Tachi calls Sayla ‘Artesia’, so I had complex feelings for the scene. However, I think the raid transformed Artesia to Sayla Mass of the One Year War, therefore I had a strong feeling of commitment for the scene. I think the scene demonstrates Sayla’s answer for the question Akio Otsuka advocated, ‘Why do people fight battles?’
‘You two played a married couple in this movie. Did you have any discussions on how you would portray that?;
Kayano: Not especially, but I was a bit embarrassed when I met him in a studio for another recording before this one. [laugh]
Miyake: You said you liked the scene of Dozle’s proposal in the previous movie, didn’t you?
Kayano: I really liked the scene. Miyake reminded me Dozle as they are both tall. While recording, my heart ached when he was struggling with his dilemma.
‘What was hard for you during the production of Episode 5?’
Taniguchi: We wanted to create spectacular imagery in this anime, so we told Yasuhiko that he could extend the length of the movie, which I deeply regretted in retrospect. [laugh]
We were still working on the scene of the colony drop until just a week before submission. I think it’s the most important and must-watch scene of the movie. Anime studio Production I.G helped us to create the scene. Miyamoto, a mecha design specialist, helped with the battleship scenes. I believe such detailed mechanical designs made the difference from the previous episodes.
‘Tell Us About the Next Episode Which is Scheduled to be Onscreen Next Year.’
Han: The Red Comet has finally appeared. We’ll be back to the battleground again. No one will call her Artesia anymore. I’m a little nervous but excited about Sayla living her life fully as Sayla Mass.
Miyake: I’m also nervous in a good way, as the chief director Yashuhiko told me that the cute Dozle has finished for now, and it’ll be the time for much cooler Dozle in next movie. I must brace myself to master playing the cool Dozle again.
‘Finally, Could You Give a Brief Message for the Gundam Fans?’
Kayano: I’m pleased to play the role of a woman throughout her lifetime, even though there are sad events happening to her. I’ll try my hardest to play Zenna Zabi as a mother.
Miyake: Clash at Loum shows the ruthlessness of the Gundam world, and there will be more and more battles in the next episode. It’s your last chance to see cute Dozle today [laugh]. All the cast and staff members will give it their best shot, so please keep watching the series.
Kiyama: What’ll happen to Ramba Ral? [laugh] I want to continue watching over the series with you. As you all belong to the Zeon Independence Army, I’ll leave the future of the Zeon Army to you!
Han: I feel tense when I think about that I’ll be wholly following the life of Sayla Mass. I consider Gundam not only a pure fantasy, but also telling us a message for when we go to space in the near future. I hope this message would spread to more people and have high expectations in such future. Please continue to watch the anime series.
Mobile Suit Gundam The Origin: Clash at Loum is to be shown in 35 theaters across Japan for a limited time of four weeks starting from 2 September.