Anime Expo 2006
Yutaka Izubuchi Focus Panel

by Sean Broestl, Jul 3rd 2006
Yutaka Izubuchi Focus Panel

What work are you most proud of?

Patlabor Wasted XIII

When you started on RahXephon, you said you wanted to start a new way of approaching giant robot anime. Do you think robot anime has lived up to the new era of doing things?

Partially yes and partially no. There's a certain insurance policy in doing remakes, they're safer. Robot anime has a certain mold, and to make something different, you have to make a new mold.

While working on Char's Counterattack, did Tomino give you directions on how he wanted things designed or did he let you do your own thing?

There's a bit of back story to this one. The truth is, before I started working on the title, someone else was (Mamoru Nagano) doing the mecha designs. While the design process was going on, Bandai didn't think his designs worked. I was already working on the title, but they had an internal competition to get the best one. I won. We were already in production and behind schedule, so we had a week to do this. Tomino said “I don't care, do whatever you want”. So to the answer the original question he just said to do whatever I wanted.

When doing mecha designs, what do you start with?

I start by thinking. I start designing with the face.

Who was your favorite character from Lodoss?

Pirotess. Or Wagner. I drew him like the evil Mr. Spock. Lodoss itself, I threw a lot of references into it that were things I was interested in myself. Like Glim was Captain Okita.

Who decides on mecha color schemes? Like the Zaku with a bright red cockpit and green body.

The Zaku cockpit isn't red! The door is. (jokingly) It's a target.

Do you come up with the ideas for the extensions of functionality for the mecha? Like for example, the fin funnels in Char's Counterattack.

Basically the idea was thought up by Tomino. He wanted something that looked like a giant cape in space.

What's your personal favorite of the Gundam designs you've done?

High-gog(?). Working on an all 3-D MS Igloo

You've done work in Gundam and Lodoss. What's the difference in designing for the two different environments?

Either one, I'm still drawing. I think I have more fun doing the characters. It's a mistake to make your favorite thing in life all you do, so I do other tasks too.

RahXephon shares some traits with some of the 70s robot anime. Was that intentional? Were you trying to remake one of those?

You're absolutely right. Basically it's been a long time since Brave Raideen. Since a show like that hasn't existed for a long time, I wanted to do something to bring that type of show back. Normally people in their teens and twenties wouldn't know about Raideen. I just thought people had forgotten about those type of shows, I thought it would be refreshing to it back. Ironically, Tomino, the director of Raideen, is the director of Gundam, which is a completely different type of shows.

Rune Masquer, would there be a way to animate it?

On the way to the panel, my translator mentioned that someone brought up the book. I hoped no one remembered it. Because of you my peaceful existence here has been shattered. I never actually concluded that story, but I could if I made an anime. I said to Escaflowne character designer Nobuteru Yuki, “what are you trying to do, Rune Masquer? Be serious.” I helped out in the production of the Escaflowne movie. The armor the enemy soldiers wear in the storyboards is very similar. “Where have I seen this before?” I was looking at it going, “Japanese soldiers wearing samurai armor coming down in ships from out of the clouds... this seems familiar.”

What are your thoughts on Japan's defeat in the world cup?

It was a forgone conclusion. When the final match was going on, I was making sure I was getting drunk in a bar with no TV.

If you were to hit the personification of a burger and the personification of a plate of nachos together in a fight, who would win?

The tastier one would emerge the winner?

What's your favorite Deimos attack and what would possess you to make a kung-fu fighting trailer?

I only made the enemy units. Even though I'm credited, I came in the middle of the show, I don't know how it came about. I remember just before the series started, there was a kung-fu movie that came out around the same time. Internally we used to say it's a fridge with a face on it.

What inspired you to start drawing machines? When you decided this was what you wanted to do?

If anything, it's sad being stuck doing machines that were destroyed every episode, so I thought I wanted to do characters. But I was thinking, I really like the bad guys. You don't have to draw so many new ones every episode. But then I realized that to become famous, you have to do good guy robots.

Was Akihiro Yamada and the previous involvement with Lodoss your in for working on RahXephon?

Our relationships started before the Lodoss thing. We had an agreement that if I ever became a director, he'd be my character designer.

If Tomino asked you to help on a remake of Char's Counterattack, would you help out?

The question is, will he even talk to me again? Maybe this time Nagano will get to do it. The truth is, I've only seen the first movie. (points out some people in the audience) Gentleman from Bandai Visual, can I have some copies?

How do you feel when you see one of the model toys of your design?

I'm really happy to see a 3-d rendering of my designs, but I think, “If you're going to do it, do it right.” It might be good for the modeler who wants to take that and make it right.

Have you ever looked in the master grade kits and thought, this is wrong, this should be here, etc?

The more recent ones are pretty well done. One person in charge of the designs for the models really holds the original designs very precious and he'll call me up and ask about how to do it if he ever has a question.

What other mecha designers were your most enjoyable to work with?

There are designers I enjoy working with, but it depends on the show. When I start in on a show, I know if I identify and work with a certain set of designers, it will turn out perfectly.

About the present-day directors and mecha designers, do you think they may have regressed from the early 1990s?

For a show like Gundam, it's really hard to do something new. Since the formula for Gundam is kind of set, if you stray to far from it, it's not same show anymore. Like Turn A Gundam, they wanted to change the design concept of the mecha. Most of the Japanese fans had an adverse reaction to it.

Are you planning to do anymore monster or sentai designs in the future?

Probably very soon. No plans for designing for sentai shows, but for Kamen Rider 1st or 2nd, I think someone may be getting touch with me around the end of the summer. We have kind of an internal dialogue going with the producers.

When you see someone who has borrowed elements of your designs or work, how do you feel? Are you flattered or think you could have done that better yourself?

I think when other designers start copying you, you start to think that maybe I've become a pro.

Is there any mecha that you made that you didn't wish was destroyed so quickly?

I'm sure my mecha are cooler and stronger than the main character's. But when it comes down to it, it's up to the bad guy to make the good guy look better. So they have to be tough. Off screen, of course the bad guy is going to walk all over the main characters.

Where did you get your main inspiration for Record of Lodoss War? Outside sources, or from the books?

Lodoss was originally a role playing game, each character had their own campaign. The creator decided he could be an author too and wrote the first Record of Lodoss War book.

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