Interview: Yoshiyuki Tomino
Page 2

by Mark Simmons, Oct 23rd 2009
I think people are very interested in the idea that you worked on the original Astro Boy. One other thing, though, that I think isn't as well known among Western fans is the sheer number of anime that you've worked on, doing storyboards or "conte." I think the rumor is that you've done one thousand conte...

Yes, I have.

What did you learn from all that work?

Understanding different types of stories becomes an asset when you create your own works. So having the opportunity to work on storyboards for so many different types of story was an asset for me.

In your own work, you also do a lot of your own storyboards. Are you unusual among directors? Do you do more of the storyboards for your own work than other directors do?

I don't know of any recent examples, but such people do exist. So I don't think it's so unusual. And in a TV series, many episode directors are involved in creating the story as well.

Here's something a lot of people have mentioned to me. You recently gave a keynote at a video game conference, where I believe you said that video games are evil.

Yes, they're evil. Because they just steal people's time.

Do you think the people who make video games could change them into something more meaningful or worthwhile?

I don't think they can. But in the twenty-year history of video games, one good thing is that the technology they've produced feeds back to the real world. Video game hardware is endurance-tested by hundreds of thousands of people, and that helps establish computer systems that can be used in the real world. So the fact that video game hardware still exists isn't meaningless.

I don't know much about technical things, but I think at the very least, it's thanks to computer games that we were able to develop the programs and hardware to make mobile phones as small as they are now. The fact that the game industry has taken on so many technological challenges has been a big help to the computer industry. Although the games themselves are worthless, in that sense they've been a good thing.

So computers themselves are good, in your opinion?

Yes, of course. It's basically a question of how they're used, although I don't think we've been able to use that technology in a way that lives up to its high potential. For example, was it a good idea to make it possible for this fool to cross the Pacific Ocean in five or six hours? I think that may be excessive...

One more question on Ring of Gundam. There's a key phrase in there about "Amuro's memory"...

(Laughs) I haven't thought about that yet. Another director said that I should insert a phrase like that as a kind of foreshadowing, to appeal to the fans. Now I'll really have to think about what it is!

Speaking of "Amuro's memory," it does seem that in your recent work there's a theme of sending messages between the generations. I'm thinking also of Wings of Rean, and the character of Sakomizu, who is from the past of Japan...

Yes. As I've gotten older, I've been thinking about what older people should do. I think the one thing that older people have to do is to acknowledge their own mistakes, and pass that on to the next generation. I've seen a lot of older people who just boast about what they've done, and that really bothers me. Even if they don't think they're always right, a lot of them just want to be recognized for their achievements. I want to make an effort not to be like that.

So is there a message that you would want to send to the future, a hundred or two hundred years from now? What would Tomino's message to the future be?

I don't have an answer to that question. That's because I don't think there will be anyone two hundred years from now who will listen to what we have to say.

You may not understand what I mean, but with Ring of Gundam, I want to make a story that will explain it.

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