Interview: Kazuhiro Furuhashi, Director of Gundam UCby Zac Bertschy, Apr 7th 2011
ANN: Gundam UC is your first Gundam title. Were you anxious or nervous at all taking on such a huge project?
Furuhashi: Originally, I accepted Gundam UC as an OVA project with four 45-minute episodes. I expected it to be challenging because there's a novel on which this anime series is based, which isn't normal for a Gundam series. However, since Sunrise – the original home of Gundam – was producing the series, I just took it lightly, and assumed that “there won't be much trouble.”
Were you at all concerned about the high expectations of Gundam's hardcore fans, going in to Gundam UC?
Furuhashi: Even though my experience working with Gundam is limited and might fall short of their high expectations, I get help from the staff. Many of them have experience working with Gundam.
Your resume as a director doesn't have many if any other mecha titles in it – are there any key differences when it comes to working on a mecha series?
Furuhashi: This is my second time working on a humanoid mecha series. The first time, I just did storyboards. You need to put extra effort in to make things look larger and heavier. You will need a lot more detail, such as describing the cockpit, monitor-like shots, and other gimmicks. It feels like the required details are tripled (compared to non-mecha series).
Were you a Gundam fan before working on this series? What did you have to learn about the franchise before beginning production?
Furuhashi: I was watching the TV series and the movies as they came out. I have a strong memory of First Gundam (Mobile Suit Gundam), but I also have a vague memory of the other Gundam series. I watched Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack and Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory again. But, at my age, I cannot grasp too much small detail. I always consult with the expert staff.
As an artist, do you find the Gundam franchise creatively satisfying to work on? When you're working on a beloved franchise like Gundam, are you as free creatively as you would be on something with less history?
Furuhashi: From the beginning, we were adapting a novel, so I tried not to insert too much of my own creative sensibilities, but my tastes in directing just come out naturally, such as particular shots that show hands.
So now that you're working on the fourth volume of Gundam Unicorn, how has the creative process worked so far? Are you satisfied with how it's all turned out?
Furuhashi: The schedule for the creative process is pretty tight. We just finished the episode's layout, and I am satisfied with the details. I feel that the storyboards are my best work so far, so it will only get even better with the other staff's help.
Are there any story elements or characters you wish you had space for in the story but didn't get to use?
Furuhashi: Tons of things. In the first episode, I wanted to describe the scenes like two main characters escaping the colony (a subway station under the school, and a disguise at the store) and Cardeas's background. I also wish I could show more about the teachers including Bancroft and the students. After the first episode, I feel there is not enough screen time for all the characters. I love battleships, and I'd like to show the battles they go through, but, it couldn't happen in this series.
What's next for the Gundam Unicorn series? Can you give us any hints as to what to expect from future episodes?
Furuhashi: The 4th episode has a different arrangement. But, the 5th episode is loyal to the novel, which will be developed into a Gundam-like story. It could be a drama about a father and his son, the generational divide in a sci-fi setting.
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