Firstly, could you tell us the details regarding the planning of the series of "New VOTOMS" works?
The plan for renewal of VOTOMS content first began at the Sunrise VOTOMS Studio's General Staff Headquarters (a nickname the VOTOMS studio production staff uses for their department). The producers are much more energetic compared to my generation, and it went something along the lines of, "It may be tough, but let's get some new VOTOMS content out there!"
At that point in time, how was the big topic of "Directors other than Takahashi Ryousuke producing VOTOMS works" handled?
It was simple, really. I had no opposition to the notion, myself. From the beginning I've been credited for many original works. However, in the publishing world, so-to-speak, what is considered an original work is considerably different; so much so that you may say to yourself, "is this really my own original work?" Rather, whatever the production, the feeling that it was made together with the whole staff at those particular times is strong. So, whenever new talent wants to join in, I say, "Go right ahead!"
Then, there were no suggestions on your part regarding the production contents of Armored Trooper VOTOMS Case;IRVINE and VOTOMS Finder, Director Takahashi?
Absolutely none! Instead, I myself decided on one particular policy. Others might call this "Ryousuke-esque," but in short it was, "Don't say anything; just do it how you want to do it!" hehe. There were two reasons for this. The first was, it meant I didn't have to do as much work, heh. Secondly, whenever someone states their opinion on something, that statement carries with it an influence on the recipient, doesn't it? If that had happened, the will behind the "VOTOMS Revival" would have become weak from the very beginning. That's why it's more of a "do as you please" situation.
I see. In the past there was also a VOTOMS work not directed by yourself, Armor Hunter Mellowlink, though at that time did you take a different stance in regards to it?
Mellowlink was from the start, as a VOTOMS side story, something that was produced by "family," as it were. It was directed by Mr. Kanda (animation director Kanda Takeyuki, known to be a close friend of Takahashi and co-directed Dougram with him. He died of cancer in 1996 at the age of 52), who was of the same era as I and was together with me on Fang of the Sun Dougram. If my VOTOMS was [A], it would be [A'], I think. This time the generation and its disposition are much different, so I think that more fresh finishing touches are needed.
Well then, proceeding on I'd like to hear your impressions of those two new productions. Firstly Armored Trooper VOTOMS Case; IRVINE, though in this case the established setting is quite familiar in regards to the VOTOMS world seen up to this point, isn't it?
Yes. To that extent, the creator went beyond my expectations for the VOTOMS part, uh... Because I myself made the previous works it's difficult to express, but it's something that's being made extremely diligently! Heh, I think to myself, "You don't have to make it quite so VOTOMS-y!"
It's only the most obvious aspect of the work, but you can certainly feel the respect towards the original. Irvine's line, "Battling is just a game, after all," seems to convey his personality in a similar light to how Chirico felt.
It is interesting, along with the visuals. I think that old fans will be surprised by the character designs. I, too, thought that it was a very modern style at first, but when you really get a good look you may experience a strange illusion and say, "Hey, these look a lot like Mr. Shioyama's characters, don't they?"
Indeed, when nothing seems out of place you think, "Ah, this is VOTOMS!" When it comes to something with a bigger gap in world view, that would be VOTOMS Finder, wouldn't it?
The established setting for this work is interesting, too, though for Director Shigeta Atsushi I had thought, "You don't have to depict quite so much!" It felt like he wanted to make VOTOMS's mecha action in his own special way. You can see the suggestion that, "If VOTOMS's ATs developed just a little bit in this world, then the mecha action would be like this, right?" everywhere in the work.
The ATs all have gimmicks, though with any of them you might feel like, "Using a Scopedog as a base, you could put that on it, too."
Yeah, yeah. Those Ats seem to use mostly energetic wire action, making for really great scenes. That kind of scene is one of this work's biggest highlights.
When you look at it that way, using the "Do what you want to do!" policy, do you have the impression that contrastive productions were going to be made?
Yeah, and because of that, the breadth of what constitutes a VOTOMS production has widened. Up until now VOTOMS has been on a very narrow path, but it's survived for 28 years by virtue of its contents. To that extent, fans from the old days are very deep-seated, and the VOTOMS that those fans love was singular. Comparing it to another stubbornly persistent fantastic story, the works bearing the name "Gundam" are branches emanating from a single great tree. So to speak, VOTOMS now finally has three branches growing from its own tree. And now we VOTOMS fans get to enjoy the inter-generational conflict that comes from deciding just what that means, hehe. Fans in their 40s and fans in their 20s will say to each other "Your VOTOMS and my VOTOMS are different!" and won't that be fun?
Really, haha! If those branches are to continue multiplying after this, though, is there a possibility that eventually it will get to a point where people will say, "No matter how you look at it, that ain't VOTOMS!"? As director, do you yourself have a guideline as to, "As long as you don't go beyond here, it's VOTOMS"?
I don't mean to speak on confining what VOTOMS is, but because I'm a bit loose-lipped I might say, "I'm thinking about a project like this." And people around me would worry and say, "You ought not say that out loud! You'll get your ideas stolen!" And to that I'd say, "It's alright. Even if the project is the same, if the creators are different the end results will be completely different." On the other hand, if I try and influence a project even just a little, it will get hitched on my own personality, and what would remain would only be something that would conspicuously have my own mark on it. Of course, this applies to VOTOMS, as well.
In other words, it would be good if, by containing themselves, each creative lead made various works, presenting varying "VOTOMS-ness" in them?
Yes. So, I don't worry about who's participating, and definitely don't think that, "If Chirico doesn't appear, it isn't VOTOMS!" haha.
Well then, what can you tell us about the work you yourself are influencing, Alone Again?
Actually, you can see more of the color of Ikeda Masashi, who's in charge of the screenplay and storyboarding. In the past decade, I haven't been "directing" in the sense of going over every detail with a fine-tooth comb, but rather a broader sense of directing in terms of where the story and drawings are going. Something of an "Original Work Producer" stance. It's the same for Phantom Arc and Alone Again, while I don't say a word for Case;IRVINE and VOTOMS Finder. In short, for Alone I say, "The ingredients are all here, now don't fuss and make something out of them!" And when I do, Ikeda says, "I won't fuss!" and goes at it with all he's got, heh.
And what would those "ingredients" be for this production, director?
What I wanted to do can be divided into three main things. First is to leave behind the possibility of Fyana's survival. Simply looking at here one can't quite know whether or not the pulse of life still exists there, with neither her face nor body decaying as she drifts through space. Though, I suppose in the world of manga, there have been plenty of revivals in situations like this before, heh. Another is to properly settle the drama of Teitania, who pursued Chirico at the end of Shining Heresy. It's not to say that she and Chirico aren't characters that go well together, but we'd like to draw out her emotions. This is exceedingly difficult, but I think that Ikeda has done and admirable job of it.
I always cry when I watch that finale!
Takahashi: Looking back, in the past VOTOMS human kindness was expressed in no small amount. With Vanila and Coconna and Gotho, they each slowly grow closer, and though it's not as though they'll suddenly share the exact same feelings, they still can exhibit kindness. Chirico isn't one to show an expression of love very often at all, but when it comes to those three and Fyana things are different. For their part, he wanted to protect them. Therefore, for the third time, though those three have been regulars from the beginning, we wanted to show how they still connect with Chirico. I think entertainment is good when it's optimistic. Rather than slumping into despair, an ending should rescue you from that despair.
One thing; not only that emotional attachment, but is there a hidden meaning to Chirico's future in these two productions?
When it comes to a story's ending, there should be a part that "plants a sprout." In my works up until now, somewhere there's a theme of "the son surpassing the father" that appears. Now reversing that, this time we're seeing what it would be like to have the main character surpassed. When they see it, someone might say to themselves, "I want to make the continuation of that," and in that case please do!
What?! You wouldn't make it yourself?
No, I'm not saying I would not make it, but it doesn't seem like connecting it via something like a TV series is possible anymore. Tentatively, there is a feeling of, "If I were to make it, it would be conveyed like this," but what we're doing mainly is "laying out a path." Even I don't know just who would continue the story from here.
I see. At any rate, Chirico's story, as well as the "New VOTOMS," are only beginning, then?
Exactly! In the twenty eight years continuing on from VOTOMS's production, I've met a lot of people who have said, "I'd like to try and make VOTOMS, too." Though, in reality from within those many people, two have now come forth. And thanks to that I've been able to see the possibility of the creation of a VOTOMS that's just a bit different. This is truly only the first year. Long-time fans and new fans both, it is my wish that you do not overlook this moment.
Translation credit goes to "BROhgamiIchirou" over at /m/. (I briefly double-checked the translation: it's accurate).