Otakon 2015: 15-minutes with Director Shinji Takamatsu

Shinji Takamatsu started his career with giant robots, working on shows in the seminal franchises of the Brave and Gundam series. He has, in more recent years, moved on to making fans laugh with his work on School Rumble, Gintama, and Daily Lives of High School Boys. His latest project Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! follows in his line of comedies. We were lucky enough to sit down with him for a few minutes to speak about robots and magical boys.

Reverse Thieves: Someone once told me King of Braves Gao Gai Gar is considered the best of the Brave series, but that Brave Police J-Decker is most true to the spirit of the franchise. What do you think of this?

Shinji Takamatsu: The Brave series was originally supposed to be a show to sell toys to preschool kids, but as it went on, it gained an aspect of catering more towards anime fans. By the time of Gao Gai Gar, it had turned completely towards grown-up anime fans.

Whether J-Decker captures the true spirit of the Brave series, is a tricky question for me. Because I am most fond of the first Brave series Exkaiser, J-Decker is my personal response of how I would do the Brave series.

RT: Many online sources list you in various roles for Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, can you clarify what you did on the production?

ST: Well, ah, the original director [Masashi Ikeda] was fired after the first half of the show so I became the deputy director after that.

RT: Was After War Gundam X supposed to be a criticism of the extremely optimistic notions of the Newtype in the original Gundam series?

ST: Actually, the way “Newtype” is used in Gundam X is code for “Gundam.” Gundam the franchise itself.

I, myself, started in the anime industry believing in a good future but I soon realized things were not going in the right direction so we needed to change.

So if you replace all the instances of the word “Newtype” with the word “Gundam” in Gundam X, you might be able to see what I really meant.

When watching Gundam X, you see characters and ideas about how Newtypes are exploited; or those who worship them; or those who are told they are not really Newtypes and sulk; or those who have no idea about the Newtype phenomenon at all. Replace [Newtype] with Gundam and you’ll see that there are those in this world who exploit Gundam; those you are very religious about Gundam; or production staff who have to fight the notion of Gundam and create Gundam that is not Gundam.

But what is revealed at the end of my show is that all of this is just an illusion. Nothing is about Gundam. We all just need to be working in the entertainment field to create shows of value. And that is the better future that we all believed in when we watched the very first, original, Gundam.

RT: The series was recently licensed for the U.S., we look forward to watching the series with this new information.

ST: Well, my take was what it was like many years ago and I made a character of the Gundam business back then. Things are probably different now. But if you look at [Gundam X] in context it will be fine.

RT: You directed Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! but also took on my other staff roles such as sound and storyboard. What prompted who to wear so many hats?

ST: Be it storyboarding or script writing or sound directing, I consider that all work that the director should be supervising. So it would start with me intervening with all that, and then my saying “I’ll do this!” or “I’ll do that!” I think it is all still part of directing. 

More Otakon 2015 posts:

Otakon 2015: Tweets
New Anime for Older Fans 2015
Otakon 2015: General Impressions
Otakon 2015: 15-minute with Director Seiji Kishi
Crime Scene Investigations #009: Otakon 2015
Otakon 2015: Guests
Otakon 2015: 15-minutes with GARO’s Yuichiro Hayashi and Toru Kubo
Otakon 2015: Artist Alley

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