In a recent interview, 水島精二 / Seiji Mizushima, director of Gundam 00, spoke of the tremendous pressures of creating a Gundam series, the constant criticism made of the show online, and even how the Internet’s “knee jerk” negativity lowers the creative motivation of the production staff.
The lengthy interview was conducted as part of Nikkei Business Online’s anime column. The article is nearly three pages long, and is only the first part of the interview posted thus far.
Below is an abridged summary, with the interviewer’s questions in bold:
The creation of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 can be called a monumental project, as it is a continuation of the epochal Mobile Suit Gundam series, a series embraced by people ranging from 10 year olds to those in their 50s…
Honestly, I was extremely happy (to become the series’ director). As I am in my early 40s, I was part of the generation that was brought up watching the original Mobile Suit Gundam series.
I was not very familiar with the details of the Gundam franchise, but ever since entering the anime production business I’ve wanted to work on a Gundam show at least once. I think a lot of people (in the industry) feel the same way.
Right now, it is an honor to be in charge of a Gundam series, but on the other hand it does also feel like putting one’s hands into the fire at times.
Fire? What do you mean by that?
Creating a new Gundam series entails a large “risk” for the creator. Since it is such a major title, the creative staff is not free to exercise much freedom in the show’s creation, and the staff must always be on their guard.
Do you feel a lot of pressure from Gundam fans?
We continuously hear from the fans things like “Gundam isn’t like that! This Gundam is no good!”
I see. It must be a lot like in the automobile industry, where a big name company changes an old model and fans of the old model are distraught.
Certainly the expectations are set very high for such a big property (like Gundam).
Much like what would happen when a change is made to a famous car model, voices of “No, I’d prefer it to be like this…” are heard. We in the production staff would prefer to hear positive comments, but that isn’t the case.
The “knee jerk” reactions are more like “What the hell is this?” or “That’s uncool.”
Why exactly do you think they’re “knee jerk” reactions?
Well, they’re not criticisms based on close inspection of the product, or by closely following the story, but rather by merely looking at pictures (of the show) and superficial appearance.
Right now, the Internet is a place where commentary of the series travels extremely fast. Whether it is positive or negative, talk travels quickly there.
The people that want to flame the show approached the series right from the start from the vector of “I hate it”, and on the Internet they can find other sympathetic people with which to search for points of shared dislike. They’ve already gotten on the “flow of hate”, and so there’s really no helping it.
Are you really aware of all the Internet discussions?
Yes. A lot of the production staff is aware of the comments, and so the Internet flaming does lower their motivation, make no mistake about that.
Does that sort (of criticism) tend to only happen on the Internet?
It’s more obvious on the Internet. More so than on blogs, it’s especially prevalent on anonymous bulletin boards.
Those knee jerk reactions don’t really go up on personal blogs, but more on these bulletin boards where tons of people gather and can post under anonymous pseudonyms. A lot of flaming directed towards films, books, musical artists and the like can be found there. I sometimes think those people simply dislike anything that’s selling well.
Thus, I think instead of calling them “Anti-Gundam 00″, it might be better to call them “Anti-Popular.”
I think the approach of not simply watching the show for enjoyment, but rather to criticize it from the very beginning is something that is especially noticeable on the Internet. On the medium of the Internet, the sentiments of animosity towards major works is very strong, I feel.
The interview does continue on for over another page, but no new topic is introduced and the remainder is mostly composed of Mizushima discussing Internet anonymity, and the possible explanations for what drives Internet users to post negative comments.
In the sake of brevity, the rest of the interview is not shown here, but if the next installment contains more commentary as interesting as this, you can expect to see it covered here.
Seiji Mizushima, Gundam 00 Director.
The full length interview is available at Nikkei Business Online.