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Manga / Gundam Sousei

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"Who the hell do you think I am? I'm the director of Gundam!"

"A franchise has to be established for at least as long as Gundam has been for anybody to even consider fictionalizing the story of its own creation. In the case of Gundam Sousei, it is to the story of Gundam's production what Sengoku Basara is to the Warring States period."

Every franchise has its humble beginnings, and the Gundam franchise is no exception. Gundam Souseinote  is a manga first launched in March of 2009 retelling of Gundam's rise from obscurity into the legendary franchise it has become today. Sounds pretty simple and boring, right? WRONG.

Written and illustrated by Hideki Owada, the author of the Affectionate Parody gag series Gundam-san, Gundam Sousei takes the creative staff (and a few of the voice actors) of Mobile Suit Gundam and cranks up their quirks and personalities to insane levels. Director Yoshiyuki Tomino is a chain-smoking, shades-sporting badass, Sunrise's program director is New Meat Moe, the character designer is a Bishounen, the mechanical designer is a grease monkey who draws on the side, the list goes on. If the person was involved in the creation of Gundam, they will be exaggerated. And Hilarity Ensues. While most of the story focuses on how outrageous Tomino is, the manga does take time out to show off some of the weird and peculiar facts surrounding the early years of Gundam that may have fallen to the sands of time.

The manga completed on New Years Day 2011 with 2 volumes and 25 chapters. An English localization was announced at Anime NYC in 2019, under the title The Men Who Created Gundam.

It should also be noted that this whole manga is a work of fiction, with no connection to the real people.

Gundam Sousei contains examples of:

  • Animation Age Ghetto: In-Universe, Anime as a whole is treated as a series of 25-minute commercials for children's toys and the success of Space Battleship Yamato is viewed as an exception rather than the rule. Which makes sense, given that the story's set largely in the late '70s to early '80s.
  • Bishounen: Yasuhiko Yoshikazu, the character designer.
  • Blatant Lies: How Tomino pitches Space Runaway Ideon.
    Tomino: A merry robot action anime about protecting the peace of the world and your neighborhood.
  • Breakout Character: Invoked; while the Gundam design was editorially modified, Tomino and Okawara were entirely free to design the enemy mechs. And thus the MS-06 Zaku II was born...
    Afterwards, Zaku would appear numerous times and not just as a "grunt of the week" in one story. It was there when the new enemy mobile suit "Gouf" appeared in the second season... And it was even in the final episode... It's still there, thirty years after the original airing...
  • Captain Ersatz / No Characters Were Harmed:
    • The role of Yoshiyuki Tomino will be played by Spider Jerusalem (or perhaps Grant Morrison and/or their self-insert character King Mob, who Spider Jerusalem also resembles.)
    • The role of Ichiro Itano will be played by Spike Spiegel.
    • The voice actors resemble their characters e.g. Tōru Furuya resembles Amuro Ray while Rumiko Ukai, who plays Fraw Bow, resembles Fraw.
    • One of Gundam's earliest fans in the early chapters is Freddie Mercury, just as he entered his mustache phase.
  • Character Exaggeration: Rampant. Shūichi Ikeda is a total drunk most of the time (but sobers up upon seeing the role of Char) , Tomino is a total badass, and Momoe Kusakari (the aformentioned program director) is highly naive. Given that Owada is the creator of The Legend of Koizumi, this should not come as a surprise.
  • Composite Character: Presumably, Hajime Yatate (The guy in the cowboy hat, appearing as the Director of Sunrise Japan).
  • Cowboy BeBop at His Computer: In-universe, a news report on the Gundam movie in Chapter 15 wrote Amuro's name as "Amuron" and attached a picture of Sayla. This was real, by the way.
  • Dawn of an Era: In addition to covering the origins of Gundam, the manga also captures the beginning of anime's transition into a cultural institution in general.
  • Day in the Limelight:
    • Chapter 17 is devoted to another Tomino project, Space Runaway Ideon.
    • Chapter 19 details the humble beginnings of Ichiro Itano, the man who would become famous for the "Itano Circus".
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Downplayed, but the manga also touches on the cultural backdrop of Japan around The '70s (and later The '80s), from the perception of anime as nothing more than glorified children's toy ads, to women having less career prospects at the time.
  • Distant Finale: The last chapter jumps ahead 30 years to the unveiling of the life-size Gundam statue at Odaiba, where Tomino, Yaz, Okawara, Kusakari and her daughter are all present.
  • Dramatization: The manga in a nutshell.
  • Easter Egg: One of the animators is seen sneaking a cameo of Daitarn 3 into the show.
  • Enforced Method Acting: In-Universe. Amuro's voice actor couldn't make the "my own father didn't hit me" line convincing, so Tomino punches him until he got it right. Our Establishing Character Moment for Tomino.
  • Executive Meddling: Shichiro Kuroba, head of Clover (the toymaker that sponsored Gundam), is a subversion of this. He initially comes off as a Jerkass for wanting the mecha to be more Toyetic than realistic (specifically, the case for the RX-78-2's "parade" color scheme). However, his reason for doing so is the fact that in order to be able to fund the series, they must be able to sell toys, which means he can't give Tomino and his team the freedom he would like to. invoked
  • Forgets to Eat: Itano, when he's working especially hard; the narration tells us this over a picture of him napping in a sleeping bag next to his desk.
  • Gonk: Hajime Yatate carries signs of this.
  • Heroic BSoD: Tomino gets hit with one hard in chapter 8 due to Gundam's cancellation and losing a drunken street fight. By the end of the chapter, he's back to his old self.
  • Hot-Blooded: Tomino pretty much embodies this. More than a few times he seems to be channeling the soul of Kamina, 40 years earlier. Pretty much any other named character gets at least one HB moment, to boot (even Momoe, who throws Tomino down a flight of stairs at one point), but Tomino outnumbers and outshines them all.
  • Hot-Blooded Sideburns: Kunio Okawara sports a mean pair.
  • Hypocritical Humor: A relatively subtle example is how Tomino is irritated they needed to add bright primary colors to the Gundam's original all-white design, but then later he complains when the 300 yen models on sale aren't even colored.
    • Tomino's main complaint however, is that the factory being hypocritical themselves, selling an 'incomplete' product as a cost-cutting measure for mass production. Fridge Brilliance?
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Gundam's sponsor Kuroba has to make tough demands for changes to Tomino's work because he has to sell toy models to kids to even fund the show. He wants to let Tomino do whatever he wants, but he can't.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Averted. During the big festival for the first movie, PR director Tadahiko Nobe shows Tomino a 10-meter-tall poster of the Gundam and says that he wanted to make it life-size, but city hall wouldn't approve anything larger. He remarks "One day, we'll raise an 18-meter Gundam", and Tomino is all for the idea. The comic ends by jumping ahead to the unveiling of the life-size "Odaiba Gundam".
  • Large Ham: Yoshiyuki Tomino basically dominates any scene he's in.
  • Manly Tears: Tomino's storyboards for episode 28 cause this effect on people.
  • Megaton Punch: Tomino has one hell of a right hook...
  • Morphic Resonance:
    • Real Life voice actors Tōru Furuya and Rumiko Ukai are drawn a lot like Amuro Ray and Fraw Bow (respectively)note . Shūichi Ikeda is much less blatant about this, but you can still see a faint resemblance to Char. For some reason, there also is a Gihren Zabi Expy as a Bandai rep rather than as Banjo Ginga.
    • In the last chapters, two more voice actors appear; one resembles Kai and thus is probably Toshio Furukawa, while the other is presumably intended to be You Inoue, despite not looking at all like Sayla.
    • Keiko Han resembles Lalah Sune tremendously; before she takes up that role (since she also voiced Icelina), she talks to Tōru Furuya and Shūichi Ikeda. The whole scene is an allusion to the episode "A Fateful Meeting", and Amuro, Char, and Lalah's meeting.
    • A surgeon in chapter 7 oddly resembles Bright.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The manga can be summed up as high-intensity anime production.
  • Mr. Fixit: Kunio Okawara, the mechanical designer.
  • Mythology Gag: Many, such as the aforementioned inverted Actor Allusion in Morphic Resonance, a swan symbolizing understanding between Gundam fans (in the same way Newtypes get flashes in which they 'understand' each other, not to mention Lalah was associated with swans) and other such things.
  • New Meat: Kusakari is portrayed as this. She even admits during the airing of the first episode of Mobile Suit Gundam that it's her first anime.
  • Perverse Sexual Lust: Instory, Animec Editor-in-Chief Komaki, at least early on, is obsessed with the eponymous heroine of Anne of Green Gables. And that's not getting to why Tomino knows about Sayla Mass' unmentionables.
  • Prima Donna Director: As you may have gathered by now, Yoshiyuki Tomino is an In-Universe example. He has a very firm idea of what kind of series he wants to make, and tries to defend said series with as much ham as possible.
  • Rule 34: "Seductive Artesia".
  • The '70s: The series revels in the excesses of 1970s Japanese culture. Many of the scenes showing Okawara and Yaz, for instance, even look as though they just stepped out of a disco.
  • Shout-Out: Besides references to Space Battleship Yamato and its financial success, several anime of the era (especially Sunrise shows) (understandably) get mentioned in passing.
    • Genius Bonus: There are in-show references too: the memo Kusakari reads from in chapter 21 is the same as the Project V manual Amuro reads from in the very first episode of Gundam.
  • Take That!: Tomino likens other robot shows to Professional Wrestling and wants to create a sophisticated war drama. Essentially, this sums up the contrast between the Super Robot and Real Robot genres, as Gundam was a pioneer of the latter. However, it's noted that Tomino had to compromise his vision to make the show more toyetic. This moves him to tears.
  • Troubled Production: Practically the whole point of this manga is to show just how troubled it was. invoked
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The production of the original Mobile Suit Gundam on copius amounts of crack and ham.
  • What Could Have Been: Used in-universe by Tomino to gather more interest in Gundam. This is a Shout-Out to the legendary "Tomino Memo", detailing the original 52-episode plan for Gundam; many of the ideas explored in it would turn up in later spin-offs, particularly most of the mobile suits showing up in the rejected sequel pitch MS-X.