The Gundam Series has captivated audiences with mecha suit mayhem, futuristic settings, and countless battles for decades, and for the past 15 ears, Masakazu Ogawa has been a pivotal producer for the franchise.
Gundam’s latest incarnation was Iron-Blooded Orphans, a two season anime known for its stark political themes and brutal violence in the context of a Martian war.
At Anime NYC, Asian Crush was fortunate enough to receive a brief double interview with Ogawa-San as well as Kyle McCarley, the English voice of protagonist Mikazuki.
Ogawa began by speaking to where he hopes the franchise is headed.
“Gundam Wing is being released again, and we hope with it, there will be new and rising Gundam fever, once more among the fans,” he said. “We’re always keeping the audience in mind and always mindful of wanting to add new themes and stories that will be impactful and resonate with the audience.”
Otter (AsianCrush): Were any of the events on the show inspired by real world events or anything from history?
Masakazu Ogawa: I have to say, the story is always worked out between the director, the screenwriter, and myself as the producer, and when we brainstormed the plot and overall storyline, we kind of just put ourselves in a room and came up with it. We weren’t really inspired or influenced by any particular or current event.
Were there any fan or critical reactions that surprised you over the course of the series and its release?
Ogawa: As you may know if you have seen the series, there are a lot of kind of really deep and dark plots, and so it made quite an impression on the fans. Very impactful! In fact, even those of us who were working on it, I have to say we felt a little wounded watching it, but that’s kind of what we aimed for when we were creating the series. It wasn’t just a reaction from the fans—those of us who created it went through many of the same emotions!
Kyle McCarley: I think I can jump on this one actually, just on a specific level. I remember at Anime Expo two years ago, it came about on the panel or somewhere there that Biscuit was such a beloved character. And while it’s framed on the show that everybody else on the show really cares about him, I don’t know if the creative staff really realized just how much the fans appreciated the character. At that moment, in Season One (spoilers!)—the fan response made that moment much more powerful!
Ogawa: Well, I have to respond as someone on the production team. I mean, we were very well aware of how both physically good looking but also personality wise, Biscuit was a very good character. We thought it would be very shocking to the audience to kill him off. We were very careful in writing all the scripts. It was plotted out pretty early on that he was going to die.
What were the greatest challenges you both faced in producing the series and acting for it?
Ogawa: I have to say the greatest challenge was trying to figure out the climax and how to tie it all up. The reason being, all of us on the creative team, we had been working on the series for quite awhile at that point, and we had deep bonds and investments to all the characters. So trying to come up with how best to do the ending and what the ending would be I would say was the biggest challenge.
McCarley: For me, I would say it was when we changed ADR directors between Season One and Season Two. And that’s not to say anything negative about either one of them! Chris Cassin who directed Season One, and Lex Lang who directed Season Two are both great, but they have different approaches creatively. So it was a little bit of an adjustment period, and also, getting Lex familiarized with everything that had happened in Season One. That posed a bit of a challenge.
Can you elaborate on the differences in directing styles?
McCarley: I feel like Chris Casin. I compare him to a Clint Eastwood style of direction, where he’s kind of like “if the first take is good, move on!” He doesn’t spend a whole lot of time honing in and trying to milk something out that maybe isn’t there. That can kind of be his approach, and I love it for what it is, but there’s also other directing styles. Lex kind of veers towards kind of trying to finesse things a bit more, and trying to find something else in those takes. And sometimes that really helps. That was one adjustment.
In closing, Ogawa talked about the evolution of the industry.
Because of technological advancements, visuals have definitely evolved to the point where we’re able to record or film detailed things on an entirely new level. Whether it’s Iron-Blooded Orphans or more recent properties of Gundam, we’re capturing really minute, little details on film, and I think that’s definitely been the biggest difference in the past 15 years.