Otakon 2017 – Official Gundam Panel by Sunrise

The Sunrise host Yamashira greeted the audience and introduced Producer and managing director Hideyuki Tomioka. Hideyuki worked on Mobile Suit Gundam Origins, Gundam X as well as Inuyasha, Steamboy amongst others.

    Tomioka: Nice to meet you today! I’m Tomioka from Sunrise. Actually, I don’t get to come to the US alot. I’m excited to be here. *audience applauds* When I heard that Otakon was going to do some panels on Gundam Wing, I agreed to go. They said, “Yes, we would love to invite you!” Thank you so much for inviting me here. I’ve been a producer of 20-30+ titles, but Gundam Wing really is the most representative of the titles that I have worked on. I’m really proud of it and happy that I could be here.

The host Yamashira introduced herself, working at Sunrise based in LA. She helps with the production and marketing of the series. The conversation turned to the Tokyo Gundam project. She polled the room to see if anyone ever seen the Gundam RX-78-2 in Tokyo. *hands shoot up* (I had the pleasure of seeing both the original RX-78-2 at the waterfront as well as when they moved it in front of the mall.) Yamashira noted that it was getting old so that they are making a new Unicorn Gundam at TWC, Tokyo Waterfront City. The show the bottom half which is already built. She noted that it will be completed in the Fall. “If you can come see, that will be great!”

Previously called the Gundam Front, the amusement area in the mall will now be called the Gundam Base. It will feature the largest Gunpla store in the world. “If you come to Japan, be sure to bring large suitcases! You know Gunpla takes up so much space.” It’s opening on 8/19 and it will feature every Gunpla that was ever manufactured, about 2,000 models. Old ones will be released as well. “The factory in Shizuoka is churning out the old ones so the newer Gunpla is low on stock.”

Currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Hulu, there is Gundam Seed, Destiny, Gundam 00 and Gundam Build Fighters. On Sunrise Rightstuf releases, there is Gundam F91, Gundam 0083, Gundam MS Team, MS Igloo. Thanks to RIghtstuf for releasing Gundam (especially the older series) so that we can get it legally and easily.

Yamashira polled the audience for those who know of Gundam,info site. *audience applauds* The trailer for Gundam Thunderbolt: December Sky was shown. The series is released by Rightstuf and the manga is available by Viz Media. She polled the audience if the manga was known and there were a few hands. “Last time I announced it somewhere, they didn’t know about it.” Volume 4 of the manga is released this month. Hideyuki shared “The person drawing the manga is someone who actually never worked in the Gundam universe before. It’s so action packed and high tension, I’m excited to read the next chapter as well. As you know, we have started using more CG in anime in general, but we intentionally decided to draw alot of the mecha suit battles by hand. *audience applauds* The reason why we were able to do this since many of the staff of Thunderbolt came directly from Unicorn. For those of you who have not seen Unicorn , please check it out.”

In mid August, there is a Sunrise festival in Japan. Renting theaters in Tokyo, they show old and new titles. For the first time, they will be showing the English dubbed Gundam Thunderbolt: December Sky at the festival with Japanese subtitles. Mostly for the foreigners living in Tokyo. There will be special guests at the festival. They also took videos of the voice actors, Johnny Yong Bosch, Cherami Leigh and it will be shown to them in Japan. The showing will be on 8/15/17 at 9pm at the Shinjuku Picadilly theater. The producer and the composer will be in attendance.

The next compilation from Gundam Thunderbolt is Bandit Flower. The Japanese version is already streaming online. The English dub will be premiering on 11/18/17 with voices from NYAV Post. The dub premiere will be hosted at AnimeNYC with composer Kikuchi Naryoshi in attendance. The concert will have themes from the show.

The clip for Mobile Suit Gundam Origins V: Clash at Loum was shown. Episode 5 will be premiering on 9/2/17 with episode 6 Rise of the Red Comet will be released in 2018. Yamashira plugged the sunday Origins panel. Episode 4 of Origins will be shown on sunday with director Stephanie Sheh as well as writer Sumizawa Katsuyuki and producer Tomioka Hideyuki.

Participation time! The fans laughed when they show a clip from Mobile Suit Gundam of Gihren rallying his men in the iconic scene. The audience joined in the call of ‘Seig Zeon’, throwing our fists into the air.

Yamashira explained that she video taped it so that they can show it to Japan. Gundam fans unite!

Leaving Universal Central ,they turned to Alternate Universe. Yamashira polled the fans whether they prefer one or the other. It seems to be 50/50. The clip of the opening Gundam Wing was shown next with massive cheers from the fans. Yamashira noted that the BD/DVD set will be released soon from Rightstuf. Details on the set will be talked about on the Rightstuf panel. The Gundam Wing panel with the episode 1 screening will be shown on Saturday with writer Sumizawa Katsuyuki and producer Tomioka.

Something completely new, Gundam Build Fighters: Battlogue clip was shown. Episode 1 is available now with GM’s Counterattack released at the end of the month. Shown at Gundam.info.

The dub of Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans was shown. Season 2 dub will be premiering on Toonami in October 2017. Limited Edition BD/DVD will be released by Funimation with Gunpla. The English dub for both seasons is streaming online now.

New project! The trailer of Gundam Seed was shown to cheers of the crowd. The BD remaster edition has been out in Japan for a few years already. In order to bring it to the English market, a new dub is needed since there is new material. It would be difficult to get the old cast for the previous release as it was a company in Canada. Also, now Sunrise is the helm of localizing the series. Yamashira noted that they are working closely with the script writer as well as with the voice actors in the recording booth. Checking back and forth with Japan to make sure that it is accurate and true to the material. *audience applauds* NYAV Post will be releasing the English dub with president Mike Sinterniklaas.

    Sinterniklaas: Hello! It’s nice to meet you! I’m a big fan of Gundam, worked on it before. Spent all my allowance on Gunpla and a cool Zeon tie. It’s a huge honor to be working on Origins. Unicorn and Thunderbolt is so cool. Getting to do what we do, paying attention to the story, we hope you get the same experience the Japanese audience gets. That’s what we are shooting for. Hopefully we pull it off. Thank you for being here today.

The second guest, Stephanie Sheh also appeared as the production manager and the casting director.

    Sheh: Hi, guys! I’m so excited to be here! I’m so excited to be working on the product and hope to tell you more about it.

It turned into a Q&A about the new dub.

    Q: How did you feel about getting the dub since it is a tight deadline?
    Sinterniklaas: We sort of established a reputation that we can pull off miracles really fast. The Unicorn and Origins production schedule has been very insane since it is a simultaneous dub release. We are working with incomplete materials. We see post it notes, a name without lipsync. We can’t really dub to that. It is very challenging. It is not our first rodeo. This [Gundam Seed] thing is done. We know where it is going, we have final locked picture which is huge. I actually love the challenge and super excited.

    It is great that you [Yamashira] come to the recording and we get immediate feedback. What is better now is that we have direct access to you in the room to sign off on things to make sure why certain characters do certain things. For some dubs, if something is awkward, we leave it. Things are justified. To know why that is happening and put it into the dub is helpful to the project.

They spoke about how big the series is at 98 episodes which they have to finish by the end of the year. Stephanie noted that she had to cancel her trip to Japan and Comic Con. The audience awwwed. “So everybody watch it and buy it!” Yamashira noted that Mike is the director for Thunderbolt and Stephanie did Unicorn, but they are both not directing Gundam Seed. A video message from Carrie Keranen was shown.

    Keranen: Hi, everyone! I’m Carrie Keranen and I will be director for Gundam Seed and Destiny. I’m really excited to be making my directorial anie debut at NYAV Post because many years ago, Michael hired me to voice my very first anime. It is appropriate to start the next big chapter with the company. I’m so excited to share this show with you. I’m sure you heard in the trailer some familiar voices and also some new voices that you will really, really love. So please enjoy!

Mike shared about why and how he chose Carrie to direct. He noted that he hired her as Caska in Beserk. He explained that he trained her and she became like his office manager. He realized that she had a wonderful way of telling the story as well as a great on camera actor and works with original material. Mike noted that dubs has always been parroting what you hear, but to tell the story in your own way, it makes it more personal. Stephanie added that Carrie has also been writing and directing her own short films so she tells stories well and she has a theater background. It was important to them that she is able to act and be able to communicate with actors. Stephanie quipped, “Carrie is very nurturing and she really knows how to play really well-I don’t want to say it the wrong way-with men. She is a tomboy and knows how to hold her own with them.” Stephanie added that Carrie has the sensitivity for the emotional aspect of the story and strength for the military and mech show.

A bit from the recording booth, Yamashira explained that once there is a take that Carrie accepts, she will go, ‘Yes! I love it!” excitedly.

Cast announcements and casting info. Yamato Kira voiced Max Mittelman. Yamashira noted that Max was Io Fleming from Thunderbolt which is another main character. At first she was startled that they will be using the same voice actor for another major character but they really liked his audition. “I was drinking a cup of tea and I almost spit it out since he was so good. This is it! I’m not listening to any more auditions!” She added that she did finish listening to the auditions. Stephanie noted that they have alot of actors due to the series of this size. At times they will do target auditions which is sending out an audition to five or six people they know will nail the role rather then open auditions. She shared that they biggest issues with actors is that they are perfect for a role, but there are times they want to save him for a bigger role later. “So we’re constantly thinking ahead. If we get an actor who doesn’t make the audition, we’re already keeping them in mind for other future roles.” Mike calls it ‘Fantasy Football.” Yamashira noted that the cast is discussed by herself, Stephanie and Carrie and they constantly discuss having the actor read for other characters to gauge what they have in mind. “It’s a cool process.”

A clip was shown to introduce each voice actor. Kira had two clips, one of which was him taking off which is pretty unique to listen to without the sound affects of the music. Chris Hackney is Athrun Zala, a newer actor. Yamashira noted that he is a Gundam fan, which she adds, “Not that it helps score points with me.”

Lacus is Stephanie Sheh. Yamashira commented “I really like the picture of Stephanie Sheh.” Stephanie responded, “I don’t, but Carrie said that ‘I really want to use the picture of Stephanie under water.’ So I said fine, this is the only time you can use it.” Haro is voiced by Sandy Fox. Yamashira noted that she didn’t know that Stephanie was auditioning at the beginning. She noted that she knows that Lacus has a high voice, but she wanted to choose a voice that wouldn’t “annoy her for 98 episodes.” *audience laughs* Yamashira knew her as Usagi from Sailor Moon and after hearing her voice, she texted Stephanie and said “Oh my god, you’re not annoying!” Stephanie added that she was asked if she was going to voice Haro since she was Haro in all of UC century in Origins. But since Seed was an alternate universe, Haro shouldn’t sound the same. “I didn’t even audition Sandy. I knew her work. She did the voice of the tachikomas so I said she could be a really good Haro.” Yamashira added that they have been saying, “It’s so cute!” throughout Sandy’s recording session. “Even though it’s so cute, it’s not annoying.”

Mike quipped, “Hastag, ‘it’s not annoying.'” *audience laughs*

Cagalli Yula Athha is voiced by Cherami Leigh. Yamashira noted that Cherami has been in two other Gundam series that they have worked on including Iron Blooded Orphans as Kudelia, Thunderbolt as Claudia. “All the ‘ke’ characters.” Stephanie noted that for each character, she is doing different voices with Thunderbolt, she is older, more bitter and deeper, “drug addict” type of voice. For Cagalli, it is more tom boyish and feisty. Yamashira shared from the recording booth, Cagalli’s personality is alot like Cherami’s. Carrie would talk her through a scene about how he is holding her hand and Cherami would make a face. “Yeah, that face! Use that face in your acting!”

The scene shown for Cagalli is her being angry and about to punch Kira. The guests cheered at the prospect of punching Kira. *audience applauds*

Flay Allster is Erica Mendez and Sai Argyle is Lucien Dodge. Yamashira noted, “Flay is an interesting character, in that not many people like her. She is a favorite character of Carrie and mine since she is manipulative,” *audience laughs* They didn’t want to choose someone with a high pitched cutesy voice, so they chose Erica. (Through out the panel, Yamashira animatedly demonstrates with her voice the kind of comments that Carrie would make which is very exciting and fun.) Ironically, as Erica and Lucien are together in real life, Yamashira noted that when they were thinking of who to voice Sai, they thought it would be funny if Lucien is chosen “as a marketing ploy….which it’s not.” Ultimately, they chose Lucien because it fits. The Japanese side even commented, “Is it okay that they’re cast like this because spoilerspoilerspoiler, something happens.” Mike quips, “Maybe something will happen in real life!”

Miriallia Haw as Cassandra Morris, Tolle Koenig as Colin DePaula and Kuzzey Buskirk as Eddy Lee. Mike shared that Colin used to be Peter Rabbit on Nickelodeon as well as a Gavroche on Broadway Les Miserables. After he received the part as Kuzzey, Eddy is now in Hamilton on Broadway.

Yzak Joule as Daman Mills, Dearka Elsman as Johnny Yong Bosch, Nicol Amalfi as Casey Mongillo. From the photos, Mike noted that they are the bad boy group. Stephanie noted that Casey just dyed her hair green, like Nicol. “She knows how to play the piano too! When we were talking about Nicol’s theme, she was like, ‘I think I’ll learn it!”

Stephanie noted that their actors are not just from NY and LA, they also get actors from Texas. She explains that Damon is in Texas so they record him there. With Chris Sabat (Vegeta, Dragonball Z), Damon is able to record over a device remotely. Carrie directs all the NY voice actors and Damon over Skye. “We have a tricoastal cast.” Mike, the king of quips, “Tricoastal 5000.”

Yamashira plugged the Facebook Gundam Global Portal page, the site with all the latest information on Gundam. The international Gundam staff all write on the site. Aside from the US localization team with Yamashira, there is one person in Hong Kong as well as from five or six from Japan. Polling the audience, only a few appears to know of the site. The site will have videos of the cast, seiyuu and voice actors, messages from the staff as well as events around the world. There is even messages straight from the Japanese studio with the producers or directors. Trailers will be shown there first. Mike also added that the facebook page is also a wonderful way of connecting with the creators as the Japanese staff pays close attention to the site. Stephanie noted “You can share what you like or don’t like.” Yamashira shared that she mentioned something to the creative staff and someone commented the same thing on the site. “It’s a bad opinion so I’m not going to share it.” But she was able to point it out to the staff that the fans agree with her.

For video news and info on the anime and gunpla, there Gundam.info site with the latest streams of the series. Bandai Hobby site is also featured since they usually supply the prizes for any contests held.

Q&A time!

    Q: The Gundam ticket package for AnimeNYC includes the soundtrack. With Thunderbolt being as popular as it is, will be there a push to bring over more of the soundtrack for other Gundam shows?
    Tomioka: I haven’t heard anything yet other than Thunderbolt. Which one are you interested in?
    Fan: Unicorn.
    Yamashira: I’ll report it when I go back to Japan.

    Q: All of the recent Universal Century releases has been new works. Is that how it is going forward? Will you be adapting the older Universal Century series?
    Yamashira: I get this question on the internet alot.
    Tomioka: They are new works since you have never seen them before, but if you think about it, Origins take place in the Universal Century. It is the backstory, takes place before the first Gundam series came out. It is new, but it covers old history. I’m not sure if it answers the question. Unfortunately, I can’t mention certain details, there are more Universal Century anime in the works that’ll probably come to the States 3 years from now. There is one being released in Japan next year, but we’re not even sure what the title is yet. I want to tell you but I can’t. I’m not just any person in Sunrise and I need to get special permission to mention certain things.

    Q: I really like Seed growing up. Will the old voice actors come back?
    Yamashira: The old cast was done in Canada. When we spoke with the Canadian studio, it sounded like it would be hard to do that. We spoke with them before we chose NYAV Post to work on it. I do like the old voices.

    Q: Iron Blooded Orphans season 3? *audience applauds*
    Yamashira: I’ll let them know!

    Q: At another con, you discussed the viewpoints when you are dubbing Universal Century: self serious, political-centric thing. What kind of viewpoint are you going for in Seed?
    Sheh: Carrie is a comedian. Every time there a comedic moment, we are actually making it funnier.
    Sinterniklaas: Every piece that we do dictates how we dub it. What we try to do consistently is tell the original story. I don’t want it to simply be, *excited voice* ‘I’m doing an anime!’ I want it to be conversational and introspective. Definitely less politics and definitely less brutal than Thunderbolt.
    Sheh: It’s definitely lighter, but there are dramatic moments and we’re not trying to make it cheesy.
    Sinterniklaas: It’s obvious, but it is overlooked at times in the past.

The conversation derailed to talk about the nuclear discussions that has been going on around the world *coughKoreacough* Stephanie noted that being where we are-DC-is the safest place to be all weekend.

    Q: Are we getting a Gundam Wing: Frozen Teardrop anime series?
    Tomioka: Not at this time.

Side comment on Frozen Teardrop, as most releases for Wing, it is not canon and it’s practically fanfiction. A novel series of the continuation of years after the main series with children of the main cast that look identical to the cast with similar names. Think of Tsubasa Chronicles with CLAMP incarnation characters and it’s about the same. The art style is beautiful but the story had a mixed fanbase and it is largely dismissed as fanfiction by Sumizawa-sensei.

The next fan requested for a way to keep the old dubs of Gundam Seed which Yamashira noted.

    Q: .Which Gundam series would you like to get a chance to work on?
    Sinterniklaas: *immediately* Turn A! *audience applauds*

    Q: Will you be recasting Gundam 00 in the future?
    Sinterniklaas: If they asked us to.

    Q: A series I like is My Hime, is there any information on that?
    Yamashira: I told him, but he can’t really answer that question.

My Hime was produced by Sunrise, but Tomioka never worked on the series.

    Q: After Origins, will you be making a new series in the same storyline or a different one? Such as the novelization?
    Tomioka: I don’t know if you miss the earlier slides, we have Origins episode 4 which is the story of Char and Sayla. In Japan, we already agreed to produce episode 5 and 6 which is about Loum. Once we are done with 6, there are more in the works but unfortunately I’m not allowed to share that yet. Keep your ears and eyes open.

    Q: When Gundam Wing first came on, I never seen anything like that before. The conflict between the sides had a very blurred line. Very similar to Zeon when they killed billions of people. When Wing came out, what influences did you draw from the Universal Century? Shadow governments which invoke the endless waltz of war, peace and revolution?
    Tomioka: That is a brilliant question. I would really like to answer that but we don’t have enough time. Please come to the Gundam Wing panel tomorrow and ask that again.

The fan requested for the original Japanese movie trilogy release of the original Gundam series. The panelists pointed out that it was released already by Rightstuf but the fan noted that he it was a redub of the Japanese. He is requesting for the older one. Yamashira noted that the best way to get it is to get it from Japan directly. The fan asked about the release schedule for the Seed English redub release. Yamashira noted that they don’t have a schedule yet.

Raffle time! The prizes from Bandai Hobby include gunpla from Thunderbolt, SD figurines and notebooks The tickets were drawn from the Haro. Yamashira thanked the fans for coming.