Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mechatalk: My top 3 Mecha Designer

My Top 3 favorites and some honorable mentions.

Perhaps the last mechatalk post that i wrote was not really one and this time time i decided to proper one. In this post i will talk about my Favorite mecha designers and why i like them. So far i only have 3 mecha designers that i really like their works in particular which i judge their works based from their mecha design rather than numbers or quality of plastic model which are created from their designs.

In the third place it is no other than Hajime Katoki! Probably newcomers of Gundam series will worship him as the best mecha designer, but not for me! Katoki Hajime is a great mecha designer indeed since he goes a long way before gets well known in the mecha community and get his Ver.Ka trademark . I believe his works start from gundam Sentinel which is simply amazing and along the way he contributes some of his mecha designs for Stardust Memory, SRW, Virtual-On and the rest until he got his way to Gundam Unicorn. Katoki is well known for having rather long legs for his mecha designs and lead to "You're getting Katoki'd" meme. While i don't think that aspect is particularly bad, i find his penchant for long legs could be "Hit or Miss".

The reasons why like Katoki's works is that he have some creativity in his designs though from his latest works i find he is just Bandai's errand boy. Out of his many designs probably my favorite ones are from SRW OG series notably Wildwurger which still remains in my favorite Real Robot for SRW series. I am quite curious how Katoki's design for Super Robot will looks like though his redesigns for existing SR like Gurren Lagann doesn't count.

Then in the 2nd place it is no other than Yutaka Izubuchi! While Izubuchi is not as famous as Katoki in the West, i find he is one of the best Real Robot Designer with his Aesthetics. In late 80s he creates his widely acclaimed Patlabor series which is awesome while contributing some designs for Gundam series like War in the Pocket and CCA. Around 2000s i don't think Izubuchi create as many works in the past since i recall he only made Rahxephon only around this time.

What makes Izubuchi become my 2nd most favorite designer is that his works represents the characteristics of Real Robot the best. Unlike Katoki, Izubuchi's mecha design is minimalist yet efficient without too much unnecessary parts or oversized stuffs. This is the impressions that i get from his designs of RX-78 NT-1 Alex and Nu Gundam which makes his designs of Gundam series is the best in my opinion.

Finally in the first place it is no other than Mamoru Nagano! Compared to Katoki and Izubuchi, probably Nagano's designs are quite eccentric and least known in the west out of the 3 designers. He contributes mecha designs for some mecha series from 80s until 90s starting from Heavy Metal L-Gaim, Zeta Gundam to Brain Powered. However Nagano is the best known for creating his ongoing Magnum Opus that is no other than Five Star Stories which i become an instant fan when i read it 2 years ago.

What distinguish Nagano with other Mecha designers is that his mecha designs display Beauty and Elegance at least for Five Star Stories in which no other mecha designers could replicate the same quality so far. However due to the complexity of his design i don't think his FSS works could be ever animated without significant quality drop which i doubt Nagano will ever allow it with his perfectionist personality. On top of that i don't think his design would ever fit a mainstream mecha design considering Nagano's design is abit too "extravagant" since back then the planned mecha design for Char's Counter Attack was initially his but later on his design is shafted in favor for other's design. I am actually curious to see his take on Nu Gundam.

Honorable Mentions

First it is the father of Macross which is no other than Shoji Kawamori! Initially he is in my top 3 though Izubuchi took over his position. While his skill as an Anime Director still needs improvement, Kawamori is undoubtedly great in designing mecha due to its great details. Apart from his Variable Fighters, Kawamori also have tried on several different fields as well. His design for GP-01 and GP-02 are great on its own and he can also do some awesome designs for Super Robot like Escaflowne and Aquarion making him jack of all trade. Also his contributions to Armored Core series really made me respect him even though he is not a good anime director.

Then there is Masami Obari who is probably the equal counterpart of Michael Bay in Japanese Animation. While i don't have any particular fondness with his mecha designs, i have to say that he have some significant contributions to Japanese Mecha animation. As an animator you will expect some great mecha actions when Obari is in charge of it and if it is an animation opening, expect it to be glorious as he had been in charge of Tekkaman Blade and Dragonar opening. Despite Obari is more well known to be a great animator he also have created some good mecha designs mainly Super Robots which include Dancougar and Gravion. Obari did some designs for SRW as well which include Compatible Kaiser and Shurouga. Unfortunately his skill as a producer is even worse compared to Kawamori which is why Obari still have a long way to create a good anime series.

Last but not the least, it is the mecha designer of Metal Gear series and Zone of the Enders who is no other than Yoji Shinkawa. While i am relatively new into his works, i find his works is simply amazing and really original which is a rare thing to find in mecha world. The impressions that i get when i play ZOE or MGS is that his mecha designs feels "Alive" which is either due to his design or some works done by Hideo Kojima. I will definitely look forward for Yoji Shinkawa's work when he decided to create a new one.

With this i have discussed about my top 3 mecha designers and some insights about them. So who are your favorite mecha designers?

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