At Anime Boston 2019, CBR (formerly Comic Book Resources) interviewed Gundam producer Naohiro Ogata about the future of the franchise. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the original anime Mobile Suit Gundam on Japanese television. Animation Studio Sunrise will celebrate the milestone next year with five new anime projects, merchandising, and more news about the live-action adaptation currently being developed by Legendary Pictures.
The sales growth of Gunpla, Gundam model kits, has been strong and the international growth is likely to hit its own milestone this year.
“We’ve just surpassed 500 million individual Gundam model kits sales. The trend that we’re seeing for 2019 is that overseas sales will finally exceed domestic sales,” Ogata predicted.
If following the money is a reliable tool for deciding where to focus on international growth, the US is definitely the country to monitor.
“In terms of the 2018 fiscal year in the US, we have seen the most Gunpla being sold ever in the US, so I feel that we’re definitely progressing favorably in terms of our overseas reception for Gundam right now,” Ogata said.
Sunrise is making sure the 40th-anniversary celebration is just as fun for both international and domestic fans alike.
“Most of the special projects and titles that we’re releasing in commemoration of this 40th anniversary definitely have a heavy bent towards overseas audience and sales, not just domestic,” Ogata stated.
The adaptation by Legendary Pictures won’t be the very first Hollywood production of a Gundam Mobile Suit. Fans who watched Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One were able to see the RX-78-2. Ogata had some involvement with the film but the finished product was still a surprise to him.
“In production, they don’t film things sequentially the way they show up on the screen, so I only got to see the splices of where the Gundam would come out,” Ogata explained. “And I was like, ‘that’s good, that’s cool,’ but I had no idea how they were gonna use those scenes in the final film, so when I finally watched it on screen in the entirety, I said, ‘Wow, I’m really thankful that they used the Gundam in the most dramatic scenes.’”
The final question asked was for the sake of the most hardcore Gundam fans: Will Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt continue following the second season’s cliffhanger?
“What I can say is that part of the reason that you haven’t seen more Thunderbolt yet is that we’re waiting for more of the original manga story to be developed. We would like to do more, but we don’t want to do it without having more material to build on. Part of it is that the creator [Yasuo Ohtagaki] unfortunately is currently having tendonitis, so we haven’t seen a lot of new manga as of yet, but as soon as we have more manga, I hope that we can account more about Thunderbolt,” Ogata answered.
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