Shoji Kawamori Interview – Otakon 2018

Back in August, Decultureshock roving contributors Cassie and Chris had the rather enviable opportunity to interview the man himself, Shoji Kawamori, at Otakon. But this was no normal interview, it was a guerrilla interview, literally conducted on the run in a hallway at the con!

The following is what he had to say on a wide variety of subjects, ranging from Pandora to Lady M.

Interview & photos by Cassie Dyson & Chris Harper.

Transcript & translation by Gwyn Campbell. 

Decultureshock: What would you say is the main theme of your latest show, Pandora (Last Hope)?

Shoji Kawamori: The evolution of technology, to the point that it surpasses humanity, was my main inspiration.

DCS: The main character Leon’s mecha (M.O.E.V) is a design that is both fresh, yet very Kawamori-san in style. Where did the idea for the design come from? 

SK: An armored vehicle. I imagined an armored vehicle and then, rather than making it “anime-like”, I made it a little more like something you’d see in a live action movie. Something you might see in a science fiction or tokusatsu movie.   

DCS: Do you have any words for international fans of Pandora?

SK: I hope fans will enjoy seeing the members of Team Pandora using their combined knowledge and skills to overcome danger. The show was made to be a movie-like experience, so please watch it on as big a screen as you can with the sound turned up. 

DCS: Congratulations on the announcement of the new 1:48 scale DX Chogokin VF-1J. Many stores in Akihabara have it featured in their front windows and they attract a lot of attention of passers-by, young and old alike. 

SK: Thank you.

DCS: How does it feel to have one of your earliest designs still so popular 35 years on? 

SK: When I was younger, I used to think that anything more than three years old was outdated. I didn’t think that the Macross series would still be going 35 years on. I’m grateful to the fans who have supported it and allowed it to continue. 

Examples of the corrections made to CG models for Uta Macross.

DCS: Uta Macross is currently enjoying great success in Japan. While it is not officially available in the West, it does have fans outside of Japan who are avid players. To what extent are you involved in reviewing the game’s assets?

SK: The game itself is made by the team at DeNA, but I review new 3D models for the game without fail on a weekly basis. This also includes the costumes and dance routines. I attend regular meetings with the choreographers that the dance routines are outsourced to. 

DCS: Are the 3D models used in Uta Macross the same as those used in the CG sequence in the Macross Delta Passionate Walküre movie?

SK: The 3D models are different. The models used in Passionate Walküre were based on those from Uta Macross but were then improved. Since Uta Macross is generally played on smaller screens, the 3D models have to be optimized for smaller screens. So, for example, character’s eyes are slightly bigger. For Passionate Walküre, the CG models were improved to be closer to hand-drawn quality. So (for Uta Macross), I attend meetings about the dance choreography and then go over initial footage of the dances weekly and provide feedback on camerawork, ideas about how to direct scenes, etc. The team at DeNA initially create the camerawork and scenes, and then I add my own ideas.

CG models in Passionate Walkure (screenshot from Dengeki Hobby Web)

DCS: Is this the end of Macross Delta or will there be more?*

SK: I’d like to continue Delta, but it depends on whether those holding the purse strings sign off on it or not. 

DCS: The movie Macross Delta Passionate Walküre came out recently. Are there any differences between the movie and the tv series that fans should be on the lookout for?

SK: The tv version had the luxury of a longer run time. This gave us the opportunity to delve more into Walküre, Delta Flight that supported them, and into Windermere and the Aerial Knights as well. The movie is more compact with a shorter run time and focuses primarily on the emotional core of Walküre and those that support them. 

DCS: When I saw Passionate Walküre, I noticed that the core theme of the movie was different to that of the tv series.

SK: Yes. The movie focuses more on teamwork, rather than a love story, as its main theme.

DCS: A new Macross project was announced at the 2nd Walküre Live in 2017. Is this still moving forward?

SK: It’s running a little late. At the moment I’m actually waiting to see if it will be approved or not. If it gets approved, I think we’ll be able to announce it. 

Choreography motion capture for Uta Macross.

DCS: After you retire, would you still like to see Macross continue, or would you prefer it if Macross ends whenever you stop making it? 

SK: That’s a tough question! It would require someone who really understood Macross. They would need to understand aircraft, music, the characters, all of it, or else they wouldn’t be able to make it. However, there’s a lot of talented people out there in the world, so as long as it was someone that truly loved Macross, then I’d be happy to see it continue.

DCS: Will we ever find out who Lady M is?

SK: If a new project is approved someday, that’s something I’d like to cover. 

DCS: Thank you so much for your time today.

*Approx. 1 month after this interview was conducted, an entirely new Macross Delta movie was officially greenlit and announced.

Bonus Gallery! Both Cassie and Chris attended the two panel presentations held by Shoji Kawamori at Otakon. The following are a few photos they took. Thanks guys!

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Gwyn Campbell

Project Manager, Macross fan, Podcast host, Anime nerd & sometime-gamer. Here in Akihabara we don't just 'like' Macross, we LIVE IT! 龍が我が敵を食らう!

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