On December 18, a live talk show was held in honor of Syd Mead, a world-renowned industrial designer and visual futurist who passed away on December 30, 2019. The talk show, which featured guests from anime, manga, and special effectssatsu who were influenced by Mead’s designs for Blade Runner (1982), Tron (1982), and Alien 2 (1985), will be available for archival viewing until December 30, 2020. Here are some of the highlights of the program.
■The Mead Design that Influenced the “AKIRA” Motorcycles
The memorial event for Syd Mead, “A gift to the future young creators: ‘The world and charm of Syd Mead as told by the masters’,” was divided into two parts: the first part featured manga artist and film director Ootomo Katsuhiro, science fiction painter and illustrator Kato Naoyuki, film director Higuchi Shinji, and former Bandai Visual president and producer Watanabe Shigeru. Producer Watanabe Shigeru, former president of Bandai Visual, took the stage. Shimizu Setsu, a film critic, moderated the event.
Each guest talked about their encounters with Syd Mead and the works that influenced them, and exchanged creative and work theories with images of Mr. Mead before his death and his works.
When Ootomo-san admitted that the Tron light cycle designed by Mr. Mead was the motif for the bike design in AKIRA, Director Higuchi commented, “Only Ootomo-san could have put a Narita-san sticker on the Tron bike.
“Tribe Gundam” (1999), one of Mr. Mead’s most famous works among Japanese anime fans, is called the “mustache Gundam” because of its distinctive head design, but according to Watanabe-san, Mr. Mead countered, “That’s not a mustache, it’s a cheek guard.
Industrial designer Murakami Katsuji Murakami also shared an episode where he showed Mr. Mead a mecha design from the popular anime “Space Emperor God Sigma” (1980), whose toys are still being commercialized to this day, saying, “Don’t worry, I make these too” to support the design of the Turn A Gundam.
In addition, Kato-san asked Ootomo-san about his prediction in “AKIRA” that the Tokyo Olympics would be held in 2020 and that the Olympics would be cancelled, and Higuchi-san showed photos from the production of “Ultraman Powered” (1993), which were produced by Watanabe-san and created by Higuchi-san.
A hundred mecha design theories that fans of Itsubuchi-san, Kawamori-san, and Miyatake-san must hear!
In the second part of the session, three mecha designers, Itsubuchi Yutaka, Kawamori Shoji, and Miyatake Kazutaka, took the stage. The moderator was producer Ueda Masuo, who has worked on many robot animations.
Itsubuchi-san and Kawamori-san both made their debut with “Toushou Daimos” (1978) and are close in age, calling each other “Sho-chan” and “Bu-chan”. Miyatake-san is the senior of the two, and the talk was as casual as that between students.
In the scene where he talked about the relationship between Syd Mead and cars, Kawamori-san drew several classic cars (Bugatti Type 57SC) that are said to be the motif of the futuristic flying car the Spinner that appeared in Blade Runner, just for this event, and explained how he extracted the characteristics of the reference source to create the design of the Spinner.
In addition, while mentioning Syd Mead’s achievements and many anime titles such as “YAMATO 2520”, the talk was rich in knowledge that can be used in principle when discussing mecha design, such as the correct use of the terms mechanical designer in the Japanese anime industry use, the difference between design and styling or arrangement, the most painful orders that designers receive, and the responsibilities that the ordering party should assume.
The first anniversary of Syd Mead’s death was commemorated with a lecture entitled, “The World and Appeal of Syd Mead as Told by the Masters,” which will be available until December 30, 2020 for 2 hours and 2,000 JPY each. A set price of 3,500 JPY, which includes both the first and second parts, is available at E-Plus.