Welcome to yet another new series of blog posts! This is one I’ve had in mind for a while, and I’m rewatching the show (for, if I recall, the 8th time?) to facilitate the process. The goal is to provide analysis and staff & production info for all fifty episodes, along with the OP/ED songs & animations!
Turn A Gundam‘s first opening is titled “Turn A Turn”. The lyrics are by Yoshiyuki Tomino (under the pseudonym Rin Iogi) and its vocals are by Hideki Saijo. The production of this opening song was a very rushed ordeal, with the music composition completed only two weeks prior to its broadcast debut.
Yoshiyuki Tomino approached Asei Kobayashi to compose the opening theme for Turn A Gundam. Kobayashi was a multi-talented music composer who also had acting experience, notably as the star of Terauchi Kantaro Family (1974). In the mid-late 90s, Tomino had become infatuated with dance and theater—thanks to his daughters—so this mix-and-match of experience appealed to him. On top of that, Kobayashi was a very respected figure (a “master”) in the world of Japanese music entertainment. Kobayashi agreed to collaborate with Tomino, however due to his packed schedule he would not have the composition prepared until two weeks before the opening would air on TV (episode #2). This naturally created a rushed production process, and Tomino had to work out a rough storyboard concept without even hearing any music.
Hideki Saijo was recommended by Kobayashi to sing the song, as the two had acted together in the past. Tomino knew nothing about him, but he figured he’d be better than an unknown person. Amidst busy schedules, Tomino and Saijo met just once to record the track. They talked for hours about the concept behind Turn A Gundam and Saijo was impressed by the genuineness behind Tomino’s proposed storyline, however the two ended up butting heads. During the recording session, Tomino viewed the way he was cutting-and-pasting parts as amateurish; he had expected a professional singer to have a single good take, a la live performance. He tried to hide his disgust but failed to do so. His wife Aako and Sunrise producer Hideyuki Tomioka were also in attendance and they chided him for being childish. Afterwards, Saijo approached Tomino and gave him solid criticism: that he has too many expectations and needs to believe in people more. Tomino was moved by Saijo’s ability to read him so accurately and apologized for his earlier misgivings. Later on, when they recorded the TV-size of the song, Tomino was able to praise him from the bottom of his heart.
Tomino would go on to become a great fan of “Turn A Turn”, but the song was not popular in airwaves and CDs were not selling well. This prompted Sunrise staff to approach Tomino about a new opening song, which gutted him. He wished he could buy 1,000,000 CDs himself and felt horrible for Asei Kobayashi and Hideki Saijo, the two main individuals who had made this song possible. He had wanted it to remain as the opening for the entirety of the show’s duration.
Visually “Turn A Turn” features animation by Atsushi Shigeta, Masami Goto, and Yoshihito Hishinuma. Shigeta played a important role in Turn A Gundam, primarily being responsible for taking Syd Mead’s design sketches and realizing them into master drawings for animation, and Goto was a tenured animator who was seen as a successor to Ichirō Itano. These two were the topmost animators for the show, so naturally they would strut their stuff in the opening animation.
The opening visuals succinctly establish character relationships in its middle portion, with each pairing changing to the beat of the music/vocals. Also present is what I’ve coined the “Tomino pose”, where a character will be reaching out with one arm in a commanding position—this was also a running aesthetic in Mobile Suit Gundam, and Tomino’s more recent anime feature it as well (King Gainer, Reconguista in G). I feel that it thematically fits Turn A Gundam, as much of the story revolves around Earthlings and Moonrace “reaching out” to each other, and there is a mystical or unknown aspect that can be attributed to it as well.
And, of course, Loran’s relationship with Dianna is hinted at, as is the mysterious nature behind Dianna and Kihel’s identical appearances.
Turn A Gundam has a very prominent focus on the Moon, and to add credibility to this aspect the staff reached out to actual scientists and astronomers. There are various shots of celestial bodies in the opening animation (both in photography and animation), including the Earth, the Moon, Uranus, a solar eclipse, various stars, the Milky Way and other galaxies, and a black hole. In fact, the astrophotography present in the opening are provided by Motomaro Shirao from the now-defunct “Sky Watcher” magazine. Shirao is a writer, photographer, and planetary geologist who was inspired by the Apollo 11 Moon landing. He has published books on the Moon’s topography and was on the TV team responsible for selecting imaging targets for the JAXA “Kaguya” lunar orbiting spacecraft.
Turn A Gundam Series Credits
Planning – Sunrise
Created by – Hajime Yatate, Yoshiyuki Tomino
Character Design – Akira Yasuda
Character Setting – Yoshihito Hishinuma
Kunio Okawara, Syd Mead, Atsushi Shigeta, Takumi Sakura
Art Director – Shigemi Ikeda
Color Coordinator – Miyoko Kasamori
Director of Photography – Yoichi Oogami
Editing – Shigeyuki Yamamori
Music – Yoko Kanno
Sound Director – Yota Tsuroka
Production Cooperation – Asatsu-DK, Sotsu Co., Ltd.
Producer – Yoshihiro Suzuki (Fuji TV), Hideyuki Tomioka (Sunrise)
Chief Director – Yoshiyuki Tomino
Animation Producer – Fuji TV, Sunrise
Opening Theme “Turn A Turn” Credits
Lyrics – Rin Iogi
Composition – Asei Kobayashi
Arrangement – Tadashi Yatabe
Song – Hideki Saijo
Opening Animation – Yoshihito Hishinuma
Opening Photography – Motomaro Shirao (Astronomy Magazine “Sky Watcher”)