Episode Analyses · storyboard

Turn A Gundam Staff, Production, and Episode Analyses – Episode #42 “The Turn X Activates”

Turn A Gundam‘s forty-second episode was broadcast on Fuji TV on February 4, 2000. I own a copy of this episode’s storyboard and have included comparison shots in this post, which gives one an additional layer of perspective on how scene framing and/or drawings began and evolved over time. This episode’s storyboard is by Seiji Okuda, an absolute veteran in the industry.

Turn A Gundam‘s forty-second episode was broadcast on Fuji TV on February 4, 2000.

As the standoff continues, Meam Midgard holds Guin, Lily, and Dianna hostage at gunpoint, and Sweatson Stero does repairs on his Mahiroo. Loran, Sochie, Fran, and Miashei take a moment to enjoy a quick meal together. Loran comments that the Militia food is delicious, but Sochie knows he’d be having a better time if Dianna or Kihel were there. Of course, he has no response to this obviously true statement. After everyone’s break is seemingly over, Sweatson again demands the Militia to hand over the White Doll. Colonel Michael however announces that the Militia would rather go down fighting than give up the White Doll. Meam threatens Guin, but Lily tells him that if he fires the gun, then all of the castle and city will burn with him. Dianna laments that the Moonrace’s fighting instinct has been lit, and that sooner or later the Moon’s civilization will be destroyed. She puts the blame on herself.

Storyboard v. animation comparison shots. Loran, when asked if he’d be happier if Dianna-Kihel were around.

Gym and Agrippa discuss the situation via video call. Gym doesn’t believe that the Earthers have it in them to fire on Gengnham. Agrippa wants him to call back the Mahiroo squad, because he thinks they may provoke the Earthers into making a move either way. Gym thinks otherwise, because the city was built by his ancestors so he won’t allow them to damage anything. He doesn’t want the Turn A to remain under Earther control. Their conversation is cut short due to the building shaking and rumbling. The Mahiroos have made their move and are attacking the White Doll. Sweatson isn’t a complete fool however and is trying to subdue it without the use of beam weapons. Agrippa expresses concern that the Turn A may activate its “butterfly”, but Gym shows little concern. He plans to subdue the Turn A with his very own Turn X. He orders his men to begin its activation processs and get in touch with Merrybell Gadget, who we’re quickly introduced to. She appears to be piloting one of the Bandit mobile suits that Harry & Kihel briefly spied on in the previous episodes. Merrybell is named after Marybell Portsnell from the 1972 manga Poe no Ichizoku (The Poe Clan) by Moto Hagio. Akiman however chose not to draw her like Marybell from the manga, because if she was too “cute” she might be destroyed. Instead, he drew her in the image of a sci-fi-esque clown, to match her witty nature and balancing nature to Gym.

Merrybell’s name is lifted from Marybell from Moto Hagio’s Poe no Ichizoku.
Storyboard v. animation comparison shots. Gym Ghingham’s relentless zoom-ins on the visual monitor reflect his aggressive and dominate personality.

Loran disengages with the Mahiroo and gets out of his mobile suit. He intends to hand over the White Doll to prevent any further and potential damage to the area surrounding the palace. Sochie goes after him and stops him in his tracks. They have a little back-and-forth, and she can’t understand why he thinks it’s okay to just hand over the White Doll to the enemy. Before the argument can escalate, Agrippa interrupts them and announces that he has a proposal for the Earthers. He wants Loran to do battle in the Turn A with the Turn X on the Moon’s surface out of harm’s way. Loran nor any of the Militia understand what the “Turn A” or “Turn X” actually are, and Agrippa is surprised by their ignorance. He threatens to execute Guin, Lily, and Dianna if Loran doesn’t accept the duel. He has no choice but to fight.

The perennial question.

Dianna further questions Agrippa, asking why did he plot for “Dianna”‘s assassination. He dodges the question, simply remarking that she is a threat to the Moon’s peace and tranquility and that some individuals may have taken action as a result. She fires back, given that she is Dianna herself. She says that “Dianna” had told the Earthers that Agrippa has been involved in schemes to prolong the war on Earth. Agrippa is miffed that an “Earthling” is talking back so prudently, but he claims that it is Dianna’s Earth Return Plan that awakened the “fighting instinct” within the Moonrace. Her efforts backfired and luck wasn’t on her side. Meanwhile, Sweatson is still attacking Loran despite the agreement to the duel. Colonel Michael decides to the fire the Willghem’s mega beam rifle at low power to drive the Mahiroos away. It causes some damage to the cityscape and causes sirens to sound off. Loran heads toward the port so he can leave the city, but Sweatson continues to give chase. A blackout suddenly occurs—seemingly because of the Willghem’s attack—which confuses Sweatson, and Loran uses the opportunity to disable his suit. Turns out the blackout was actually caused by Gym using the city’s power grid to supply power to the Turn X and activate it!

Storyboard v. animation comparison shots. The Turn X is prepared for activation.

Back at the White Palace, the area behind the throne suddenly comes crashing down. The Gold SUMO emerges out of nowhere; Harry and Kihel have arrived at the scene! They had used a secret backdoor passageway to enter the palace. Agrippa and Meam are confused at the two Diannas. Meam points his gun at Kihel, but Dianna tells him to stop because she’s Dianna. Kihel retorts by stating that actually, she‘s Dianna. The two clearly know what they’re doing, and it’s endearing to see them in sync so quickly. Guin uses the confusion to knock the Gun out of Meam’s hands and orders Agrippa to relinquish authority back to Dianna. Harry warns that he knows what Agrippa has been up to—he’s been sending every Moonrace whose fighting instinct has awakened to Earth, as a sort of graveyard for those people. Agrippa questions why that’s wrong, claiming that the Moonrace have no place for fighting instincts. Kihel doesn’t understand why he gave so much authority to Gym if that is the case. Agrippa says it was a necessary evil in order to fully analyze the Turn A and Turn X. According to him, the Turn A is the mobile suit that destroyed ancient Earth civilization. Everyone is flabbergasted by this revelation. Dianna immediately counters his claim, stating that the Turn A has been piloted all this time by a responsible individual and has shown no such signs (aww!). Agrippa continues to explain that that it was Dianna’s Earth Return Plan that allowed the Turn A to awaken from its slumber. If they allow it to run amock, then the end is near for both Earthers and Moonrace. He uses the chaos and confusion to elevate the platform he’s standing on and escape the palace from its ceiling. Dianna orders everyone not to give chase. Given the recent blackout, she’s more worried about the Winter Palace, describing it as the Moonrace’s “lifeline”.

Storyboard v. animation comparison shots. Dianna and Agrippa face off. The characters are elevated on rising platforms, allowing for top-down & bottom-up camera angles that create a sense of growing intensity and movement.

Dianna and Kihel have a touching reunion. They then take a passageway to the Winter Palace, and Dianna is exhausted from all the exertion. Guin and Lily wonder if there’s a form of transportation they can use. Dianna tells them to use a nearby phone and call her chamberlain Kenston and handmaiden Mismas. Kihel holds onto her to let her catch her breath. She figures it’s the change in environment and countless worries that has exhausted her. Dianna reminds her that despite having slept through most of them, her body is technically hundreds of years old. It isn’t full of the same vigor as it used to be. She also confides in Kihel that she had wanted to die on this last return to Earth. To her that would have brought her joy, as “joy in life is the result of living out our days and dying.” She had wanted the Moonrace to experience such joy. She wonders if that was egotistical of her. Her wish for peace turned into war, and she reckons it’s time for her to die as a result. Kihel refutes all these claims and says that people like Harry risk their lives to protect her. Dianna realizes that Kihel is in love with Harry, and Kihel thanks her for her kindness. Many takeaways here! Most importantly, this is the first time the show addresses Dianna’s bodily age. We’ve known for a while that she’s technically lived for many years, and despite the advances in cryogenic technology, there will still be an affect on her body. It’s not clear what this suggests for Dianna’s future. Secondly, this whole conversation is again in reference to the show’s connection with Princess Kaguya, which was introduced in episode #13. Dianna in the past wished to live her life on Earth but was forced to return to the Moon, and the same thing has happened again and again, and she laments this. She experienced the joy of living on Earth and wanted all her people to experience similar joy, but she finds that she has failed.

Storyboard v. animation comparison shots. Dianna and Kihel reunite.

The group is then seen speeding across the passageway while being held by a Borjarnon and Kapool—presumably called by Dianna’s chamberlain and handmaiden. Kihel wonders if the White Doll really is an evil mechanical doll. Dianna wonders the same thing, which is why they must go to the Winter Palace and review the Dark History and ascertain that. Apparently the Moonrace stores data on ancient history. On the Moon’s surface, Loran confronts the Turn X and some Bandits. The Turn A and Turn X appear to be resonating with each other, and Gym tests out the Turn X’s beam capabilities on a few Bandits, easily demolishing them with one attack. The two suits square up against each other and the episode ends.

The Bandit and Turn X were both designed by Syd Mead and were the final suits he was tasked to design. They represent the latter conflict(s) of the show and are decidedly antagonistic. Mead describes the Bandit as a mobile suit of “distraction”, which is fitting because its notable pilot is Merrybell, who’s character design is obviously in the image of a clown. The Turn X proved to be Mead’s most challenging design. He flew to Tokyo to meet with studio staff, where Tomino requested a mobile suit to rival the Turn A. He drew 100 sketches in 10 days, with abstract concepts such as an “immortal warrior” and “terrifying bad dream” used to guide his design philosophy. Much like the Turn A, its design process consisted of two phases; one to formalize the overall mechanical design, then followed by finer detailing of the legs & waist, thorax structure, separation module, backpack, and weaponry. After completing most of the design, Mead and his team traveled to Izu to celebrate where he was struck by the mountainside of pink cherry blossoms. In a final moment of inspiration he drew out the Turn X’s final details.

An early concept sketch of the Turn X. Syd Mead explores its place in the overall story, as an “immortal warrior” and “terrifying bad dream”. The Turn X proved to be Mead’s most challenging design in the project.

Turn A Gundam Episode #42 Credits
Loran – Romi Park
Dianna – Rieko Takahashi
Kihel – Rieko Takahashi
Sochie – Akino Murata
Guin – Gou Aoba
Harry – Tetsu Inada
Gym – Takehito Koyasu
Sweatson – Toru Uganda
Shikkinen – Ken Iwamatsu
Agrippa – Hiroya Ishimaru
Midgard – Ryuji Mizuno
Merrybell – Rio Natsuki
Mecha Man – Kihachiro Uemura
Boy Soldier – Kei Kurita

Key Animation – Nakamura Production (Kohei Yoneyama, Shinichi Takahashi, Akira Matsunaga, Kazuhiro Sakakura, Hiroyuki Mori, Kenichi Hashimoto, Yuji Miyashita, Takeo Tominaga, Kenichi Takase, Kenichiro Kasuya)

In-between Check – Tsuguru Fukuda (Nakamura Production), Kazuyo Tominaga
In-betweens – Nakamura Production (Yoshitake Iwagami, Tomoyuki Tajima, Ryuji Iwabuchi, Isshou Matsuyama, Koji Konno, Hitomi Takechi, Tomonao Ohashi, Takashi Muratani), Setsuko Takenouchi, Maya Fujimori, Taeko Watanabe, Fumiyo Mori, Studio Dove, Studio Mu, Anime R, Studio Cashew

Color Setting – Akemi Nagao (EMUAI)
Assistant Color Coordinator – Miyuki Sato (EMUAI)
Finishing – EMUAI (Tetsu Kawamura, Takako Uemura, Hiromi Okamura, Mizuho Ueda, Junko Fujimaki, Akemi Kato)
Finishing Manager – Fumie Maebayashi

Art Board – Yukiko Maruyama (Atelier Musa)
Backgrounds – Kyoto Animation (Shuichi Okubo, Masaki Kato, Mayumi Okawa, Eiko Shinozaki, Yasuomi Kishi, Kozue Oka, Yoichi Yajima, Myong Chi Park)
Special Effects – Toshio Hasegawa (Marix)
Title Lith Work – Maki Pro

Photography – Asahi Production (Shinya Sawada, Atsushi Tamura, Asami Kumazawa, Noriaki Akitaya, Tomokazu Kaneko, Akihiko Fujino)
Assitant Editor – Nobuhiro Akiho (Jay Film)
Development – Tokyo Laboratory

Sound design – Koji Kasamatsu
Foley – Eiko Morikawa
Recording Adjustment – Yasushi Nagura (Avaco Creative Studio)
Recording Adjustment Assistant – Mika Kamemoto (Avaco Creative Studio)
Sound Production – Rakuonsha
Desk – Yoshimi Sugiyama
Music Production – Yoshiaki Ota (Borderline Records)
Digital Effects – Sunrise D.I.D. (Makoto Takakura, Akira Iribe)
Digital Coloring – EMUAI
Video Editing – Qtec
Telecine – Makoto Imazuka
Video Editor – Tetsuro Fujita, Minami Takahashi

Mechanical Design – Hitoshi Iwaki, Yoshikazu Miyao, Junya Ishigaki, Mahiro Maeda, Tsukasa Dokite, Kazutaka Miyatake, Takeshi Takakura
Setting Proof – Shigeru Morita (Studio Nue), Yoshitaka Kawaguchi

PR Management – Sachio Tamenaga (Fuji TV), Kaoru Asai (Sunrise)
Setting Management – Shigeru Horiguchi, Yoshitaka Kawaguchi

Episode Director – Yasuhiro Minami
Animation Director – Takuro Shinbo
Screenplay – Miya Asakawa
Storyboard – Seiji Okuda
Assistant Episode Director – Satoshi Toba
Production Advancement – Tatsuto Higuchi
Production Desk – Yoichi Watanabe
Literary Coordinator – Tetsuko Takahashi
Setting Production – Koji Yasukawa
Production Secretary – Michiko Yamamoto

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