Episode Analyses · storyboard

Turn A Gundam Staff, Production, and Episode Analyses – Episode #50 “Golden Autumn”

Turn A Gundam‘s fiftieth episode was broadcast on Fuji TV on April 14, 2000. This is the final episode of the show and the last entry in this blog post series. This is a behemoth of a finale with a very unique and memorable epilogue sequence. It features stunning animation by Masami Goto, Atsushi Shigeta, Kenichi Yoshida, among others, and Yoshihito Hishinuma and Masami Goto served as animation directors. This episode’s broadcast date was postponed due to the eruption of Mount Usu on March 31, 2000.

Naturally, the finale was selected by fan-poll to receive an audio commentary track for the Blu-ray release.

Turn A Gundam‘s fiftieth episode was broadcast on Fuji TV on April 14, 2000.

Loran has seemingly lured the Turn X to the southern Lost Mountain. Dianna wants to have the Soleil chase after him (aww!), but Harry, Phil, and Miran plead otherwise, suggesting that they should instead focus on neutralizing the remaining Ghingham Fleet. Corin tricks Sochie and Miashei into connecting their Kapools to his and then takes off without their consent, aiming to fight by himself. He’s a bit of an old blood and doesn’t believe women have a place on the battlefield. Meanwhile, the Willghem (which’d badly been damaged by Gym in the previous episode) is barely able to stay afloat, and Colonel Michael has had enough and orders his men to initiate an emergency landing. He can no longer follow Guin.

Loran tries to reason with Gym. The Turn A is a machine that can be used for good, as it was worshipped by the people of this land when it was buried underground. Gym doesn’t buy his logic; to him, the Earthers are the ones responsible for the Turn A’s awakening. It’s the Earthers who rejected Dianna’s Earth Plan, and it’s the Earthers who’ll never truly forget their fighting spirit. In essence, he believes the current era of “peace” has it all wrong, and he’ll destroy everything with the Turn X to begin a new era. They launch in their suits and the final battle commences, but not before Merrybell enters the fray in her Bandit. She chides Gym for being a terrible fighter pilot and attacks the Turn A with her suit’s extended wires. This scene’s animation is notable because it features the most notable instance of “Itano Circus” in the show, an animation technique “where a single character or object maneuvers through a torrent of missiles (or lasers, body parts, etc.), all in a single shot or within a single cut of the character”. Pioneered by Ichiro Itano, there are three animators whom he’s said have successfully pulled off the technique (his “Big 3”): Yasushi Muraki, Masami Goto, and Hideaki Anno. Itano and Goto even worked together on Macross Plus, which has no shortage of Itano Circus sequences. Anyhow, there’s a bit of skirmish between Loran and Merrybell, and then Gym takes over and the two Turn-types clash beam sabers. This causes some kind of Moonlight Butterfly-induced resonance that neither suit can get out of.

It’s the Circus! By Masami Goto!

All of a sudden, Corin Nander appears in his Kapool! He makes quick work of Merrybell and then flies up towards the Turn A and Turn X; he’s determined to break them apart, so that the Dark History doesn’t begin anew. He fires a bunch of missiles and his WaDom fist (which he cheekily calls a “Rocket Punch”). Unfortunately his efforts are for naught, as the Turn X’s Moonlight Butterfly destroys his mobile suit, but not before he leaves us with a parting line: “even the Turn A should be able to usher in a new era!” Remember, there’s reason to believe that Corin Nander serves as a representation of Tomino’s own life experiences. Turn A Gundam sustained Tomino amidst depression and was instrumental to his recovery. It retaught him the simple joys in life, and he feels humbled to have been part of its production. He describes Turn A Gundam as his “will”; he used all the techniques he had acquired in his career and listened earnestly to the opinions of his staff to create the ultimate experience. Tomino wanted revitalize the opinion of Gundam as a whole within Sunrise’s studios, to improve industry perception of what it meant to work on and/or create a Gundam show. If nothing else he was successful at doing that. It gave future creators a “stamp of approval” to do as they pleased with Gundam as a franchise, and Gundam SEED director Mitsuo Fukuda has specifically thanked Tomino for that.

Lily and Guin have a little chat; his time has come to an end and her men confiscate the Willghem’s belongings. Guin thinks otherwise, stating that he merely needs to find success at the very end, but all he can do right now is pray for his “beloved” Laura’s victory in battle. Lily interjects and tells him “Laura” is a boy, and that if Guin loves him so much he should be the one wearing a skirt. Guin doesn’t think the industrial revolution is ready for him to rule in a skirt. Suddenly, Merrybell’s Bandit lands nearby and she falls out of her damaged suit—looks like she’s still alive! Together with Guin and some of the Nocis Militia, they make an escape in an airship. Lily bids him farewell and cheekily exclaims that she’ll be the one to govern Ameria in a skirt. This scene provides a subtle capstone discussion on Guin’s sexuality; as we know, he’s intended to be homosexual. If he’s in love with his imaginary “Laura”, then he should be the one to wear a “skirt” to match his beloved. There’s reason to believe that Guin is in denial of his sexuality, as that’s how it is described in some of the Tomino Memos. It’s even suggested that he was sexually abused in his childhood and as a result fixates on Loran to an unhealthy degree. In later scenario revisions, Guin goes on to declare that he has “no interest in women” and asks “won’t you give me Laura?” But Loran rejects the idea of being “Laura” and instead encourages Guin to wear a “skirt” if that’s how he feels—to embrace himself—and that nobody will laugh at him for that. Of course, none of this makes it into the final version of the show, but it’s character intent and conceptualization that’s key here. Lily stating that she’ll be the one to rule in a skirt can be interpreted as her subtlety telling Guin to be true to himself. It’s a very interesting discussion to contextualize, and the literal and metaphorical idea of “wearing a skirt” in and of itself is significant too. Director Tomino believed in the multifaceted nature of human beings and wanted to express that balance in Turn A Gundam, and one example of societal hypocrisy he points out in interviews is how it’s shameful for men to wear women’s clothing while the opposite is deemed acceptable. He called it a “distorted” perspective.

Dianna decides to reposition the Soleil and emit its barriers to block as much of the energy from the Moonlight Butterflies as possible. She’s willing to sacrifice the Soleil, and herself, as long as she can serve as the first line of defense. The battle between Loran and Gym rages on, with a bit of a cyclical argument at this point. Gym believes that humanity has no choice but to fight forever for life to be renewed, while Loran believes that type of destructive mentality is what led to the Dark History in the first place. Loran argues that the only reason Gym has had the strength to fight is because he was proud to serve Dianna for so many years. But Gym quips back; yes, it was Dianna who gave him that pride, but it was also her who stole it from him. Gym believes one must take pleasure in fighting for its own sake, while Loran fights for others—for Dianna—and it’s ultimately that belief that allows him to overcome Gym’s onslaught. It’s very thematically appropriate for Loran as a character. Their back-and-forth yelling is amusing with voice actor context in mind too. In the studio, Romi Park (Loran) had a friendly one-sided rivalry with Takehito Koyasu (Gym), which often led to shouting matches between the two. Park felt that he looked down at her, as he had been brought in as a tenured and respected actor. Koyasu basically viewed her as a hyperactive novice, and after the final episode he jokingly remarked that they would never cross paths again—how very wrong he was, of course, as Romi Park would go on to become a prolific actress in the industry. The Turn A and Turn X collide with and pierce each other as they fall to the ground. Gym detaches the Turn X’s head while Loran jumps out of the Turn A’s cockpits. The two units appear to be resonating and manifest some kind of otherworldly affect in the area. This battle features some stunning animation by Seiichi Nakatani, and I recently learned from pseudonymous staff member brikiso that the late Norio Shioyama was unofficially involved in some of the animation sequences, likely to pay homage to his legendary work on Daitarn 3‘s finale.

This animation cut is by Seiichi Nakatani.

Gym throws a sword at Loran, asking if he’s ever fought with one. He has, once! Remember in the Manupichi arc where he brandished a sword against the King of Adeska? Not the most tenured resume, but Gym is satisfied with his answer. They ready their weapons and attack each other. This is obviously a reference to the original Mobile Suit Gundam where Amuro Ray and Char Aznable have a fencing duel outside of their mobile suits. Loran surprisingly easily overcomes Gym and even shatters his sword. Before the duel can carry on, thread-like elements emanating from the Turn-types grab Gym and the Turn X’s head and consume them, while Loran makes a run for it. He lands in the outstretched hand of a FLAT piloted by Sochie. The Turn-types appear to be enveloped by some type of cocoon, sealing the two nanomachine monstrosities for all of eternity. The scene ends with Dianna sighing after confirming that Loran is alive.

What follows is a timeskip (multiple timeskips, actually) as the show’s epilogue begins, with “Tsuki no Mayu” playing in the background. This is a highly unique sequence of events that incorporates mostly show-not-tell storytelling to conclude the show. Dianna and Kihel imply that they’re going to swap places one last time. Bruno and Jacop enact a retelling of the Turn A vs. Turn X using puppets to a crowd of children. The Willgem is shown to be repaired. An older Loran holds a crying Sochie and gives her a parting kiss as he leaves her for Dianna. Kihel (now permanently masquerading as “Dianna”), Harry, and the other Moonrace bid farewell to the Earthers and embark to the Moon. Loran and Dianna share a meal on a wooden table at a secluded cabin (and she’s wearing a ring…). Joseph and Fran are shown to be living happily as a couple, and they now have a kid. Sid continues his archaeological research and adventures. Keith, his wife, and her grandmother share a ride to the new and improved Donkey Bakery. Back on the Moon, Kihel address her people, announcing that “Dianna Soreil” has returned among them again. Miashei and her father are testing new airplane designs with one of the Moonrace fellows from an earlier episode. Sochie rides into the night on her bicycle, screaming in heartfelt pain as she throws Loran’s fish toy into the water. Guin and Merrybell are sail together, their destination uncertain. Kihel revisits the Dark History records as tears flow down her face. Loran and Dianna share more intimate moments; the two fish together, they grow old together, and live together on a lakeside cabin. The Turn-types’ cocoon is shown again. Loran tells Dianna that today’s soup is delicious, and the two share another meal. He then tells her “Until tomorrow, Queen Dianna”, as she heads to bed. Turn A Gundam concludes, with “Endless Journey” (also sung by Aki Okui) as the ending theme.

Kenichi Yoshida’s cuts from the epilogue. He has publicly confirmed that this was him! Yoshida would go on to further collaborate with Tomino & Akiman on King Gainer and G-Reco.
Storyboard v. animation comparison shots. Dianna and Kihel discuss swapping places one last time, as Loran, Harry, and Sochie listen on.

The epilogue is left intentionally vague in its events, as there was potential for a sequel show set on the Galia continent. Obviously that never happened, but according to staff members some scrapped ideas did eventually find their way into G-Reco. But nevertheless, let’s cover some bases. First and foremost is the final switcheroo between Dianna and Kihel. Dianna’s dream was to live out the rest of her life on Earth, and it serves as the driving purpose behind the Earth Return Plan. Thus, she’s finally allowed to have the good ending that Princess Kaguya always sought for, with Loran serving as the final “suitor” to the Princess Kaguya storyline. In earlier drafts, Loran and Dianna actually plan for this, in the sense that dialogue such as “let’s live on Earth” / “you can become Kaguya-hime” are running themes. The Princess Kaguya connections are more explicit in earlier drafts of the story, and in A Gundam Project planning documents Dianna actually is Princess Kaguya—the Earther folktale that exists is about her! That was presumably toned down and/or removed, since such a direct connection to a real-world folktale would likely fit oddly within the Dark History framework. But again, character intent and conceptualization provide a lot of untold context. Next, it’s important to note that Loran and Dianna are together as a couple in virtually all drafts of the story. Even in drafts where Dianna’s role is more antagonistic, Loran defects to her side. Their romance is also more pronounced in earlier drafts, but their sweet and subtle Takarazuka-inspired knight & lady relationship in the final version works wonderfully. Tomino himself has even confirmed their relationship in interviews and in Turn A no iyashi. Some fans suggest that the ring Dianna wears is in remembrance of Will Game, and while that’s certainly a fine theory in isolation, it does raise a few questions. For one, where was it when Dianna was uncovering old objects and memories during the Will Game arc? And two, in the Turn A Gundam movies, Will Game is completely written out of the plot and yet she still wears the ring. The last shot of Dianna falling asleep can be interpreted as her final moments of life, as it’s certainly implied that her body is aging and getting weaker. It can also symbolize a metaphorical end to Dianna’s own personal story—she has finally found peace on Earth, and Kihel can take on the mantle of the Moon’s queen. Or, well, it doesn’t have to be symbolic of anything at all! What makes the ending beautiful is that there aren’t any decisive answers to anything. Even staff members continue to speculate about the show’s ending and come up with theories. Character designer Akiman recently had some thoughts to share—originally he was upset at Sochie’s ending, but he soon came to realize that Loran could not be with anyone but Dianna. He even suggested a fun little mystery plot as a sequel story, in which Loran & Dianna are hiding in Galia. Speaking of Sochie… yes, she does unfortunately receive the short end of the stick. She knows that Loran cares for her but she’s not who he’s in love with. Knowing this, she begrudgingly allows him to be with Dianna. Tomino has even acknowledged in interviews that he was awfully cruel to her in the epilogue, as he figured one character needed an ending like that. Sochie’s ending wasn’t initially going to be so cruel… even in late drafts of the final episode’s scenario, she doesn’t even share a moment with Loran and thus isn’t heartbroken. Instead she’s simply hanging out with her mother and is later shown to find Loran’s goldfish that has washed ashore and smiles as she does. The framing of the scenes are similar, but the nuances are of course quite different. Sadly I don’t have any solace to add to Sochie fans, but it is worth noting that she literally was never meant to be with Loran in her character conceptualization.

As for the lakeside cabin Loran and Dianna reside in? Well, recall that the mythology of Diana Nemorensis, an ancient Italic goddess who later became the Roman goddess of the Moon, was used as a basis for Dianna’s name and in her character conceptualization. Diana Nemorensis’s sanctuary was found at the northern shore of Lake Nemi, miles away from nearest city Ariccia, not unlike Turn A Gundam‘s own epilogue where Dianna chooses to live in seclusion on a lake.

Turn A Gundam‘s epilogue was a massive undertaking for the staff. They had to make sure the animation cuts matched each phrase of music and that all the major characters were addressed. Many scenes were added, removed, or shifted around, and initially it was going to feature more voiced lines. For instance, there was going to be a scene in which Lily Borjarno gives a speech over radio and announces flights between the Earth & Moon. Tomino came up with the idea of using “Tsuki no Mayu” in the epilogue when he first heard the track. He describes his storyboarding and the directions he gave during post-production as one of the few times he relied on “feelings” as a director. The final episode was screened for staff & produces a day before its scheduled broadcast date, and it also doubled as an afterparty. Tomino and his wife were in attendance, and he started to cry when “Tsuki no Mayu” began to play in the epilogue. The post-screening atmosphere was lively and responses to the final episode were mostly positive. Tomino recalls it as the most entertaining afterparty since Zambot 3‘s. He felt validated—as if what he had sought to do with Turn A Gundam was NOT a mistake. Unfortunately, this episode’s broadcast date was delayed for a few weeks due to volcanic activity at Mount Usu at the time.

And so this series of blog posts comes to an end! I want to thank everyone for being patient and bearing with my slow and busy schedule. It’s been a great pleasure to put together series-encompassing blog posts for every episode, providing additional context and relevant production history. There’s lots of additional stuff I intentionally left out from this post, because I’m saving it for Part 4 of my production history breakdown. I’ll probably go back and revisit each individual post and continue to add information, but for now I’m happy to finally informally close these out.

Thank you for reading!

Turn A Gundam Episode #50 Credits
Loran – Romi Park
Dianna – Rieko Takahashi
Kihel – Rieko Takahashi
Sochie – Akino Murata
Guin – Gou Aoba
Harry – Tetsu Inada
Fran – Kumiko Watanabe
Kieth – Jun Fukuyama
Sid – Akio Nojima
Miashei – Noriko Kito
Joseph – Setsuji Sato
Lily – Ai Kobayashi
Bruno – Kazunari Tanaka
Jacop – Hidenari Ugaki
Gym – Takehito Koyasu
Merrybell – Rio Natsuki
Poe – Yumiko Nakanishi
Miran – Kazuyuki Sogabe
Phil – Tsuyoshi Koyama
Corin – Yasuhiko Kawazu
Michael – Tetsuo Kanao
Yanny – Takuya Kirimoto
Mallygan – Hiroya Ishimaru
Ladderum – Ikuya Sawaki
Aims – Hiroshi Matsumoto
John – Toshihide Tsuchiya
Jessica – Chikako Akimaoto
Verlaine – Nao Takamori
Technician – Kenichi Sakaguchi

Key Animation – Atsuo Tobe, Hidetoshi Omori, Takenori Tsukuma, Ikuo Kuwana, Etsushi Mori, Tomohiro Kawahara, Takao Takegami, Yoshiaki Tsubata, Yasushi Shingo, Kenichi Yoshida, Hiromi Maezawa, Seiichi Nakatani, Tetsu Yoshida, Katsuhisa Yamamoto, Akiko Nagashima, Shinji Abe, Kenichi Ishikawa, Daisuke Kusakari, Masahiko Arai, Masami Goto, Tsukasa, Dokite, Atsushi Shigeta

In-between Check – Sachiyo Hirade
In-betweens – Taeko Watanabe, Kazuyo Tominaga, Setsuko Takenouchi, Miho Otsuka, Fumiyo Mori, Miho Tomioka, Studio Cashew, Anime R, Studio Mu, Studio Takuranke, Studio Dove, Studio Bogey

Color Setting – Fusako Nakao (EMUAI)
Assistant Color Coordinator – Miyuki Sato (EMUAI)
Finishing – EMUAI (Emiko Okui, Toru Kawamura, Takako Uemura, Yuko Takahashi, Yukari Goto, Mizuho Ueda), Studio Bogey
Finishing Manager – Fumie Maebayashi

Art Board – Yukiko Maruyama (Atelier Musa)
Backgrounds – Atelier Musa (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)
Special Effects – 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. (Hiroshi Furuhashi, Makoto Takakura, Akira Iribe)
Digital Coloring – EMUAI
Video Editing – Qtec
Telecine – Makoto Imazuka
Video Editor – Tetsuro Fujita, Minami Takahashi

Mechanical Design – Hiroshi Iwaki, Yoshikazu Miyao, Junya Ishigaki, Mahiro Maeda, Tsukasa Dokite, Kazutaka Miyatake, Takeshi Takakura, Kimitoshi Yamane
Setting Proof – Shigeru Morita (Studio Nue)
Title Logo Design – Daisuke Unno

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

Episode Director – Kunihiro Mori
Animation Director – Yoshihito Hishinuma, Masami Goto
Screenplay – Miya Asakawa
Storyboard – Toshifumi Kawase, Minoru Yokitani
Assistant Episode Director – Masakazu Hishida, Satoshi Toba
Production Advancement – Hiroyuki Sato
Production Desk – Yoichi Watanabe
Literary Coordinator – Tetsuko Takahashi
Setting Production – Koji Yasukawa
Production Secretary – Michiko Yamamoto

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