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“I’m like a backlash against Kawamori-san and Mikimoto-san”: Hidetaka Tenjin Interview from “Macross The First: Volume 1″

As we count down to master illustrator Hidetaka Tenjin’s triumphant appearance on U.S. soil during Otakon 2012 in July, I thought we ought to take a bit of time to learn a bit more about the man and his attitude towards his work.

Tenjin-san is one of the fresh faces on the creative team behind the scenes of Macross in the 21st century.  As a fan-turned-creator, how does he balance his love for the series with his duty to his respected superiors?  Let’s dig in to an interview published in “Macross The First, volume 1″ and find out!

Hidetaka Tenjin Interview (from “Macross The First: Volume 1″ paperback, Kadokawa Shoten)

Head of Studio Tenjin, Ltd.
Creates box art for Hasegawa’s series of Valkyrie plastic models and Bandai’s Gundam MG series.
Worked as mechanic artist on “Macross Zero”, “Macross Frontier” and as mechanical designer on “Hellsing”.  Books include “Valkyries: Hidetaka Tenjin Macross Art Works”.

“Macross fans making Macross”

– We heard that Mikimoto-san asked you directly if you would redesign the VF-1D head [for the “Macross the First” manga].

Tenjin: I was very glad to have been considered, but the truth is that I started as a “Macross fan”, and as such I am opposed to changing the original designs.
  However,in terms of Mikimoto-san or Kawamori-san, they are both designers at the end of the day, and their stance is basically “if we do not keep creating new things there is no reason for us to live”.  As a fan, though, I’m thinking,”oh, why change it?” (cries)

– What were the aims for each of the designs?

T: I was aiming for a feeling of something that looked like it could have been designed by Studio Nue at the time of the original broadcast. As a fan, I consciously felt that my role should be an “arranger”, and so I avoided trying to make it look “fresh” or “new”

– Rough sketch “E” looks a bit like a Destroid. [Translator’s note — no it bloody doesn’t]

T: Actually I just added another “head” to the VF-1A.  The reasoning for this is that this is supposed to be a training craft for the main mass-produced VF-1A type.  So I thought it wouldn’t need the standard weapons and took off the gun, and instead added a camera for a two-seater.

– What are those things on rough sketch “B”?

T: They can be used as a weapon, too, but they’re mainly for measuring distances.  Instead of just being lasers outright, my suggestion is that they be things used for training.
  After showing these to Kawamori-san, he said that “B” was the best. In truth, the “A” design is almost the same as the preliminary design for the VF-1D, so I suggested “hey, why not revive this one?”  Call it a case of my own backlash against Kawamori-san and Mikimoto-san who are always trying to change everything.(laughs)
 People who are designers by profession demand things to be eternal and universal, and it is precisely because of that that they are very critical of their work, especially their past work.
  What I want to say [to them] is, whatever they may look like now, I poured my youth into the things that you people designed.  I want you to understand that you created things that changed peoples lives (laughs). You can’t recreate a young design.

– How would you feel if you were asked to change a Valkyrie?

T: How would I feel?!

– Doesn’t have to be a Valkyrie, maybe a Destroid,or a Monster…

T: The Valkyrie is something which has grown up with me, so I do have a sense of a “My-kyrie”… But Miyatake-san’s designs are like things from another dimension for me.  They’re like objects of worship, forbidden to the touch, so if I were to get an order to “please re-arrange this”, I’d be in a rut.  I don’t want to destroy them!
  By the way, when I showed Kawamori-san my VF-1D head arrangements, he said “why don’t you change the VF-1J, too?”

– But the VF-1J is the main mecha that Hikaru rides in!

T: Kawamori-san was going, “yeah, I don’t care for that face…”  And I’m like “whoa, whoa, hang on, are you serious?!” (laughs)

(2009 at Studio Tenjin)
Translation by Renato Rivera Rusca