A Question of Gundam Thunderbolt

Gundam Thunderbolt has been a hot button issue in terms of where it fits into the Gundam “canon.” Not that the term canon exists in Japanese anyways (as I’ll point out below) but don’t tell that to fans. Then again, the Japanese side doesn’t seem to be too concerned for this either (nor have they ever in older Gundam publications). As such, the term “alt-UC” has entered into the Gundam community as a way of explaining away series that seem to “break” Gundam. It’s being used towards the Origin as well thanks to many of the changes it too is making to the backstory.

Anyways, a lot of the reasoning behind it is because an interview with the creator of the manga was mistranslated (or had creative liberties taken) and fans have latched onto this as their holy grail when battling people who accept Thunderbolt into their precious UC “canon.”

Let’s take a look at what Otakumode has translated the article as:

CS: Aside from director Tomino, you don’t hear many people involved with Gundam talking about “destroying Gundam.”

YO: I’m humbled [laugh]. I think in that sense Thunderbolt started off in a very fortunate position. Just as the lack of attention given the first Gundam TV series allowed it some freedom, my Gundam series is on a unique platform with Shogakukan’s Superior, so it’s not as tied down. In the beginning, I told them that I wanted to be able to work freely, even if that meant it wasn’t part of the Gundam canon, and they told me I could do what I want. However, that makes it difficult to adapt into anime and Gundam models… I suppose [laugh].

CS: So it wasn’t that they approached you and said, “Do it at this point in the Universal Century calendar.”

YO: It’s a bit off from the so-called “correct history,” but I did that on purpose [laugh]. I started off on the sidelines without much attention, which actually allowed some freedom as I wrote and I didn’t have to defend myself, so I decided to change what I wanted, and I think it was good that I could start that way. Being in that position is similar to how it was for the first Gundam, so I’ve been happy with it.

Here’s our take on the interview from Comic Soon:

——”Break Gundam” isn’t a phrase you hear often from people who work with Gundam, unless they’re Director Tomino.

How audacious of me (laughs). In this sense, I think I was able to start Thunderbolt from a very fortunate stance. The first Gundam TV series had freedom because it was unmarked, and in the same way, this Gundam started on the special setting of Shogakukan’s Superior, so I didn’t have many “fetters”. I told them first off, “It’s OK if this doesn’t make Gundam’s history, just please give me free rein,” and they marked it as the Otagaki version and let me do as I pleased. But they warned me that it would be difficult to turn into animations or Gundam models… (laughs).

——You mean it wasn’t a “Let’s do this part in the Universal Century timeline,” kind of approach.

It’s slightly different from the “official history” but I didn’t mind (laughs). Because I was able to start at the edge with no attention, I was able to draw freely, and as I had nothing to defend, I could break things as I liked and it was a great way to start. This stance also synchronized with the circumstances of the first Gundam, and I’m personally content with it.

Take that however you want.
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