The Worlds of Tomino

[This post was inspired by a bit of a conversation between Biblionyan and I on Discord. Thanks for talking with me, let’s talk more often.]

Yoshiyuki Tomino is a man with limitless ideas. Also, for almost sixty years, Tomino is one of the hardest working people in the entire anime industry. What happens when the working time and the large number of ideas meet? You get so many creative works that explore all sorts of different worlds and anime series that would make your head spin. Does that mean that all of his works are complete bangers? No, but some of them being some of the best anime we have ever seen before make him working in the industry more enough reason to praise him. Are all his ideas original? If you have watched enough Yoshiyuki Tomino anime, there are thematic through lines in what he creates.

There are also kinds of episodes and themes that are through out all of Yoshiyuki Tomino’s works in one way or another. For instance, while I haven’t watched every single anime that Tomino has ever worked on, he loves sharing how dangerous nuclear bombs are. His works involving anything in Gundam’s Universal Century are the clear exception here because if the creation of the nuclear Antarctic treaty that stops all parties in each conflict and war from using. That’s ok, because Tomino explores humanities destruction and cruelty by creating other weapons which are clearly radiation free. Just not poison free. Tomino exploring humanities darkness in this way is a through line in a lot of his works.

On top of all of that is the exploration of systems in the worlds he creates. He likes to be able to tell the viewer all the working details in everything he creates. Not just individual goals of each state or country of origin, but what the motivations are for those in the societies he creates. What is the leader of each parties’ motivations vs who is working under them? Plus, there are moments and signs of civilian populations and general soldiers that humanizes them. It goes beyond just the normal “war is bad” stuff in what he explores, though that is the simple theme that is prevalent. A lot of Tomino’s stories explore the affects of war on people. The greedy elitist class who wants more while squishing lesser people underneath their feet vs the common people who fight to escape the systems established in each series.

Tomino has a very happy and a very sad mindset when he creates his series. His saddest series either feature those poor people who fail to escape the restraints around them and die or lose everyone around them while setting the system at ease. In the sadness, there is reflection. There are people celebrating that the main character allowed everyone else to escape destruction. There are people who get eternally released from the system to meet them all in the after life. There are people who fought against tyranny and live, but have had all of their memories taken from them. In a sense, there is positivity but never in the way they want it. I would also say that the Universal Century is inherently sad because most stories revolve around elitists always maintaining control of people through bread and circuses.

Ok, I just mentioned a lot of spoilers but I will not tell you for what they are for. You know, unless you know for yourself. What is the true worry about Tomino shows sometimes? That there are too many ideas shared in a short space of time. That is something that held back Gundam Reconguista in G from being as good as it could be. There are needs to be some filter between what Tomino wants and what appears on the screen and that series didn’t allow it to happen though. Doesn’t make it bad, just difficult is all. I will say, I will watch whatever Tomino puts out even if they are regarded as bad. I love seeing what ideas Tomino plays around with and how he plays with them. There is lots of creative ideas in what he does which would make so many people jealous. That is the strength of Yoshiyuki Tomino’s works. You can pass over his series multiple times and see something new every time.

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  1. With Gundam, I’m in awe of how much storytelling he gets in with each episode. It really is SO multifaceted and the fact there’s tons of stuff to unpack—it’s bloody brilliant. I already know that Tomino is going to easily become a favourite creator for me. With respect to the war and the impact of nuclear weaponry, there’s much that Japan has experiences with and that fuels their creative narrative works across multiple mediums and when it can be used to express stories of various perspectives, people, beliefs, etc. in a cohesive and contemplatively evocative way, it’s incredibly powerful and discomforting all at the same time. At least that’s what I get from Gundam and it’s what makes it so compelling for me. (And heck yeah, we should talk some more! 🙂 )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, right? As I’ve stated before I really love how multifaceted gundam is. That strong since of loving and hating adds so many complicated things to the whole experience. I find it very addictive in a good way.

      Also, Tomino puts in a nuclear concepts and imagery a lot like a ton of older mecha series. Giant robot anime did start with Tetsujin 28 and if you look at it enough, the robot looks like a gigantic missile. Plus there is the photonic energy in Mazinger, Getter Rays in Getter Robo, and quite a few others. I am learning about this element a lot too because there is so much stuff I haven’t watched yet.

      If you do get around to Tomino’s other works there is at least one nuclear based episode in every season or more depending on how prevalent they are. Not all of the shows are winners, but there is enough good out there to call him a genius because he does know how systems work and damage people and it adds a lot of stuff to his narratives. ( 😀 )

      Liked by 1 person

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