The Hidetsugu Yoshioka interview project has reached its final installment! This time, the setting changes to the 90′s as Mr. Yoshioka discusses Transformers series “Generation 2″ and “Beast Wars,” as well as “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” The three winners of his original sketches are announced at the end of the interview!
The Mega Pretenders were Yoshioka’s first involvement with Transformers
From Facebook: “I am a big fan of your Ninja Turtles art in the 1995 Comic Bom Bom issues. Your work on those comic pages differed greatly from the two-episode anime OVA and the Dengeki Comics adaptation. For instance, in your comic, Casey Jones appears and both Splinter and April O’Neil were transformed by the MutaStones. Did you follow a specific script that called for these events? If so, did the animation studio or manufacturer provide this story?”
Yoshioka: The story itself was already decided. However, there was no indication that Casey appeared in it. April was slated to appear in the story, but having her be mutated into a cat was my own whim. (Laughter) For Casey Jones, I think there was an instruction to include motorcycles in the story, and I just threw him in for good measure. I really wanted to get details from the original version in there.
Was the story itself provided by the Japanese manufacturer, Takara?
Yoshioka: It was from the Comic Bom-Bom editorial staff. After it was turned in, I’m not really sure what kind of process it went through with the manufacturer.
Did all the work you submitted go through with no problem? No one said, “Use a different character instead of Casey Jones”?
Yoshioka: Actually, I think they flat-out said “Don’t use Casey Jones.” I mean, he originally wasn’t even mentioned in the story. (Laughter)
That was an Easter egg for the fans, then?
Yoshioka: At my request, they put in a section of the story where Casey could have a scene. (Laughter) I’m sure kids had no idea who he was. I just really liked the character after seeing the live-action movie.
Yoshioka’s original art of Shredder
I’d also like to ask you about your illustrations for TV Magazine during “Transformers: Generation 2.” Did you come up with many of the story details yourself? For example, the Cybertron Alliance, and Megatron’s messenger being killed by humans.
Yoshioka: I didn’t have much of anything to do with the story itself. As a general direction, I think the idea was that Megatron wouldn’t sell well if he was just a typical villain.
There was that phase of 90’s robot series where they didn’t want to make many toys of villains.
Yoshioka: A lot of the story was brainstormed by another designer I worked with at Part One. He and I were both big fans of “X-Men” at the time, so to be honest, we styled Megatron after Magneto. (Laughter)
Regarding the design, Megatron and Optimus in the Cybertron Alliance seem to be patterned after their Actionmaster forms. Was this intentional?
Yoshioka: They were supposed to be Actionmasters, what with that being their most recent form before G2.
Was there something behind the story of Megatron’s friend falling to the humans?
Yoshioka: Nothing in particular. Just an ally who’d been killed.
So, pretty much a “hi then die” character, as we often saw in the comics.
Yoshioka: Yeah, that’s about it. Even if we had made one of the preexisting Decepticons die there, I doubt anyone would have felt too sad about it…
Really? I feel like that could have been very sad. Imagine if Ravage had died, or something.
Yoshioka: To me, that’s just the sort of characters the Decepticons are. They’re a band of thugs and scoundrels. (Laughter) In that sense, they’re the more human of the factions.
In comparison, Optimus Prime is almost too perfect. He’s kind of superior to humans.
Yoshioka: I didn’t really feel that way about him, personally. I view Optimus as a philanthropist. But people have different images of the character, and end up holding different opinions on him. When I’m drawing for fun, I never draw Optimus. It was the same way when I was doing the art for “Beast Wars” in TV Magazine. On my own, I’d only be drawing Dinobot. (Laughter)
Was there a reason you took a liking to Dinobot?
Yoshioka: He’s easy to draw. (Laughter) Easy to depict in poses and action scenes.
Speaking of “Beast Wars” in TV Magazine, what was it like drawing characters based on CG? Was it more difficult than going from a cartoon?
Yoshioka: It was, at first. I didn’t have any reference materials. (Laughter) Just the toys.
The show was cutting-edge in 1997, being rendered in full CG.
Yoshioka: The only thing to really precede it was “Reboot.”
And that was made by the same animation studio, Mainframe Entertainment. I wasn’t even aware that “Reboot” was shown in Japan.
Yoshioka: It was broadcast here, although late at night. It was translated into Japanese well. The bad guys, like Megabyte and Hexadecimal, all had their tricky names left intact. (Laughter)
Speaking of naming, the recent Transformers movies have begun a trend of using “Optimus Prime” rather than “Convoy” here in Japan. Being a fan of foreign Transformers, were you happy to see that?
Yoshioka: Lo and behold, kids had no trouble with the name “Optimus Prime.” But I’m happy as long as the name fits the character. “Optimus” and “Convoy” are both fine by me.
Whichever name he goes by, kids love him.
Yoshioka: This is off-subject, but something that stuck in my memory was when on WWE, there was a story where Hulk Hogan dragged The Rock from a truck. They used a trailer truck that looked exactly like Optimus.
Being such an iconic image to Americans, that must have been based off of G1 Optimus. Normally, nobody uses flat-nosed trucks anymore because of their poor gas mileage. I take it you’re also a fan of pro-wrestling?
Yoshioka: My T-shirt should tell you that much… (Laughter)
On a final note, do you have any words for your fans in Japan and abroad?
Yoshioka: Well, if the fans stay fans, I’m sure we’ll get new comics, new movies, and plenty of new toys made. So let’s all keep on being fans of Transformers, you and I both.
Not to mention, we’ll also get to enjoy more of your great illustrations!
Thanks go out to all the fans who submitted questions through Twitter or Facebook, and Mr. Yoshioka himself for taking part in the interview! The three winners of original art listed below will be contacted individually.
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