Hollywood has an infamous reputation with anime. Over the years, the industry has struggled to adapt anime and manga into live-action films, but it refuses to give up on the medium. In time, Hollywood will eventually crack that code, and it had hoped a 1980s attempt at Mobile Suit Gundam would help that move along.
Of course, no such adaptation happened. Mobile Suit Gundam remained out of Hollywood’s hands, but Lion’s Gate did try to make the movie happen. In fact, a slew of storyboards for the hopeful adaptation were done, and those drawings have hit the Internet.
It’s up for fans, however, to decide how they feel about the mock-ups.
Thanks to Tom Winnicki, fans can get a look at Gundam’s secretive tenure in Hollywood. The reporter got a hold of the film’s storyboards which an unknown artist penned sometime in 1983. The 15-page file inks the film’s opening scene. A script was written for the failed adaptation, and this storyboard adapts its first ten pages or so.
The artwork depicts a major Gundam attack. You can see enemy mobile suits going into battle as they attack a space colony. A series of Zaku suits are shown firing off blasts as they approach a restless space colony. The artwork contains callbacks to the sketches of Syd Mead, an artist which fans of Gundam know well.
These days, the artist is known for doing mechanical designs for Gundam, but his first gig with the franchise was done on this adaptation. Mead was tapped to do a few scene renderings as well as mobile suit designs.
For those of you unfamiliar with the history of Hollywood's Gundam obsession, it dates back a few decades. Lionsgate tried to develop a live-action adaptation of the epic sci-fi series in the early 1980s. The company brought in artist Syd Mead to do concept art and storyboards for the film while Proser oversaw its script. The writer agreed to handle the film's story so long as he could direct the adaptation, but his team struggled to figure out how Gundam's mecha fights could be done with such limited technology at that time. Ultimately, the film was forced out of development when Sunrise Studio and Bandai sent cease-and-desist notices to Lionsgate as the production company did not license the anime series.
Should Hollywood have gone after Gundam? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB to talk all things comics, k-pop, and anime!