The first time I saw Space Runaway Ideon on TV was during a repeat broadcast, when I was a student at college of art and design. Until then, I hadn’t watched any mecha anime such as Gundam, so I watched Ideon as a super-serious animation work which my classmate Sakai-kun had highly recommended. I watched it on a small CRT display while my peer provided commentary. The impression I got from Ideon was that it was special and one-of-a-kind… It was surely something I will never forget. The story setting that I became attracted to was that Ideon was supposed to be “a relic excavated from underground, which was made ages ago by an extraterrestrial being;” but despite this, its design at first glance was actually difficult to interpret as something that was dug up and made by an alien civilization… However, I convinced myself that this kind of color and shape, which betrays the preconceived ideas of an earthling, is something that is really convincing as a product of the 6th Civilization made by a technology beyond our current capabilities!,” and I tried to re-imagine its design inside my head. I tried to overlook my lack of knowledge and understandings back then for this task, but in the end I stopped thinking about it; saying to myself that this is something totally impossible to redesign, even though nobody really asked me to redesign it.
Nearly 40 years has passed since then when I received an offer from threezero to make something related to robots. At that time, my bittersweet memory about failing to redesign Ideon (again, nobody really asked me to redesign it) due to my lack of skills had suddenly raised from the ashes. I knew that it was outside of my expertise and totally beyond my position, but I couldn’t resist my curiosity about what I possibly would be able to make now, and thus accepted the offer to work on the project.
I recall now that when I used to support Makoto Koboyashi-san as a part time job around 30 years ago, I helped him make his reiteration of Ideon. What I actually did was just apply some epoxy putty around the chest part of Ideon, but I was really shocked at the extraordinary cool illustration of Kobyashi-san’s Ideon design. I said to him “Is it really OK to change the design this much?”, and Koboyashi-san was like “It’s fine, it’s fine.” I never saw a project redesigned with so much amplitude, even up to now. And from that experience, the young Takeya developed the idea that it is fine to redesign things up to this extent, which led to several problems later on… No, I shouldn’t be blaming this on someone else! I have become an adult now, and I really do try to approach redesigns now by giving the full respect to the original design. I mean really. So for this version of Ideon, I made it under the self-imposed rule of keeping the core elements that exist in the original design. But even so, I think the tires and crawlers are… are something just not really suited as a part of a mecha made with a super technology. So I regard those as something that earthlings added on by themselves! So my concept for redesigning Ideon is “giving my thoughts to the initial form, which was made by the 6th Civilization.” Oh wait, did all the transform and combine gimmicks seen exist from the very beginning? Then this redesign contradicts those gimmicks, but I guess it morphs like a CGI visual effects. Sorry for saying something so messed up.
First, I worked on the illustration for the redesign. The entire body proportion as well as its face (the part that looks like a face) are important in reimagining the design, so once again I observed and studied which details of the face make Ideon look like Ideon. Since it is quite a simple design, if I carelessly tweak something, it will easily become something like “This is no different from GM [Mobile Suit Gundam]” and “Is this Guncannon [Mobile Suit Gundam]?” and so on… In the end, I settled with the ordinary conclusion of emphasizing each part. The visor-like piece is changed from a smooth transparent piece into something like a radiator or jagged cylinders, which resembles the bar of lights that runs horizontally in the anime and simultaneously suggests its mechanical structure. To emphasize Ideon’s overbearing size, and give the impression that it is really huge when seen from a low angle, the mohawk piece was made larger. The antennae, which looked like something from Star Blazers, were altered into something heavier at the end to balance them with the other parts of the face. As for the whole body, to make it look far different from the technologies of earth, I decided to add geometric patterns here and there, which is unclear whether it has any functional meaning or is only decoration. And then I thought “Oh boy, this is becoming a design really difficult to make,” but I decided to put off that issue and proceeded to work on the actual model after the illustration of the new design was finished.
The distressful point about this was that the correct steps to take for this kind of symmetrical mecha design shall be first to make it as a digital model, and then have it printed in 3D; which is something not really possible to do when sculpting by hand. Since this is a huge robot with a small head, I wanted to make the whole size to be as big as possible, but if the size is big, the cost for the 3D printing would become too expensive. So in exchange with the payment for the work I did for my friend’s company, I had them make and print the rough form 3D model. For various reasons it wasn’t possible to implement the details, so I designed and ordered some etching parts. I couldn’t apply all the etchings to the model by myself, so I enlisted Yukio Fujioka to help out.
Fujioka applied the etching parts in a superb way, but due to the schedule and budget, it was passed on to Junichi Taniguchi and Keijiro Togita when it was around 60% done. But the two had great difficulties applying it in the same density as how Fujioka did! Thus, the deadline ended up having immense repeated delays, and also I used up all the budget… Which seemed like it would have been whole lot easier if it was done fully in digital from the beginning, but I somehow managed to finish it! In the end, threezero kindly offered to 3D scan it. You can all laugh at me on how awful I am at planning things! I think this is the last time things will be made in this way, ha ha (not something I can laugh about though). Thanks to threezero, the model will be digitalized and engineered to have joints implemented at the articulated areas, which shall become product of great precision. So I guess everything turned out alright in the end! …Right?
I am now going to finish up Ideon by applying the aged look to convey it as the ancient relic of the 6th Civilization. There really isn’t such scene in the anime, but I am sure that it would look good.
Takayuki Takeya is a sculptor who was born on December 10th, 1963, in Hokkaido, Japan. He graduated from Asagaya College of Art and Design, and specializes in character design, creature/mechanical design, collaborative redesign, and sculptures for various mediums including films, exhibitions, games, and toys.
Takeya worked on the character designs for the movie Shin Godzilla (2016) and on the original sculpture of the Giant God Warrior in the short film Giant God Warrior Appears in Tokyo (2012). He also created the original sculptures and supervised the models for the Ghibli Expo: Nausicaä to Marnie exhibition’s “The World of the Ohmu” section.
The Hunter’s Angle: The Complete Supplement Revised Edition (Kodansha)
Takeya Takayuki RevoTake Origin (Futami Shobo)
Takeya Takayuki Drawings, Arrangement and Design (Graphic-sha)
ROIMUDE: Takeya Takayuki Kamen Rider Drive Designworks (Hobby Japan)
Molding of Fear (Genkosha)