The Standard Dunbine MG (Shou’s lavendar mech) can be ordered from HobbyLink Japan: http://hlj.com/product/BAN77173/Sci
“Don’t worry. We won’t ruin it…”
Odd words to come out of the mouth of Izabuchi Yutaka one might think, especially when connected to a project as dear to him as Yamato 2199, but considering the man to whom they were said, their relationship over the years and the superlative nature of Miyatake Kazutaka‘s work, it is not so surprising.
Miyatake had worked on the original Yamato series as one of the key designers, one of the few people trusted by both Nishizaki and Matsumoto alike, and had been brought into ‘2199’ as both conceptual artist and honorary designer – in recognition of his original work all those years ago. One of the godfathers of anime mechanical design, Miyatake’s legacy covers forty years and almost as many genres – bringing him into contact with almost every great in the industry in that time, all of whom have an abiding respect for his eye for detail and his evil sense of fun.
Though primarily a specialist in spaceships and a fan of Chris Foss – as can be seen in his work on the both the SDF-1 and Zentraedi ships for Super Dimension Fortress Macross – Miyatake has turned his hand to all manner of mechs over the years and has worked on series as diverse as Gunbuster, Gundam, Dirty Pair, and Doreamon.
His organic designs have always been beautiful, and his attention to detail means that they remain as vibrant today as ever.
Everything New is Old Again
Perhaps because he was born something of a ‘Navy-brat-on-shore’ in the town of Yokosuka, Miyatake grew up with not only a love for the sea and for ships, but also for the US carrier forces which were regularly in Japanese waters – first staging for the Korean War and later for Vietnam. Like many kids of his age, his daydreams began to take form in sketches… However, unlike most, Miyatake’s scribblings soon began to take on more inventive qualities, as well as a roundness which began to suggest a future in the industry might await him.
Indeed, out of college, he became one of the founders of Studio Nue, and went on to work on the most defining anime of the next two decades – all whilst assisting with the family JSDF supplies business in Yokosuka until it was closed.
A constant workaholic and a prolific, narrative thinker, it is a shame that Miyatake does not get the credit he deserves today, at a time in which the elder figures of the Golden Age of anime are having their own legacies properly laid down for posterity. Take any one of the greats of that era, and I will guarantee that at some point they were assisted by or assisted the quiet, unassuming Miyatake in putting together yet another improbably beautiful set of designs.
This is especially true of Miyatake’s designs for the Tomino series Aura Battler Dunbine, which was also a series on which he worked with Izubuchi.
Miyatake was given some rough notes on setting and technology by Tomino which amounted to little more than ‘come up with something suitably mech-fantasy-esque’.
This was a tall order for a series which seemed to break all the established norms for the time: SF being SF and fantasy being fantasy (and ne’er the twain shall meet).
However, with one eye on the setting, and one eye on the Book of Kels, Miyatake seems to have taken the Fey nature of Byston Well to heart when creating his fighting suits, in that the stories of Celtic Ireland are filled with fairies of every shape, size, and demeanor. It was only a short step from that idea, using the old adage that the technology of a culture reflects the culture itself, to the creation of the giant fighting fairies which were as at home in Tomino’s tale of Byston Well as the harder SF Mobile Suits had been aboard the colonies of the Gundam Universe.
Tomino himself seems to have – intentionally or not – assisted the process by the very fact that his original story had not called for mecha, and so trying to shoe-horn them into a tale of magic and myth required some compromises, as well as a great deal of latitude for the designer.
Miyatake seems to have become something of an illustrative ‘short-stop’ in some ways: catching passing ideas as they came out of Tomino’s mind, blending them with the lore as he saw it developing around him and conjuring up design after design until the boss was content. This was key, and something to which he had become used when working for Matsumoto Leiji on Yamato. There, it was subtlety different, in that Matsumoto was an artist himself, if not one used to designing for the screen, so Miyatake’s work had to be both practical and at the same time match the expectations of one of the most unique minds in Japanese media at the time.
The results, however, speak for themselves…
The challenge came from Tomino being unable to easily express his desires to the design team in ways they could grasp – meaning visually – for the Godfather of Gundam had never been much of a man with pen and ink. However, in compensation, the boss had developed his artistic needs around purely narrative elements and, so long as the art served his story well enough, he tended not to be as picky with his team as might an established artist.
This is basically how Miyatake was given an almost free hand on the design of the main mechs for the Dunbine series – including the titular suit itself.
Part insect, part Irish Fey creature, part dream and part nightmare, the design is as potent today as it was when this unsung hero of anime design laid it out in 1982.
A true classic.
Bandai made the Dunbine available a good while while back in 1/35 scale as part of their Master Grade line of kits, but only this year offered a Premium Bandai mail order only version for both Todd’s black and Tokamak’s green versions.
Functionally they are no different from the normal MG kit, save that they are molded in the correct colors for the pilot, and feature the sort of lovely bas-relief gold filigree stickers which featured so prominently on the Dozel and Garma Zabi Zakus in the last few years.
I was hoping that Bandai might have done a little more with the kit than simply mold it in the correct colors.
This kit has always been a little notorious for the iffy nature of its soft joint covers which, though accurate to the series still have a tendency to slip if not handled correctly.
I do like the the full, internal ‘muscualture’ of the legs here.
The one issue I have is that Tokamak died before ever getting into formal Knight’s armor, and the model should really have featured a pilot in one of the red/pink training uniforms…
The wing mounts remain as good as ever. Care needs to be taken here of course, as even a spot of cement out of place can gum them up tight…
The power packs are molded in the same soft material as are the muscles. Yet, for all that they are rubber of some sort, they seem to take paint very well.
Once again, with the kit being molded in the correct colors, I have opted to undercoat clear again.
I first prepped each sprue with a mild aromatic cleaner, which I suppose reacts with the surface, as it makes the plastic sticky for a few moments. Whilst in that state, I go over with Matte Coat and hang the sprues to dry.
In a warm drying closet they are ready to cut and assemble after 30 mins or so.
Normally, I would undercoat white/grey and pre-shade in black, but with me doing so many ready molded builds recently, I have been playing about with top shading. It can be a good deal more heavy handed, I know, but here I tried a 70% X20a thinner to 30% XF1 Tamiya black mix through a 0.2 nozzle at only 10psi.
I especially like the way it looks on the claws…
The gilded stickers are a nice touch indeed…
Not strictly canon, but I cannot help but add a fade to my models… 😀
What more need be said here? Mr. Miyatake…
You do not get the respect you deserve.
I’m very grateful to you. Best regards,
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