Haruhiko Mikimoto article published in Animerica Extra Vol. 3, No. 3, February 2000
This article was written by and is copyrighted to Patricia Duffield and may not be reproduced in part or whole without permission.

To a whole generation of fans, his name is synonymous with anime. Haruhiko Mikimoto is not only the character designer for the original Chojiku Yosai Macross (Super Defense Fortress Macross, Robotech (part 1)) but for many other series, including novels and even a video game. He has also penned three comics, one of which will soon be arriving in the pages of Animerica Extra!

Having recently celebrated its 17th anniversary, the perennial fan-favorite Macross owes much of its success and popularity to Mikimoto's appealing character designs. Mikimoto created more than just the heroic pilots, beautiful idols and strange villains of the series; he was also responsible for the diverse characters who populate the city within the SDF-1Macross. Combined with the dynamic mecha designs of Kazutaka Miyatake and the innovative ideas of creator Shoji Kawamori (long o), Macross made idol singers a staple of anime and rocketed Macross' star, Minmei, into anime immortality. Naturally, Mikimoto has worked on nearly all the incarnations of the series; his involvement spans two TV shows, four video series, a pair of movies, a novel and a comic series.

Although Macross remains the most famous title in Mikimoto's repertoire, he has also created characters for six other anime series. In the 80's cult classics Megazone 23 and Megazone 23 Part II, Mikimoto brings to life another of anime's most famous idols: Eve. Set in a city in space, the beautiful, talented and mysterious Eve is eventually revealed to be a computer generated being, much like Sharon Apple of Macross Plus. But don't let the similarities fool you. The Megazone video movies have a decidedly different, cyberpunk feel to them, for the main character, Shogo, is not a wholesome young pilot but a biker punk!

The Macross sister series, Chojiku Seiki Orguss (Super Dimension Century Orguss), takes us to a world where multiple dimensions and times have merged. Caught in the blast of the dimension bomb he set off, Kei, a playboy pilot, is thrown into this strange new world, where he is saved by band of Chiram (futuristic gypsies). Once he figures out what's happened, he does his best to set things right. The mid-90's video sequel, Chojiku Seiki Orguss 02, takes place 200 years after a second dimensional bomb has been detonated. The second bomb, meant to fix the problems caused by the first, has only made things worse. Naturally, there are plenty of cute girls and cool mecha in both the original and its sequel.

Toppu o Nerae! GunBuster (Aim for the Top! Gunbuster) is a video series in which the main character/pilot and the cute girl are one and the same! Though it starts on a lighter note, in classic Gainax (Evangelion, Nadia) fashion, the tone of Gunbuster becomes quite serious. Noriko, the spunky main character, begins by wrestling with schoolgirl feelings of inadequacy as she tries to become a pilot and go to space like her late father. By the end, she must cope with the drawbacks of traveling near light-speed and save humanity in a final, colossal space battle. Of course, Mikimoto makes the characters and their costumes pleasing for his male fans, but also worthy of attention is his skill at aging his characters, which is called upon heavily in this story.

Released in 1989, Kidosenshi Gundam 0080: Poketo no Naka no Senso (long o) (Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket) was the first, and possibly the best, of Gundam's many videos. Set on the neutral space colony of Side 6 during the One Year War, the main character is a boy named Al. Young Al becomes involved with Jion spies who are set on destroying an experimental Gundam secretly being developed on Side 6. In the beginning, Al plays along for fun, but he eventually learns they must succeed to save the colony from a nuclear attack. With this series, Mikimoto again demonstrates his ability to create a diverse collection of characters and also faces the challenge of designing many preteen characters, a rarity in mecha shows. This is not Mikimoto's first nor only involvement with Gundam. He has also done a large amount of artwork for the series and illustrated five Gundam novels.

Less famous than the mecha shows, Mikimoto has also worked on Hi-Speed Jecy and Quo Vadis. Hi-Speed Jecy is a twelve-part video series and a novel about a speedy orphan named Jecy whose whole family, except one uncle, has been killed off by a mysterious spaceship. Quo Vadis is a video series based on a mecha/strategy video game of the same name. As these two titles suggest, Mikimoto has worked for more media than just anime; he has also illustrated many novels and created three comics.

Variance, Mikimoto's first comic, was published by Kodansha. This story about a young woman growing up ran briefly in the Young Magazine comic anthology, from May 1985 to February 1986. Variance was only modestly successful in the high powered world of Japanese comics, which prefers its titles to have a much broader reader base than just anime fans.

Despite the mild response to his first comic, Mikimoto soon released another, Marionette Generation, which ran in Newtype magazine from January 1988 to June 1994. Newtype was the perfect vehicle for reaching Mikimoto's anime fan following, and the title was a fairly big draw for the magazine. Marionette Generation revolves around Izumi Morino, a young man who wants to become a professional illustrator. Izumi's love interest is Kinoko, president of her high school's manga club. Their lives become complicated when their single parents decide to get married. The situation is further confounded by a strange living doll named Lunch who also likes Izumi. This charming, rambling story has a few twists to keep its romantic plot and short, eight-page chapters fresh.

Published by Kadokawa, Macross 7 Trash is Mikimoto's most recent comic. Set in the same world as Macross 7, the comic resembles its TV counterpart and Yoshikazu Yasuhiko's Venus Wars with its exploration of alternative venues for military recruitment. Lieutenant Mahara Fabrio(long o)* resigns her commission when she loses a student in a training accident. The student's father attempts to kill her, but she is saved by a young T-Crush enthusiast named Shiva Mido (long o). Later, Mahara shows up at a T-Crush competition (think turbo-charged, hover rollerblade derby) where she realizes the athletes of this wild sport might make good pilots. In classic Macross style, there is a young, pretty brunette to complicate the potential older military woman/younger man romantic equation. Enika is a wannabe pop star and Shiva's sort-of girlfriend. Unlike other Macross titles, there is little emphasis on singing and pop-culture in this story. Full of action and intrigue, Macross 7 Trash differentiates itself from Mikimoto's other work by demonstrating he is just as talented at illustrating action as he is at drawing sweet stories about cute girls. Currently at seven volumes in length, Macross 7 Trash began in October 1994 and is still running in the Shonen Ace comic anthology.

Although he may be best known for designing and illustrating pretty girls, Mikimoto has created characters of every size, age, race and demeanor. By doing so, he has made the series he has worked on more dynamic and realistic, allowing his audience to become more involved in the stories and characters, and placing him among the stars of anime.

 

NOTES
Who looks like #18 from Dragonball, in my opinion. Her name has been spelled both with a long o and with a short o in the comic. Since I only own parts of about half of the stuff I'm referencing, please, please, please double check the names, publishers, etc. OK? Thank you! By the way, in my opinion, Macross 7 Trash looks pretty good; I don't suppose that's a translation option?


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