The Afterword of GoShogun: The Time Étranger

This is a translation of the afterword of the GoShogun: The Time Étranger novel. Original creator and screenwriter Takeshi Shudo provides us with insight into the public reception of GoShogun as well as his own ideas on what GoShogun is supposed to be about. Shudo also penned the novel version, and yes he does actually refer to himself in third person as “the author,” and yes his observations and internal dialogue are quite amusing. It is this kind of off-beat perspective that got him noticed as a screenwriter in the first place. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did when I first read through it. Footnotes are my own additions. The original text can be found here.


Afterword

The 5th GoShogun novel is finally finished.

That being said, while The Time Étranger is technically the 5th novel in the series, that doesn’t mean it’s a sequel.

This was made into a film 4 years after the TV series broadcast. However, it is not a sequel to the TV series GoShogun nor is it GoShogun 4 years later.

Well then, what is it?

I don’t want to exaggerate, but I had intended to write this story with the “mental world of GoShogun” as its theme… I guess this is an exaggeration after all.

Well anyway, continuing with the dramatic wording, the theme in mind would invoke a feeling such as that of someone not used to sitting seiza [1] style, their feet getting numb, their belly button itching, then losing composure, then fainting, and then gently lying sprawled comfortably across the floor…

A friend once asked me, “So… what exactly is GoShogun?”
“What is it indeed.”
Even the author isn’t quite sure.

So instead of trying to answer this myself, I asked various people what they thought… “It’s a vulgar, electronic paper play [2] that attempts to instill destruction and slaughter as virtues in children.” …These were the words of a strait-laced German schoolteacher who was watching Japanese animation for the first time.

Well, that may be an extreme example…

“It’s a 30 minute animated commercial for robot toys.”

It hurts, but I can’t deny that…

“During the 26 episode TV series broadcast its time slot changed 3 times. It’s a tragically irrelevant anime.”

…Hey! It’s not like the time slot changed cause I wanted it to.

“Due to the low budget for the background music, they randomly went with premade classical music for this cheap anime.”

…Incorrect. From the beginning we intended to use classical music. Sound director Noriyoshi Matsuura had to look pretty hard to find a usable record.

“In this frivolous cartoon all the characters lines are all ad-libbed.”

…I see.

“It’s saturated with this message about how mechs are our friends.”

…Uh-huh.

“Rarely serious, mostly tongue-in-cheek.”

…That may be true.

“This is absolutely not science fiction. Calling this science fiction is blasphemy towards science fiction.”

…Come on! Even I don’t call it science fiction. [3]

“It’s a parody that screws around too much.”

…Hey, I like parodies. What’s wrong with that?

“Huh?! This received the Animage award? No way.”

…That was my reaction too.

“Ahhh~ Lord Bundle! ♡♡♡♡…”

As you wish.

“I LOVE YOU REMY!!!”

…Stop that! I’m the one that loves her!

And besides those opinions, the prattle continues on. But given the fate of an “irrelevant anime,” even those opinions will be forgotten after the broadcast’s end.

By the way, regarding the line “even in death we live on.”

GoShogun was a show that broke the mold of recent mecha anime. In the show, none of the main characters that comprise the GoShogun team die. Afterwards in the novels, neither the robot nor Kenta [4]—a main character in the TV series—remain yet GoShogun lives on.

“The GoShogun robot doesn’t even appear. Why the hell is GoShogun in the title?”

…Indeed. Why is it in the title?

The author was also puzzled.

GoShogun, that’s an action cartoon for boys right? But who the hell would let kids read the third novel in the series, Cage of Madness?”

…Indeed it might be too extreme for kids… The themes may not for children either…

The author’s always changing his mind, so it’s difficult for the editing department.

You can tell from the front covers and illustrations for the last four books.

All of a sudden it jumps from the cute drawings of Ai Naniwa to the surreal illustrations of Yoshitaka Amano. Originally we had character designs from Hideyuki Motohashi’s Studio Z5 [5], Osamu Kamijō, Mutsumi Inomata, and many others. Furthermore, all of them are captivating and in the end even the author has no idea which are the true character designs.

It’s the same even for the story or the world in which the characters play their roles. It’s like a case of schizophrenia.

However, regardless of what face they put on or which stars they visit, the members of GoShogun comprise a team of six.

No matter what world’s story or subject matter they’re thrown into, nothing can stop them from being who they are.

Well then, this team of six that has persisted thus far for four years in the text of novels was yet again called to another world.

It was not the world of TV bound by restrictions, but instead the world of home-video.

Hence, the concluding “See you again” in the last scene of the TV series actually came true.

“No matter where we go, we are who we are… Whether in film, or in novels…”

I can hear their voices.

What does this “we are who we are” mean?

Even the author, who created this cluttered mess that borders on schizophrenia, took this opportunity to search within himself and review just what GoShogun actually is.

I have no confidence as far as whether or not I was successful, but I tried to travel through the minds of GoShogun through the sole heroine, Remy.

Honestly, either Shingo, Killy, Bundle, Kernagul, or Cuttnal would have worked too. The reason why I chose Remy, to put it simply, was that I’m more into her.

The text of novels, the drawings of comics, and the pictures of movies are all different methods of expression.

The rest of the staff and I were given the opportunity to create a home-video movie version, and so I opted to depict the minds of GoShogun in manner befitting a movie.

But just because it’s in a manner befitting a movie, that doesn’t mean that you try and make everything move along speedily in an unrestrained frenzy.

Film in particular presents a single world for a fixed, uninterrupted block of time. The movie itself has its own passage of time. In a novel, you can flip back and re-read a section. You can also pause and think about what you just read. You cannot do this sort of thing with a movie.

“Huh? But you can stop the flow of time by pausing the video? Not only that, you can slow down the playback, and you can also rewind…?”
Hmm, you’re putting me in a tight spot there. I don’t think that’s the right way to watch a movie though.

In any case, within the boundaries of a fixed block of time, I decided to depict the minds of GoShogun by jumbling these various timelines into the film, kind of like a mosaic.

Whoa whoa whoa. There you go again with the exaggerated, roundabout descriptions…

Anywho, if I succeeded then congrats to me! Huh? It’s mostly a failure? …Sorry about that. I created this with a kind of happy-go-lucky attitude.

To make the home-video movie version of The Time Étranger, director Kunihiko Yuyama further refined his filmmaking technique to craft the well-defined pictures that comprise the film.

Then, I tried as best I could to take those inlaid timelines and put them into the words that are this novel version of The Time Étranger.

Expression through film and expression through prose are different, so movies and novels have many differences. In the case of The Time Étranger, both the movie and novel were made together. It would be best to think of them as twins. [6]

Since I’ve been writing about the nature of films, this has been a long afterword by my standards. But if there was even one person among all of you who read and watched The Time Étranger and said “damn that thriller was killer!” [7] then I’d be happy…
(… that was a bad pun… I regret it)

P.S.

One reader of this book said something along the lines of “Hmm, I guess this marks the end of Goshogun.” But this is the gang that proclaims, “Move it! Even in death we live on!” The novels will continue, and I’d be happy if you kept following their journey…

Well then, as always…

SEE YOU AGAIN

—Takeshi Shudo


The novel has been long out of print since 1985, but second-hand copies can still be found on Amazon Japan here.


Notes:

  1. Literally “proper sitting,” which is a traditional formal style of sitting in Japan. See this for more information. Sitting like this for any extended period of time is torture.

  2. Paper plays (kamishibai) are a form of Japanese street theater and storytelling popular in the 1930s and post-war period of Japan, prior to television. See this for more information.

  3. For more on the 80s Japanese discourse of science fiction and its relationship to anime, I highly recommend this paper from Rentaro Rivera Rusca of Meiji University: The Discourse of the Sci-Fi Fan Civil War of 1980 as Seen in Anime Magazines—published in The Phoenix Papers, Vol. 3 No.1, August 2017 (pg 314-325).

  4. Technically, Kenta and the robot do appear and have an important role in the second novel, After GoShogun.

  5. Ben Ettinger has a brief paragraph about Studio Z5 in his article, The Kanada School.

  6. In a previous article, I’ve listed some of the differences between the movie and novel version of The Time Étranger.

  7. Man, puns are the worst to translate. Normally I wouldn’t even have bothered, but Shudo explicitly acknowledges his pun. As they say in anime, “it couldn’t be helped.” In the original text, the eezoo in “are wa eezoo,” is sort of a slangy or casual way to say “awesome,” and also happens to be a homonym with the word for film, eizō (映像, which is literally reflected figure, can also refer to TV or videos).

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