Shōji Kawamori

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Shōji Kawamori
Taken during the 14th edition of Japan Expo in 2013 organised at the 'Parc de expositions of Villepinte near Paris in France
Born (1960-02-20) February 20, 1960 (age 63)
Other namesEiji Kurokawa
Occupation(s)Anime creator
Visual artist
Mecha designer
Known forMacross
The Vision of Escaflowne
Robotech (Macross Saga)
Transformers toyline
Shōji Kawamori in his studio, in May 2011

Shōji Kawamori (河森 正治, Kawamori Shōji, born February 20, 1960) is a Japanese anime creator and producer, screenwriter, visual artist, and mecha designer. He is best known for creating the Macross mecha anime franchise and the Diaclone toyline, which were in turn the basis for the Robotech and Transformers franchises, respectively. He is also known for creating The Vision of Escaflowne anime series. He pioneered several innovative concepts in his works, such as transforming mecha (including the VF-1 Valkyrie in Macross and Optimus Prime in Transformers) and virtual idols (including Lynn Minmay and Sharon Apple in the Macross franchise). His work has had a significant impact on popular culture, both in Japan and internationally.

Personal life[edit]

Shoji Kawamori was born in Toyama, Japan in 1960. Later in his youth he attended Keio University in the late seventies and in the same years as Macross screenwriter Hiroshi Ōnogi and character designer Haruhiko Mikimoto, where they became friends and founded a Mobile Suit Gundam fan club called "Gunsight One", a name the group would use years later during the development of the fictional world of the Macross series.[1]

Anime creation and production[edit]

Shoji Kawamori occasionally used the alias Eiji Kurokawa (黒河影次 Kurokawa Eiji) early in his anime career when he started as a teenage intern at Studio Nue and worked as assistant artist and animator there during the late seventies and early eighties. Later in his career Kawamori created or co-created the concepts which served as basis for several anime series such as Super Dimension Fortress Macross, The Vision of Escaflowne, Earth Maiden Arjuna, Genesis of Aquarion, Macross 7, Macross Frontier, and Macross Delta. His projects are usually noted to contain strong themes of love, war, spirituality or mysticism, and ecological concern. Kawamori is currently executive director at the animation studio Satelight.

Mecha design[edit]

Shoji Kawamori is also a visual artist and a mecha designer — projects featuring his designs range from 1983's Crusher Joe to 2005's Eureka Seven. Also, each and every variable fighter from the official Macross series continuity has been designed by him.

Kawamori also helped to design various toys for the Takara toyline Diaclone in the early 1980s, many of which were later incorporated into Hasbro's Transformers toyline. Quite a few of them became iconic Transformers: Generation 1 toy designs. Among them the first Optimus Prime ("Convoy") toy design, Prowl, Bluestreak, Smokescreen, Ironhide, and Ratchet. In 2006, he designed both the Hybrid Style Convoy and the Masterpiece version of Starscream for Takara.

One of his key mech design innovations was transforming mecha, which can transform between a standard vehicle (such as a fighter plane or transport truck) and a fighting mecha robot. Kawamori came up with the idea of transforming mechs while working on the Diaclone and Macross franchises in the early 1980s (such as the VF-1 Valkyrie in Macross and Robotech), with his Diaclone mechs later providing the basis for Transformers. Some of Kawamori's most iconic transforming mecha designs include the VF-1 Valkyrie from the Macross and Robotech franchises, and Optimus Prime (called Convoy in Japan) from the Transformers and Diaclone franchises.[2]

In 2001, he brought his mecha design talent to real-life projects when he designed a variant of the Sony AIBO robotic dog, the ERS-220.[3]


Kawamori came up with several innovative concepts and helped create several franchises which had a significant impact on popular culture, both in Japan and internationally. One of his original ideas was the transforming mecha, which can transform between a standard vehicle (such as a fighter plane or transport truck) and a fighting mecha robot. He introduced the concept with Diaclone in 1980 and Macross in 1982, with some of his most iconic transforming mecha including the VF-1 Valkyrie from Macross (later adapted into Robotech in 1985) and Convoy from the 1983 Diaclone line (later called Optimus Prime in Transformers). The concept later became more popular in the mid-1980s, with Macross: Do You Remember Love? (1984) and Zeta Gundam (1985) in Japan, and with Robotech (1985 adaptation of Macross) and Transformers (1986 adaptation of Diaclone) in the West. In turn, Macross and Zeta Gundam became influential in Japan, while Robotech and Transformers became influential in the West, with Robotech helping to introduce anime to North America and Transformers influencing the Hollywood movie industry.[2][4]

In addition to his innovative mecha design work, Kawamori also came up with innovative concepts in his character writing. In contrast to earlier mecha anime which focused on combatants, he wanted to portray a mecha conflict from the perspective of non-combatant civilians, which led to his creation of the fictional singer Lynn Minmay in Macross.[2] She went on to become the first virtual idol. Voiced by Mari Iijima, Minmay was the first fictional idol singer to garner major real-world success, with the theme song "Do You Remember Love?" (from the film Macross: Do You Remember Love?) reaching number seven on the Oricon music charts in Japan.[5] Kawamori later took the concept further in Macross Plus (1994) with the virtual idol Sharon Apple, an artificial intelligence (AI) computer program who takes the form of an intergalactic pop star.[6] The same year, he created Macross 7 (1994), which featured the virtual band Fire Bomber who became a commercial success and spawned multiple CDs released in Japan.[7] The Macross franchise set the template for later virtual idols in the early 21st century, such as Hatsune Miku and Kizuna AI.[5][6]

Another innovative character concept he came up with was the role of Misa Hayase in Macross (called Lisa Hayes in Robotech), who was one of the main commanders of the Macross battleship. She was the boss and commanding officer of the fighter pilot protagonist Hikaru Ichijyo (called Rick Hunter in Robotech), and later his love interest. This was a scenario Kawamori came up with which he had not seen in any Hollywood movies before. A similar scenario, however, later appeared in the Hollywood movie Top Gun (1986). According to Kawamori, "Many people pointed out that later films like Top Gun copied that idea and setting, as well as including the combination of many songs and fighters too."[2]



Macross series[edit]

Note: Macross II is the only animated Macross project in which Kawamori had no involvement.

Other anime[edit]

Video games[edit]

Other work[edit]


  1. ^ "Translation & Cultural Notes". The Super Dimension Fortress Macross Liner Notes. AnimEigo. 2001-12-21. Archived from the original on 2008-12-30. Retrieved 2012-02-12. According to the liner notes of the AnimEigo DVD release of the Macross TV series Gunsight One was also the fanzine title of the Gundam fan club that creator Shoji Kawamori, character designer Haruhiko Mikimoto, and writer Hiroshi Oonogi (members number 1, 2, and 3 of said club) founded while they were students at Keio University in Japan...
  2. ^ a b c d Barder, Ollie (December 10, 2015). "Shoji Kawamori, The Creator Hollywood Copies But Never Credits". Forbes. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  3. ^ Hara, Yoshiko (2001-08-11). "Sony robot goes to pieces for owners". EE Times. Retrieved 2015-11-07.
  4. ^ Knott, Kylie (27 February 2019). "He created Macross and designed Transformers toys: Japanese anime legend Shoji Kawamori". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  5. ^ a b Eisenbeis, Richard (September 7, 2012). "The Fictional (Yet Amazingly Popular) Singers of Japan". Kotaku. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  6. ^ a b Rattray, Tim (June 25, 2018). "From Macross to Miku: A History of Virtual Idols". Crunchyroll. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  7. ^ Camp, Brian; Davis, Julie (2011). Anime Classics Zettai!: 100 Must-See Japanese Animation Masterpieces. Stone Bridge Press. p. 163. ISBN 978-1-61172-519-3.
  8. ^ "Shoji Kawamori: The Man, the Myth, the Mecha". Anime Jump. Archived from the original on 6 November 2007.
  9. ^ "Shoji Kawamori Finally Reveals His Creative Involvement with 'Devil May Cry 5'". Forbes.
  10. ^ Loo, Egan (7 April 2015). "Macross Creator Kawamori Designs New CG Thunderbirds Series' Plane". Anime News Network. Retrieved 7 October 2021.

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