In designing Zecha Tactics, we sought inspiration from the past while also aiming to create an original game that looks new and unique. To achieve this, the visual designs of the mechs themselves would be our biggest and most important challenge.
Franchises like Gundam and Battletech have long defined what mechs look like in animation and video games, but we wanted the mechs in Zecha Tactics to add something new to the genre while also reflecting our own esthetic sensibilities.
When we thought about an artist who could help us design the type of mecha we wanted for Zecha Tactics, Shinya Mizuno immediately came to mind. The Japanese artist has a distinct art style that is cute and quirky, and mecha are frequent subjects in his work. So we approached Mizuno-san about collaborating on Zecha Tactics, and were thrilled and thankful when he agreed to work with us as our Lead Mecha Designer.
While we are huge fans of Shinya Mizuno, there is not much written about him outside of Japan. So who exactly is Shinya Mizuno? It’s time to find out.
Who is Shinya Mizuno?
Born in 1981, Shinya Mizuno is a Japanese illustrator best known for his online illustrations that specialize in mecha and fantastical industrial designs. He graduated from the Department of Moving Images and Performing Arts at Tama Art University.
Mizuno grew up influenced by his strong interest in manga. Since he was a child, he read Corocoro Comics, an anthology manga series geared towards children, and found inspiration to start drawing. By his highschool years, most of his peers moved on to reading manga targeted at teenagers like Shonen Jump, but that wasn’t the case with Mizuno. As a highschooler, he still preferred Corocoro Comics, enjoying new series like Obocchama-kun and Little Cops. The kind of manga he enjoyed the most were manga that oozed enjoyment with fun paneling and sharp drawings.
But Corocoro was not the only manga influence for Mizuno. While in highschool, Mizuno also started to read Monthly Afternoon, a manga series geared towards young adults. Monthly Afternoon ended up shaping the way Mizuno learned how to draw, as this was also around the same time he joined the manga research club and developed his skills as an artist.
Mizuno has always enjoyed drawing. Like many Japanese artists, he had hoped that perhaps he might become a manga artist someday in the future. The thing that drove Mizuno to draw the most was that he could share his drawings with others. He wanted to become a professional artist just so more people would get to experience his work.
While still in highschool, Mizuno also developed an interest in video and special effects production. He credits this inspiration to the Heisei Gamera series airing around that time, which had anime-style SFX. Mizuno enjoyed working on videos and SFX so much that he went on to study at the night school at Tama Art University. He spent the time there learning and drawing storyboards.
While at university, he also noticed others around him working on animation projects. While he at first doubted himself on his ability to be an animator, he gave animation a try and soon found himself making his own anime. Mizuno would do everything manually at first, drawing the frames by hand before scanning them into a computer for color and layout. This is where he fostered his skill to become an animator.
After graduating, Mizuno began working at a company making CG video. When he first started, he created educational video content for young children, and had to develop animations for 2D characters. Mizuno was also involved in translating characters from picture book writers and character designers into 2D animation. Through his daily work drawing, he re-kindled his interest in illustration and composition.
Around this time, Mizuno discovered Pixiv, an art sharing image website, where he started sharing his illustrations online. He also shared his animations, but since animations took far longer to produce, he ended up focusing more on illustrations. In addition to his work for his company, Mizuno also does design work for magazine and CD covers, picture books and concept designs.
Mizuno likes robots. Like most mecha fans, he has a great interest in Gundam. His interest in Gundam began when he was a kid, buying capsule toys and collectible cards. For Mizuno, the SD Gundam he discovered from these toys and cards hold a special appeal for him more so than traditional Gundam.
SD Gundam (or “Super Deformed” Gundam) are different in that all of the character proportions are completely squashed down, transforming gigantic menacing machines into smaller and more endearing ones. This early interest in SD Gundam quite likely influenced Mizuno’s own characteristically cute and charming mecha designs.
Mizuno’s specialty is his ability to create original worlds through his drawings and illustrations by taking images and visuals from everyday mechanical machinery, and deforming them in creative and playful ways. His works speak for themselves; they are unique, striking, and always delightful to look at.
Today you can still find Mizuno on Pixiv, but his main platform has moved to Twitter (@miraityuuou). He enjoys being able to share his work with the world, and getting responses from people right away.
Mizuno has also published two books of his own work. Perspectives of Shinya Mizuno contains art including his mecha and other illustrations. His latest book, “働く車” (“Working Vehicles”) is a collection of his designs of fantastical heavy machinery.
Shinya Mizuno & Zecha Tactics
Mizuno mentioned in his book Perspectives of Shinya Mizuno that he would eventually like to do some design work for settings or robots to be used in a movie or anime. While Zecha Tactics might not be a movie or anime, we are still incredibly excited to be the first video game that attempts to translate Mizuno’s work.
Mizuno’s designs bring an eccentric charm to the world of Zecha Tactics that we couldn’t get from anyone else. The world of mecha has long been defined by some of the greatest pop culture franchises in history, but we aspire for Zecha Tactics to leave its own unique mark in the genre, and we’re thrilled to have Shinya Mizuno as part of our team.
This post drew heavily from Takoyoshi Saito’s interview of Shinya Mizuno published in Perspectives of Shinya Mizuno. We hope to conduct our own interview with Mizuno-san sometime in the near future to discuss his work on Zecha Tactics in more detail.
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Written by Clint, Community Director for Bit Egg Inc.