Today we’re talking with Nina and Thom of the podcast Mobile Suit Breakdown! It’s a great conversation about podcasting in general, but also about their particular focus.
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[00:00:00] Halfling: Thanks for tuning in to the Halfling and The Spaceman: Journeys in Active Fandom. We're having great conversations with people that have turned their love of fandom into something creative. We're fans talking to fans, and today we're talking with Nina and Thom of the podcast Mobile Suit Breakdown.
[00:00:22] Halfling: Welcome to the show guys.
[00:00:24] MSB Nina: Thank you for having us.
[00:00:26] Halfling: Well, thank y'all for being here. We appreciate it. So let's just go ahead and jump right in. And I wanted to have each of you just tell a little bit about yourselves and what your background is, y'all can fight over who wants to go first?
[00:00:41] MSB Thom: Sure. My name is Thom. I'm, as I say on every episode of the podcast, a longtime Gundam fan. I got into it when I was just a wee child, and I spent a long time outside of fandom. I went to, uh, law school, spent a little while practicing as a lawyer, and then decided I wanted to do something that was more fulfilling and more creative, uh, and more, engaged with the communities that I actually wanted to be engaged with.
[00:01:10] MSB Thom: So I left the law, spent a little while trying to figure out what to do, and then we decided on making this podcast.
[00:01:17] Halfling: Okay. Very good. Nina.
[00:01:21] MSB Nina: I'm Nina. I am the other half of mobile suit breakdown. I was the sort of kid who changed what they wanted to be every couple of weeks. I could never really settle on anything and wound up studying liberal arts in college, east Asian studies specifically. So I've always been interested in Japan, but, uh, and then had some jobs at nonprofits, uh, worked to start my own business, making hand painted clothing. For a little while though, that didn't exactly work out. And then Thom came up with this mobile suit breakdown idea, or I suppose we did sort of together. It didn't start as an idea for a podcast.
[00:02:04] MSB Thom: It started when, I guess this must have been in 2017. I was looking at the next couple of years and realized that Gundam was about to have its 40th anniversary as a franchise. And I said to Nina, Would you be willing to watch this with me? Would you be willing to watch all of it from the beginning in the order it came out?
[00:02:26] MSB Thom: And Nina very sensibly said no. Um, and then after that she said, okay, well maybe, but if we're going to do this huge project, we actually have to do something with it.
[00:02:38] MSB Nina: I think I was thinking about books like Juliie and Julia or people who have kind of made a project out of working through someone else's books, recipes, what have you, and thought, well, maybe we could do something with this. Maybe we could turn it into something.
[00:02:59] MSB Thom: We didn't at the time know that it was going to be a podcast. We just knew we wanted to do something and we went through ideas, like video essays, short videos. We, we didn't really know, and eventually we sort of settled on the podcast by, I don't know, almost process of elimination or maybe we just fell naturally into it.
[00:03:20] Halfling: Yeah, well we sort of have a similar story about our podcast. Because we pretty much the entirety of our marriage, we have done something creative. We have, we've been involved in different creative ventures, and, Yeah, before the pandemic, we Okay. Back up. And spaceman, you can fill in the gaps here.
[00:03:44] Halfling: We were publishing an online magazine called Crimson Streets, and it was a pulp noir short story, online zine. But it went on to hiatus. Before the pandemic, largely due to finance because we were buying all the stories and the art, and that was coming out of our own pockets.
[00:04:05] Spaceman: and
[00:04:05] Spaceman: yeah, I never figured out how to monetize it.
[00:04:08] Halfling: No. And so we kind of said, okay, we need to press piles and figure out how to do this so, so that it doesn't drain us of money. Um, so we sort of talked about. Doing a podcast related to Crimson Streets, and that didn't actually really gel, but then Spaceman had a different idea. Spaceman, I'll let you take it from here.
[00:04:34] Spaceman: Well, I made the realization that, hey, we know lots of different people from the different geeky things we've done, and I think people might be interested in how creators came to create. So that's where we're going with this. So we stumbled into it. why don't you tell our listeners a little bit about your podcast, a little bit more about Gumdam breakdown and how you break the episodes down in particularly.
[00:04:58] MSB Nina: When we were starting it, one of the key things in terms of how we thought about what we wanted each episode to have was why should anybody listen to us? Because we're not famous, we're not experts at anything. Not in a kind of world renowned way. And so what value were we going to add to this beyond just our own thoughts about an episode?
[00:05:24] MSB Nina: What we liked or didn't like and we decided our big strength is that we're extremely curious about everything. Uh, we are the kind of people who, if we think of a question about something, we have to research it. We have to check Google, we have to go on Wikipedia and. Because of our academic background are pretty good at then turning that research into something written that explains it and is fun and interesting.
[00:05:52] MSB Nina: And so for each episode we watch it together. We write a short summary or recap of the episode so that people who aren't necessarily watching along can still listen to and enjoy what we're talking about. Then we do. A unscripted conversation between the two of us. That is things we liked, but we also try to be a bit analytical.
[00:06:18] MSB Nina: Think about the music, think about how it was animated, how it was storyboarded perhaps, or plotted. The kind of themes we see in it.
[00:06:31] MSB Thom: And it's am amazing how much you learn about, I don't know, film criticism. I guess just by doing it, by sitting down and saying, let's talk sort of deeply about what we're seeing and what we're feeling and what we're hearing, and how it all works together. You may start out with very, very little knowledge about this, and then just by doing it over the course of years, you're forced to learn what is a match cut, what you know, stuff like that, and then you get better and better if it edit over time, hopefully, without ever losing that outsider's eye that made it all sort of digestible and understandable in the first place.
[00:07:13] MSB Nina: And then pro. Probably our listener's favorite part of each episode is we will take some question from the episode, something we were curious about, and one or the other of us will research it and write a fuller kind of research segment on it. And that's one episode of Mobile Suit Breakdown, and we started with the first Gundam series from 1979, and we've made it to the nineties.
[00:07:41] MSB Nina: We have made it through the Gundam of the 1980s, and now we are in 96,
[00:07:48] MSB Thom: 92 92.
[00:07:49] MSB Nina: Oh, that's wishful thinking. I.
[00:07:54] Halfling: Well, that doesn't mean you're tired of it though, does it? I hope not.
[00:07:57] MSB Thom: No, but there's just so much.
[00:08:00] Halfling: Oh, yeah, sure.
[00:08:02] MSB Thom: And so we can be, you know, we're enjoying what we're doing, but we're excited for what's still to come.
[00:08:08] Halfling: Absolutely. That's a really cool approach to something. I don't know if anybody has ever taken another series and done anything like that before
[00:08:18] Spaceman: Not, not anything as long as Gundam, I don't think.
[00:08:21] Halfling: Well, no, no, no.
[00:08:23] MSB Nina: We actually, uh, we spoke to a professor who does film analysis and sort of literary analysis of anime and did a presentation at a con. We went to, and he was saying that the kind of thing we are doing, nobody has done it with Gundam because Gundams been around so long. There's just so much of it. It's much easier to do academic projects on shorter series.
[00:08:46] Halfling: Well, that makes sense. That makes sense. But if you continue to enjoy it, then that's, you know, that, that's the main thing
[00:08:54] MSB Thom: Mm-hmm.
[00:08:55] Halfling: so that, that's awesome. Well, I've got a question for both of you. And again, you can fight over who wants to answer first, but what, for each of you, what was your first foray into fandom and your earliest memories of being a fan of something?
[00:09:11] Halfling: And it doesn't have to be Gundam, I mean, you know, people are fans of lots of different things and there's lots of crossover within fandom as well. So, so, whoever wants to pick it up.
[00:09:23] MSB Thom: I think my very first experience with fandom as like a community of fans that I could actually engage in was, 1998. On a, Pokemon bulletin board online. I was, definitely too young to be there, but, you know, I think I. I had some question about the game. I, I was playing through it and I was struggling in some section and so I went online and used whatever the version of Google we were using at the time was, and tried to look up some, some hints or a walkthrough or something and found this, this forum of people just talking about Pokemon.
[00:10:03] MSB Thom: And I had never in my life encountered another person talking about Pokemon. So I was sold immediately. The only computer we had in the house that had access to the internet was my mom's work laptop.
[00:10:18] MSB Thom: And so every day after school for about an hour, I was allowed. If I asked and was very good and did all my chores, I was allowed to go onto the Pokemon bulletin boards.
[00:10:29] Halfling: That's great. And Nina, what about you?
[00:10:31] MSB Nina: For me, it was probably Dungeons and Dragons. I, uh, had, my parents are both huge nerds and they had both played Dungeons and Dragons. And then in high school I made some friends who were interested in the game and we started getting really into it and playing every week and different friends from the friend group would buy different expansion books that we could all share, and then we would lend the books to each other, take them home to read and spend so much time thinking about our characters and our stories.
[00:11:06] MSB Nina: And it was a major part of my friend group in high school and was probably one of my first times. Being really interested in one activity in that way and part of a community around it. Cause I had been that way about fantasy books and science fiction books for a long time, but always in isolation, always by myself.
[00:11:29] Halfling: Well, it it's a great feeling when you find a community. Where you, you know, like, like Thom was saying, you know, it was first experience you had of, there are people out there that are talking about the thing that I really am into. And, and it's, it's a great feeling. Um, when we go to conventions, it's, it's almost like going home because you get there and you're like, these are my people.
[00:11:53] Halfling: These, these are the ones that get me,
[00:11:55] Spaceman: My people, my people.
[00:12:00] MSB Nina: One of my favorite things about making the podcast has been the number of listeners who will join. We have a Discord community for our paid subscribers, and who will join and say, I've never had people to talk about Gundam with before, or, I've tried other Gundam communities and they weren't really a good fit for me, but this Gundam community is just what I wanted.
[00:12:24] MSB Nina: It's a really nice feeling to know that we helped bring that together.
[00:12:28] Halfling: That's great. That's great. Well, that, that's something we're trying to do with our podcast is, is sort of build this community and, and. sort of let people know that there's room in fandom for everybody. And there's no right or wrong to fandom. It's just, you know, you, you like what you like and, and that's great.
[00:12:49] Halfling: We're we're here for it.
[00:12:50] Halfling: So, um, wonderful.
[00:12:53] Spaceman: One of the things we always. Ask people who, are working in partnership is, how did you guys meet?
[00:12:59] MSB Nina: Hilariously we met because of comic books. I was coming home from a party that I had gone to with some mutual friends of ours, and I was talking to them about comics. I was reading, I think it was a Run of X-Men, and we happened to walk past the hallway where Thom was an R.A.. And because he knew the friends I was with, he jumped into our conversation and we both liked each other immediately.
[00:13:24] MSB Nina: We were sort of eyeballing each other, like, oh, he's cute. She's cute.
[00:13:30] MSB Thom: And then we exchanged, uh, or no, you, you, um, you asked a friend for my AOL instant messenger handle.
[00:13:36] MSB Nina: That's correct.
[00:13:37] Spaceman: Ooh,
[00:13:40] Halfling: Not a phone number.
[00:13:41] Spaceman: Not a phone
[00:13:41] Spaceman: number. Somebody's AIM id.
[00:13:45] MSB Thom: I feel like that really dates us to a very specific time period. But yeah, that was, that was how we met.
[00:13:51] Spaceman: Now it, it's okay. Back in, uh, the Halfling and my day, we used to use a telegraph. Um,
[00:13:59] Halfling: Thanks for that. You know, I, I know I'm old, but I'm not quite that old.
[00:14:05] Halfling: You wouldn't
[00:14:05] Spaceman: imagine how difficult it is to sext and morse code.
[00:14:13] Halfling: I cannot believe you just said I can't let you go anywhere.
[00:14:16] Spaceman: You can't.
[00:14:18] Halfling: Oh, Lord. Okay, moving on.
[00:14:23] Spaceman: So how long have you guys been doing the podcast?
[00:14:27] MSB Thom: We started on, I guess we published our first episode on September 1st, 2018, though we had been working on that one single episode for easily six months before that at least, and then planning it out even before that. So, uh, I guess we really started work on it in 2017.
[00:14:47] Halfling: And have you, I'm assuming that you've actually seen your viewers. Or not. Your viewership, your, your listening audience has grown over time, which is I'm sure is, is a great feeling
[00:15:02] MSB Thom: Oh yeah, it, it's, um, it's really satisfying. I mean, when we started it, we really didn't think anyone was going to listen. It was, you know, a, a project that we thought would be really cool if it took off, but neither of us expected that it would. And the
[00:15:16] MSB Nina: plan,
[00:15:17] MSB Nina: The plan was, Sort of to do the project for a year or so and see how it went, and then decide whether we go, whether we were going to keep doing it or not.
[00:15:28] MSB Thom: Then people started listening. Um, you know, I think in the first month we probably got only around 500 downloads, but then it just hasn't kept growing ever since then.
[00:15:39] Halfling: That's great. Uh, that, that's great. We've been doing our podcast since. October. Our, in our October was when we did our first, actually downloaded our first episode. And, uh, we just, yeah, we, we do it because we enjoy talking to people and, uh, we, we just like talking to, like we say at the beginning, fans talking to fans.
[00:16:02] Halfling: Yeah.
[00:16:02] Spaceman: Yeah, we wanna meet every geek in the world and we know we can't do it, but we're gonna darn
[00:16:06] Halfling: fry. try. Uh, and,
[00:16:09] MSB Nina: good goal.
[00:16:10] MSB Thom: Yeah.
[00:16:11] Halfling: know, our motto is everybody's got a story. And, you know, so we, we like to hear, hear stories. We like to hear how people get started and what they're, what they're doing. Um, how they, how they got to where they are.
[00:16:23] Halfling: So, um, you know, it's, it's great., so with that in mind though, what was kind of the process for you guys putting the podcast together? How did you approach, you know, you, you decided, okay, we're gonna, we're gonna do this. How did you decide on your methodology?
[00:16:43] MSB Thom: Partly, it just kind of happened naturally as we were making the podcast. Initially when we started, we didn't think that we would be doing research pieces every week. We thought, eh, maybe once every four or five episodes we'll encounter something interesting enough to justify a research piece.
[00:16:58] MSB Thom: And then in actual fact, every episode was generating like four or five, six ideas. And so we just naturally started doing them every week. And then people told us they love, then people told us they loved them. And so that became a essential part of the podcast. I think initially we were planning to do like four episodes a week, cuz we didn't think there'd be that much to talk about.
[00:17:22] MSB Thom: But then we started talking about the first episode and we talked for two hours. And so we thought, you know, maybe actually we do have a lot to say about these. Yes.
[00:17:31] Spaceman: Having listened to a few of your episodes, you guys do a deep dive on 'em, so yeah,
[00:17:36] MSB Nina: Yeah.
[00:17:36] MSB Thom: Yeah.
[00:17:39] MSB Nina: We also, I remember. Because I hadn't seen the first Gundam series at all, and Thom had, we watched through a few of those first episodes just to kind of see, do we think there's enough to talk about there? And after seeing the first few episodes, I said, oh, definitely we have enough to talk about. And so we started out with some pretty low budget equipment, like a lot of podcasters.
[00:18:05] MSB Nina: We started out with a Blue Yeti desktop mic that was not made for this kind of thing. Uh, you know, throwing blankets over our heads to muffle sound from the rest of the apartment.
[00:18:18] MSB Thom: God, we went through so many iterations of that early no budget recording studio. At one point we were using a gym mat to block sound.
[00:18:27] Halfling: Yeah, we've been there, done that. We, we, we get it. We
[00:18:32] Spaceman: And,
[00:18:32] Spaceman: and we're still in that process ourselves. So we're, we're still figuring out how to use the space we have, which is an odd thing for a spaceman to say, you know, I should know this stuff.
[00:18:44] Halfling: Uh, well eventually we are planning to, actually, I shouldn't say eventually cuz we, we did do our first, uh YouTube. Episode. But, uh, but we're planning on, we're planning on, you know, taking the show literally on the road, to, to YouTube. We're, uh, we're gonna start our sort of sister YouTube channel called Unexpected Journeys, where we go to different places, different conventions or different, businesses, and just sort of record there, talk to people there.
[00:19:17] Halfling: So it, it's gonna be, it is gonna be different from what we do on the podcast, but not so different. There's very similar elements to it, but it's a chance to get away from the office and get out and actually meet other people, you know, face to face in the community. So, uh, so we're, we're excited about that.
[00:19:37] Spaceman: And if we weren't stuck with horrible, horrible DSL here where we live, we might actually do video on our podcast too, but.
[00:19:48] MSB Nina: We attempted to record a video once for promotional purposes when we launched our Patreon page, and we are both so uncomfortable on
[00:19:57] MSB Nina: camera. It was
[00:19:57] MSB Thom: so stiff
[00:19:58] MSB Thom: and
[00:19:58] MSB Nina: so awkward.
[00:20:00] MSB Thom: We decided
[00:20:00] MSB Nina: never again.
[00:20:03] Halfling: Well, that's when you just have to say, you know what? I don't care. And just, you know, just, you just, you just do it and you know, and you, you relax and,
[00:20:12] MSB Thom: hmm.
[00:20:13] Halfling: People are real. I mean, you know, so I, you know, I, I can't, I, I can't be a faker. Some people can, I can't be a faker. I, I know what I look like it, I'm fine with whether you like the way I look or not.
[00:20:29] Halfling: I don't, I don't care. It's just me and I can't, I can't change it. So, you know, like it or lump it,
[00:20:36] Spaceman: Yeah, Halfling, you're short and hobbitish. You can't help it.
[00:20:42] Halfling: Well, okay. Move, move back on, uh, what, what are some of the challenges that y'all have faced in, in starting the podcast and what were some of the things that you did to overcome those challenges?
[00:20:54] MSB Nina: Do you wanna start or do you want me to start?
[00:20:56] MSB Thom: I mean, you should probably start.
[00:21:00] MSB Nina: The biggest challenge is that we really didn't know what we were doing. Neither of us had ever made a podcast before or any kind of professional quality audio recording of any kind. And so from how to talk into a microphone and the best ways to talk into a microphone and things like vocal warmups and editing and post-production.
[00:21:27] MSB Nina: And even promoting it because I had had to do some promotion for previous jobs, but then somebody is guiding you and kind of telling you what you need to say. I'd never had to do it for myself and learning how to do that and the best ways to do that, we kind of just had to learn on the job.
[00:21:47] MSB Thom: We also set ourselves a very ambitious, um, sort of schedule of releases and as we've gotten better at doing stuff, We go deeper on the research pieces. We talk more in our discussions. Everything takes a little bit longer than it used to, and putting out an hour long episode thoroughly researched and heavily edited every week.
[00:22:11] MSB Thom: Turns out that's a lot of work and it's about all that the two of us can keep up with.
[00:22:16] MSB Nina: I think we're at about the point where we should probably have at least part-time help for some aspects of the podcast, but how to even go about finding someone and paying someone and the kind of business process of that, uh, is not something I've had time to tackle yet this year. So,
[00:22:35] MSB Thom: Well, like everything else in making this podcast, we're just gonna have to learn by doing it.
[00:22:39] Halfling: Relatable. I'll just, I'll just use that word relatable. Never sure.
[00:22:43] Spaceman: truer words were
[00:22:44] Halfling: spoken.
[00:22:45] MSB Nina: As one of our cousins would say, I overstand.
[00:22:51] Halfling: I like that. I'll, I'm gonna have to incorporate that into my vocabulary. I overstand. Okay. That's that's great. I like that. I appreciate that. Well now, okay. I think I was under a mistaken impression because I thought that you actually had some people working with you. Maybe because I looked at your website and
[00:23:13] MSB Thom: We have a number of guest consultants who come on sometimes to share their expertise about different topics, um, cuz of our. Because of our lives, we've gotten to meet a lot of interesting people with different specialized skill sets. And uh, if you ask somebody pointblank, Hey, will you come on my podcast and talk about the thing that you are really into?
[00:23:33] MSB Thom: It turns out a lot of them want to come on your podcast and talk about the thing that they're really into. I think you guys might know about that.
[00:23:39] MSB Nina: that.
[00:23:40] Halfling: Just a little.
[00:23:41] Spaceman: little.
[00:23:43] MSB Thom: So we have a physicist, we have a neuroscientist, um, we have a, a stage combat choreographer. Um, we've had voice actors and child psychologists and other people like that to come onto the show. But in terms of the nuts and bolts of putting it together, it's really just the two of us.
[00:24:04] Halfling: Okay. Okay. Well, I, like I said, I, I, you know, I, I looked at the website and I saw, I saw, you know, these different people listed, and
[00:24:13] Halfling: so I was curious and started looking looking at them individually, and I was like, wow, they have really got, an impressive group together here. Um, which, which is great.
[00:24:23] Halfling: I mean, even if they're not. You know, part of the actual crew or whatever, and they just come as, as consultants or whatever. That's still great that you're able to, to bring those, people together to, you know, to sort of, add to your analysis, That's great. I, I'm kind of curious though, you mentioned child psychologist, what does the child psychologist add to your analysis?
[00:24:48] MSB Thom: Well, there's a surprising number of children in Gundam, um, often being made to pilot the giant robots. So there was one character in Zeta Gundam, the second series from, uh, 1985, and, This one actually the main character Camille. There's some debate about his psychology, his personality, whether he's neurodivergent.
[00:25:10] MSB Thom: There's like a lot of different, theories about this kid and it being Gundam and Gundam from this era. Nothing is ever made particularly explicit, so. We have a, a neuroscientist who had some theories about him. I had some theories about him. And then we got an email from a listener who's like, I'm a child psychologist.
[00:25:27] MSB Thom: I have some theories about Camille's development that are different from yours, and I'd like to talk about them. And we said, well, that sounds great. You are an expert on this subject. We'd love to hear what you have to say. Uh, and so we invited him onto the podcast to talk about those theories.
[00:25:41] Halfling: Wow. That's that's wonderful.
[00:25:45] MSB Nina: Uh, especially earlier on, and it kind of shifts throughout gun dam's history, whether it's being aimed more at younger kids or teens or adults. But in the shows aimed at kids, the protagonists are often high school aged, and so they're effectively child soldiers. And so getting that child psychology perspective on the trauma they experience and what they go through can add a lot to how we think of those characters.
[00:26:16] Halfling: Yeah, I certainly get that because you see that in other anime as well. Not, not just Gundam, but, but there, there's definitely, you know, other anime where, where children are very heavily, Focused on, I guess, and, and go through some, you know, some instances, some very traumatic things.
[00:26:35] Halfling: And, you know, other times the stories are uplifting and, you know, I mean, it's anime, so it, it runs a gamut. It's, it's, you know, it covers a lot of territory.
[00:26:45] Spaceman: Yes, yes. Everything. From Grave of the Fireflies on. Oh my gosh. I don't think Gundam has ever been that depressing.
[00:26:57] MSB Nina: Uh,
[00:27:00] Halfling: I
[00:27:01] Spaceman: corrected. Mm-hmm.
[00:27:05] Halfling: Well, do either of you have a favorite show or movie that you've talked about on your podcast? Or is there any particular part of a series that you've talked about that's your favorite?
[00:27:20] MSB Nina: So there are two things for me that we watched because of the podcast, because we realized there was some connection to Gundam. And we wanted to figure out what it was. And one was a movie called The Cactus Flower, which was an American romantic comedy movie, I wanna say from the sixties or early seventies that turned out to be very funny.
[00:27:46] MSB Nina: Uh, and was an inspiration for one of the characters, or a partial inspiration for a character in a series we were covering.
[00:27:53] MSB Thom: There was this scene in the episode of this character who had been the focus in the episode. This woman is, for some reason spending a lot of attention trimming and and caring for a cactus that she has in her. Or cabin in the spaceship and it had not really shown up before. It was just introduced and it got a weird amount of focus.
[00:28:14] MSB Thom: And this is the exactly the kind of thing that sparks our curiosity cuz we say, why did they do that?
[00:28:20] MSB Nina: Why is
[00:28:21] MSB Thom: This cactus
[00:28:21] MSB Nina: so important?
[00:28:22] MSB Thom: We assumed there had to be some reason people don't do things for no reason. And so we started asking ourselves like, what is the significance of this flower? What about these lines that sound a little bit weird, that have been said about it?
[00:28:36] MSB Thom: And eventually it led us to this, uh, this western movie. I think Goldie Hawn is in it. And, um,
[00:28:43] MSB Nina: There's quite a few famous people in it. I don't remember off the top of my head, but it was a good cast.
[00:28:48] MSB Thom: And one of the characters in that movie has some like resemblance to the character in the show in terms of what they're going through, the emotions they're feeling. Uh, and so by comparing the movie to the show, we felt like we were able to draw some more meaning out of the, the show.
[00:29:07] MSB Nina: And the other thing that we watched for our analysis of Gundam that I really love is called Kaiketsu Zubat. Which is a 1970s Japanese tokusatsu, or, special effects show. So you have a costumed hero who fights the baddies and they always have all kinds of cool fight tricks and wire stuff and explosions and great costumes, and pretty low budget because it is from the seventies and the quality of the effects is lower, but it is so funny. And we never would've watched it if we didn't realize that Kaiketsu Zubat was a model for a character in an, in an SD Gundam Short. An SD Gundam is sort of an offshoot series where they do chibi versions of various Gundam robots and characters. So they're all squashed and all made to look really cute. And they're generally comedies and, One of those characters was based on this seventies action adventure series.
[00:30:16] Halfling: That sounds like a lot of fun. I just realized I'm not wearing the appropriate shirt for this episode. I have a shirt that, um, friend of ours, who is an artist, did the design for, and on the front it's got the characters from Roger, help me out here.
[00:30:35] Spaceman: Space Battleship Yamato.
[00:30:37] Halfling: you Yes,
[00:30:38] MSB Nina: Oh,
[00:30:39] Halfling: I, I blanked on, on it, but they're, that design,
[00:30:42] Halfling: they're on the front, Chibi design, they're on the, you know, on the
[00:30:47] Spaceman: front of
[00:30:47] Halfling: shirt. It's got just fire, the damn wave motion gun. And then on the back, It's got them saying,
[00:30:57] Spaceman: well, it's got
[00:30:58] Halfling: the
[00:30:58] Halfling: captain.
[00:30:58] Halfling: Yeah. It, it says, well, what do we do with the rest of the episode? I should have worn that shirt. I should have worn that shirt. But it's, it is a fun, it's a fun shirt. Uh, but for some reason that kind of reminded me a little bit of that.
[00:31:14] MSB Nina: Well, and Thom, did you have any other shows or episodes of Gundam or Parts of Gundam, or
[00:31:21] MSB Thom: I don't think my answer would be nearly as interesting as yours. Oh,
[00:31:23] MSB Nina: okay,
[00:31:23] MSB Thom: okay. Fine.
[00:31:25] MSB Nina: Is it just a favorite episode of Gundam, or a favorite movie or something?
[00:31:29] MSB Thom: I mean, I could have done that.
[00:31:31] Halfling: Well, it's not too late.
[00:31:35] MSB Thom: I'm not in any hurry.
[00:31:36] MSB Thom: I mean, I'll say, um,
[00:31:38] MSB Thom: Making the podcast really changes the way I relate to episodes of the show, and so often what end up being my favorite are the ones where I thought, yeah, we made a really good episode, or we, we really like, got something interesting to talk to, to talk about out of that. Not necessarily the episodes that I enjoyed the most watching cuz sometimes you watch a really good episode and you just don't have much to say about it except Wow.
[00:32:06] MSB Thom: And sometimes you watch an episode that you do not care for and you can have so much to say about it. But I think probably my, my favorite work that we've done was, season four when we watched Char's Counter Attack, which is like, It's a, it's a movie. It's about two hours long. It feels like it's three hours long because of how much stuff is crammed into it, but, We watched that movie like 20 times.
[00:32:35] MSB Thom: We did an entire season on
[00:32:36] MSB Thom: it. I, I think we made like eight or nine episodes about it. Yeah. All of them long. Um, we, we talked it to death and I would not wanna watch that movie again. Now I am, I'm sick to death of it, but I think we made a really great season of the podcast.
[00:32:53] Halfling: Interesting. But we might have to check it out. Um, I mean, something
[00:32:58] MSB Thom: I also think that the next season after that is really good too. So you know, don't stop there.
[00:33:04] Spaceman: Now kind of tangentially related to all this, do you guys have any favorite non-Gundam anime.
[00:33:12] MSB Nina: Oh
[00:33:12] MSB Thom: yes,
[00:33:12] MSB Nina: absolutely. Definitely. Definitely.
[00:33:16] MSB Nina: Uh, hard to choose because there've been so many good ones over time. I really loved Revolutionary Girl Utna, which a college friend got us to watch with him our senior year. I think that's a classic I love to Tatami Galaxy and other series based on books by that same author, cuz it's based off of a novel and the other things based off of it are like eccentric family. Which was from just a few years ago, and the movie The Night is Short Walk on Girl, which I really, really enjoyed. I've liked some horror things like Future Diary and Corpse Princess.
[00:34:03] Spaceman: What about you, Thom? Thom?
[00:34:06] MSB Thom: I, I'm a die hard for The Vision of Escaflowne. Which is a like a, yeah, I see that fist pump.
[00:34:14] Halfling: Yep. Yep.
[00:34:15] MSB Thom: It's fantasy mecha. It's, uh, giant suits of armor powered by mysterious energies out of the crystal in hearts of Dragons. And, uh, it's, it's great. It's 26 episodes. It's from the mid nineties. It's like peak nineties anime in terms of the animation and in terms of the character designs and the length and pointiness of their noses.
[00:34:37] MSB Thom: But I, I love it. And, uh, it was, it was the thing that made me an anime fan instead of just a person who would watch anime if it was in front of me.
[00:34:49] Spaceman: So Halfling, what's your favorite anime?
[00:34:51] Halfling: Oh, wow. Uh, putting me on the spot. Uh, I, I mean, we've watched so much over the years. Uh, I always go back to, you know, some of the softer animes, like Kiki's delivery service or, you know, whisper of the heart. I mean, I love those. But then, but then I think about, you know, full metal alchemist and, you know, so it's, it's, it's hard to say one, one favorite.
[00:35:18] Halfling: What about you?
[00:35:20] Spaceman: Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure. So,
[00:35:23] MSB Nina: I have never heard of
[00:35:24] Spaceman: oh
[00:35:25] Halfling: man.
[00:35:25] Halfling: Oh, it's great. It's great.
[00:35:27] Spaceman: Have
[00:35:27] Spaceman: you heard of Tenchi Muyo!?
[00:35:28] MSB Nina: Yeah.
[00:35:29] Spaceman: It's by the same people that did Tenchi. It was a Pioneer release. A young boy gets well, teenage boy gets sucked into an alternate dimension where there is a war going on where they have to use mecha and only females can compile the mecha.
[00:35:43] Spaceman: But somehow he is the only male that can pilot a mecha. It's a great, it's got great music. It's a lot of fun.
[00:35:51] Halfling: Yeah. He goes back and forth between the two dimensions, which you know, can be a little bit jarring. You, you have to sort of follow. You know, when that transition happens, um, before you know it, take a second to say, oh yeah, now he's here again. Yeah. But it's, yeah. Yeah. Uh, he's, he is right.
[00:36:13] Halfling: It's a, it's a great, it's a great series.
[00:36:15] Spaceman: One minute you're battling, uh, the enemy aliens, and the next minute you're back in your middle school class.
[00:36:24] Halfling: Huh.
[00:36:24] Halfling: Well,
[00:36:25] MSB Thom: that out.
[00:36:27] Halfling: yeah. Yeah. That we, we would definitely recommend that. So here's a random kind of question, but what is the, what would you say is either the craziest or the weirdest? Series, uh, that you have, you know, that you've reviewed and, and discussed on your podcast, what would you say is the weirdest or the strangest?
[00:36:49] MSB Nina: My problem is I have the kind of brain where as soon as we're done with an episode, I forget everything we talked about and I move on to the next thing. But, , Weirdest and craziest probably both in terms of us deciding to tackle it and in terms of the content itself. But there are some Gundam SD shorts that have never officially been translated into English.
[00:37:12] MSB Nina: And we watched them and we translated them ourselves, and so we did a regular episode about them, but we also undertook to transcribe and translate. These episodes and then to post those translations for our listeners so they could follow along, as long as they could get access to the video. And because they're sds, they tend to be madcap and strange, including one that was basically a ripoff of a Hanna-Barbera cartoon, which is part of why it's never been officially translated, because it definitely breaks a bunch of laws.
[00:37:49] MSB Thom: I would also say sd, um, these shorts were not, Made to have any kind of longevity. They were made by a small team with it seems like very little oversight. They were just kind of riffing and making jokes. None of them really had any experience making this kind of show. And so it's a bit rough in places and it has just crammed full of hyper-specific references to Japanese pop culture of that era.
[00:38:21] MSB Thom: As well as, like Nina was saying, references to Hanna-Barbera and other stuff. There's one that's such a clear ripoff of Hanna-Barbera that it had to be pulled completely and is never released even in Japan. But there's half a dozen of them that are just like Scooby Doo! With the serial numbers filed off or Laugh Olympics and stuff like that.
[00:38:46] MSB Thom: Um, but, but then redone with Gundam characters for some reason.
[00:38:52] Spaceman: All right. We're gonna shift gears a little bit away from fandom. We're gonna talk a little bit about podcasting. So do you have any advice for people starting out podcasting or who might be interested in it?
[00:39:05] MSB Thom: Start right away and don't commit yourself to a year's long project with a weekly release schedule. Because you really need to start doing it to know what's involved, and you need to start doing it to learn how to do it. You can read a million tutorials, but they will never actually teach you how to do it.
[00:39:26] MSB Thom: So just start, start making a podcast right now and it doesn't have to be good. It's okay for things to be bad.
[00:39:34] MSB Nina: Related to that, I always come back to this anecdote I heard about. An experiment where they had two groups of pottery students. One group was going to get their final grade based off of a single piece of pottery they produced, and people in that group tended to spend the whole semester obsessing over one piece of pottery, and the other group was going to be graded based off of volume by weight of pottery that they made over the course of the semester.
[00:40:03] MSB Nina: And they just made tons of pottery. And in general, the people who made a lot wound up producing better pots by the end of the semester than the people who obsessed. I feel like to learn a thing, you just kind of have to start doing it, and not be too obsessive because then you'll never get there. Related to Thom's comment, although, sort of a tangent on it. Once you set a release schedule, whether it's weekly or biweekly, or monthly, stick to it because we've found that the reliability of our release schedule is a big part of what keeps people listening and keeps people engaged. And after a few years of being extremely reliable, now we can take occasional breaks or we can say, oh, the episode is going to be a couple days late because it's an extra long one, and people are willing to trust us and cut us some slack.
[00:41:03] MSB Nina: But if you look at the statistics, most podcasts release two episodes or something before they disappear forever. A lot of people start podcasts and then peter out really quickly. And people sort of expect that when you're new. And so you generate an audience and you generate trust by being really dependable about that. And my only other advice would be the same thing that we thought of when we started, which is assuming that it's not just a for funsies project and you don't care if anyone listens, why should people listen to you like you should know? Really, you should have it really well articulated before you begin, like what your unique perspective or your angle or what you are adding to the thing is, because that's gonna help guide how you find listeners and also what you put into your product and what, what you put your energy towards.
[00:42:04] MSB Thom: Imagine if somebody asking you, what is your podcast and why should I listen to it? And you have to have a response to that. This is not just an abstract question. People will ask you that the moment you have a podcast and mention it, people are going to ask you that exact question. And if you sit there going, ah, well, it's like, it's like me and my friends, there's three of us and we're all really funny and we just talk about the news. Uh, that's not gonna be compelling.
[00:42:33] Spaceman: We actually have kind of a problem in that area because, when we were forming up our podcast, we knew what we wanted to do, but it was hard to articulate it. So the best thing we could come up with was Journeys In Active fandom. And we've had multiple people say, well, I think your podcast would be a great fit for what I'm doing, but I'm not involved in fandom.
[00:42:57] Spaceman: No, no, no, no. This is about people who are, who are creating things, who are doing things and uh, you know, I Halfling in the Spaceman, the podcast where we talk to people who do things and they'll just sit on their butt. It's not really a great title for a podcast.
[00:43:13] Halfling: Yeah, some, sometimes it's hard to really find the right words to articulate. I mean, you know what you mean. And, you know, but sometimes it's hard to make others get it and, I would just say too, being, being a podcaster that it's always gonna be a work in progress. Um, you just, you just always keep, working, just trying to keep, you know, keep the content fresh and try different approaches but we're just having fun with it.
[00:43:41] Halfling: We're, you know, we, we're not, we're not super set on, you know, oh, we gotta get this X amount of listeners or whatever. We're just. We love having conversations with people like y'all and
[00:43:52] Spaceman: Yeah, we're nerds meeting nerds, so we're
[00:43:54] Halfling: happy.
[00:43:55] Halfling: Yeah, I mean, you know, we talked to a guy from Australia last night who makes model paints.
[00:44:00] Halfling: Uh, he's, he's got his own company, he made model paints. Uh, so, which was cool. Which was really cool. And we, you know, so we meet. We meet very interesting people
[00:44:10] Spaceman: From all over
[00:44:11] Spaceman: the
[00:44:11] Spaceman: world. Yeah.
[00:44:12] Halfling: things. So it's, it's really cool and that's why we're excited to have you guys on the show. Cause it's, uh, you know, it's another aspect of fandom and you guys are creating great content.
[00:44:23] Halfling: Um, so, you know, again, we're, we're glad to have y'all. So I, is there any additional advice that you would have other than just, just like Thom said, start it. Just do it. Just do it.
[00:44:38] MSB Thom: Well, one thing that has really helped us early on in our early on when we had first started making the podcast another much more famous podcaster who I happened to follow on Twitter, made a comment that has stuck with me ever since, which is podcast listener growth is glacial. It's really slow. Any way you look at it as mediums go.
[00:45:03] MSB Thom: You're not gonna have a huge audience right away. You might never have a huge audience, so don't be disheartened if it seems to be growing slowly. That's normal and natural.
[00:45:14] MSB Nina: And the, the add-on to that being that once you find your people, once you find your community, your little section of the fandom, If you make a great podcast, people will be really devoted. I have been so touched by how involved people are that we've had paid subscribers who've been with us for years, or people who have to leave for whatever reason, but then come back.
[00:45:40] MSB Nina: People who've sent us gifts or fan art. Uh, just have to find your people wherever they are and. They will support your project.
[00:45:56] Halfling: Oh, I think that's great advice. And like I said, it's always a work in progress, so we, we will, we will continue working on it as well. Um, but changing gears a little bit, do you guys have, um, ideas for upcoming episodes? I'm sure, I'm sure you guys already know what's coming up. Um,
[00:46:14] Spaceman: Like any special episodes. Hmm.
[00:46:18] MSB Thom: Hmm. Well, we, um, The way we do the podcast, I know what's coming, but Nina is fresh to all of it. So she sees an episode for the very first time right before we talk about it, um, to give her that outsider first timer perspective. So I have some ideas, but I can't really share them. Without giving too much away though, in terms of like special episodes, one thing that we really want to do is at some point when we can take a break from the regular grind of watch an episode, talk about the episode every week.
[00:46:56] MSB Thom: Is to go back and look at some prior research pieces where we've learned new things since, uh, making those pieces. Or we feel like there's something that could be improved or we find out we made a mistake and to, to sort of go back and do, like checking in. Uh, yeah,
[00:47:16] Halfling: Sure.
[00:47:17] MSB Thom: I don't know when we'll be able to do that, but it seems like it would be a, a good idea to, to keep us honest.
[00:47:23] MSB Nina: One thing I do know about in general is I'll know how many episodes the show that we're on has and whether or not there's a compilation movie and things like that. And I know for the current run that we're on for our current season, there are some motion comics, I think is the the correct term for them coming up that we will probably cover that are not part of the main series.
[00:47:49] MSB Nina: They were created separately. And that's something that a lot of our listeners won't have ever seen or heard about before, so I'm really excited to talk about that.
[00:48:00] Spaceman: Off the wall question, if you could only pick one anime that you've seen, anything. Only one to convince somebody who doesn't like anime. To come over and like anime, what would it be?
[00:48:16] Halfling: That's
[00:48:17] MSB Nina: Ooh.
[00:48:17] Halfling: question.
[00:48:18] MSB Thom: That's a really hard question.
[00:48:20] MSB Nina: I would have to tailor it to the person because it would depend on what they like and what they think they don't like about anime. Because I approach anime the way I think about manga and comics as well, and that's like I. People get an idea in their head of what it is, but actually whatever you are interested in, there is probably a manga or an anime about it.
[00:48:43] MSB Nina: About cooking or about farming or about Japanese calligraphy. One of my favorites, uh, or sports. Any sport or fighting or whatever problem people think they have, it's usually cuz what they've been exposed to is not the genres they like or the style they like. And I think once you know what somebody's into, you can kind of direct them towards things that they're more likely to enjoy.
[00:49:12] Halfling: Yeah, that's, that's fair. That, that's definitely fair because. Because it's, it is so broad, like you said, there's, there's something for everybody. You just have to find out what that person's thing is. So that, that's fair.
[00:49:26] Spaceman: What about you, Thom?
[00:49:28] MSB Thom: It's tricky because. You wanna give them something that feels at least a little bit relatable to somebody who hasn't watched a lot of anime, but you don't wanna pick something that is so different from the rest of anime that they'll be disappointed the next time they try to watch anything. Nina mentioned The Night is Short Walk on Girl Earlier.
[00:49:48] MSB Thom: It's beautiful movie. It's gorgeously animated. It's really fun. I think it's really accessible to people who are not already into anime, but. There isn't very much other anime that looks like that, moves like that, feels like that. So it's not a great choice for that kind of introduction. I might pick The Castle of Cagliostro, um, which is, it's not a Studio Ghibli movie, but it is by Miyazaki.
[00:50:16] MSB Thom: It's like fun and raucous and energetic. It's a Lupin, Lupin III movie. And it's just, it's just really good. And I think even if you're coming in from the attitude of like, oh, I don't like anime, you will see in it the things that you like in Western animation. And if you come with a more open mindset, you'll see a lot of stuff that, you will find in other anime
[00:50:38] Spaceman: I got, I got two things I want to add to that. Number number one is Lupin the third.
[00:50:45] MSB Nina: Luon.
[00:50:46] MSB Thom: luon, luon the
[00:50:47] Spaceman: Yes, exactly. And the, and the other thing is, is that really The Castle Cagliostro is just a screwball comedy. So if you like screwball comedies, it, it's your movie.
[00:50:58] MSB Thom: Yeah. Now I need to go watch that. I know. I know what I'm doing tonight.
[00:51:02] Halfling: You
[00:51:03] Spaceman: tell we've watched our share of Lupin.
[00:51:04] Halfling: Yeah.
[00:51:06] Spaceman: We're gonna start wrapping up. So can you please tell our listeners where they can find your podcast?
[00:51:12] MSB Thom: You can find us at gundampodcast.com. You can also find us on Twitter slash @gundampodcast, uh, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
[00:51:26] Spaceman: All right.
[00:51:26] MSB Nina: And the podcast is called Mobile Suit Breakdown. It's available pretty much anywhere you listen to podcasts. So Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play,
[00:51:38] MSB Thom: Amazon, Spotify overdrive. Overcast.
[00:51:45] Spaceman: All right, we'll get all that in the show notes.
[00:51:48] Halfling: Uh, well, we really appreciate you guys taking the time to talk with us today. We, we've had a, a great time talking with y'all and getting to know you a little bit and hear a little bit about your journey. And we of course wish you continued success on your podcast.
[00:52:03] MSB Thom: Thank you and thank you for having us on. It's been a blast.
[00:52:06] Spaceman: And we would like to thank our listeners for tuning in today, and we hope that you've enjoyed and perhaps become inspired by today's guest, Nina and Thom of Mobile Suit Breakdown. Thank you so much for taking time to talk with us and this is the Spaceman over and out.
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