Discovering the unique charms of the TRANSFORMERS BISHOUJO series!
An Interview with the Product Planner
The first in the new TRANSFORMERS BISHOUJO series, OPTIMUS PRIME, was released in January 2023. Now that pre-orders have started for BUMBLEBEE, the third addition to the series, we decided to sit down with the product planner and talk about what makes the series so special, and where it is expected to go in the future.
Q1. Can you start by telling TRANSFORMERS fans what the BISHOUJO series is all about?
The BISHOUJO series is a product line from Kotobukiya that launched in 2009, with illustrator Shunya Yamashita in charge of all the concept illustrations. So far we have introduced more than 100 different BISHOUJO statues to the world!
This series was launched with the concept of reimagining popular characters from around the world from a Japanese perspective and transforming them into unique “BISHOUJO” style statues.
At that time, it wasn’t as popular in Japan as it is now to enjoy international works as they were released; I’ve heard that fans both in Japan and overseas were surprised by the stylization into a Japanese design.
Q2.So what inspired you to turn THE TRANSFORMERS robots into BISHOUJO characters?
The fact that I, the product planner, like THE TRANSFORMERS is a big influence, but we’ve had a connection with Hasbro since we did the MY LITTLE PONY BISHOUJO series, and Hasbro themselves also suggested it.
△The MY LITTLE PONY BISHOUJO series that served as part of the inspiration for the TRANSFORMERS BISHOUJO seris.
Q3. In the process of turning a robot into a human character, are there any points that you pay special attention to?
The posing and the clothing are the key points we focus on when trying to capture the original character’s essence. We take care to make sure we get this right, because if the original and unique qualities of the character are removed by the BISHOUJO style, then it becomes pointless. On top of that, we try to design the outfit so that it wouldn’t feel out of place if it really existed. We try not to make things too fantasy-like.
When planning, the foundation for the design is the silhouette and color scheme—traits that allow the characters to be identified even when squinting.
(I encourage everyone to try squinting when looking at TRANSFORMERS BISHOUJO characters.)
Q4. It can be very difficult to express a character’s personality and details as a BISHOUJO character; what sorts of techniques do you use to bring that out?
This is a feature of THE TRANSFORMERS itself, but I think it’s cool how AUTOBOTS transform into working vehicles and DECEPTICONS transform into weapons (of course, there are exceptions…). We’ve tried to preserve this concept in the BISHOUJO series.
OPTIMUS PRIME and BUMBLEBEE are dressed in a way that practically announces that they are defenders of justice, heroes, and friendly. They come to the rescue almost in a casual way.
In order to give MEGATRON a tough, military look, we put in several design details characteristic of military uniforms, such as a garrison cap, tie, and epaulets.
Compared to the other two, BUMBLEBEE is younger and smaller, so we made her outfit more youthful. I like the new/retro fashion combination we did–a distinctive and modern hoodie coupled with the loose socks on her cute, rounded feet!
Q5. So now that you’ve completed reimagining OPTIMUS PRIME, MEGATRON, and BUMBLEBEE into BISHOUJO characters, was there any character or points in the process that really stood out for you?
Definitely OPTIMUS PRIME…!
MEGATRON has the image of a soldier and gives off militaristic vibes—a speciality of Yamashita—so the concept came out pretty quickly. But I had a lot of trouble with OPTIMUS PRIME. I think we were able to finalize it thanks to Yamashita providing us with many ideas, plus we incorporated the opinions of TRANSFORMERS fans within the company.
Personally, the most troubling part was trying to recreate the antenna’s feel with the “loose buns and slightly messy hair” concept.
But as a result of that effort, this arrangement is one of my personal favorites! I think it’s a great hairstyle for OPTIMUS PRIME, who has a bit of a careless streak.
Everyone on THE TRANSFORMERS development team also advised me to include a container of some kind in the design, and I think that it makes the character even more like OPTIMUS PRIME.
Q6. What characters from THE TRANSFORMERS series would you like to see as a BISHOUJO statue in the future? Any ideas?
Well, if we’re talking about the first generation, it would be SOUNDWAVE and SHOCKWAVE! If it was from a live-action film, BARRICADE and BLACKOUT are very appealing.
I especially like the animated series, so it would be interesting to create a BISHOUJO with the stylized feeling of that animated series. I’d like to give it a try.
Q7. Finally, could you offer a message to all the fans of THE TRANSFORMERS series?
I expect that many of you may have learned about Kotobukiya’s BISHOUJO series from TRANSFORMERS BISHOUJO.
The BISHOUJO series has enjoyed a long run, and will be celebrating its 15th anniversary next year. Up until now, we’ve put together many collaborations, involving wonderful or what we thought were overlooked properties that aimed to draw renewed attention to them by using BISHOUJO.
I am thrilled and honored that we’ve been able to add THE TRANSFORMERS to this lineup.
We will definitely be announcing new TRANSFORMERS BISHOUJO going forward, so we would be very grateful for your support!
Pre-orders are open for TRANSFORMERS BUMBLEBEE BISHOUJO STATUE!
Pre-orders are now open for BUMBLEBEE, which was mentioned in the interview above!
The order deadline is March 28 (Tue) for retailers in Japan! For those residing outside of Japan, some retailers may open their pre-orders past this deadline.
There is no guarantee she will be available after we’re sold out of initial production, so if you want to make sure you get yours, don’t forget to pre-order before the deadline!
▽ Click here for pre-orders!
TRANSFORMERS BUMBLEBEE BISHOUJO STATUE
And we have great news for fans who want to display OPTIMUS PRIME and MEGATRON together!
OPTIMUS PRIME and MEGATRON statues are available for order and purchase at the Kotobukiya online shop and your local retailer!
Please check our shop list for a full list of local retailers.
TRANSFORMERS OPTIMUS PRIME BISHOUJO STATUE
TRANSFORMERS MEGATRON BISHOUJO STATUE
Both products will be unavailable as soon as pre-orders and sales stock run out. If you’re looking to display the entire series, order now before it’s too late!
▽ Interested in learning more about our BUMBLEBEE statue? Check our blog post with all the details! (Available in Japanese Only)
Were you able to pick up on the charm of and the attention to detail to the TRANSFORMERS BISHOUJO series?
The TRANSFORMERS BISHOUJO series was born from a unique collaboration of the product planner and Kotobukiya’s in-house TRANSFORMERS fans. Shunya Yamashita’s brilliant illustrations have really brought the characters to life!
We plan on continuing to bring you more of the BISHOUJO series, including, of course, TRANSFORMERS BISHOUJO. Be sure to stay tuned for future developments!
TRANSFORMERS and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro and are used with permission.
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