"By directing combat and war pieces, I could experience catharsis and successfully avoid committing a murder in real life. In this sense, I'm really grateful for that because I was conscious that I had such homicidal traits, to be honest."
—Yoshiyuki Tomino, about his "Kill'Em All" reputation.
The Trope Namer for Kill'Em All, Yoshiyuki Tomino began his career in anime as a part of Osamu Tezuka's Mushi Productions, working on the storyboards and screenplay on Tetsuwan Atom (Astro Boy) in 1963. From the 1970s onwards, he was one of the primary members of the Sunrise animation studio, and went on to direct the Super Robot series Yuusha Raideen in 1975, and Zambot 3 in 1977. Two years later, he went on to direct Mobile Suit Gundam, the veritable progenitor of the Real Robot Genre of Humongous Mecha. In the 1980s and 1990s, he went on to direct numerous other mecha series, along with the edited re-release of the first Gundam series, two direct sequels, two movies, and an Alternate Universe TV series for the 20th anniversary of the Gundam franchise.
Tomino is known as one of the first mecha anime directors to break out of the mold of the basic good versus evil characterizations that are especially prevalent in mecha series, and with Gundam and its sequel, established that the protagonists and antagonists are really Not So Different after all. Which is a one of the reasons why he earned the Fan Nickname of the Bald Wizard. The other one is, obviously, that he is bald.
However, Tomino is also known as "Kill'Em All Tomino" for a number of series where much of the main cast gets killed during the Grand Finale. Among these series were Zambot 3, Space Runaway Ideon (where his two expies get killed off), Zeta Gundam, Victory Gundam, Chars Counterattack, and Aura Battler Dunbine. Ideon probably holds one of the highest body counts in anime, and in fact can be considered as a spiritual prequel to Neon Genesis Evangelion in both the themes the series deal with, and also in the structure of its presentation (one TV series, and two movies). Further adding to his Kill'Em All reputation are instances wherein characters were introduced merely to kill them off piecemeal within a few episodes, probably to provide instances of angst for the main character. The instances where this works, and when it doesn't is best left to the judgment of individual viewers.
It is alleged that the worst of his Kill'Em All tendencies were due to bouts with depression. While a number of his series even in the 1980s did have happy endings, it wasn't until the mid-1990s, after V Gundam, that he finally worked through his problems, and consistently avoided killing off entire casts ever since. The recently released compilation movies of Zeta Gundam (that he directed) even have had their plots altered to somewhat reduce the level of bloodshed.
Despite this reputation, Tomino has a habit of following a tragic series with a comedic one, following Zambot 3 with Daitarn 3, Ideon with Xabungle, and Zeta Gundam with ZZ Gundam to name a few. He's also been shown to have Papa Bear traits, as seen when he delivered an epic Reason You Suck Speech to a group of people who disparaged Romi Paku for being Korean.
Love Hurts is also prevalent in Tomino's Gundam series. In at least two instances, the hero has killed or seen his Love Interest killed in battle, and the love interests of supporting characters have been killed in various senseless manners, or if they're lucky, as part of a Heroic Sacrifice. This leads to the thought that being a Gundam pilot isn't the most dangerous occupation in a Tomino series; rather, it's being a Gundam pilot's girlfriend. On the flip side, Characters in a comedy series seem to attract Harems, and get the implied Harem Ending. Notable examples are Jiron Amos who while implied to have picked Elche is left open for the possibility of having Rag too, Gainer Sanga who despite confessing his love to Sara holds a VERY close friendship with Cynthia Lane (Which Sara didn't seem to mind in the end), and Banjou Haran, who has ARTWORK of being flanked on both sides by beautiful women in their sexy underwear (Jetpacks, too, if we count the parting shot of Daitarn 3's first episode. Even Judau Ashta exhibits such charisma, attracting no less than six girls across his series (Elle, Roux, Chara, Haman, and the Purus) - the only way his ending could've been happier is if enough of them survived for him to take the Tenchi Solution.
Urban Legends love to claim that Tomino despises all the Gundam shows he didn't make. Some say that he physically attacks anyone who dares mention Gundam Wing in his presence while others claim that when Gundam SEED's director asked for advice, Tomino responded by handing him a book about Turn A and slamming the door in his face. This mostly seems to be an attempt by old-school fans to frighten off perceived Noobs by telling them "The guy who made Gundam hates your stupid kiddy rip-off!", as these legends sprang into being mostly around the time Wing was first airing in America. In actual verified interviews, Tomino has said that he was unhappy with the Alternate Universe shows at first, but mellowed out when he decided that he should be supporting his fellow directors. Of course, this is reflected in Turn a Gundam, which acknowledges the Alternate Universes as part of its grand history.
As an aside, Tomino occasionally writes lyrics for some of the songs that appear in his shows; when he does, he uses the pseudonym "Rin Iogi".
Anime directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino (in rough chronological order) include:
- Yuusha Raideen
- Zambot 3
- Daitarn 3
- Space Runaway Ideon
- Combat Mecha Xabungle
- Aura Battler Dunbine
- Garzey's Wing
- The Wings of Rean
- Heavy Metal L-Gaim
- Brain Powerd
- Overman King Gainer
- Only not really. Not anymore