In 1971, four talented friends sharing a common interest in science fiction went by the name "SF Central Art". They were Naoyuki Katoh
, Kenichi Matsuzaki
, Kazutaka Miyatake
, and Haruka Takachiho. Such innumerable groupings found across Japan are often called clubs, fan circles, or dojinkai. Some are industrious and turn their passion into profit and some achieve minor fame, although the vast majority are extremely transitory, trivial, and lost in the undocumented spool of time.
This one would fare well.
The group incorporated in 1972 as Crystal Art Studio, and began a rich career creating scifi cover art novels and manga, technical illustration, and general odd jobs and consulting in the industry. The group's first job in animation was handling mechanical design for Zero Tester, where they were credited under the name "Jean Desdoigts".
By 1974, the group was successful enough to re-organize as Studio Nue, and bring on new talent. Over time, Nue would grow to include Fujihiko Hosono, Yasushi Ishizu, Shoji Kawamori
, Shigeru Morita, Meri Mizuhara, and Michiaki Satou
. One of their first important animation collaborations was with Leiji Matsumoto
, doing artwork cleanup for Space Cruiser Yamato, and formally involved in the mechanical design process in Captain Harlock.
Nue has an important place in the world of Super Robot design, involved in Gingaizer, Raideen, Combattler V, Voltes V, and more substantially in Daimos, although the studio wasn't considered highly successful until the design boom following Mobile Suit Gundam, when Nue (and myriad other small houses) found themselves flooded with work. On the topic of Gundam, although Kunio Ohkawara got the lion's share of mechanical design work, Nue was involved with the Gundam universe's technical setting, and created the fictional physics behind Minovsky Particles.
Studio Nue became a real industry name when they handled the mechanical design work and other miscellaneous production duties for Macross. Their resume would grow to include Orguss, Dunbine, Cyber Formula, and Escaflowne. A noteworthy project was Sunrise's 1988 envisioning of Starship Troopers, where Nue created the ubiquitous and somewhat famous creation known simply as the "Powered Suit". The design, even in mass-produced toy form, is still known simply as the "Studio Nue Powered Suit".
A final comment about the studio's mascot, the nue. A chimera from Japanese mythology, the stylized, comical nue, often found on in-house paraphernalia, is an amalgamation of the four founding member's personal mascots: Katoh's vampire bat, Matsuzaki's cockroach, Miyatake's tanuki, and Takachiho's snake. The nue occassionally shows up as an Easter egg in their work.
To view the full scope of Studio Nue's design work, see not only these characters generically attributed to Studio Nue, but also the work of the individual members listed above.