Studio TRIGGER Live Drawing and Q&A panel – Anime Expo 2022

Things were a little different this year for Trigger‘s live drawing panel. Shigeto Koyama, Yoh Yoshinariand Hiromi Wakabayashi still brought their usual off-the-cuff energy and untucked energy, but the crowd was less…intense. In years past, a Trigger panel meant full ballroom seating, Trigger bucks tossed to the crowd (discontinued this year thanks to weakened yen, according to Wakabayashi), and cheering from the crowd. We might still see that tomorrow at the 10th anniversary panel, but the live drawing felt dimmer than previous iterations.

Both Yoshinari and Koyama drew on iPads while on Wakabayashi handled most of the questions, sometimes on behalf of his colleagues. The panel immediately opened to audience questions which ranged from design inquiries to pitching extremely specific anime ideas. Regardless of the question, the staff handled everything with aplomb. The Trigger team could best be described as the antithesis of stuffy, which lends towards their popularity with audiences outside of their ingenious body of work. It always feels like the crew are being “real” with the audience.

This might be best represented by the first question of the panel where one attendee asked about the possibility reissuing a specific Little Witch Academia mug that was for sale about a decade ago. Wakabayashi responded that he wasn’t honestly sure what mug it was, but that he’s “pretty positive there’s a dirty used one on my table at home. If you’re comfortable with that one, we can give it to you if you come by Just give me about a week’s notice.” Another attendee followed up with an extremely specific anime concept involving mystical martial artists who transform into armored suits in the ancient past.

Wakabayashi responded that he’s “relay it to the boys.”

“So you want Trigger to do an ancient kung-fu anime? We will relay your passion to [Hiroyuki] Imaishi. You have to promise you won’t sue us for using your idea,” he quipped.

Another one of the more off the wall moments included filming a fan declaring their love to Sushio. The character designer wasn’t able to attend the panel because he was at an idol concert.

“We would like to make sure you know that it’s not that he values ​​idols over the fans but this idol is HIS idol,” Wakabayashi said. While there were plenty of fun interactive moments, the studio staff also got into some of the nitty gritty of their previous series, even before Trigger was officially Trigger. There’s still Gurren Lagann questions to be had, of course.

The mecha designs for Gurren Lagann are awesome but I’m a little confused what went into creating the designs and who was responsible for which robot.

Wakabayashi: The main designer was Yoshinari, but he’s also an animator so whatever he couldn’t get to in the schedule was done by Koyama. So for example, King Kittan, the base was done by Yoshinari but the finishing touches were done by Koyama. Lazengann was also Yoshinari.

When you begin designing mechawhere do you start and why?

Wakabayashi: Koyama starts with the silhouette of the mech and figures out the volume of the mech first. Yoshinari usually works with Imaishi a lot so he relies on Imaishi’s initial idea which will be something like this!

Yoshinari: No joke, this is what I get and I ponder for weeks, possibly more, to figure how to make this into a mech. It’s like a Rorschach test. It’s uncomfortable because it feels like he’s stripping me naked to my psychological stage.

Q: For Yoshinari– what is your preferred medium and products for drawing?

Yoshinari: I prefer pencil. It doesn’t feel like drawing when it’s digital. I need the physical feedback.

Q: Who piloted Gurren Lagann before Simon and Kamina?

Wakabayashi: I don’t think we have an approved response to that. You should ask Mr. [Kazuki] Nakashima. have you seen [Gurren Lagann] Parallel Works? If you’ve seen it it gives you the gist of it.

In the drive-in movie theater sequence [of Little Witch Academia episode 8]how did you get the idea to change the animation style to that “rubber hose” look?

Wakabayashi: That’s just simply because Yoshinari loves classic animation.

How does designing and animating anthropomorphic animals in BNA compare to humans?

Yoshinari: In Japan, what’s popular is slapping on the ears and tails and calling it a day, but for Western cartoons anthropomorphic characters tend to be more biased to the animal personality and I was looking for a good balance between the two. I didn’t want to just do ears and tails, I wanted to find a good balance.

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The three Trigger mascots are the Trigger Girls, Miss Trigger, Muzzle, and Spring. At the end of Space Patrol Lulucowe see her become Miss Trigger. It seems like Lucia Fex [from Promare] is based on Spring. When will Muzzle appear in an anime?

Wakabayashi: Currently at the studio, we have several head directors, Yoshinari, Imaishi, and [Akira] Amemiya. Yoshinari isn’t that interested per say but Imaishi and Amemiya both are debating who gets to direct the anime that will feature Muzzle. Amemiya is saying, “You got your chance, what about me?” In the instance when we maybe make Space Patrol Luluco 2we’re figuring how we’re going to make all the alternate timelines make sense.

Any chance we get an Inferno Cop Season 2?

Wakabayashi: Jokes aside, we have to start by finding a different actor for Inferno Cop. [Note: Inferno Cop voice actor Junichi Goto passed away in a motorcycle accident in 2020] There was a series of unfortunate events with Inferno Cop. We were planning to make a season 2 but it needs to start with the staffing from this point. We’ve said this in our past panels but season two should be directed by Yoshinari. It’s probably going to be a very highly detailed Inferno Cop sliding across the scene.

How did you get all those Star Wars references into “The Twins'” 20 minute runtime?

Wakabayashi We visit overseas a lot. There’s no hiding that we like Star Wars and if we got the opportunity [to work on it], we’d take it. A few years ago this one studio that we were working with, Lucas Film, approached us and asked if we were interested in doing an episode or two for Visions. We divvied up a lot of our creative staff within the studio to create a pitch book and the one that was accepted was “The Twins” and “The Elder.” We were very honored to have this opportunity.

How would you write your own Star Wars trilogy?

Wakabayashi: I’m a big Star Wars fan. Another pitch we had centered on Wookies. We wanted to do an episode about a Wookie girl. Don’t steal our idea, okay? It’d be about a teenage girl Wookie. Like an adventure story. We don’t know if it’d be enough for a Trilogy but it was one of the ideas I wanted to do.

Will there be a third anime entry in the Gridman Universe series?

Wakabayashi: We might just have a surprise for you tomorrow. When it comes to other tokusatsu series, obviously if they were in the works we couldn’t tell you, but director Amemiya is good at adapting his childhood favs into anime. There are a lot of talks about what we wish we can do, but hopefully in the future.

Wakabayashi also explained that their Gridman short created for Hideaki Anno‘s Animator Expo was an homage to the original series and is separate from the later SSSS.Gridman anime series.

What was the inspiration for Sucy and Jasminka Antonenko’s personalities?

Yoshinari: Sucy and Jasminka are basically what I like. Sucy has shark teeth and slanted eyes, it represnts her her kind of malicious and mysterious personality her. She’s kind of a snot and snotty characters are what I like. The reason I made her like that is because, if we put it in DnD terms, Akko is chaotic good. When there’s a character that’s chaotic and good in nature, a lot of viewers are going to have critical comments and I think that’s represented as Sucy. She’s kind of the criticisms of viewers watching Little Witch Academia.

Jasminka, I like her +1 size design. I like her her thickness her.

Wakabayashi: What we do pay close attention to is that the character’s personality is visually represented in their design. We want our characters to stand out from the 100s of anime that come out.

Yoshinari: What I’ve seen in a lot of anime is that everyone tries to make everyone perfect, but if you’re always trying to make everyone as beautiful as possible, they all start to look the same.

Most influential classic anime among yourselves?

Wakabayashi: Gunbuster and FLCL.

Koyama: The first Gundam.

Yoshinari: Tomino-directed anime from the 80s. I don’t watch anime that do not have robots or mechs.

The staff also mulled over the potential for collaborations between their IPs and restaurants. They gauged the audience’s interest in McDonald’s after seeing Shin Ultraman get a tie-in at the fast food restaurant. Wakabayashi joked that his blood his is basically ketchup. Wakabayashi’s dream collab, though? A Fortnight Battle skin.

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