Anime NYC quickly rose up to become what is practically the Anime Expo of the East Coast, so of course this means some big names from the anime industry were invited. Honey-chan was lucky enough to interview three members from Studio Trigger; producer and director Hiromi Wakabayashi, designer Shigeto Koyama, and seiyuu Mayumi Shintani.
Interview with Studio Trigger: Hiromi Wakabayashi, Shigeto Koyama & Mayumi Shintani (Anime NYC 2018)
Mayumi Shintani, what are some major differences between voice acting today and voice acting in the 90s?
Early in my career, we would record two weeks before the episode’s broadcast. But now, we do the recording session a lot earlier in production.
With American voice actors, they’ll voice one character in the morning, and another on later that night. So on an average day, do you have to work multiple roles for different anime as well?
Generally, seiyuu will voice two characters a day. One recording session will be from 10am to 3pm and 4pm to 8pm for another. And also for a particular project the schedule is static, so “Series A” will be on Mondays and “Series B” will be on Tuesdays and it will be the same routine for the span of the production. For example, a really popular seiyuu will be unavailable for a foreseeable future, so for those kinds of voice actors they will have a special session just for them. Like sometimes I won’t be with a particular person during a recording session.
Koyama-san, within recent years more animators are complaining about their low income. Why is it that they are speaking up now? Was this always a problem? or did it just recently become a one?
It’s always been prevalent.
You have worked for Studio Trigger, GoHands, Disney and Bones. Did you choose these jobs, or do the jobs come to you as a freelance designer?
I’m usually approached by the studio, but a long time ago I was an employee at Gainax and that’s why I mostly work for Studio Trigger.
It’s more of a competition, I guess? I don’t really accept those kinds of offers, though.
[To Hiromi Wakabayashi] The second ending sequence for Kill la Kill contains a reference to the first opening sequence of Urusei Yatsura. I was wondering what the series meant to you and whether the inclusion of this reference was your intention.
It was my idea to throw in the stars and rainbows into the ending sequence of Kill la Kill, however, I cannot say it was a homage to Urusei Yatsura. It was actually from these Sanrio characters in Japan called Little Twin Stars. It’s a series geared towards a younger audience, and it’s about these twins. [Shintani pulls up a picture on her phone and passes it to Wakabayashi] Here.
That’s where the reference comes from. Kill la Kill has more adult themes so I wanted to add more of a childlike touch to the ending. When I pitched the idea to the director, he said “Wow, that sounds a lot like Urusei Yatsura. That’s cool, I’ll accept it.”[Everyone laughs]
Currently, you are working on the Studio Trigger movie Promare. How does Trigger’s approach to feature-length film production differ from how they produce TV episodes?
There’s very very fine details that may differ, but the general approach is pretty much the same.
In reference to Promare, is it a challenge to tell the story with such a short amount of time?
The screenplay artist, Nakashima, is from the stage play industry. It’s his style to tell a story within 3 hours or less. Therefore, a full-length series would actually be more difficult for him.
Since we’re all here for Promare, we want to know what you think will draw the audience to this original film the most. What will make them say “Wow!”?
I don’t know if you’ve seen the trailers, but the art is very different from Trigger’s usually style. It’s very in-your-face, so I hope the audience picks up on that.
Was the intent “I want to make something different?”
Yes, definitely. We always try to look for a new way to express our message through our works, and the director probably feels the same way as well. Most of the visual aesthetics are regulated through Shigeto Koyama.
The most prominent feedback we’ve been receiving is that the main character looks similar to Kamina from Gurren Lagann. I don’t blame them. Since people generally don’t understand a new concept, it just flies over their head, but something they can relate to is a character. Promare is an accumulated process of all our past creations. It has a little bit of Panty and Stocking and Kill la Kill theme. We try to take the positive aspects of all those works into Promare so maybe that’s why there are some similar vibes.
With two minutes to spare, I’d like to talk about SSSS.Gridman. If you look on the internet, you’ll notice that Rikka has become wildly popular. Did you expect her to become a meme for that matter?
[Laughs] (Shintani voices Rikka’s mother)
The director definitely felt like Rikka was the selling point.
The director put his two cents into Rikka so that she would be marketable. Everything was according to plan.