Ever since it’s foundation in 2011, Studio Trigger has shown itself to be true to its name by propelling itself to the top of the anime industry as fast as a speeding bullet. They quickly established themselves as one of the best studios to look out for when it comes to stylish, fast-paced and well-animated shows.
In celebration of Trigger’s brilliance, let’s take a look back at their best work; the shows that are the best and most characteristic of Trigger’s unmistakable style. Speaking of their which, let’s make like Trigger themselves and cut right to the chase.
10. Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de (When Supernatural Battles Become Commonplace)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Oct-2014 – Dec-2014
It looks like we’ve got a standout show right out of the gate: Inou-Battle is a supernatural action harem show set in high school and based on a light novel. What stands out about that, you ask? Well, normally nothing, but for Trigger, this concept stands out for how incredibly normal it is. With a studio known for being abnormal, something this normal ironically becomes abnormal.
Of course, being normal doesn’t necessarily mean dull, as proven by Inou-Battle and it’s appealing characters, laid-back tone, and strong animation at various points. It's an all-around solid show, but when you have as high a standard as Trigger, solid will only get you to the bottom spot at best. The fact that this show is easily the least characteristic of the studio’s style doesn’t help either. Nonetheless, this anime’s impressive execution of a fairly standard concept means it’s certainly much more than commonplace.
9. Turning Girls
- Episodes: 7
- Aired: Jun-2013 – Jul-2013
Turning Girls is one of those shows that’s interesting even through nothing more than its production history. A group of female staff members at Trigger are given carte blanche to make a show. The twist? Nobody on this new team is an animator.
If that sounds like something that would sound awful to you, then that means you just don't know Trigger. The show might have a similar level of animation to the average slideshow, but the art has a soft and appealing flair that compliments its comparatively laid-back tone and realistic urban setting with some witty well-paced humor acting as the cherry on top.
8. Ninja Slayer From Animation
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Apr-2015 – Oct-2015
Here’s a show that often gets dismissed unfairly, although the reason why is somewhat understandable. Ninja Slayer From Animation is one of those shows where you had to have been around for its premiere to truly appreciate it. Trigger, somewhat of a newcomer at the time, had recently been declared the saviors of anime by fans who were all eagerly awaiting a new show from them and suddenly the trailers started dropping. They showcased detailed artwork, fast-paced animation, intense storyboarding and all-around solid visuals.
Fast forward to the early spring 2015 anime season, which is already shaping up to be arguably one of the best seasons in anime ever thanks to a plethora of huge premieres such as Shokugeki no Soma, DanMachi, Kekkai Sensen and Owari no Seraph just to name a few. Finally, April 16th arrives and Trigger finally releases Ninja Slayer, only now it looks…different.
As it turned out, Trigger pranked us all and it worked. The sleek and intricate animation we were promised in the trailer would only be about a minute’s worth of the animation in every episode and the rest would feature characters that looked like cardboard cutouts who moved across equally flat backgrounds exclusively via tweening in a deliberately cheap style reminiscent of the studio’s Inferno Cop. The latter show is often agreed by fans to be better, whether it’s because they like the humour better or they just didn’t like being misled and while Ninja Slayer From Animation doesn’t get quite as many laughs as it could, it’s still a fun sit in its own right and highly notable for how it got so many viewers Trigger’d.
7. Inferno Cop
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Dec-2012 – Mar-2013
Speaking of which, here is the original cardboard cut-out Trigger anime in all its barely moving glory. Much like Ninja Slayer, Inferno Cop revels in exaggerated violence and over the top plots played for comedic effect. It’s worth noting that many people agree that Inferno Cop contains better examples of all of these and while that’s mostly up to personal taste, it’s much harder to argue that the latter’s 3-minute episode length (as opposed to Ninja Slayer’s 12) is much more appropriate for the elegant simplicity both series present.
Inferno Cop is the story of the titular hero, who defends Jack Knife Edge Town with great justice! His quest leads him to cross paths with Mecha Cop, Hellfire Boy, Real God, his Auntie Grenda and even more larger than life characters. This is one series that’s great for showcasing Trigger’s beautiful insanity.
6. Hataraku Maou-Sama! (The Devil is a Part-Timer!)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April-2013 – Jun-2013
Fast food is so bad for you, yet so addictive, that you could swear the devil himself was involved with the industry. Well, as this show reveals, he is. Not as a shrewd, shadowy businessman, but as a fry cook working for a minimum wage.
The result is a hilarious ride through daily struggles seen from the perspective of the lord of evil with solid animation and memorable characters. It’s hard to go into detail about a comedy series because most of what you’ll say can be boiled down to “it’s funny” or “it’s not funny”, but this absolutely kills it with its humor and sends it to hell for good measure.
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr-2016 – Jun-2016
It’s a sad fact that some anime become synonymous with their faults, leaving many to overlook their qualities. Kiznaiver is one such show as, while it does have legitimate issues, such as a last-minute twist out of left field and a character who doesn’t seem to add anything to the show but comedy, both of which undercut the otherwise perfect dramatic tension, it also features some of the most impressive strengths of any TV anime.
The visuals are absolutely breathtaking, featuring complex, beautiful character designs that are animated like something out of a theatrical production without needing to compromise on visual detail. It also boasts a fantastic soundtrack and immediately likable characters who become even more interesting as they develop throughout the series. With such strong technical merit and a great script by industry legend Mari Okada, Kiznaiver remains a tour de force of animated storytelling in spite of its faults.
4. Uchuu Patrol Luluco (Space Patrol Luluco)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Apr-2016 – Jun-2016
2016 might just have been the greatest year to be a Trigger fan. We got a beautiful, big-budget full-length show in Kiznaiver and a witty series of shorts in Trigger’s more scratchy style to boot! What puts Luluco over the former, however, is how great it works as a celebration of all things Trigger.
While Kiznaiver suffered somewhat of an identity crisis, Luluco knows exactly what it is: a silly, over the top adventure that highlights Trigger’s legacy. Not only does it feature returning characters from the studio, like Inferno Cop, who’s part of the main cast, but the second half has the party traveling through space and visiting the worlds of Trigger's other franchises with constant visual gags that homage Trigger founder Hiroyuki Imayishi’s work at Gainax. How can you beat that?
But Uchuu Patrol Luluco is more than just a bit of fanservice; It’s a tale of the value of one’s personal feelings and how important it is for people to follow their hearts and express their emotions even though others might mock them for it. What’s more, it’s told with lovable characters and the gorgeous blend of limited animation and sakuga that Trigger is known for, which adds a deep pathos that elevates the story even further. Because of these qualities and its status as a love letter to the studio, Uchuu Patrol Luluco has earned a high rank on this list.
3. Black★Rock Shooter
- Episodes: 8
- Aired: Feb-2012 – Mar-2012
Black Rock Shooter is the story of a group of friends in high school as they experience all the joy and turmoil that comes with that territory. It's also the story of a dark fantasy world where superpowered characters who represent the friends engage in battles that parallel the troubles the characters in our world face as they struggle to maintain happy and healthy relationships with each other. This story may seem convoluted, but its expertly crafted animation, soundtrack, direction, and voicework ensure that audiences will be equally captivated by both sides of this inspiring story.
But it’s the story behind the story that really makes Black Rock Shooter so inspiring. Originally nothing more than an original character with no backstory drawn and uploaded to Pixiv by then unknown artist huke, the eponymous Black Rock Shooter soon became famous as possibly one of the greatest oeuvres of digital art, with enthusiasts all across Japan, and soon even around the world, resonating with her striking design and beautiful rendering. Before long, anime creators connected with the character as well, leading to an OVA and later this very television series being produced.
What makes these anime even more notable is that huke was hired by the production team as a character designer, which shot him into otaku stardom as a result. He has since been able to strut his stuff professionally, having illustrated for the original Steins;Gate visual novel and Oreimo. He stands as living proof to all fans that they can be a part of the entertainment they love solely through their hard work and talent, an inspiring meta-narrative that bolsters Black Rock Shooter’s already inspiring in-universe narrative.
2. Kill la Kill
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Oct-2013 – Mar-2014
Trigger’s first TV anime began their career not with a whimper, not even with a bang, but with a supernova. Kill la Kill is one of those shows that’s difficult to categorize, simply because it does so many things expertly that you could call it just about anything. It’s a fast-paced action show, a gag-fueled comedy, a dark social commentary, a brutal subversion of magical girl anime and so much more.
Whatever Kill la Kill wants to do, it does it with style and grace in its animation and storytelling that is unmatched by all but the highest echelon of anime. Its story of a lone girl rebelling against an oppressive, clothing-fixated regime is told with a style like no other thanks to its animation, story, and characters that have since been used by a generation of fans as a yardstick to measure how well other anime do such things. By all rights, it's a modern classic.
1. Little Witch Academia
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Jan-2017 – Jun-2017
This is a show that represents everything Trigger stands for; absolute adoration for this medium. You can feel the unparalleled love for animation this studio has had in every episode through both beautiful, stylish movements and constant homages to classic cartoons. This sort of adoration resonating throughout the show is unsurprising since it's a passion project from the phenomenally talented Yoh Yoshinari, of Evangelion and Gurren Lagann fame and his uniquely unmistakable style shines beautifully. Yoshinari started this franchise with a short film to test the waters, which eventually attracted so many fans that a sequel was produced entirely through money raised by a crowdfunding campaign. After the success of the second short, Yoshinari and the Little Witch Academia franchise went silent until coming back last year with a well-earned TV series.
But it's not just the love poured into its creation that makes the show good, as it succeeds in almost every aspect of both technical and emotional merit. It's not just a well-crafted story, but a touching one that deals with a young girl who wants to be a witch, despite having little to no magic power. Her lack of natural aptitude often seems to chip away at her self-confidence, but whenever it seems like she might give up, her love for what she's doing gives her the drive to keep working harder and harder, leading to numerous great accomplishments for her. The inspiration for Akko's journey through learning magic was likely inspired by Yoshinari's journey through learning to animate. Not only because both of their slavish devotions to their chosen paths appear similar, but the series shows genuine heart and passion on a level only possible by something extremely emotionally connected to the creator.
It’s beautiful, emotional, funny and made with love. In short, it’s everything we love about Trigger.
This is the end of our list of the best Trigger anime, but not the end of Trigger. They’re currently airing the popular crossover mecha hit Darling in the Franxx and are promising more series in the future, such as another mecha show SSSS.Gridman and the second season of Inferno Cop. Hopefully, we’ll soon have enough new entries for another top 10 lost.
What's your favorite Trigger anime? Are you looking forward to Gridman and the new Inferno Cop season? Let us know in the comments.
Welcome to the top 10 anime by Trigger! Trigger is also known as Studio Trigger, Trigger Inc., and Trigger entertainment. Now, Trigger Inc. is a very young company that was founded in August 2011 by Hiroyuki Imaishi and Masahiko Ohtsuka who had just left GAINAX. The founders were known for their work in anime as notable as, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and Panty & Stocking, with Garterbelt. Heard of them? These founders are not new to the industry.
Trigger Entertainment is a very young company, but they aren't scared to take risks! They really think outside the box. Despite being such a young company, they have been able to tackle many aspects of the market like video games, promotional videos, and anime. Now, let's check out some of their best anime!
The first few anime on our list are anime that Trigger has had a hand in producing with other subcontractors proving they are not amateurs.
10. Black★Rock Shooter
- Episodes: 8
- Aired: February 2012 - March 2012
In one world, the Black Rock Shooter is gearing herself up for battle while in another world, Kuroi Mato is making friends with Takanashi Yomi. The two friends bond over their love of the same picture book. While their friendship deepens, Yomi finds that her friend Izuriha Kagari is not fond of the friendship and all of their lives take a turn.
Black★Rock Shooter brought on a new animation style different from other anime with a plot that keeps you on your toes. For an 8 episode anime, it takes you through a lot of loops. Trigger Entertainment cooperated with the animation production which is probably why their animation style is so outside the box. The animation of Black★Rock Shooter is edgy and different, which you can clearly see in the future works of the studio. This probably added to Trigger's desire to take risks in the anime industry. We can see why Trigger is the creative entity that is today.
9. Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica Movie 3: Hangyaku no Monogatari (Puella Magi Madoka Magic the Movie Part 3: Rebellion)
- Episodes: 1 Movie
- Aired: October 2013
The Law of Cycles has brought a brand new fate amongst the magical girls, who thought they were saved from despair with the sacrifice that Kaname Madoka gave. Without forgetting about her best friend, Homura Akemi works hard and continues the fight!
If you have seen the anime, you can clearly see that it is a new take on an old concept that made it so wildly popular amongst fans, so much so that there are 3 movies, including this one. Working amongst big name producers like Aniplex, Trigger was able to get more experience with anime that take risks with the plots and received commercial success worldwide. The animation style is new and innovative, and with their cooperation in the animation production, we can see how much this anime has influenced Trigger's animation styles.
8. The Idolm@aster
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: July 2011 - December 2011
This anime follows the attempts at stardom by 13 young girls at 765 Production Studio. A new manager joins their ranks and although they aren't all keen on him first, he is set on making their dreams come true! You'd think in an anime with 13 girls, it'd be easy to get confused, but each girl has their own distinctive personality and you can't help but fall in love with these each of these energetic girls.
The Idolm@ster is Trigger's first subcontracted gig since the studio was founded in 2011. Episode 17 of The Idolm@ster was outsourced to Studio Trigger. They had the job of producing the storyboard, directing, and animating episode 17. Just a few years after their founding, Trigger is proving to be quite notable given that they were able to have a hand at producing a full episode for a popular anime with numerous spin-offs, sequels, games, and various other media.
7. Hataraku Maou-Sama! (The Devil is a Part-Timer!)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2013 - June 2013
When the Devil King was just about to conquer the world, the Hero Emilia defeats him causing him to land in the present day Tokyo. Instead of seeking a way to return home, the Devil King has decided he will conquer the world one step at a time by working at Mc Ronald's flipping one burger at a time!
This hilarious fantasy anime has tackled the difficult comedy category with high marks in the world of anime. With the commercial success of Hataraku Maou-Sama, it is no wonder Trigger wanted to take a leap into creating an animation out of a light novel in 2013 with When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace.
6. Sword Art Online (SAO)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: July 2012 - December 2012
Sword Art Online has been released with a whole new virtual reality playing system so that players can play using the NerveGear. This has brought a whole new aspect to MMORPGs. All is fun and games until the game creator announces that they cannot escape the game and must defeat the bosses on all 100 floors before they can be released. He also announces that their avatar's death means their own death, too! How are they going to get out of this virtual reality nightmare?
Sword Art Online was a commercial success amongst Easterners and Westerners alike. Although Trigger was not the prime producer, they were able to gain some success by cooperating in the production of SAO. SAO was released when Trigger was still new but they were able to develop their animation production team more and build up their credibility.
As we hit the top five, we get to see what anime were completely produced by Trigger themselves. What's that mean? No subcontractors so we can see their true talent.
5. Inferno Cop
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: December 2012 - March 2013
Inferno Cop is a vigilante from the darkest depths of Hell with the sole mission of protecting the people from the dangerous figures that lurk in the darkness and cannot be seen by the naked eye. Inferno Cop does everything he can to bring justice to all evildoers without restraint, but at the same time, Inferno Cop is the key to the end of the world.
Inferno Cop is Trigger's first animation after it was founded. Despite being a roughly risky concept, the web animation took off with viewers and brought Trigger a lot of attention.
4. Little Witch Academia
- Episodes: 1 Movie
- Aired: March 2013
Kagari Akko, a regular girl, decides to enroll at Witch Academia due to her admiration of a famous witch known for her unusual enchantments, Shiny Chariot. The movie follows Akko as she struggles to graduate from Witch Academia without a magical ancestery.
Created as a part of the Young Animator Training Project's Anime Mirai 2013 project, Little Witch Academia is a short film which debuted alongside many other shorts of the same project. The film was well received and the YouTube version received over 850,000 views. When the sequel was announced and a Kickstarter created, fans helped to raise $125,518 over what was needed for the project showing just how much the fans loved the anime. Little Witch Academia helped to show the creativity of Studio Trigger, resulting in a great amount of faith in the studio by fans.
3. Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de (When Supernatural Battles Become Commonplace)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2014 - December 2014
It has been 6 months since the members of the literature club and the adviser's niece received supernatural powers, yet despite gaining these amazing powers, nothing has changed in their lives. Still, no one knows why they received the powers or what their purpose is. What will they do with their new found powers?
Something major about Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka De is that it is Trigger's first attempt at an anime that has had pre-published material! Although there has been speculation on whether or not Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de would live up to other big named titles by Trigger, the anime still proved that Trigger was capable of creating a quality, comedic anime from a manga.
Fans thought it would be fairly generic, but still, it was quite capable of holding its own and acts as a signal for Trigger's entry into the manga-to-anime market! Let's see what else Trigger can do for fans!
2. Ninja Slayer From Animation
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 2015 - Ongoing
Once, ninja ruled Japan using their martial arts as demi gods, but committed a taboo when they stored their souls at Kinkaku Temple to be reborn in the future, but their history was lost and soon, they became forgotten. In the present, technology rules Japan! However, what is to happen when the souls of the lost ninja return to wreck havoc upon Neo-Saitama. Only one being can save Neo-Saitama: a salaryman named Fujikido Kenji who was possessed by a good ninja soul so that he could become the Ninja Slayer. The fate of Neo-Saitama is in his hands!
Ninja Slayer from Animation is currently airing right now, and Studio Trigger is pulling out all the stops to advertise its anime. The Shosen Grande bookstore metamorphasized into a model of ninja filled Neo-Saitama and all of its cyberkinetic greatness. Studio Trigger already set to stream the anime in over 30 countries and a stage event was planned for AnimeJapan 2015. Ninja Slayer from Animation may truly be a media giant for Studio Trigger to grow into a bigger company.
1. Kill La Kill
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: October 2013 - March 2014
Kill la Kill follows Matoi Ryuuko who has set out on a journey to find out about the death of her father with her only clue being half of a pair of scissors that can cut through Life Fibers. Ryuuko has been led to Honnouji Academy, where Kiryuin Satsuki rules the students with the power of her uniform. Using the special scissors, Ryuuko is determined to find out the truth and destroy the control Satsuki has over the school! It's time for a school life that no one will ever forget!
With the release of Kill la Kill, Studio Trigger entered the anime market with their first original television anime! Kill la Kill required a lot of risks, but essentially, it was about putting all of the ideas of the staff into a great anime that ultimately did wonders for Studio Trigger's reputation. Trigger wanted to use Kill la Kill to enter into the new era of anime. The animation style is different, but Kill la Kill proves to be a great comedy with some touching moments and a fun plotline, so despite the risk Studio Trigger made in creating this anime, they really captured the attention of a lot of otaku around the world.
As one of the few anime with everything done by the studio itself, Kill la Kill went beyond expectations and made Studio Trigger a bigger name in the industry!
Were you surprised by the selection? For a studio as young as it is, Trigger has contributed a lot in the way of production in the anime industry in many big name anime. They have shown they are willing to take big risks to create innovative works that will change how we all look at anime today. We can only look forward to what they have up their sleeves next!