AnimeNEXT 2014 – Kill la Kill Studio Trigger Panel

Currently working as part of studio TRIGGER’s staff, Hiromi Wakabayashi has been involved in several works with Hiroyuki Imaishi. He began setting production for Gurren Lagann and has also worked on Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt from its beginnings as an original idea to assisting in plot development, and participated in directing. For KILL la KILL Hiromi contributed the plot development for episode 4 and directed the 2nd ending sequence. Most importantly, he assists and oversees the design team of KILL la KILL as creative officer.

Shigeto Koyama is an active designer in Japan’s media industry. He has participated in various popular anime titles such as Aim for the Top! 2 Diebuster, HEROMAN, Eureka Seven, Gurren Lagann, Rebuild of Evangelion, Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, and Star Driver. Koyama plays a vital role in KILL la KILL as a creative director and also created the storyboard and illustration for the 2nd ending sequence. He is also responsible for conceptual design on Inferno Cop, which is available legally on YouTube. Currently, he is working on production for the anime series Captain Earth, which is available on ~AnimeNEXT info

The room was definitely packed. The panel had a no photo policy, so no photos are available.

The staff wanted a pic for their twitter and asked us to show our energy. *fans cheer*

    Wakabayashi Hiromi: Hello, everybody in New Jersey! *fans cheer* I’m Wakabayashi from Studio Trigger. I’m the creative officer for Kill la Kill and I was also in charge of the second ending for the series. And script for episode 4.

    Koyama Shigeto: Hello, my name is Koyama Shigeto and I’m the designer for Kill la Kill and I worked on the 4th ending. *audience cheers*

Wakabayashi polled the room for those who have seen and not seen the series. He encouraged for those that have seen it to check out the series. He presented settei designs that were used for the creative process for the series. To our honor, Japanese fans have not seen this at all.

The first designs showcased some of the earlier character designs. They were initially going for a cuter look with Mako sporting twin pigtails. Satsuki was originally going to be blond to the surprise of the fans. Director Imaishi Hiroyuki-san (of Gurren Lagann fame) also had a hand in the initial designing process. The designs that he made were like the carnivals from Brazil. Wakabayashi noted that the starting designs were more cartoony…similar to Panty and Stocking.

Wakabayashi-san presented the initial color designs of the characters by Koyama-san. He noted that though the art was by Ichiko Saishi, the inspired look of the samurai as well as the pervertedness of the characters was all due to Koyama. *audience laughs and applauds* Satsuki was originally going to have short blond hair.

Wakabayashi-san asked the fans what did they think of Ryuuko’s final transformation scene. The cries were deafening. They show the drawn transformation scene by storyboard, Yoshinari Yoh. Wakabayashi-san described it as robotic.

Wakabayashi-san pointed out that a drawing by Director Imaishi was hentai-ish to the laughter of the fans. Even with that statement, the art design was going for a more traditional style.

Some interesting tidbit include the initial plans that the Elite Four were going to be girls. For that reason, the initial designs for them were all female. Gamagori was supposedly a wrestler who also does judo. They took about a year to confirm Ryuuko’s design, though they already settled on her color from the beginning. The shoulder armor designs for Ryuuko were a specialty of Koyama’s. Upon a question from a fan, Wakabayashi denied that the shoulder pieces were from Evangelion. Though they were very similar to the shoulders on the Eva units, there are very little elements from Eva, in the series itself. (This is despite the fact that many Trigger staff broke off from Gainax and some have even worked on the Eva series previously.)

Hair colors of many of the characters changed in the initial stages. There was one design where like 80’s style, Koyama-san drew all the characters with black hair. Initial design for Harime’s umbrella was going to be with an umbrella that turned into a lightsaber. All the Star Goku uniforms were Koyama-san’s designs.

They show some of the ending pieces drawn by Koyama-san. Wakabayashi-san pointed out the WWH initials on the boogie boards in the 2nd ending. He quizzed the fans if they knew what it was. Laughter erupted when he revealed it to be ‘World War Hulk’…alluding over to Marvel’s Hulk. (They revealed that Imaishi-san is a Marvel fan and originally wanted to put a scene in the ending song with ‘Mako hulking out’. That idea didn’t fly with the execs of course. XD

Craziness during creative discussions! During their session to discuss the cd jacket, they were talking about Mako and a pony together. Imaishi-san started drawing a drooling unicorn. The staff noted that he likes to make everything drool. *audience laughs*

The floor opened for questions. Paraphrased rather than straight transcription as requested by Trigger.

    Q: The OVA for the series?
    A: The release will be in the final volume of the bluray. It will take place right after episode 24 and the theme will be about ‘graduation’. (They’re still working on it!)

    Q: Will you be coming out with an artbook?
    A: Not an artbook, but a guidebook was released last month including artwork. Overseas release is in the works.

    Q: Original concept of the story?
    A: Initially, Ryuuko will be a bounty hunter and she will be the enemy of the student council. In the original settings, she would have a rival with a pricetag. We figured that it would get too serious and we wanted to do something more fun.

    Q: Fighting game for the series?
    A: If we get an offer, we do want one. *audience applauds*
    Wakabayashi: If there was a Kill la Kill fighting game, which character would you use? *fans call out their favorite character*

    Q: For episode 4, had the elements of Hollywood references.
    A: The addition of them were pranks by the staff. We admit that during the creative process with the stnoyboarding, there are lots of pranks as well.

    Q: What is wrong with Gamagori’s proportions?
    A: I think you need to get your eyes checked. XD Maybe he is provocting you.
    Fan: One scene is talking to you normally. Another scene his head is breaking the ceiling.
    Wakabashi: He is trying to express hismefl with his side. XD *audience laughs*

    Q: Concerning Inferno Cop.
    A: Thank you attending the Inferno Cop panel yesterday! Character design Sushio was not participating in making Inferno Cop. Director Amemiya, Wakabayashi and Koyama made the series. There were elements from Marvel Select. While we were playing with the story ideas, we came up with the character Tsumugu [in Kill la Kill. Sushio-san thought that shoulder pads looked lame so Wakabayashi had to explain that shoulder pads were very big in the world at present. Since Tsumugu’s shoulder pads were long and not spikes, Koyama-san suggested that ‘Those shoulder pads look like upside down cupcakes. Isn’t that cute?’ Sushio-san had to agree, ‘Yeah, that would like kinda cute.’ *fans laugh* The team admits to manipulating Sushio-san for three years now. *audience laughs*

    Q: What happens to Senketsu in the first season?
    A: It is as you saw. As we have said before, girls need to grow out of their school outfits. You should check out the 25th episode.

    Q: Many fans think that when you did the characters designs, the reason why you wanted to make the characters so revealing is because you wanted to see the cosplayers.
    A: You mean we wanted to see? Directlr Imaishi-san does like to see scantily clad ladies. It was more of a challenge to the cosplayers to see if they could actually pull it off. “Not that we wanted to look at them, but people just like to strip.” *audience laughs*

    Q: Who came up with the idea of Goku uniforms?
    A: Mostly by the script writer Nakashima-san. He had the idea to make a new series about clothing. Initially we didn’t plan it to be about the transformation of these characters. In the beginning, Ryuuko didn’t transform at all. It wasn’t the mechanical look that you all know. It looks like a regular boxing outfit. Since the staff likes robots, we thought it would awesome if it transformed…so we pushed for it. However, we had the policy to not have any robots at all. Koyama adds, “Except for DTR.” Opst! *audience laughs*

    Q: About the different meanings in the title Kill la Kill.
    A: The story is about clothes and fighting each other and there are hidden meanings in the titles. Before the chose this title, the title was ‘The Crimson Garment’. A certain staff from Ghibli suggested that we had ‘no’ to the Japanese title since popular series all have that.

    Q: Ideas for the characters designs for Mako?
    A: We have lots of references from the 80s which is like the pinnacle of Japanese animation.

Wakabayashi-san thanks the fans for attending the panel in such a hot room. They didn’t expect so many. Koyama-san reminds fans to check out episode 25 and they hope to return to another even in the US.

At the end of the panel, they asked all the Kill la Kill cosplayers to stay behind for a photo.