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Anime Expo 2018 News Roundup: Day Zero, One, Two Headlines
Anime Expo 2018: TRIGGER Panel

by Kyle Cardine,

If there was any way to describe Trigger's Anime Expo 2018 panel, it would be “full of adrenaline.” This isn't too off the mark for the studio, but Trigger really played to their high-energy reputation to a totally packed house on Friday night. Starting off with almost wrestling-like entrances, Tatsuru Tatemoto introduced Hiromi Wakabayashi, Shigeto Koyama and Sushio as they threw Trigger goods into the crowd, which would later end up being attendee's tickets to special Trigger items.

DARLING in the FRANXX opened the panel, as the final episode was airing the next day. After previewing episode 24's trailer, Wakabayashi and Koyama shared some of the early concept sketches and designs for the show. Originally the FRANXX actually had human-like faces that looked like their respective pilots, as well as Zero-Two having black hair. “I was fiddling with the mech designs for a while and I was making no progress,” said Koyama. “It got to the point where I was kind of confined inside a hotel room that was $1,000 a night.”

The panel also mentioned there were “difficult” times during pre-production and they had “been through a lot.” Koyama and Wakabayashi actually mentioned the story of death threats on certain people involved with the project, and Wakabayashi said they “received a lot of feedback from our oversea audience.” However, the panel quickly moved on from any further comments regarding the incidents or specific feedback.

Next came newly announced details on their various video game collaborations. Starting with Kill la Kill IF, additional details regarding the story were announced. Following from the kanji used for IF, meaning “different cloth,” the game's story will primarily be from Satsuki's perspective of the events of Kill la Kill, with the script written by Kazuki Nakashima. They also teased Satsuki will have a new final form, similar to Ryuko's in the last episode, named “Junketsu Shinzui,” roughly translating to “Junketsu Quintessence.” “I didn't stop drawing Kill la Kill characters for five years, so I'm pretty stoked,” said Sushio. “I wanted to get the message across that even if the series is over, the characters still live in everyone's hearts.”

The first 20 seconds of the opening of Lab Zero games' Indivisible directed by Yoh Yoshinari was also shown, along with character designs, but the audience will have to wait until the first half of 2019 to see the rest.

The plan was for Trigger to announce a Patreon for the studio during the panel, however they ended up having to postpone it since there was no Internet access in the room. “We plan on using the money to support the studio and the animators and to give back to the fan communities by making occasional merchandise or doing a live stream of a drawing session by some of the various animators of ours,” said Takeuchi. “We like building stuff with our fans, like Little Witch Academia,” added Wakabayashi. Trigger eventually launched the Patreon shortly after the panel.

Director Hiroyuki Imaishi and scriptwriter Kazuki Nakashima's newest project Promare was heavily discussed as it was the one year anniversary of the show's announcement. Wakabayashi commented that last year all they had was the name and the single image shown. An exclusive PV was shown, which primarily showed a building engulfed in purple fire. There was also a quick shot of a 3D robot grabbing a flame, with the color scheme of dark neon. When the main character Galo was featured on the screen, he appeared to have both elements of 2D and 3D. While actual story details were scarce, the staff emphasized Galo is a new, and not very bright, member of a rescue squad. “He is quite stupid, but that's expected of Imaishi's titles,” said Wakabayashi. “Stupid, but the heart is strong. His spirit and will is strong just like Simon, Kamina, Panty and Ryuko.”

Wakabayashi was fully aware of the comments that Galo looks exactly like Kamina from Gurren Lagann. But he pointed out Imaishi has always drawn men like that. Sushio specifically mentioned if you look at a lot of Imaishi's characters' hair, they all share a specific spiked up style. “That hairstyle is the symbol of Imaishi's main characters.” Wakabayashi added that this was their first male protagonist since Gurren Lagann and they would deliver far more than fan expectations.

They also showed Koyama's new mech designs for Promare, called Matoi-Tech, which very much have the same design as the Gunmen from Gurren Lagann. They added that Matoi are what past generations of Japanese firefighters would use to extinguish fires. While they couldn't say more, the mechs will play a key role in the show. They also showcased action poses drawn by Sushio, announcing that he would be participating in animation production for the show. “I know that I can't work to my full potential if I'm not part of Imaishi's projects,” said Sushio. “This is what I was waiting for all these years. I want to show you how much power and potency I have if I hold in my need to go to idol concerts."

A video of Imaishi and Nakashima was shown, with Koyama (who was also sporting an Eggslut t-shirt) also making an appearance to talk about Promare. The video essentially boiled down to Nakashima saying “We're still working on it!!” while teasing false leads on the story. Finally they announced that more details would come in the fall.

Masaru Sakamoto and Masato Takeuchi joined for the last segment of the panel that focused on SSSS.Gridman and talked about their roles in the new Trigger and Tsuburaya Productions series. They said they were fully aware of the differences between the U.S. and Japanese releases of Gridman, but emphasized that SSSS.Gridman is a brand new show, just with the same concept, and specifically adding that it's “Not a reboot!” The panel showed off the main characters' designs, as well as the design for the new Gridman and the main villain Alexis. Interestingly, Wakabayashi said that Amemiya, the director of SSSS.Gridman, would barge into Promare meetings to ask for help on Gridman designs, so a lot of production work for Gridman was completed in Promare meetings and vice-versa. “We're very much taking these on as a studio to produce these two series now,” said Wakabayashi. Amemiya also appeared in a short video before the premiere and emphasized how this story would focus on the youth of Japan and their relationship to technology.

After giving away special AX 2018 Trigger goods to the lucky fans who nabbed the Trigger dollars and bingo balls thrown into the crowd at the beginning of the panel, it was right into the world premiere of SSSS.Gridman.

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