Anime Boston 2016: A Session With Hiromi Wakabayashi

Hiromi Wakabayashi 001 - 20160407In what was to become a trend, the first question in the session revolved around the guest’s feelings about being in Boston. Wakabayashi said he was having a wonderful time. He had taken some time to tour Boston and was particularly impressed by its architecture.

I had the honor of asking the next question, which was about Kill la Kill episode 4, Dawn of a Miserable Morning. Wakabayashi was in the writer’s chair for it, and it was a sizable departure from the rest of the series in terms of tone. He explained that, while Kill la Kill was mostly serious, director Hiroyuki Imaishi wanted one slapstick comedy episode. Wakabayashi intentionally left Satsuki out of the episode as he didn’t want to affect how her character was viewed. Series character designer Sushio liked Wakabayashi’s concept and drew new character models specifically for the episode. I must confess that I didn’t realize when I watched the episode, but the characters are slightly smaller, with modified proportions. Wakabayashi said he had a lot of fun creating a disposable villain, and took a few liberties in some of the background shots.

Kill la Kill Episode 4 001 - 20160405

The next question was about a potential second season of Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt. Wakabayashi’s eyes lit up as he said that they had enough material for six seasons. The creative team had a lot of ideas that they never got a chance to implement. He continued, noting that Panty & Stocking was partially inspired by Western cartoons, where cliffhangers were a common staple. The Japanese audience was not used to this and were very frustrated by the ending.

PantyStocking 002

The following inquiry was about what it is like to work at Trigger. Wakabayashi stated that every Imaishi series has one cardinal rule: “The ideas must be fun.” That applied to everyone, and that there was very little seniority or pulling rank in meetings. If the janitor had a good idea, they’d use it. If a highly respected director’s ideas weren’t working, they’d go in another direction.

He continued with some specific thoughts about storyboards at Trigger. As a general rule, once a storyboard is finished, you don’t make many changes. That said, though, they’re prepared to rewrite and redraw scenes as they accept shows are continuously evolving.  

The next question was about Inferno Cop. Wakabayashi laughed and said that series director Akira Amemiya likes justice and hates evil. They were shocked at how popular Inferno Cop was abroad. In Japan, they expect their anime to be… more animated. But abroad, people were better able to appreciate Inferno Cop as it was.

Inferno Cop 001 - 20160405

I was given another chance to ask Wakabayashi a question, and inquired about the backstory of Space Patrol Luluco. He explained that Imaishi had wanted to do this project for a long time. Imaishi had lots of old doodles and a concept for a story. He pressed Wakabashi and Amemiya for their visions of Space Patrol Luluco. Amemiya included more sex and violence at mach speed (the translator confirmed this with Wakabayashi), while Wakabayashi said we’d understand his vision once we’d seen a few episodes. Imaishi tapped Wakabayashi to do creative direction. Imaishi will be directing the series, with Amemiya assisting.

Space Patrol Luluco 001 - 20160207

I got a chance to talk with Wakabayashi briefly after the session. He had very kind words for Sushio, Imaishi, and artist Atto “3Eyes” Takahashi. He’ll be heading back to America to attend AnimeNext, along with Akira Amemiya, as well as Shigeto Koyama.

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