Studio TRIGGER revisited ‘DARLING in the FRANXX’ with The Natural Aristocrat® at Anime NYC 2022.
TRIGGER’s Hiromi Wakabayashi, Shigeto Koyama, and SUSHiO answered on the possibility of a DARLING in the FRANXX Season 2 and the success of Cyberpunk: Edgerunners.
This Studio Trigger interview from Anime NYC 2022 contains spoilers for the ‘DARLING in the FRANXX’ anime series.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT (NIR REGEV): Is there any realistic chance of ’DARLING in the FRANXX’ Season 2, a prequel series, film, or even an OVA episode ever going into production? Or have fans seen the last of Zero Two in any form?
HIROMI WAKABAYASHI: It’s all up to the director, Atsushi Nishigori. It was a collaboration work between ANIPLEX, Studio TRIGGER, and CloverWorks under Director Atsushi Nishigori. So we can’t really make that call.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: CloverWorks and Studio TRIGGER have been described as ‘oil and water’ united by ‘DARLING in the FRANXX’ Director Atsushi Nishigori. What are some of the biggest challenges to collaborating with another studio on a project?
HIROMI WAKABAYASHI: As the producer, I personally thought that working with another studio in particular wasn’t that much of a hurdle… But trying to visualize and animate what the director had in mind was more difficult.
SHIGETO KOYAMA: Working on what you mentioned about ‘oil and water’. If you mix oil and water at room temperature, they’re both liquids.
But once you start applying heat to the oil and water, it’s not too good. Right? The oil splashes everywhere!
The problem was when the director would start applying heat to the substance. In room temperature, they both work well in a liquid state. But it’s kind of up to how much heat the director applies.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: There’s been discussions on Reddit based on a 2018 Anime NYC panel with Hiromi Wakabayashi that if ‘DARLING in the FRANXX’ were TRIGGER’s sole production, they might have changed some parts of the story. Was this misinterpreted by fans?
HIROMI WAKABAYASHI: If we were just going with the story, the story is by the director, Atsushi Nishigori… So even if we made it by ourselves, it probably wouldn’t have changed. At least the story wouldn’t have.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Did Studio TRIGGER or Cloverworks animate & design the award winning ‘Kiss of Death’ (sang by Mika Nakashima) opening sequence for ‘DARLING in the FRANXX’?
HIROMI WAKABAYASHI: CloverWorks.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Regarding opening sequences, do animation studios meet with singers like Mika Nakashima to collaborate on any visual concepts for their songs or is the whole creative process independent from one another?
HIROMI WAKABAYASHI: We’ve never collaborated like how you explained it before, but this is a case-by-case thing and it doesn’t really apply to everything.
We’ve had occasions where we would make a request to the singer for the tone of the song or the music to better suit what we wanted to make. But that might be the extent of working together for an opening sequence.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Do you see the design of ‘Chainsaw Man’ character Power as spiritually influenced by Zero Two with the horns?
HIROMI WAKABAYASHI: I am not familiar with the character “Power” as I’ve only recently read the first chapter of “Chainsaw Man”.
However, from what I’ve seen on social media, the only resemblance I can see is that she has long pink hair and horns, and to that extent, I don’t think I can say there’s much influence here. There are many characters with horns in the history of Japanese anime. For example, Lum from “Urusei Yatsura”.
So, I don’t know what the influence of Power might have been, but it seems to me that horned characters in Japanese animation like Zero Two are influenced more by Lum.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: To Shigeto Koyama: You did the mechanical designs for the FRANXX mechas, did you come up with the internal handles used by Hiro on Zero Two to steer the FRANXX as well?
SHIGETO KOYAMA: It was the producer (Hiromi Wakabayashi) idea! (laughs) I am just the producer’s dog!
HIROMI WAKABAYASHI: (laughs)… How do you think that the American or the Western audience perceived that cockpit design?
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I thought it added spice to the show.
HIROMI WAKABAYASHI: I’m glad you liked it! (laughs)
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: To SUSHiO: What are your base principles for character design?
SUSHiO: It kind of boils down to whether I like the design or not. I find it important to be able to love a particular designer to character, to a point where I can sympathize with the character.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: To SUSHiO and Shigeto Koyama: How do you protect your hands/wrist from long-term damage & deterioration from decades of long working hours drawing?
I’ve read ‘Asterix’ artist Albert Uderzo had to semi-retire due to chronic hand pain.
SUSHiO: Stretching and a moderate workout is important. I like to stretch in-between work and to eat good food.
SHIGETO KOYAMA: I like to work out my stomach muscles. It’s like when you have a headache and you pinch yourself somewhere else to kind of forget.
Tricking the mind to put the focus of the pain somewhere else. Similar to that, I work out my stomach muscles so that my hand muscles are less of a focus.
I eat good food and the focus remains there rather than on hand pain.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: To Hiromi Wakabayashi: ‘DARLING in the FRANXX’ episode 13 ‘The Beast and the Prince’ where you see Zero Two and Hiro’s childhoods is a work of art, rated a 9.5 on IMDB.
As creative producer, what memories do you have of the episode’s production and initial reception?
HIROMI WAKABAYASHI: Episode 13 was a special episode for director Atsushi Nishigori, and it was also the most important episode for him in composing the story of DARLING.
As a staff member, we are very happy to see that the episode received a 9.5 rating on IMDB. We are also happy that this episode, which the director is very passionate about, has received such a high rating.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I’ve read that Studio TRIGGER was involved more in the pre-planning stages of DARLING in the FRANXX, a lot of the initial designs. Is that true?
HIROMI WAKABAYASHI: Yes, TRIGGER was involved in the pre-production, especially world design, main character design, and mechanical design.
As for my personal role, I was in charge of the creative direction for the ending music and animation along with Director Nishigori.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Studio TRIGGER has commented in the past about the western success of shows like ‘Little Witch Academia’, ‘Kill la Kill’, and ‘DARLING in the FRANXX’ influencing their future projects.
Do you feel this all came to culmination with ‘Cyberpunk: Edgerunners’?
HIROMI WAKABAYASHI: Yes, I believe so. The success of “Cyberpunk: Edgerunners” is the result of our efforts in the past ten years.
If the past 10 years marked the first season of TRIGGER, then “Cyberpunk: Edgerunners” is the start of our second season.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I saw multiple people at Anime NYC cosplaying Cyberpunk: Edgerunners characters David Martinez and Lucyna Kushinada (Lucy).
HIROMI WAKABAYASHI: That’s very uplifting news for us!
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Where do you see Studio TRIGGER going in the future after the success of ‘Cyberpunk: Edgerunners’?
Do you feel it might make you prioritize Western audiences more?
HIROMI WAKABAYASHI: We’ve had a lot of similar questions in the past as well and we generally don’t cater to any demographics or region of an audience.
We try to make something that we enjoy and what we think is enjoyable. And hopefully, that the audience would enjoy in the same way that we see it.
It’s not a studio motto, but that’s my personal beliefs toward producing anime.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Do you generally check out social media to see fan reception during a season for a series?
HIROMI WAKABAYASHI: I do check them from time to time. I enjoy and take an interest in both good and bad comments.
It’s nice to know that people are taking the time to watch our work and comment on it, no matter what the comments are.
THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Thanks everyone!
Follow Studio TRIGGER on Social Media
– You can follow DARLING in the FRANXX creative producer Hiromi Wakabayashi on Twitter at @waka_geek
– Follow Studio TRIGGER on Twitter at
– Learn more about Studio TRIGGER at the official TRIGGER website.
– Stream Studio TRIGGER’s Cyberpunk: Edgerunners exclusively on Netflix.
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