2016 was an interesting time for Studio Trigger. Takafumi Hori, one of the strongest animators and a huge Steven Universe fan, provided stunning guest animation for the show. Little Witch Academia was finally getting a proper TV series after the success of their previous OVAs and the reveal that the studio would animate the opening for Indivisible. All were very unexpected but nevertheless exciting developments at the time. The last one especially, as it marked the first of many collaborations with other western video game developers! However, while the Indivisible opening was the first to be announced, it wasn’t the first to be released. Surprisingly, that belongs to:

Shantae and the Seven Sirens (2019):

The opening makes good use of its brief thirty-second run time by being absolutely packed to the brim with detail, and I can’t blame you if you need a few extra rewatches to take it all in! The opening was handled by their younger staff but is oozing with that old-school flair. Animated by Kai Ikarashi and Ichigo Kanno, their drawings and the timing of the animation are reminiscent of the Kanada school. Yoshinari Kanada is an animator who revolutionized the industry in the early 70s, challenging the limitations of TV anime with his erratic timing, dynamic posing, and organic character art. His influence can still be felt in anime even today, and it’s absolutely all over this opening!

Love this part of the opening! The scale suddenly ramped up with the seemingly endless amount of minions popping up out of nowhere, and the angularity of the drawings sold the intensity, fun stuff! Source: Youtube

Indivisible (2019):

Directed by Yoh Yoshinari, Indivisible’s opening is the exact polar opposite of Shantae’s in every single way. Much less densely packed, with a greater emphasis on the call to adventure. Yoshinari is a name that most anime fans know for his delightful Little Witch Academia OVAs and later TV series. However, to animation nerds and artists of all kinds, his work is seen as the gold standard! From the very get-go, Yoshinari has a crazy striking design sense that jumps out to even the most casual of viewers. Combined with his powerful animation, Yoshinari truly feels like an animator who can animate everything and anything while still leaving his own unique flair. I’m pretty much saying he was born to direct this opening, considering the game prides itself on its varied cast of characters.

A small glimpse into the game’s expansive cast. Source: Youtube

Yoshinari’s a bit of a control freak. Along with directing the LWA OVAs, he also did character design and intensive animation direction, revising every drawing to feel like it had his touch, even if it wasn’t personally animated by him. With the opening being much smaller in scale, he’s allowed to take it up a notch and straight up nearly animate the entire opening himself! Though he still had to get some help from other animators affiliated with the studio: The aforementioned talented Takafumi Hori, Kanada-school lover Yusuke Yoshigaki, and younger talent like Naoki Takeda and Tingmu Yang. 

The opening was billed as a collaboration between Trigger and Titmouse, but Titmouse’s involvement was less focused on the animation and more on management. However, The opening was storyboarded by Sung Jin Ahn, a mainstay at the studio for more than a decade now! Here is a neat little fun fact: After finishing Indivisible, he got to do boards on Promare; Trigger’s first big film. Now that’s one helluva anime debut.

Stay tuned for part 2! Where we’ll dig deeper into Studio Trigger’s video game collaborations!