In 2019 Studio Trigger animated a brief 30-second teaser for the Dungeon Meshi manga. Many were caught off-guard by the Trigger of places suddenly working on an adaptation, even in such a small capacity. Fast-forward a few years later, and now they’re taking their first proper adaptation in ages! So let’s take a closer look at the talent gathered for the anime.
Currently, you can separate Studio Trigger into three different branches: Projects led by Hiroyuki Imaishi (Kill la Kill, Luluco, Promare, Cyberpunk Edgerunners), Yoh Yoshinari (Little Witch Academia, BNA) and mostly recently Akira Amemiya (Gridman, Dynazenon, and Ninja Slayer but we don’t talk about that.) Projects that fall outside of that are few and far between– like Inou Battle and Kiznaiver– but those are the projects where Miyajima got his start as an episode director! I would especially like to highlight his work on Kiznaiver. He directed the pilot and the finale of the show, along with co-boarding the mid-season climax. The show, reception-wise, is a bit of a mixed bag, mostly seen as “melodramatic,” but I see it as the show’s biggest strength. The entire premise is built around a group of teens trying to get to know each other– and the struggles that come along with it. It’s a very earnest show. Maybe a little bit cheesy, but a little dose of it never hurts from time to time!
From there on, Miyajima continued to be an exceptional episode director at the studio, his work on SSSS. Gridman is a major highlight. He was directing the first mid-season finale and the last episode once again! It felt like the studio was really trusting in his skills to deliver on the most vital episodes in the show. And that trust extended to the sequel series SSSS. Dynazenon, where he was promoted to Assistant Director! From the credits alone, he was much less involved compared to the other shows he worked on in the past, but an Assistant Director is a holistic role. Meaning his influence is more subtle: pre-production, management, corrections to storyboards, or even the drawings themselves. All important roles that can’t be reflected in the credits alone.
This brings us to Dungeon Meshi, where he finally made his debut as a series director proper. Personally, I felt like he really shone on slower-paced, more naturalistic shows like Gridman and Dynazenon. I’m interested to see what he brings to the table with DunMeshi. He did direct the first trailer back in 2019, which was much slower-paced compared to the most recent one. The trailer shows non-stop action and the studio’s usual love for loose, goofy drawings, but I feel like with his touch, the show will know when to dial it back and take things easy.
The funniest script writer in anime no one knows about– and that’s a damn shame! Disappointingly understandable, given a good bulk of her work is on franchises largely ignored in the West (Ninja Hattori, Shin-chan). Still, she’s also written a good amount of work for Trigger, writing scripts for LWA and BNA. My personal favorite is LWA #3, which is absolutely the show at its funniest, absurdist, and somehow at its most intense. Events escalate so rapidly that you’d think you were watching a series finale. But the show just started! Ueno’s great at pushing shows to their absolute extreme and at their most bizarre.
While it’s not my favorite, I’ll never forget how hard I laughed while watching Space Dandy #4. The episode starts out as your typical zombie episode, but halfway through, it turns into a documentary of sorts about zombies themselves because the entire galaxy ended up turning into them. It’s a trick that only works once, but I’d be damned if it didn’t work on me!
Regarding adaptations, Series Composition is all about deciding what to adapt and how: Deciding how many chapters should be adapted into an episode, whether the material should be rearranged for the sake of pacing, or even be taken out completely. It’s a role more about management and varies widely depending on the scope of the project. Though honestly, I’m looking forward to seeing her scripts instead. At the very least, I’m sure she’s going to pen an episode or two!
Typically an animator in the industry starts out as an in-betweener. Then they slowly rise in the ranks by tracing over the work of more experienced animators. However, if an animator is skilled enough, they can skip the training process entirely, which seems to be the case for Takeda. Their earliest work as an animator was Kill la Kill. After that, they regularly provided animation for all of their shows, then Animation Direction, and then Chief Animation Direction for BNA. It was only a matter of time until their debut as Character Designer!
The designs themselves have a fun versatility that I adore. They still retain the original appeal of the manga while adding just the right amount of angularity and exaggeration when needed. Can’t ask for anything more!
While I understand some hesitation about a studio like Trigger handling the anime, I feel those worries are mostly misplaced. Miyajima’s a director who’s comfortable with naturalistic and emotional stories, so that it won’t be high-octane action all the time. A Ueno’s touch should still keep things fun and exciting as well. I think manga readers should rest easy– they pretty much got a five-course meal with the staff already!