It was certainly a surprise when Studio Trigger took the opportunity to announce three new anime projects at Anime Expo last year. One would have been more than enough, but it now feels like we always have something to look forward to from the fan-favourite studio. The first is DARLING in the FRANXX, a sci-fi series directed by Atsushi Nishigori and produced in collaboration with A-1 Pictures. It’s also the upcoming series that I’m the most excited for. Here’s why.
1. The Director
DARLING in the FRANXX is a kind of reunion of sorts. Atsushi Nishigori was a heavily influential creator at GAINAX, having been the character designer for Gurren Lagann and Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt. However, around the time the current members of Studio Trigger left GAINAX, Nishigori was leaving too, to direct a full TV anime adaptation of The Idolmaster for A-1 Pictures.
The series was incredibly successful, prompting a film version and subsequent adaptations of Cinderella Girls and SideM. But instead of working on the new series’ Atsushi Nishigori has been working on this new project as his first major collaboration with Studio Trigger. This time, Nishigori has two exciting studios to work between and a lot of creative talents between the two to collaborate with.
2. Trigger Teams up with A-1 Pictures
A-1 Pictures is somewhat of a complex studio that is often misunderstood. The studio puts out a lot of work, but doesn’t necessarily have a massive in-house workforce like you would expect. Instead, the studio forms connections with talented directors and animators and brings them on for specific suitable projects. This is why DARLING in the FRANXX’s character designer, Masayoshi Tanaka can work on Your Name last year with Comix Wave Film and work on FRANXX this year with Trigger and A-1 Pictures.
Usually studio collaborations can be a messy affair and is often the result of a single studio being unable to handle a project on their own. For example, with all these staff members leaving GAINAX, their upcoming Zero Century films are being created in collaboration with the support studio, Production GoodBook. But FRANXX is a collaboration between two studios that could have created this alone, but chose to work together. This means that the production can rely on the contacts and staff members between both teams, allowing for a larger pool of talent.
3. Khara 3D Team
It really is a reunion, isn’t it? Before the members of Studio Trigger and Atsushi Nishigori left GAINAX, Hideaki Anno left to create Studio Khara. Since the creation of this new studio, one of its highlights has been the experts at making 3D models appear to be 2D at Khara Digital Department. This has been particularly noteworthy in the Evangelion rebuild films, offering exceptional 3D mecha animation of the Eva units.
But now with the aid of A-1 Pictures 3D Team, led by Ryuta Undo, the dream team is in place as both teams now have the support to create exceptional 3D environments. The mechs themselves will be mostly animated with 2D drawings, so it will be interesting to see where in DARLING in the FRANXX Khara Digital Department and A-1 Pictures 3D Team will lend their skills.
4. 2D Mecha Action
So if the mechs will be animated in 2D for the majority of the show, then it seems like we can look forward to a lot of exciting fight scenes similar to those that we saw in the latest trailer. These are being directed by Gurren Lagann and Kill la Kill director, Hiroyuki Imaishi, whose style has now become synonymous with Trigger as a studio.
It’s not overly common to see 2D mechs these days and the ability to animate these mechanical monstrosities is a valued skillset. In most cases, it becomes impractical to have the mechs hand drawn and so they’re outsourced to overworked 3D studios. Just from the initial information we have about the series, it’s already looking to be a remarkable production.
5. The Designs
The smooth designs of DARLING in the FRANXX are immediately likeable. The character designs are created by Masayoshi Tanaka, who previously worked in the same role on Anohana and Your Name whilst the mechanical designs are created by Shigeto Koyama a former GAINAX designer, who most famously created Baymax for Disney’s Big Hero 6.
Many parts of DARLING in the FRANXX are a star line up and these designs are certainly no exception. Each character and mech are entirely distinctive, especially with the mechs seeming to have their own particular battle style and design inspirations. For example, the Argantea mech, piloted by characters Miku and Zorome appears to be based on the Harajuku fashion aesthetic. It’s going to be exciting to see exactly how each of these mechanical suits battles throughout the show.
Are you excited for DARLING in the FRANXX? Let us know what you’re excited for in the comments section below.