Before the official start of Anime Expo 2009, we got a chance to sit down briefly with Director Hiroyuki Imaishi and Character Designer Atsushi Nishigori from the hit series Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
T-ONO: How does it feel to have designed characters for such a popular series seen everywhere, in merchandise, posters, etc.
Nishigori: There is so much paraphernalia, so much media that a company's series has. You see the characters in posters and all over the place that you almost feel that they are not your characters. When the series first came out, I couldn't quite grasp the fact that they were the characters I designed coming out there. It didn't quite sink in. It is definitely an unusual feeling that you have to experience for the first time.
T-ONO: Which of the character was the most fun to design? Also, overall which character was the most difficult?
Nishigori: I really kind of have a pension for designing female characters. I really had a lot of fun designing Yoko and Nia. The male characters though, I would take advice from Imaishi-san or from others in designing those roles.
T-ONO: With the first movie, there were some slight changes made in comparison to the television series. Was there any particular reason why those changes were placed?
Imaishi: The main thing was switching the formats of the thirty minute television show to the two hour movie; you have to change the tempo. When you are writing for a thirty minute episode, there is a very different kind of pacing and amount of detail you could put into it. In designing the film, we wanted to make something that functions well as a film, enjoyable in of itself. The tempo had a lot to do with it. But we wanted to create a film that people would enjoy. We also thought that changing some of the details might be fun for the people who have seen the television series - that they could pay attention to the changes or the extra details to some of the scenes that were lavished more in the movie.
T-ONO: For the second movie that's coming up, can the fans expect to see more closure to the series or further up the series than where the original series took place?
Imaishi: You'll have to look forward to seeing it. We want you to wait until you see the film to get the answer to your questions.
T-ONO: Are you currently working on any projects or future projects that are coming up?
Imaishi: Yes, we are definitely working on some things. We are not quite at liberty to talk about them at this point. We can't present them, but they are in the works. We hope you could enjoy the wait.
T-ONO: For the recent release of the CD and promotion video, ~Pieces of Sweet Stars~, which costume was Nishigori-san's favorite that he designed?
Nishigori: [Profuse laughing] My favorite was the blue promotional outfit for Yoko that looked like an elevator girl.
T-ONO: Will there be more music videos in the future maybe for different characters? Can we expect to see more?
Nishigori: Perhaps... they might be coming out [laughs].
T-ONO: Was there any particular reason for why Yoko was chosen to be the first idol CD to be released?
Nishigori: First of all, Yoko is the most popular character. Visually, she is appealing to a lot of people. When you put her in a music video, she appeals to both boys and girls. She is a kind of character that you could understand quickly, even in a short segment.
T-ONO: Thank you very much for your time.
Nishigori and Imaishi: Thank you.
Nishigori-san also graciously sketched a picture of Yoko for us to show all their fans.
(Don't forget to read our full panel transcription here.)