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Interview with Gainax / Gurren Lagann Staff

By Jason Yeh     August 26, 2008


Gurren Lagann Vol. #2
© Bandai Entertainment

Originally interviewed at the end of May 2008 at Anime Central:

(NOTE: The following is not an exact transcription of the interview. A translator assisted with the interview and the following is based on that person's translation.)

[Q] - Question
[HY] - Hiroyuki Yamaga (President of Gainax)
[YT] - Yasuhiro Takeda (Producer on Gurren Lagann)
[MO] - Masahiko Otsuka (Assistant Director on Gurren Lagann)
[YY] - Yoh Yoshinari (Mecha Designer on Gurren Lagann)

[Q] Earlier in the convention, you revealed that two movies are in the works and they are basically going to summarize Gurren Lagann. Why did the staff choose to do that versus a sequel, prequel, or spin-off?

[HY] This is my idea because I felt that people are getting word that Gurren Lagann is a popular series. But when comes down to it, it's no longer on the air anymore. Will this person who has heard something about it, go and buy the entire dvd set to see if the show is good or not? For the creators and the other staff members, they would rather do a prequel or sequel, do something new rather than do something over again. But in order to spread the word of Gurren Lagann to people, a person is more likely to go see a 2 hour movie to find out more about Gurren Lagann than to try to go find all the dvds. As the person behind the planning of the series, it was my idea to create a movie.

[Q] I've only seen the first 6 episodes. From what I've noticed, unlike many other mecha shows, Gurren Lagann doesn't seem to follow the more typical sci-fi or fantasy storylines. Did the staff purposely try to come up with something more unique for Gurren Lagann?

[YT] Well definitely the director, Hiroyuki Imaishi, wanted to come with something that looked different. Compared to other standard robot shows, he wanted only robots to be in it. It has to have feet, it's got to have a face. You won't see any tanks, you won't see any planes. If it's in the show, it's a robot. I think if anything compared to other shows, this is one of the characteristics that's unique to Gurren Lagann.

[Q] In particular to the mecha designs, they seem very organic. Was this done purposely?

[YY] Yes, it's definitely intentional. By making it organic, it makes it easier to animate. If you make it really hard and robotic, you can't have the freedom of movement of joints and whatnot. By making it sort of organic or fluid, you can do things that with a robot that you can't normally do. A lot of robot shows these days use CGI, but what's the point of making a hand-drawn animated series if you can't have such freedom and fluidity of an organic design.

[Q] I wanted to know if any of the staff had done any specific research when working on Gurren Lagann?

[YY] I seem to recall doing a lot of research on what it would be like to live underground and what kind of materials would be needed (what life would be like). Despite all the research and hard work that was put into it, they only spent 1 episode in the underground chamber before they go up to the surface. I had to think to myself, "What was all my hard work for?"

[HY] Gurren Lagann was in the planning phases for really long time, but once the project got rolling, it went really quickly. Once it started, there wasn't a whole lot of time to be doing research trips.

[Q] Besides current projects that were mentioned at the convention, what anime would the staff be interested in working on (specific genres, more movies, more OVAs)?

[YY] I don't want to make anime, I want to make cartoons.

[MO] Personally for myself and many in the company would like to do a series or movie set in modern day rather than ones that are not.

[HY] I got so many things in planning, but I have a feeling that I haven't put my hands on something to create on my own. If I had to choice to do anything I wanted, I want to create something by myself on my own, something creative.

[YT] I want to do a live action movie. But it's not like I want to get together with a bunch of movie creators. No, I want to make a live action movie with the staff of Gainax.

(I responded that I would be very interested in a such a movie and Yoshinari Takeda replied "me too")

[Q] What are your opinions on anime that targets the Western audiences (for instance, Afro Samurai and the more recent Appleseed movies)? Do you have any interest in making anime that is more targeted to the Western audience?

[HY] We get that question a lot, but we have no idea what Afro Samurai is. You may see it as a trend over here [North America], but within the large anime industry in Japan, it just so happens to be one of the markets that Gonzo is concentrating on. It's not an overall trend at all in Japan. For one company, it's the direction they choose to do business. Overall, it really doesn't affect us and we don't have input on that.

[Q] With exception of Evangelion, there are very few sequels that Gainax works on. Is there an interest to make longer series / franchises?

[HY] When it comes down to it, Evangelion was 26 episodes, the same length as Gurren Lagann.

[Q] But with Evangelion, Gainax has extended the franchise…

[HY] Well, Evangelion was popular so we could do more and more and more. Starting with the movies with Gurren Lagann, we're hoping to do the same. As long as it continues to be popular, we're going to make more.

[Q] Would Gainax consider taking on a project that was planned at the beginning to be 50 episodes or more?

[HY] (laughs) Impossible. It can't be done. The way the company is setup, the moment we would make the 27th episode, we would go bankrupt.

[MO] We were really close to the edge with the final episode of Gurren Lagann, so that's the most we could possibly hope to do.

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