Answering Fans’ Wishes with Kickstarter: Studio Trigger (“Little Witch Academia 2”) Interview [3/3]

Answering Fans’ Wishes with Kickstarter: Studio Trigger (“Little Witch Academia 2”) Interview [3/3] 5

This is the last part of our interview with Masahiko Otsuka, director, producer, and head of Studio Trigger; Kazuya Masumoto, producer and studio board member; and PR representative Tatsuru Tatemoto.

TOM: What do you think is the reason that even overseas fans welcomed Little Witch Academia so enthusiastically?
Otsuka: Thinking back, the design and the story often come to my mind. However, in the end, I think it’s meaningless to analyze that point, since we did not intend to target a specific demographic. If we are able to meet our fans expectation, I believe that is enough in my opinion. That being said, I am not going to deny that there are other methods of creating an anime, such as taking a market survey, decide what topic is hot, and then go into production. However, we at studio TRIGGER do not use that method. We want to make an anime that we ourselves enjoy, while making our fans happy. For that reason, we have no intention of making anime separately for Japan and oversea audience.

TOM: It seems that the Kickstarter project for LWA 2 is nearing $500,000. We were informed that you intend to make the 2nd episode longer than the first one. Are the pledges going to be enough for that?
Otsuka: When we made Little Witch Academia, we received a 38 million yen support from Anime Mirai. In terms of money, the support from fans has exceeded the amount from last time, so we are extremely grateful. However, we can’t use the whole amount for production fees, as it also includes the
return gifts to those who were kind enough to make a pledge. Combining that with our production fee reserves, I estimate the budget to be around the same level as Little Witch Academia, so it seems we won’t have to pay for it by ourselves.

TOM: Do you think that after Trigger’s success, this model of a company putting the first episode of its anime on YouTube, then collecting the rest from episode 2 onward through crowdfunding will take root in the anime industry?
Otsuka: To be honest, I think it might be difficult. This is something I can say because we tried it, but using crowdfunding wasn’t an easy experiment. We were able to communicate with Kickstarter’s staff and overseas fans because we had Tatemoto, who is proficient in English, at our company, but I think in the case of anime production companies of the same scale as Trigger, this is pretty rare. I think the bigger a company is, the more likely that they won’t be able to cover their fees with challenging experiments like Kickstarter, and cases where the story is incoherent might increase. Based on the present circumstances of the anime industry, it is doubtful that an initiative like this would suddenly spread around. However, I think that if we complete LWA 2, and if it meets the fans’ expectations, if we succeeded in the true sense, there might be other companies who think, “In that case, let’s try it ourselves.”

Masumoto: We talked about this with Otsuka a lot, that we want to directly offer our works to the fans. Since with our try with Kickstarter, this will be possible, I’m looking forward to it, but at the same time, I also feel a little uneasy. This goes without saying, but now the demands to make an anime that satisfies the customers are even stronger than before. Of course, in the business structure where the customers watch the anime, then buy it on DVD or Blu-ray, it was also necessary to meet the customers’ expectations, but that was ambiguous because of the anime distribution company that came in between. Normally, the production fees of an anime are decided as a project budget between the anime studio and the distribution company. However, this time, the construction is absolutely different, because the budget we received is the fans’ expected value. With an example, it’s just like we turned into street performers. We offer interesting work to the people who pass in front of us, and we receive our compensation directly. Although the fact itself that we are making anime doesn’t change, it feels as if the stage was fundamentally different.

Otsuka: Looking back, I feel that it is a big asset that we already had Little Witch Academia. Right after uploading it to YouTube, there were people saying that they want to pay for this work, and I think it was exactly because of that
encouragement that we finally arrived at the idea of Kickstarter. Also, unlike Gurren Lagann, which was fully completed and had an end, we made Little Witch Academia with the hope that we would continue it if possible. I am
extremely happy that we reached our target amount of money, and thanks to that, we arrived at the sequel, but I also feel the pressure of that. I’m not worried about the visuals. The story will be essential. If possible, I’d like to surpass Little Witch Academia in the sequel, but that’s no small feat.

Masumoto: The more the expectations, the more I feel pressure along with happiness. There is the feeling of excessive gratitude as a major premise, of course.

TOM: As a fan, I’d like to express my opinion. I think that most of the pledges were partly meant to express gratitude, a “thank you for making an interesting anime.” That’s why, if LWA 2 will be a piece of work filled with Trigger’s soul, I think the fans will accept it, no matter what kind of work it will turn out to be.
Otsuka: When we make a plan, there is always a moment with that “this is it!” feeling. However, as I previously said, we haven’t started on the scenario yet, so until we arrive to that moment, it might be difficult. But since our fans expect us to start on LWA 2 after the production of Kill la Kill is finished, we’d like to complete the story of LWA 2 by then.

TOM: In the event that LWA 2 too is a success, is the production of a third part possible?
Otsuka: I think it’s possible. We assumed 40 minutes for LWA 2, but it’s not a story that could be completed in even that time, so if we are given the chance, we’d like to challenge a second sequel. Director Yoshinari wishes to put not only the protagonist, Akko, under the spotlight, but each of the other characters as well. In that respect, 40 minutes is not enough at all. But since there is no use in only gazing ahead, we are focusing on completing Kill la Kill and LWA 2 in the best possible way first.

TOM: If that’s the case, it’d be nice if you could complete 26 episodes, a standard for TV anime.
Otsuka: Well, that would take more than ten years (laughs). It would end up like Tora-san 1.

Masumoto: If it can, then let it be! It’d be like, “We will make an anime film every year!” (laughs)

Tatemoto: Actually, if it became that long, we could turn it into one of the platforms of anime production, so if we can continue, then it’d be nice to continue as long as possible.

Otsuka: There are works that are suitable for such things, and works that are not. If you ask whether we will do this whole TV anime series through crowdfunding, the answer is, we have no such intention at all. TV anime have their own good points, and the same could be said for anime films. But I think it’s quite possible that anime that couldn’t take form with the previous methods might find a new way through the crowdfunding system, and come out into the world as a completed work. This kind of variety ought to be welcomed.

TOM: There is a crowdfunding box on Trigger’s renewed homepage, so we are expecting more experimental projects.
Otsuka: If we have the chance, we’d like to challenge them. However, we can’t just go on and start multiple works without giving results, so first, we will complete LWA 2. The rest will come after.

TOM: Fans all over the world are eagerly waiting for LWA 2, so we wish you the best of luck.
Otsuka: We will do our best to meet fans’ expectations, so please look forward to Kill la Kill this fall and Little Witch Academia 2. Thank you.

^1^ Refers to Otoko wa Tsurai yo, a Japanese live-action movie series that has 48 films. Many people call the film series Tora-san from the name of the main character, Torajirō Kuruma.

Studio Trigger Official Page

Kill la Kill Official Page

Little Witch Academia 2 ( Kickstarter )

This is a Tokyo Otaku Mode original article.

"Little Witch Academia" (Official)
"Little Witch Academia" (Official)
TV Anime "Kill la Kill" Second TV Spot
TV Anime "Kill la Kill" Second TV Spot
Masahiko Otsuka
Masahiko Otsuka
Kazuya Masumoto
Kazuya Masumoto
Tatsuru Tatemoto
Tatsuru Tatemoto
"Little Witch Academia" concept illustration
"Little Witch Academia" concept illustration
"Kill la Kill" concept illustration
"Kill la Kill" concept illustration
Answering Fans’ Wishes with Kickstarter: Studio Trigger (“Little Witch Academia 2”) Interview [3/3] 8
Answering Fans’ Wishes with Kickstarter: Studio Trigger (“Little Witch Academia 2”) Interview [3/3] 9
Answering Fans’ Wishes with Kickstarter: Studio Trigger (“Little Witch Academia 2”) Interview [3/3] 10

These are your people. Join the TOM Fan Club to meet more fun, friendly otaku: