I had the opportunity to attend the anniversary events for Kill la Kill and Gurren Lagann at Anime NYC. I’ve been a fan of Gurren Lagann since its debut in 2007 on Toonami, and I continued to watch it later after it was removed from the lineup. It brings back memories and pride for being an OG American anime fan, like many of you! Gurren Lagann fueled my love for mecha anime, which began with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. I enjoy seeing the series’ creativity in character growth and the fight scenes. The art design was my favorite thing about the series. Occasionally, I can see the influence of Gurren Lagann. If you’ve ever watched the Transformers Animated series that aired on Cartoon Network, you can recognize some of the show’s influence.
The Anniversary event was livestreamed I found out a few days later so here’s the link if you’d like to check it out.
I watched Kill la Kill when it first aired on Adult Swim or Toonami at the time. I was skeptical at first and the show ended up being good once I got past every other minute of unnecessary loss of clothing. The fight scenes were always epic and really good and besides everyone always ending up naked by the end of it, I enjoyed it. It was a unique anime and idea that Studio TRIGGER took a chance and it became a success. I wouldn’t recommend this to someone just starting out watching anime but definitely for someone who has been around the weirdness of anime for a while.
Being at this event I realized that it’s really been 15 years since Gurren Lagann and 10 years since Kill la Kill. Time flew by so fast that I didn’t even think that it was so far gone already. At the panel, we were greeted by hosts and special guest Director Hiroyuki Imaishi, Art Director Shigeto Koyama, and Creative Officer Hiromi Wakabayashi from Studio TRIGGER. As a surprise to the audience, they also brought out the English voice actors Erica Mendez (Ryuko Matoi) and Christine Marie Cabanos (Mako Mankanshoku).
During the panel, the creators were asked about the inspiration for Kill la Kill and It made me chuckle when Koyama put Imaishi on the spot and said his idea was to mix bondage and school uniforms. The idea is so broad and how the rest plays out literally embodies what the general aspect of the show was about. Another thing that stood out to me was Koyama discussing the art design for Kill la Kill and how usually the villain is in dark colors or black and he decided to try to switch it up by putting villains in white and bright colors and protagonists in dark colors.
I thought that was interesting to try and put his own twist on something that’s been a thing for so long. I actually loved the idea and hope to see it implemented in more anime series I watch down the line. The history buff in me wants to go down the history of why that was a thing but I have a gist of why and I don’t want to get my feelings hurt at the moment. It made me think of how other studios get into meetings and discuss character designs and just continue the trope of dark colors for antagonists and light colors for protagonists.
I want to see more animation companies take a chance like Studio TRIGGER did on the art design for Kill la Kill. Just reversing an old trope is refreshing to see, I want to see more companies thinking about breaking certain stereotypes within storytelling and giving us more twists and turns to think about. One last thing that stood out to me during the panel after the English voice actors talked about their experience working on the series. Erica Mendez asked the creators a really good question. “Based on how the name Kill la Kill is said in Japanese I’ve heard it’s a play on words meaning to wear, Which perfectly ties into the major themes of the show. How did the team go about creating this title?”.
Director Imaishi answered this question and it goes to show how creative a team can be and how playing around with languages different meanings of words can create something great. Imaishi’s response “This is something I pondered together with the scriptwriter Nakashima and in Japanese, the kiru means to wear clothing but it also has another meaning to cut or lacerate and also has the more Western definition to kill someone so kudos to Mr. Nakashima for coming up with such a three-layer play on words.”. Kill la Kill (Japanese: キルラキル, Hepburn: Kiru Ra Kiru).
The first half of the panel was mostly Kill la Kill and then we got to touch on Gurren Lagann towards the end because they were talking about the new merch they have for the series. I admit looks great and I would purchase it when I get my money up and not my funny up. They mentioned that 2 movies for Gurren Lagann are going to be out in theaters in December! I never saw either of them so I will have an eventful December going to the theaters to check out these movies.
I really hope that Anime NYC keeps up anniversary events as the con continues to grow. Letting older anime fans like myself be able to relive the nostalgia will always continue to have us coming back. This panel was a great way to introduce the people behind the scenes of the animation series that people have come to love. I really hope that more panels like this continue to pop up. It helps people connect with the creatives that brought their ideas to life.
If you watched the livestream above the hosts were wearing these jackets and in case it’s your style here’s the site to purchase one for yourself. Shop the Kill la Kill and Gurren Lagann Merch at Animegurugear.com