At MCM London in October 2017, we were given the chance to interview the minds behind Little Witch Academia and the new game Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time, Game Producer Yosuke Futami, Series Producer Naoko Tsutsumi, and Series Director and Creator, Yoh Yoshinari. The interview is split up into two sections, one for the game, and one about the series overall.
The following article is said interview, with questions by us at Fighting for Nippon and those who submitted questions via our Twitter. The interview was conducted by @Jakiba at the pleasure of Bandai Namco Europe and translated into Japanese, then back into English by the onsite translator with touch-ups done by @DoctorDazza. Please enjoy!
If you want to see more articles like this with industry creators and insiders, please considering supporting Fighting for Nippon on Patreon.
We started out the interviews by talking quickly with Yosuke Futami, a producer on the Little Witch Academia game, Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time.
Question: Which past work of yours do you think had the biggest influence on the Little Witch Academia game?
Futami: I wanted to create this game and to reproduce the world of the anime, especially Trigger’s style of anime expression. I also really wanted to see their style of action in a game.
Question: What was the hardest part of the production?
Futami: It’s really hard to replicate the gorgeous Trigger animation in game. Creating this game is very difficult process, however, we enjoyed creating this game because of how much Trigger co-operated with us during the development of it.
Question: Speaking of your relationship with Trigger, how did this Little Witch Academia game come about in the first place?
Futami: When I watched the Little Witch Academia anime, I was so impressed with what I saw. I thought it was something that would translate very well into game form. So I contacted Trigger about the possibility of doing so. I was so happy when I heard it was happening!
We continue the interviews by talking to the series director and creator Yoh Yoshinari, and producer Naoko Tsutsumi about Trigger, Little Witch Academia’s growth, and pineapple on pizza.
Question: The first major project at Trigger was the Little Witch Academia short made for the Anime Mirai project, how do you think this has affected Trigger as it’s grown as a studio?
Yoshinari/Tsutsumi: Trigger was set up to make Kill la Kill, and Little Witch Academia was really a project to kill time until Kill la Kill was ready. We didn’t think it’d keep going this long, but it’s been a good source of income for the company and the studio wants it to keep going because it’s easier to make something that you’ve made before. You can use the characters and there’s a sense in which because it has kept going that it’s become the face of the company.
Question: You’ve said in past interviews that you’d like to tell more in the world of Little Witch Academia, would you say this is currently on the cards in animated form?
Yoshinari/Tsutsumi: It’s up to the fans, we’re ready and willing but it depends on the fan’s reaction.
Question: Little Witch Academia takes a lot of cues from older magical girl anime like Secrets of Akko-chan, would you say that this is intentional?
Yoshinari: I actually wanted to do something different from what a lot of Japanese anime featuring magical girls does. It’s closer in fact to British children’s literature. It’s kind of a clash between Japanese and Western cultures. You have Akko who maybe comes from a Japanese literary background, but you’ve got her coming to this world which is more of a British children’s literature world.
Question: With that in mind, would you say that creating ambitious original anime is easier today than in the past?
Tsutsumi: It’s actually very hard to make this anime style, nowadays the mainstream in Japan is a moe style, so this kind of old style anime is kind of fizzling out.
Question: On the production side of things, what would you say is the main differences for starting up the Little Witch Academia TV project compared to the OVAs?
Tsutsumi/Yoshinari: The biggest difference is the scheduling. You have less time and a lot more work, so you have to work very quickly.
Question: When did Netflix get involved in the Little Witch Academia TV series and what effect do you think they had over the production if any?
Tsutsumi: Netflix came on board after the success of the crowd-funded project [Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade] and they wanted to sponsor the series, but they didn’t have much influence over the production. They didn’t have any specific instructions, their biggest involvement was in terms of providing funding.
Question: What would you say the production of an episode of Little Witch Academia looked like? Was it calm or was there a lot of fire and brimstone?
Yoshinari: laughs It was fun! There was a lot of young staff involved and we gave them a lot of freedom. We didn’t have a lot of restrictions you would find in recent anime where they spend a lot of time just trying to get the characters exactly right and matching 100%. We didn’t worry about that and gave them a lot more freedom.
Question: Was there any guiding animation philosophies when producing episodes?
Yoshinari: Not really.
Question: What would you say the most frustrating part of the show’s production was?
Yoshinari: The lack of time, especially compared to the time we had with the OVAs
Question: Of course you’ve been involved with a lot of previous anime work Yoshinari, which of your previous work do you think has been the biggest influence on Little Witch Academia?
Yoshinari: It’d probably be something by Hiroyuki Imaishi, but rather than something like Gurren Lagann where he was the director, it’d actually be something before then when he was an episode director like Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi or his work on His and Her Circumstances.
Question: Trigger recently announced at Anime Expo three new anime projects, how are they coming along? What do you think the studio is learning about themselves through many of them being co-productions?
Tsutsumi: None of these has gone into production yet, we’ve only made the announcements.
We’re a little confused by this answer, considering Darling in the Frankxx (the A-1 Pictures x Trigger co-production) is supposed to be coming out in the Winter 2018 season, which starts in January. The most likely scenarios we can come up with is that either most of the work is either being done at A-1 Pictures, rather than Trigger, or that the schedule is super tight on episode turnovers and pre-production is at A-1.
Question: With regards to the individuality of the episodes, do you consider Little Witch Academia an experience to help staff grow with each other?
Yoshinari: Yeah, I think so. There’s a lot of young people involved and they were given a lot of freedom and use their discretion a lot, and you grow through that. Also having that freedom makes you take more responsibility for the project and also working together gives you the opportunity to learn about the struggles and challenges that other sections face apart from just your own.
Question: Finally, what’s your opinion on pineapple on pizza?
Yoshinari: I don’t like any fruit on pizza
Tsutsumi: Me neither.