As part of the Shingeki no Kyojin special feature, AFA 2013 also hosted the key individuals behind the production of the Shingeki TV anime. We get down and dirty with the President of WIT Studio (a subsidiary of Production I.G.) George Wada, Araki Tetsuro (Director), Asano Kyoji (Character Designer), and Nakatake Tetsuya (Animation Producer). The gentlemen were kind enough to entertain all sorts of interesting questions from us.

Team Shingeki (from the left): Wada, Araki, Asano, and Nakatake

1. When you were first assigned to direct Shingeki, were you expecting it to be a massive hit?
Director: The original manga by Isayama Hajime was already a big hit then, we did expect a large amount of viewers, but we didn’t expect the number of sales for DVD and Blu-Ray to be so high, so it caught us by surprise. It makes us happy.

2. Throughout the TV broadcast, there were some scene with awkward scene panning, the audio didn’t match up, some of the drawings looked incomplete. Were there any problems during the production?
Animation Producer: I’m surprised you noticed.
Director: I suppose there were. Everyone worked hard under difficult conditions to create it, but during broadcast there were times when we couldn’t complete the job within the time limit. All these will be rectified when it comes out in DVD and Blu-Ray.

3. Was there any difficulty having to stay in line with the original story?
Director: In the manga, the characters have these bursts of human emotions how they felt sorrow and how they felt anger, I liked these scenes, so I concentrated on how I could bring their expressions to life. That’s the point that I focused on the most.

Screenshot from episode 13 of the TV broadcast. Note the purple bricks.

4. Throughout the production, were there any disagreements among the staff? How did you overcome them?
Animation Producer: It’s pretty common to have differing opinions when we’re working on a project, but we let Director Araki decide what’s the best for the story and incorporate the final decision. Our stance is to make choices that are more beneficial for the production.

5. If Titans appeared in real life, how would you react?
Producer: We’ll let Director Araki answer that.
Director: I’ll put my life on the line and fight to protect my wife and kids!
The Team: Kakkoii!!~ (So cool!)

6. Shingeki has so many characters, how did you work with all those voice actors?
Director: I left the actual supervision to Mima-san (Mima Masafumi, Sound Director), so I don’t directly make contact with the seiyuus much. Mima and I have a good understanding of each other, so I think that’s important in the production. I’m not good with words unlike Mima, so I entrust communication to him.

7. You’ve been directing anime for some time. What did you have to give up to pursue this career?
Director: I had to give up being a nice guy. I’ve literally made some of my staff cry with the kind of work I give them, but I still try to maintain a healthy relationship with them.

8. How was producing Shingeki affected your daily life? Did anything interesting happen after it aired?
Character Designer: A lot of my friends don’t watch anime, actually. But when Shingeki aired, I’ve been getting a lot of phone calls from them saying ‘I’m watching this new anime you made, it’s awesome!’. They never did that before, not for all the over stuff I’ve worked on.

Shingeki no Kyojin (manga) ch.33, showing Mikasa discovering the Titan in Wall Rose.

Shingeki no Kyojin (TV) ep.25, showing the Titan in Wall Rose, discovered with no one else noticing it.

9. The ending of the TV series and the reveal of the Titan in the wall is drastically different from the manga. Why is that changed, and how did Isayama-san respond to that?
Director: I think it’s the second ending you’re referring to, We actually left the decision to a friend, Director Tachikawa Yuzuru. I didn’t really get it at first, but apparently Isayama understood when he saw it so it was alright.

10. Your fanbase overseas is growing, so can we get a message for your fans overseas?
Producer: When we make anime, we usually make it for the audience closer to us. But when the anime we produce that’s made to be appealing to that small audience is accepted by the audience worldwide, it’s a really happy thing. We’ll continue to work hard and hope that everyone will continue supporting Shingeki.

11. Which character do you find most inspiring?
Character Designer: I find Levi’s words influential and I like them. “No one knows the results,” I like that line the most. When I first received the task of character design for Shingeki, I never expected to see it so popular, so you really don’t know the results until it happens.

12. Shingeki is popular even in mainstream media. Even certain politicians liked it very much and that Shingeki includes political themes, so as the production side, what do you think of this?
Director: I think all of us, Isayama included, never thought even once about including a political message in the story. But for everyone, I think there’s a universal thing in stories that they can relate to which encourages personal interest in many people. And of course, we’re happy that there’s huge media attention for this.