When it comes to the anime Darling In The FranXX, Zero-Two (002) pretty much represents the focal point of the entire fandom. The character is so widely popular that even Kim Kardashian West admitted that Zero-Two's hairstyle inspired the reality TV star. Creative director/producer Hiromi Wakabayashi of anime studio Trigger and Gainax fame has been talking about this character and other related topics during a recent Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) session.
Hiromi's favorite work is the FLCL series, but he's known for having worked on a variety of popular anime, including Gurren Lagann, Kill la Kill, Little Witch Academia, and Panty & Stocking In Garterbelt. Anime fans would love to watch Panty & Stocking In Garterbelt Season 2, although Little Witch Academia Season 2 is way more likely. During the Reddit AMA, Hiromi explained how his role in the company works.
"I function as a creative producer while leading the PR team for Studio Trigger," he said. "This is exclusive for myself, but my work varies from directing the key visual, trailers, magazine/web ad, and quality control/direction for merchandise. I pretty much oversee anything related to [the] branding of our title."
The Darling In The FranXX anime is a collaboration between A-1 Pictures and Studio Trigger, with the latter being "mainly in charge [of] concept planning and development." Hiromi believes that Trigger was more like the stamen than the pistil since Trigger has "got that rowdy, rascal like vibe." He also says the staff was doubled, which made the project "more difficult to manage compared to others."
"A-1's got the capacity to produce multiple titles throughout the year, and they're also known for their quality so we got a lot to learn from them when it comes to actual production," Hiromi humbly admitted.
Many fans probably assumed that Trigger's touch was most evident during the fluid battle scenes, but Hiromi says Trigger was "mainly in charge of pre-production since coming up with original content is what we do best" and A-1 Pictures "handled most of the actual animation process." When Hiromi discussed Trigger's philosophy toward animating, he claimed the "most important aspect of animation is the process of characterization."
"For example, the simple act of turning around is enough to portray one's character. The direction might be simple, but the animator must think what the character's motive is, how would the particular character react when he/she is animating the scene," Hiromi wrote. "With the above noted, we aspire to express our animation boldly. We will be loud for our actions, and we're not shy to show emotions as well."
One anime fan noted that Trigger has a tendency to create heroines like Panty Anarchy, Yoko Littner, Satsuki Kiryuuin, Lalaco, and now Zero-Two "that have a very sort of aggressive, forwards sexuality" whereas many female anime characters are passive, pure, or shy. Hiromi was "really happy" that some of their fans "caught on to this" and explained why Darling In The FranXX's Zero-Two behaves as she does.
"I cannot speak for all of our titles, but I can say with confidence that Panty and Lalaco are heavily influenced by my preference," he said. "I like to think that their openness to sexuality can be perceived as a symbol of freedom."
Hiromi says that the inspiration for Zero-Two's anime design came from director Atsushi Nishigori and character designer Masayoshi Tanaka. When asked if Hiromi prefers Zero-Two or Ichigo, he chose Zero-Two but clarified that "she's however not a waifu material. I guess I'm attracted to her charismatic personality." That's probably a safe answer considering that some irate fans sent death threats to the writer and director of the now infamous Darling In The FranXX Episode 14 because of what happened with Ichigo and Hiro.
When the controls of the FranXX like the Strelizia came up, someone asked if Trigger experimented with "two people in various kinky positions before the current doggy position was picked," but Hiromi simply demurred by saying the cockpit design was the result of the director placing an order and the design team working together on the concept with everyone's input. Hiromi also explained how the relationship between the girl and boy pilots works in the Darling In The FranXX anime.
"The girls are mainly responsible for the ignition while the boys pilot the FranXX. The girls also hold the initiative for the FranXX's functionality since they can technically activate the machine without the boys (the stampede mode). Although, Zero-Two is the only female character known to be capable of this. The boy and girls role in piloting the Franxx are not interchangeable."Sorry, anime fans, that means no Yuri in the FranXX. The creative director also teased fans with a potential spoiler by agreeing that "Darling In The FranXX definitely follows this trend" set in "Evangelion, Diebuster, and Gurren Lagann [where] the mecha have their own consciousness."