Director Koichi Sakamoto talks about the road to Ultraman Trigger.
You directed some episodes of last year’s Ultraman Z, but you haven’t been the main director of an Ultra series since Ultraman Geed. When did you start participating in the planning process?
I joined in quite early into the planning process. At first, we only had a vague idea of what we wanted to do for the next project, something related to Ultraman Tiga, so we started from almost nothing and discussed it with all the staff to shape it into a work.
Please tell us about the plan designs of Ultraman Trigger, which is being referred to as the Reiwa Ultraman Tiga.
The biggest challenge we faced was figuring out how to incorporate elements of Tiga into the show. As you all know, Tiga is popular among the fans, and it’s a work that’s reached its own conclusion, so I thought it would be impossible to make a sequel to it.
We decided on recreating the impact that Tiga left on children and the world. Unlike a remake or reboot of Tiga, our main goal was to create the same social phenomenon that happened back then. The fact that the title includes the words NEW GENERATION TIGA is also an expression of our desire to convey the charm of the old series to a new generation.
How did you decide on the name “Trigger”?
First of all, I wanted to use a name that started with a “T” to reflect the 25th anniversary of Ultraman Tiga. So I came up with this idea: “Trigger” means “catalyst” and we decided on Ultraman Trigger in the hope that this work would trigger the creation of a new generation of Ultraman.
It seems to also emphasize the “New Generation” used to refer to the recent series as well, isn’t it.
Ultraman Zero from Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend and the Ultraman characters of the New Generation starting with Ultraman Ginga all speak the same language as humans in many scenes. For the young viewers of today, it’s normal for Ultraman to speak even when he’s fighting, and they feel uncomfortable with the Ultraman of the past who barely speak.
In Trigger, we wanted to return to the Ultraman characterization that was used in the era of Ultraman Tiga. So we did not make him talk as much as in the recent New Generation Ultraman series. However, there are still some present-day effects, such as Kengo Manaka being in the “inner space” where he is one with Ultraman, so we didn’t want to bring everything back to the past, but instead, we tried to find a meeting point between the past and the present.
Please tell us about Naoki Hayashi and Junichiro Ashiki as script directors.
When I received the offer for this project, Tsuburaya Productions asked me to invite someone who had not participated in any of the projects before but was interested in Ultraman, and that’s why I invited Hayashi. When he had written the script for BLACKFOX: Age of the Ninja, I had heard that he loved tokusatsu films, so I had asked him to visit me at other sites after that. We talked about how we would like to challenge ourselves with a tokusatsu hero film someday, and I introduced him to Tsuburaya.
It also seems like many of the other staff members have also worked with you in the past.
That’s true. That’s right. When I worked with Shoma Muto, who designed the three Giants of Darkness (Carmilla, Dargon, and Hydrum), the enemies of Trigger, in another work, I asked him to join us because of his talent. The same goes for K-SuKe, who designed the Metron Alien Maruru.
I worked with Gou Sakabe, the music director, on Kamen Rider Ghost and was fascinated by his ear for melody.
The uniforms of the GUTS-SELECT, the expert team that takes charge of the monster disasters, are reminiscent of the Special Search Team GUTS from Tiga and the Super GUTS from Ultraman Dyna, and have a traditional charm to them!
My opinions and suggestions were reflected in those uniforms. I incorporated elements of the GUTS uniforms from Tiga and Dyna but I also added some new design aspects to them.
In Ultraman Z, the Storage team members wore military-style uniforms to create a sense of reality, but in Trigger, we’re trying to create a more sci-fi defense team atmosphere. The jacket is leather, but the pants are made of a material that is easy to move in order to increase mobility. I was very particular about reconstructing the image of the past defense team using the current materials.
I’d like to ask you about the casting. First of all, what made you decide to cast Raiga Terasaka as the main character, Kengo Manaka, who transforms into Ultraman Trigger?
We had remote auditions this time around. While there were many that auditioned, Terasaka’s sunny disposition stood out above the rest. He was exactly what we were looking for in the main character of Ultraman Trigger, and he made me think “I want to work with him” just from the first glance. His inherent positivity and cheerfulness were perfect for the theme of the work: to make people smile.
I heard that Runa Toyoda, who plays the heroine Shizuma Yuna, did not audition for the role, but was offered the role by you.
That’s right. Luna was one of the girls that I had been interested in from magazines and TV for a long time. Aside from being attractive, she has been acting since she was a child, so she has solid acting skills. As I was writing Yuna’s character, I felt that she was getting closer and closer to Yuna, so I made her an offer. She was well received by the people who had worked with her in the past, so even before I made the offer, I was already thinking to go with her even before I made any offer.