TOPICS 2022.04.26 │ 12:00

What Made “Wonder Egg Priority” Such a Special Anime, Part 1

Wonder Egg Priority is the first anime conceived and written by Shinji Nojima, who was responsible for a number of hit television dramas which took the world by storm. Wonder Egg Priority is a scrupulously produced, richly unique film imbued with passion from its young team of creators. For this three-part series, we interviewed the core staff members to find out just what makes Wonder Egg Priority so outstanding. In this first installment, we spoke with Ms. Saki Takahashi, the chief animation and character design director, and Mr. Shin Wakabayashi, the director, about the characters’ visuals.

Interviewer/Author: Akiyoshi Hizume  Translator: Sarah Tangney

Choosing Clothes that Express Personality

One of the special elements of the show’s character design was making outfits worn by the characters seem realistic. Mr. Wakabayashi firmly believed that the characters’ clothing shouldn’t just be a decoration as part of the design, but instead act as a very important part of expressing that character’s personality.

WAKABAYASHI: “It’s fun to use clothing to show what kind of traits a character possesses. In fiction, it’s the easiest method of self-expression. Being fashion-conscious means you keep up with trends. But that’s not the kind of character Ai Ohto is, so Ms. Takahashi and I were very conscientious of what kinds of clothes Ai would wear.”

Ms. Takahashi’s Clothing Rough Drafts

“Mr. Wakabayashi was very concerned with the clothing, right down to the fabric it was made from. It was really fun creating the outfits, though, almost like playing with paper dolls and saying, ‘Hm, I wonder if she’d look good in this outfit?’” Ms. Takahashi said with a laugh.

“The character of Neiru is kind of a secret in the show. She doesn’t have a strong sense of self, so she basically wears whatever her assistant chooses for her. Even though she’s fourteen years old, she’s the president of a large company, so I expressed that through using expensive-looking fabrics and embellishments to her clothing. And once she changes her hairstyle, I think that’s when she starts to express the things she likes. I think meeting Ai really changed her.” —Saki Takahashi
“I was told that since Rika was previously a junior idol, she’s tired of caring about her looks. So instead of looking put-together all the time, she wears more casual clothing. Mr. Wakabayashi wanted me to show a kind of ‘I’m retired now’ expression on her face as well. He’s quite good at drawing, but he told me that verbally as if he was waiting to see what I’d create from that information. Rika likes to act sweet around adults, but when she’s with the other girls she’ll laugh with her mouth open wide and show them parts of her personality she doesn’t with anyone else.” —Saki Takahashi

“The most difficult one out of the four girls was Momoe Sawaki. She’s very concerned with how others see her, so instead of wearing clothes she likes she chooses outfits she thinks others will like. She’s also very self-conscious about people mistaking her for a boy because of her height, but on the other hand you can see glimpses from the script that she also kind of enjoys it. We had endless discussions about what kind of person she was. If her clothes and accessories were too fashionable, then that wouldn’t be realistic for a junior high school student. But at the same time, we didn’t want it to seem like she’d accepted her androgynous appearance yet, either. There were a lot of things to consider with her.” —Saki Takahashi

“In the tenth episode, Momoe goes on a date. In the end, she longs to wear a feminine outfit, so I think she wants people to see her in a dress. When she sees that dress, she thinks it’s so cute and falls absolutely in love with it, and buys it on the spot. This is just my impression, but I think she doesn’t have any other feminine clothes, so she didn’t have a cardigan or jacket to go over it and that’s why she ended up going in just the dress.” —Saki Takahashi

Mr. Wakabayashi agreed to share this story with us, prefacing it by saying, “I suppose it’s all right to talk about, since the show has finished airing.”

WAKABAYASHI: “The character of Ai was really influenced by Miu Takigawa from 22/7’s ‘The Diary of Our Days.’ [A music video series directed by Mr. Wakabayashi.] That project was still lingering inside of me when I started work on Wonder Egg Priority . I really wanted to create a longer story based on that character. I’m not the kind of person who can easily jump from one project to another. After I’ve put so much effort into something, I want to take parts of it and continue on with it. So even though this project was completely new, there were undercurrents of my previous projects going through it. Wonder Egg Priority has finished airing, but it’s still continuing inside of me. And I’m sure that once the characters finally leave me, I’ll want to create new characters again. So in terms of where I am now, I’d say that I’m still in the middle of Chapter 1 of this project.”

For part two, we spoke with action director Mr. Yusuke Kawakami and assistant director Mr. Yuta Yamazaki about Mr. Wakabayashi’s direction style. We also asked about the content of their work, concerns they had before starting on the project, and what they ended up taking away from the experience.endmark