So, a lot has been made of the fact that director Takayuki Inagaki’s name is no longer listed as director on the 3rd episode, replaced by sub-director Masaomi Andou. Yoshimune gave an explanation on his Twitter sub-account:
“A lot of questions are being asked, so I’ll answer as much as I can. You can tell if you look at how episode 3 turned out, but the studio overexterted itself working on episodes 1-2, and right now it’s in a mess. Furthermore, corrections for the BD/DVD release will be starting soon.”
“Inagaki-san is the person at the studio who understands Alternative the most, so up until now he’s been hard at work, taking on burdens other than his primary one. To resolve this situation, to insure the quality of the broadcast and the BD, the sub-director Andou-san will be taking over the role of coordinator, and Inagaki-san will focus primarily on the scripts and storyboards.”
“Because work has proceeded on episodes before broadcast, you will not see an immediate effect on the broadcast. Inagaki-san worked until about episode 9, and Andou-san took over around episode 10. I hear that the change in title occurred in episode 3 because it was a good place to mark the change. So, it is not the case that Inagaki-san has left the production.”
“My understanding is that he was not fired, rather he volunteered to do this in order to make a better product. It is very appreciated.”
Now, as with any official explanation, a certain amount of reading between the lines has to be done. Inagaki continues to be listed as Story Editor in episode 3, meaning Yoshimune is right that Inagaki has not simply been removed from the project entirely. So, for the most part, I’m inclined to believe that they are telling the truth about Inagaki staying on to work on the creative stuff. I suspect what “really” happened was that Inagaki, still a relative rookie director with little to no experience on a fast-paced mecha show, got completely overwhelmed by the work involved. Being a director is not just about sitting around and deciding who dies at the end – there is a LOT of administrative stuff that has to be taken care of, and Inagaki was probably not prepared for just how different directing a mecha show in particular can be. Mecha shows are widely known to be the most difficult to direct and animate, because of the sheer amount of animation shots that have to be prepared. I suspect that production simply fell behind to the point where they were forced to make Andou take over the administrative and coordination duties of a director. Considering they still plan to keep Inagaki on staff and making the calls creatively, the powers-that-be probably could have kept Inagaki as director, with Andou being promoted to co-director or something, but I would guess they stripped Inagaki of the director title as punishment for letting production fall to this state.
As for what that means for the show itself, creatively it probably means nothing. Inagaki will likely continue to make the calls on where the show goes – and anyway, by this point all the scripts are likely either finished or in the final stages of correction. As for production values, it’s probably best to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. The CG for this episode was amazing – far beyond what I had expected – but the 2D art is starting to suffer, and unfortunately I would imagine the gap between them is probably going to get worse before it gets better.