Japanator scored an one-on-one interview with Gen Urobuchi! I was able to get a short interview with the creator of Fate/Zero and the collaborator of Madoka Magica and ask a few questions about his outlook in writing for anime and how he got into this business in the first place.
Even though Urobuchi has been writing and working on otaku-related works, he is still a relative newcomer when it comes to working on anime. Hopefully you can click on and find some clues as to what he will work on next in terms of how his distinct flavor of his writing and story brings to the scene. A big thanks to Otakon and Aniplex for making this possible!
Japanator: First, can you tell us a bit about your Nitroplus works?
Urobuchi: Before I started working in anime there were works like Phantom of the Inferno and Vjedogonia. I'm very surprised that fans over here know a lot about Saya no Uta.
How did you get your start in the visual novel/game business?
I used to work in a game design company and I used to write walk-through books for games. While working there, that company was making a visual novel game and they asked me if I wanted to work on the game. At the time everything is becoming a media mix, which means books and games and things like that are released together. And since I was writing novels on the side I thought it was a great chance to expand to video games.
The biggest thing to expressing in an anime is the spirit of the story, and for Blassreiter that is up to the director. The director is who matters the most. The job of the scenario writer is to interpret the ideas and the spirit of the story by writing it out and put in the scenario. It's up to the writer to write the lines and write the scenes in a way that reflects what the director wants. For Phantom, it's different because I wrote the story and it is a dark and grim story. When it got animated, it got into director Mashimo's hand. He does very flashy work and good action scenes. Rather forcing the story down a grim and dark direction, we wanted to appeal to Mashimo's ability to make things flashy. In that sense, not going with the original story was the choice I took.
Director Itano praised your work such as Blassreiter and Madoka. He said that he convinced you that anime is a worthy medium to work in to tell the stories you tell. Is that an okay thing for him to say? Do you agree?
Since it was director Itano that got me started writing for anime and corrected my misconception about anime being a medium that does not appeal with its storyline, he shattered that misbelief, and I think it's good thing.
How was working with director Shinbo, the creator for Cossette and Nanoha? How much input did he have?
When I first heard the idea for Madoka, I thought director Shinbo wanted me to make another Nanoha or something like it. Later I hear from the producer that Shinbo wanted me, the writer of Fate/Zero, as the writer for this project. So I was thinking maybe Madoka should be something more along my style. When I watched Cossette, I thought maybe it could be like that and it would combine with my style in a way that also respects the director's style.
You have a reputation for making a story that is depressing but also somewhat sweet. Why is this? What motivates you to write stories like this?
When I was a kid, there were a lot of anime that were heavy and sad in general. There were no "moe" anime back then. What I want to do is just bring back things from those days to the present. I don't think I'm doing anything special. It's just me bringing in back older style of stories.
Looks like my time is up! Last question: Do you have any long term goals? What do you see yourself doing in 5 or 10 years?
I've received some offers already, and hearing them I think they will be very big projects, almost too big for me. In the next 5 years, I would do things that 10 or 20 years later on, I can look back and say "wow these were really heavy and big episodes back then."
Thank you very much!