All translations on this page are done courtesy of symbv from evageeks forum.
The names of the characters Madoka, Homura, etc. and the key staff who worked on Madoka (Shinbo, Urobuchi, etc.).
Gen Urobuchi Interview
Q – Congratulation for the completion of Puella Magi Madoka Magika. This time we would like to look back to Madoka with focus on Producer Atsuhiro Iwakami, Director Akiyuki Shinbo and Shaft. Let's start with Producer Atsuhiro Iwakami. What do you think about working with Iwakami-san?
A – Iwakami-san is a person who gives you sense of comfort like an iron wall. There are many types of producers in this world. If I may use “Monster Hunter” as an example, there are producers who play flutes at the edge of the zone (lol), but Iwakami-san is the type of director who will take a big sword and stand at the forefront to help you fight the monsters.
Q – How about exchanging views regarding screenplay?
A – There was almost none. If I had to come up with something, it would be that I went to confirm with him whether he thought the composition should be “one narration to cover 12 episodes” story type or “one arc each episode” battle type. I myself thought that the story type was more interesting, and he was of the same opinion.
Q – Iwakami-san also came up with the theme of “mahou shoujo genre”.
A – Yes. At the beginning there were concepts like “mahou shoujo genre”, “young girls doing battles”, “had young girl taken out in each episode”.
Q – Next is about Director Akiyuki Shinbo. What do you think about working with Director Shinbo?
A – From my experience with Phantom and Blassreiter, I think the position of an anime screenplay writer is about interviews. I think the job of an anime screenplay writer is to listen to the director, set the objectives according to the wishes of the director, and then follow it straight through and use text to express it in the screenplay. But Director Shinbo did not say much.
Q – Really?
A – I found out his real intention later. Director Shinbo tried to extract as much as possible from what came out from the screenplay writer and made it into video. So in Madoka there was no order that could serve as my starting point. But anyway I had the three themes that Iwakami-san proposed to work on, and I put down what I could think of into text and wrote the first draft. Well, you could say there was some carefreeness of a certain type of teamwork. Afterwards I amended it into the second draft, the third draft according to points raised by Shinbo. And after that, I looked back at the first draft, I had this “What....!!” feeling.
Q – How did you come up with the mahou shoujo characters?
A – Ume Aoki sensei joined us as the original character design. It was our very first issue to find out how to incorporate Aoki sensei's world view and characters. To be honest, Madoka, the protagonist, is a pretty unusual character for my writing style. In short, I wrote the screenplay as if Yunocchi (from Hidamari Sketch) is to be put as the protagonist. I even had the preparation that seiyuu Asumi (Kana) san would play her. (lol)
Q – Wow....
A – Really, I stood firm on that approach. And every time I got Yunocchi to cry I got hated by the Hidamar-er (Hidamari fans) more (lol). But this was to incorporate a foreign idea, a foreign character that did not exist inside myself. I imagined all the other characters by starting from “Madoka = Yuno”. As from the very beginning I had the idea of “Let's make a story where Homura got saved by Madoka”, so I paired Homura up with Madoka and put them opposite to each other. If Madoka is an Aoki character, then Homura will be an Urobuchi character.
Q – I heard the composition of the first draft was already very close to what we have now. What were the reactions from Director Shinbo?
A – Well--I did not know at all. First not all the character designs were in, and there was no background art or witch design either. So I thought I would need to rewrite it when everything came to place.... In reality there was no such thing at all. Soon I was told that after-recording (seiyuu dubbing) would soon start..... I got anxious and then I asked “Is it really ok to keep that as Ultima Shoot?”
Q – That means the places that needed changes were raised by Urobuchi-san yourself.
A – I was told “If you can change it please change it.” So I rushed to the after-recording location and changed it there.
Q – What is your impression of working with Shaft?
A – I felt like watching “Iron Chef” show. Something like finishing the dishes in a dash with 15 minutes or 10 minutes left, and then, wow, you want to make one more dish?? I went to the after-recording, and since I left everything about video and animation to them it was full of surprises everyday when I saw the finished video there. In fact I did not even see the fine-tuned character chart. The first time when I saw it was from Newtype magazine (lol)
Q – And when the video was broadcast the reactions were phenomenal.
A – Well, since before the broadcast the reactions were already very big. At that time there were quite a few “mahou shoujo shows” around and I was worried that this might get overlooked. But many watched the first episode and this led to a sensation.
Q – For you is there anything that has changed from the time before Madoka to after Madoka?
A – The big thing must be that I could finish writing up all 12 episodes of one cour. And then this is the third anime for me and there are many things I would like to do. For example, I was full of admiration when I saw the work done by screenplay writer (Yosuke) Kuroda. I think I still need to work hard on this.
Akiyuki Shinbo & Emiri Katou on QB
Shinbo (S) – When we ran the audition for the Kyubey role, I thought it would be great if we could get someone with a cute voice. But when I heard the voice of Katou-san, I feel a sense of presence that I had not felt before, and the impression was also different from Mayoi Hachikuji in Bakemonogatari. So I asked Katou-san to take on the role of Kyubey.
Katou (K) – From the beginning I was hoping to have the chance to act a mascot character, so at the audition I pleaded “I want to be Kyubey”. At that time I was given the general summary of the story but there was absolutely nothing written about Kyubey. While I enjoyed taking on the role, I was also surprised by how hugely important role it was. It being a mascot character, but also a character who had major link to the main plot, to me it is one stone killing two birds (lol)
S – Before we started the after-recording of Madoka Magica, all of us when to jinja to pray for the anime becoming a hit. At that time, Katou-san came as a representative of the seiyuu.
K – It was my first time to join a prayer to wish for a hit anime. It was fun, hearing the jinja priest speaking the title like “Ma~~ho~~uShoujo~~”
S – It was tough trying to suppress bursting into laughter. He even said “A~~o~~ki~~no~~Ume~~” (lol) Perhaps it was thanks to the prayer that Kyubey got so popular.
K – Sure. I was happy that I went.
Editor – I heard it was Shinbo-san's idea that Kyubey did not speak with lip-synching?
K – Ah, really?! In the after-recording for Ep.1, I synchronized all the breath stops in the dialogue but when I saw the broadcast I was surprised to find there was no lip-synching.
S – I have always felt odd about having an anime character speaking Japanese in a lip-synching way.
K – It was speaking by telepathy.
S – After I did it I noticed that speaking without lip-synching looked weird. Although I gave the instruction to the staff that they should try their best to not make Kyubey look suspicious in the first half, at the end animation staff gradually animated it to look suspicious.
K – In the after-recording sessions, whenever there was a scene where Kyubey appeared everybody made a lot of noises shouting “Kyaaaa!”
S – When I saw that reaction, I started to think it was indeed better to animate Kyubey in a scary manner. I have been converted.
K – Ah, that's true. Indeed in the last half Kyubey looked like a scary character.
Editor – Katou-san also did ad-lib performance. “Kyuppi” for example.
K – In the screenplay, it was written as “Geppu”. At first I tried to act in a realistic manner, but Tsuruoka-san (Youta Tsuruoka, the sound editor) told me “please make the sound louder” and what I gave was that (lol)
S – “Kyuppui” also became a talking point.
K – When I saw “Kyuppui” on Twitter or blogs at first I did not know what it was about. I was not aware I said that. Later when I heard the dialogues and I said “It's true. I said that!”
Editor – In the second half Kyubey really came to its own.
K – As the story developed further, it became the target of blame by everyone (lol), though Kyubey itself never thinks it itself was bad. I also did not make any change and kept acting it in a cute way. But it was tough acting scenes with long dialogues. Like in Ep.11, I had to explain things flatly but still made Madoka cry. That was difficult. I was surprised to realize I was acting such an important role when I learned how much Kyubey was involved in human history.
S – In the last part of the final episode, after Madoka was gone, I thought about letting Kyubey have lip-synching as a change in the reconstituted world. But Miyamoto-san (Yukihiro Miyamoto, series director) objected (lol)
K – That's right. At the end even though the mahou shoujo system had changed, Kyubey itself did not change. It only joined hands with Homura because it was thinking about efficiency. Because of that I paid attention to not changing the way I acted.
Editor – Kyubey has become a popular character.
S – Very popular, unexpectedly. I did not expect it would get so much attention this way.
K – That is right. When I checked twitter and blogs I saw all kinds of reaction like “cute” “scary” “hate it”. No matter what they said I am happy. To me they all were words of praise.
S – In Akihabara, Kyubey is now seen everywhere, right? Phrases like “make a contract with me” has also become very popular. Perhaps it is now the most famous pet character, isn't it? (lol) I also want to know more about the mystery of Kyubey. I want to see Kyubey's planet.
K – Probably it is filled with Kyubeys. I also want to see Kyubey in action around the world and in past ages.
Mami Character Description
SHE FOUGHT ALL BY HERSELF.
There was an accident, and just at the moment when her flame of life was about to let out its last flicker, she met Kyubey. Mami lived alone in a comfortable apartment. At first sight, she seemed to be leading a happy life. Although she lived everyday like that, her obsession with “living” surprisingly did not look obvious. No longer having a family, she gave up falling in love or playing with friends, and simply lived as a mahou shoujo. This was her aesthetics which she embodied. Although she never let down her smiles, somewhere on the side of her face a lonely shadow hung around.
Appearing in such day-to-day life of Mami were Madoka and Sayaka. To these two “kouhai” she said the following, “To both of you who were chosen by Kyubey, it is the chance to have any wish come true. But this also means living next door to death.” Having to use up this once-in-a-life-time chance just to realize the too obvious wish to “stay alive,” what kind of feelings did Mami have, speaking the words above? Especially to those “kouhai” who still hold dreams and hopes.
Perhaps, if that only chance of hers was not about staying alive, she just might be able to be saved from the lonely way of life being a mahou shoujo. The defeat of mahou shoujo Mami looked too abrupt, but at any moment, Mami, fighting as a mahou shoujo might have been prepared to be defeated at some point.....
Kyoko Character Description
SHE FOUGHT ALL BY HERSELF.
At any time when she only thought about herself, even if it meant to use others as stepping stones, she was living strong and brave. She loved dessert and games, and arguing as well. She looked as if she was always a spoiled child who had never grown up.
However, at the very beginning the reason she became a mahou shoujo was for her irreplaceable family. Her father was kind but also stuck through his own convictions, and wanted to live for others even more than feeding his own family. For such a father, she made her prayer. And just by speaking about the ideals, it did not go anywhere. Becoming a mahou shoujo, she accepted the hidden job of eliminating witches without telling anyone. All these was just to save the world.
She might be able to live happily if she could live without getting involved with anybody. But she still did that because she was too kind. When she saw Sayaka who was going to commit the same mistake like she did, she just could not abandon her as one of the same kind. Even though she was snubbed by her so many times.
And so she made her prayer again. That's right, looking at Sayaka who lost herself so easily and got herself imprisoned in despair, even at the end of the very end Kyoko never forgot her consideration for others, or hope. “That's how things go, right? Eventually it is a story where love and courage win...” so she said. The expression on her face, smiling and looking a bit mischievously, will not be so easily forgotten by us no matter how long time passes.
Sayaka Character Description
SHE FOUGHT ALL BY HERSELF.
And that was before I knew about mahou shoujo. One wish will be granted no matter what it is. When I heard that, well, right away I thought of the patient ward. The room with those 2 people, with curtains gently swaying under the orange color of sunset. Wise people may say that making a wish for somebody else is a foolish thing. But to her, probably there was no other option. It was not necessarily forcing a square peg into a round hole. It did not necessarily mean she stupidly set the flag for a BAD END.
In front of her friends, easygoing and cheerful; in front of the person she has fallen in love with, timid and meek; when a love rival appeared, crushed by worries. Every single one is her true self. And more than anybody else, she deserves to be called “an ordinary girl”. “I do not regret praying for somebody else. And I decided to make a point of not regretting so as not to turn this feeling into a lie. This will stay the same from now on.” She raised the spirits of those who were trembling, but the end that she reached is the burst up of the feeling of “an ordinary girl”.
What was lost are the days she spent with friends, and love, and her life. Although this resembles lost hope, this just means the hope that was embraced by Sayaka is just a little bit bigger than this world could supply.
And those who can laugh it off as if it was a joke...that's right...only the mahou shoujo.
Madoka Character Description
SHE FOUGHT ALL BY HERSELF.
Between hope and despair, in a reality that was merciless, heartless and barren. Madoka was born in a happy family, a young girl who lived a life without any shortage or inconvenience. A strong and vigorous mother, a kind and reliable father, A younger brother full of potentials of many dreams. Because she had such a contented life she did not hold strong desire for something, or something she would ask for or wish for. A future where she would keep on walking her life in utmost happiness would be quite possible.
However, Madoka finally knew, that for the one wish that was realized, all those young girls that threw themselves into battles. That there were witches who were born from curses, and the mahou shoujos who fought risking their lives. And those mahou shoujos were gone one by one. One lost her life; one fell into darkness; one sacrificed herself for her feelings.
Soon enough Madoka noticed, that she was also protected by someone's wish. Mahou shoujo Homura Akemi; her wish was to protect her close friend Madoka. Taking in the hope and despair of Homura, Madoka made her wish.
Madoka became the ultimate mahou shoujo, and transformed into an universal existence.
While you remember her, you are not alone.
The merciless, heartless and barren reality stayed on, but she no longer fought all by herself.
Homura Character Description
SHE FOUGHT ALL BY HERSELF.
She fought while repeating again and again that one month of her encounter with that girl and separation from her.
Every time she arrived at an undesirable result, she turned back time just like pressing the reset button. However, her heart could never be reset. Thus layers of memory overlapping one above another and turned into feeling and it pushed out everything from Homura, to the point that she could no longer speak with cheerfulness like she did in the past.
When she lowered her eyes and flipped through her long black hair with her fingers, with a beautiful gesture that was also a bit listless, it is possible that what was swirling inside her heart is, the promise she made with that girl, it just might be that. That was the reason of her existence as she became a mahou shoujo. That was the basis of her actions as she became something that was not a human. Because that was the only path to her.
Even if this world was to be filled with abominable things; Even if it was a world where there was no salvation and was just reiterations of sadness and hatred; even so to her here is the place she would always hold dear “where I am going to protect her.”
“I remember that. I will never ever forget that. Therefore I …..”
Overcoming time, fighting desperately against law of causality and effect, just by herself, and for her only friend she so treasured, she kept on fighting as mahou shoujo –
That was how Homura Akemi was.
Top part: Questions on left, answers on right.
- 1. Could you provide a short comment about your thought [regarding this anime]?
- 2. Could you tell us the dialogue that impressed you most and the reason?
- 3. Has your image about “mahou shoujo” changed?
- 4. If you could excuse us for asking this question: What if Kyubey came to push you for a contract?
- 5. What impressed you most in the episode you were responsible for?
Ume Aoki – Original Character Design
1. I was allowed to participate in a wonderful work and I feel really honored. And I also felt happy from the bottom of my heart as a viewer. I am full of grateful feelings to everyone of the production staff as well as each and every viewer who watched this work and cheered for it with us. Thank you!
2. There are so many that I cannot decide, but I love the dialogues of “I really do not understand.” from Kyubey and “If someone tells me it is wrong to hold hope, I will answer back, as many times as it takes, that that is wrong. I will definitely keep saying this as long as it takes.” from Madoka in the last episode. Anyway, the Kyubey's words are high in versatility (lol). The Madoka one is very powerful and I love it very much. I thought they were words that really gave you strength.
3. My image about “mahou shoujo” has changed a lot. Up till now I only had the image of [some girls who are] cute and fantastic, shaking a stick and with sparkling stars... The biggest change is how I came to notice that there is a hidden side inside the words of “mahou shoujo” (magical girls).
4. Hmm....I am not quite sure... perhaps wishing world wide peace, or I will just run away! (lol)
Takahiro Kishida – Character Design
1. I would like to thank everyone for their hard work.
2. “I, am really stupid.” I think if more people in the world could think like that the world will be more peaceful.
3. I felt the difficulty of animating the characters but as I played only a minor role my image has not changed very much.
4. Once I calm down I will go to hospital.
Yoshiharu Ashino – Storyboardist for Episodes 1, 2 and 3
1. I was responsible for the storyboard for Episode 1 and the original animation for the last episode. It was a most appealing work so even though it was a lot of hard work I enjoyed it.
2. Perhaps it would be QB's “I really do not understand.” When I saw it, I really got excited with the feeling just like this dialogue.
3. It has not changed. It was wonderful for a world view that brought together everything in this work, but I think it is also good for each different work to have its own world view.
4. Well, normally, I would think this is a fraud. I think there must be something one can do about his own life.
5. We started from a state with nothing whatsoever including settei except the screenplay by Urobuchi-san, the rough sketches by Aoki-san, and the sketches by InuCurry-san. And although it was difficult work organizing everything to go the direction as stated by Shinbo-san, it was really worth it. If there is another chance I would really like to get involved again.
Shinsaku Sasaki – Storyboardist for Episodes 4, 6, 10 and 12
1. I felt fortunate to have been able to participate in a very interesting work.
2. There are too many dialogues that made an impression on me... I cannot pick one.
3. Yes, it has changed.
4. First, a jab back “You are doing business big way.”
5. Character design that was filled with good intentions. The witches in which the out-of-place feeling and the convincing power co-existed. The settei (design) for the bewitched space. The instructions and rules for the storyboards that were rich in characteristics and high in effectiveness. The extremely solid plot line.
Shinichi Omata – Storyboardist for Episodes 5 and 8
2. “There is no way I will have regrets.”
4. I will make a contract.
5. I remember being able to be free to do what I wanted even though in various places I was required to follow certain positions.
Mid-part, the vertical text on the left page:
- The group of mahou shoujo coming from past and present, east and west, as appeared in episode 12.
- They are the characters created via the original animation drawn by Takahiro Kishida, responsible for character design.
- A close-up to these mahou shoujo full of international flavor.
InuCurry (bewitched space design) and Yukihiro Miyamoto (series director)
Editor – What was your thoughts after you finished the works for the broadcast of Puella Magi Madoka Magica?
Miyamoto – I was worried whether it would really be broadcast on TV.
InuCurry – It felt like we had toughened out a grand serial hunt (12 of them) without any recuperation talisman. We thought with this experience there would not be much concern for us to buy “Monster Hunter 3”.
Editor – We would like to talk about the last half of the series. How was the production of the Episode 10?
Miyamoto – I was thinking, could we cram it into the prescribed length (1240 seconds)? (Shinsaku) Sasaki-san, responsible for the storyboards, said he would like to “squelch” Kyubey's talking. (Yuuki) Yase-san, director of the episode, said he would like to have the water soaking Madoka when she died look pure and clear.
InuCurry – When we first saw the storyboards, we thought it was like doing a 1-hour special of “Haru-da Ichiban! Madoka matsuri” [symbv: a parody of the real tv program 春一番！日本の一アニメ祭り “Haru Ichiban! Nihon no ichi no anime matsuri” (Spring no.1! The 'number one anime in Japan' Festival) which was an infomercial for upcoming anime shows] We also got the requests from the episode director that “although there are dark scenes we still want to show them beautifully.”
Miyamoto – (What was difficult was) to remember which week's time loop we were working on at the moment.
InuCurry – As the final battle was also approaching soon, we were all covered with wounds.
Editor – And many witches made their appearance. We thought that since we were going through time loops we might see the same witches....
InuCurry – ...Now come to think of it that was true... We did not really notice that then. As we did not want to create a feel of just simple reiterations even though they were loops from a screenplay point of view, we reflected this intention somewhat in the witches too. After that it would be spirit of service.
Miyamoto – The love of InuCurry-san.
Editor – How about the Witch of Salvation?
InuCurry – The settei (design) was to have Witch of Salvation created as a spherical bewitched space the size of Earth just above her and it would pull everything into it.
Editor – We heard a rumor that the preparation discussion for Ep.11 got quite noisy....
InuCurry – Eh? Really? We remember getting surely a bit noisy by saying things like “Kyubey! Kyubey, wasshoi! [symbv: shouts made during shrine parade in Japanese festival, like Heave Ho!] Livestock wasshoi! Kyu-sshoi!”.
Miyamoto – (InuCurry-san) said “we want to make (Walpurgis Nacht) like a ceramic pot with handle”.
InuCurry – We thought it would make it easier to understand just by the silhouette. Although she did not appear together with the Witch of Salvation, their silhouettes were supposed to be a pair. Although in the screenplay she was not originally designed to fly in the sky, we suddenly got her to float out in the sky and thus caused troubles to the storyboard staff.
Miyamoto – Although I did not draw the fight scenes, I sent a note of attention that even an army could not beat a witch of Walpurgis Nacht class (natural catastrophe level).
Editor – How about Episode 12?
Miyamoto – I cried when I finished reading (the screenplay).
InuCurry – Homura stayed brave until the very end.
Editor – With what kind of image did you design the last witch that covered the whole Earth?
InuCurry – An air balloon.
Editor – What made you think “that was great” regarding working on “Madoka”?
Miyamoto – I was able to meet up many different people.
InuCurry – It was the first time we had the opportunity to get involved in the work on multiple aspects for a whole series. This was really rare and it has been a very good experience. We were also thankful that we were allowed a free rein in “Madoka”.
Miyamoto – This is the anime (work) that I shall be mindful of in my next work.
All scans. All but episode descriptions are translated above by symbv from evageeks forum.
Note: Character pages are also included in Gen Urobuchi's book The Beginning Story.