Interview with Akiyuki Shinbo and Gen Urobuchi
From Initial Sketches to the World of Rebellion
— Have you seen the special TV preview commercial of The Rebellion Story yet?
Gen: Yes. I saw it while watching an episode of Monogatari Season Two. My first thought was how much it reminds me of Takeshi Kitano's Sonatine (laughter). A few scenes took me by surprise, very interesting.
— I heard that the preview was based on sketches from Inu Curry?
Shinbo: I took some of Inu Curry's first initial sketches for the movie and used that to storyboard the movie preview. After a little work, it had the major plot points for The Rebellion Story.
Gen: Inu Curry took on much more responsibility this time around.
Shinbo: Compared to the first two movies, even more of Witch-related stuff, the battles and barriers and such, have been handed off to Inu Curry to unleash their creativity.
— How did you feel after you finished the storyboard.
Gen: I have great trust in everyone over at SHAFT, so I'm at ease. After the screenplay was done, I entrusted the rest of it to Production. I'm very confident that they'll make this into something incredible, no matter what it takes. That's why… don't be surprised if it is incredible. You might not ever see a storyboard like that again. These magical girls, how it turn out like this! And etc (laughs). I have to shut up now.
— Don't do that, people really care about this…
Gen: I really can't say anymore (laugh). All-in-all, a very packed storyboard.
— Previously storyboard for Episode 10, Shinsaku Sasaki is also making the storyboard for the Rebellion movie. Shinbo, what are your thoughts over the changes between the TV series and the new movie?
Shinbo: I thought, the 5 magical girls, each went through a lot of character growth in Madoka Magica. When looking at the character designs for the new movie, I couldn't shake the "This magical girl's fine," "that magical girl can't be helped" types of feeling. It made me very curious of how well it'll go over with the fans.
Gen: All five magical girls were carefully nurtured by the production staff and the fanbase into compelling characters of their own. While looking through the storyboard, I heard how eager the art and voice staff took on the challenge, that makes me very happy.
Expect a New Perspective Towards Madoka Magica
— When did you begin writing the Rebellion screenplay?
Gen: Design meetings began during the initial broadcast… So it was a long time. Back when we were still discussing whether to make a TV or movie sequel, we were already making regular meeting appointments.
Shinbo: Seeing the fan reactions online back then was a shock to everyone involved.
— Working since the TV broadcast, this screenplay took quite a while to come together?
Gen: Because I wrote the original without a sequel-hook in mind, writing the new movie's screenplay had been a difficult process. For a while I was clueless, didn't know whether to start. Midst my troubles Director Shinbo gave me a pointer and it finally dawned on me. That's how I finished the initial draft.
— What did he suggest?
Gen: I can't tell you. That would be a spoiler (laughs).
— Then, how long was the complete screenplay?
Gen: I was still trying to compose for a second season back then. Despite that, it was still short. Probably enough for two hours or so.
Shinbo: The screenplay itself was only about an hour and a half in length. It gained another 30 minutes during initial sketching. Rather than a movie, the process is much closer to that of the original Madoka Magica and the compilation movies.
— So Rebellion really follows from the original Madoka Magica. That's why people should definitely watch the full TV series or the compilation movies, before they watch The Rebellion Story?
Gen: Yes, Rebellion is basically what happened after the 12-episode TV series or the compilation movies.
Shinbo: It was the difficulty of marathoning the full 12 episodes that led us to make the compilation movies. Of course, having seen the TV or movie edition will be better, but even people fresh to the franchise might find Rebellion interesting. Those that experienced Madoka with Rebellion first will probably come out with a very different impression about the franchise. If they catch the TV series or the compilation movies afterwards, they're in for another shock as well. I think Rebellion will really bring a different perspective about Madoka Magica.
Gen: That's right. So don't fuss over what to watch first, having multiple ways of interpreting Madoka is a good thing.
How Far Along is Rebellion?
— So, has the production process been smooth… so far?
Shinbo: Of course. We'll be moving Director Yukihiro Miyamoto's desk over to SHAFT's Color and Photography department soon. Meetings over color composition will happen there, key animation check as well.
Q: Will any new magical girls be debuting?
Shinbo: … (silent)
Gen: It is typical “Silent Shinbo” to not say anything to the magazine. Even if I were to debut a 6th Magical Girl I would try out many ideas because it would be very difficult. I’m sure that the situation would change because of the 6th Magical Girl.
— That's definitely true. Finally, I want to ask a question on everyone's mind, will Rebellion be the end of the story for the five magical girls?
Shinbo: Madoka isn't a story where everyone comes out with the same feelings. I think different people will draw different conclusions about the ending. How they accept it will be up to the viewers themselves. We're still working very hard in production, so please look forward to the October premiere.