Sakura-Con 2012 Interview
Gen Urobuchi, Katsushi Ota and Atsuhiro Iwakami Q&A
Fate/Zero writer Gen Urobuchi, producer Atsuhiro Iwakami and light novel publisher Katsushi Ota led a packed panel Friday. A life-size Charlotte cosplayer drew gasps from the crowd before introductions began.
Gen Urobuchi: Hello Sakura-con! My name is Gen Urobuchi. I originally used to be a game script writer but Katsushi Ota told me to start writing other stuff and then Iwakami saw my work and before I knew it I was doing anime screenplays.
Katsushi Ota: Hello! I am Katushi Ota, I've been Urobuchi's editor for eight years now. I never thought we'd be traveling to the States this way, talking to everyone. Thank you.
Atsuhiro Iwakami: Hello, I am the anime producer Iwakami. I'm glad to be Seattle and talking to everyone. I see some Kyubeys and Charlottes. I'm happy to be here with everyone.
After introductions were completed, trailers for each respective guest's works were shown subtitled on the projection screen. The Fate/Zero season 2 trailer was followed by Madoka Magica and Garden of Sinners.
A warm-up question started the Q&A session.
Q: What are your first impressions of America and Sakura-con?
Urobuchi: This is my first time in the states and Seattle is my first experience here. I am very impressed on how pretty and clean the city is. I am having a wonderful time here. Everyone is having a great time and the cosplayers are having a lot of fun. I will allow myself to enjoy the cosplay and festivities here for the next three days.
Ota: I love everyone's energy. It's the energy Japanese anime and manga fans are shy to show.
Iwakami: I just got here this morning so I haven't been able to look around as much as the others. But I see that everyone here enjoys Japanese anime, video games and comics. It's very encouraging. It really encourages me as a producer.
The panel opened for questions creating a line wrapping back around the room.
Q: In Fate/Zero, there are so many characters that stand out so much more than the main characters. I wonder, are you surprised by how characters like Waver might resonate more than Saber would? Do you find it surprising characters can take on a life of their own and be more popular?
Urobuchi: I am very happy to hear your comment. The more supporting role a character has, the less important they are to the main character, and they have more freedom to be themselves. That's how I enjoy letting them reign.
Q: Mr. Urobuchi – can you elaborate more on the Exiled from Paradise Toei film project that was announced at TAF?
Urobuchi: There are a lot of gag orders coming from Toei, but I can say it will be science-fiction.
Q: I played your game Saya no Uta. It was very disturbing. What was the inspiration?
Urobuchi: I always loved to read H.P. Lovecraft but before I started on Saya no Uta my company got a new writer who created Demonbane. Saya no Uta was the first Cthulu-based game. It got so popular that it became a gateway to the Cthulu mythos for new fans. It was based on the August Derleth representation of Cthulu instead of Lovecraft so I didn't care for it as much.
Q: Is it difficult to create an interesting story for fans when we already know the ending of the story?
Urobuchi: I've been a big fan of Fate/stay night myself. When I create a story I always have the ending in mind so it isn't difficult but it was important to create surprising moments for fans. The story in Fate/stay night is fragmented so there is room for expansion.
Q: Where did you get the inspiration to create the witch barriers?
Iwakami: This was made by Inu Curry and was not even in Urobuchi's script. It was something Inu Curry came up with on their own. It was a collaboration of all the artists and it came together in one explosion that was the success of Madoka Magica.
Q: Light novels aren't translated in America like manga is, have you looked into avenues for light novels to be translated like manga, digitally or physically?
Urobuchi: Right before this panel we went to Barnes and Noble and were surprised at the selection. We thought the print selection was dying in America but the book store showed otherwise. I told Ota we need to rethink our strategy.
Ota: This is exactly what we were talking about just minutes ago. Urobuchi used to be against the idea because Fate/stay night hasn't been translated yet so he didn't like the idea of a prequel being translated first but perhaps with the popularity of Fate/Zero and the novels getting popular that could be the gateway to the original being translated. Bringing the novels then might be a good idea.
Q: You've said the character of Kyubey doesn't understand human emotions, so is he evil or amorphous in terms of his thought processes?
Urobuchi: In H.P. Lovecraft, the creatures are the same as Kyubey in that they are uninterested in humans. He isn't evil, it is his lack of feelings that makes him scary.
Q: In the scene between Saber, Rider and Gilgamesh where they discuss what a king really is, were any of your views represented in that scene?
Urobuchi: Rider is the third kind of king that is not seen in Fate/stay night, which only has Saber and Gilgamesh so that was the type of king he represented. As for me, I've never been in the position of king.
Q: Madoka is considered a deconstruction of magic girl shows. Are there any other genres you'd be interested in doing a deconstruction of?
Urobuchi: Well, Madoka Magica is not the first show to deconstruct a genre; Neon Genesis Evangelion deconstructed the giant robot genre. Perhaps all the scripts I write will be deconstructions.
After the last question the panel raffled off Madoka Magica and Fate/Zero merchandise before giving a last message to the fans.
Urobuchi: I'm impressed by the turnout for the panel as well as the question line. Fans expect so much from my work and I'd like to live up to your expectations and write good scripts.
Ota: I hope you don't just write scripts but write novels for me too (laughs). Sometimes I'm credited as a supervisor or a producer but I consider myself an editor. Sometimes a super producer like Iwakami collaborates with us and that lets us come here to Seattle. Thank you all for your support.
Iwakami: Sometimes Urobuchi works with Ota, Urobuchi works with me, or Ota works with me but Fate/Zero is the first show that all three of us collaborated on. Tomorrow there will be a screening of Fate/Zero with episodes 14 and 15 that have not aired yet. Sakura-Con will be first in the world to see this. They will be subbed in English, the Aniplex team went without sleep to bring them to you. Please enjoy.
ANN Exclusive Interview w/ Gen Urobuchi, Atsuhiro Iwakami and Katsushi Ota
Q: The upcoming Madoka Magica movies were announced last year. Now, are these compilation movies or all new content?
Urobuchi: The first two are compilation films while the third is an all-new story.
Iwakami: The movies are titled Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Zenpen Hajimari no Monogatari and Puella Magi Modka Magica: Kouhen Eien no Monogatari. The third film's title is undecided.
Urobuchi: The original idea was to have a concluding story within the original series but through producer Iwakami and director Akiyuki Shinbo's enthusiastic support we decided we wanted something expandable as a world and concept. We wanted to make it have more breadth and be a bridge to the world view within the series and the franchise.
What kind of enemies can we expect in the new movie? Will it feature more witches?
Iwakami: That's a secret, however I can say that aokiume has produced some very attractive designs.
Q: This is more of a fun question. Lately, there have been talks of American adaptations of Japanese properties such as Akira. If an American adaptation, either TV or film, of the Fate universe, what actors would you like to see in the roles?
Urobuchi: I think the Fate universe is very dependent on the illustrations by Takashi Takeuchi. It's very much a manga style of illustrating that doesn't translate to live-action. However, if someone was capable, I would love to see it.
Q: There are a lot of philosophical view points discussed in Fate/Zero such as what it means to be a king and what is worth fighting for. What things did you keep in mind when translating those ideas?
Urobuchi: The episode with Berserker was important to me. In the original novel there is a lot of expression in printed text and we had a lot of discussions on how to translate that into the series.
Iwakami: There is a lot more information in printed text so it is hard to decide what to cut out. The same issue arose when I worked on The Garden of Sinners. However, when working Urobuchi's writing is very logical. I don't want to say it easy to translate for television but it is very suitable.
Ota: For example, Kinoko Nasu's writing is more poetic while NISIOISIN is flowing.
Q: What can fans expect to see in the upcoming season of Fate/Zero?
Urobuchi: Fate/Zero is the prequel to Fate/stay night so it is the build up to the tragedy that is resolved in the later series. There will be a lot of tragedy and a lot more drama.
Q: The family dynamics in Fate/Zero are very different. Tokiomi as a father figure and his decisions with Sakura and Rin versus Matou's relationship with Sakura and Tokiomi's wife is one example.
Urobuchi: The world Kinoko Nasu created transcends our ordinary world, similar to Tsukihime and Garden of Sinners. I wanted to incorporate his view of magic users and their hierarchy.
Q: Urobuchi is very busy with the Fate/ZeroMadoka Magica movies and your Toei project Exiled From Paradise. Do you have any plans to go back to writing novels after these finish up?
Urobuchi: Well, the release date for Exiled from Paradise hasn't been decided yet and I'm working on two more TV projects. One will be released in October and the other in January. (turns to Iwakami) Is it okay I said that?
Iwakami: I'm not in a position to say.
Q: You're pretty busy. Can you tell us the titles of the upcoming works?
Urobuchi: There's currently a gag order on the projects.
Ota: We do have an image drawn by Simadoriru we can show you. These are our RPG characters. We currently have a transcript of our RPG sessions in Japanese called "Red Dragon". We play with Durarara!! writer Ryohgo Narita and Nasu. The central character (a blonde, male warrior) is Nasu's character. Urobuchi plays an assassin. We might make an English version available and novelize it. If it's successful, maybe we'll animate it. (pause) Just kidding.
Iwakami: I'll be working on Fate/Zero for the next three months. In July, I'm producing Sword Art Online and Love, Election and Chocolate(Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate). Also, for English fans, a second season of Oreimo was recently announced. The release date is to be decided.