Madoka-related events were held at Otakon 2012 on July 27 – 29 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, Maryland. Guests included Gen Urobuchi, Ai Nonaka, and several of the English voice actresses. The events included a screening of Madoka's finale with a greeting by Urobuchi and Nonaka, a Q&A panel with Urobuchi, a panel with Nonaka, an English cast panel, an Aniplex of America panel, a gathering/stage event, and autograph sessions with each of the guests.
Urobuchi Panel Q&A
Anything about the forthcoming Madoka Magica movie you can share? "I'm not sure if I should be saying this, but there are other secondary Madoka works, such as manga, and since Madoka is about parallel worlds, there's plenty of room for spin-offs. The movie will be a direct continuation of the TV series, and mainly about Homura Akemi, and how she works. That's about as much as I can say right now."
"The obvious need for industry secrecy aside, is there anything you can tell us about the upcoming Madoka films that we don't know, or Madoka in general in the future?"
Urobuchi Gen: "Well, I shouldn't say anything, but there have been a number of spinoff manga covering different universes and aspects of the Madoka story, and Madoka is, in the end, about multiple universes...(I don't remember how he phrased it, but he HEAVILY implied to look forward to some Oriko/Kazumi/etc.-related works in the future).
"As for the Madoka movies, the most interesting one is probably the 3rd which is all new and not a part of the series' retelling, so I'll tell you that it's primarily Homura's story and centers entirely around her and her story from the end of the TV series (post just after Godoka) until where we see her in the very epilogue (witch wings and post apocalypse), but I'll get in trouble if I say any more."
A question about Madoka Magica was about the potential of exploring the story of some of the witches who were once magical girls. "When I wrote the script, I didn't have any of the witches' back stories. It was actually the designer who designed how they look and came up with their back stories. For the upcoming movie, it was actually that designer (Gekidan Inu Curry) that brought me up to speed with their back stories."
Working on the Series
There have been rumors that Shinbo asked you to change the ending to make it happier. What was that like? "This was something that director Shinbo proposed at one of the dubbing sessions, that Sayaka Miki could've been kept alive in the story. But my conviction was that in order for the audience to really understand why Madoka became a God at the end, it was important that she die. After all was said and done, Shinbo said to me that the amount of responsibility placed on a middle school girl may have been too much. We explore that more in the movie."
Do you have any relationship with the series composer Yuki Kajiura? "I've been a fan of her works as an anime composer for a long time, and there was this one particular title called The Portrait of Petit Cosette, which she wrote the music for, and was directed by Shinbo. So when when we were discussing Madoka, I told Shinbo that my imagery for the wishes came directly from that soundtrack. He told that to Iwakami-san, who gave his blessing to work with her. I've met with her a few times, she's very well-acquainted with the stories, and reads every script."
Madoka Magica has lots of elements of other Magical Girl series. Which ones influenced you? "Our intention was not to make reference to any show in particular, but since Shinbo directed, the obvious influence was Lyrical Nanoha. But Iwakami hired me after seeing Fate/stay night, so instead I watched Portrait of Petite Cosette for my inspiration."
If you had the choice to become a magical girl, would you? What would your wish be, and possibly, what would your costume look like? "I am very suspicious in nature, so if I ever got such a rosy offer, I'd consider it very suspicious and consider them whispers of a devil. The first thing I'd do is try to find out what kind of true identity this devil may have."
Urobuchi also answered a Fate/Zero-related question by revealing that, if he were a master in the grail war, he would want to summon Archer and avoid summoning Gilgamesh. He also lived next door to Nasu while writing Fate/Zero.
What's your favorite character, and are there any that are similar to you? "I try to keep an even hand with my characters, but whenever I come up with one, I try to keep one thing in common with myself, so I have a hook into them. So far I haven't come up with any characters that are completely foreign from myself."
What are some of the differences in writing for software, versus prose, versus screenplay? "Depending on the genre, things are very different. For PC games, the writing style is completely opposite of what you have to do for screenplays. Text-based PC games are quite expensive -- the cost of 10-20 books -- so you have to have to incorporate a lot of things for fans to feel satisfied, even if it feels tangential. This is completely the opposite of a screenplay -- it's the designers that fill in the cracks, so you don't want to have even a single extraneous line when you turn it in. I think I'm better suited to this bare-bones style of writing, which is why I've been getting such good reviews of my anime work."
"I started as a PC game writer, and then moved into anime, and it's become what I'm known for... but I'm only doing anime for the next two years," he began. When asked what he thought of American anime fans, he said that it was his second time in the States, and the fans are very happy, and it was good to see.
In the words of an audience member, regarding a comedic blooper reel based on the Madoka dub that was shown at Otakon and AX:
On a side note, Sarah Williams managed to become my favorite english VA at the Madoka VA panel. She attempted to recruit us as magical girls with an Office Space drawl, and had possibly the best line in the blooper reel:
"Sayaka, where are you taking me?" "Isn't it obvious? Paraplegic base jumping!"