Ultra Jump EGG Urobuchi Interview

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From the Ultra Creators column Page 1 and Page 2

Translation courtesy of symbv from evageeks forum. UJE is the interviewer, GU is Gen Urobuchi Gen.

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Original text Translation
第3話でサブヒロインが殺されてしまうなど、単なる“魔法少女モノ”に留まらない、衝撃的な内容が話題となった『魔法少女まどか☆マギカ』。 "Puella Magi Madoka Magica" is an anime that is not simply your usual "mahou shoujo anime", but instead got a lot of attention with shocking contents like having a sub-heroine killed in ep. 3.
"Puella Magi Madoka Magica" (Madoka) is an original animation work that was broadcast at midnight hours in MBS in the Kansai region and TBS in Kanto region from January to April in 2011. Contrary to the usual themes of mahou shoujo, the story is solemn with elements of surprise like one by one the heroines fell and dropped out. This created a big sensation and became the most talked-about anime this spring. The enthusiasm did not subside even after the end of the broadcast, to the extent that general magazines like "Weekly Spa!" or "SWITCH" also took up Madoka as their feature story.
The person who was responsible for the screenplay of this anime "Madoka" is scenario writer Gen Urobuchi. With such a high popularity, what would he be thinking? ---- We now have Urobuchi-san with us to talk about it!
UJE - 『まどか』の大ヒットおめでとうございます。放送終了後の、率直なお気持ちをお聞かせいただけますか?
虚淵 - 放送が終わって3か月なんですが、もう相当時間が経っちゃった気分がありますね。というのも、『まどか』の脚本そのものを書き終えたのは2~3年前なんです。ただ、アニメの収録には立ち会っていたので、一通りのカタがついたのは2月くらいですね。間が空きましたし、いよいよ次の仕事も控えているしで、そろそろ浮かれてもいられなくなりました。後に控えている仕事が半端ないことになっちゃったので、それに頭を切り替えていると、なかなか『まどか』のことを考えているスキがないというか。
UJE - Congratulations for Madoka becoming such a big hit. Could you tell us your honest feelings after the end of the broadcast?
GU - It has been 3 months since the end of the broadcast, it feels like quite a bit of time has already passed. That said, it was 2 to 3 years ago when I finished writing the screenplay of Madoka. That said, I also attended the recording sessions of the anime, and it was around February when everything generally got settled down. That has been some time since and I also got works queuing up, so slowly I could not indulge myself in a celebratory mood. Since the upcoming works were becoming really something to handle, I had to switch my focus to those and I did not have the time to think much about Madoka.
UJE - 「後に控えている仕事が半端ない」ということは、ゲーム業界やアニメ業界の反応もよかったのでしょうか。
虚淵 - いままでお付き合いしていたところからの依頼だけではなく、『まどか』の後に新規にお声掛けいただいた会社も、結果的には増えてきていますね。今後の予定としては、原作を手掛けた『Fate/Zero』のアニメが今年放送されます。他にもいくつかのオリジナルアニメの企画が動いています。企画の立ち上げから関わらなければいけないものが多く、どれも気が抜けません。そのうちの1つは2012年後期頃にご覧いただけると思います。一番話は進んでないんですが(苦笑)。
UJE - You said "the upcoming works were becoming really something to handle". Did the reactions from game industry or anime industry also turn out to be good?
GU - After Madoka, not only the commissions from places where I have had working relationships, the number of companies which called on me for the first time has also increased as well. As for the upcoming schedule, the anime "Fate/Zero", which I wrote the original novels, will be broadcast later this year. Besides that, there are a number of projects for original anime currently making progress. Many of them I have to get involved from the beginning when the project was launched, so I could not lose focus on any of them. I think people will be able to watch one of them by second half of 2012, although this one has the slowest progress of story development (wry smile).
UJE - 多忙ゆえに、いくつかはお断りせざるを得ないお話もあったのでしょうか?
虚淵 - はい。やってみたいけど、お断りせざるを得なかった案件もいくつかありますね。一度に重なっちゃったのは痛かったなと。まだアニメの業界に慣れていないので、ノウハウがつかめてないんです。慣れている構成作家やライターだったら、どの作業にどのくらいのリソースを食うかは見えていると思うので、うまくやりくりできると思うんですけど、まだ自分は手探りなもので、作業量が自分で見えないんですよね。何割の力で済む作業、これはどのくらいで終わる作業かという割り振りがわからない。一通り、今日はコレに全力! というかたちでやっちゃっているのが、あまりよろしくはないですよね。手際の悪いところが出ちゃってますね。
UGE - You are very busy now, and consequently are there some jobs which you have no choice but to decline?
GU - Yes. There have been a few cases where although I wanted to try to work on them, I had no choice but to decline. And when [the demands of my time] overlapped, it was such a pain. Since I am still not very used to how the anime industry works, I have yet to grasp the know-how [in anime]. If I were a writer or series composition author who is used to [the industry], I think I would be able to foretell what kind of task will consume what amount of my resources, and I would be able to manage the works well. Because I am feeling my way as I go now, I cannot tell the amount of work by myself. I do not know about resource allocation, like with what percentage of my resources I can finish on certain tasks, or how much more time or effort I could use to finish certain tasks. Generally, I approach it with the effort of "Yes, today I will give it all!!" but that is not good. It may end up with poorly done bits and pieces.
UJE - アニメの脚本、ゲームの脚本でそれぞれ進め方が違うから、作業量が見えないということなのでしょうか。
虚淵 - ニトロプラスでゲームを作る場合は、自分も会社のいち取締役であり、企画の言いだしっぺでもあるので、なんとでもなるんです。このぐらいのスケール、作業量、人数という設計段階から関わって、そこから作るので想像がつきやすい。ただ、アニメとなるといち脚本家ですので、他のスタッフとの意見のすり合わせをしたりとか、プロデューサーの意向を受けて内容を考えていったりとか、周りとの折り合いをつけつつ作業を進めて行く立場で、身の振り方を考えないといけなくなる。ゲームは周りを動かす立場で作れるけども、アニメの脚本になると動かされる立場となるのが慣れていないということですね。
UJE -- You mean you cannot foresee the amount of work because anime screenplay and game screenplay each has its own way of development?
GU - In the case of creating a game in Nitroplus, as I am one of its directors and I may also be the first person who brings up a project, so somehow things get figured out. I get involved from the design stage on issues like [taking on] such and such scale, amount of work, number of staff, and since I start to write only afterwards, it is easy to do the imagination. But in case of anime, I am a screenplay writer, and I am supposed to proceed with my work while accommodating other people, like bouncing ideas with other staff or taking into account the intention of the producer when I thought about the contents, and this means I have to consider what my actions mean for my future. In games I can do my work from a position of mobilizing the surroundings; but in anime screenplays, my position becomes one of being mobilized and I have not become used to it.
UJE - 虚淵さんの作風は、重厚でバイオレンスなことで知られています。アニメファンに『まどか』が始まる前後、ご自身のツイッターアカウント(Butch_Gen)で先の展開を読まれないような発言をされていましたが、そうした行動は『まどか』監督の新房昭之さんたち、スタッフの意向があってのことだったのでしょうか?
虚淵 - スタッフの意向というよりは、自主的にしていた面が強いですね。新房監督は、自分にアニメらしからぬ脚本を求めていたようなんです。サブヒロインがすぐに死んでしまうという脚本によるサプライズというか。それを視聴者に仕掛けようと。しかし、そもそも監督自身は私がそういう方面で悪名を売っているのを知らなかったそうで、「やっば、俺1人で足引っ張ってるぞ」と(笑)。それが申し訳なかったですね。
UJE -- The style of Urobuchi-san was known to be solemn and violent. Around the time when Madoka started, you spoke out to anime fans using your Twitter account (Butch_Gen) in such a way as to prevent them from reading into the future development. Was this action the intention from staff including Akiyuki Shinbo-san, director of Madoka?
GU -- Rather than calling it the intention from [production] staff, it is more like a voluntary action. Director Shinbo wanted from me a screenplay that did not look like it was the anime. For example, surprises in the screenplay like a sub-heroine died soon [after appearing]. And use them to trick the watchers. However, to begin with it seems that Director [Shinbo] himself did not know that I had quite a notorious reputation in that aspect, so I thought "it still came down to me to do some sabotaging" (LOL) I would like to say sorry about that.
UJE - 第3話でサブヒロインの巴マミが壮絶な死を遂げましたが、それに対する視聴者の反応を見ていて、虚淵さん自身はどう感じていましたか。
虚淵 - 死というか、極端に動く話というのがあまり受ける風潮ではないと思っていたので、そう ではない『まどか』が受けたのには、結構ビックリしてますね。変わらぬ日常が永遠に 続くみたいなスタイルのほうが…というか、エンターテインメントが基本的に癒しの時代 なのかなと思ったので。
UJE -- In episode 3 Mami Tomoe, a sub-heroine, met a heroic death. After seeing the reactions from watchers to that, what did you feel?
GU -- I had thought that it was not the current of the times to accept a story with death or extreme shifts, but when Madoka got widely accepted I was really surprised, since I always thought this is an age where entertainment basically is about soothing and healing, like adopting a style where unchanging day-to-day life is to continue forever.
UJE - スタッフから「キャラを殺さないで!」と声が上がったりしましたか?
虚淵 - あーありましたね。「このキャラもっと描きたいよ」とか。スタッフも愛着が湧いたようで…でも、マミさんは企画書の段階から死んでましたからね(笑)。「この子は何話で死にます」とカッツリ書いていたので、「すみません、それは台本会議のときに言って下さい」とお茶を濁しつつ…。脚本を変えることもなく最後まで完走できました。
UJE -- Did anyone from the [production] staff ever shout, "please don't kill this character?!"
GU -- Ah... it happened, like "I want to draw this character a bit more." The [production] staff seemed to be overflowing with affections... But then Mami-san was dead since the stage of project proposal. (LOL) Since it was clearly written "this girl will die at such-and-such episode," I could only keep fudging my reply, saying, "Sorry, but please raise this at the script meeting.".... I was able to stay the full course without changing the screenplay.
UJE - ストーリー上必要なものだったら、キャラが死んでしまうことは仕方がないことなのでしょうか。
虚淵 - まあ、そうですね…。実際、ストーリーのプロットを考えている段階では、キャラの名前は考えていないですからね。どう生きて、どう死ぬかが決まった後で、自分はキャラの名前をつけるので。「まずキャラありき」で話をころがしていくやり方は、試しに1回やってみたりはしてるんですが、手馴れたやり方ではないですね。
UJE -- Do you think as long as it is necessary from the story point of view, it cannot be helped that a character dies?
GU -- Well, I think so. In reality, at the stage when I think about the plot of the story, I do not consider the name of the characters. Once I decided how they live and how they die, I will give the characters name. The method of getting the story rolling by "first build up the characters and start from there" is something I may give a try at some point, but it is not a method I am skillful at.
UJE - キャラよりもストーリーのプロットを大事にされているんですね。
虚淵 - そうですね。キャラが死んでしまった瞬間に“終わる”というのは、自分の中ではピンとこないんです。本に始まりと終わりがあるのと同じで、たまたまそのキャラが死ななかったからといって、そのキャラが後日談で永遠に生き続けるわけではない。その逆もしかりで、物語の中で死を迎えたキャラであっても、キャラがその物語の中で消え去ってしまうわけではない。そのへんは結構、若い人と認識がずれているのかもしれません。死んだからこそ永遠になったキャラって相当いっぱいいると思うんですよね。『ジョジョの奇妙な冒険』のシーザー・ツェペリにせよ、『北斗の拳』のラオウにせよ、あの死に方があったからこそ永遠に生き続けていると。
UJE -- So you care more about the plot of the story than the characters.
GU -- That's right. It never occurs to me that the moment a character dies means "the end". Just like there is a beginning and an ending for a book, even though a character did not happen to die, it does not mean that that character will necessarily live on forever in the epilogue. And this is also true the other way: Even if there is a character who met death in the middle of the story, it does not necessarily mean that the character will just disappear altogether from the story. On this aspect perhaps [my view] is quite at odds with how young people understand it. I think there are quite many characters who became immortal exactly because they died, like Caesar Zeppeli in "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure" or Raoh in "Fist of the North Star." Precisely because of the way they died, they were able to live forever.

See Also