Difference between revisions of "Puella Magi Madoka Magica Official Guidebook "You Are Not Alone""

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(more translations added for ep. 10-12 commentaries and restructuring. done for now.)
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SHINBO: With life changed one way or another by the earthquake, people still wait for the broadcast with excitement. I feel that they see it as something like a live event that is also related to actual life. I sense that "Madoka Magica" has become an anime with a label inseparable with the earthquake. But it is not that it is an anime that people don't want to remember. I think, together with the fact it is such a hit, it has become an anime in which big things, that could not be covered in a few words, unfolded before us.
SHINBO: With life changed one way or another by the earthquake, people still wait for the broadcast with excitement. I feel that they see it as something like a live event that is also related to actual life. I sense that "Madoka Magica" has become an anime with a label inseparable with the earthquake. But it is not that it is an anime that people don't want to remember. I think, together with the fact it is such a hit, it has become an anime in which big things, that could not be covered in a few words, unfolded before us.
''Pages 100-103 and 120-122.''
''Pages 100-103 and 120-122.''

Revision as of 17:31, 19 November 2011

Front cover homumado - you are not alone.jpg


Guidebook TOC.jpg

Puella Magi Madoka Magica Official Guidebook "You Are Not Alone", a compilation on a wide variety of information on Madoka Magica, was released on August 27th, 2011. The table of contents reveals these categories of information: Illustrations, Episode and Characters, Cast Interviews, Materials, and Staff Interviews.

A look at the sample pages from the Guidebook reveals it contains a wide range of information, including:


Staff Discussion

Translation courtesy of symbv from evageeks forum.

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  • Akiyuki Shinbo: Major works include Bakemonogatari, Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei, Hidamari Sketch, Arakawa under the Bridge (all as director)
  • Gen Urobuchi: Works for Nitroplus. Involved in the screenplay writing for many games from this company. Major anime works include Blassreiter (series composition), Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~ (screenplay)
  • Ume Aoki: Manga artist. Her manga Hidamari Sketch is being serialized in Manga Time Kirara Carat.
  • Mitsutoshi Kubota: Chief Executive Officer of SHAFT. He also worked as Animation Producer in Shaft works like Bakemonogatari, Hidamari Sketch etc.
  • Atsuhiro Iwakami: Works for Aniplex. Involved in anime works like Bakemonogatari, Kara no Kyokai, Hidamari Sketch, Ore no Imo ga konnani kawaii wake ga nai.


I heard that the project "Madoka Magica" started from some chats with Director Shinbo saying "I want to do a mahou shoujo anime".

SHINBO: I cannot remember such a thing at all. When I asked later "Um? Didn't Iwakami-san first mention it?" and I was told "No, that's not the case." (LOL)

IWAKAMI: It's not like you assertively said "I want to do Mahou Shoujo!!". It was with nuance, like "For the mahou shoujo format, there should still be possibilities."

KUBOTA: Surely it must have been around 2008.

IWAKAMI: And then we had some talks about talking to Urobuchi-san and Ume-sensei about joining [the project]. I think it took place unexpectedly quickly, so much that I could not remember the process.

When did all of you first gather together?

IWAKAMI: According to the material from that time and the mail history, the first meeting was held in October 2008.

AOKI: It was at that time that I first met Urobuchi-san. I remember thinking, "Oh, he is a person who takes memos with a PC." (LOL)

IWAKAMI: There we threw in and exchanged many ideas, and then I gathered and summarized them (cf p.124).

UROBUCHI: In particular I did not prepare in advance any idea. I just said one after another what I came up right at that place. And when I did that, almost everything I said were accepted with "This is good." "Let's do that." Then I got worried as I thought "Oh no. I will have to turn everything I've just said into plot lines myself." (LOL)

How many times did you repeat this kind of discussion?

KUBOTA: No, only once at the very beginning. Urobuchi-san summarized everything into a composition proposal before our next chance to meet.

UROBUCHI: I came up with a rough structure of around 3 stages: I will show the beginning of the story like this; and next these details of the truth will be revealed; and last that truth will be revealed. And then I divided them further and made it into a composition proposal for one cour. However at that stage, the flow from ep. 6 to around ep. 8 was still a bit tricky. When I look back from now, ep. 9 was really bad!

AOKI: That's right. [You were saying] "I am going to put Sayaka decisively into despair." (LOL)

UROBUCHI: The idea that I came up with anyways was to bully Sayaka (LOL). At that moment, the thinking for Sayaka falling into despair was that it was not due to Hitomi. For that, it was a part that got inserted at the stage when the screenplay was written.

I heard the composition proposal had 13 episodes altogether?

IWAKAMI: I went to talk [to Urobuchi] and said "Could we make it into 12 episodes?" I had this thought of packaging the series into 6 volumes with 2 episodes in each volume.

KUBOTA: Although the number of episodes was cut, basically the flow did not change. That Mami got killed in ep. 3 was not changed either.

SHINBO: I see. So the reason [you] did not show that much shock when you read the screenplay for ep. 3 was because you had already read the composition proposal.

AOKI: Or perhaps in text it was not that shocking...

SHINBO: If it were 2 cours a different flow might have been used instead. I would like to do another version in which I could show how the development could be like if the length were 2 cours.

UROBUCHI: I guess if there are that number of episodes, [the story] would have to be quite different if we do not put regular daily life scenes in between, like in the episode after Mami died, out of a sudden and without much coherence everyone went to the hot spring (LOL). And once they arrived the waitress in the ryokan somehow looks like Mami....

IWAKAMI: There are things that I'd like to draw out if there was enough room, but I think the speedy pace we have now is also good. Right from the beginning, with 1 cour, I had the image that I was going to a roller-coaster movie that was Urobuchi-like.


AOKI: Later when I re-watched it again from ep. 1, I got the impression that the heroine kept changing from one to another. From ep. 4 it was about Sayaka and Kyoko, and as it got near the final stage, Homura started to get more noticeable. And finally Madoka became a proper protagonist on her own.

IWAKAMI: To be honest, regarding the characters, at the time when I read the screenplay I could not read this far. It is indeed something like an omnibus, where there is Mami chapter, Sayaka chapter, Kyoko chapter etc. In one sense it was a composition like Bakemonogatari in which the appeal of the heroines was highlighted by turn. And I thought, oh so it was how it became and it made so much sense.

By the way, why did you make the girls including Madoka, the protagonist, junior high students?

IWAKAMI: A primary school student, if you think in 3D, gives an impression of a child actor instead of an idol. I think that if they are junior high students, they will be recognized as idols and thus may get more people to watch. So before Urobuchi-san finished the plot, I had a talk (with him) saying, as a prerequisite, "Let's use junior high students as mahou shoujo".

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UROBUCHI: And besides, I really do not want to be put into the spot of having to impose my decision of letting live or killing off primary school students (LOL)

How did you decide the title of the anime?

UROBUCHI: At the beginning, I just put the temporary title myself. I think it was "Mahou Shoujo Apocalpyse Madoka Magica" for sure.

IWAKAMI: The name "Madoka Magica" stayed as the temporary title for some time, and as an unofficial name it stayed as the project made its progress. When 2010 came, we had the discussion about its official title.

UROBUCHI: And by then everyone was so used to the temporary title that (the discussion) came down to "Let's keep it like this." But there was also "obviously the Apocalypse got to go." (LOL) Come to think of it, there was also the idea of not having "Mahou Shoujo" and only go with "Madoka Magica."

SHINBO: But for me, I believe in the title the words "Mahou Shoujo" is absolutely necessary. To the extent that if it is not there, there is no meaning (for me) to do (the anime). On that I did not budge.


How long did the writing of the screenplay take?

UROBUCHI: It went from the end of 2008 to the end of 2009. Since there were other works going in parallel in that period, I went full gear and came up with one episode every month. And I did not talk anything about what would happen later, just saying things like "Just wait for the next issue!". (LOL)

IWAKAMI: It's just that even though the screenplay was being done, there was not much chance to discuss it. As at the stage of the first draft, it was already interesting.

SHINBO: There was almost nothing that I would want to ask for changes.

UROBUCHI: Up till then, for me the work reality was that it was only natural to have only 30% of the screenplay I wrote remain and the other 70% would be crushed away and had to be redone. So every time I was tilting my head, I was thinking "Is it really going to be alright just to keep it like this?" (LOL) Besides, I had the complex of being an absolute amateur when it came to writing for anime, and this got me even more worried.

SHINBO: Different people may think differently, but to me even if there are some places that may get stuck, it is still better to have the momentum. Therefore, I think the small details can be left at the end to consider.

IWAKAMI: When I read it, even though I thought it may need a few adjustments, it was interesting. And that was important. I would rather it run until the final episode than it being filled up with (things that go like), "In here it will be like this" using some deduction point system.

UROBUCHI: The contradictions that were not pointed out during the screenplay meetings were later noticed by (Yukihiro) Miyamoto-san.

SHINBO: And also editor (Rie) Matsuhara-san. Unlike us who read the story one episode at a time, they read everything in one go and from that viewpoint they pointed out issues, and I am thankful for that.

How about using actual dialogues in the episode subtitles?

UROBUCHI: That was because we were lazy (LOL)

AOKI: What! Is that so? (LOL)

UROBUCHI: I thought I would just put it there anyway first and then later I would give it more thought.... But it just stayed as it is.

SHINBO: For once we indeed talked about what we should do with the subtitles, but I think at the end we decided to stick to Urobuchi-san's idea. I think it was good that they were not changed.

AOKI: In the trailer for the next episode, just by seeing the subtitle people can get excited by guessing what kind of scene in the next episode would contain that dialogue.


To continue, I would like to ask Aoki-sensei about what happened before all the original character designs took shape. (cf. p. 125-127)

AOKI: The first draft... it was October 2008. That draft was not changed much in the final draft...but between the two drafts, I got lost in the 2nd draft. The period when I did the 2nd draft, I really had my head in my arms.

SHINBO: But for all of us, the feeling at the stage of the first draft was "This is good. As expected from Aoki-san."

AOKI: But it was worry on my side (LOL) Ah, Kyubey was first proposed in the 2nd draft and I just wanted to draw it cute, really cute! (LOL). The basic details are the same as the final draft, but I wanted to bring out the "cosmic feeling" in the ear-ring part. Made them somehow float in space. But at that time over all, it was a period when I was in a "I just do not understand" state, or when I didn't know what and how I should do it. When I looked back at the first draft, I thought "What was I doing there?" (LOL)

IWAKAMI: Truly our opinion was "it is wonderful" right from the beginning. Also Ume-sensei's design of the school uniform of the girls is good. It is the same in Hidamari Sketch. Here the uniform designed by Ume-sensei can be manifested in 3D and it is a costume that is ready for cosplay. Did you do it with that in mind?

AOKI: I did not really create it for cosplay but to some extent I thought about its structure like where a zipper is to be attached on the uniform.

And in the final draft of the design, Hitomi and Kyosuke were also there...

AOKI: Hitomi was not changed much in the final draft. As Kyosuke is the only boy, it was fun drawing him.

IWAKAMI: I surely got the feeling that Kyosuke drawn by Ume-sensei really had a quite a bit of spirit put in, and that she seemed to have fun drawing him. (LOL)

How about the mahou shoujo costumes?

AOKI: For Madoka's costume, I started from the base design (settei) that it was "something designed by Madoka." As for Mami-san, Sayaka and Homura, I designed with the image of their weapons. Kyoko is the last character I designed, and the idea of her did not come from her weapon, but with the thought to distinguish her from other characters.

UROBUCHI: Since the idea is that Kyoko is a character who moves a lot, so when I received the costume design (Kyoko's) long dress was not what I expected.

AOKI: Perhaps I made it look too heavy (LOL)

UROBUCHI: No, when (the dress) moves it looks cool. There is also the thrill (I got) from kung-fu movies.

SHINBO: It's just that I think it would be good to have some ornaments on Sayaka's head... Even now I still think the same.

AOKI: Oh yes, since after transformation Sayaka lost her hairpins, I tried to put some ornaments on that place. I thought, for one Mami already has it from the beginning, and then Madoka has her ribbons, so I tried to match something for her. But if I put an Alice band (headband), then it does not look so much like an accessory and starts to get an image of a functional gadget. And then I tried to put things like stars or mysterious-looking spheres... But in serious fight scenes, the playful elements after transformation never fit well no matter how much you looked at it, so at the end I took it away. However, it is true that compared with other girls she indeed looks a bit plain. Poor little girl....

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SHINBO: I thought that perhaps it is better to go without anything and keep it simple, and I got the design done in such a style, but as the story progressed I thought, "at the end it is still better to have something (on her head)."

UROBUCHI: But I feel the cloak is quite some style though.

IWAKAMI: For the weapons of the mahou shoujo, at first the plan was to have Ume-sensei design them but at the end the decision was to have the anime production side to do the design.

UROBUCHI: That said, the pictures used for the initial notification were drawn by Aoki-san. The weapon design in those pictures were inherited in the anime.

AOKI: Homura's bow and Mami-san's gun were picked up from the designs I did. Madoka's bow was used in the cover art of the single Magia.


UROBUCHI: Before I saw the original character design by Aoki-san, the character image I had in my head was that of "Hidamari." I imagined by making replacements like Madoka becoming Yuno, Mami becoming Hiro-san... And so every time a character design is done I was relieved, thinking "Good, it is becoming an anime different from 'Hidamari!" (LOL)

SHINBO: Come to think of it, Mami is a onesan (elderly sister) character and there are some overlaps with the image of Hiro. If that's the case, Mami may also need to pay attention her weight (LOL).

UROBUCHI: No no... there is no such setting (settei) for Mami (LOL).

SHINBO: For one thing it seems easy to become a talking point - her position is the same as Hiro I guess. (LOL)

AOKI: And she also makes cakes. (LOL)

SHINBO: It is interesting that although they are different characters, there is such a coincidence.

UROBUCHI: In that sense, in fact I was most worried about Kyoko. I have never seen such a kind of girl who projects the image of a runaway child in Aoki-san's world.

AOKI: Indeed it seems so. Well what did you feel when you first saw Kyoko then?

UROBUCHI: Ugh well, when I saw the expression that could never have come from a Hidamari character, I gave it my OK.

AOKI: When you were writing the screenplay, did you find it hard to match Kyoko with a Hidamari character?

UROBUCHI: It was extremely hard to match. And so Kyoko almost became speaking in Hiroshima dialect just like the movie Battles Without Honor and Humanity (LOL). But at first I imagined the image color for Kyoko to be yellow instead of red. If anything this overlaps with Miyako...

AOKI: Do you think it was good that I made changes to the image color of the characters used in your proposal?

UROBUCHI: I think the result was good. Now I just cannot imagine a red Mami, you see.

KUBOTA: Looking back from now, it is also interesting to see that in the first draft the hair style of Sayaka was different.

AOKI: Ahh... I was really lost..(LOL)

And then based on the final draft material, Takahiro Kishida-san produced the character design, what did you think of it?

AOKI: I was glad that they grasped the details down to many small points. The use of double border lines also seems to have come from certain impressions of my pictures.

KUBOTA: That came as an overall decision as after checking many pictures and works by Aoki-san, we thought this touch style would be good. It was a challenge during the sakuga (animation) process.

AOKI: That drawing style is not commonly seen in the anime. I also did not think the oblique line of sight would be kept in use without change. Those eyes were even faithfully recreated in Nendroids. Perhaps doing that can bring out the feel of "Madoka Magica."

KUBOTA: But at the beginning that touch style did not really permeate much among the animators.

SHINBO: My feeling is that at around ep. 9 or ep. 10, the pictures finally came together (in unified style).


Gekidan Inu-Curry-san is the staff that was the key of "Madoka Magica".

AOKI: This happened when we had the screenplay meeting. After the meeting that day, we were on our move to a drinking place, and the director said, "I think the witches should not have a conventional witch look. Even if they take a look of geometrical forms, it would be better.". And then, "I am thinking of asking Inu-Curry-san. They helped us on "Zetsubou Sensei" and "MariHolic". At that moment I felt the "Director is having some vision!" That was very impressive.

And after asking Inu-Curry-san, what kind of talks took place?

KUBOTA: There was discussions regarding Art Design (settei) that involved Inu-Curry-san. Looking at the minutes from that meeting (cf p.124), Shinbo-san said "'Madoka Magica' should be a work that is on the extension line of 'Le Portrait de Petit Cossette' and has a different image from 'Lyrical Nanoha.'"

SHINBO: Did I say something like that?? .....Hmm? But indeed it was written here.

The reactions from Inu-Curry-san at that time?

KUBOTA: Inu-Curry-san had read the scenario in advance, and after that we had talks bouncing ideas to fine-tune the images we got. So although they are quiet people, they understood things without difficulty.

UROBUCHI: Inu-Curry-san themselves may be quiet, but they are very talkative about the stuff they came up with.

KUBOTA: They also have the stubbornness of absolutely not yielding to the worldview in which they thoroughly built in the images for settei (base design). Besides as creators, they do not compromise at all. As the production progressed, the weight of the part for Inu-Curry-san got bigger and bigger, I got quite worried about what to do if the time came when things could not be processed by just them.

SHINBO: Even in the retake for BD and DVD, just the parts of Inu-Curry-san got quite big.

KUBOTA: If given time, they will just keep coming up with good stuff.

SHINBO: (Yuki) Kajiura-san, who did the music, gave high praises for the bewitched space in ep. 9 and said it was wonderful. But even now I cannot let them hear it. You know, if I tell them, I don't know how far they will lay their hands on the retake (LOL). As we have raised the hurdle by ourselves, I plan to tell them after all the work is done (LOL).

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KUBOTA: But then since they have created that much stuff, I have the feeling that they must still have some regrets from their point of view.

IWAKAMI: When I was first shown the image pictures from Inu-Curry-san in the meeting room at Shaft, I was dumbfounded.

UROBUCHI: They were mainly static pictures, but there was also the mustachioed familiars of ep. 1 in GIF animation. Besides at the stage of screenplay there was no names or settei information for the witches. Those are all there thanks to Inu-Curry-san.

AOKI: I always had fun when I saw updates of the Witch Compendium in the official website. It got me to guess that besides the settei found there, in fact there must be a lot more that had been thought through.


I would like to hear about the casting.

IWAKAMI: Although the roles were decided by auditions, somehow by coincidence there were many actresses from "Hidamari".

UROBUCHI: Mizubashi-san was unexpected. Don't you think it is quite rare for Mizuhashi-san to act for an onesan (elder sister) character like Mami?

AOKI: And the acting was completely different from Miyako of "Hidamari."

SHINBO: As for Saito-san who took Homura's role, there was the image of Hitagi Senjogahara in "Bakemonogatari." I had this concern that no matter what, I still got the impression that Homura and Hitagi look similar. Of course I knew Saito-san was pretty good, but I still thought "perhaps as a change it is good to use another actress." But when I heard the acting performed by Saito-san during the audition, I could only come to the conviction that "This is it".

IWAKAMI: There was this acting that did not come up in the audition - the scenes in the second half when Homura cried and collapsed. If you consider that, it is easy to conclude that after all casting Saito-san was a good (decision).

SHINBO: Not only Saito-san, if you think about Yuki-san who took Madoka's role as well, there was the flow coming from the anime "Dance in the Vampire Bund." In "Vampire Bund", there were Yuki-san, who acted an aloof vampire princess, and Saito-san, who acted an ordinary human girl. And in "Madoka Magica" the position of the two were switched. And I think at that time the two may have developed a synchronized wavelength between them. So I have a feeling that in the actual recording actions the two, Yuki-san as the protagonist, and Saito-san, supporting her, managed their roles really well. The two also said so in the audio commentary.

And about Kitamura-san who took Sayaka's role?

AOKI: Seems every time drinking after the after-recording sessions, the director said "Kitamura-san was good."

SHINBO: Kitamura-san was really great acting as a suffering girl. She gave a feeling that she worked really hard but she was not really good at it and (her effort) got requited.

UROBUCHI: Considering the aspect that she worked hard a bit and behaved cheerfully but she herself in fact thought about serious matters, indeed she is like that.

How about Nonaka-san who took Kyoko's role?

UROBUCHI: Kyoko, while a character created by Aoki-san, is a heel [symbv: pro-wresting jargon for a villain character]. So I could not guess how she could be acted. But it felt so good hearing the voice of Nonaka-san and I got hooked.

SHINBO: Since it is the voice of Nonaka-san, there is no way she is a bad person, I guess? (LOL)

AOKI: I was wondering how a seiyuu would handle the dialogues of Kyoko, and when the role was given to Nonaka-san, I thought "Oh, so it will be like this." She brought out the feeling that even when she acted like a bad person, somehow you just could not bring yourself to hate her that much.

SHINBO: Once I got asked by Nonaka-san, "Why is Kyoko (given to) me?" and I answered, "If it is Nonaka-san then nobody will hate her." She has such a mysterious charm.


And then the cast were decided. In fall 2010 the information starts to be released to the public...

IWAKAMI: But the first thing that went out to the public were "oh it went out" type of leaks (LOL)

UROBUCHI: That was still at quite an early stage. Around spring I guess.

IWAKAMI: Rumors came out, down to mentions of Shinbo-san, Urobuchi-san, Ume-sensai and Shaft. At first there was the idea of doing it in phases, like at the beginning there was the notification "Shinbo-san and Ume-sensei will work on a mahou shoujo anime!", and then around one month later the name of Urobuchi-san will be announced. But with the information leaked out, (I said) let's release everybody's names in one go. Later, it was often said there was a plan to hide the name of Urobuchi-san until after ep. 3. Of course I did not think of that (LOL).

UROBUCHI: Although I was sure that this was going to happen. (LOL)

IWAKAMI: Well, it's just that I indeed think doing that way is interesting in its own way.

UROBUCHI: Like "Since the pictures are cute and you think the screenplay will be the same? Too bad! It's me!!" (LOL) [editor: reference to a certain 2ch Sayaka meme].

As the time approached for the start of broadcast, you went for a purification rite in a shrine.

UROBUCHI: Because it is something involving the demons. I myself did not go, but I got them to buy me a charm and I always carried it with me during the after-recording sessions, since I thought if there was any curse around it would have to be with me (LOL)

SHINBO: For myself I was more for praying for a hit than being purified. Since the result is now we have a hit anime, I think our prayer was answered.

KUBOTA: Well, there is also a bit of the superstition thing in it.

IWAKAMI: Because there were some in the staff who cared about this. If no purification was held, it is "Since no purfication was held my arm got hurt.", while if purification was held, then it becomes like "although my arm got hurt, it is good that it is not my dominant arm.". The frame of mind will be different.

SHINBO: By the way, in the purification rite, Emiri Katoh-san came as a representative of the seiyuu.

UROBUCHI: Oh, there is such thing as "representative of the seiyuu". I thought it was because she played Kyubey's role.. (LOL)

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In the first half, we talked mainly about things before the start of broadcast (of the series). From now on, I would like to ask something different. First when you were doing the creation work (for this anime), was there any character whom you held particularly strong feeling with?

UROBUCHI: As I look at my own work from a vantage point, there is no particularly strong feeling I hold towards any specific character. But if I have to pick one, I guess it would have to be Madoka's mother. Since a character who does not appear frequently must have her character established with short dialogues, I came to hold a stronger impression (with her). She and Kazuko-sensei may have been the characters I worked hard on (even compared to other characters).

SHINBO: And (Yuuko) Gotoh-san, who voiced Madoka's mother, gave a really good performance. (Her acting) had the persuasive power of "This mother is a capable person!" I also want to see the past stories of her together with Kazuko-sensei. Let's find some way to do those kind of episodes!

IWAKAMI: It will then become a story without any mahou shoujo making appearance (LOL)

Why did you make Junko, Madoka's mother, the way she looks in the anime?

UROBUCHI: I had wanted to create such a character. For one, it is rare to see a mother who is macho and strong-minded in mahou shoujo works. Also I thought that to provide a reason for Madoka to become aware of heroism, it is perhaps more convincing for her to have such a family background. Because she will grow up while watching the back of an adult who is very close to her and has carved out the path of her own fate by herself.

Usually in anime that would be the role played by a father.

UROBUCHI: That's right. But I thought it would be good to have a family which does not confine itself to ideas like it must be men's role to makes all the heroic moves. I wanted to have some concrete example where women can also be heroic and strong. That being said, so (the next thing is:) OK, so what is a heroic mother like? The fact that after much consideration I gave her a speech style of a yankee [delinquent girl] is purely my own taste (LOL)

IWAKAMI: In anime, usually there is not much depiction regarding the family of the protagonist, isn't it? In "Madoka Magica" the weight of that is also not really that big, but we still have the ribbon in ep. 1, the consultation in ep. 6, the farewell in ep. 11 and then the epilogue in ep. 12.

UROBUCHI: For me, I had this image that "in general mahou shoujo works should have the family properly portrayed." In that sense, it can be said that Madoka's family, including her mother, are characters I forced myself to come up with, since usually in my works family almost never appear. And contrary to Madoka, there is absolutely no description about the family in Homura's case, and it is because she is a character who is not needed to be taken as a symbol for mahou shoujo. It is not that there is some reason that she must not have a family, but it is because there is no need to depict them so they do not appear. Conversely, for Madoka the family must be depicted.


Director Shinbo, if you are to pick a character for whom you have particularly strong feelings, who would that be?

IWAKAMI: According to the public, the answer must be: Shinbo-san is very fond of Sayaka (LOL).

SHINBO: Indeed, I am particularly attached to Sayaka. I may have that side in me.

IWAKAMI: From around which point did you start to feel that?

SHINBO: When the filming was done, I started to feel "she is such a poor girl," and moreover when I listened to the performance during the after-recording session my heart gradually started to ache more and more, and I started to think "couldn't there be a little bit salvation for her?". At first I took a rational point of view, thinking so she is (written as) such a character, but gradually my emotion gushed out and took over.

IWAKAMI: Indeed I went together with Shinbo-san to have a talk with Urobuchi-san, and asked "in the last episode, can't we get Sayaka to come back to life?" (LOL)

UROBUCHI: And then I answered, "That would be impossible now." (LOL)

SHINBO: It is uncommon for me to have such gushing emotions, so it has been an interesting experience.

UROBUCHI: Guess I bullied Sayaka a bit too much (LOL). But then the reason why I do not feel that sorry for Sayaka is this thing, that I just do not feel that even if she hooked up with Kyosuke that girl would really be happy ever after. Most likely Kyosuke is a guy who will stand her up in dates and go to practise violin, I think.

AOKI: But at the very end Sayaka said "I do not have regrets". For Sayaka, perhaps it is something she had come to terms with.

SHINBO: I wonder. When I checked the after-recording, I got the mood of from Kitamura-san who voiced Sayaka, "I am not convinced." (LOL)

UROBUCHI: But also for Kyosuke, a man who could not notice that "Hm? this girl seems to have some feeling for me..." even after so much self-sacrifice from her is simply no good. (LOL)

How about Mami then?

AOKI: In ep. 2 when Mami-san got into a mood which seemed to be arguing with Homura, it got me to think "Although she is an onesan [elderly sister] character she does not act all that mature." I found this quite cute and I loved it. (LOL)

SHINBO: Although she dropped out (from the anime) in ep. 3, she still holds a strong sense of presence.

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UROBUCHI: I was also surprised by how popular she got. I think Mami's popularity was helped a lot by how cool she looked in the fighting scenes. Although she already looked cool since the point of ep. 1, in ep. 2 she elegantly danced and fought, and after all that a cup of tea. How more elegant can it be? What a girl! (LOL)

AOKI: That cup of tea was a total surprise (to me). I remember thinking "So cool!"

IWAKAMI: Really this can be put as the power of images. Showing it like that in pictures you will think it looks so cool, but if the same thing is written in the screenplay you would just think "What?!"

UROBUCHI: I think it is normal (for people) to doubt my sense. (LOL)

SHINBO: For that part, (Yukihiro) Miyamoto-san, series director, once came to me for advice, saying "Inu-Curry-san said they would like to have Mami drink tea at the end." At that time I did not have much idea (of what it was about), but I thought "They must be aiming for something. Guess it's fine." I gave my OK, thinking that if what they came up with looked odd, I would think up something at that point. And when I saw the result in video....well in fact it really looked quite odd (LOL). Perhaps it looked odd in a good way. People thought it cool and got hooked.

UROBUCHI: That "oddness" is in fact its charm. (LOL) At the stage of screenplay, the impression of Mami's fight scenes were more like that of a machine fighting, as the image was that of guns being fired off relentlessly as weapons.

AOKI: Here I have something I want to ask Urobuchi-san. Among fans, Mami-san is often categorized as a bit of a suffering girl, isn't she? What does Urobuchi-san think about that?

UROBUCHI: I could only say that it was too much of a surprise (LOL) In particular, I did not expect the "Law of the Circular Ring" [Editor's note: a term appearing in Episode 12, also referred to as Law of Cycles (円環の理 Enkan no Kotowari)] would be misunderstood as a term coined by Mami.

SHINBO: But popularity and talking points came from that kind of things. Like in the BD, it got the chapter title as "Dance of the Magic Bullets."

UROBUCHI: If you come down to that, I too got really high spirits. (LOL) I am sure Mami-san must have created a notebook that is even more amazing than the one Madoka made! And instead of a thin notebook it would be a scrapbook!

KUBOTA: Also, Mami is the only one who gave a name to her signature special move.

UROBUCHI: That was actually done in order to mislead viewers that they were watching some conventional mahou shoujo anime. From ep. 4 onwards such guidance became unnecessary, and there is no more need for anybody to call out the name of their signature special move. It is only Mami, who was active in the early stage, that needed a name for her move.

IWAKAMI: That is interesting. Although the name of the move was created only due to the necessity as required by the story, the understanding instead became that only Mami made up a name for her move. (LOL)

AOKI: When Mami-san's BGM starts to flow, although it looks cool, it also gets me to laugh just a little bit (LOL)

KUBOTA: But in fact that BGM was not written as Mami's theme. Originally it was planned to be used in a different scene, but we found it such a good fit for Mami...(Youta) Tsuruoka, the music director, really picked his tracks well.


I would like to continue with discussion of the characters. In certain sense Kyubey has become highly popular. (LOL)

SHINBO: I did not think it would become so popular. This is the biggest surprise to me personally.

UROBUCHI: I was also surprised. At the beginning I had thought it would become a hated character. So my feeling towards Katoh-san who voiced it had been one of "My apologies!"

SHINBO: It just came cross my mind. I think it may be interesting to have Kyubey visit Hidamari-zo in "Hidamari Sketch".

UROBUCHI: Since the girls in Hidamari-zo are so smart, they will not be so easily conned. But then if it were to be Hiro-san... (LOL)

SHINBO: If she were told "If you become a mahou shoujo you will lose weight." she may be at risk (LOL)

UROBUCHI: Yoshinoya-sensei would surely be at risk too. She gave the impression that she seems to be susceptible to desires.

SHINBO: Yoshinoya-sensei would be fine. Since she is not a young girl any more, she will not be subject to persuasion talk. (LOL) Aoki-san, how about give this idea a try and draw a manga about it? If Aoki-san draws it, it will become "Madoka Magica the Origin".

AOKI: Oh well... I wonder....(LOL)

IWAKAMI: I think it would be interesting (LOL) Also for Kyubey, when it shows up it often gets a close-up. The reactions by the seiyuu (when this happened) during the after-recording sessions were interesting.

SHINBO: That's true. When Kyubey appears, everyone just shouted "Here it is!". This even got me to start thinking "I see. In this case I will do it even more often and surely everyone will be happy." (LOL) I have a feeling that even some scenes where originally it was not to be shown that way got a close-up, as I aimed for that reaction. Although I also felt that the aim was a bit off to another direction. (LOL)

AOKI: I talked to Katoh-san, who voiced Kyubey, in the closing day. I told her that after this "Madoka Magica" she would see a lot of topics related to Kyubey thrown her way in places like radio or twitter.

SHINBO: These should be some tasty topics for Katoh-san, because, well, to put it briefly, (Kyubey) got super popular, and there are things like "Make contract with me" or "I just don't understand" (LOL)

IWAKAMI: "I just don't understand" are just some ordinary words. (LOL) Though somehow it became a longstanding gag....

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SHINBO: This is where it got mysteriously interesting. Although I have worked in anime industry many years, it is almost my first experience to see a dialogue get so widespread as some talking point.

UROBUCHI: The reason that happened was not because of the words themselves, but the impact generated by how the story was developing the moment those words were spoken. There is nothing pulled out with only the words, but here viewers grouped all their feelings at the moment when that dialogue was spoken, together with what got conveyed to the viewers, and burnt it onto their memory. There it is not just a matter of getting the character to say some elaborate dialogue or dialogue that targeted (the viewers).

Besides those dialogues, is there anything else from fans' reactions that made a deep impression to you?

SHINBO: I think it was amazing to see some fans decipher the runes that Inu-Curry-san created. When I did "Pani Poni Dash!", fans reacted to the symbols shown on the screen and it became a talking point among fans. They decoded them and discovered what parody that was supposed to be. As a general rule, if people fail to understand such talking points, the anime will be rejected with people saying "this anime is not interesting," right? But in "Madoka Magica," I was happy that there were even a group of fans who would have fun digging into that kind of thing.

IWAKAMI: And this is something about the general framework. I was very impressed with the fact that fans of "Madoka Magica" had so much fun in real time watching the anime without any prior information, as it is an original work. I found the mood was very refreshing as everyone must follow it as it was broadcast and all shared the same quickened heartbeats because nobody was sure what would come next.

I heard that it was because of something Kubota-san said that resulted in the broadcast date of the final episode to be announced on an advertisement on Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper.

KUBOTA: I don't know if it was because of me (LOL). At a book store near my home a bunch of "Madoka Magica" manga were put on display and I saw two girls who seemed to be junior high students in front of those manga. One said something like "This anime was interesting but the broadcast ended at ep. 9. I wonder when it will continue the show..." And I was shocked, thinking "Eh? I thought the broadcast date of the final episode has already been announced?" I then realized without the opportunity to be in touch with media like the internet, that kind of information may be difficult to come by. So I went to talk to Iwakami-san and he said "Let me come up with something."

IWAKAMI: Since I myself also wanted more people to watch the last episode, I thought about using some other way of approach to send out information about the broadcast date and time. With this thought, it suddenly became urgent to make a move. In fact it was only a few days before the broadcast when, half-alseep, I started to try to get the advertisement into the newspaper. The design of that advertisement was done by BALCOLONY.-san who is also responsible for the package design of the BD and DVD.

KUBOTA: Well, it may be just a newspaper advertisement placement, but it can also be thought as an event which simply showed that our anime is grabbing so much attention outside, and I was happy about that. (LOL)

AOKI: Since I could not leave home because I was hitting a bunch of deadlines, I asked my friends to go and buy the newspaper for me. And then I placed the advertisement in front of my desk facing my drafts, and thought "Tonight finally it will be broadcast!!" (LOL)


What do you think of the fact that "Madoka Magica", an original anime, became a big hit?

SHINBO: Currently TV anime is dominated by adapations, so it is significant that in such a background an original anime gained such popularity. I have this feeling like I was able to protect the seedling of original anime.

IWAKAMI: Personally for me, I love video adaptations of works like manga or novels, since there is a strong sense of achievement when you managed to accomplish a video adaptation that does not fall short of the expectation of the readers (of the original work). But I think it is better to have many options. Aniplex also gets involved in producing many original anime, but not every one became a hit. The risk is indeed high. Given that, the fact that "Madoka Magica" became a big hit is very important regarding the future of original anime.

UROBUCHI: I am going to get a bit negative here. If we see an increase of only anime adapted from original works (of other media), its harmful effect will also spread to the related industries. In particular, I feel some sense of crisis regarding light novels, as every author now writes with anime adaptation in mind. Isn't everyone now writing novels that are meant to be taken as anime proposal documents, with anime adaptation being the goal? Hasn't the idea that a novel wins or loses by its contents been lost? When I think of that I got quite sad.

IWAKAMI: For example, "Fate/Zero" by Urobuchi-san is originally a novel that was written without considering anime adaptation at all. Therefore the hurdle to adapt it into video was high, but as a novel it was also very interesting and you got fired up reading it. Regardless of the genre, it would always be regrettable to have everything standardized, because somewhere somehow things will get too similar to each other.

AOKI: In the world of manga, it is often said that to get anime adaptation is one of the goals. Like, "This manga. Will it get anime adaptation?"

SHINBO: Perhaps it is for status. The prevailing thinking is that if it gets just a bit popular, it will only be natural to have an (anime adaptation).

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AOKI: For a popular manga, since there are existing fans, it is safe to adapt it into anime. This anime adapation that is based on expectations for a certain level of sales figure. On the other hand, an original anime starts without any guarantee that it will be absolutely safe, so it is risky.

IWAKAMI: That's true. In that sense it is 100% challenge.

SHINBO: Since now the number of anime titles have increased compared to the past, the industry is always trying to find original works for anime adaptation. That itself is not something bad. It is just that it is really no good if we have only that.


Let's put aside the side topic of original anime for a while. Honestly, how do you take the huge popularity of "Madoka Magica"?

AOKI: "Madoka Magica" did not cause much stir before its broadcast. But once people actually started to watch the broadcast, they found it interesting. I am happy with how it got more and more attention this way.

SHINBO: I think those people who became fans from a very early stage really have guts. Even for development that may cause people to abandon (the anime) if it tripped up, like when Mami died, instead it caused people to pay attention and get lively, didn't it? So I was happy with how "Madoka Magica" caught fire. I feel that it was those people who in old days would be described as having the sense of "We, and only we, know about this!", helped spread the popularity (of this anime).

UROBUCHI: Indeed the depth of those people who dug into this anime reached is like what old-time otaku would do.

SHINBO: Well, the prediction that "since it is a screenplay by Urobuchi-san you cannot just leave it as such or it will bite you back" is also one example of that. I guess it is precisely because people watched it with that expectation that people find it enjoyable, I guess. WIthout that, everyone would just be discouraged by ep. 3. But in fact there were many people who thought "Ah, so it is." "I have thought that it will come to this." I feel that because of this, people could still enjoy such tough development with characters by Aoki-san. It may be that challenging attitude or it may be that realization that there are so many anime fans who still got the temperament of old-time otaku, but anyway I am happy.

KUBOTA: I also found it great to see a sense of unity developed between those fans and our animation staff. Since in anime, work was done by an aggregation of individuals working in isolation, being able to hear the voices of those people who watched, they were able to take up a lot of courage. The very lively reactions became the strength for the staff, and the work benefited and got better over time.

SHINBO: Without the cheering on by fans, "Madoka Magica" would not have that quality in the second half.

KUBOTA: It is a fortunate work which was created, and ended, with fans joining us.


Right after ep. 10 was broadcast in theKansai region, "Madoka Magica" had to suspend its broadcast because of the earthquake. Were you affected in any way by that?

UROBUCHI: First of all, of course the earthquake was such a big shock (to me).... From the viewpoint of my own creation, a work, once it is done, stays along, and it will last longer than myself. Because of this happy fact, I feel there is worth writing screenplays or novels or games. But if Japan should be gone, naturally my works would not remain. If there was no more country where they speak Japanese, what would happen to all the stuff I had done till now? I had this kind of worry.

IWAKAMI: It is the same feeling here. Right after the earthquake, I had a helpless feeling, thinking "With Japan in this mess, so what if I work on anime..."

SHINBO: In fact that was no occasion for anime. And out of many things I came to realize the power of music. It is music, not video images, that provided the emotional support. Even if some video images (could do the job) it will not be anime. For example, for a manga magazine, a bunch of children can pass it around and read it, and it becomes entertainment. But animation is not like that. It just hit me with an emptiness in a certain way.

IWAKAMI: That's right. This is why even though there was no broadcast right after the earthquake, I do not think there are viewers who would think "why there is no broadcast (of the anime)?". However, after one week, two weeks, and things started to calm down and normal life returned, you started to hear voices saying they want to see the remaining part.

SHINBO: (Anime) is that kind of entertainment. For example if war breaks out, it will be no occasion for anime. It reminded me of how (anime) is truly a kind of entertainment for an abundant world. It could not be helped if things got into such a crisis situation, but I just hope that if that did not happen anime could be something needed (by people).

Happily everything including the last episode was finally broadcast.

IWAKAMI: I was also counting my time waiting eagerly for the broadcast once the date had been decided.

SHINBO: With life changed one way or another by the earthquake, people still wait for the broadcast with excitement. I feel that they see it as something like a live event that is also related to actual life. I sense that "Madoka Magica" has become an anime with a label inseparable with the earthquake. But it is not that it is an anime that people don't want to remember. I think, together with the fact it is such a hit, it has become an anime in which big things, that could not be covered in a few words, unfolded before us.


Pages 100-103 and 120-122.


KUBOTA: During dubbing, at the point when the sound effect and BGM were put in, I got the feel (about the anime). Perhaps it was the combination of sound and images. With music from (Yuki) Kajiura-san synchronized to the visual images by Inu-Curry-san, I had the tactile feeling of what kind of anime it would become.

UROBUCHI: In terms of degree of shock, perhaps ep. 1 is the biggest. I thought, (ep. 1) being like this, there should be no need to play innocence since at the point of avant (pretitle) one can already see it is an ominous anime. (LOL) You see, the Inu-Curry monster was running on a rampage with that BGM. Also Part B, from the scene where Madoka got lost in the bewitched space made by a witch until the Mami fight scene, was amazing.

AOKI: I was also surprised, that in ep. 1 the mood of the anime could be thrust out to such extent.

IWAKAMI: However looking at the reactions after the broadcast of ep. 3, I think it managed to mislead (the audience) quite successfully.

UROBUCHI: No no... I thought if more carnage were there it could cheat (people more)..... Come to think of it, in the screenplay there was the description that, in the avant [pretitle], next to Madoka, who is about to make contract, the bodies of Mami and Kyoko are shown.

SHINBO: Although at first the direction of our thinking was to make use of it, but since we had not yet been able to see what mood the series would take on, we were cautious (about it). Besides there were viewers who would try to make predictions according to the fact that Urobuchi-san wrote the screenplay, we concluded it was better not to use that. Later when I thought about it, I believed it was a correct decision not to use it.

IWAKAMI: The ribbon in ep. 1 also became the key item in ep. 12. Did you plan to use that as the hidden plot device to be deployed at the end right from the beginning?

UROBUCHI: No, not at all (LOL). It was just something that I put in anyways when I had difficulty coming up with the dialogues between Madoka and her mother, as something that could be used in a plot device later. Since it got really good use in ep. 12, I thought "so the way is to put in many things in advance." (LOL)

SHINBO: For the ribbon, I have some regrets from a directing point of view. When Madoka held out two ribbons and asked "which ribbon I wonder?" it would be better to have another ribbon with even more flamboyant color beside her and her mother picked that one instead. With that the characters of both Madoka and her mother would have come out clearer....

UROBUCHI: I see. Doing that would be interesting.

SHINBO: Yeah. Among the students only one had a name - Nakazawa-kun. How come?

UROBUCHI: That is for the roll-call by the teacher and there is no particularly deep meaning. But since I have given him a name after all, I had him appeared again in ep. 7 (LOL)


UROBUCHI: It is an episode for explaining the world in this anime, including the settings design [settei]. The amount of information is a lot.

SHINBO: Ep. 1 for impact, and Ep. 2 the follow-up. I think it is similar to the composition of standard anime work. However, since Kyubey's explanation is so interesting, it does not look boring.

IWAKAMI: The way cutback was used in Part A is interesting.

UROBUCHI: It was a complicated composition with flashback first and then back to exposition, then again flashback, and exposition....

IWAKAMI: And then there is the Madoka's notebook. That part was also used again at the end, just like the ribbon in Ep. 1. People who watch it the second time can have another moving experience.

SHINBO: Since the notebook will show up again later like you said, in order to give a deeper impression I had Aoki-san drew the front cover.

UROBUCHI: So there are such twists and turns behind that notebook... There is also how good Madoka's drawings are, or how bad they are. And what kind of thing a fantasy notebook from an actual junior high student is like...

AOKI: When I first drew it, I thought Madoka would have drawn it even more badly. And so I really drew it very ugly..... I was told "this is way too ugly" (LOL) and "please go a bit more towards something that we can draw".

IWAKAMI: If you ask someone who does not know about the background, the words "this is way too ugly" would be really harsh words for Ume-sensei (LOL). And using the pictures that Ume-sensei drew in the style of a junior high student as reference, we got Yuuki-san, who acted Madoka, to draw them inside the notebook.

SHINBO: Actually Yuuki-san's drawings are even better than that. But since they are drawings by Madoka, she deliberately drew them badly. We got just the right amount of realism.

UROBUCHI: By the way, since the setting [settei] is that they are the drawings of mahou shoujo that Madoka had seen by that time, Sayaka was not drawn there. I am definitely not trying to exclude her from the group (LOL). On the contrary if Sayaka was drawn there it would become a contradiction.

SHINBO: I guessed at the early stage of the series, in both ep. 1 and ep. 2, the viewers would probably think "When will Madoka transform?" Around those episodes I got quite excited.

UROBUCHI: It is still not yet the stage where they realize that in fact the point is she must not transform.


AOKI: The first time I intruded into the dubbing operation was this ep. 3. Moreover it was precisely at the scene where Mami got eaten. Since it had to be rewound many times to repeat the checking, I came in and suddenly I had to watch the "GabuGabu Puraaan" [sound effect] scene many times (LOL). Seeing it in images, those are very shocking scenes. It was scary.

IWAKAMI: To be honest, I was also a bit scared, about how the fans would react after watching ep. 3. I thought there might be people who would think such a development is interesting, but there might be quite a number of people who would flinch and leave.

UROBUCHI: When I wrote it, I thought people would be clearly divided into those who love it and those who dislike it. I got worried I might be stabbed by some "Hidamari" fans. (LOL) My friends told me something like "You had better watch the date and disappear from twitter. Conceal yourself until the storm dies down." (LOL) So I was prepared. Unexpectedly, that kind of reaction did not happen.

SHINBO: Even the witch in ep. 3 did not get hated. In fact she got quite popular, so much so that she had her own merchandise.

UROBUCHI: That is some good job Inu-Curry-san did. Of all things, they designed the most cruel witch to look the cutest.

AOKI: Indeed she looks very cute.

UROBUCHI: The element of surprise worked.

SHINBO: I think many things in ep. 3 belong to the well-done side. However, I had a bit of regret over the scene at the beginning where Mami was in the limelight. It was cut due to the episode length time limit.


UROBUCHI: My thinking is that, after ep. 3, since those who found it not to their taste would have already stopped watching and so only those who still had anticipation would remain and kept watching. Perhaps I can call it a certain type of me being defiant.

SHINBO: I was worried about being asked why Madoka could still eat breakfast the next day after seeing that kind of thing. I was relieved when such an attack about that part did not materialize. (LOL)

UROBUCHI: And from around this time, Kyubey began to stop hiding its evilness.

SHINBO: Since every member of the staff knew the real identity of Kyubey, they all ended up drawing it that way. Although personally I would like to have hidden it a bit more.

KUBOTA: I was particularly impressed with the scene where Kyosuke made a scene because he could no longer play violin. The impression is less about Kyosuke than feeling sorry for Sayaka who became the victim of Kyosuke venting his anger.

AOKI: But then I can understand the feeling of Kyosuke. I also used it as an idea behind a 4-koma manga in the BD booklet. (LOL)

UROBUCHI: Come to think of it, at the point of the initial composition proposal, there was no such setting [settei] of Kyosuke being a violinist. So he did not have an injured right arm, but instead he had an incurable illness. As for why it became violin related, by now I could not recall anything at all.

AOKI: Also I really love the scene where Madoka and Sayaka were looking very miserable on roof top. I can imagine that after such a shocking event, naturally it would be like that. Surely it would not be "I should take up the fight instead of Mami-san."

IWAKAMI: And there Kyubey pulled itself away for once, saying "farewell". (LOL)

SHINBO: Kyubey got a lot of popularity with that strategy. (LOL) Instead of pushing it pulls away. Saying "That's too bad," and then leave. And when Sayaka made up her mind, it just casually appeared next to her (LOL) Also later after Sayaka became a mahou shoujo, the feeling of "oops I did it" she projected. This is kind of hard to describe.

IWAKAMI: From here onwards, it will be the Sayaka arc for a while.

SHINBO: It's just that at first I was a bit concerned about the motivation of Sayaka's decision to become a mahou shoujo being Kyosuke, that is a boy. I wondered if fans might not like this. Although it was already written since the initial composition proposal, after I read the screenplay I remember raising the point and said "what should we do."

KUBOTA: Ep. 4 had Sayaka's first battle, the image Shinbo-san initially had was something like a magician and he said he wanted to do the battle where she fights with magic. In discussions he said it would not be something cliched like pulling some pigeon from the cloak but he would like to have attack like that.

SHINBO: In terms of adding some flourishes in action scenes, I was thinking perhaps it would be interesting to have something that is a good talking point as well as flourishes. For example, something like action scenes with magic tricks in them. But then it is just something I came up at the beginning. I did not do that in the actual animation.

AOKI: If there has to be someone who fights in that style, I think it would be Homura.

SHINBO: Also for me in the last scene when Kyoko first showed up, the way she looked just hit me as so shounen-manga. And the part where she looked down from high above at the top of a steel tower is also good. I think the dialogue she said at the end "So I can just crush her, right?" generated anticipation of where the story will go afterwards. Honestly, a viewer would like to keep watching if he cannot read the coming development.

IWAKAMI: It is difficult to link a story to the next stage after a character died. Naturally other characters will be depressed, and the question is to what extent you can invigorate the story under this situation. Therefore I believe this ep. 4 is important after that ep. 3. After I read the screenplay, I realized I was over-worried.

SHINBO: For example, in "Star of the Giants", when Hyuuma Hoshi's 'Major League Ball" was defeated, he got into depression for many weeks, right? I was so tough watching that week after week. (LOL) But in ep. 4 there was the transformation of Sayaka, and at the end a mysterious mahou shoujo appeared. The story got lively again. This is something that I will pay attention in future too.


UROBUCHI: When I was writing the screenplay I imagined that the the battle between Sayaka and Kyoko took place in some dirty little back alley...I was surprised even that back alley became such a cool looking place.

IWAKAMI: Is battle in a back alley something rare in Shaft's work?

KUBOTA: Yeah, indeed it seems there aren't many...

SHINBO: In "Tsukuyomi" there is. But other than that, there isn't I guess.

KUBOTA: Making the back alley look like that was from the beginning Shinbo-san's idea. Even the battle scenes have cool looking images.

SHINBO: In fact I had wanted to make the alley look narrower. I thought it would be interesting that in such confined place the spear would have to be turned into a (multi-section) staff which would be swung around. The idea was that Kyoko's original weapon is a spear and she will find it hard to wave it around in a back alley. So in the storyboard I made it a multi-section staff. It was a change rooted in such consideration but I think it was good that it also created variety in battle portrayal. It is a creative idea from combat movies, not mahou shoujo works, but I thought "Whatever" (LOL)

UROBUCHI: However now I think about it again, this is the screenplay being unreasonable, as I put a fight with spear swinging around in a narrow back alley. I should have thought things over a bit more... (LOL) It was my bad habit to have events take place in a back alley when I got absent-minded. Being a follower of Hideyuki Kikuchi, I also let my story go the way of a back alley before knowing it.

IWAKAMI: But this is a scene where I was excited to see it in images when it was still only in screenplay. I wondered what kind of hardboiled battle scene Shinbo-san and Shaft could come up. In fact that after watching the battle scene, it was worth the wait.

UROBUCHI: Sayaka fought better than she was in the screenplay.

SHINBO: I wanted to show some portrayal of ripostes. Also I wanted to immobilize Madoka in advance.

UROBUCHI: Indeed that is necessary. I also have that pointed to me when animation was being done.

SHINBO: And then another thing that made ep. 5 interesting is where Homura showed up and there the story was to continue in the next episode.

UROBUCHI: It could not be helped because of time restriction, but it turned out be something good.

KUBOTA: The original idea was to show up till the fighting ended and the episode ends with Kyoko leaving. That was instead carried on to be the avant [pre-title] in the next episode.

SHINBO: And it was better that way. It is more likely to generate excitement by ending with a scene where you'd say "Eh?! What will happen?" and letting the story continue (to the next episode).


UROBUCHI: This is an episode where the phrase "I just do not understand" made its debut. Kyubey started not to put up any excuse any more (LOL). But having reached this episode, the build-up of the story is now complete. I also had the expectation that those viewers who are still with us until this ep. 6 should find episodes from ep. 7 on very enjoyable. I thought ep. 3 would for once filter the audience, and if they would stay along in ep. 4 and ep. 5, then I guessed we should be fine.

SHINBO: However since in reality instead of seeing people drop out after ep. 3 it got a lot more attention, we did not really need to worry about that. And coming into this ep. 6, people should start to realize that the question is not "When will Madoka transform?" but instead "In this anime she must not transform."

UROBUCHI: Also in ep. 6, there is one whole scene that was cut out. That was something that I did on my own initiative. When I dug around some old files, I found there was a scene where Homura and Sayaka talked to each other. There is a scene where Homura met Kyoko in a game center, isn't it? My thought was that after Homura finished talking to Kyoko there, there was a scene where she advised Sayaka, saying "You are not fit to be mahou shoujo, so behave yourself and stay quiet." And of course Sayaka would reject that. But then it is hard to call a scene enjoyable when you just watch Homura and Sayaka going on and on doing nothing but arguing. (LOL)


UROBUCHI: The church scene was a surprise. I could not even imagine the conversation would take place in a background that is all stained glass.

SHINBO: The image of a church with stained glass was taken from the image at the beginning of the anime "The Soul Taker". Moreover, I wanted to show something other than what people usually draw when they think of a church like those long pews etc.

IWAKAMI: I really love the dialogue of Kyoko at the end of the church scene, when before she left she turned to Sayaka and said "We are mahou shoujo! There are no other people like us!"

UROBUCHI: That is almost gangster talks, like "Us fellas are different from those ordinary chaps!" (LOL)

SHINBO: It got very interesting to hear that dialogue spoken with Nonaka-san's acting. And I got a bit troubled with the scene where Kyoko threw out an apple. Since Kyoko valued food so much, what would she do with the core of an apple? Did she throw it away, or eat the core as well? And if I decided she would throw it away, then I thought she would eat until where there is nothing more to eat, and what would be the sound when that core dropped onto the ground? In order not to get the impression that "Didn't she only just say 'don't you waste food!' and now she was throwing apple away!" I put a subtle sound effect at the end.

UROBUCHI: But people may then think, if she eats that much already, why not eats the core as well? (LOL)

SHINBO: Indeed Kyoko's character may be just like that. But in that scene I think it looks cooler for her to throw it away. So I got help from the sound effect staff so that (the sound) would not invite criticism. I need to thank the sound effect people like (Hidemi) Tanaka-san. But then I did not expect to get troubled on this kind of thing (LOL)

UROBUCHI: Come to think of it, in that scene Kyoko was eating something healthy. Usually she just kept munching on junk food.

SHINBO: If she kept going with that kind of diet, don't you think Kyoko would get fat?

UROBUCHI: Probably won't. Thanks for the magical power. (LOL)

AOKI: My impression of Kyouko changed in ep. 7, I thought "Hmm? Surprisingly she is a nice girl!"

IWAKAMI: As it is the episode where the relationship between Sayaka and Kyoko got close very quickly.

SHINBO: But for me I started to think of Kyoko as a good girl from ep. 6. Didn't she give Homura some of her Pocky?

UROBUCHI: I am sure if you become a friend of Kyoko, you will get some food. (LOL)


UROBUCHI: This is the climax of the grim development.

AOKI: This episode was tough to watch. It was very tough to see the exchanges between Sayaka and Madoka.

IWAKAMI: The existence of Kyoko is significant as she went to save (Sayaka) from such a grim development.

UROBUCHI: When she first appeared, she was supposed to be a heel character, but before you know it she became the only conscience. (LOL)

SHINBO: In visual terms, in ep. 8 I aimed for something that I had not done before. Like the dialogue between Madoka and Sayaka in the rain, or the exchanges between Sayaka and Homura later.

UROBUCHI: The image where Kyubey became a hornet's nest by Homura's bullets is also very shocking. And right after that, it was revealed that its true identity is Incubator. By then it is very clear that it is not a creature that can live with humanity on friendly terms.

SHINBO: There is also the dialogue "Isn't it a waste?". I thought it would also become a talking point but turned out it did not cause a sensation like "I just don't understand." (LOL) As a Japanese who takes good care of things and stuff, I wish that would get popular too.

AOKI: In that scene I really feel sorry for Homura who was left behind by Madoka. I just want to call out to Madoka, "Spend a bit more time with (Homura)!"

UROBUCHI: Ah, that's because from Madoka's point of view, she "just doesn't understand" (LOL) But then, coming to ep. 8, all the setups prepared before that started to come off quickly one by one in a chain reaction.

KUBOTA: It was impressive that the dialogue between the two hosts in a train was something that actually happened in real life.

UROBUCHI: They were talking at a place very close to me in an overcrowded train.

SHINBO: For us that was the most out-of-place dialogue in the world of "Madoka Magica."

UROBUCHI: Since they are not characters who would appear in mahou shoujo works. (LOL)

SHINBO: That's why I got convinced when I heard from Urobuchi-san about the background. I just hope that the viewers would also know that that was originated from a real life situation.

UROBUCHI: It was not really like that when it happened, I had to summarize to that length because of the time limit. Besides, the dialogues are extremely stupid, as they spoke in cliches that made you think "is it some on-location filming out there?" (LOL)

IWAKAMI: Since it is a dialogue that generates such an out-of-place feeling, we decided to use some unconventional treatment when we came to create the images for it.

SHINBO: Yeah, we deliberately made it black-and-white.

UROBUCHI: And the seiyuu casting of (Nobuo) Tobita and (Shinichiro) Miki as the hosts is deluxe class. (LOL)

SHINBO: For that scene, it would not work if it was not done by actors with solid acting skills. And (Youta) Tsuruoka, music director, helped me to cast these two veteran seiyuu.

IWAKAMI: Usually for such minor characters, it will go to young actors. With veteran seiyuu acting that part, the feel that Sayaka was pushed to a dead end little by little came out effectively.

SHINBO: But I guess Tobita-san (and Miki-san) did not understand why they were asked to do that.

UROBUCHI: Because they are minor characters and appeared only in one scene. On top of that, the title of the script has the words "mahou shoujo" written on it but strangely here is this scene which smells of blood. I can see that would be an after-recording session filled with many mysteries. (LOL)

SHINBO: And I think it should be good stimulation for some veterans to come and join these many actresses of around the same generation. Somehow I felt that the mood in the after-recording session got a bit sharpened as a result.

UROBUCHI: In fact Yuuki-san seemed to get very tense.

AOKI: And then there was the smiling face of Sayaka at the end of Ep. 8. I could not forget her expression when she said, "I am really such a fool."


AOKI: The visual image of Sayaka Witch surprised me.

UROBUCHI: What I imagined was a monster that looked even more grotesque, so I think that it already got quite a bit of beauty treatment, since in the screenplay there is something like "countless tentacles stretching out" written on it. I wonder what I was thinking of Sayaka. (LOL)

SHINBO: It was marvelous to see how the music by Kajiura-san matched with the video images in ep. 9.

IWAKAMI: She wrote one piece of music specifically for Sayaka who had become a witch. I think Kajiura-san found the work to be interesting after reading the screenplay so she was willing to respond to our sudden requests.

AOKI: When I saw Kyoko in ep. 9, I got filled with so much hope. I really think perhaps at the end they could somehow manage.

UROBUCHI: If it is a conventional mahou shoujo anime, I guess at the end they will somehow manage it.

IWAKAMI: But I think indeed it was structured very well, since a character that came out only in ep. 5 now stands out so prominently in ep. 9.

UROBUCHI: Although I had thought about letting Kyoko stay just a little bit longer. But in 12 episodes I think that is the limit.


UROBUCHI: It is a miracle story to get everything into one episode. In fact this is something that requires at least 2 episodes. With only one episode everything has to be rushed. I submitted the first draft, thinking "Can this really be kept within 25 minutes?!" and I had expected it would be rejected...but it got through. (LOL)

KUBOTA: But then I got all fired up after reading that screenplay. I thought I must make it happen....

SHINBO: At the very beginning it was a little bit longer, we got it shortened by a little.

UROBUCHI: I did not cut down much actually. I just had this worry that the pace of ep. 10 is so fast that audience may get the feeling of being abandoned.

SHINBO: But the viewers were able to understand without difficulty. I was surprised to see the fans of this anime have such a strong ability to understanding.

IWAKAMI: Also I think it was good to see it filled with scenes fans want to see, like when the mahou shoujo teamed up to fight witches. It is just that from an animation process point of view, since there are a couple of situations (to draw), it took awfully large amounts of labor. Kubota-san remembered ep. 3 and ep. 10 as the episodes that took them a particularly amount of effort.

KUBOTA: Ep. 3 is the turning point in the early stage and so that was necessary no matter what. And for Ep. 10, since the structure of the screenplay has a really high degree of perfection, and there are tricky works we needed to do, it gave me the feeling that it was indeed the chokepoint. I do not intend to discriminate various episodes among all the 12 episodes, but I have no doubt that this is the most important episode within the series. This also came naturally to our staff.

UROBUCHI: I thought the anime databank system would be used more often. It was only (used) in the moment just before the last scene.

KUBOTA: That was because it was necessary to use the image from ep. 1. Even with the use of databank system, it was an episode that was complicated and technically demanding (to make). But the main staff, including (Yukihiro) Miyamoto-kun, copied with it perfectly.

SHINBO: It was also because (Shinsaku) Sasaki-san, who drew the storyboard, read the storyboard of ep. 1 very thoroughly. He grasped everything very well, like whether to use such and such cut in more than one situation, to put together the storyboard. Episode Director (Yuuki) Yase-san was also very good.

UROBUCHI: I was surprised that Inu-Curry Witches really showed up in quick succession. I had expected it would just reuse all the witches who had appeared earlier, and they really made new designs for every one of them.

IWAKAMI: The dialogue that Madoka said, "Keep it a secret to everyone in class.", also stood out. It was impressive because it was a dialogue where she showed her will clearly up front while up till then she looked so timid and indecisive.

SHINBO: Besides that, the acting by Yuuki-san on that scene was really good.

KUBOTA: And for me, the scenes where Homura's face got sterner and sterner each time she passed through the time loop were impressive.

UROBUCHI: She looks cool. I love the face of Homura when at the end she fell into total distrust of other human beings.

IWAKAMI: I wish I could taste the shock when, without knowing anything in advance before watching the TV broadcast, suddenly out came Homura with eyeglasses and braided hair. (LOL)

SHINBO: The Animation Director for this episode is (Yoshiaki) Itoh-san. He himself once said "I am so happy to be the animation director for ep. 10".


AOKI: At my place, somehow the video of ep. 12 came before the video of ep. 11. But I thought "I absolutely must not watch it by skipping ep. 11!" and so I just stashed away ep.12. So I watched and enjoyed ep. 11 in real time just like every viewer. Also, in the closing day, (Tetsuya) Iwanaga-san, who voiced (Madoka's) father, said to me, the last word Madoka's father said to Madoka was "I need to go to toilet". When I thought of what happened to Madoka later it only gave me sadness.

IWAKAMI: I guess at that moment Madoka could not even dream that she herself would in fact become a concept.

UROBUCHI: From here on, I just threw up everything and wrote with a so-what attitude. It may have been challenge in certain sense, (to see) how much I can say this is absurdly unreasonable but I can still be told "This is not the case." (LOL)

SHINBO: In the storyboard of ep. 11, the silhouettes of Mami and Sayaka etc. were seen clinging close to the Walpurgisnacht. But this part was changed (later).

UROBUCHI: The manga version was drawn based on the storyboard before the change. Black Mami and Sayaka were drawn there.


UROBUCHI: Since in the screenplay I only wrote something like "Madoka turns into a concept," I think it was well adapted into images. Even regarding the location, I only wrote with self-indulgence, putting it as something like "void space" (LOL). But the power of images is strong, as in a world with only text, like novels, could not produce such persuasive power. When you read the part with text "they float in a space where there is nothing," you think "Ah, is it so." and then you are done. It is the power of images to get people to think "Wow...I see!"

IWAKAMI: Indeed the persuasive power of images in the last stage, from ep. 10 onwards, was amazing. In the early stage and middle stage the power of Urobuchi-san's story pulled along the story. I feel that in the last stage, it was due to the pulling power of images that were built up by animating the conceptual part of the screenplay.

UROBUCHI: Also since ep. 10-12 were broadcast at one go, it gave a feeling of watching a movie. In summary, it was the "Homura Chapter." And then even though quite some effort went into designing the ultimate form of Madoka, it was a waste that she did not appear that much. But then her existence loomed immensely large with that short appearance. I also thought people would get angry at me for that scene with mahou shojo in the past. Just think how many new characters needed to be created just for that one scene...I had expected somehow this would be resolved by finding some way out.... It came out as a straight ball. They did not even try to run away. (LOL) My hat off to them.

KUBOTA: The key animation of those mahou shojo (from the past) were drawn by (Takahiro) Kishida-san, the Character Designer, himself.

UROBUCHI: There is this thing that surprisingly became a talking point -- "The Law of Circular Path". That actually means "the ending that will, without exception, visit the girls who embraced hope and chose to take up the destiny of becoming a mahou shoujo." It is not something Mami-san coined herself, but something like an oral tradition that was passed along among mahou shoujo in that world. And so at that place and time, the only one who could not understand at all after hearing those words was Homura. Kyoko also knew and probably Sayaka in that world had also heard those words before.

AOKI: The black wings of Homura in the last scene - was it the intention of Urobuchi-san?

UROBUCHI: No, those wings were from Inu-Curry-san.

IWAKAMI: There are many interpretations regarding the last scene. What does Urobuchi-san think of that?

UROBUCHI: My intention when I wrote the screenplay was: The location is not Japan and Homura's fight just goes on. But I think it is fine for all the fans to come up with their own interpretation. There is even conjecture that "this is without doubt the world after humanity was annihilated." It is still a valid interpretation.

IWAKAMI: It looks something like a Bad End, with an ending that had Homura hearing Madoka's voice just before she went to a certain death. (LOL) Personally I believe it is a Good End.

AOKI: So what I thought and I felt proved to be correct after all.

SHINBO: Even though the world has changed, Homura will never forget Madoka. I think that is the most important thing. If there is another work for "Madoka Magica," this will be something that will never change.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica After-recording Report

Detailed translations at: Guidebook After Recording Report

Episode 11: Part 1
Episode 11: Part 1 Original in Japanese

Part 2: Pre-recording
Part 2: Pre-recording Original in Japanese]

Part 3: Recording
Part 3: Recording Original in Japanese

Part 4: Walpurgis Nacht
Part 4: Walpurgis Nacht Original in Japanese

Data in production stage

Data in production stage

Planning Memo (Upper right)

Story keyword

  • When the wish of a magical girl comes true, she becomes a witch.
  • Based on friendship between an idealistic girl and a realistic girl.
  • The idealistic girl claims that to become a witch is bad. But she exhausts her power for the world and becomes a witch...
  • Main characters are the two above, with additional two, total 4.
  • If sub characters are counted, total about 7 characters.
  • Protagonists are about 15 years old.
  • They may use magic to transform.
  • But they are mainly wearing uniform.
  • Although it is subtle whether they are in magical school, the school is serious and strict.

Visual image

  • The image of 4 girls are as follows:
    • The idealistic girl: bright, and looking forward.
    • The realistic girl: seem to know everything as an adult. She is excellent in both knowledge and physical power.
    • The talented girl: comes from witch's blood. She has inborn magic.
    • The learned girl: learning magic systematically. She looks like an otaku.
  • The tragic fate of magical girls, and the decision. ...(their serious face?)
  • Needs some gadgets of magical girls, like sticks, bracelet or necklace.
  • An animal who guides them to their fights.
    • While looking cute, he will say something terrible like "Do you have desire to improve the world, even have to pay your life". He is so cruel because he knows everything.

Minutes (Lower right)


Series Proposal (left)

Episode Story
01 A scene of destruction. All characters are dead miserably. Homura is fighting a terrible monster with blood on her.

Madoka is watching this but she can do nothing. However, it seem she can save all of them by becoming a magical girl. As soon as she makes up her mind to make contract with a fairy, she wakes up. Is this a dream?
In a peaceful morning, she is going to school with her good friend, Sayaka, as usual.
Here comes a transferred student called Homura. She is the girl in Madoka's dream. But after school, Madoka sees her killing a cute animal. Then Homura come to attack Madoka and Sayaka, who are trying to protect that animal.

02 (Mami appears. Mami explains about magical girl to them.)
03 (Madoka almost makes a contract. But Mami dies, and Homura saves her. At the same time, Sayaka makes a contract)
04 (Kamijou quarrels with Sayaka so that she makes a contract. Kyoko appears)
05 (Kyoko attacks Sayaka. Homura agrees that Kyoko can be the backup. Madoka now in middle of Sayaka and Homura.)
06 (Kyoko's past. Kamijou recovers. The three tiers (Sayaka, Homura & Kyoko, and witches) are fighting endlessly. Madoka is worried about how to help Sayaka.)
07 (Kamijou fully recovered. But he is going the way out of Sayaka's expectation. Sayaka doesn't give up her duty as a magical girl.

To make Sayaka back to a regular girl, Madoka steals and throws away her soul gem. To Madoka's surprise, Sayaka doesn't move anymore. The fairy tells her the truth.)

08 (Sayaka is no longer human. But she overcomes the sadness. She simply bears the fate to do witch hunting just like Mami.

Madoka considers to become a magical girl again to help her, and Homura comes to argue with her. At the beginning she rebounds strongly because of embarrassment from her over simple consideration, but Homura convinces her by all means.
Meanwhile, Kyoko starts to have sympathy with Sayaka, although they are incompatible, still fighting against each other.)

09 Sayaka falls into despair definitely (caused by Kamijou?)
10 Sayaka finally become a grief seed and hatches a witch. Kyoko killed the witch but also sacrifice herself.

The fairy tells the truth to desperate Madoka. He also tells her that he has seen countless examples of this but he is still unable to understand how human thinks.
And a new witch with unseen power is approaching. It seems there's no way to protect the city unless Madoka becoming a magical girl.

11 Homura confesses to Madoka about her ability and object. She also tells Madoka that she has done that many times. This is the timeline Madoka keeping alive the longest. Although she cannot save other girls' lives, it might be a chance to change Madoka's fate.

Homura swears that she will protect Madoka with her own life. But Madoka is still unable to understand. The final fight is coming in such situation.

12 Madoka arranges her feelings about Homura. The fairy predicts that Homura won't have a change to win. He suggests Madoka to make a contract, and says her soul gem is so enormous that the power of her wish is much more than others.

The final battle between Homura and witch comes. Homura cannot stand up with such a great power difference. This scene is the same as Madoka's dream.

13 Is there a way to save all magic girls?

Madoka finally makes contract with the fairy.
"I wish to become the existence to eliminate all witches from past to the future!"
Madoka finally understand how hard Homura did for her, and the friendship between them.

Witch Design

Labyrinth design

Episode Concept Words
3 (Part) Cafe for two
"My dream is tea time."

When the witch dies, the magical girl steps on the cups and breaks them.

3 (Part) One hole cheese cake "It's really a delicious cheese cake. My dying mother wanted to eat it, but maybe I should have cured her disease instead. However, that surely wasn't possible."
4 Snowglobe
"I have only one wish. Box up that memory."

When the witch dies, the lights on the Christmas tree and merry-go-round short out. There's a 'basssh!' sound.

7 Church "I wish you, although not seen from me, to be happy."

When the witch dies, the stained glass collapses and drops into the air. There's a 'baaaaaaahn' sound like from a pipe organ.

9 Trains "My wish is somewhere not here."

In the final scene, the magical girl kills her from behind in the first carriage, and the train derails.

10 (Patricia) Blue Sky "It's raining again today. How long will I continue to be unlucky for?"

When the witch dies, it rains heavily. There is a sound like an aircraft crashing.

10 (Roberta) Dolls "I wish for friends. Friends who won't dislike me."

When the witch dies, the bird cage is getting shot down and spilling a circular rain of blood.

Set-constructing witch (Walpurgis Night) Stage "Everything in this world is fake.
My life is nothing more than a drama that you penned.
Please, prove it.
"Faust" is on show."

General Gallery

Prior Illustrations

Episodic Coverage and Character Pages

Cast Interviews

Production Materials

Staff Interviews

Staff Discussion

Early Character Designs