Otakon 2012: 15-minutes with Gen UrobuchiAugust 3, 2012
Now that we have been doing the blog for five years, I have gotten quite comfortable going as press to any convention I attend. One of the perks in doing so is on occasion you get to interview a Japanese guest you are really interested in. That alone is worth any and all hard work put in as press. This time I was lucky enough to get some time with Mr. Gen Urobuchi thanks to the accommodating Otakon staff.
As Gen Urobuchi has worked with Type-Moon in the past, and is even currently working on a project with Kinoko Nasu, he is obviously someone who is on my radar. For many, he is probably best know for his work as the writer for the hit Puella Magi Madoka Magica anime. And his authoring of the light novels which the recent Fate/Zero anime is based on also makes him a high-profile figure in otaku circles.
Mr. Urobuchi’s career started in 2000 with the visual novel Phantom of Inferno which has been adapted into an OVA, TV series, and a manga. He continued making visual novels adding light novels and anime to his repertoire along the way. He garnered a small cult following from his Lovecraftian-themed visual novel Saya no Uta which recently came out in the U.S. In addition to the Fate/Zero light novels, he has also done several others including two Black Lagoon books. Many of these light novel and visual novel titles have have yet to come out in the U.S. but that is slowly changing. On the anime side of things, he has several anime projects coming out over the next two years and these are more likely to see English release. With so much current and upcoming work, Gen Urobuchi is definitely a name on everyone’s lips.
I knew that several other blogs and website were going to ask him a whole slew of Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Fate/Zero questions; that was a majority of the questions at the Q&A as well. I had already asked most of my best Fate/Zero questions when I was involved with interviewing him for the Anime News Network back in October. So, I decided to ask questions you’re less likely to see elsewhere.
One quick question to start us off. How did you get involved in the visual novel industry?
What first got me into the visual novel world was I got a job with a design company called DDP. I went there as a marco-authoring programmer. That company was connected to another company that made game walk-through books. The game walk-through company said that they were going to provide me with some funding so did I want to make a game? I said please let me do this to my boss and that was the beginning of Phantom of the Inferno.
I think I will go right into the question I am most interested in. I am really curious in Red Dragon. But before I ask my Red Dragon question I wanted to know if you could describe Red Dragon a little. I feel it is not that well-known in the U.S.
I have played lot of table top RPGs but replay stories are very Japanese.
But replay stories are the written record of the table top game sessions. It will be novelized and then released in Japan. Although the campaign is not done in Japan, if the story comes to a grand finale it will surely be something that can be introduced to a U.S. audience as well.
I am looking froward to that. My question is there were so many great writers participating in that project. What was their play style like? How did they play their characters?
Something special about Red Dragon is that some of my fellow writers and friends participated in it. It was a project we started focusing more on the character concepts than the rules of the RPG. The rules and game systems were developed after we submitted our character concepts and ideas to Makoto Sanda. It was a very unique RPG where rules and systems come afterwards and the characters are in the forefront.
How do you feel the Game Master’s storytelling style was?
Since Red Dragon is a game where all the characters have very strong personalities, there had to be a story where every single player and every single PC could shine. It was thanks to the Makoto that this could happen. He was in the Group SNE who are pioneers in the realm of table top RPGs. Therefore Red Dragon became a very unique RPG thanks to that.
I liked his work in Record of Lodoss War.
Makoto is the apprentice to Ryo Mizuno the writer of the Record of Lodoss War.
Last Red Dragon question. Have you enjoyed any other Table top RPGs over the years?
It has been a while since I have played a table top RPG like Red Dragon. But the last time I played a table top game it was in my high school days. I used to play Call of Cthulhu, Dungeons and Dragons, and Sword World which was created by Mizuno.
I have played the first two but I never played Sword World.
When I was the game master for these sorts of games, I was very severe in how I ran the games. So in things like Call of Cthulhu people loved me for that. But when it came to D&D no one became even level 2. Everyone booed me for that and did not want me to run games.
A kill ‘em all GM.
I think that has a very strong influence on how I write things now.
As you mentioned, you played Call of Cthulhu. There is a very small but devoted Lovecraft fandom in the U.S. What is the Japanese Lovecraft fandom like? In the U.S. there is a very unique divide between people who only like the writing of Lovecraft and people who enjoy the writers that have built on his work. Is there such a divide in Japan?
In my days, authors like Ken Asamatsu and Hideyuki Kikuchi were greatly influenced by Lovecraft’s works. When I was in middle school and high school it was quite big. But it died out until recently when the fire has started to build up again in a very different form with the anime Haiyore! Nyaruko-san with the creeping horror Nyaruko. It is a very queer anime in that it is a very moe gag anime but it is creepy at the same time. But it is shedding a new light on cosmic horror.
As for the second question, I feel that the original Lovecraft works tingle my heart the best. Other writers that came after Lovecraft like Derleth are very good but don’t tingle my heart like the original. But since it is a derivative work in just can’t be helped. But in that was Lovecraft’s work tingles my heart just the right way.
I only got 15-minutes to ask questions so I did not get to half of my own questions let alone the questions that other people gave me. But in Otakon’s defense except for a few special exceptions that was all the time most people got to interview any of the guests. In that regard, any amount of time was truly appreciated.
As a side note Anime World Order was nice enough to look into one thing for me when they found out I ran out of time and could not ask all my questions. Apparently his latest game DRAMAtical Murder is in fact a 18+ BL game. I thought that was the case but I had to check my research. I am sure we will hear a little more about that when AWO posts their interview.
More Otakon 2012 posts: