Otakon 2012: 15-minutes with Gen Urobuchi

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.

It is a table top RPG replay style story. I don’t know if there are many 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:

Otakon 2012: Tweets
Otakon 2012: Pirated ANNcast
Otakon 2012: General Impressions
Otakon 2012: Guests
Otakon 2012: Fan Panels

Crime Scene Investigations #004: Otakon 2012
Otakon 2012: Artist Alley

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9 thoughts on “Otakon 2012: 15-minutes with Gen Urobuchi

    • reversethieves says:

      Hell I could have just spent an hour talking about just Red Dragon and not run out of questions to ask. I am so hot and bothered for that series it is not funny.

      My dream would be able to interview all the major participants. That would be an AMAZING thing.
      Then again I can also dream of having a passionate affair with Christina Hendricks or being The God-Emperor of Mankind. It does not mean any of three will ever happen.

      But I was encouraged that he seemed to hint that they wanted to take Red Dragon and make it an international property. I sort of got the feeling that was the case but it is nice to see that is not all just in my head.

      – Hisui

      • omo says:

        There’s room in the tabletop gaming space overseas, but the derivative stuff like replays will be tough to sell. You would think people are receptive to that idea (and they sort of are, eg., http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9QtdiRJYro )

        While I can’t speak for the people you dream about interviewing, I don’t see how it is as difficult as your other examples. You never know with these things.

      • reversethieves says:

        I would assume that you would sell Red Dragon on the names involved and gloss over the replay part. I mean you sell the juicy steak and the ice cream not the vegetables. ;)

        Plus I got the impression they really want to make the completed Red Dragon into an anime, a manga, a video game, and other derivative products. And maybe even multiple versions of each if it is very successful. You would sell that stuff in the US and not the light novels which are sort of US poison. People love (loved?) Record of Lodoss War but only the hardcore crazies want the original replay novels. You give the market what they want unless you have a particularly clever marketing strategy (mixed with some good luck).

        I myself try not to overestimate the reach of the blog. I think we have undoubtedly come pretty far in 5 years. But we are still considered pretty bush league (as far as I know). I would assume that if anyone could get an interview like that it would be Anime News Network or Crunchyroll News. But only maybe.

        I think as a single person Ed Chavez might be able to make it happen but the only way he would cash in favors like that is if Vertical had money on the table because they had a Red Dragon license.

        Or actually now that you mention it is someone crazy with serious mainstream clout like Wil Wheaton wanted it done that is a different story. But that would be a very odd situation in general.

        Could such a scenario happen. Could I get such an interview. Sure. It COULD happen. Like I said. I COULD have a night of passion with Christina Hendricks. I would just not put anything over 5 dollars on such a bet.

        I mostly said the part about being The God-Emperor of Mankind because I wanted to make a silly Warhammer 40K reference.

        – Hisui

      • omo says:

        Well, cosplaying counts!

        Didn’t you do some kind of interview through ANN? Who knows, maybe the opportunity could happen again. All I’m saying is regardless of the blog or the popularity or whatever, who really knows? What is more important is that here you are and you’ve just interviewed Urobuchi, so it isn’t like it hasn’t happened before.

    • reversethieves says:

      I am also very interested in DRAMAtical Murder. It is such a departure from his normal MO. I am cruious how much or how little he talked about it with AWO. I got the feeling they only threw in that question at the end and did not get that much info about it.

      But I am sure your fujoshi heart cries out for it! I salute your passion.

      But anything with Kinoko Nasu involved instantly becomes my priority #1. As is the way of my people.

      – Hisui

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