Gen Urobuchi needs no introduction and the moment I stepped inside the interview room, I sensed a unique atmosphere filled with the promise of a memorable conversation. Urobuchi-san exudes a professional demeanor where one could easily discern that he takes his job seriously even before he spoke. He often had a thoughtful look.
The Paper: Thank you for allowing Anime Diet the opportunity for this interview. Let’s start with something light. What was the last anime you watched?
Gen Urobuchi: Do you mean one that I have completed or still ongoing?
TP: Good point. Finished please.
GU: Kids On the Slope and Tsuritama, only because they showed them back to back on TV.
TP: You’re known for “darker” stories. What compels you to explore thus? What message are you hoping to convey?
GU: I got into anime during the 80s. Back then, there was no moe. Just about everything was “dark”. I am just trying to bring old sense into new styles.
TP: We heard you had the idea for Madoka for years. Why did it take so long for it to get produced?
GU: It wasn’t intentional. Studio Shaft was already fully booked at the time.
TP: The ending to Madoka has theological undertones. Tell us a little about your own religious philosophy and how it influences or guides your work.
GU: [He looks rather thoughtful] Hmm….As a genre, magical girls is a world view filled with emotions and kindness and happiness. Madoka came about as if emotions are not part of the girls but stood alone by themselves.
TP: There are a lot of aspiring writers. Unfortunately, most of them lead busy lifes…jobs, family, etc. What advice do you have for those with so little time?
GU: It’s not about having the time. It’s up to destiny. Screenwriting doesn’t take a long time. It’s inspiration that takes time. [He touches his temple upon the word inspiration] Time and training won’t give you inspiration. It’s almost luck. Writers are people just like you and me, people from various fields. There is no formula.
[Interpreter finishes translating and I am still busy note-taking when he continues.]
GU: One thing is for sure. If the chance arises and inspiration hits, you must seize it. In fact, having a busy life would lend itself to better writing. Put life experiences towards the writing.
[I am looking at my list of prepared questions and I hesitate because I had one asking about his impression of moe which he touched upon earlier. But I am running out of time so I went with something lighter.]
TP: Do you get much fan mail? What was the most memorable?
GU: It’s not often that I get fan mail. When others mention my work or praise them, I consider those fan mail.
TP: Again, thank you so much.
[He smiles and bows slightly.]
As I am standing to leave, I gesture to my shirt and remark that he’s wearing Rider’s tee. The interpreter translates and he nods rather charmingly in a solemn fashion almost as if it’s his duty to do so.