Tuesday, January 25, 2011

[Info] Madoka Magica: Interview with Urobuchi Gen and Aoki Ume.

 It's Japanese-to-Korean-to-English translation, so it might have some errors. But meh, I will try. You can learn a lot about system of Shaft, why Shinbo can take multiple animation at once, how eccentric Iwakami and Shinbo is, how this project was formed and prepared.. etc...

*From Otona Anime, Jan 12th

Q: Did you two meet before the project?

Urobuchi: Never. However, I really love "Sananara", I'm still reading it!

Aoki: That's such nostalgic work! Thank you!

Q: Then, when did this project established?

Urobuchi: It was about 2008 Autmn. At that time, I was talked that 'There is project with Shinbo, Aoki Ume and Shaft, so do you want to join in?'.

Aoki: When I heard that project first, your name was already on the planning sheet. (laugh) Including me, the whole planning about us three. There was no such meeting on deciding character design or script.

Urobuchi: From what I know, it was plan between Aniplex producer Iwakami and Shinbo about making new Mahou Shoujo.

Q: Aoki-sensei has already met Iwakami P with 'Hidamari Sketch'. When was the first encounter between Urobuchi-san and Iwakami P?

Urobuchi: It was when we did an interview on "Kara no Kyokai" 1st movie booklet. He said that he thought of this project after reading "Fate/Zero".

Q: Indeed. 2008 is when Aoki-sensei was working on 'Hidamari Sketch x 365". 

Aoki: Yes. Thinking of it, I heard about this project after the recording of Hidamari.

Q: Was the concept "fighting mahou shoujo" from the start?

Urobuchi: Since we can't make mahou shoujo that existed before, we had the 'key-word' of making the concept of the work with slight twist from the start.

Aoki: I was hearing about the concept of 'fighting', but there was no image of having really intense battle-anime. The image I had was just characters laughing together delightfully.

Q: Have Urobuchi-san ever seen animation from Shaft?

Urobuchi: I've already seen them. Sort of distinctive, anyway all the works were the things that only Shaft can make, so I thought it was amazing.

Q: Any works that caught your attention?

Urobuchi: It is "Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei". Not just screen-impact, but also Ootsuki Kenji's opening etc.. anyway I had surprising impression on every element it had. Seeing that he is working on "Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei" and "Hidamari Sketch" at the same time, their way of selecting original work was very chaotic. (What Urobuchi is trying to say is that how those two animations have very different in terms of genre, atmosphere, everything.*ringOtamegane)

Q: Did Aoki-sensei knew about Director Shinbo and Shaft before "Hidamari Sketch"?

Aoki: I didn't watch much anime at that time, and even if I did, I never took a look at staffs and production studio, so I didn't know well about Shinbo and Shaft. But, I did watch "The Soul Taker" a bit, so when I heard about Hidamari animation adaptation and heard explanation on staffs, I had that anime in mind and thought "ah. it's that guy".

Q: So you knew about Shinbo's work from his golden period. Did the impression you two had on Shaft actually changed after this involvement?

Urobuchi: I was very surprised on how everything goes very smoothly and in harmony. It was so liberal, that I had to say 'is it really ok to do whatever I want?'

Q: For instance?...

Urobuchi: Generally, I thought there will be case where changes in script is needed in order to screen it, but you don't have to worry about at all, which is really surprising. During "Blassreiter" which I did the script, there was usually a request about fixing the script, such as 'Please cut this part so that we can focus on this resource'. If you don't make it best suitable for screening, the direction part will get a lot of pressure which isn't good. I thought that was the general way of producing animation, but during this animation, I was worried, so that I really wanted to ask 'is it really ok with this undeveloped script?'. (laugh) This is only my third work on animation, so I was thinking of making a lot of mistakes and getting scorned. After that script getting through and seeing it as a conti, I thought it is really amazing. I even thought that they could've made it much simpler. (laugh)

Q: Aoki-sensei had long history with Shaft...

Aoki: the image that I have on Shaft is "student who isn't honour-student, but very famous". Including Shinbo, all staffs in Shaft aren't really a genius but still has an image of having some kind of genius-like talents, and also have some sense, so even though they didn't change a lot in "Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica", they are showing their image more distinctively than they did before. 

Q: What was the role of Aoki-sensei in terms of working on Original Animation?

Aoki: When I did Hidamari Sketch, the major work was just checking the final completed design as staffs wanted to make it as close as the original one. On the other hand, this time I had to make up my own original design. Like Urobuchi-san, I also thought of doing make up as much as I can so that I can get pointed out as many mistakes as possible, but I didn't get much after all. (laugh)

Urobuchi: How did the first design requested look like?

Aoki: I heard about Urobuchi-san's simple concept and personality and drew design based on it.

Urobuchi: Ah, yes. At first, excluding Sayaka, I asked design for Madoka, Homura and Mami. At that time, I was thinking that the enough satisfying design was 'properly completed and transferred'.

Aoki: Thank you. There was some modification, but basics didn't change, right?

Urobuchi: Ah, the life-size of the characters were a bit larger. (aka. Head was smaller. *ringOtamegane) Was there any request for the change?

Aoki: Nope, it was my own decision. Hidamari was 4-koma manga I wanted strong deformation, but since this one has much dramatic atmosphere, I wanted their ratio larger.

Urobuchi: I see.

Q: What was the response of Director Shinbo after seeing the character?

Aoki: With the feeling of "emm, I think it will be ok with this", there was no such modifications on overall course. There weren't even much of minor corrections. So, as checking props and settings, they advanced minor adjustment in order to make animation notable during the transformation scene.

Q: From the story until now, I had an impression that all the staffs are creating this work with their own colour and individuality. Here I want to ask, before you two got involved with this work, what was you stereotypes on Mahou Shoujo?

Urobuchi: In case of me, the first mahou shoujo I saw when I was a child was "Magical Girl Shelley" (lol urobuchi..*ringOtamegane). Thus, "fighting after the transformation" type of mahou shoujo after "Sailer Moon" was a bit unexpected, and after that, I have been watching it thinking that 'girls must be hard'...

Aoki: I don't have any mahou shoujo watched when I was a child. In my home, my brother took control over TV-channels, so all the animes I've watched during that time was male-oriented. (laugh) In opposite, basing my knowledge with recent works such as "Negima", I was trying to continue to think what direction should I take from there. Actual design was more based on 'fighting mahou shoujo' than fairy tales like Urobuchi-san said.

Q: Does that mean that you two didn't think much on what kind of target audience you want to base on as a genre of 'mahou shoujo'?

Urobuchi: Well, since it is late-night animation, we never thought of the target audience (lolololol....*ringOtamegane). If it was more about selling toys and stuffs, we already had the final meeting on weapon which will be first to be worked on. In case of props design, it was being planned right until the deadline (SHAAAAAAAAAFT *ringOtamegane), which is simply not acceptable if it was project that focuses on merchandise.

Aoki: Indeed. Rather than targeting something, I was more aware of not changing it a lot from the start. If I try to make design fit with Urobuchi's script, the key point of this entire project might have been ruined. What we first asked was that it will be much enjoyable to work individually with individuality, so I worked thinking 'let's do it Aoki-like.' (Well, well, this basically justifies that Iwakami definitely wanted storyline of ABSOLUTE DESPAIR with the combination of CUTE MOE DESIGN. He is just brilliant. *ringOtamegane)

Urobuchi: Shinbo also said that we shouldn't think a lot of target, but just make something fun. How unrestricted it is!...(laugh)

Aoki: Rather than having fans who loves the completed work as a target, it was held off.

Urobuchi: We can say that when 'Madoka Magica' sells. (laugh)

Q: I see. Then, Urobuchi-san has written more about strong males or females, but was there any trouble portraying the life of normal girls?

Urobuchi: Myself first had very strong awareness of 'I joined as a team with Aoki and Shinbo', and in fact I don't really feel conscious about my style (as expected... lol *ringOtamegane). Just, the largest common measure between 'fighting mahou shoujo' and 'Hidamari Sketch' was friendship between girls, (... WHAT?...*ringOtamegane) and that's why I just wanted to make it as a central focus.

Q: What did you feel when Aoki-san read script by Urobuchi?

Aoki: There is no battle in Hidamari, so I can't compare it (laugh), but taste of conversations in normal life was very different. It's obvious thing, but it felt like entirely different personnel who wrote it. There were some words that I can't use usually, which was very enjoyable. Now I'm looking forward to see my characters fighting.

Urobuchi: During the "Blassreiter" I always needed help from other staffs, I also have this as the first time being in independent staff as a series composition. For me, this work is my critical point of my career, so I'm anticipating quite a lot.

Aoki: Please watch it from the first episode!

Shaft and Iwakami is just amazing. System of Shaft is a lot freer, even more than Gainax and complete opposite of Kyoani's principle. Iwakami is... already enough crazy guy for uniting Shinbo, Aoki and UROBUCHI.


  1. Very interesting! Thanks for your effort ;)


  2. Thankys for the info ^_^


  3. Absolutely fascinating. Thanks! Helps make me more aware of producers, too.

  4. Nice! Thanks for the info.

  5. opposite that of KyoAni huh? >.<

  6. Great article. Information present was a great and amusing read.

  7. @Ronel: Kyoto Animation's principle is "faithful to original" apparently. They were infamous for oppressing creativities of animators, which was major reason why Yamakan left/fired whatever it was. Though, their attitude is changing a bit, though.

  8. > Kyoto Animation's principle is "faithful to original"
    Faithful enough to loop Endless Eight chapter eight times apparently :-)

  9. @Anon: That's where they started to change their direction. ^^;;