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This Week in Anime - Does Gen Urobuchi's Name Mean Anything Anymore?


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Sheenoobuu



Joined: 17 Sep 2019
Posts: 84
PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2023 12:38 pm Reply with quote
After Fate/Zero I have to wonder if he's just a one hit wonder. I've checked out almost all his animated or game related works and I'm always let down. Maybe his style just meshed really well in a setting like fate, and with characters like that. Even Madoka, with how good it is, kinda ended in a cliche way and hasn't went anywhere since then even though there's demand. Makes me wonder if no one knows where the story can go anymore.
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Joe Mello



Joined: 31 May 2004
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Location: Online Terminal
PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2023 1:31 pm Reply with quote
I feel like Urobuchi's message of "Everything sucks and no amount of goodness can change that," becomes a lot less compelling when the real word keeps trying to make that a fact.
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Beatdigga



Joined: 26 Oct 2003
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Location: New York
PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2023 1:37 pm Reply with quote
The problem is he’s put his name on so much stuff, like that godawful CG Godzilla trilogy that his name is no longer a mark of quality.
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Ryuji-Dono



Joined: 26 Apr 2018
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2023 2:03 pm Reply with quote
Joe Mello wrote:
I feel like Urobuchi's message of "Everything sucks and no amount of goodness can change that," becomes a lot less compelling when the real word keeps trying to make that a fact.


And that is pretty much a bad simplication of him, given that he changed in recent years. And even so, that quote is badly untrue in so many levels, because otherwise, we wouldn't be speaking here.
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db999



Joined: 23 Dec 2017
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2023 2:31 pm Reply with quote
I’m kind of surprised neither of you mentioned Aldnoah.Zero, although you did mention a bunch of series, as another one of the works that had the whole did Urobuchi write it or not conversation, as that’s the one series that I most remember being the one that everyone jumped on for not really being written by him. If you go back and read the comments of the reviews for that series it's full of people talking about either Urobutchi being a hack or as having not written anything outside of the first 3 episodes. But yeah that's the series that I really remember people jumping on for this.
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jroa



Joined: 08 Aug 2012
Posts: 542
PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2023 2:39 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
(I am pretty sure no one ever talked about Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~). .


Not a lot, but there was discussion. Some people would likely be surprised to hear that Urobuchi himself had written the visual novel for Phantom, so it was curious to have him write a few episodes of the anime adaptation as well.
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dmanatunga



Joined: 12 Jan 2015
Posts: 56
PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2023 2:55 pm Reply with quote
db999 wrote:
I’m kind of surprised neither of you mentioned Aldnoah.Zero, although you did mention a bunch of series, as another one of the works that had the whole did Urobuchi write it or not conversation, as that’s the one series that I most remember being the one that everyone jumped on for not really being written by him. If you go back and read the comments of the reviews for that series it's full of people talking about either Urobutchi being a hack or as having not written anything outside of the first 3 episodes. But yeah that's the series that I really remember people jumping on for this.


Ditto on Aldnoah.Zero. I always think back to how epic that first episode ended. And I did enjoy most of the first season, even if it has blatant Gundam/Code Geass plot andnset pieces

I also actually enjoyed Obsolete. Well, kinda enjoyed. It had some interesting ideas, and it seemed like it could go to some cool places. But between being releases on YouTube and a schedule I couldn't follow, it kinda petered out.

Oh well, here's to hoping more Thunderbolt Fantasy comes soon.
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John the Dark Lord



Joined: 19 Jun 2020
Posts: 243
PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2023 3:06 pm Reply with quote
In the case of Aldnoah.Zero, Urobuchi explained in an interview while the show was still airing that he wasn't the one who wrote the final product, so at least we didn't need to speculate.

Quote:
You’ve usually stated in past interviews that you have connections to your characters. In Aldnoah Zero, which is currently airing, what do you think is your connection to Inaho?

I did not create the characters in Aldnoah. I made the mainframe of the story until the preliminary version. But in fact Inaho’s character is different than what I wrote. I don’t really have a connection with this character, so this is an exception.


When we say he only wrote the first three episodes, we are only talking about writing the script of those episodes. Mind you, after the last episode of the first season aired, the internet exploded with people claiming he was lying about not writing the show, so he had to come out again and explain that the last episode did not happen as he planned back in the preliminary version. And just to be safe, he also pointed out that if people die in the second season of Psycho-Pass, the murderer is Ubukata and not him.
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prime_pm



Joined: 06 Feb 2004
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2023 3:56 pm Reply with quote
Frankly the best part of Aldnoah Zero was the awesome song aLIEz, but that was more to the credit of Sawano Hiroyuki.
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Sam Murai



Joined: 01 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2023 4:16 pm Reply with quote
I also think a fair amount of the spirit of the article has to do with people overly-propping him up, as is often the case in virtually every medium when you get a talent that makes a splash with 2+ big hits in close succession. Except, it's a reoccurring problem and few learn to just judge a work on its own instead of expecting every single thing they churn out/associate themselves with to be a home-run, redefining moment of art. It's not bad having expectations based on past track record, but regardless of who it is, I've learned it's better to just keep expectations in check, in general, or even something you'd normally like might feel like a "disappointment".

Now, for Urobuchi's work…:

-PSYCHO-PASS (S1): Really did not like it, overly dark and the whole concept of the Dominators felt entirely contradictory with the setting and story (and not in a good narrative way). I stopped at the halfway point, and maybe that's addressed later, but not sure when I'll finish it…

-Gargantia: Much better than people give it credit for. Very interesting and enjoyable.

-OBSOLETE: Not into CGI, but turned out way better than expected with its old-school real robot feel (animation wasn't too shabby, either). Wish it got more attention/love, but not too surprised, particularly with the uncommon YouTube distro route.

Fate/ Zero, Madoka Magica: Great, top-tier stuff worthy of their respective praises.

Thunderbolt Fantasy: You can tell how much he loves the show, and the dialogue is as good as the action. Always had a soft spot for puppet shows, too…

-Blassreiter: Not perfect, but different, and a good, solid effort all-around.

-Expelled from Paradise: Pretty good, maybe could've done without some of the otaku bait fanservice (didn't really fit in the story).

-ALDNOAH.ZERO: Aim to finish it soon, but such a case of "what-could-have-been", if more chances were taken rather than going the safest, most lukewarm routes possible, both in story and the characters. Not sure a great ending could make up for everything else.
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MarshalBanana



Joined: 31 Aug 2014
Posts: 5423
PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2023 4:33 pm Reply with quote
He seemed to make a name for himself within a very short span of time with Madoka Magica, Fate/Zero and Psych-Pass. After that he never seemed to be as relevant, Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet seemed like it could be a big hit, but it never got a second season, he stopped working on Psycho-Pass after the Movie,

In some ways it feels like he was born at the wrong time, I could easily picture him writing for OVAs in the 80s and early 90s, his first TV show after all was with Ichiro Itano after all.
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Zhou-BR



Joined: 28 Feb 2008
Posts: 1448
PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2023 4:53 pm Reply with quote
I guess Urobuchi is not as "hot" as he was in the early 2010s simply because he spent many years away from TV anime, doing stuff like Thunderbolt Fantasy (which I love) and that Godzilla CG movie trilogy instead.

Also, his involvement in Revenger was only revealed about a month before its premiere date, so there wasn't enough time for it to build expectations from his fanbase. I'm enjoying the show, but I think it could have been much better if it had been directed by someone with more visual flair than Masaya Fujimori, not to mention the animation quality is merely adequate.

Nick wrote:
At the same time, if he doesn't want to be the grimdark guy anymore, he could stop writing episodes like the drug-dealing nun brothel.


Actually, Renji Ohki wrote that episode by himself. In fact, while Urobuchi co-wrote the entire first half of the show with him, the back half has been surprisingly Urobuchi-free, with only one episode (the eighth) co-written by him so far.
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Cho_Desu



Joined: 27 Dec 2022
Posts: 206
PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2023 5:42 pm Reply with quote
I've jokingly (or perhaps just half-jokingly) long thought of Gen Urobuchi as the anime director with the greatest PR team. There are plenty of anime directors who have helmed great series, but extremely few have the kind of staying power that Urobuchi has. Even if his name isn't synonymous with quality anymore, it is still always marketed, and it does always get people talking. "But you have heard of me," as Jack the pirate says.

Sam Murai wrote:

-ALDNOAH.ZERO: Aim to finish it soon, but such a case of "what-could-have-been", if more chances were taken rather than going the safest, most lukewarm routes possible, both in story and the characters. Not sure a great ending could make up for everything else.


This is a curious take because while I feel Aldnoah Zero dropped the ball multiple times over the course of its run, just about the last thing I feel I could ever say about it is that it played things safe and was "lukewarm." That was a series that took all sorts of wild turns, and often ones that did not land well with audiences. I get the feeling that if the overarching narrative did play things more safe, fans might've been more pleased with the overall plot.

I've wondered how much of a hand Urobuchi might have had in Slaine's character arc in particular. Despite all of Aldnoah Zero's issues, Slaine has continued to be an anime character that sticks in my memory. Maybe his is an archetype I just don't see in stories as much, or portrayed so dramatically. There was a lot of fervor surrounding his character at the time the show aired -- that brief window of heated "Slaine did nothing wrong" discussions (both serious and tongue-in-cheek) are a distinct memory from a time I was more active online in anime communities.
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TarsTarkas



Joined: 20 Dec 2007
Posts: 5898
Location: Virginia, United States
PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2023 6:16 pm Reply with quote
Gen Urobuchi gave me Puella Magi Madoka Magica which restored my love of anime. For which I will be forever grateful.

Thunderbolt Fantasy was great too. Anime through puppetry.

I liked Expelled from Paradise also.

I see no reason to engage in criticism, because his name is used everywhere. Just like everyone else, he has to make a living. Did he get rich writing Madoka Magica? I don't think so, could be wrong though.

Gen Urobuchi's name means something, for what he gave us that we love, and not for those, "what have you done for us lately".
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AQuin1904



Joined: 13 Nov 2021
Posts: 267
PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2023 7:01 pm Reply with quote
Speaking as someone who worked (uncredited) on English releases of both that Godzilla trilogy and some of the post-Urobuchi Psycho-Pass stuff: Yeah, steer clear. Both have their moments, but the overall experience ends up either frustrating or unsatisfying.

Fate/Zero was a good time and laid groundwork for some of the best features of that series, but I'd rank the adaptation over Urobuchi's source novels. His fight scenes veer into purple prose that's just clunky to read, and that drags down some big moments. Apocrypha, for example, had much more dynamic action in novel form, even though its plot and pacing are nowhere near as good. Some stories of even darker directions Urobuchi wanted to take certain elements make me glad he didn't have a 100% free hand on that one.

Thunderbolt Fantasy is probably my favorite thing he's worked on by a wide margin.

And when it comes to his dark side, I can't help but recall the...memorable first scene of Kikokugai: The Cyber Slayer. I feel like he's generally moved toward less bleak and less lurid stories over time, though.
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