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Interview: Fate/Zero Screenwriter Gen Urobuchi

by Alain Mendez & Mitsuru Uehira,

Gen Urobuchi is perhaps best known among anime fans as the screenwriter for the smash hit Puella Magi Madoka Magica; his latest project is scripting what is likely the fall's biggest and most anticipated series, Fate/Zero, the prequel to Type-Moon's Fate/stay night. We asked Type-Moon superfan and writer Alain Mendez to ask Mr. Urobuchi the burning questions he had in advance of the show's early October premiere; you can catch Fate/Zero streaming on both Nicovideo.jp and Crunchyroll.

ANN: How much control and input did you have over the characters who participated in the 4th Holy grail war? Did you sit down with Kinoko Nasu and discuss who would be added to the Nasuverse or were you given free reign to create any characters that were not previously established?

Gen Urobuchi: The process was that I drafted up a proposal for the new characters and the plot, and showed it to Nasu-san for his supervision. However, consequently, 90% of those proposals were accepted as they were already Nasu-san's ideas. As for character names, Hisau Maiya was only character name that I suggested.  The other characters were all named by Nasu-san.  

In the Fate/stay night visual novel, Saber mentions that she only talked to Emiya Kiritsugu three times during the 4th Holy Grail War. Was it difficult writing a story in which the two main characters can only talk to each other directly 3 times?

In order to abide by the original story, the character Irisviel has been introduced. Saber only talks to Irisviel. Kiritsugu only talks to Irisviel, too. So, in the end, Irisviel plays the role of facilitating communication between these two, who do not talk to each other.

How often did you feel you had change elements out the story in your head to fit in with the story of Fate/stay night? Were there any plot elements that had to be completely scrapped to stay within the overall time line? Did you feel you had retcon anything in Fate/stay night to fit into your story?

As a result of the discussions between Takeuchi-san (character design) and myself, Kirei Kotomine's height in Fate/stay night was revised for Fate/Zero. Also, we had to adjust the relationship between Saber and Kiritsugu, so as not to be too bad.  We were afraid that if Saber excessively increases her distrust toward Kiritsugu, she would not easily open her heart to Shiro, who is Kiritsugu's adopted child.

Since all the Servants are from foreign mythologies, how much research did you do for Fate/Zero? How much research did you do on foreign magical systems? Are there any other mythologies you wish you could have included in Fate/Zero?
Our basic policy was that we used the settings of actual mythologies only as the basic foundation for ideas; rather, we would put the emphasis on how we could make our own imaginations grow from that foundation. As for the magical systems, we followed the systems applied to the world by Nasu-san rather than those of real occultism.

Takashi Takeuchi and Kinoko Nasu both played table top role playing games (like Dungeons and Dragons or Record of Lodoss War) in their youth, and the influence of those games is evident on their work. Did you ever do such gaming? Do you do any other sort of gaming, especially considering you work for the visual novel company Nitroplus?
Call of Cthulhu is the most profoundly memorable TRPG to me. You could say that Saya no Uta, my game script, was especially influenced by Call of Cthulhu.

You said once that you felt Fate/Zero got you through a difficult period as a writer and had a hard time writing the endings to your stories. How do you feel you have changed as a writer since then? Are you more confident about writing endings now?

I used to be trapped in the stereotype that the only true creative activity was something that had to express my own thoughts. I was subscribing to a strong belief that it would be insincere for me to “adapt” a story, to tell a story without having been the person who created it.  However, through my writing on Fate/Zero, I reaffirmed the pleasure I get from simply writing. Since then, I have been able to concentrate on writing the story merely for entertainment without putting too much pressure on myself.  

Are there any scenes from the novel that you can't wait to see animated? Are there any scenes you not sure will come off as well in an animated form?

I believe that this anime series will be 14 episodes. The big battles will be the most difficult scenes to animate. But, I expect that those scenes will look spectacular. Those are the most splendid battle scenes in the story.  I cannot wait to see them.

What is the part or element that you feel Fate/stay night fans should be looking for the most in the series?

How Kirei Kotomine has grown up over 10 years. It's one of the themes of the show, how Kirei, who has sincerely struggled with these conflicts, will become the last boss in Fate/stay night

What are your impressions of Takashi Takeuchi and Kinoko Nasu?        

I am very envious of the relationship of mutual trust that they have built through their friendship for many years, as a person in the same business.  I'm sure that their teamwork will continue to produce great things.

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