Popular novelist and screenwriter Gen Urobuchi, who has written dozens of visual novels for Nitroplus, as well as writing spin-off novels for various popular titles from other publishers such as Shogakukan and Type-Moon. Recently, he has also served as screenwriter for original TV anime such as Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Psycho Pass.

Anime Shrine had the great pleasure of interviewing Mr. Urobuchi during his guest appearance at AFA2013 under the Psycho Pass special feature and he was kind enough to entertain some questions we had for him.

What inspired you to create the Sibyl System and the Dominators?
Honestly speaking, it was all cobbled together in a meeting that lasted about 3 hours, but I guess the biggest inspiration is the science fiction author Philip K. Dick and the 1997 Hollywood movie Gattaca.

Official replica of the Dominators from Psycho Pass

Sibyl System is a bit similar to National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance (in US), do you think Psycho-Pass is somewhat related to what the NSA is doing in America?
I didn’t think about that. Rather than that, I’m more surprised to hear that NSA is about as scary as the Sybil System.

In Psycho-Pass, you quoted some western books, 1984 by George Orwell and Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill
Aah, I had collaborative writing with Fukami Makoto (scriptwriter for Psycho Pass), so I think that’s the part which he rewrote. So I’d say that this was actually Fukami’s idea to incorporate these quotes.

So did you enjoy reading these books? Do you enjoy other western literature?
The one who actually read them all was Fukami. I read Orwell’s too, but I’m not familiar with the other difficult books.

Production I.G. presidemt, Mr. Ishikawa recently announced a Psycho-Pass movie and season two. Will you be writing and joining the production team?

(Editor’s note: At that moment, Producer Yamamoto stepped in and gestured to Mr. Urobuchi…)

Umm…for now, Producer Yamamoto asked me not to reveal any details to public about this matter.

Were you expecting Psycho Pass to be successful with foreign audiences?
At the point of production, we make it with the Japanese audience in mind, so to have it well-received overseas is actually very surprising and it makes us happy.

Was there any aspects you found difficult?
Well, when it gets translated I don’t know if the actual meaning gets across accurately because I don’t understand foreign language and I have no way of checking. But from the reactions I’ve seen, I can safely say that the important points have all been accurately transmitted to the audience, so I’m relieved.

Currently all sorts of discussions and interactions take place on the net, in the future, what role do you think the Net play as a medium?
I’m a rather old-fashioned person, so I still feel a little intimidated with how information is exchanged through the Net but it’s a current that can’t be changed, and people will eventually have to change anyway. But I do think that for children that grew up with the Net, it’ll be more difficult.

Congratulations for MadoMagi (Puella Magi madoka Magica). It was recently nominated for an Oscar prize. It was well-received, especially in Southeast Asia, so was the success anything you expected?
I’ve had a few of the same questions, but was it nominated? I thought it was only listed up because it hit the expected number of viewers in US…

So you haven’t heard about this directly?
(Translator explains that Urobuchi thought it was nominated due to its viewer count, and we explain to him that the nomination is based on quality, and MadoMagi is nominated for the Best Animated Film category along with 19 others, including Ghibli’s Kaze Tachinu)

Ooh, that would be a great honour! I misunderstood the nomination method, so that’s how it gets nominated! If they nominate based on quality, it’s a great honour. I only knew about this after I came to Singapore.

(It has been explained to us that MadoMagi was not exactly nominated, but submitted FOR nomination. Oscar nominees will be announced on January 6th, 2014. This has been a mistake on our part and we deeply apologize for this error.)

Let’s talk about Fate/Zero. You mentioned in a previous interview that you came together with Nasu to create Fate/Zero. How did you both meet and how did Fate/Zero happen?
It happened quite a long time ago. Nasu’s Kara no Kyoukai series was made into drama CDs some time ago. At that time, I was requested to do a booklet of the dialogue. That was how I met Nasu. I think that would be about 10 years ago? From that point, we kept in regular contact.

There was a time when you suffered a writer’s block and you couldn’t write any new visual novels. How did writing Fate/Zero help you in that situation?
It helped a lot. Fate/Zero was my first actual attempt on working on someone else’s idea and creating for it. When you feel a limit to your own inspiration, collaborating with others can be a great encouragement. “It can go this way too”, you see new hope and possibilities.

In another interview, you mentioned that Saber didn’t feel like a heroine and Rin was more like a heroine in Fate/Stay Night. So why is that?
Well, if you observe Saber and Shirou’s relationship, there is a respect for each other that surpasses gender. They see their ideals in each other, like…rather than a boy-girl connection, they formed a far more noble connection. On the other hand, I think Rin and Shirou are more involved in a typical boy-girl relationship. In that aspect, I think Rin is more suited for the heroine title.

Mr. Urobuchi was then generous enough to sign some Psycho Pass and Fate/Zero merchandise we had with us. We genuinely hope he will be able to meet his fans in Malaysia next time!