Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Psycho-Pass, Fate/Zero. What these have in common is that their stories were scripted by the same screenwriter. This screenwriter, who has continuously created numerous masterpieces of dark fantasy anime, is Gen Urobuchi.
The characteristic of Gen Urobuchi’s anime is that they often feature the grand theme of transforming the world. But, are you familiar with all of his works? For fans of Madoka Magica, Psycho-Pass, Fate/Zero, and those who just want to enjoy quality stories, we will introduce the top 5 anime written by Gen Urobuchi.
We will also mention Urobuchi’s history, so you can know his origins and enjoy Gen Urobuchi’s anime more deeply.
Who is Gen Urobuchi?
Gen Urobuchi (虚淵玄) is a renowned scenario writer, novelist, and screenwriter in Japan. He also serves as a director at Nitroplus, a company involved in anime and game production. Known for his swift writing, Urobuchi has scripted numerous popular anime series and anime movies, sometimes credited under his own name or under the Nitroplus label.
Among some English-speaking fans, there’s a play on words involving Urobuchi’s works, where characters often meet gruesome fates. This has led to the creation of the term “urobutchered,” derived from “butchered,” in reference to these grim outcomes.
Urobuchi has been with Nitroplus since its inception in 2000 and worked on the company’s debut title, Phantom of Inferno. He gained significant attention for authoring the novel Fate/Zero, published in 2006-2007, which later saw an anime adaptation in 2011-2012.
In 2008, Urobuchi ventured into anime series screenwriting with the sci-fi action series Blassreiter. He significantly increased his fame in 2011 with the creation of the critically acclaimed dark fantasy Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Urobuchi’s work is heavily influenced by films like Léon: The Professional and Taxi Driver, and homages to these movies can occasionally be seen in his games and anime projects.
List of Anime Written by Gen Urobuchi
-Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom (2009)
-Puella Magi Madoka Magica (2011)
-Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie Part 1: Beginnings (2012)
-Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie Part 2: Eternal (2012)
-Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet (2013)
-Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie Part 3: Rebellion (2013)
-Expelled from Paradise (2014)
-Wooser’s Hand-To-Mouth Life: Phantasmagoric Arc (2015)
-Psycho-Pass: The Movie (2015)
-Concrete Revolutio: The Last Song (2016)
-Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (2017)
-Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle (2018)
-Godzilla: The Planet Eater (2018)
-Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Walpurgisnacht: Rising (2024)
-Eisen Flügel (TBA)
Narrowing down Gen Urobuchi’s anime works to just five was challenging, but let’s start with Aldnoah.Zero (アルドノア・ゼロ), which aired from 2014 to 2015. The story concept of Aldnoah.Zero was created by Gen Urobuchi, who is also a board director at Nitroplus, involved in the production. It’s an original mecha anime co-produced by Troyca and A-1 Pictures. The robot anime genre, with its long history including titles like Mobile Suit Gundam, and Neon Genesis Evangelion, has been evolving, and Aldnoah.Zero aimed to be a classic mecha anime suited for the 2010s. This is a collaboration between director Ei Aoki and Urobuchi as Fate/Zero in 2011-2012.
This story unfolds against the backdrop of a war between Earth and Mars. The people of Mars, known as the Vers Empire, possess overwhelming military power against Earth. The source of this power is a super-technology called Aldnoah.
The protagonist of the story is a high school student from Earth named Inaho Kaizuka. When war breaks out, he accidentally acquires the ability to harness the power of Aldnoah. Inaho uses this ability to fight in defense of Earth. Meanwhile, Asseylum Vers Allusia, the princess of the Vers Empire, desires peace between Earth and Mars and struggles to bring an end to the war.
Bubble (バブル) was one of the most anticipated anime scripted by Gen Urobuchi, but it might not be considered the best anime of him. It was globally released by Netflix in 2022. Set in a submerged Tokyo, this fantasy anime film adopts the unique theme of parkour. Directed by Tetsuro Araki, known for his work on the Attack on Titan series, the production studio was Wit Studio. Character design concepts were by Takeshi Obata, famous for Death Note, and the music was composed by Hiroyuki Sawano. Fans were surprised by the impressive lineup of creators involved. The screenplay for this anime movie was not only written by Gen Urobuchi but also involved Renji Oki and Naoko Sato.
The story is set in a Tokyo submerged due to an abnormal phenomenon where bubbles fall worldwide. It portrays young people competing in parkour in the devastated city, with the protagonist being the team’s ace, Hibiki. He encounters a mysterious girl of his age who cannot speak. He names her Uta, and as she starts living with them, she gradually learns to behave like a normal girl. The script by Gen Urobuchi matches well with the fantastical scenes of a bubble-wrapped, post-apocalyptic world.
Fate/Zero can be considered the work that widely popularized the name Gen Urobuchi among anime fans. It is the prequel to the Fate/stay night series, which evolved from a popular game to a successful anime adaptation. Fate/Zero was written by Gen Urobuchi between 2006 and 2007, and its story formed the basis for the anime’s first season, broadcast in 2011. The second season followed in the next year, completing the series with a total of 25 episodes. The animation was produced by Ufotable, known for their masterpiece Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, and directed by Ei Aoki, who also directed Aldnoah.Zero.
Fate/Zero is an anime set during the Fourth Holy Grail War, which took place 10 years before the events of the Fate/stay night series. The Holy Grail War is a battle where magicians summon their own Servants, the spirits of heroes from history and mythology, to fight for the ultimate Holy Grail. This story revolves around Emiya Kiritsugu, the adoptive father of Shirou Emiya, the protagonist of ‘Fate/stay night,’ and his Servant, Saber.
This installment of the Fate series, with its promise of a grand finale, perfectly matches Gen Urobuchi’s writing style, which does not shy away from depicting intense bad endings. However, Urobuchi’s storytelling is not merely about bleak developments; it also undeniably adds depth to the narrative.
The popular long-running series Psycho-Pass (PSYCHO-PASS サイコパス) has now become synonymous with modern cyberpunk anime and can undoubtedly be considered a great achievement of Gen Urobuchi. It combines genres like crime and psychological thriller, creating a dystopian world that is quintessentially Urobuchi. Since 22 episodes of the first season aired from 2012 to 2013, it has been popular among both men and women. Its broadcast in the Noitamina TV slot, known for innovative anime, also played a role in its success.
In 2015, Psycho-Pass: The Movie (劇場版 PSYCHO-PASS サイコパス) was released, expanding the series across multiple media formats including TV anime and film. Although Urobuchi’s name does not appear in the screenplay credits for Season 2 and beyond, he continues to be involved in the production in a supervisory role. According to Urobuchi, the story of criminals and detectives in a dystopian managed society was inspired by the thought experiments in the science fiction works of Philip K. Dick. Urobuchi has expressed his delight in overturning the prevailing notion that the sci-fi genre was declining in Japan, noting the impact that Psycho-Pass has had on the public.
In the world of Psycho-Pass, a sophisticated AI known as the Sibyl System measures the psychological state and criminal tendencies of citizens, maintaining social order based on these assessments (Psycho-Pass). The story’s protagonist is a rookie enforcer, Akane Tsunemori, who, alongside an experienced enforcer, Shinya Kogami, tracks down criminals and deals with them based on the judgments of the Sibyl System. However, they soon face the dark aspects of the system and questions about justice, delving deeply into ethical dilemmas and the issues of society’s surveillance system.
1. Puella Magi Madoka Magica
What is considered Gen Urobuchi’s masterpiece and is regarded by many as one of the best anime of all time is Puella Magi Madoka Magica (魔法少女まどか☆マギカ). It is a blend of the traditional theme of magical girls with dark fantasy. This anime is a product of Urobuchi’s writing, Akiyuki Shinbo’s direction, and Studio Shaft’s production. For the creation of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, the name Magica Quartet was used as a joint pseudonym for Akiyuki Shinbo, Ume Aoki and Shaft. The original work is credited to Magica Quartet, along with Urobuchi’s name as the screenwriter.
First-time viewers might be surprised by the gap between Urobuchi’s intricately dark and moody storytelling and Ume Aoki’s cute character designs. While the distinctive character designs can be polarizing, it would be a real shame if someone hesitated to watch the show for this reason alone.
In the broader context of girls facing a world crisis, the anime might not seem unusual, but there is something remarkable about the design of each character, their psychological portrayal, and the motifs used. Especially, watching the relationship between Madoka and Homura unfold makes for an even more interesting experience. Madoka is a kind-hearted, ordinary middle school student whose life changes significantly after meeting Homura, a mysterious transfer student. Homura has a unique background and initially appears as a frightening figure to Madoka. However, as the story progresses, the complex and deep bond between Madoka and Homura becomes clear. This development is fascinating, and the friends around them, as well as the malevolent Witches, are elements that add to the anime’s allure.
Speaking of its contemporary context, Puella Magi Madoka Magica aired its 12 episodes in 2011, but it’s also memorable for the Great East Japan Earthquake occurring just before its final episodes. The climactic intensity of the show unintentionally echoed the shock of the earthquake. The charm of this dark-fantasy series isn’t limited to these 12 episodes alone; its true value is also embodied in the subsequent movie series.
The movie trilogy Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Movie (劇場版 魔法少女まどか☆マギカ) started with Beginnings ([前編] 始まりの物語) and Eternal ( [後編] 永遠の物語), which were released in 2012 and are re-edits of the TV series. This was followed by the release of a new movie, Rebellion ([新編] 叛逆の物語), in 2013. The series has received very high acclaim up to this point. And astonishingly, after more than 10 years, the long-awaited Walpurgisnacht: Rising (〈ワルプルギスの廻天〉) is set to arrive in 2024.
How did you find it? If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend starting with Puella Magi Madoka Magica. And for those who are already fans of Gen Urobuchi, the new movie Eisen Flügel is also worth paying attention to.
Additionally, anime created by other outstanding staff members should be checked out. Please refer to the following anime list for future reference.
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