6. Their outlooks on life. Nasu is a positive person overall. He was a bit slack in his early days but once Type-Moon got going via Tsukihime, Nasu really poured his time and effort into Fate/Stay Night then spent over 5 years convincing Urobuchi to do a work for him, which ended up being Fate/Zero. Nasu's material is somewhat grim and dark, but his protagonists are positive people and good generally prevails in the end, albeit via a lot of tragedy, bloodshed and suffering. Urobuchi...some of the following things he says at the end of the 1st Fate/Zero novel scare me...
'I am full of hatred towards men's so-called happiness, and had to push the characters I poured my heart out to create into the abyss of tragedy.'
'Just like no matter what we do we can't stop the universe from getting colder. It is only a
world that is created through a compilation of 'progresses of common sense'; it can never
escape the bondage of its physical laws.'
'The 'tragedy syndrome' is stillcontinuing within me.'
'Right now, I've finally got a chance to write a tragic ending according to my heart's desire.
No matter how I display the darkness inside my heart, from an overall look I am nevertheless
a partner of 'the warrior of love, Nasu Kinoko'.'
See, even Urobuchi admits it! He can only write about darkness and tragedy in droves while Nasu is able to write about both positivity and negativity. I'm not doubting Urobuchi's ability to sell. But I am questioning his writing quality and his approach to life. Honestly, I think his weaknesses were masked by Shinbo's style and mind-bending visuals.
If you want proof, I'll show you where you can get the Fate/Zero novels.
Basically Archer is the heroic spirit form if Shirou - aka the future version of Shirou. A man who lived his entire life trying to be a hero and was ultimately betrayed despite all he accomplished. As a result, Archer comes to hate humanity, the idea of being a hero and adopts a purely pragmatic approach. Archer is forever stuck in the Holy Grail War cycle and his one goal is to be in a war that involves his former human self and to kill Shirou before he becomes Archer. The two hate each other so much because they are the same person but have competely different ideologies. Ultimately the point of UBW is that Shirou is able to maintain his goal of being a hero but to avoid the mistakes/corruption that caused Archer to go bad, as well as Rin find a balance between being a magus and being a person. It's fair to say Saber and Archer are complete opposites too. Saber's ideologies are intact but she believes being betrayed and killed is actually her fault...whereas Archer grows to despise heroism and chooses pragmatism and has no qualms with betraying or killing anyone.
Even though Ilya was far more important/present in the Fate route, in the UBW route her role/backstory is aptly drawn out in a the aftermath of a chilling scene where Gilgamesh kills Ilya by ripping her heart out. In the Fate route, Ilya is portrayed as the girl who has no concept of right or wrong but still has a heart - aka she's in a situation she shouldn't be. Yet in UBW, after her death, we see a strangely touching narrative where Ilya is revealed to be the product of the Einzberns' greed to get the Holy Grail and that in the aftermath of Kiritsugu making Saber destroy the Holy Grail at the end of Fate/Zero (this was said several times over even in the FSN anime, I assume you'd know this fact) and his abandoning of Irisviel and Ilyasviel, Ilya was raised in a perpetual state of torture and abuse so that she would be guaranteed to be assigned Berserker, as the Einzberns discarded morality after what happened with Kiritsugu and chose a darker path. Ilya's only friend in her life until the Holy Grail War and during it is Berserker. Initially Ilya hates Berserker and makes him even more twisted for the purpose of winning. But in the leadup to the actual war, Ilya realises that Berserker will be the only thing she can ever rely on again and thus her twisted ways are actually stemming from affection for the only thing she would ever be able to trust. It's weird yet so effective that in the Fate route she's more present in, we see Ilya at a basic level then get accepted into Shirou's fold, yet in UBW, where she appears twice - the first battle and then when Gilgamesh kills Berserker and then her - Nasu suddenly evokes sympathy in a short section that just wouldn't have been possible in the Fate route. Again, the abuse of children is a theme present in just about every Nasu title. And he handles it with care - Nasu doesn't like to revel in it or anything.
As for the love - the one between Shirou and Saber in the Fate route is quite pure since they are similar people and their ideologies aren't that . Shirou and Rin's bond is more turbulent since Rin is a bit of a tease, Shirou is a bit of a blockhead and their
UBW is much darker than the Fate route and Fate was already dark to begin with. But Heaven's Feel - Sakura's route is WAY DARKER. And Fate/Zero is much darker than all of them.
There's other themes Nasu explores deeply but I digress. I rant like I just did because I adore how Nasu does it. He's able to do his rants but do it in a way that really develops a character and set up character relations or the plot. And he does it with so much feeling and detail. The themes within Fate/Stay Night are the equal biggest reason I've been playing the game so frenetically lately. He's also very effective at it in Tsukihime, which was darker and more graphic than Fate/Stay Night.
Urobuchi's writing style is not that conducive to thematic discussion. His themes seem very simple in comparison in his works - fighting for someone (which seems to be the money-marker sentiment in modern anime that otaku love and is simple enough for them to understand), a toned-down version of the downside of heroism (which Nasu does in far more detail), the concept of existence and resetting (Serial Experiments Lain covered those ideas well before he did), friendship (which just about any anime does). I find more romance and depth to Nasu's themes - Urobuchi's are too simple and underdeveloped for me. He relies to much on shock value to cover his weaknesses IMO.
4. And to back up points 2 and 3, Nasu loves dialogue. It's one of the main reasons I get that intimate, engaging feeling when I read Nasu's writing. He'll bother to give second tier characters enough time to speak to allow the reader to appreciate them. When a scene needs to be very immersive/tense, Nasu will switch to narrative more, particularly in battles. Nasu will let the scene do the talking and keep dialogue sharp but effective/amusing. Urobuchi avoids dialogue ALL THE TIME. Trust me...I don't know how Ufotable pull out the dialogue they do for the anime version, because it's just not present in the novels! When he does dialogue, it's mainly very blunt or one short sentence followed by far more narrative. You know the first battle scene where those involved talk A LOT in the anime? (Episodes 4-5) Guess what - in the first novel, where that scene happened - next to no dialogue! It's just bewildering - it's fine for immersion into the setting and the mood, but it's so damn hard understanding what the characters are like the way Urobuchi writes! Honestly, I'm scratching my head as to how Ufotable have extracted what they have thus far. This is a damn hard job indeed.
5. THEMES. Nasu and Urobuchi take different approaches and then some. Nasu loves to discuss themes in depth. In the Fate/Stay Night game, Nasu talks about the idea of being a hero from several perspectives and the grim reality of it despite the idealism that is associated with being a hero. I mean, REALLY talks about it! The Fate route (Saber's route) details the betrayl and regret Saber feels from being King Arthur and that no matter how selfless, just and moral she was - she was always alone and never got any reward or fulfillment for her countless good deeds, so she never felt a single moment of happiness in her life as Arturia. Shirou is very similar as he is also a completely selfless person, but learning what happened to Saber makes him question the idealism of being a hero and want him to show that while heroism is ultimately unrewarded, it is doing the deed that is the fulfilling part and that Saber should learn to let herself enjoy something. Of course, Shirou is guilty of the same problems - he wants to be Saber's hero but has no consideration for himself and doesn't seem to enjoy his life unless he's doing something for others. This is why Shirou and Saber come to blows so much in the Fate route before they are eventually able to get to the other and resolve their feelings by the final climax.
Unlimited Blade Works goes deeper and darker. Rin actually has a big heart despite what a lot of people think when they label her a typical tsundere. She is not a typical tsundere...Rin is the embodiment of Nasu's views on magic and power in general. Nasu uses Rin to demonstate that the life of a magus (aka those that seek power) is to constantly walk a path that is filled with death and tragedy. Rin is required to kill her heart to a certain degree in order to be a skilled magus and she earnestly believes it is essential to survive. But despite that, Rin is still a fairly positive person - she tries to keep as many people as possible away from the Holy Grail War and she values her life as well as the little things in every day that keep her going despite the grim nature of her life. Shirou's ideology is the exact opposite of hers - he is positive and selfless but ultimately his selflessness always puts him in situations he shouldn't survive, plus the way Kiritsugu failed to steer Shirou properly on the world of magic is also a real issue. This is why Rin is angry a lot of the time - Shirou utterly clashes with her views/ideals and knows he's a sitting duck, so she feels compelled to ally with Shirou to get them through the hell they're in. Rin provides the guidance and stability Shirou needs while Shirou keeps Rin's heart from growing cold. Also within Unlimitied Blade Works is the Shirou-Archer relationship, which was completely ignored in that terrible adaptation in 2006 by Deen, as well as much more detail on Rin and Ilya.
I've completed 2 of the 3 routes in Fate/Stay Night now, so I feel somewhat prepared to point out some key differences in how Nasu wrote Fate/Stay Night + other titles and how Urobuchi wrote Fate/Zero.
1. Nasu writes from a first-person perspective. This tends to give more character description and more emotive content. Urobuchi writes from a third-person perspective. His style fleshes out the setting more and description of characters is far less than what Nasu does.
2. To be frank - I find that Nasu is able to be stark when needed yet but when he wants to focus on the characters, he gives them the focus rather than the setting and gives them warmth/power. Urobuchi's ability to describe setting is relatively strong, but when it comes to the characters, he falters....when it comes to characters like Rider (F/Z version), I honestly couldn't feel that outrageous, manly, hilarious guy I see in the anime at all. Ditto for what other characters should feel like. Characters and making the reader care/be enthralled by them seems to be a big weakness for Urobuchi.
3. Motivations/writing style. In a nutshell - I can very intimately feel how much Nasu cares for the characters he writes about - even when he inflicts hell on them, he does it with regret and tries to keep a character's integrity intact. As for Urobuchi - his character descriptions are clinical and so utterly cold, even in the scenes that should be thrilling/hilarious. I'd dare to say Nasu is a writer that does it for the love of his craft and because he enjoys the Type-Moon universe so much. Urobuchi is doing it - as he has admitted in interviews - for entertainment purposes.
Just following your VM conversation with 0utf0xZer0, and wanted to comment a bit on it.
I can confirm that Sailor Moon was absolutely huge in Canada. A major reason being that it aired on a great timeslot on a popular station back in the 1990s: Around 4 PM or so (i.e. right after school) on YTV (Youth TeleVision). YTV is a very popular station in Canada for kids and teenagers.
My sisters, who aren't particularly into anime at all, are nonetheless huge Sailor Moon fans. One of them even dressed up as Sailor Moon for Halloween one year.
Sailor Moon, and Pokemon, are pretty much household names in Canada. They've genuinely transcended the anime fandom where I live. Sailor Moon is pretty much as well known as Superman or Batman where I live, that's how big she is here.
However, localization was no doubt a factor here. Almost everybody getting English names did help.
Okay, I'll explain - without being spoilerish - why that gap exists. It isn't filler. It's there to take care of existing issues that needed to be resolved before the Munich arc takes place due to its 15 episode length. If I said which characters needed to be attended to before that arc, that would be spoilerish. But trust me when I say when you've reached 39 episodes, the purpose of that gap makes sense.
I'm relieved you understand what Asatte no Houkou is trying to do and appreciate its mature approach, because I thought you'd be the type that would. When I played Episode 1 for a theme night, some of the younger guys at the club who think they know it all were berating me afterwards with 'This was too slow! It needed way more drama!' while the older guys all said 'We get this show. Thank you for playing it. We'll follow this one up for sure.' Shouko is quite a character - the irony of the character now stuck in a younger body being the most mature, rational one in the mix is not lost on me. Karada certainly handles a tough situation better than most despite her age. I'll be interested to see how you feel about Karada's future actions and the final arc. Hard to believe J.C. Staff adapted Asatte no Houkou considering what they do these days.
Yeah, that sounds about right for Monster. I probably was in that brief gap. I will pick it back up soon.
I've already watched the first four episodes of Asatte no Houkou. The age-switch plot device they're using is a very compelling/interesting one, and I'm glad that they're playing it straight and seriously. As much as I liked the old Ranma ½ anime as an action-packed comedy, I have to admit that I had initially hoped upon first hearing about it that it would have explored the difficulties of constant gender switching in a more serious way.
With this in mind, I'm glad that Asatte no Houkou isn't playing the age-switch situation largely for laughs, but rather is seriously exploring how this is a "Careful what you wish for" situation with numerous practical consequences. I definitely can see some nice themes arising out of that.
I also find the three or four major characters of Asatte no Houko (particularly the two female leads of Karada and Shouko) to be very likable and well-portrayed.