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Old 2012-04-28, 02:34   Link #1
MeoTwister5
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Urobuchi Gen: Discussions on his Stories and Style (spoilers ahead)

So I was driving towards this section in Manila that sells medical supplies for my upcoming medical internship when a friend of mine texted me asking about how he was fascinated with the overall concept of the Madoka Magika series and asked me if I was familiar with the screenwriter and anything else he had written. I ended up recommending he give Fate/Zero a try and will lend him my copy of Saya no Uta at some point.

He told me he was intrigued by his overall take on human nature, it's ugliness, and his supposed infatuation with Messiah figures. This of course, got me thinking for a while and almost ran a red light when I left parking.

So I started wondering about those three shows, specifically Saya no Uta's take on mutated perspectives of reality, and the Messiah type characters alluded to in Madoka (the titular character) and Fate/Zero (Kiritsugu). Thus this topic was born.

I'm going to round up the things that intrigue me the most. Spoilers ahead.

1. Urobuchi Gen and Franz Kafka
The first thing that came to my mind about an hour into Saya no Uta was that I had this odd feeling that Gen had taken a lot of influence on his reality perspectives from Franz Kafka, specifically, The Metamorphosis, or more specifically a reversal thereof. Fuminori has, well, a lot in common with Gregor Samsa, even though in Gen's story it's the world that looks like it's mutated and not the lead character himself. In any case Fuminori suffers the same inability to maintain his standing in his family and in society. While Samsa is shunned by the world, Fuminori feels forced to shun the world himself given the twisting of his natural senses. Medically I find it rather unlikely, thematically it works. Nightmarish worlds from the POV of a character who feels alienated, shunned, outcasted and ultimately betrayed, ending up with a total loss in the goodness and the humanity of, well, humanity.

At the same time, the twisting realities weaved into Madoka Magica and Fate/Zero ultimately point showcase monsters and creatures that are not merely creatures, but twistings of individual humans themselves. The eventual fate of Sayaka Miki in Madoka Magika and the creatures Caster summons forth in Fate/Zero to satiate his maniacal master and himself are enough representations of the horrid monstrosities humanity can construct. The monstrous evils that man fear the most exist within himself, both the known and unknown. I don't know if that's how he really views the world, but clearly he sees a great amount of darkness coming from all angles. A very Kafkan reality.

2. Urobuchi Gen and the Greek Tragedy
A huge amount of suffering in order to earn any semblance of a happy ending, and it doesn't necessarily mean that the titular hero even lives by the end. Probably the most simple distillation of my understanding of heroic tragedy reminiscent of Greek Tragedy. One only has to watch Madoka Magika and, well, even the latest episode of Fate/Zero to know that he makes his characters suffer, and suffer hard, for what? In Madoka Magika we watch 13 episode of emotional/mental destruction and violent death and carnage before the titular character finally finds the bearings to do what must be done, an ending still debated on today that is more bitter than sweet. That's not even taking into account her Homura who has relived the same human tragedy over and over that she was forced to ice her heart in fear of failure due to emotional attachment, and also, for what? She ultimately fails to save the one she cares about the most in a resolution that for all intents and purposes was the only viable solution to the dilemma.

In Fate/Zero, well, due to being currently airing I won't mention too much, but the anguish on Lancer's face shows the utter futility of his knight's honor in the face of relentless adversity that is willing to do what it takes to get the job done. Saber should be considered an extension of this perceived futility, a knight who sacrifices her entire being to a lofty goal only she cares about now, that is rapidly eroding under the weight of crushing modern reality. Her success is still up in the air as of this point, I'm not familiar with Gen's original work on F/Z though I've played all of F/SN, but she clings to that ideal despite seeing what had become of Lancer.

Tragic heroes of course cling to that noble idealism because the have a higher personal sense of morality and ethics from everyone else, but this is part and parcel of what makes tragedy a tragedy, that everything comes crashing down for the hero that destroys their foundations and their idealism, leaving them to pick up the pieces. In the end of Madoka Magika, well, it seems Gen believed that even idealism can win if it's willing to make a few detours along the way. As for F/Z, let's see where it all heads.

Most of them are placed in between proverbial rocks and hard places, to choose the lesser evil of two, to find the best solution to the problem even if the solution isn't ideal. In Saya no Uta, it depends on which ending you believe to be the best. In Madoka Magika, she is ultimately forced to pay the ultimate price, a price she never before thought she had to pay, and the price Homura was still trying to end in the first place. In Fate/Zero, it's Kiritsugu and his... rather brutally utilitarian yet effective methods

These Messianic features to be discussed in the succeeding post.

--------

Some more parts to follow this, but I'll cut this post here to avoid gigantic walls of text.
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Old 2012-04-28, 03:12   Link #2
MeoTwister5
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3. Urobuchi Gen and the Biblical Messiah
To say that Madoka Magika takes some cues from the New Testament is probably a bit of an understatement. As far as a deconstruction of the Magical Girl genre that he wanted to do, I also find it his exploration on the Messianic ideals being imposed on the titular magical girls of the genre. Anyone who's watched any magical girl show knows the basics of the young girl suddenly gifted with powers beyond human imagination and tasked with a job beyond any mortal to fight a darkness with a light coming from within. In Madoka Magika's case, however, what if the darkness to be battles stems from inside the heart of human darkness, and is ultimately beyond even the most gifted magical girl?

From the moment a character was decapitated and the story, and the eventual meme, had been born, we all knew things would not end up well. Madoka spends a whole lot of the show being partially angsty, wholly unable to decide a course of action as her friends and acquaintances either die in the onslaught or become the very creatures they had chosen to fight. When reality hits the Kafkan Nightmare goes into full swing. Inkyubeyor reveals everything on how a twisted world works, insisting that the physical living cannot change the encroaching darkness of the cycle.

So... what about death and sacrifice. Can physical death end more death? Gen's usage of Messianic symbolism comes into light as Madoka pays the ultimate price to save not just Magical Girls from their inevitable end, but the world as well, from the evil that would continue to exist in every form, the infinite number of evils, into eternity. Call it an eternal battle against the forces of darkness in a place only she can fight in. Perhaps Gen does believe that in times of great darkness and human suffering, only a sacrificial lamb willing to take all of humanity's darkness into themselves can save us all.

These are both Messianic and Tragic characters. You could in fact say that the New Testament itself has a lot of similarities to Tragedy, but all in all one has to die to save humanity. An equal amount of suffering must exist as eventual payment for salvation. I'd say that perhaps this is Gen's ultimate point for Madoka Magika, that indeed the best ending is something you must earn yourself, it will not be given to you. You need to see both the light and the dark inside humans, to experience both it's joys and and sufferings, to know victory and tragedy, before you gain the knowledge and understanding to know exactly what is at stake and what must be done to save it all. Only a soul who has seen, experienced, and thus taken humanity into themselves would have the power to save it. Yes, Jesus Christ went through the exact same thing before dying for the sins of humanity.

But there exists the question if truly, a sacrificial messiah is required in order to end an unimaginable darkness. Is there no other means to win? The story ends suggesting that it was the only way to win, even though Gen doesn't provide an actual answer.

To me clearly Gen has done Bible study. I'm curious to know if he has any religious inclinations.

4. Urobuchi Gen and the Dark Messiah

Now if there's the tragic, sacrificial Messiah, then there's the tragic, dark Messiah. That is to say, someone who intends to save humanity not in the belief that sacrificial goodness will work, but in the belief that evil can be destroyed only by those willing to dabble in said evil. Case in point of Emiya Kiritsugu of Fate/Zero.

Again I'll minimize spoilers in a currently airing show, but anyone who's seen the latest episode of F/Z knows his Machiavellian methods, a term that does a disservice to Machiavelli's true intentions for the Medici family but still an apt description. Bombing buildings, bringing down airliners, assassinations, blackmail and whatnot, all in the name of winning the Holy Grail War and ridding the world of conflict. That is his ultimate goal, in a method that uses conflict to end it. It is the polar opposite of a Messiah willing to take evil upon themselves and use goodness to wipe it away.

Does Kiritsugu have a Messiah complex? Perhaps he does, and his conversation with Saber reveals his true nature. At least from at this point, Gen tries to present a veritable anti-hero, or anti-messiah if you will, who has good intentions on a road paved by morally questionable acts. This is opposite of the usual messiah people are familiar with. F/X of course was written before Madoka Magika, and could represent a shift in his overall beliefs, but it is clear here that for whatever methods Kiritsugu uses, they are effective if brutal. They win battles, and may win the war.

--------

So in a dark and violent world, there exists two opposing viewpoints. Biblical Messiahs are often seen as excessively sacrificial, naive and unrealistic. Dark Messiahs are considered deviant, using methods considered to extreme and violent to be considered salvific. Both are tragic heroes that pay prices often to steep for the regular man. What then is the answer? Which one should you use or believe in?

--------

So that as they say is that. It's partially odd that this all began because I was drawing parallels between Gen and one of my favorite authors, but I think it might be a source of good discussion if anyone is interested. Much of this was derived actually from all the back and forths in the Madoka and F/Z sections.

So... any ideas?
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Old 2012-04-28, 09:26   Link #3
Arabesque
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It's going to take me a little while to reply to each point you brought up Dr. Twister (it's going to be hard to summarize each point without going into some pretty major spoilers so ...), but to make a brief impression on the man:

There is no denying that nowadays, he is among the more prolific writers in the industry, and probably the most successful porn-turned-tv writer in Japan at the moment lol I actually learned of him through the Phantom of the Inferno anime and Blassreiter (the latter is probably where I had first came across a work of his (the advent of streaming and all) and the former was where I really started to become intrigued by his writing) but there is no doubt the things he is more well known for is his VN work as you pointed out and the Type-Moon spin off, and of course, the smash hit that was Chidamari Sketch (love that name )

Of course, much like almost every other talented person in the industry (or any form of media) he holds his own ''views'' on the world. He is very cynical about the world and going by the interview here (ignore the somewhat sensational title) he seems to not really have that much fate in the state the world is at the moment.
Quote:
Urobuchi: For example, Al-Qaeda brought down the Twin Towers due to their self-righteousness. Justice for some people is an evil for others. Good intentions, kindness, and hope will not necessarily make people happy.
It's also worth noting that he's generally a a very twisted person, leading me to think that he either had been raised in a very difficult environment that lead him to be more jaded and unable to appreciate or consider positive feelings in his work (from here (do be warned, there are Fate/Zero, Fate/Stay Night major spoilers, so I'll quote the relevant parts
Quote:
Uro: When I try to write love, it only turns into horror. Thinking about it with a clear head, feeling such deep emotions to some other person you don't even know is truly a terrifying thing. Also, I wonder if love isn't a manifestation of madness in some way. These thoughts gave birth to that work. On the other hand, I realized that displaying "love as a reward" is impossible for me.
Of course, what the man is behind the scene doesn't really relate that much to how his work is, much like with Tomino Yoshiyuki , Matsumoto Leiji or even Miyazaki, it's his work that speaks to him at the end of the day, and how well it's received that makes us pay attention to him.

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Old 2012-04-28, 12:44   Link #4
Utsuro no Hako
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I always liked his afterword to the first Fate/Zero novel:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Urobuchi Gen
Urobuchi Gen wants to write stories that can warm people's hearts.

Those who knew about my creative history would probably furrow their brows and think this is a cold joke. Actually, I couldn't completely believe it, either. Because when I start typing out words on the keyboard, the stories my brain comes up with are always full of madness and despair.

In fact, I wasn't like this before. I've often written pieces that didn't have a perfect ending, but by the last chapter the protagonist would still possess a belief that 'Although there will be many hardships to come, I still have to hold on'.

But from I don't know when, I can no longer write works like this.

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.

For all things in the world, if we just leave them alone and pay them no attention, they are bound to advance in a negative direction.

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.

Therefore, in order to write a perfect ending for a story you have to twist the laws of cause and effect, reverse black and white, and even possess a power to move in the opposite direction from the rule of the universe.
Only a heavenly and chaste soul that can sing carols of praise towards humanity can save the story. To write a story with a perfect ending is a double challenge to the author's body and soul.
Note that he wrote that about five years before Madoka.
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Old 2012-04-28, 16:50   Link #5
Kirito
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Wow this dude is dark and trippy.

He created Madoka and written the Fate/Zero novels so he gets my full support!
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Old 2012-04-28, 21:35   Link #6
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Arabesque asked me to share my thoughts on this thread, and I felt that I should oblige.

But let me just say that I'm not as well-versed on Gen as many are. I'm probably a rare case of somebody who went into watching Madoka Magica without knowing the man at all, really.

Still, I've read up some on Gen, I watched some Phantom: Requiem of the Phantom, and I've watched every Fate/Zero episode up to Episode 15 (comp issues have halted me briefly here, but I should catch up soon).

Madoka Magica was my favorite anime show of 2011, and is also one of my five favorite anime shows of all-time.

Fate/Zero may well be my favorite anime show of 2012.

So I guess you could say I'm a Gen fan. For more evidence of that, here's a blog I wrote on Gen a few months ago.


The irony, for me, is that I typically don't go for really dark shows, and yet I tend to love Gen's forays into the anime world.

I think the reason is that, like pretty much all good writers, Gen has core ideas or philosophies that inform and inspire his writing. This gives his writing a certain purposefulness and narrative momentum that makes for a very engaging and enthralling experience, in my opinion.


It also probably helps that Gen's ideas contrast considerably with how things usually play out in other popular modern anime shows. In fact, there's something of an iconoclastic quality to Gen vis a vis the modern anime world, I think it's fair to say.

A lot of modern anime has a definite wish-fulfillment element to it (just look at all the anime with male leads that have one or many beautiful girls practically fall into their laps ), and Gen's works are much more about confronting nightmares symbolic of real life issues rather than enjoying wishful dreams. As ironic as this might be given what is a prominent plot device in Madoka Magica, I find it nonetheless to be true.

Now, there's nothing necessarily wrong with wish-fulfillment entertainment, but in a medium with a lot of that, Gen's works really stand out from the crowd, imo.


I'm not sure to what degree I agree (or disagree) with Gen's ideas, but one thing's for sure, they're interesting. I find them particularly interesting in Madoka Magica because you have several philosophical struggles play out in that, and when it's all said and done, I'm not sure if either position was favored to the exclusion of all others.

I think that to a certain extent, Gen's views can be summed up as such: You can't have your cake and eat it too. If you want to make the world a better place (either for the many, or for one specific person that's very important to you) then you have to truly sacrifice for it. If you make such a choice without being fully mentally prepared to make such a sacrifice, then you're likely to endure great loss if not personal destruction.

On the flip side, you can choose to live only for yourself, but that means you have to be careful about the attachments that you make with others and the world around you.

So it's an interesting dualistic approach going on here, and I see a lot of it in the main cast of Madoka Magica, imo. I see how each of those cast members have to make hard choices with inescapable consequences, and even in a world infused with magic there's no way to "have it all", so to speak.


Gen's quote on love that Arabesque provided is interesting to me. The way love is portrayed in his works is often a slightly scary, pretty obsessed, and somewhat counterproductive thing. You can tell that Gen himself is apprehensive about romantic love. It's probably good that Gen is able to portray love this way, because not all love stories end well, and sometimes it can be good to be reminded of that.
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Old 2012-04-30, 04:05   Link #7
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“Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.” -George Carlin :S

She rose for the thousandth time
I'm not sure how she did, but here she is doing it.
Her vision is fading, her life is draining
She doesn't remember what she is fighting or how she got there in the first place.
The vision is getting blurry; the eyes are getting a bit too tired.
It'd be so much easier to close those eyes right now.
All she has are memories of a vague promise and a fleeting ideal.
Those blood and tears are all for a futile cause.
"I came too far to give up, right?" is her only thought.
Some may call her a fool.
Others may call her a hypocrite.
But in the end, she is the one there and still going.
I needed someone like that.
History may not remember her, but I will.


From what I've seen of Fate/Zero and Madoka, he seems to really have a thing for the unsung heroes. The likes of Kariya from Fate/Zero, Sayaka from Madoka, or even Saber (Fate/Zero given how lame she seems compared to everyone else, relatively speaking-- and her greatest motivation is... regret. ) to some degree compared to the other royalty seem to be those that fight with some noble ideal in mind but their efforts often let to ruin and it seemed like they would be considered failures. But they sacrificed for others, and perhaps that's all that counts.

For every miracle, every success story, there's a hundred failures. And those people weren't any less weak then the people that succeeded. They were most likely equally as brave and caring and fought just as hard. It's just that the situation didn't allow them to do so. A lot of the characters in both works would be great heroes in other works, for sure.

The other thing I can think of is he often likes the concept of the Road to Hell is paved with good intentions. It really fits into what he said in the interview, and how well-meaning people can cause such destruction. One example is Saber, who's ideals of honor before reason isn't really shared with most others and lands her into deep shit.

When many people were young, they were often taught that they could be anything if they try. They were special, and that doing the right thing would get you far in life. But once one learns of injustice and unfairness in the world, these kind of things become harder and harder to believe. Gen was probably one that lost this kind of hope early and felt that doing good was merely a gesture which is why he loves bringing up the entropy thing too much.

If the natural state of things was disorder, and it takes energy to fix it, but energy has to be lost to make these things work, then effectively, everything being done is futile.

But on the other hand, he has quite the interesting way of displaying heroism. People always fighting those fights even though they have no chance of winning... just so that someone else might have a chance of succeeding. It perhaps takes more courage to know that you are being a hero not for recognition or for power, but you are willing to sacrifice yourself in the hope that something gets better, that you made some kind of thing to put off the inevitable. People in the face of their nightmares and hopelessness... it would take a truly strong and determined soul to stand in the face of that, for themselves and others.

But of course, selflessness itself, or pointless self-sacrifice leads to nothing good either. It would seem that success comes from caring about yourself and others, and picking the best action to improve their self interest. Each one of the Puella Magi for example had the flaw of either not really knowing what they wanted, or being too stubborn.

TL;DR The universe is cruel and breaks people. The only chance anyone has is of doing good is to find out what and why they are fighting for to stand a chance, and perhaps at the very least give a middle finger to the inevitable. And perhaps no matter how futile their efforts are, it may just be enough to move the hearts of the most cynical. And just maybe, maybe, move someone who's not sure but is in a position to make a change enough to be able to do it.
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Last edited by Archon_Wing; 2012-04-30 at 04:18.
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Old 2012-04-30, 06:13   Link #8
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In my opinion, he writes rather juvenile stories. Taking some existing thing from his childhood and giving it a twist (always the same) makes for boring and offset stories. Like in Madoka, he should have focused more on building the setting and characters than trying to force his ideals and sado-tendencies. As it is now, it's just stuck between a childish morning TV-show and his limits of not seeing beyond anime tropes.
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Old 2012-04-30, 06:25   Link #9
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I don't think he always takes things from his childhood. I can see it in Madoka and I can perhaps see it in Fate/Zero but I can't see it in Saya no Uta or Kikokugai.
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Old 2012-04-30, 07:14   Link #10
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If people who accuse him of childish wangst actually bothered to read up on him, they would discover that something really bad happened to him. To come so close of death does make that to some people and influence whatever you create.


Now, there is something I always wondered while I played Saya no Uta. Had people wondered if Gen had been criticizing the hikkimori stuck at home with their "waifus" and slowly alienating themselves from human society, and also criticizing that same society for not trying better to help them? This is what have come to me as I completed the game.
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Old 2012-04-30, 07:24   Link #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mecharobot View Post
In my opinion, he writes rather juvenile stories. Taking some existing thing from his childhood and giving it a twist (always the same) makes for boring and offset stories. Like in Madoka, he should have focused more on building the setting and characters than trying to force his ideals and sado-tendencies. As it is now, it's just stuck between a childish morning TV-show and his limits of not seeing beyond anime tropes.
... I am somewhat confused at the use of the word juvenile. What exactly about Gen's stories is juvenile?
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Old 2012-04-30, 08:12   Link #12
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Way I see it, he deliberately gives emphasis on the negative side of things and belittles or outright ignores the positives. Gen seems to give little weight to happiness because of its fleetness compared to the whole picture of negative things.

Maybe similar to the "evil human nature" philosophy, that human (or in Gen's case, everything) is inherently evil (or "negative") and any action or happening outside of that is a form of lie or a mere fleeting illusion.

As thought provoking as his works may be, I can't help but see him as "incomplete". To illustrate: he has braved and explored the labyrinth of life and have had the exit in sight. However he was either unable, unwilling or outright refused to take that step to the exit, and instead stayed and wandered still in the labyrinth. In other words, he is "trapped" in his negativity.
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Old 2012-04-30, 08:26   Link #13
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I like his works, but Madoka is probably the weakest amongst them. Here we have all those episodes piling up despair after despair...and then blamo Deus Ex Machina SUPAH HAPPY END! (compared to his other works, of course)

The contrast is jarring - it's like he's this close to pulling the trigger, only to chicken out at the very last second.
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Old 2012-04-30, 09:30   Link #14
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don't know if everyone here have read this or not, but i found this in Madoka wiki
Quote:
When Gen was 24 years old he had to be hospitalised due to an epidemic. He mentions that spending several months recovering and living like a dead man ended up influenced his work, such as letting him kill off characters without hesitation. Therefore, he is known for writing especially gruesome stories.
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Old 2012-04-30, 10:00   Link #15
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All I know is that he seems to be a a rare writer in the industry nowadays that's willing to step outside of the usual comfort zones and write works that are a little darker and challenging than what we'd been getting for a while...kind of like the ones that emerged in the 80's in the wake of Gundam which inspired a whole wave of darker and more involved story writing than the super robot and children's shows that had preceded it. Honestly we need all the writers with actual drive, energy, ability to invoke complex themes/ideas, and a personalized style that we can get still so I'm all for him right now. He kind of reminds me of Yoshiyuki Tomino before Tomino found his inner peace.

Also I'll say that in my personal experiences, I went into two of his shows with little foreknowledge that were hugely MASSIVELY hyped up in the form of Madoka Magica and Fate/Zero and many well know that I am a huge skeptic when it comes to hype since it almost never lives up to it (mostly because your average anime fan has very different tastes and standards for evaluation than my own when they're hyping the crap out of something) and I've so far ended up enjoying both franchises, which is all but unheard and speaks to the fact that there's clearly something to this Gen guy style and appeal.
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Old 2012-04-30, 16:18   Link #16
Keroko
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erneiz_hyde View Post
Way I see it, he deliberately gives emphasis on the negative side of things and belittles or outright ignores the positives. Gen seems to give little weight to happiness because of its fleetness compared to the whole picture of negative things.

Maybe similar to the "evil human nature" philosophy, that human (or in Gen's case, everything) is inherently evil (or "negative") and any action or happening outside of that is a form of lie or a mere fleeting illusion.

As thought provoking as his works may be, I can't help but see him as "incomplete". To illustrate: he has braved and explored the labyrinth of life and have had the exit in sight. However he was either unable, unwilling or outright refused to take that step to the exit, and instead stayed and wandered still in the labyrinth. In other words, he is "trapped" in his negativity.
To be fair, this is only obvious because of the relative scarcity of such stories. Few notice that the polar opposite -focusing on the positive and belittling or ignoring the negatives- is a far more recurring theme.

Many are the movies and series in which trauma's are overcome in hours and age-long animosities buried in seconds, with everyone living happily ever after. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but how is this a more complete story?
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Old 2012-04-30, 16:40   Link #17
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Well, one thing I feel is that he may have something against the world, but not necessarily humans being evil. Oh sure, the characters may have less than honorable motivations but you still have people fighting for the sake of others and making sacrifices so this can happen. If people are capable of doing this in a cynical world, then perhaps humans really aren't such assholes after all, even if some decide to not care.

There's really no one that's really portrayed as incurably "evil" and a bastard in Madoka though Kyoko does cross the line, except the forces of the universe would be antagonistic to humankind-- personified in Kyubey. I'm sure there's Puella Magi that did use their powers for those means, but they aren't brought up...

Fate/Zero's lines are far more blurry, with even our protagonists commuting seemingly terrible acts. But there are still those that help another and not just kill for the lulz. It's war though...

Morality isn't always so clearcut when taken into context. It's why stories like the UC Gundam ones are so distinct; the opposing sides aren't always so polarized, and there are honorable and good people on both, who had just the misfortune of being on the wrong side. I tend to like stories like those as opposed to ones where; well... let's not bring them up anymore or I'll go bash a certain writer again. But like I've said before; sometimes a failed protagonist or even an antagonist would have made a good hero in another story-- that is the sign of a good character.
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Old 2012-04-30, 17:05   Link #18
erneiz_hyde
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keroko View Post
To be fair, this is only obvious because of the relative scarcity of such stories. Few notice that the polar opposite -focusing on the positive and belittling or ignoring the negatives- is a far more recurring theme.

Many are the movies and series in which trauma's are overcome in hours and age-long animosities buried in seconds, with everyone living happily ever after. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but how is this a more complete story?
When I said "incomplete" I didn't mean the story, but the man himself.

There's nothing wrong with either focusing on negatives and ignoring the positives, or with focusing on positives and ignoring the negatives. But imho, true strength lies in that despite knowing everything we do would actually be futile (negatives), we struggle towards that good end nonetheless (positives). It takes even greater strength still to not lose this resolve and to last until the (more than likely) bitter end. Gen knows that much, but probably thinks such strength is impossible to come from mere humans. Thus he gave up on the idea altogether.

"everything is futile" is a highly nihilistic view. Gen ignores happiness because they're transient, an illusion in the bigger picture. That's where I disagree. Happiness is precious because it's transient, and it's sometimes worth one or several lifetimes.

"Human is dirty and weak, therefore we must be petty and act such as it is our nature",
"Human is dirty and weak, therefore we must strive to better ourselves, and to not lose to ourselves".

To be fair though, this philosophy question has been around longer than him, and he merely took the side who focus on the negatives. Philosophically, there is really no definitive answer, and Gen likes to stress that point. But on the practicality of things, I think he's "incomplete", he's the opposite of the "happy man who's ignorant about life's cruelty"

Come to think of it, Gen might benefit to learn Buddhism.
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Old 2012-04-30, 17:59   Link #19
TJR
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One-sided negativity is often viewed as an adolescent's perspective - basically an overreaction (and the extreme opposite of childhood naivety) when a teenager recognizes the finality of death and learns that life is full of horrible, unfair things. Supposedly, angry music is popular with youth for this reason.

Quote:
To come so close of death does make that to some people and influence whatever you create.
Well, Urobuchi had a brush with death at age 24 but didn't publish his first visual novel until he was 27/28. The strange part is that Phantom of Inferno emphasized the "hope within darkness" resolution that many drift toward after coming around from a state of bitter angst. If newer stories are indeed one-sided (I've yet to finish any Urobuchi anime), some might say that Urobuchi has regressed in terms of his ability to cope with negativity.

Of course, there's some chance that he's fooling us and has deliberately chosen to set himself apart from other storytellers. There's no doubt that Gen's reputation was built on dark, twisted writing.
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Old 2012-04-30, 18:05   Link #20
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I tend to not like these sorts of productions because I tend to view "entertainment" as a way to escape the realities of the world...not to be reminded of them.
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