By Deanna Nguyen
If you’re a fan of the critically acclaimed Puella Magi Madoka Magica or Fate/Zero, you may already know that the genius behind these shows is Gen Urobuchi.
A writer and creator with a distinguished portfolio in the anime industry, Urobuchi has worked on visual novels, manga, video games and, of course, anime! Among fans, he’s given the nickname “Urobutcher” for his use of gore and his attachment to dark and twisted themes with tragedy at the forefront.
In celebration of Urobuchi’s birthday this month, we’re taking a look at his prominent works, including the aforementioned titles. Whether you’ve watched one or most of these shows, Urobuchi, who has won anime awards for his body of work, is a name you don’t want to forget!
Puella Magi Madoka Magica (2011)
Perhaps one of the most well-known magical girl anime of all time, Puella Magi Madoka Magica earned Urobuchi the Tokyo Anime Award for Best Scriptwriter.
He’s the co-creator and member of the “Magica Quartet,” an artist collective that includes director Akiyuki Shinbo, original character designer Ume Aoki and producer Atsuhiro Iwakami. Produced by SHAFT, Madoka Magica aired in 2011 and left a major mark in the anime industry and community since then.
For those who aren’t familiar with the show, the plot centers around a group of middle school girls, namely Madoka Kaname and Sayaka Miki, in the fictional city Mitakihara Town, Japan. The two encounter Kyubey, a strange creature that offers a contract allowing a girl’s wish to come true if they use magical powers and fight witches.
Through character developments and complex storytelling, Madoka Magica takes you on a journey that’s far from cutesy and light-hearted and closer to dark and twisted—a classic trademark of Urobuchi’s works.
Watch Puella Magi Madoka Magica on Funimation!
The Fate universe is ever-expanding, but one particular title that has received a boatload of well-deserved praise is Fate/Zero. As the precursor to the popular Fate/stay night, Fate/Zero was written by Urobuchi in the form of a light novel, before turning into an anime series directed by Ei Aoki.
The show’s themes are more mature and gruesome than its sequel, with adult characters elevating the overall mood of the story. If you’re more familiar with anime studios, then you probably already know that ufotable (Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba) was in charge of producing Fate/Zero.
As for the plot, Fate/Zero takes place during the Fourth Holy Grail War. Unlike Fate/stay night whose protagonist is Shirou Emiya, Fate/Zero doesn’t really designate any one of its characters as the hero. In fact, most of the characters are morally grey, making decisions and performing actions that stray from what is just.
In a death battle among Servants and their Masters, the Holy Grail War ends with one victor who is granted a wish. Fate/Zero isn’t for the faint of heart—violent and disturbing scenes are peppered throughout the show. Sound like Urobuchi’s style? We think so, and it’s a fantastic series to boot!
Watch Fate/Zero on Funimation!
Aside from magical girl and fantasy genres, Urobuchi has also written sci-fi and psychological thrillers—most notably, PSYCHO-PASS.
Set in a cyberpunk society in which a bio-mechanical computer network can detect people’s criminal potential, PSYCHO-PASS introduces Inspectors and Enforcers who are part of the Crime Investigation Department of the Ministry of Welfare’s Public Safety Bureau, and are in charge of targeting and arresting (or eliminating) individuals whose Crime Coefficient index threshold surpasses 100!
We follow the story through Inspector Akane Tsunemori, who squads up with Enforcer Shinya Kogami, and together they go through many trials that question the morality of charging criminals for crimes they haven’t committed.
The show places emphasis on fear and showcases the parallelism between Tsunemori and Kogami as foil characters. PSYCHO-PASS is another anime that earned Urobuchi an award as well as many accolades for a show that flaunts moral ambiguity. Another must-watch!
Watch PSYCHO-PASS on Funimation!
Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet (2013)
If you’re an anime fan, chances are you’ve watched a mecha series, and the same can be said about creators and directors working on one! Urobuchi tried his hand at mecha with Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, produced by Production I.G (Haikyu!!, Kuroko’s Basketball).
The show takes place in a distant future where humanity has taken refuge in space and formed the Galactic Alliance of Humankind. The protagonist, Ledo, is a Galactic Alliance soldier who pilots a Machine Caliber named Chamber; he ends up on the Gargantia, a massive fleet of ships on Earth.
Amy, a native to the new and unfamiliar planet in Ledo’s eyes, becomes his guide and helps him get accustomed to the language and culture while he tries to find his new purpose in life.
Urobuchi stated that Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet is aimed at teens and young adults who are transitioning to a new phase in their lives. The message in the show is clear: the world is so much bigger than we think, and though it might seem scary, we have the means and support to adjust and survive in society. Ledo is very much the target audience’s mirror—an individual who must adapt to living on Earth and becoming friendly with the locals.
Watch Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet on Funimation!
Another mecha anime on Urobuchi’s roster is ALDNOAH.ZERO, which was also directed by Ei Aoki. Set in a timeline where the Apollo 17 mission resulted in the discovery of a Hypergate on the moon, ALDNOAH.ZERO splits humanity as those who live on Mars and those who live on Earth.
Inaho Kaizuka, Slaine Troyard and Asseylum Vers Allusia are the main characters, all of whom are embroiled in the intense war between Mars and Earth.
What’s notable about the show is its depiction of complex emotions and mental health. While not entirely accurate, the trauma that the characters experience due to war is a very real thing that happens to soldiers on and off the battlefield.
ALDNOAH.ZERO isn’t as dark as Urobuchi’s other works, but the show still grapples with issues of corruption and thirst for power. Characters’ moral compasses are also being questioned, giving the story the tried and true Urobuchi treatment!
Watch ALDNOAH.ZERO on Funimation!
Chaos Dragon (2015)
One of Urobuchi’s more recent works is Chaos Dragon—and he wasn’t alone in shaping its story and characters. Urobuchi worked with other prolific writers like Kinoko Nasu (Fate/stay night) and Ryogo Narita (Baccano!, Durarara!!). The tabletop role-playing game, much like Dungeons & Dragons, soon became an anime series produced by SILVER LINK. and Connect, which aired in 2015.
In terms of plot, the year 3015 sees the countries of D’natia and Koran are at war with each other for supremacy. The island country, Nil Kamui, loses its independence, resulting in the awakening of the Red Dragon—the island’s guardian god. The main character, Ibuki, receives power from the Red Dragon to protect the island and end the war!
Urobuchi returned to his fantasy roots with Chaos Dragon, but still focused on war themes. Aside from an anime, the title received a mobile game adaptation as well as a seven-volume light novel series. If you’re a fan of D&D, Urobuchi or both, you’ll definitely want to check out Chaos Dragon!
Watch Chaos Dragon on Funimation!