10 tropes that appear in the Gen Urobuchi anime, from Madoka to Psycho-Pass
“Gen Urobuchi” is a name that will undoubtedly go down in anime history as one of the best anime writers of the 2010s. Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Psycho-Pass were presented as exemplary stories. In fact, the two series earned him the Newtype Anime Award for Best Screenplay in 2011 and 2015, respectively.
Madoka Magica also won the Tokyo Anime Award for Best Screenplay in 2012, making it one of its most acclaimed series. Anyone familiar with Urobuchi’s work can recognize several common tropes that he enjoys using in his many series. Many of his works take on a dark, almost desperate tone, with just the faintest glimmers of hope that shine beneath his heavy narratives.
ten Dystopias or dystopian elements are often prevalent
By definition, dystopias and dystopian contexts are where society seems to be working well and as expected, but there is something seriously wrong with the psyche of society that the audience is noticing. Dystopias are popular tropes for writers in general, and Urobuchi is no stranger to using dystopian elements in his anime. The two Psycho-Pass and Puella Magi Madoka Magica are known for their dystopian elements, especially the company run by the Sybil system in Psycho-Pass. Urobuchi also turned the magical girl’s dream into a magical girl’s nightmare with Madoka Magica ‘s focuses on sacrificing the lives of magical girls.
9 Faustian’s bargains take center stage and strongly affect characters
Originally introduced in ancient German legend Doctor Faustus, the concept of Faustian markets has persisted in the Western vernacular for centuries. A Faustian deal is a deal made with a literal or metaphorical devil, where one is willing to sacrifice everything to achieve one’s heart’s desire. In Madoka MagicaA classic example of a Faustian bargain is Kyubey offering to grant wishes in exchange for contracts with magical girls. And in Fate zero, another Urobuchi anime, the Holy Grail War itself serves as an example of sacrificing anything and everything for power.
8 Urobuchi loves guns, whether real, sci-fi, or magical
Whoever has seen Psycho-Pass definitely remembers the dreaded Dominator – a special pistol that connects directly to the Sybil system and determines which targets are dangerous. Besides this science fiction example, Mami Tomoe, one of the Madoka Magicathe senior magical girls of, who uses magical flints as their primary weapon of choice.
Even Homura Akemi uses real-world military arsenals in his magical girl combat strategies. Urobuchi also likes to write mecha stories like Gargantia on the Verdant Planet, which also uses artillery. His most recent project, Obsolete, focuses entirely on military weapons.
7 The protagonists often stand alongside mysterious deuteragonists
On the surface, Akane Tsunemori and Madoka Kaname have little in common, at least when it comes to their personalities. One important experience they share is that of their mysterious narrative counterparts. The deuteragonists are the second most important character in a story, and the two Psycho-Pass and Madoka Magica present mysterious deuteragonists. Akane stands alongside Shinya Kogami, a man with an enigmatic history. Madoka, meanwhile, has to deal with Homura, who is arguably more mysterious than Kogami as she tries to keep her distance. Distant and cranky partners are helpful in creating narrative tension.
6 Sting of betrayal intensifies drama in Urobuchi stories
Betrayal is very present in many Urobuchi anime, and the impact of betrayal varies but almost always has a strong impact. In Fate zero, Kiritsugu Emiya betrays his own father by killing him. Kyubey in Madoka Magica betrays those with whom he contracts by not disclosing all the details of his contracts. And the Sybil system in Psycho-Pass betrays the entire society by pretending to be above crime when the truth is that the Sybil system is made up entirely of criminals. Even minor characters like Kyoko Sakura in Madoka Magica suffered the betrayal of his relatives.
5 Urobuchi likes to use dark twists to spice up his stories
Right next to the betrayal are some dark twists and turns. Sometimes it’s the same action, but Urobuchi has added a lot of dark twists and turns that aren’t necessarily related to the betrayal. Mami’s death at the end of episode 3 in Madoka Magica, for example, is a dark twist that has nothing to do with betrayal. Rather, it was Urobuchi who made it clear that being a magical girl in Madoka Magica is dangerous, and he intended to describe it that way. Likewise, the introduction of asymptomatic criminals into Psycho-Pass is a dark twist that emphasizes Psycho-Passthe dystopian qualities of.
4 Literary references and philosophies often frame narrative themes
Psycho-Pass‘s Shogo Makishima is certainly one of the most overt ways to include literary references in Urobuchi’s work, as Makishima blatantly demonstrates a love for literature in the series. But Urobuchi includes literature and philosophy deep within his works themselves.
A common philosophy that Urobuchi touches on is the concept of utilitarianism, that is, the belief that sacrificing a few for the benefit of the many is the best course of action in a society. This philosophy occupies a central place in the two Madoka Magica and Fate zero, because both series have characters who struggle with sacrifice and heroism.
3 Deconstructing popular tropes and themes makes Urobuchi stand out
Any anime Urobuchi has worked on from start to finish displays a strong tendency to deconstruct the tropes that are at the heart of the series and genres. At a time Fate zero and Madoka Magica, Urobuchi focused on dismantling ideas of utilitarianism and sacrifice. Madoka Magica‘s Kyubey, for example, convincingly explains why it is necessary to fight universal entropy by raising witches through magical girls. Urobuchi juxtaposes this idea with Madoka’s strong beliefs that there must be some other solution to universal entropy. He also deconstructs Japanese society by Psycho-Pass and heroism in Fate zero to great effect.
2 Relationships with Yuri are sometimes featured, even in the background
Although he was heavily involved in Madoka Magica that Homura had feelings deeper than friendship for Madoka, in Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Rebellion, Urobuchi made it obvious that Homura’s feelings for Madoka are romantic. The relationship between Kyoko and Sayaka is less obvious, but again, it is strongly implied that the two feel a romantic love for each other. And in Psycho-Pass, Urobuchi included a few background characters who are explicitly in a romantic lesbian relationship. Urobuchi even mentioned that he would like to write a yaoi story if he gets the chance.
1 Urobuchi likes to focus on gray morals with his characters
Generally speaking, many of the characters in Urobuchi look more like concepts or ideologies than actual characters. They have a bit of a bland personality, but what they stand for and their deep beliefs is what makes his characters so compelling. Kyubey, for example, represents utilitarianism, which explicitly relies on gray morality. The conflict between Kogami and Makishima in Psycho-Pass is another case where the characters involved are morally gray and instead rely on their own inner moral compasses to achieve their goals.
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