Hopelessness by Gen Urobuchi: How to turn depression into a dark art (Topic)

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Hopelessness by Gen Urobuchi: How to turn depression into a dark art


Pain, depression, violence and hopelessness. There are few anime writers who can look for inspiration in these kinds of things. And even if there are dark and cruel works, such elements act in them rather as an auxiliary means to increase tension. In both anime and visual novels, Gen Urobuchi's work is just the opposite, and he concentrates on these things as the main theme of his work. In his anime and visual novels, many characters suffer not because of the circumstances in life, but because their very existence in the world hurts them. We decided to figure out who Gen Urobuchi is and what is special about his work. After all, it's not for nothing that fans of his work call him Urobutcher [butcher],

The Butcher's Way

After graduating from Waco University, Geng was looking for a way to translate his thoughts and feelings into art. If we talk about the things that defined him as the creator, then what pushed him to the format of visual novels is the work of Shizuku, where the main character Nagase sees nightmares about brutal murder and rape at night. The guy is trying to figure out what the root of the problem is.

However, even before that, Urobuchi was affected by his hospitalization in 1996 due to a serious illness. According to the author, he spent the next 4 months of recovery in the state of a living dead, which changed his perception of life and death. In the future, this will especially affect how the author will deal with his characters easily and cruelly.

“I contracted some kind of virus, and my temperature rose. The situation was so bad that I could die. But what I can't forget is how I felt during my recovery period. I didn't have any serious wounds or anything like that, but I felt like I was in some way erased from the face of society. I couldn't shake the feeling that I was just a dead man. What I felt at that time is very relevant even now in my works, ”says the author.

In 2001, Urobuchi joined the Nitroplus studio, where he began working on his first novel, Phantom of Inferno. She talked about a young 15-year-old boy who witnessed the murder of a reporter by the mafia. Instead of killing the witness, the Inferno mafia organization erases his memory and turns him into their own assassin, nicknamed Zwie [Zwie - from the German "two"]. A girl named Ain [Eins - from the German "one"] teaches him to kill people. As a result, his entire service turns into a cycle of intrigue, betrayal and murder. Even those he tries to protect from the harsh reality of the world wash their hands in blood.

And already in his first work, motives were seen that would define his work. These are dystopian structures, such as the Inferno organization, which is presented in the game as the "UN from the mafia world", scenes of violence and death, and most importantly - a feeling of hopelessness when the author puts his characters in a position where they are unable to somehow influence situation. And also, such a feature as to put meaning in the names of characters, so that people dig into their meaning and realize what is the point.


However, if the visual novel Phantom of Inferno [in the future an anime was created based on it] has a good ending and even a hint that the character will remain happy, then in the future this can be seen less and less in his works. After a couple of short stories, Urobuchi's writing style will acquire a tragedy syndrome, when his story cannot end well in any sense. Reading his next works, there is a depressing feeling of hopelessness, when you do not see that happiness as such can appear in the world of tragic horror, which his novels have become. The author says the following:

“When I try to write about love, it turns into horror. Feeling such deep emotions for another person you don't even know is a really scary thing. Also, I wonder if love is in some way a manifestation of madness […]. When I start typing words on the keyboard, the stories my brain creates are always full of madness and despair. The truth is, I haven't always been like this. I've often written plays that didn't have a perfect ending, but in the last chapter, the protagonist is still convinced that, "Although there will be many difficulties ahead, I will still hold on."


But since then, I can no longer write such works. I have nothing but contempt for what people call happiness, and I had to kill characters who were to some extent in my heart in order to drown the story in the abyss of tragedy. ”

And this logic is best seen in one of the author's most famous visual novels, written in the genre of Laurelka's horror - Saya no Uta.


The hero of the stories of Sakisaka Fuminori is a young medic who gets into a car accident with his parents. The mother and father die, and Fuminori suffers a serious head injury, due to which he develops a severe form of agnosi - a disease when a person's perception of the world around him is impaired. Fuminori begins to see the world around him and people as huge heaps of chopped and rotting meat, all his friends and those around him are living formless monsters, more like hellish creatures made of flesh. However, the brain not only distorts the world visually, it recreates the smell and taste, turning even food into disgusting rotten corpse.

For a long time overbearing thoughts of suicide, he learns to live with it and hides his ailment so that he is not sent to a psychiatric clinic. Fuminori meets a girl named Saya - she's the only one he doesn't see with a mountain of guts. Relationships are struck between them, including sex. Fuminori helps her, and she helps him. As a result, they become dependent on each other. But in reality, Saya is a monster from another dimension, which drives people crazy and only Fuminori, due to her illness, sees her different.

The ending of this visual novel and its tragedy is best described by the very standing of the author. After finishing work, Urobuchi became depressed, struggling with obsessive thoughts of suicide and could not get out of it for years. Each ending complements each other, giving you the right to judge how you look at the situation, makes you empathize with criminals, and generally leaves you feeling empty.

And as a derivative of his past work, he continued to embody his feelings in the visual novel Kikokugai: The Cyber Slayer. Its main character is the former mafia Kong Tauluo. Cyberpunk is in the yard and all people replace their limbs with augmentation. Kong is one of the few people who draws strength from their own internal energy and does not support the trend of modifying their body. A detailed philosophy allows him to use a blow that can kill. One day his best friend makes an attempt on his life, but he miscalculated and Kong was able to survive. However, the killer managed to get to the protagonist's sister and mock her in an inhuman way: her brain was destroyed, her soul was broken into seven parts, and she was implanted into sex robots so that they behave naturally.


Kong takes revenge on everyone who was involved in this assassination attempt and tries to collect all the fragments of his sister's soul together by placing them in an android.

Like past work, it has a dark and depressing story full of filth and violence in a harsh world of decline reigning in the future. Clouds are gathering more and more over the fate of the main character, turning him into a cornered beast, unable to resist what fate throws him into.

Death for Life


Gen Urobuchi's most famous project is the deconstruction of the maha-shojo Puella Magi Madoka Magica, a story about sorceress girls who kill each other. Still not completely overwhelmed by depression, Gen Urobuchi began working on the script with producer Atsuhiro Iwakami, who asked the author to write a story full of death, violence and blood. It was supposed to be a violent anime that breaks boundaries. In the story, a group of schoolgirls signed a contract with the evil space creature Cubey, who will fulfill any of their wishes if they fight witches.

At the same time, the screenwriter came, as it seems to me, to a new peak of creativity, because he realized that the death of a character, on the contrary, could make him iconic. The urobutcher does not often think at all about how his characters will look in design or appearance, he creates images, puts anxiety in them, fear, which then leads to a tragic climax. That is why, when creating Puella Magi Madoka Magica, he focused on writing the script, painting deaths, determining the ultimate fate of the characters and their role, creating an overarching plot. In an attempt to deconstruct the sorceress girls genre, he deconstructed classic character creation techniques that first focused on character development and then created a storyline that they could follow.

And if it may seem that this is a strange approach, when the author creates characters for the sake of slaughter, makes their existence meaningless - this is not so, because the author looks at it from the position that we remember the characters not for their death, but for their life. Urobiti creates heroes who can live forever because they died. In an interview, the author was asked if he would like to save one of his characters:

“This question is actually very difficult for me, since I don't feel like any characters need to be 'saved'. This may sound strange to some people, but I don't have a "kill" mentality when I'm writing a script. My characters are alive, but when they die they are no longer part of the story. I don't feel like I really killed anyone, because they lived their lives until the moment they died.

Not everyone lives until they turn 100, right? They may die one day, but that does not mean that their lives have been wasted. They have lived their lives up to this point, and I don't feel like their lives are meaningless when they die.

For example, at the moment we're talking inside this convention center, this could be part of a script in a book. During this event, someone could die in a car accident. Was this person's life meaningless because he or she died? No, this person has lived his life up to this point, and that's what is important.

I have similar feelings for my characters when I write the script for them. Plus, characters never die, you can still go back to the page and see them alive again. I feel like my heroes are immortal, so they don't die, ”Gen Urobuchi replies.

Shit happens

Accusations that he mocks his characters are as common for the author as they are for George R.R. Martin, also known for killing characters in the books. Urobuchi's heroes and their stories are often the side of the same coin. After all, as in real life, shit happens to us, so his heroes simply have to accept the harsh realities of their environment.

“Sometimes when I see someone with a spirit of justice ... I feel like I want to destroy him! [laughs] But I'm actually trying to do something convincing. Good and evil must be on an equal footing, so there is a real possibility that either of them can be a winner. "- Gen Urobuchi in an interview with AnimeNewsNetwork.

The work that saved Gan a lot from depression is a continuation of the legendary Fate / Stay Night —Fate / Zero, but as for me, Psycho Pass is a much deeper work. A dystopia with a black philosophy, where people have fenced off from everything bad, and if you feel bad, you are either sick or worthy of death.


In this anime, he was the screenwriter and author of the idea of a universe where people created a system called Sibyl. He scans a person, evaluates his abilities, skills, level of brain activity, stress and emotions, and on the basis of this he compiles his psycho-passport. If a person's psycho-passport is stable and clean, then he can be a member of society; people with an unstable psycho-passport are potential criminals. If their stress level is not very high, such people are treated, and if it is dangerously high, they are worthy of destruction.

Within this world, there is a bureau that monitors security and hunts people with an unstable passport. The hunters are inspectors - people with a pure psycho-passport, and they obey the guardians - criminals who were given a chance to serve society like hounds and to administer sentences. However, the system will always decide whether to kill or not.


Within the framework of this world, Gen Urobuchi was able to raise not only questions regarding the fact that society has entrusted its life to a system that decides how to live for you, but also all the problems of such a system. Why doesn't the system take into account the temporary stress experienced by victims of crime? What will happen if a criminal appears capable of killing, having a sober mind without harming the psycho-passport? How will a society that has grown for years without seeing crimes react to this very crime? And can this Sibyl system judge itself, since it is like God? Could this all-powerful God create a stone that he cannot lift?

Psycho-Pass answers all these questions.

I love the work of Gen Urobuchi. Although the abundance of sex scenes is a twofold topic, in general, many of the issues that he raises in his work are relevant. Darkness, gloom and inimitable style make him a true master of dark stories that are truly unsettling.

The Topic of Article: Hopelessness by Gen Urobuchi: How to turn depression into a dark art.
Author: Jake Pinkman