A recent survey of anime industry job postings has found that many studios are now only hiring writers who have legally changed their name to “Urobuchi Gen.” This is the name of the famous anime writer who is responsible for a string of runaway hits such as Madoka Magica, Fate/Zero, and Psycho Pass in recent years. Applications were found bearing the warning “If we are not legally able to credit you as Urobuchi Gen, please do not bother applying for a writing job at this studio.”
Anime Maru sat down with Masu Ueda — the president of of A-1 Pictures, a studio that has implemented this policy.
“After seeing the success that Urobuchi Gen drew, we naturally wanted to replicate it. We initially thought that people were drawn to Urobuchi Gen’s writing because of the way he writes complex characters with vastly differing ideologies in a thoughtful manner, and the way his shows possess optimism in light of a cynical world. However, after the success of shows such as Aldonoah.Zero and Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, we quickly realized that people were only drawn to the name ‘Urobuchi Gen’ itself, and would watch any show that name was attached to.”
Studios have therefore done everything they can to get the name “Urobuchi Gen” onto their anime, which has necessarily resulted in an industry of many Urobuchi Gens. This season Urobuchi Gen’s name is attached to several anime, such as A-1 Pictures’ second season of Aldonoah.Zero, as well as new shows such as Kantai Collection, Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love!, and Koufuku Grafitti. Analysts have projected that by 2016 at least 78% of all anime will have Urobuchi Gen’s name somehow attached to them.
Many studios have also taken to calling their anime sequels to previous Urobuchi Gen series after seeing the viewership of Psycho Pass 2. “Psycho Pass 2 was by all accounts an unmitigated failure,” Production I.G. lead writer Urobuchi Gen (unrelated) told Anime Maru. “But people still tuned in because it was tied to an Urobuchi Gen property. Really, that’s all we need.” Following this example, Juuou Mujin no Fafnir has been announced to take place in the same world as Psycho Pass, and Toei Animation has retroactively declared Sailor Moon Crystal to be a follow up to Madoka Magica in an attempt to draw people back to the show.
But not all writers are convinced by the power of the Urobuchi name.
“When producers recommended I change my name I was really skeptical. I still believe the merits of my own writing deserves a little bit of credit,” says Shinmai Maou no Keiyakusha writer Urobuchi Gen.
Fans have met this industry news largely with excitement. “I really like seeing Urobuchi Gen’s name tied to a work,” said one fan, “because I’m able to build up unreasonable expectations for the show that could never be fulfilled and will inevitably lead to disappointment. It’s really that initial joy that I treasure, which is why I keep coming back to shows tied to Urobuchi Gen even as they continue to fail. Imagine an industry full of that, it’ll be great!”