Shakespeare in Japan part 4: Gen Urobuchi

gen
Gen Urobuchi is one of Japan’s most critically acclaimed screenwriters. Many of his works seem to be influenced by Shakespeare.

Akira Kurosawa and Kentaro Miru are not the only Japanese writers to be influenced by William Shakespeare. One of Japan’s most popular contemporary writers,  Gen Urobuchi aka Gen UroButcher. Urobuchi has written critically acclaimed series such as “Madoka Magica”, “Fate/Zero”, and the 24th season of the long running live action show “Kamen rider”. Many of his works seem to have some Shakespearean influence in them

 

His 2012 series “Psycho- Pass” contains many allusions to Shakespeare. The eighth episode “And then, silence” is a reference to Hamlet’s last line in the play “The rest is silence” (Shakespeare 166). At one point the main villain of the series Makashima reads a passage from “Titus Andronicus(*Warning* the video link is very graphic).

Psycho pass
The main cast of “Psycho-Pass“. The series makes many allusions to shakespeare.

In “Kamen Raider Gaim” (The season he wrote for) One of the main characters Mitsuzane sees the spirit of his older brother Takatora (who’s in a coma). The spirit of Takatora pleads to Mitsuzane to redeem him by defeating the person who put him in a coma. The scene bears striking similarity to the ghost of Hamlet’s father telling Hamlet to kill Claudius, the person who killed him.

Kamen_Rider_Gaim_Logo
The logo for “Kamen rider Gaim” the 24th season in the long running super show “Kamen Rider“. Gen Urobuchi was the head writer for the season and it contained allusions to Hamlet.

 

MadokaBD
Madoka Magica” contained subtle references to shakespeare and the German legend Faust.

Madoka Magica” (A personal favourite of mine) featured the story of young girls fighting witches who are spreading chaos. The first witch is named Gertrud, the same name as Hamlet’s mother. When one of the main characters Kyoko turns into a witch her new name becomes Ophelia the same name as Hamlet’s lover. Interestingly both Kyoko and Ophelia lose their fathers during the story.

 

Fate_Zero_Blu-ray_Disc_Box_I_art
The Blu-Ray/DVD cover for “Fate/Zero“. The 2012 anime was written by Gen and is part of the multimedia “Fate” series

 

 

 

 

 

Fateapocrypha_vol.01_cover
Fate/Apocrypha“, another part of the “Fate” series. While not written by Gen the story involved Shakespeare himself as one of the main characters.

Gen was the head writer for 2012 anime “Fate/Zero” (Another favourite of mine). “Fate/Zero” is part of the huge multimedia “Fate” franchise. The series revolves around the Holy Grail war, where mages with the aid of a powerful figure from fiction or history fight each other in a battle royal to obtain the grail and get one wish granted. In one of the interpretations “Fate/Apocrypha” (a light novel) Shakespeare appears as a servant of the Caster class. He uses magic to power up his master and can escape from almost any situation. In the story he usually stays out of fights preferring to observe them to see how they turn out. He was also very interested in how his plays are represented in the modern world. At one point he goes to a bookstore to purchase a modern translation of his works.  He was also very emotional, he became depressed when the main character Shirou did not know who he was and preceded to educate Shirou on his works. It’s important to note that Urobuchi did not write “Fate/Apocrypha”, he has only written for “Fate/Zero”. Still though, it’s an interesting connection that a writer who seems to be influenced by Shakespeare would be involved in a series that features the Bard.

Like Akira Kurosawa and Kentaro Miura we once again see a strong Shakespearean influence in one of Japan’s most accomplished writers.

 

References

Characters (n.d.) retrieved July 22 2015 from Puella Magi wiki https://wiki.puella-magi.net/Characters

Fate/Apocrypha (n.d.) retrieved July 21st 2015 from Type Moon Wiki http://typemoon.wikia.com/wiki/Fate/Apocrypha

Crowther, John, (Ed.). (2005). No Fear Hamlet. Retrieved July 17, 2015, http://nfs.sparknotes.com/hamlet/page_332.html

 

The fated two final battle (n.d.) retrieved July 20th 2015 from the Kamen Rider Wiki http://kamenrider.wikia.com/wiki/The_Fated_Two%27s_Final_Battle!

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