Nasu Kinoko X Takeuchi Takashi X Urobuchi Gen - Special Forum
Translation by Molokidan
A 10-year Anniversary interview with Nasu Kinoko, Takeuchi Takashi, and Urobuchi Gen from TYPE-MOON Ace 7, released on December 15th, 2011. The three talks about TYPE-MOON's works over the past 10 years, Fate/Zero, Saber, and the future.
It's almost time to turn the page on the past 10 years of TYPE-MOON. In order to send them off properly, Nasu Kinoko, Takeuchi Takashi, and Urobuchi Gen have gathered to talk about TYPE-MOON works!
Regarding the characters' changes over the past 10 years...
To start off this anniversary, we'd like you to talk about the TYPE-MOON works that have come out over the past ten years. You've brought a lot to this world this past decade. How have the characteristics of your main characters changed over time?
Nasu: As the writer, it's hard for me to get a sense, but a quote I once heard from a mentor of mine named Tsutsui Kiyoshi (*1) comes to mind: "The 'enemy' that main characters face in romance novels written before the 80s is different from the 'enemy' they face in romance novels written after the 90s." Romance novels up to the 80s had enemies that represented distortions in society. In novels written after the 90s, main characters begin fighting with problems in their own surroundings, in a more personal scope. Thinking about that, with both Ryougi Shiki in Kara no Kyoukai and Emiya Shirou in Fate/stay night, the characters suffer from trying to come to terms with problems in their own narrow perspectives. The ones who stand in their ways, Araya Souren and Kotomine Kirei, are simply people who fought against the world itself and lost in the past -- the main characters from the 80s.
Uro: Since Araya and Kotomine's value systems have completely matured, they act as a great wall for the troubled main characters. Yet the main characters must still overcome the wall of the previous generation... I think both Kara no Kyoukai and Fate/stay night fit into that category. However, I will say that I think the style of main characters has changed even further in the 21st century.
Takeuchi: Personally, I think many main characters don't purposefully opt to fight. Something comes, attacks them, and gets in the way of their goal, and they must drive the enemy back.
Nasu: "I don't want to fight, but I must sweep away the flames." That's their stance. It's true that the sort of works where main characters with strong goals collide with their enemies are dying out.
Uro: And it's exactly because of the circumstances of the age we're in now that I want more young people to experience Fate/stay night. Unlike Fate/Zero, where all the main characters are older, this one has lots of cute heroines!
Nasu: The main character, Shirou, though, is pretty amateur...
Unlike Shirou, Fate/Zero presents a lot of characters who fight for valiant ideals like "ending all wars" and "arriving at the root of it all."
Nasu: They're all pretty old, so they fight with firm belief systems. However, among them, Matou Kariya, who's fighting for Sakura's freedom, is an anomaly. He, and only he, fights for a very shonen manga-esque ideal, "to save a girl." In that respect, I think it's easier for the reader to identify with Kariya compared to the valiant types like Kiritsugu. And I heard that Uncle Kariya's actual popularity (*2) among fans is off the charts. He is in love with Aoi, who's actually a wedded woman with a child, but he still isn't able to grow up, and dreams about being united with her. He's a bit of a problem.
Takeuchi: I see. So Kariya is sort of like the chunibyo hero of the story. (TL Note: Good explanation of chunibyo here for people not familiar: 中二病[chunibyo])
Uro: It's a disease that summons death. Because he has the "chunibyo" disease, he let the worms into his body, until finally he only has one month left to life.
Nasu: Maybe all chunibyo are fated to end up this way... I have chronic chunibyo myself, so maybe I'll end up just like Kariya... (Laughs)
Takeuchi: Kariya really seems like the main character in the anime version of Fate/Zero. His drive to save Sakura and how he envelops the depression connected to Tokiomi really makes him look like a dark hero. Maybe that's why he's so popular.
Nasu: Usually if I drew a dark hero like Kariya, he'd lose almost everything only to have all his hard work pay off in the end. But of course, Urobuchi-san goes and has characters like Kariya die without any sort of retribution.
Uro: Well, I did let him see a "good dream" at the end. (Laughs) In the beginning, I actually wanted to do more with him. But because of the way his body ended up, making him fight more would kill him...
Nasu: And Berserker was too strong, one of them could easily take out other Servants.
The versatile works of TYPE-MOON...
TYPE-MOON works have given birth to many types of spin-offs that go far beyond the realm of games and manga. What are your feelings on this?
Nasu: As the creator, I'm extremely happy to see the love of my fans manifest itself in these type of spin-offs. I gain a lot from it. However, I'm a bit old-fashioned, and believed that the best situation for any creator is to be able to give birth to their own original creation. I thought there was nothing greater than to be able to think up your own world and your own characters, and then create a story revolving around them. So, I'm happy to see lots of TYPE-MOON spin-offs, but at the same time, I felt sad that people are spending so much of their valuable time building off my work. However, I was able to read the comment that Sasaki Shounen wrote when the final chapter of the manga Tsukihime (*3) was published: "If possible, I wish I could go on drawing this manga forever." That's when I realized. He was doing this because to him, it was more enjoyable than anything else. I was stupid to think he was wasting his time.
Uro: No matter what the "original" concept may be, I think any sort of manifestation is fine as long as the author is enjoying it. The "Authors need their own castle" mindset is a bit outdated, I think.
Nasu: I think we can see that in Hiroyama Hiroshi, who's clearly pouring all of his talent into Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya (*4). AND he's enjoying it. (Laughs)
Takeuchi: It's true, whenever I read Prisma Illya, I keep thinking "No, that's a good idea, save it for when you do your own original work!" That's how good it is.
Uro: I think that's the strength of TYPE-MOON, that it's supported by so many passionate creators. Like Marvel Comics (*6), who gave birth to X-Men (*5), I think it's a great idea to encourage even more spin-offs by talented creators. There aren't many other works that have so many spin-offs and anthology works, including Fate/Zero. I would even say that TYPE-MOON works are the closest thing Japan has to a Marvel Comics.
Nasu: Marvel Comics has so many spin-offs that they can't even keep track of things on their own anymore... everyone keeps widening the world and adding on these interesting parts to it, and if they're really good, the company goes and says "OK, that sounds cool. Let's make it official." Even from the user side, they say, "We want to see the X-Men from this work, not the original." It's really amazing how things have spiraled out that way. On one hand, while I still sometimes think "Wouldn't you rather use that skill for your own original creation?", I love being amazed by the different ways people interpret TYPE-MOON characters.
The many different forms of TYPE-MOON's poster girl, Saber...
Saber has appeared in so many different forms in spin-offs over the past 10 years, she's become a sort of poster girl for TYPE-MOON. From your point of view, Urobuchi, how do you view Saber?
Uro: Honestly, Saber doesn't look much like a heroine to me. I can still see traces of the male version of Saber that appeared in the early version of Fate (*7). Because of that mental image, Saber's relationship with Shirou doesn't seem like a realistic relationship between a male and a female, but a complicated relationship with a boy who became a girl.
Nasu: Typical Urobuchi... I really can't pull the wool over your eyes... I intended to take that to the grave with me, but I guess this 10-year anniversary is a good place to talk about it. Just like Urobuchi-san said, it's difficult to call the relationship between Shirou and Saber a relationship between a man and a woman. Saber has fought for a long time as the ruler of Britain, but then turned into a girl all of a sudden and fell in love with Shirou. It's pretty ridiculous when you think about it. But I really wanted to push it towards that sort of boy-meets-girl story. So as a last resort, I had Shirou continually say things to her like "But you're a girl," and "Girls aren't supposed to fight," in order to remind the users that "she is really a girl." It's like the author's actually the one trying to convince Saber that she's a girl... I feel like I could have written it a lot better now, but that was the best I could do at the time.
Uro: It isn't a relationship fueled by instinct like the relationship between a man and a woman, but a romance of logic between two people who need each other from the heart. I think the Saber route could have been told as a story through the ancient Greek views on love. That's what makes Saber's story so refreshing, and why she's become such a popular character. On the other hand, I think the true heroine of Fate/stay night is Rin. In the Rin route, an equal relationship with a woman who's become stronger than men is depicted. Rin and Shirou mend each other's weaknesses with their own unique strengths, and I think it makes for a very nice relationship.
Nasu: It's true that Rin is different from Saber. Rin is written as a completely different gender. She also has a sort of pride in the fact that she's a beautiful girl. With a girl like that by his side, even an unsociable person like Shirou loses his presence of mind.
Uro: There's yet another different type of love depicted in the Sakura route. It really expresses the dark sides that all women have, but how men can accept that and love women regardless. Something akin to the "dignity of men" comes across.
Nasu: "Romance" is something where a couple blindly pursue each other's ideals. "Love," on the other hand, is something where two people accept each other, including the painful reality that comes with it. There are no ideals to be found there. It's just about coming to terms with reality. They don't even have time to dream... but you can't just keep pushing harsh realities over the hopes and dreams of young people. Let's talk about something more fun!
OK then, we'll change topics. Saber has a lot of alter egos like Saber Alter and Saber Lily. How do you see them, Urobuchi?
Uro: What I imagine is that for the Saber Lily storyline, in Fate/stay night, Saber was completely beaten by Caster, and so she became one of her Servants. Like, she thought "I'd be way better off with Caster than with Shirou." (Laughs)
Nasu: I never thought of that. Interesting. So in other words, the white dress represents how both her body and soul have been tamed by Caster. So Lily is truly like a "lily" to Caster... you crazy bastard, you did it again...
Takeuchi: Lily's design was inspired by the dress she wore when Saber was captured by Caster. Then, we just filled it with feminine qualities that Saber lacked and it became what it is now. So basically, I think Urobuchi really hit it close to the mark.
Uro: Really?! Lily looked like a villain to me from the moment I saw her. Imagine her appearing from behind Caster, really working those heels! Just thinking of it gets me excited!
Takeuchi: But in terms of villains, don't we already have Alter?
Uro: No, she isn't a villain, she's a dark hero.
Nasu: Alter is an idealist who clings to her own values even though she's been blackened. In that respect, she isn't a pure villain.
Uro: For example, Alter's like how Hakaider was in Mechanical Violator Hakaider (*8). And Lily is the enemy she would face. The wrinkles in the corners of her eyes are proof to that. She'd shine as a villain.
Nasu: Then after defeating Lily in battle, Alter would jump on a motorbike in the last scene and ride off into the sunset. Then the narration would come in: "She is a modern knight, who lives in a world of darkness!" (*9)
Takeuchi: Motorbikes aside, (laughs) I do think it'd be interesting to add meat to Lily's character in that manner.
Having the "black" one as the main character and the "white" one as the villain is a refreshing idea. Then, how about the red Saber (Saber Extra), who appeared in Fate/Extra?
Uro: That character is completely disconnected from the other Sabers. Personally, she looked like a female Gilgamesh to me.
Nasu: If I had written Fate/Zero, then Iskandar would have been a character like Red Saber. In my mind, I can only see Iskandar as a worthy opponent to Gilgamesh, but the Iskandar Urobuchi created was an excellent, wild, and unprecedented character that I could have never thought up. But I want to surpass him somehow, so maybe Red Saber was born out of my drive to create a different tyrant from Iskandar.
The two creators talk about love...
Fate/stay night is written from Shirou's point of view, but Fate/Zero is drawn from many different points of view.
Uro: True. Fate/stay night was originally conceptualized as a bishojo game, so the very individual theme of "romance" was placed at the core. It had to be written from Shirou's point of view. So then I thought, I have this really powerful core idea of all these Eiyuu (heroic spirits) engaged in a Battle Royale, so why not draw their story from multiple point of views? That's why I tried to work more main characters into Fate/Zero other than simply Kiritsugu and Kirei.
Nasu: I had no other choice but to make Fate/stay night the way I did for that bishojo game format. That was one of the reasons why I once said to Urobuchi, "I don't think I can make bishojo games anymore." The more you pour both what the author wants to draw and romance elements that will excite the users into a work, the more distant they get from each other... that was my dilemma. Trying to force them together would only warp the work. Then, at the same time, Urobuchi-san decided to stop focusing on bishojo games and distance himself from the genre. He created an exciting, self-indulgent Macaraoni-esque revenge opera called Zoku Satsuriku no Django, (*10) and I was just like... waaaah!
Uro: That's where I found myself after all my searching.
Takeuchi: Saya no Uta, (*11) with its grotesque and horror touches, was also another one of the things you discovered after your searches with the bishojo game genre.
Uro: When I try to write love, it only turns into horror. Thinking about it with a clear head, feeling such deep emotions to some other person you don't even know is truly a terrifying thing. Also, I wonder if love isn't a manifestation of madness in some way. These thoughts gave birth to that work. On the other hand, I realized that displaying "love as a reward" is impossible for me.
Takeuchi: The cute visuals of Saya are so different from the gap of her true form. I bet you were planning to shock the users that way, but I think a surprising number of them just got more moe mileage out of her as a result. I was seriously frightened, and played the game while covering my head with a blanket. (Laughs)
Uro: Thanks for letting it scare you so much. I wanted all the users to enjoy it that way. Yet, I got so many comments like "I could go for that," and "Saya-tan is so cute"... I was stunned by the broad-minded and profound nature of my users. I thought I was firing a bazooka at users who only embraced imaginary love, but just like Matsuda-san in Black Angels, (*12), they caught my bullet with their bare hands!
Nasu: He's the kind of guy who goes "Whew, that was dangerous" after he gets shot in the head. (Laughs) Getting back on track, I think Fate/stay night does lack that "battle royale" atmosphere, but I really wanted to make it a work that would make the users want to get to know Saber and Rin better, or cuddle with Sakura. Saber and Rin respresent the fun and sweetness of romance. But I wanted to express the tragic nature of love with Sakura.
Uro: I see. You really did separate "romance" and "love" with your heroines. I was swoon most by Dark Sakura, so I guess I'll never be able to make a proper romance work... (laughs)
Where TYPE-MOON is heading next...
To close, please tell us about the future of TYPE-MOON and how you will build on this long decade.
Uro: On the contrary, I feel like "Oh, it's only been ten years." Nitroplus was founded around the same time, so I think the climax of our rivalry will be what approach we take from here on out. We've already come 10 years, so I feel like the next decade will be done in the blink of an eye.
Nasu: I'm not even sure if PC games will be able to survive this next decade. It feels like the cold war of the PC Game age may be coming. However, I hope that we at TYPE-MOON can survive in the PC game world. Because you know what? It's fun to make PC games.
Takeuchi: Entertainment has really changed over this past decade, and PC novel games will no longer be demanded as they previously were. The reason we originally started making bishojo games in that period is because that's when they were the most interesting. I think the core of TYPE-MOON is to always search for what seems the most interesting to us. And I hope that, while keeping in mind true substance and the true meaning behind game stores, we can continue to provide entertainment to our fans.
*1: Tsutsui Kiyoshi
An author who has penned literature criticism, romance novels, mystery novels and sci-fi novels. Representative works include Vampire Wars and Psychic Wars. Takeuchi is working on insert pictures for Vampire Wars.
*2: Uncle Kariya
This is what Sakura calls Kariya in ate/Zero. His painful outward appearance and desperate struggle to save Sakura earned him great popularity on the Internet, even earning him a thread on 2chan titled "Uncle Kariya is so popular."
*3: Tsukihime manga
Shingetsukan Tsukihime, published from 2003 in Dengeki Daioh, illustrated by Sasaki Shounen. It was well acclaimed by TYPE-MOON for expertly connecting all the different plotlines.
*4: Fate/kaleidliner Prisma Illya
A spin-off of Fate/stay night by Hiroyama Hiroshi. The characters are the same, but the story takes place in a parallel world with a "magical girl" theme. Currently, a second series called Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya: Zwei! is being serialized in Monthly Comp Ace.
An American comic published by Marvel Comics. A freak accident gives birth to mutants who battle each other. There have been numerous motion picture adaptations made, and it's gained world acclaim.
*6: Marvel Comics
One of the two big comic publishers in America. Aside from X-Men, they publish Spiderman, Captain America, and many other works featuring American heroes.
*7: Early version of Fate
The novel that became the concept behind Fate/stay night, which Nasu wrote as a student. The main character was a mage and Saber was a man. It has many differences from Fate/stay night, like a battle between Saber and Sasaki Kojiro at Ryudo Temple.
*8: Mechanical Violator Hakaider
The spin-off motion picture featuring Hakaider, the villain from Ishinomori Shintaro's manga Kikaider. It chronicles a dark hero with a twisted sense of justice.
*9: "She is a modern knight, who lives in a world of darkness!"
A play off the catchphrase for Batman, who is a "modern knight who lives in darkness," applied to Saber Alter.
*10: "Zoku Satsuriku no Django -Jigoku no Shoukinkubi-"
An adult game released by Nitroplus in July, 2007. Written by Urobuchi Gen and illustrated by ni0. A true macaroni western where 3 beautiful, armed women take matters into their own hands in outer space.
*11: "Saya no Uta"
An adult game released by Nitroplus in December, 2003. Written by Urobuchi Gen and illustrated by Chuuo Higashiguchi. Prognostic symptoms after an accident make everything appear strangely to the main character. All of a sudden, a beautiful girl named Saya appears in front of him. She seems to be the only normal-looking thing in this strange world... and then a horror tale begins.
*12: "Black Angels"
A manga serialized in Shonen Jump from 1981 to 1985. Matsuda-san was a character who appeared in this. He serves out his own brand of justice as a "Black Angel" living in the underworld and taking out those who have escaped the long arm of the law. Spin-offs and continuations continued to be made even 10 years after the series finished. Matsuda is a hot-blooded man who fights with his own style of karate and killing techniques. He can catch bazooka bullets with his bare hands, stop a jumbo jet by running into it, among other superhuman abilities.