Gen Urobuchi, writer of anime hits Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Fate/Zero, teams up with Taiwanese puppeteers to create something unlike anything we’ve seen before.
Most of the famous figures in the anime industry are artists, directors, or vocal performers, but Urobuchi is one of the few scriptwriters that’s widely recognized by name. After contributing to such hard-hitting dramatic anime as Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Fate/Zero, and Psycho-Pass, Urobuchi’s many fans have been expectantly waiting for the unveiling of his next project.
The wait is now over, but surprisingly enough, the newest Urobuchi series isn’t anime, but a puppet theater TV series titled Thunderbolt Fantasy.
While visiting Taiwan two years ago, Urobuchi was deeply impressed with the country’s form of hand puppet theater, particularly the type performed by Taiwanese studio Pili International Multimedia, which will be handling the puppeteering for Thunderbolt Fantasy. Even though the visuals will have CG flourishes added to them, the puppets are practical effects, done with physical models. At the recent Wonder Festival modeling expo in Japan, Thunderbolt Fantasy’s producers showed off some of the series’ stars.
Due to their elaborate costumes and ornamentation, the puppets can weigh up to three kilograms (6.6 pounds) each. And just to be clear, these aren’t marionettes with a solid core and libs manipulated by strings. They’re hand puppets built around an empty sack into which the puppeteer inserts his arm in order to manipulate its movements using his fingers.
Aside from being the series’ creator, Urobuchi will be serving as scriptwriter and supervisor for the product. Other Japanese artists contributing to Thuunderbolt Fantasy include the team at software developer Nitroplus and theme song performer T.M. Revolution. Voice actors Tomokazu Seki and Mai Nakahara will be playing the leads, and the producers revealed that they recorded some of their dialogue in real-time as the moving puppets were filmed.
Thunderbolt Fantasy is scheduled to begin airing in Japan as part of the summer TV season.
[ Read in Japanese ]