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Ubukata Tow

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

(1977-    ) Pen-name of a Japanese author and scriptwriter who often writes the prose and Anime or Manga versions of his stories, and who maintains strong connections to the world of computer games. Raised largely in Singapore and Nepal, Ubukata returned to his native Japan to complete his education in his teens. He dropped out of Waseda University's department of literature shortly after winning the Sneaker Award for his early novel Kuroi Kisetsu ["Black Season"] (1996), which mixed a Fantasy quest narrative with tropes from modern gangster fiction.

His initial scripting work was in games, notably as one of the writers on the groundbreaking "sandbox" title Shenmue (1999). Gaming also led to his first commercial success with Chaos Legion (September 2002-May 2004 Dragon Magazine), another fantasy tale, seemingly intended from the outset as the basis of a computer game, Chaos Legion (2003). His work has continued to appear in cross-media platforms, such that it is often difficult to tell which iteration of his scripts, novels or comic adaptations should be considered the "first", and which are later spin-offs. Several of his books have been translated into English, as well as Japanese anime adaptations including Chevalier D'Eon (2006-2007) and Mardock Scramble (2010). Ubukata is also credited as the original author on several Manga adaptations of his work, unlisted here. His reputation is largely founded on a Cyberpunk sensibility, drawn from the work of William Gibson through the Japanese translations of Hisashi Kuroma. This is most apparent in his Mardock series, fixing up linked short stories into Light Novels (chapbooks), themselves subsequently reprinted as full-sized novels, beginning with "Mardock Scramble 104" (July 2003 S-F Magazine), in which a teenage girl is transformed into a Cyborg assassin in a high-tech Dystopia. He has also worked in localization, credited as the "scriptwriter" for the Japanese release of the game Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard (2009).

Ubukata successfully nurtures an approachable media persona, writing a witty monthly column for Newtype magazine about a writer's life. He capped his undeniable success in the field with several how-to books on genre writing, although there was already a distinct sense that he had outgrown the disposable, pulpy environment that had nurtured him. After many multi-part Pulp works, he showed a deeper, more serious side in Tenchi Meisatsu ["Insight into Heaven and Earth"] (January-August 2009 Yasei Jidai) focusing on the development of Astronomy in samurai-era Japan. The book won praise in the field of historical fiction for Ubukata's ability to dramatize issues in Mathematics and the compilation of calendars, and was itself picked up for live-action film adaptation. [JonC]

"Ubukata Tō" (real name unknown)

born Gifu, Japan: 14 February 1977

works (selected)


Culdcept/Storm Bring World

  • Hoshi no Kudaru Toshi ["The City From the Stars"] (Tokyo: Media Factory, 2003) [tie to game: Culdcept: pb/Koban Sameda]
  • Hoshi ga Hikarukaseru Mono ["The One Upon Whom the Stars Shine"] (Tokyo: Media Factory, 2003) [tie to game: Culdcept: pb/Koban Sameda]



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