FEBRUARY 25, 2000

After the string of monthly talk live events from September to 
December, it was a little strange going a month without a Kikuchi 
fan fix -- even for those of us who'd attended the new VHD movie 
screening at Nippon Herald in January.  And the fan-to-fan interaction
is one of the things that people seem to enjoy most about these events.
Sure, it's cool to meet Mr. Kikuchi and get him to sign some books, 
and the movies are always entertaining (especially if Iino-sensei takes
it upon himself to play MST3K), but you should see all the things that
people bring and trade or pass out before, during, and after the talk
live.  It starts at McDonald's, where many of the regulars from 
Unknown-san's VHD BBS meet to catch up and kill time until we can go
line up at Loft Plus One. This is in Kabukicho, the most infamous 
combat zone in Japan, and with all the puking and pimping going on out
there you really don't want to be hanging around outside on Friday night.
Fans trade 'zines, videos, cards, paperbacks, artwork -- just about 
anything you can imagine there in the burger joint.  And everyone seems
to go by their fan/internet name.  In fact, aside from Unknown and one 
or two others, most of these people have never told me their real names.
But they are the nicest bunch of people and everyone gets along so well
-- I consider them part of my Japanese family.

Getting back to the actual talk live, the subject was supposed to be
the classic monster movies from Universal Studios, but Mr. Kikuchi 
decided it would be better to start at the beginning of special 
effects films.  Now, special effects in the form of in-camera tricks 
are as old as motion pictures themselves, so there was plenty to show.
To our CGI-jaded eyes some of these tricks seem laughably simple, like
overcranking, double exposures, or sudden cuts to make objects seem 
to appear and disappear like magic, but it's nice to consider that 
there was a time when these things amazed people and that future 
generations will look at "The Matrix" or "Jurassic Park" and laugh at
the hokey effects.  Still, there's a certain childish charm to movies 
such as "A Trip to the Moon", which many folks will recognize from the 
Smashing Pumpkins' video.

There was also a report on the VHD anime screening at the Yubari 
film festival in Hokkaido.  Always ready to go that extra mile in 
the interest of fan service, Mr. Kikuchi was on hand for the screening 
at a gymnasium -- the largest venue of the festival.  Though the sound
system at Nippon Herald had the seats shuddering at the January private
screening, this time the sound system was playing at deafening levels
(kind of makes me wish I'd been there).  And the attendees were in for
another pleasant surprise -- someone at Madhouse pulled an all-nighter
to get Japanese subtitles onto the film in time for the festival. 
Among those in attendance were a couple of diehard Hokkaido-based Kikuchi
fans who occasionally make the trek down to Tokyo for the talk live
events, and they showed their support for the author by showing up 
with banners and acting up.  All in all, it seems the film was very 
well received.

For those interested in such things, there was still no word on the 
status of my translation of the first Vampire Hunter D book, but 
Mr. Kikuchi did take this opportunity to ask me to finish the second
book and do the third for good measure.  So who am I to argue?