Report by Kevin Leahy of the December 21, 2001 Talk Live Posted to VampireHunterD@yahoogroups.com December 30 Hi, all! On Dec. 21, I had the pleasure of attending the annual new year's party in Tokyo with Kikuchi-sensei and friends, and there was plenty to report that might interest you in the group. Unlike the usual "talk live" events, which begin at midnight and run until 4:00 A.M, this time the festivities started at 7:30 and ran through the night. I arrived around 8:00, with my wife, daughter, and a friend who produces DVDs here, and Kikuchi-sensei was already chatting on stage with Tanaka-sensei, a well-known Japanese writer involved with many of the Godzilla movies and other giant monster flicks. Mr. K's sidekick, Fumihiko Iino, spotted me there with my baby, and the next thing I knew we were up on stage. My daughter Anna was dressed up in her "Chibi D" outfit (I'll get a pic of her up somewhere later), and Kikuchi-sensei seemed very comfortable holding her--though he probably frustrated a lot of the photographers by turning her toward himself instead of the crowd of 140 or so fans present. I heard him ask her to read "her uncle's" books when she got older. After walking my wife and baby back to the hotel, I jumped back into the fray. My friend and I headed into the "green room" as it were, where the next guests were just arriving. Now, the guests had been kept secret on both Kikuchi-sensei's official homepage (run by Rin Sei) and on that of Loft Plus One, but I had an inkling it would be someone good--Amano or Kawajiri or something like that. In fact, VHD director Yoshiaki Kawajiri was there with animation director Yutaka Minowa. Kikuchi-sensei introduced me to the director as the person who would be translating the novels if they were published in English. I took the opportunity to thank Kawajiri-kantoku for making the film in English, told him how much we've all enjoyed his film, gave him my card, and asked him to get in touch with me if I could be of service in the future (I was thinking "no more dunpeals" at the time, but held my tongue). I also complimented Mr. Minowa on his awesome characters, and told him that if he were to do future D films we could rest easy with the character in his hands. While I was at it, I got him to do a neat little sketch of D in the pocket notebook I use for translating/interpreting, though other fans had the foresight to bring more appropriate materials. Now I know what you probably want to know is what they had to say to fans about whether they'll be doing any more VHD films, and if so which ones, but I was in the green room talking to Asahi Sonorama editor Susumu Ishii the whole time they were on stage, and I only caught occasional bits from the monitors or through the open door. However, I explained the situation to Rin Sei, and asked her for a copy of the videotape she was shooting, and between that and the reports that other fans will undoubtedly be posting on the web I should eventually be able to get some more info on this out to you. So what was worth missing the dirt on the animated film? Well, aside from Kikuchi-sensei himself, no one on Earth knows more about the VHD series than Mr. Ishii, who has edited it from the very beginning. While I do occasionally talk with him on the phone, I've had very few chances to speak with him in person due to his busy schedule, so I was able to get answers to a few questions I've had about the VHD novels. 1. The first and third books were given new covers as a movie tie-in, and I asked if they were ever going back to the old Amano covers--yes, and people seem to like the Amano artwork more. This started a discussion about how many Japanese fans came to read the VHD series because they like Amano, and how some folks overseas mistakenly believe Amano to be the "creator" of D. 2. Amano came out with a new artbook called "Kiten" this month, so I asked if there was a new story by Kikuchi-sensei in it--no, as the book contained no new art but rather collected his early work from "Maten," "Biten," and something by another publisher (whether this artwork has undergone any of the "revision" that horrified some fans in his last VHD artbook I can't say). 3. Since Amano has a reputation for being very kind to his fans, I wanted to know if there was a chance he might attend a future talk live event--Mr. Ishii thought he would also enjoy it, so with luck he'll pass the idea along (I also mentioned that since a number of people I know in the States have met him, I wanted a chance to, too). 4. Though I didn't ask about it, the DC Comics/Amano situation came up--apparently there's still interest there and slow progress, but I'm not holding my breath. I did, however, tell both Mr. Ishii and Kikuchi-sensei that the short story "D--Village in the Fog" would be much better suited to the graphic novel format (it helps that I only have a page or so of it left to translate). 5. Still on the Amano-related thread, I just wanted to confirm what I'd heard from Kikuchi-sensei about Mr. Ishii being responsible for pairing Amano with the D series--yes, that was indeed the case, though usually the author requests a specific artist from the very beginning. When I asked him if he had the problem of every writer wanting Amano to do their illustrations, too, he just laughed. 6. Seeing that first VHD novel has gone through about 80 printings since it first came out, I wanted to know if there was a set number that they made in each printing--no, they just print up whatever they think they can sell at that point. 7. Given that Kikuchi-sensei's handwriting is very difficult to read, I asked if Mr. Ishii had thought about trying to get him to use a word processor--but the handwritten manuscript has become tradition now, and the editor seems resigned to typing everything up himself. He says they could send the handwritten pages to the publishers, they just wouldn't like it very much. Other than that, we also talked about the latest VHD novel, which had just hit stores a day or two earlier--"D--Jajin Toride" or basically "Fortress of the Elder Gods" ("Jajin" is commonly used in Japanese to refer to the Cthulhu mythos, but I can't say more without actually reading it). This is the first single-volume VHD tale since "Rose Princess" back in 1994! Well, I couldn't stay in the green room forever, because the costume contest was coming up! Those who thought my frilly white poet's shirt was just a fashion statement were in for a rude awakening! From about 20 participants last year, the ranks had swelled to over 30 "cos-players" this time. In addition to my sword-girt, black-caped rendition of the Sacred Ancestor (or Chibi D's Papa), there were a number of characters foreign fans would have recognized--Carmila, Mashira, one of the Elbournes' gun-toting hands, and two couples as Meier and Charlotte. Most of these folks put a lot more time into their costumes than me (just call me Mr. Ebay), but folks were really blown away by my Custom Dracula Fangs. Mashira was notable for the fact that he opened his jacket to reveal a giant racoon head (actually a hilarious hat). And one of the Meiers was my friend Guren, who actually met his Charlotte at last year's talk live and announced that they're going to be married (Kikuchi-sensei wished them a happier lot than the characters they were portraying). I actually won the "Hideyuki Kikuchi Award," which included a video put together by the author--the Japanese-dubbed version of the movie, plus the DVD contents, and apparently other cool stuff. I'll have to post my impressions of the Japanese-dub in another thread, but suffice to say that through the quiz and drawing that followed, a good time was had by all.