Hideyuki Kikuchi "Talk Live" Event in Tokyo, May 2003 Once again the course of human events conspired to send me into Tokyo's seedy Kabukicho section to attend another "talk live" event with Vampire Hunter D creator Hideyuki Kikuchi. The theme for the evening was "alien invasion," and the films I knew of were interesting enough that I was really looking forward to the video portion as much as the drinking and socializing. But before the films could even begin, we were told that there was a very big surprise guest--Yumemakura Baku. Baku-sensei is the other great powerhouse of the modern sci-fi/horror field, and he and Kikuchi-sensei are the main pillars of Asahi Sonorama. The rivalry between these two best-selling authors is rather well known, but their presence together proved that it was a friendly rivalry nonetheless. The first film up was a colorized version of Howard Hawks' classic "The Thing From Another World," with James Arness (of "Gunsmoke" fame) as the lumbering alien fished out of the Antarctic ice. The "shoot first, ask questions later" tactics of the characters in the film evoked a lot of playful comments from co-host Fumihiko Iino about the questionable intellect of Americans. Iino-sensei is a very good friend of mine, and he was trying to get a rise out of me, so I played along with the joke and yelled at him to shut his pie-hole. Baku-sensei was probably surprised by my outburst, but Kikuchi-sensei explained who I was and how I was doing the VHD translations, and everything went back to normal (or as close as it ever gets at a talk live). The next film was John Carpenter's remake of the first, entitled "The Thing." I think most of the folks present must have seen this at one time or another, as it had a great influence of Japanese sci-fi and horror. Both are definitely worth seeing, though you might want to try and find a b/w copy of the Hawks version if you aren't fond of people with really orange complexions. Finally, we saw a film adaptation of H.G. Wells' "War of the Worlds." Though the effects may look dated now, and the Martian war machines were altered from the novel to make the effects simpler to execute, it's still an entertaining film. After the break, there was a question and answer session with Baku-sensei. It seems he doesn't fully grasp the implications of spoilers in the age of the information super-highway, because he answered one question about a series he'd been working on for 20 years by telling how the whole series would ultimately end, with a storyline he's had in mind for 10 years now. At this point, Kikuchi-sensei got rather pale and asked him if he really wanted to give that away. Baku-sensei figured since there were only about a hundred people there it would be okay to let the cat out of the bag, but Kikuchi-sensei told him that if one person put it up on the Internet, it'd be all over the country the next day. In the end, we were asked not to reveal what we'd been told, and if the story did get out, Baku-sensei said he'd just come up with something else. Now, if we could just get the conclusion to the Vampire Hunter D series.... There were so many questions that some films, like "Children of the Damned," had to be cut from the program and saved for a later date. We did watch some vintage professional wrestling footage from Baku-sensei's own collection, as well as tapes of actual Aikido and Judo techniques. And there was another unannounced guest--a pin-up idol named Maria Yumeno. Ms. Yumeno was there to plug a horror-related photo spread she'd done for a forthcoming anthology being put together by Masahiko Inoue, another talk live regular. All her talk about her dreams/nightmares about being murdered in various manners, and her habit of occasionally staging mock suicides that sounded vaguely reminiscent of the film "Harold and Maude" made a few people wonder if she didn't perhaps have "issues." Moving right along, the only movie we still had time for was the Japanese product "Chikyuu Boueigun" or basically "Earth Self-Defense Force." I'm sure this turkey was probably unleashed on the Western world years ago under some other name, but it's not even worth my time to try and find out what title they used. Suffice to say, any movie where the country is menaced by a cyborg mole who's way too big through the hips and the military has some 80-year-old scientist pulling the trigger on their hi-tech weaponry instead of someone qualified like a fighter pilot is probably better left unseen. This was a Japanese rip-off of "War of the Worlds" just begging for the old Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment, and the effects were so cheesy I thought it would be days before I could have a bowel movement again. Okay, after a build-up like that now I know you really want to know the name--it's known as "The Mysterian" in English, but you didn't hear it here. Finally, I did manage to get some news on the Vampire Hunter D front. I had heard from another fan that there was supposed to be another VHD novel out in July, but I wanted to hear it from the cyborg horse's mouth, as it were. Over coffee, Kikuchi-sensei confirmed that was when the new one would be out (at least in theory, my experience tells me). Next, I just had to know if this was going to continue the recent string of single-volume tales, or if it would be the start of a new multi-volume epic. When I learned that it should be complete in one book, I thanked him from the bottom of my translating heart--though it will be years before I even have to worry about that story.
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