[Note: This is a preliminary report by Kevin Leahy. More will be added.] I'm pretty much caught up on my sleep, so I thought I'd pass along what I heard at Friday's year-end event in Tokyo. The first four hours of the talk live were divided pretty evenly between discussion of the VHD manga and the English translation of the novels. Ms. Takaki was up first, answering Mr. K's question on all aspects of the project. Regarding the look of the book, which was somewhere between manga and American comics, the artist explained that the amount of action and dialog she had to cram in made it look more like an American comic rather than the slower, more cinematic look of many Japanese manga. But from the very beginning, she'd asked Digital Manga whether they wanted an American comic look or a manga style, and they definitely wanted the latter. As far as Doris's "proportions" went, Mr. Kikuchi remarked that there was a little more Doris than he remembered. Ms. Takaki explained that the book mentioned that Doris was a decent size, and her name suggested non-Japanese origin, so she ended up somewhat super-sized. Although looking back at the finished product, she conceded that Doris was indeed over-endowed for a seventeen-year-old. Ms. Takaki also wished that she had made Doris a little less average-looking and given her a more distinct look. Larmica, on the other hand, was her favorite to draw (aside from D, of course), because she could go totally wild with the hair and costumes. When asked how she came up with the look of the count, she explained that she'd had some trouble there. The traditional image of the vampire from cinema was what the VHD series used to describe the Sacred Ancestor, so she didn't want to infringe on that. But she was also trying to make him a little more "bishy" than the anime version. There was some discussion about the timeframe of this and future VHD manga projects. Apparently it took about a year and a half from the time the project was initially discussed until it was finally released in America. Ms. Takaki had never done a full-length manga before, and the book was only supposed to be released in America, so it came as some surprise when the project snowballed and they ended up releasing it in 8 languages--with Japanese being the last, and that only being decided about a month before its release. She said the first one took her about a year, with about a month of that used to plot the story out page by page and make it fit the target of around 224 pages. The second book took about nine months, and she's hoping to get the third down to six months to match Digital Manga's ideal schedule of two volumes a year. Actually, DM would probably like to get three a year out (as with the novels), but since she's flying solo on the project, that doesn't seem possible. Mr. Kikuchi apologized in advance for the 15-year commitment this might involve. As far as the actual artwork was concerned, I was surprised to learn that the whole process was done without using any paper. Although some artists sketch first, then scan the artwork for finishing on the computer, she did it all, start to finish, on the machine. Because the Japanese edition is somewhat smaller than the ones available overseas, she said it looked pretty cramped when she first saw it, and it may be something she'll have to keep in mind for future books. Now, Ms. Takaki and her husband have been Talk Live regulars for quite some time, and she's always been pretty peppy. But I think the pressure of deadlines has left her pretty weary. Mr. K asked her repeatedly if she was OK, and hopefully the upcoming New Year's holidays will give her a chance to catch her breath. As far as whether she has trouble fitting a whole novel into one volume of the manga, she definitely does--right now, she has about 25 pages to shave off the third book to bring it in around the magic 224. That would also suggest that multi-volume books (which would still be quite a way off at this pace) will remain as separate volumes.
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