Kevin Leahy currently resides in Japan. He is the kind person who
supplied a number of VHD novel reviews in the text archive of the
VHD Archives. He wrote the following report for Anime Hasshin,
a meatspace anime club (more likely he wrote it for the club's
paper newsletter, _The Rose_) but has kindly given me permission to
post it wherever relevant in cyberspace. A follow-up question of
mine and answer of his are interpolated where appropriate. NOTE:
Hideyuki Kikuchi is the author of the Vampire Hunter D series of
novels. The original VHD movie and forthcoming VHD movie are based
on the first and third novels of the series, respectively.


Several times a year Vampire Hunter D author Hideyuki Kikuchi holds
discussions or "talk live" sessions in a Japanese pub in the shadier
section of Shinjuku, and I had the sleep-depriving privilege of
attending the most recent one.  The topic was Hammer Horror Films,
the major inspiration for Vampire Hunter D and the rest of the Kikuchi
universe. Beginning at the auspicious hour of midnight, the event
finally wound up at 5:00 a.m. with the end of the question and answer
section.  The drinking house where the event was held, Loft/Plus One,
holds similar events almost every day.  The system is rather simple:
by way of a fee, the speaker or speakers receive a portion of the
revenue generated by selling food and drinks to their listeners.  And
though there's no admission charge per se, there's usually a table
charge of about $5.

The evening opened with Mr. Kikuchi showing a tape of the trailer for
the new Vampire Hunter D anime, the same English language version that
was available as streaming video on the Urban Vision website earlier
this year but has now been replaced with a slightly abridged Quicktime
version for download.  Suffice to say that the Japanese fans, many of
whom had not seen it in any form before, were very excited.  Mr.
Kikuchi also had the following info to add.  First, the sound is
currently being recorded in Los Angeles, and release in Japanese will
probably come in the Spring of next year.  Before that, it should see
release in the U.S.  The director initially suggested the Japanese
release be a Japanese subtitled version of the English language
version, but his idea was opposed by virtually the rest of the staff.
As for the Japanese talent that will supply the voices, no one has
been decided yet.  Fans both here and abroad would like to see
the original actors return, but Mr. Kikuchi could only say that he
hopes the fans will approve of whoever is chosen.


   about the VHD2 sound currently being recorded
   in Los Angeles ... does this mean the English-language dialogue?
   If that's the case, it sure sounds like a U.S. release before a
   Japanese release.

 His response:

   All I've heard is that they were doing the sound--I've heard in
   other places that recording technology was superior in the States,
   but I doubt that's the main reason.  The English language version
   will almost certainly be released first, as a good showing in the
   States (or really any showing) is great press here and will help
   to sell it to Japanese other than current VHD fans.  I think that
   sort of "snob appeal" is what the director was after when he wanted
   to release a Japanese subtitled version in Japan--to make it look
   completely like an import.


The main program concerned the history of Hammer Horror Films, which
have had such a great impact on Mr. Kikuchi and his work.  Especially
of interest was his recounting of how, as an elementary school
student, he'd first seen Christopher Lee as Dracula is a movie theater
next to a graveyard and had been suitable terrified to fashion a cross
out of a pair of disposable chopsticks and keep it by his pillow.  Not
surprisingly, his mother asked him what the heck he was doing.
Needless to say, this was the beginning of his love affair with horror
and Hammer, as evidenced by the dedication to Vampire Hunter D in '83:
"For Terence Fisher, Jimmy Sangster, Bernard Robinson, Christopher Lee,
Peter Cushing, and everyone who helped to make "Dracula, Prince of

After hours of clips and commentary, as well as some drinking, it was
finally time for questions from the audience of 60 or so diehard fans,
most in their twenties or thirties.  From this section we learned that
the third volume of the current Vampire Hunter D tale, "Dark Road",
should be out next month and will conclude that storyline.  When asked
whether the "Sacred Ancestor" (a.k.a. D's father) would be dealt with
in coming stories, Mr. Kikuchi stated that he is a theme central to
the story and would of course be playing a part in the future.  As to
the rumors that Amano will no longer be doing illustrations for
paperbacks, Mr. Kikuchi says that Amano is a very nice guy and his
publisher has assured him that in any event he would at least continue
to do the D books.  Given the serious money his Vampire Hunter D
lithographs fetch, that doesn't sound like a bad idea to me.

Of course, the question nearest my heart was whether, given the
popularity of the animated version of D, we'd be seeing an English
language version of the books.  When I put this question to him, the
answer was rather surprising.  First, he'd given one of his "Alien"
books to a translation company to do years ago, and the results had
been less than satisfying. After the foreign release of the first
movie, his publisher had received other inquiries about the chances
of the books appearing in English, but they put them in a desk drawer
for a few years before passing them along. Finally, there has been
some talk of releasing something to coincide with the release of the
new movie, but I'll believe that when I see it.  I told him that I'd
translated the first novel independently, and I'll continue to
work on him at similar events in the future.  Should everything else
fall through, I'd like him to know there's someone he can count on to
deliver the goods.

All in all, I found it quite enjoyable meeting people I'd only known
through bulletin board postings on the internet, as well as meeting
Mr. Kikuchi and getting him to sign a book for me.  He strikes me as
being very approachable, with a sense of humor about his work and
respect for the fans his numerous books have won him.  Although I
thought my all-nighter days were behind me with my graduation from
college, I'll try burning the midnight oil again in September when
Mr. Kikuchi will be speaking about the work of H.P. Lovecraft.

As an afterthought, Kevin added, regarding some kind of book
released to coincide with the new movie:

I'll believe it when I see it.  I have a hard time visualizing what it
would be--books 1-3? Books 1 and 3? Just 3? A prose adaptation of the
script for the anime? Anything but the first would be a disappointment
and a disservice to Mr. Kikuchi, as would be using someone who doesn't
know the difference between "danpeal" and "dhampir". As you can
imagine, my feelings on the subject are rather strong, and I'm not
about to give up easily.

Note: The spelling "danpeal" was used in the translation of "D --
Portrait of Ixobel," a VHD short story in _Kanoke_, a collection of
Yoshitaka Amano's VHD artwork. The book _Kanoke_ is apparently out of