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. ==================================================== HIDEYUKI KIKUCHI'S TALK LIVE 25 June 1999 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. INTERPOLATION: I asked Kevin 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. END INTERPOLATION 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 Darkness."" 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 print.