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Interview: Hideyuki Kikuchi, Yoshitaka Amano, and Kevin Leahy

Hideyuki Kikuchi, Yoshitaka Amano, and Kevin Leahy dish on their vampiric creation and his worldwide popularity.

Vampire Hunter D
Vampire Hunter D
At New York Anime Fest 2008, I had the opportunity to sit down with Vampire Hunter D author Hideyuki Kikuchi-- who I'd previously interviewed at Anime Expo --as well as D illustrator (and general illustration/character design god) Yoshitaka Amano and the English translator of the D novels, Kevin Leahy. Here's what went down:

Anime Vice: You two have worked together for a very long time. What was your relationship like when you first met, and what is it like now?

Yoshitaka Amano: I had been working as an illustrator when I first met Kikuchi-san and the job doing illustrations for Vampire Hunter D was my first illustration work. Out of all the jobs I was doing at the time, it's the only job I'm still doing now.

Hideyuki Kikuchi: The same is basically true for me. We both started working in novels and illustrations about the same time, so the work we first collaborated on was only my second as a writer. So it's been a long-standing relationship.

AV: This is for all three of you: do you have any favorite stories about working with each other?

(Laughter all around)

YA: Obviously I met Kikuchi-san when I did D, but shortly after that Kikuchi-san kept putting out books in the Alien series and A Wind Named Amnesia and he put a new book out every couple of months, and since I was new to the world of writing I figured that was just what everyone does, and then I figured out that no, it's only what Kikuchi-san does. No one else does that! So I figured that he had all these books just piled up in his head.

AV: Kevin, you've been the translator for the D novels since the beginning. How long does it take to translate one of Kikuchi-sensei's novels? Is it easier now that you've done so many? Do you do anything else, or does D take up all of your time?

Kevin Leahy: It has gotten easier, and I think the books have gotten easier to translate and there was obviously a learning curve. I started translating the books on my own before I knew Kikuchi-san. I put out the first two or three between 1994 and 1999 when I met him, and by then I had gotten so much practice translating that I was not satisfied with the translations I had for the first books so I re-did them from scratch. When we first started working with Dark Horse I had four months to do a book. Now I have three months to do a book because we're putting two-parters together, and three months works well. I can still goof off some days and get it in on time, so it has gotten easier and I've learned to pace it, how many pages I have to do a day and how long it's going to take. As far as other work goes, sometimes I get offers and the schedule is kind of tight, but if it was the right project I would definitely make time to do something else. I did do the Vampire Hunter D artbook with Mr. Amano too, so if it's Vampire Hunter D or vampires in general, I'm always game.

Mateki: The Magic Flute
Mateki: The Magic Flute
AV: Speaking of artbooks, it was recently announced that [Amano-sensei's] artbook Mateki The Magic Flute was going to be made into an anime. Can you talk more about the project?

YA: Eh? I didn't know that. That's news to me!


AV: That's interesting, because the website advertising the artbook's English version actually says Amano-sensei is going to direct the anime!

YA: The head of that publishing company was originally a producer anyways, which is probably why he wants to do the animation, he always thought it would make a good 3D animation project. In fact, the artwork was actually done as storyboards.

AV: Okay. Would you like to direct an anime of it, if it comes to fruition?

YA: It sounds like a lot of work...but I get the feeling that if I didn't do it, maybe it wouldn't turn out good, so I might have to.

AV: See, I love the Magic Flute, so I'd love that. Anyway, of all of your works, which are the ones you'd most like to see make it to the US that haven't yet?

HK: I would like to have the Alien series, the Treasure Hunter books, done...if I could update the gizmos that they're using, because I wrote it 20 years ago and the technology is dated. If I could update the technology I'd like to see that series done.

Treasure Hunter
Treasure Hunter
YA: I've been doing drawings of fairies and I'd like to do a film with fairies. Obviously live-action would probably be out of the question, but a 3D animation-- I'm a big fan of Dark Crystal. A world different from that, but with fairies, that's something I'd like to see.

AV: When you're not working on D or other items, what kinds of things do you like to do? Hobbies, books you're reading, that kind of thing?

HK: When I'm not writing, I'm watching horror and sci-fi DVDs and sleeping.

YA: I watch TV or eat. I watch comedies. Something I don't have to think about a lot.

AV: I've heard that Amano-sensei's first project was on Speed Racer. I couldn't find out what he actually did, though, so I was wondering what it was, and if he saw the recent live-action film and what he thought of it?

YA: I was drawing the basic movements, like walking, turning, and so on. It was kind of like an apprenticeship, it was a learning exercise, how to draw these movements and hands and things like that. I haven't seen the whole movie, but I have seen the commercials. When we were doing the show, we used to watch rushes to check the animation before the show aired...seeing the car jumping in the previews, it looks just like it did in the animation. So I think technology has evolved and advanced, but imagination hasn't advanced!

AV: Would you be interested in seeing a Hollywood, live-action D movie?

Both: Yes!

HK: I'd want to see it but I'm pretty critical.


AV: Any actors you'd like to see as D characters?

HK: I can't think of any actors. For D they could use a live body but they'd have to use a CG head for him.

AV: It's well-known that there were aspects of the original D movie that Amano-sensei didn't like, so he worked on Bloodlust so that it would be closer to his vision. Kikuchi-sensei has mentioned that Demon Journey to the Sea is the D film most likely to get made next...would Amano-sensei want to be involved in it, too?

YA: If they told me to do it I'd do it.

AV: Last question-- have you gotten the chance to enjoy the con, or sight-see around New York?

HK: I got a bit of a cold after I got here, so I haven't gotten to walk around much outside. We did get lost in the rain. But I've been checking out the convention.

YA: I've been walking around and checking it out, but when I'm done here I'm going to go outside and go nuts.


AV: Anything in particular you're going to do?

YA: I'm going to eat pasta at a restaurant called Angelo. It's really good.

HK: Tonight we're going to a jazz bar.
maxwellon Dec. 1, 2008 at 12:28 p.m.
nice interview!
k1ll5e3kon Dec. 5, 2008 at 2:54 a.m.
great interview
MitchyDon Dec. 5, 2008 at 7:57 a.m.
You know, D was something that I never did see. It's STILL in my backlog. Time to nab the DVD, I think.
zhalfimon Dec. 5, 2008 at 2:12 p.m.
awesome interview!  I have the entire D series and pretty much everything Amano puts out, so it was nice to read this and learn a bit more about him...
zhinseon Dec. 6, 2008 at 1:55 p.m.
Great interview. Amano is one of my favorite illustrators. 
shorapon Dec. 15, 2008 at 6:19 p.m.
Damn I hope they make another D anime.

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