Animerica: Unlike your previous works such as
Yoroiden Samurai Troopers
(Ronin Warriors) and
Gundam Wing, Vampire Hunter
(Darkstalkers) is based
on a video game. How is it working with an established game
Ikeda: Well, it's tough, to summarize it in one word.
I'm sure most other people had the same problem when they
had the task of animating a story based on a video game. But
especially for a fighting game, every single one of the
characters is the main character. That's because each player
of the video game would have vested sympathies with the
character he uses. So the maker of the video game gives all
characters enough back stories so they could all potentially
be the protagonist. But when you animate that, you can't
just make everyone the protagonist. So rectifying that
discrepancy, for this project, it's a four-volume video.
Deciding on the protagonist and still coming up with a work
of entertainment that doesn't just borrow the title from the
video game&emdash;these are the inspirations for the story
ideas. There are so many ideas to choose from, which is both
good and bad.
Animerica: So how are you handling it?
Ikeda: Well, my first impression was that it'd be a
challenge, but worthwhile because of that. It's a fighting
game, so each character would have different poses for his
weak, middle, and strong punches, which might all be named,
and I hoped all those enjoyable details could be put forth
on screen. I wanted to fully grasp the video game's world
view and be able to translate that to animation.
Hunter, there's Donovan,
who evolved from being a vampire into a "Vampire Hunter,"
and the sisters Lin Lin and Lei Lei. I figured these two
parties would be propagating the plot, so I made these two
sets the protagonists. Then when you look across to the
Demon World, there's Morrigan, who'd been a popular
character since the original Vampire game,
and the Demon World exile, Dimitri. So there's a fight
between those two. And then, there's the extraterrestrial
lifeform Pyron, whose involvement makes you wonder if the
story can actually wrap up. Those three plots will
intertwine throughout the four volumes, and each will
conflict will have its victor and its defeated, a reason for
fighting, and what happens after their fight.
I previously mentioned that in the video game, all the
characters have back stories. They aren't meant to fit into
one coherent story, but are there as parallel developments
to each other. If you wanted to put them all together, there
are probably only a few ways to do that, and the process of
finding a solution to that&emdash;as I'll show in the video
series&emdash;was my work. I found this the only way to do
it, as I sorted out the material.
Animerica: Are you going to present on screen the origin
stories of each of the characters?
Ikeda: Well, this is Vampire Hunter, from the second video game, so Lin Lin and
Lei Lei and Donovan aren't the narrators, but since they're
almost always on screen, theirs calls for an explanation. So
I have the origin stories for them.
Animerica: How are you accommodating the viewers who
don't play Vampire Hunter
or who are watching the
video because they are fans of Shuko Murase's work?
I am a director after all, so
I haven't forgotten to make a work of entertainment.
Hunter already has a
video game market, and its characters already have an
established base of fans. So when this is translated into
animation, I hope it's something that fans of the characters
from the video game, as well as those who see them for the
first time in animation, can find appealing (although I do
think most people are familiar with these characters by
now). I asked Murase to refine the appeal of these
characters and their movements into animation, and it'll be
my job to support him by giving them interesting situations
to fight in and juicy dialogue to exchange. That's how I'm
working on it. So, it should also be an enjoyable video to
watch just as a piece of animation, but if you want to enjoy
a deeper understanding of the characters, you can find rich
back stories in the various publications about the game.
Animerica: What is the "Demon World" where the
Darkstalkers live, and what is it like?
The Vampire Hunter video's version of the Demon World is a
straight copy out of the video game version created by the
game designers at Capcom, so if you have their layout map
drawing of the Demon World, that's exactly it. In fact, I
use Gamest's Vampire
Hunter book almost like a
textbook. It mentions the balance of the three great rulers
there breaking and the great Demon doings and whatnot.
Animerica: Who is your favorite character in
Ikeda: In sorting out the characters to make this
animated series, I found this character who's lost all her
emotions&emdash;she doesn't fight but is with the fighting
DonovanÉI've given thought to Anita, not necessarily as a
favorite, but as the character who is a challenge to give
good presence. Since she's without emotions, what lines
should I give her? Since she's without emotions, how should
she get involved in any drama? So when I thought about who
she must be, I was really intrigued.
Animerica: Who is the easiest character to animate?
Ikeda: Easiest to animate! There are plenty of
difficult ones, but easy onesÉ! Lin Lin and Lei Lei and
Donovan are closest to human society, and you can envision
their daily lives. You can apply regular animation portrayal
techniques there. Everyone else is beyond normality, and
their lives are in fighting. You could say it's tougher to
animate these other characters, in that when they have any
action, they're always fighting.