Darkstalkers OVA – 1997 Director Interview

Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge OVA - 1997 Director Interview

This short interview with Masashi Ikeda, director of the Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge OVA, offers a few brief remarks about working with Capcom and some general notes on how the project began; the main draw, however, is the concept art and Ikeda's comments on each character's design.

Masashi Ikeda - Director. Graduate of Tokyo Zoukei Daigaku. Was introduced to Animaruya by his professor, and worked there as a storyboarder. His first storyboard work was for Doraemon, and his directorial debut was Kikoukai Garian. He is known for Gundam W and the Midoriyama Koukou Koushien OVA.

—To start off, tell us how you got the job of director for Vampire Hunter: The Animated Series. 1

Ikeda: Shuko Murase, who had worked on Street Fighter II: The Movie, got assigned to Darkstalkers before me, as character designer. When the question of director came up, I think Murase said hey, I worked with Ikeda on Gundam W, and he's just putzing around right now, so let's use him. (laughs) Murase pushed for me personally it seems.

—Is it hard to translate a video game into anime form?

Ikeda: With a fighting game, as you know, every character is a hero, and they're all "main characters" in their own right. But in fighting there must be winners and losers, and that aspect was a bit tough. However, for this production, we focused less on the story and more on the intertwining relationships of the characters and their fights. Murase and I discussed this at the start of the project, but compared with Street Fighter, we guessed that Darkstalkers would probably be far easier.

Masashi Ikeda (1997)

In anime, when a character takes a hit, rather than try and portray that realistically with broken bones and so forth, animation is more suited to exaggerated, flashy fight scenes. In that sense, we figured Darkstalkers would be a better match for the inherent dynamism of animation.

—What was it like working with Capcom?

Ikeda: I learned a lot from them. I'd previously had the chance to talk with Capcom staff before, and in those conversations I got a strong sense of the passion they felt for their characters. About Ryu, they said "This is a new kind of character unlike any that's ever come before", and I was taken aback at how strongly they felt about him. That sense of attachment, of passion, reworking and refining the character, that's something the anime industry would do well to imitate, I think. Of course, I personally preach this to the people I work with.

—What did you think of Murase's characters?

Ikeda: When Murase finished the characters, they were oozing with personality and presence. My work now is to find the best way to bring them to life, and make the most of those designs.

Also, I think Murase is especially gifted at picking up on the little quirks and details of the original artist's designs. He doesn't just do cheap knock-offs: he studies and recreates details like the way a chin is drawn, or the victory pose. In Street Fighter II, as well, the original character art had such personality and character, that it was extremely easy work, and that's why Murase accepted it. I think for Darkstalkers again, our work is going to reflect Capcom's original vision.

—Please give a final word to Capcom fans.

Ikeda: We're currently working on the story for the 4th episode, and Pyron, especially, is proving hard to handle, but rest assured, we're all working hard to convey the same tension in the game on the TV screen. Be sure to check it out!

Donovan - "At first I was surprised when I heard the villainous-sounding voice the voice actor used. But then I thought, ok, this could work too, and it went pretty smoothly after that. Donovan is a very easy character to relate to emotionally." (Ikeda)
Anita - "When I heard that she had no emotions, I felt this was a new and interesting kind of character. Capcom asked us to make her speech more curt and blunt, and that point of advice was a huge help." (Ikeda)
Morrigan - "She's a very important character, so Capcom sent us a lot of reference materials for her. Murase poured 100% of his powers into bringing her to life for this anime. Felicia too." (Ikeda)
Demitri - "He's interesting in that his destructive personality coexists with his noble nature. It's destructive, but not in a coarse or degenerate way. His heroic side comes from his noble nature, I believe." (Ikeda)
Felicia - "I was told she's a very strong character in the game, but she looks cute, so we drew her a little weaker-looking for the anime. Apologies to all the Felicia fans out there!" (Ikeda)
Zabel - "Zabel has the sad quality of one who has been betrayed, combined with a vitality and destructiveness that rejects that pity. We tried to draw him in such a way that would suggestively evoke his backstory." (Ikeda)
Gallon - "We're taking care to make sure he has the vigorous, energetic feel of a werewolf. His poofy tail that's always moving is another key point, but we have to keep in mind the limited animation budget too…" (Ikeda)
Aulbath - "He looks like a handsome guy, but the way he fights doesn't reflect that. But, when I thought about it realistically, giving him moves and scenes that still felt cool, might seem fresh in its own way." (Ikeda)
Anakaris - "He was a very difficult character to hande. At the same time, Anakaris and Phobos are two characters we're very excited to try animating. There's something fun about making gigantic characters move in an agile, nimble way, so we're looking forward to it." (Ikeda)
Victor - "One idea for his animation was to exaggerate the size of his hands and feet, but the game sort of beat us to the punch with that. We don't mind replicating that, of course, but we're currently searching for something else to add to his design." (Ikeda)
Lei Lei - "We were able to give Lei Lei a bit of that spunky youthfulness she has, but characters like that aren't really my strength, so I may have overcompensated by putting her hard-edged Hunter persona too front-and-center." (Ikeda)
Lin Lin - "Lin Lin is basically the same as Lei Lei, but being the older sister she's more staid. In the game she's a minor character, but in the OVA she's equally as important as her sister." (Ikeda)
Bishamon - "Bishamon has the emotions of two entities in one person: the Cursed Hanyu Mask and the actual person underneath. It makes him a memorable character. His character comes from the Samurai emotions that remain within." (Ikeda)
Pyron - "His world is the most different in Vampire Hunter, so creating a world that nonetheless feels definitively like Vampire Hunter is a big challenge. When he appears in the anime it also needs to capture that "this is the last boss!!" feeling." (Ikeda)
Phobos - "At first Capcom told us his body was made of "liquid metal", and we were thinking of all these cool scenes and animation patterns we could do with that. However, as amazing as that idea would have been, it would also have been extremely difficult to work with, so we settled on simpler transformations for him." (Ikeda)

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  1. Confusingly, this refers to the Night Warriors OVA in Japanese, while "Darkstalkers: The Animated Series" refers to the separate TV production.

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