Hideyuki Kikuchi B-day Party Dinner

What better way to end the 2008 New York Anime Festival than with the Hideyuki Kikuchi Birthday Party Dinner, which brings together 10 die-hard Vampire Hunter D fans to celebrate Kikuchi's birthday.

After the con started to close up on Sunday, I headed over to Kinokunia Bookstore on 6th Ave. between 41st and 42nd street. I had some time to kill till the dinner and I figured why not, where would be the best place to go after an anime convention? I started to check out the import manga, managed to find the 7th volume of "Vampire Knight," and picked up the 6th domestic volume of "MPD Psycho." Within ten minutes or so, Kinokuniya became flooded with NYAF con-goers. Guess great minds think alike. Once I got my full, I started the muggy trail to the Jekyll and Hyde Club on 58th street. Peter Tatara and I approached the entrance almost simultaneously, then the fun began.

The Jekyll and Hyde Club is a horror-themed restaurant that was the perfect setting for the creator of the "Vampire Hunter D" series. Peter figured this decision would either be a big flop or a big hit, and fortunately it was that latter. The atmosphere was very interactive as waiters/actors were constantly in character. Mad scientists and talking masks made for a great show. Though I wish the setup was in the form of a big round table, rather than one long line of tables, I was able to chat a little with everyone, including two representatives from Dark Horse, Michael Gombos and Mark Bernardi. I was also able to chat with one of the writers behind Reverse Thieves , who was without his partner in crime. He was fun to talk to and one day I will make him play "Portal." There was one fan there that was dressed as D - she did an awesome job with her costume.

Unfortunately, Yoshitaka Amano was unable to join us for the dinner. I think he wasn't feeling well (I didn't get the whole story) and was going to try and make it a little later. In the end, though, Amano didn't show up, but Peter did promise everyone that they would get sketches from Amano due to his absence. Having dinner with a handful of fans, finally getting to meet Peter in person, and of course hanging out with Kevin Leahy and Hideyuki Kikuchi was an awesome experience. Lots of laughs, a firework sparkling cake, great company, and sketches of Kukuchi's own rendition of "Chibi D," made this a night to remember. The experience was worth every penny and definitely one for the books.

For more pics, check out NYAF's staff blog, Medium-At-Large.

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