In case nobody has ever noticed, “D”, from the fantasy sci-fi novels and animated films, “Vampire Hunter D” is one of the most interesting dark heroes ever, and is remarkably akin to the ideal martial artist.
The original Vampire Hunter D animated film from 1985 was one of the first anime films I was exposed to and responsible for a lot of my interest in Japan. Recently I was able to rediscover my love of the series in an exhibition of the works from Yoshitaka Amano, who was the illustrator for the original novel series of Vampire Hunter D released in 1983 as well as a lot of art for the Final Fantasy game series, which he is probably a lot more famous for. The exhibition took place in Fukuoka, and I think has already moved on to another location. For those of you in Japan who are a fan of Vampire Hunter D or Final Fantasy, I urge you to find out when this exhibition is coming to a place near you, cause it was really cool and admission is free. (And you get a free poster.)
Of the pictures on display, this one featured above is the one that caught my attention the most. It was so dark, and quiet. I saw it as I walked along looking at the art on the walls, and as I passed it I did a double take. After I moved on, I kept looking over my shoulder at it. One of the people who was working at the exhibition asked if there was any particular work that we liked, I said that one, so she took it off the wall and showed it to us up close under special lights to get a better look. To be honest, the person was overly persistent following us almost the entire way through the exhibit, (be prepared for the same treatment if you go to one of these exhibitions) because I think they make a commission from selling off the work, but in the end I’m really glad I got to get a better look up-close. As a matter of fact, there were two of the same paintings, one large and one small, both of which we were able to look at up-close. The bigger one is the one that caught my eye, as it was bigger, I suppose. It looked really cool up close, but the artist, Mr. Amano, made use of a lot of cool artistic tricks in the smaller one like using a special black paint that is super rare and expensive and comes from poison oak (I think), which brought out the white, which was also made from something really special and expensive (if I remember right), as well as the sword which was made from parts of small sea shells (I think). When put under the special lights they had moving slowly over the picture, it made it look like moonlight was shining across the picture. The bigger one without all the fancy tricks, looked like mist was flowing over the picture.
Not only was it amazingly cool and evil, but I was awed by the amount of work that went into these quality works of art. Those who see the art likely don’t realize the amount of skill, time, and effort that was put into it, and yet the artist still strives to create the best work that they can. I can’t help but think about the effort we make in kyudo, and especially for those who make the gear like bows and arrows. It makes sense why bamboo bows and arrows are so important, but more expensive and troublesome than their carbon counterparts, because each of the bamboo tools is a work of art made with the sweat and effort of the creator.
And then there’s the character of “D”, portrayed in the picture. I can’t get the expression on D’s face in the picture out of my head.
It is the epitome of “heijoushin”, which could be roughly translated as the “normal mind” or “calm spirit.” This is the most badass dude in all of fantasy who fights demons and vampires with a giant sword, and yet he retains the most calmest of expressions on his face. And his eyes … half-open, quiet, but so alive. His eyes alone communicate everything about him, his strength and his calm. Unmoving, but flowing. Immoveable.
I go to the dojo with the image of D, and borrow the inspiration he gives me. What inspires your imagination and training? Find it. Use it. Create something new. What is there to be afraid of?
And go see this cool art exhibition.