Hirai Kazumasa

Tagged: Author

(1938-2015) Japanese author, an early adopter in many forms of new media, remembered largely for two large, pulpy serials that came to dominate his output, as well as pioneering scripts in early Anime Television. Both through his own work and his Tie contracts, he may be seen as instrumental in the construction of the Japanese variation on Superheroes, formerly an American genre, now somewhat internationalized. For the generation that grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, he was often a conduit carrying certain modes of American fiction into the Japanese language, although of his works for adults, only the short story "Kakumei no Toki" (January 1963 SF Magazine trans David Aylward as "A Time for Revolution" in Speculative Japan: Outstanding Tales of Science Fiction and Fantasy 2007 anth) is available in English.

After several unpublished stories, written during his study at the Law Department at Chūō University, Hirai's debut "Leonora" (June 1962 SF Magazine) migrated to Hayakawa's professional publication after first appearing in Takumi Shibano's fanzine Uchūjin. As one of only a handful of local authors among the foreign reprints in early SF Magazine issues, he was soon approached by Anime producers in search of scenarios. He is credited alongside Manga artist Jirō Kuwata as the co-creator of 8-Man (graph 1963-1968 Shōnen Magazine), although circumstantial evidence suggests the intellectual property was owned by the television company that made the same year's anime show, 8-Man (1963 vt Eighth Man vt Tobor the Eighth Man 1965 US). The story of a murdered detective who becomes the eighth experimental (and first successful) Cyborg vigilante in a Scientist's illegal research, it predated similar tales by Shōtarō Ishinomori, and may have been a distant inspiration for RoboCop (1987). Notoriously, the crime-fighting 8-Man would recharge his batteries by smoking cigarettes laced with radioactive isotopes, an unlikely precedent in Children's SF.

Largely eclipsed by Hirai's later, bloated serials are early novels heavily inspired by hard-boiled fiction, establishing many early tropes in Japan about Robots. Paramount among these are Android Oyuki (February 1967 SF Magazine fixup 1969), whose title character is a Sex Android in a world where robots are often indistinguishable from humans, and Cyborg Blues (October 1968 SF Magazine fixup 1971), an adult retread of 8-Man, in which a black police officer – a conspicuous casting decision in Japanese fiction (see Race in SF) – gives his life to save his partner from a sniper, and is resurrected in cyborg form. Several of these non-series novels take place in milieux similar enough to qualify as a series in all but name. During this period, Hirai also became the second author on the relatively short-lived manga incarnation of Spider-Man (graph 1970-1971 Shōnen Magazine vt Spider-Man the Manga 1997 US), illustrated by Ryōichi Ikegami, and substantially more gruesome in tone than the American original (see Spider-Man).

Hirai reworked his ongoing concerns with vigilantes and crime-fighting into his Adult Wolf Guy series, in which a lycanthropic teenager comes to the rescue of his teacher (see Werewolves), and subsequently recounts details of his life in a Wainscot Society of duelling Pariah Elites. In a bifurcation relatively common in Japanese publishing (see, for example, Ranpo Edogawa), the stories are available in both adult and juvenile variants, only one of which, Ōkami no Monshō; (1971 trans Edward Lipsett as Wolfcrest 1985) is available in English. Parts of the series were also adapted into manga form, arguably achieving a longer and more enduring heritage as comics than as books.

The same period saw Hirai's script for the Manga Genma Taisen ["Great War with the Genma"] (graph October 1971 SF Magazine), drawn by "Izumi Asuka" (later revealed as a pen-name for Shōtarō Ishinomori). The titular Genma race is a demonic personification of Entropy, devouring worlds since the dawn of time, and occasionally thwarted by a group of telepathic Secret Masters. Hirai would later revisit the same material in text-only form as several rewrites and reboots, including "New" and "True" iterations, relating to several loops of a Changewar in which a future victory by the Genma is challenged by opponents who Time Travel to samurai-era Japan in order to enact alternative strategies. Hirai's interest in such material gained particular momentum after his encounter with the God Light Association (GLA), a charismatic Buddhist sect whose philosophies he soon embraced and incorporated into later works (see Religion). He was also a famous advocate of word-processing, claiming that his 1980s leap in output owed much to the streamlining of the publishing production pipeline afforded by new technology. In later life, he was an enthusiastic evangelist for ebooks, with his Bohemian Glass Street (1995) one of the first Japanese novels to be made available in digital form.

Although Hirai remains obscure in the Anglophone world, known chiefly through little more than a few scattered Manga translations and the Anime release of Genma Taisen (1983 vt Harmagedon) and its TV sequel Genma Wars (2002), his troubled, persecuted heroes and galaxy-spanning conspiracies have been demonstrably influential on the next generation of Japanese writers. His spiritual successor is arguably Ryūhō Ōkawa, the leader of the Happy Science religious sect and former publisher of several GLA-influenced tracts, much of whose work takes the form of an earnest and apparently credulous pastiche of Hirai's psychic eschatologies. [JonC]

Kazumasa Hirai

born Yokosuka, Japan: 13 May 1938

died Kamakura, Japan: 17 January 2015

works (selected)

series

Adult Wolf Guy

  • Ōkami Otoko da yo! ["He's a Wolf Guy!"] (Tokyo: Rippu Shobō, 1969) [Adult Wolf Guy: binding unknown/]
  • Ōkami yo Kokyō o Mi yo! ["Wolf Guy, Gaze Upon Your Homeland"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1973) [Adult Wolf Guy: binding unknown/]
  • Rio no Ōkami Otoko ["Rio's Wolf Guy"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1973) [Adult Wolf Guy: binding unknown/]
  • Jinrō Jigoku ["Wolf Guy Hell"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1974) [Adult Wolf Guy: binding unknown/]
  • Jinrō Sensen ["Wolf Battle Line"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1974) [Adult Wolf Guy: binding unknown/]
  • Ōkami wa Nakazu ["Wolf Guy Sheds No Tears"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1974) [Adult Wolf Guy: binding unknown/]
  • Ōkami Hakusho ["Wolf Guy Report"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1974) [Adult Wolf Guy: binding unknown/]
  • Ōkami Tenshi ["Wolf Guy Angel"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1978-1980) [published in three volumes: Adult Wolf Guy: binding unknown/]
  • Wakaki Ōkami no Shōzō ["Portrait of a Young Wolf Guy"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1973) [Adult Wolf Guy: binding unknown/]

Wolf Guy

  • Ōkami no Monshō (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1971) [Wolf Guy: binding unknown/]
    • Wolfcrest (Tokyo: Kōdansha English Library, 1985) [published in two volumes: Japan-only trans of the above by Edward Lipsett: Wolf Guy: pb/]
  • Ōkami no Enka ["Wolf Elegy"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1972) [Wolf Guy: binding unknown/]
  • Ōkami no Requiem ["Wolf Requiem"] (Tokyo: Shōdensha, 1975) [Wolf Guy: binding unknown/]
  • Ogon no Shōjo ["The Golden Girl"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 1985) [published in five volumes: Wolf Guy: binding unknown/]
  • Inugami Akira ["Akira Inugami"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 1994) [published in ten volumes: Wolf Guy: binding unknown/]

Zombie Hunter

  • Zombie Hunter (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1973) [Zombie Hunter: binding unknown/]
  • Zombie Hunter 2 (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1976) [Zombie Hunter: binding unknown/]
  • Zombie Hunter 3 (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1978) [Zombie Hunter: binding unknown/]

Genma Taisen

  • Shin Genma Taisen ["The New War Against Genma"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 1978) [Genma Taisen: binding unknown/]
  • Genma Taisen ["The War Against Genma"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 1979) [Genma Taisen: binding unknown/]
  • Shin Genma Taisen ["The True War Against Genma"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 1980) [sic – "Shin" uses a different character in Japanese from the 1978 volume: published in 15 volumes: Genma Taisen: binding unknown/]
  • Harmagedon (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 1987) [Genma Taisen: binding unknown/]
  • Harmagedon no Shōjo ["The Girl in Harmagedon"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 1978) [unproduced screenplay: Genma Taisen: binding unknown/]
  • Genma Taisen deep (Tokyo: eBunko, 2005) [ebook: Genma Taisen: binding unknown/]
  • Genma Taisen deep Toltec (Tokyo: eBunko, 2008) [ebook: Genma Taisen: binding unknown/]

Chikyūju no Megami

  • Chikyūju no Megami ["Goddess of the World Tree"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1983) [published in six volumes: Chikyūju no Megami: binding unknown/]
  • Crystal Child (Tokyo: Ascii, 1997) [ebook: Chikyūju no Megami: na/]
  • Sono Hi no Gogo, Hōdaiyama de ["On That Afternoon, On Gun Platform Mountain"] (Tokyo: Ascii, 2004) [ebook: Chikyūju no Megami: na/]

Abduction

  • Jikū Bōsō Kimagure Bus ["Accidental Runaway Time Bus"] (Tokyo: Shueisha, 2001) [Abduction: binding unknown/]
    • Wayward Bus (Tokyo: eBunko, 2003) [ebook: exp vt of above: Abduction: na/]
  • Stray Sheep (Tokyo: eBunko, 2003) [ebook: Abduction: na/]
  • Abduction (Tokyo: eBunko, 2003) [ebook: Abduction: na/]
  • Silence (Tokyo: eBunko, 2003) [ebook: Abduction: na/]
  • Shade (Tokyo: eBunko, 2003) [ebook: Abduction: na/]
  • Capricious (Tokyo: eBunko, 2003) [ebook: Abduction: na/]

individual titles

  • Megalopolis no Tora ["Tiger of the Megalopolis"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1968) [binding unknown/]
  • Android Oyuki (Tokyo: Rippu Shobō, 1969) [binding unknown/]
  • Cyborg Blues (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1971) [binding unknown/]
  • Chōkakumeiteki Shūgakusei Shūdan ["Super-Revolutionary Middle School Gang"] (Tokyo: Asahi Sonorama, 1971) [binding unknown/]
  • Akurei no Jo-Ō ["Queen of Evil Spirits"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 1976) [binding unknown/]
  • Bohemian Glass Street (Tokyo: Aspect, 1995) [published in nine volumes: binding unknown/]

collections

  • Tora wa Mezameru ["The Tiger Awakes"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1967) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Bijo no Aoi Kage ["The Pretty Woman's Blue Shadow"] (Tokyo: Mainichi no Shinbunsha, 1970) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Esper Oran (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1970) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Akumu no Katachi ["The Form of a Nightmare"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1973) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Akutoku Gakuen ["Vice Academy"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1974) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Tora wa Kurayami yori ["Tiger From the Dark Shadows"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1974) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Majo no Hyōteki ["Witch Target"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1974) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Kaibutsu wa Dare da ["Who is the Monster?"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1975) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Tora wa Nemurunu ["The Tiger Does Not Sleep"] (Tokyo: Wolf-kai, 1976) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Gekkō Gakuen ["Moonlight Academy"] (Tokyo: Geijutsu-sha, 1994) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Strange Rendezvous (Tokyo: Shūeisha, 2001) [coll: binding unknown/]

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