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Kanbayashi Chōhei

Entry updated 6 February 2023. Tagged: Author.

Writing name of Japanese author Kiyoshi Takayanagi (1953-    ), occasionally romanized as Chōhei Kambayashi, whose tone swings largely between Cyberpunk of conflicts with machines, and Satire involving cats. He has won the prestigious Seiun Award on multiple occasions, for works in both modes.

Ever since his competition-winning debut short "Kitsune to Odore" ["Dance With a Fox"] (September 1979 S-F Magazine), Kanbayashi's stories have appeared almost exclusively in Hayakawa's S-F Magazine as both shorts and serialized novels, making his name a constant and enduring presence in Japanese sf's journal of record over the last thirty years. Teki wa Kaizoku ["The Enemy is the Pirate"] is his most garlanded creation, in which a reluctant human hero is forced to cooperate with a wisecracking Cat (see Uplift) in an ongoing effort to keep the solar system free of pirates.

Kanbayashi's longer-term reputation is sure to rest on his Yukikaze series of Military SF, beginning with "Yōsei ga Mau" ["The Sylph Dances"] (November 1979 S-F Magazine). In it, Earth is invaded by Aliens who have opened a gateway in Hyperspace that has its egress at the Earth's pole. The titular anti-hero is not a person, but a plane: an artificial intelligence (see AI) conflicted not only by its heuristic superiority to its human pilot, but also by the discovery that it is fighting a race of similar machines, that regards biological life as a parasite (see Berserkers). The series arrived in English translation a generation after its original appearance in Japanese, somewhat diluting its innovation and impact.

Kanbayashi's other major series, unknown in English, is Kasei sanbusaku ["Mars Trilogy"], set in a Keep below the surface of Mars, to which humanity has been obliged to retreat after a nuclear Holocaust. The surface is ceded to Androids, and the status quo is enforced by a Religion that threatens the divine punishment of "the God Endsville" if anyone dares to question it (see Arrested Development). A similarly strong sense of social commentary can also be discerned in many of Kanbayashi's narratives, particularly in the Absurdist SF of Shinsetsu ga Ippai ["Full of Kindnesses"] (1990), set in a Japan so riddled with bureaucracy that even thieves and gangsters must obtain a licence, and Lunatican (1988), which chronicles the aghast reaction of earthbound critics to a couple on the Moon who decide to raise an Android child. His social satire reached its peak with Prism (1985), also a Seiun Award winner, set in a Utopia where all human needs are met, although inhabitants are forbidden from questioning why.

Yukikaze and Teki wa Kaizoku function as symbolic poles of Kanbayashi's thematic concerns, such that many of his other works often seem like distaff instalments of his two most famous serials. Kikaitachi no Jikan ["Time of the Machines"] (1987) is a Changewar thriller in which a soldier from the future is transported by Time Travel to the author's native Niigata, Japan, in 1976, there to await orders for his mission. Knowing that humanity will be wiped out in a future war with the Magzak machine intelligence, his foreknowledge and desperation is redolent of that of many sf heroes, but seems chiefly inspired by that of the protagonist of The Terminator (1984). Shi shite Saku Hana, Mi no Aru Yume ["The Blossoming Flower Dies, Reality in a Dream"] (1992) is a comedy in which the Japanese army is mobilized to track down the prime minister's missing cat, which is the unwitting bearer of a doomsday device.

Two of Kanbayashi's works have been adapted into Anime form. Teki wa Kaizoku: Nekotachi no Kyōen ["Enemy is the Pirate: A Banquet of Cats"] (1989 Japan vt Galactic Pirates, 1996 UK), sank without a trace, despite featuring a theme song by "Air Pavilion", a super-group assembled from members of Whitesnake, Iron Maiden and Motorhead (see SF Music). More crucially in the history of anime on Television, it was one of the first serials to be made for video but also broadcast on satellite television as an attempt to swiftly monetize. During the 1990s, such shows would become commonplace, creating a bizarre fusion of straight-to-video schlock, but bearing the official designation of a "television series". A five-part anime series, Yukikaze (2002-2005; original title Sentō Yōsei Yukikaze; vt Battle Fairy Yukikaze) was released to coincide with a revised edition of the original book, and it is in this format that most Anglophone audiences are most likely to have encountered both Yukikaze and its author. [JonC]

Kiyoshi Takayanagi

born Niigata, Japan: 10 July 1953



Kasei sanbusaku ["Mars Trilogy"]

  • Anata no Tamashii ni Yasuragi are ["May Peace Be On Your Soul"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1983) [Kasei sanbusaku: binding unknown/]
  • Teiō no Kara ["The Emperor's Shell"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1990) [Kasei sanbusaku: binding unknown/]
  • Hadae no Shita ["Under the Skin"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 2004) [Kasei sanbusaku: binding unknown/]

Teki wa Kaizoku


  • Sentō Yōsei Yukikaze ["Battle Sylph Yukikaze"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1984) [Yukikaze: binding unknown/]
    • Sentō Yōsei Yukikaze <kai> ["Battle Sylph Yukikaze <break>"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 2002) [rev of the above: Yukikaze: binding unknown/]
      • Yukikaze (San Francisco, California: Viz Media, 2010) [trans of the above by Neil Nadelman: Yukikaze: pb/]
  • Good Luck Sentō Yōsei Yukikaze (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1999) [Yukikaze: binding unknown/]
    • Good Luck Yukikaze (San Francisco, California: Viz Media, 2011) [trans of the above by Neil Nadelman: Yukikaze: pb/]
  • Unbroken Arrow (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 2009) [Yukikaze: binding unknown/]

individual titles (selected)


  • Kitsune to Odore ["Dance with a Fox"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1981) [coll: binding unknown/]
    • Kitsune to Odore ["Dance with a Fox"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 2010) [coll: rev of the above: binding unknown/]
  • Kotoba Tsukaishi ["Wordmaster"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1983) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Prism (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1985) [coll of linked stories: binding unknown/]
  • Jikan Shoku ["Time Eclipse"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1987) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Kikaitachi no Jikan ["Time of the Machines"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1987) [coll of linked stories: binding unknown/]
  • Koyubi no saki no Tenshi ["Angel on my Little Fingertip"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 2003) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Bakugekiki no Tobu Sora ["The Crop Duster Takes Flight"] (Tokyo: Hiyoko, 2004) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Kyōzō no Teki ["Enemy of the Mirror Image"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 2005) [coll: binding unknown/]


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