"Humanity, humor, mechanical parts, aloofness, and stubborn inner strength"
The world of artist Hiroyuki Takahashi’s original HYPERSONIC music club webcomic keeps spinning and expanding as we take some time this week to reveal the backstory of the group’s lovely and enigmatic graphic designer LANYA.
If you are just joining us at HYPERSONIC, you are welcome to read the previous story pages here, or check out the other character files on other music club members VAL and COSIMA. Now that you're strapped in, let’s rocket forward to the year X85X on the gossamer wings of the Mystery Frequency and see what LANYA is all about…
HYPERSONIC music club Character File 03: LANYA
How do you know when a machine is deliberately messing with your mind? When it doesn’t work right out of the box? When it breaks down just when you need it the most? When it fails on a big scale and millions die screaming? Tough question under the best of circumstances, I know... but how do you figure when a machine is messing with you only 50% of the time?
I ask because LANYA has modified herself to the point where she is half human and half mechanical, so you could just go up to her point blank and say, “I can’t tell if you’re kidding or not” but she’d probably just coldly smile and reply, “I don’t know...what do you think?” in a vaguely sarcastic tone that would leave you no wiser. And that (in a nutshell that was more like a couple of paragraphs) is LANYA: a world class cynic and half-toaster with nice long hair and a very big hat.
LANYA is complicated, but here are the facts: Her family comes from massive weapons money made for the last couple of wars before the big crash that lead to the rise of SYSTEM. Everyone lost their fortunes in the colossal fail that followed (and no one in the world of X85X is getting rich), but access to resources and the whiff of old moneyed status remained.
Dealing with emotions -- both hers and others -- was never really something that LANYA was especially good at. She grew up as an only child in the High Towers of What Was Left, largely ignored by her formerly rich, now shell-shocked, always-bickering parents. Being raised by nursing robots and learning devices probably didn’t help LANYA’s social skills much, but she liked be alone a lot and draw things, so it could have been a worse had she not had some considerable talent in that area.
Unfortunately, when she was entering her teens, LANYA had a terrible accident of some sort and literally has never talked about it, ever. The only thing her friends -- the other members of music club know -- is that it was physically debilitating enough to the point where LANYA needed extensive limbic cyborg reconstruction in order to survive.
That was fine with LANYA. In fact, the more of her body became mechanical, the happier she became, which was strange since machines don’t normally feel a heck of a lot of happiness in the first place, but hey, that's LANYA…
Rather than stay with her super dysfunctional family unit in the opulent gloom of the High Towers, LANYA ran away one night and willingly became a ward of a disreputable rundown SYSTEM school run by MIS NYX. Her motivation? The meager student allowance that SYSTEM provided could be used as exchange for further cyborg modifications, which was more than mom and dad were willing to offer. She wouldn’t miss them (both her parents and her biological parts) and would be fast to adapt.
LANYA would have been content to sit there in that boring desk day after day from 9am to 9pm listening to lectures on ancient history that didn’t matter anymore, buying a new robotic hand every couple of months for a 2% performance upgrade in her drawing and design abilities, had it not been...for music club.
VAL noticed LANYA constantly designing cool stuff in the margins of her class papers and on her tiny pink laptop (she was literally becoming a drawing machine). Needing someone to create cool flyers for the secret parties she was planning, VAL figured it was worth taking a risk to say hi to VAL’s tall, and imposing figure, to see if she would be willing to help out.
The gamble paid off: LANYA became a founding member of music club. She and VAL became tight friends and confidants, but she wound up becoming closest to COSIMA, whom she spent the most time with, secretly envying her wholly mechanical body. AND... I don’t know if you knew this already but VAL and BYRD also began secretly going out soon after music club was founded, but she broke it off after about 3 months. Why? He was too emotional. She was not emotional enough. You know how those things work out sometimes…
Even so, while LANYA’s mix of humanity, humor, mechanical parts, aloofness, and stubborn inner strength might have made her a hard ride for others at times, it all added up to something special that would pay off big time once music club accidently activated the Mystery Frequency and the Extra Dimensional Monster Girls invaded our reality.
Or at least that's what she sometimes told herself.
Or maybe she was just messing with our minds.
BONUS! Here for the sake of historical record, are some of the earliest character concept art created for LANYA by Hiroyuki Takahashi.
The first conception of LANYA had short hair and a bright red bow, but some of the lolita fashion touches remained. She also seemed a little grumpier than we wound up making her…
The second version is closer to LANYA as she is today, benefitting from long hair and a very ostentatious hat on her head. The key change though is her facial expression. I don’t know what the exact word is for it, but yeah, that’s very, very LANYA…
Next up, Hiroyuki Takahashi created a pencil sketch of LANYA’s full body reveal. This would be scanned and worked over using the path function in Adobe Illustrator until he settled upon the final version included in this post (for more about Takahashi’s working methods and process, read this interview with him).
So what else is going on with the HYPERSONIC gang? Well, some of us are in Tokyo now on a secret mission, possibly related to the Mystery Frequency conspiracy at large. One of the highlights of the trip so far was last week’s PARK Harajuku Kounenkai event at Shibuya PARCO’s 2.5D, where the forces of otaku culture, fashion, and music seem to be colliding faster than we can comprehend them. One of the highlights was wild chiptunes diva TORIENA (here's her bandcamp link) who performed a very inspirational music set. Here’s a taste below…
We also caught up with DJ Merupan (here’s her Twitter) who showed up to the event in full Hiroyuki Takahashi-inspired fashion, including Takahashi designed T-shirt and tights! It’s enough to make you think that the wild characters in HYPERSONIC might have just sprung to life and started taking over the streets.
Via my Instagram
As for the artist himself, Takahashi is currently creating a character for a new anime event flyer and is posting works in progress on his facebook. He’s also putting the finishing touches on the next page of HYERPSONIC music club which we will reveal in full next week...
Now, as we begin the fade out, consider this your friendly reminder that we are offering a HYPERSONIC music club postcard set in the Crunchyroll store: 5 cards on high quality glossy stock that does Hiroyuki Takahashi's colorful proud.
The Crunchyroll Store is also offering a pair of Hiroyuki Takahashi stunning illustration books originally sold at Comiket in Japan. Both his Original Character Illustrations Vol. 8 and Line Art Illustrations books are in limited quantities.
We’ve also done a restock on the exclusive HYPERSONIC music club poster, signed by Hiroyuki Takahashi! Not too many of these left, so get one soon if you want one (which of course, you do).
Finally, as we prepare to dive deeper into the world of HYPERSONIC next week, here are the main links to keep track of!
HYPERSONIC music club Crunchyroll News page (Latest developments, new pages will on Crunchyroll News first)
hypersonic-music-club.tumblr.com (All art, bonus features)
hypersonic-comic.tumblr.com (story pages only, presented in standard webcomic format)
HYPERSONIC music club on Twitter (Updates, RTs of cool Japanese stuff)
Hiroyuki Takahashi on facebook (The artist himself!)
SEE YOU NEXT WEEK!