Monday, May 21, 2018

Dallos Special

The Dallos special is an edited compilation of the four episode OVA series. Like most compilation specials, if you've seen the original show, you don't need to watch the special. However, the Japanese (but not the US) version of the special has one unique feature: it includes the so-called "pilot film," a five minute series of clips and sketches that supposedly provides the background for the show.


The excisions made in the special to compress the running time from roughly 110 minutes to 83 are not serious. Mostly, the cuts eliminate dangling plot threads and complexities, such as the mystery around Shun Nonomura's older brother Tatsuo and the Bartholemew incident; the political intrigue against Alex Riger by the Vice-Consul and shadowy players back on Earth; and the role of Earth's army in the climactic showdown. However, the cuts exacerbate the jumpiness of some of the transitions, which was already a problem in the original OVAs.

A different sort of issue is the pilot film. While it is supposed to supply background, it actually differs in significant respects from the OVAs.
  1. In the pilot film, the lunar city is called Genesis. In the OVAs, it is Monopolis.
  2. In the pilot film, the Moon is ruled by a small upper-class elite called "scholars." In the OVAs, it is ruled by a more traditional colonial government, headed by a Consul.
  3. In the pilot film, the conflict among the lunar settlers is between the first- and second-generations. In the OVAs, it is between the first- and second-generation settlers and the third-generation settlers.
  4. In the pilot film, Dallos was built by the settlers. In the OVAs, it was built by the first scientists to land on the Moon, or perhaps even earlier.
The pilot film actually confuses rather than explains what's going on in Dallos. That's probably why it was left out of the US version of the special.

I pasted the script for the special together from the high-definition release of the OVAs. Yogicat retimed the script for the inevitable digital-to-analog discrepancies, and I did a release check. Erik of Piyo Piyo Productions encoded from his own Japanese laserdisc. Compared to either version of the OVAs (DVD or HDTV), the video in the specials looks rather washed out, and the sound quality is not as good either. Well, it is a laserdisc.

There really wasn't a compelling reason to sub the special, but I wanted to practice my script detective and pasting skills as a warmup to the much harder task of putting together the scripts for AWOL Compression Remix from the AWOL TV series. That promises to be much trickier, because the TV episodes were not only cut but also rearranged sequentially. So don't hold your breath for that one.

If you'd like to watch the Dallos special, you can get it from the usual torrent sites or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net. Even better, you can watch everything in the Dallos special, and more, by purchasing the DVD.


Sunday, May 20, 2018

Katte ni Shirokuma

Here's another lost, offbeat OVA, 1987's Katte ni Shirokuma (Whatever, White Bear). Iri picked it up from an auction site during one of his shopping forays for used Japanese laserdiscs. Eventually, the disc made its way to Erik, who ripped it and released the raw. Now, Orphan has subtitled it for an English-speaking audience.

The title of the OVA is a bit of a puzzler. The Japanese title, かってにシロクマ, is partly hiragana and partly katakana. It is often translated as The "Something" Polar Bear, where the Japanese adjective かって might mean curious, whimsical, or selfish. シロクマ (shirokuma) is literally "white bear," but because the only white bear most Japanese know is a polar bear, the word also means that. However, the lead character, Shiro, is not a polar bear; he's an albino (white) brown bear. So a better reading of the Japanese might be Katte ni Shiro Kuma. This exposes another ambiguity. "Katte ni Shiro" means "Do What You Want," so when merged with "Shiro Kuma," the title is a joke, meaning "Do What You Want, White Bear." Based on Yogicat's pithy suggestion, we've shortened it to "Whatever, White Bear." Your mileage may vary.

Katte ni Shirokuma tells the story of an animal family consisting of a mother bear, albino cub Shiro, normal cub Dai-chan, and an adopted baby boar. While the mother and Dai-chan have normal spoken lines, Shiro uses non-verbal vocalizations, and the boar can only say "uri" (hence his name, Uribo, or Uri boy). They lead a placid life in the mountains. As the show opens, the mother bear is trying to teach her youngsters how to catch fish by batting them out of a swift-flowing stream. Dai-chan catches on at once. However, Shiro and Uribo are constantly distracted by the sights around them: birds, insects, and in particular, a turtle. The two goof-offs pursue the turtle into the stream, and Mom and Dai-chan go after them. The whole family is swept downstream. There, they start finding strange "rocks" and "animals," which are actually human artifacts - a knife, a TV, a costume jewelry crown. Reaching a cliff, they find a human city, devoid of life. They explore for a while and, after adventures both comic and macabre, eventually return to the mountains.


Ohara Noriko (Mom) had a long career starting in the 1960s. She played the title roles in Future Boy Conan and Arabian Nights: Sindbad no Bouken, Nobita in the Doraemon franchise (through 2004), and Oyuki in the Urusei Yatsura properties. Mizushima Yuu (Dai-chan) played the heroine's love interest, Makabe Shun, in Tokimeki Tonight (an Orphan release), Roland Chappelle in Shokugeki no Souma, and many other featured roles. Shou Mayumi (Uribo) made her debut in Cream Lemon, played Gannet in Hoshi Neko Full House (an Orphan release), and has also had an extensive career in featured roles. Nagira Kenichi (Shiro) mostly worked outside anime; his only other anime credit is Kappa no Coo to Natsuyasumi. The director, Sasagawa Hiroshi, has directed numerous science fiction and fantasy shows, including the original Time Bokan series, Tokimeki Tonight, Kennel Tokorazawa (an M74 release), and Bremen 4 (a joint Orphan-M74 release).

Moho Kareshi did the initial translation; Sunachan checked it and translated the ending song and additional signs. ninjacloud timed, I edited and typeset, and Calyrica and Nemesis did QC. Erik of Piyo Piyo Productions encoded from a Japanese laserdisc. The release uses ordered chapters in order to isolate an unrelated bonus at the end - a preview for the Appleseed OVA, which is not translated. If your player supports ordered chapters, it will play only Katte ni Shirokuma; you can access the Appleseed preview as the second "edition" in the file. If your player does not support ordered chapters, it will play the main OVA followed by the preview, without a break.

Katte no Shirokuma is a fine watch, a welcome addition to Orphan's growing menagerie of critter-centric shows. You can get the Three Bears, plus the boar, from the usual torrent sites or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.






Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Status

Here's a status report on current projects:
  • Stop!! Hibari-kun. All episodes encoded, translated, timed, typeset, and through QC. Episodes 1-12 released. This project needs a dedicated translation checker. Awaiting translation check on episodes 13+.
  • Hidamari no Ki. All episodes translated, timed, edited, and typeset. Episodes 1-19 released. Episodes 20-25 in QC.
  • Kasei Yakyoku. A joint project with Iquix. Episodes 1-4 translated. We have new VHS raws for episodes 1-2, and laserdisc raws for episodes 3-4. We would really like to find a laserdisc of episodes 1-2. Awaiting translation check.
  • Every Day Is Sunday. Episodes 1-4 complete; awaiting translation check on episodes 5-6.
  • Kindaichi movie 1 HD. Encoded, timed, edited, QCed; resolving some encoding issues. 
  • Dallos special. Encoded, script assembled from OVA scripts; in QC.
  • Katte ni Shirokuma. Encoded, translated, checked, timed, edited, and typeset; in QC.
  • Dokushin Apartment Dokudami-sou. Encoded, translated, timed, edited, and typeset; in QC.
Pending projects include Boyfriend, Chameleon, Greed, Manxmouse, Nine, Orurorane the Cat Player, and Techno Police 21C (all waiting on translation checking). MapleStory, Marginal Prince, and Sanada 10 are on the shelf for now. In addition, there are a number of resub projects on the back burner, including Blue Sonnet and Kashou no Tsuki. We also have one more gigantic jigsaw puzzle to do: putting together a script for AWOL Compression Remix from the VHS tapes of the original AWOL TV series. And new, interesting raws arrive all the time.

If you'd like to help with any aspect of the process, but in particular translation checking and QC, please let me know.

[Updated 15-May-2018]
 

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Zetsuai 1989

So here's the granddaddy of them all, the 1992 BL OVA Zetsuai 1989. While not the first BL anime (the first volume of Ai no Kusabi preceded it by six months), Zetsuai is arguably the most influential in setting the style and tone (angst-ridden, intense, and operatic) of early BL shows.

Zetsuai is a compound word, meaning "desperate love," although the author preferred "everlasting love" as the translation. It tells the story of two teenagers, womanizing superstar singer Nanjou Kouji and soccer prodigy Izumi Takuto. Both come from damaged backgrounds. Nanjou is a running away from a loveless but highly successful family; he was a gang leader before he became a singer. Izumi is hiding from early abuse; his mother killed his father and attacked him as well.

The two meet by coincidence (or fate). After a night of barhopping, Nanjou passes out in the street. Izumi takes him home and nurses him back to health. Nanjou realizes that Izumi is the soccer player he saw and fell in love with six years earlier, although at the time, Nanjou thought the player was a girl. Nanjou becomes obsessed with Izumi and inserts himself into Izumi's life, eventually confessing his love. All this is accompanied by numerous melodramatic incidents, including life-threatening illnesses, near-fatal accidents, and stabbings and self-mutilation. Despite the operatic tone, the fat lady never sings; that had to wait for the sequel, Bronze: Zetsuai since 1989.

Hayami Shou (Nanjou) has had many featured roles, including Iason's friend Raoul in Ai no Kusabi, Hojo in Sanctuary, Pat Leivy in Starship Troopers, and Junoichi in Blazing Transfer Student, all Orphan releases.  He is still active, recently playing Popuko in Pop Team Epic. Koyasu Takehito (Izumi) is reputed to be the most prolific voice actor currently active, with more than 365 roles under his belt. He played Doujima Gin in Shokugeki no Souma, Thirteen in Grimoire of Zero, Dio in Jojo's Bizarre Adventures, the title role in Master of Mosquitron, Fool in Elegant Yokai Apartment Life. He also appeared in Yamato 2520 and Yuukan Club, both Orphan releases. Yamaguchi Kappei (Shibuya, Nanjou's "minder") has played Ranma in the Ranma franchise, Inuyasha in all the Inuyasha properties, Kudou Shinichi in the Conan franchise, Usopp in the One Piece franchise, Sakuma Ryuichi in Gravitation, Arslan in the first OVA series, the title role in Mouse, and many other roles. Nishihara Kumiko (Serika, Izumi's sister) has appeared in Dragon Fist and Blazing Transfer student, both Orphan releases. The score, including the instrumental opening and ending, is by the peerless Kenji Kawai and is very effective. The songs are IMHO not as good; they're very similar to the ones in Cathexis.

Contrary to AniDB, Zetsuai 1989 was never released on DVD. The most commonly available fansub release, by aarinfantasy, was probably done from a laserdisc rip packaged in a DVD ISO format. As a result, it has the wrong aspect ratio (too wide). This makes the characters appear more realistic than they are. The character designs are, in fact, very angular and spindly, which was quite controversial when the show first came out.


The Orphan release is based on a new encode, ripped by Erik of Piyo Piyo Productions from his own Japanese laserdisc. Erik also provided the original Lupin Gang Anime subtitle scripts, which formed the basis for Orphan's script. Yogicat transcribed the aarinfantasy release, and a few lines from that script were interpolated in the LGA script. Sunachan translation-checked the dialog and the songs; these changes were extensive. M74 timed; I edited and typeset; and Calyrica and M74 did QC.

Zetsuai 1989 was intended to be the first release in an ambitious project to redo the early hardsubbed BL shows. Because of various delays, it ended up being released after Cathexis and Ai no Kusabi. Its sequel, Bronze, is fully translated checked and should be done Real Soon™. Meanwhile, you can get Zetsuai 1989 from the usual torrent sites or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Bremen 4

With the release of the 1981 TV special Bremen 4, Orphan and M74 have completed their high-definition survey of Tezuka Osamu's feature length anime movies for NTV's annual telethon. The eight Tezuka Production specials were:

1978: Hyakumannen Chikyuu no Tabi: Bander Book
1979: Kaitei Choutokkyuu Marine Express
1980: Fumoon
1981: Bremen 4 
1983: Time Slip Ichimannen Prime Rose
1984: Daishizen no Majuu Bagi
1986: Ginga Tansa 2100-nen: Border Planet
1989: Tezuka Osamu Monogatari: Boku wa Songoku

The 1985 special, Akuma Shima no Prince – Mitsume ga Touru, was based on a Tezuka Osamu character but was produced by Toei Animation. It has not been released in high-definition. Maybe someday...

Bremen 4 seems to have an official subtitle, Angels in Hell, although that does not appear in the anime itself. It tells the story of four animals - a cat named Coda, a donkey named Largo, a dog named Allegro, and a chicken named Minuet. 


(That's either a very big cat or a really small donkey.) The four are stranded or abandoned when their peaceful country is conquered by ruthless, Nazi-like invaders. Wandering the countryside, the animals save the life of a visiting alien, Rondo. In return, she gives them devices that transform them into humans. In this form, they become musicians, bringing some joy to their war-ravaged land. Eventually, they come to the attention of the invader's commander, Karl Presto. He falls in love with Coda in her human form, but she and her friends reject his overtures and, returning to animal form, help the resistance to fight the invaders. Eventually, the villains are defeated and peace returns.

Bremen 4 was the last of the TV specials that made heavy use of Tezuka's Star System, although the stars made cameo appearances in the later specials. The villainous, Wagner-loving commander, Karl Presto, is Rock Holmes, returning to his usual role as a heavy. Presto's father, an even more heinous warmonger, is Lamp, the guy with the candle on his head. Duke Red plays Count Lento, the hapless (and soon posthumous) leader of the invaded country. Ban Shunsaku is Adagio, the manager of a puppet theater who also leads the resistance. Black Jack is a mysterious figure who cares for the orphans of war. Astro Boy appears in a musical sequence, Don Dracula is an announcer at a concert, and Unico and Leo have cameos in the final triumphant march of the animals.

Okamoto Mari (Coda the Cat) played the female leads in Fumoon, Prime Rose, and The Wizard of Oz movie. The incomparable and now sadly deceased Tomiyama Kei (Largo the Donkey) stole the show as the wicked witch in Grim Douwa: Kin no Tori, an Orphan release. Kyouda Hisako (Minuet the chicken) has had a long career, with some unusual roles, such as the father in Shouwa Monogatari. Ishimaru Hiroya gave a bravura performance as the "interpreter" dog Allegro, speaking Donkey, Chicken, or Cat as required. He also played as Rodimus Prime in the various Transformer TV shows. Tomita Kousei and Nozawa Nachi reprised their roles as Ban Shunsaku and Black Jack, respectively, from Marine Express.

The eight specials exemplify Tezuka Osamu's style - the wandering plots, the use of anachronisms for humor, the obvious fanservice (in Bremen 4, Rondo's cleavage defies gravity). I think the later specials were better, with tighter plots and less overt preaching, but they're all very watchable. (Ginga Tansa 2100-nen: Border Planet remains my favorite.) They also make me more forgiving of Tezuka's earlier Mushi Production movies, the so-called adult cartoons Cleopatra and Sen'ya Ichiya Monogatari. There's a lot of continuity between the Animerama releases and the later specials; the former just have a lot more fanservice. While Tezuka Osamu could work in a much more serious vein (Hidamari no Ki, Hi no Tori), he reveled in the possibilities that his lighter works allowed.

This subtitles for this release were professionally translated. Yogicat transcribed them, and M74 timed them. I edited and typeset (not much). Nemesis and Calyrica did QC. M74 encoded from a BDMV provided by Beatrice Raws. I'm truly grateful to them for sharing their source material. The source material has a a variety of video mistakes. In one scene, the background disappears; in another, the foreground characters. Transitions are rough, and mouth movements are sometimes poorly animated. Still, this is the best source out there.

You can get Bremen 4, and all the other Orphan (or M74) HD releases of the Tezuka Production TV specials, from the usual torrent sources or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.




Saturday, April 21, 2018

Dallos HD

If you track Erik's laserdisc releases, you'll know that he ripped the Dallos special. I wanted to subtitle the special, but that required revisiting the original Dallos OVA scripts and piecing them together, with excisions, to fit the special's reduced running time. Rather than just go over the existing scripts, I thought it might be more entertaining to move them onto HQR's high-definition (720p) raws, which were taken from a KIDS TV broadcast. So that's been done, and this release is the result.

In my original blog on Dallos five years ago, I was rather harsh on the show. Back then, I was viewing it in the context of all the recent anime I had seen, and it seemed very derivative. In fact, the reverse is true. Dallos came first, and it has been imitated numerous times since. If I use a historical perspective on what anime was in 1983, Dallos is far more interesting and original than I had thought.


Dallos is set in the 21st century - our own! The backdrop is an Earth ruined by overuse of resources. In desperation, the Earth government creates a colony on the Moon to exploit the resources there. After sixty years, the gamble has paid off, and Earth is prospering again. However, there is a high cost: the colonists on the Moon are treated as little better than slave labor. While the older generations of settlers, who still remember Earth, are resigned to their fate, the third generation - born and raised on the Moon - see only the merciless oppression and lack of opportunity. They organize a guerilla resistance movement to fight back. The colonial government responds with even greater repression, which in turn creates more resistance. (Does this sound familiar?)

As the story opens, Shun Nonomura is an apolitical teenager more interested in "fiddling with machines" than in flirting with his girlfriend Rachel. Shun inadvertently shows Dog McCoy, the leader of the guerillas, how the Moon's mining equipment can be converted into effective weapons. Dog and his followers kidnap visiting Earthling Melinda Hearst, who is the fiance of the head of lunar Security, Alex Riger. Alex uses the incident as a pretext for intensive operations against the guerillas. Shun and Rachel are swept up in the conflict, which escalates into outright war involving the civilian population of the Moon.

Brooding over these proceedings is a giant machine called Dallos, which looks rather like a mechanical facemask. The early settlers discovered Dallos and worshiped it as a god, but both Alex Riger and the guerillas regard it as a relic. However, when the conflict spills into Dallos itself, it proves to be a true deus ex machine, coming to life and taking out its wrath on both sides. This brings about an uneasy truce. It's clear, though, that the conflict will resume, and Shun and Rachel must decide where they stand. Unfortunately, that's where the story ends.

Dallos is often called the first OVA (anime released directly to consumer video media), but that was an afterthought, not the original intent. Dallos was intended to be a long TV series, of at least 26 episodes (and probably more). The four episodes we have were intended as prologue. This is evident from the numerous plot threads that are planted and left unresolved, such as the story of Shun's older brother Tatsuo, and the political machinations within the Moon government. We'll never know how the story was supposed to unfold; no plot synopsis or summary has been published.

Sasaki Hideki (Shun) played the lead role in Gauche the Cellist; otherwise, his resume is very short. Ikeda Shuichi (Riger) played Char in Mobile Suit Gundam, Gilbert Durandal in Gundam Seed, Ulrich Kessler in Legend of the Galactic Heroes, and Azuma in Starship Troopers, an Orphan release. The deep-voiced Genda Tesshou (Dog McCoy) played Colonel Muto in Joker Game, Moloch in Yondemasu Azazel-san, Rei in the Urusei Yatsura franchise, Moguro Fukuzou in New Laughing Salesman,  "Oyaji" in this year's Mitsuboshi Colors, and the loyal lieutenant Galbreath in Next Senki Ehrgeiz, an Orphan release. Sakakibara Yoshiko (Melinda) played Sir Integral Hellsing in both versions of Hellsing, as well as Paula in Condition Green, an Orphan release. The director, Mamoru Oshii, would go on to direct many famous anime works, including Ghost in the Shell, Gosenzosama Banbanzai, and Sky Crawlers.

This version of Dallos has been little altered from the original release in 2013. Some lines have been tightened, and more line breaks have been inserted for readability. The original translation was done by laalg and has not been revisited. In particular, it does not reflect the recent R1 DVD release. I edited both versions and did a little typesetting for this one. CP and Saji QCed the original release; Calyrica did a release check on this version. The raws were encoded by HQR from a KIDS high-definition TV broadcast and are probably the best we'll see unless Dallos gets a Blu-ray release.

On this round, Dallos impressed me a lot more than it did back in 2013. The space scenes look great, although the character animation can get rather funky. The story is interesting, and the god-machine Dallos no longer seems like an arbitrary plot contrivance. You can get his release from the usual torrent sites as well as from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.

One final note. If you like Dallos as much as I do, I'd urge you to buy the R1 DVD, as I did. It's not expensive, it has a fascinating interview with Mamoru Oshii and others involved in the production, and it includes the context-setting "pilot film" not included in other releases.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Hidamari no Ki, Part 3

Here is the next installment of Hidamari no Ki: episodes 14 through 19. We're in the third quarter now, and the pace picks up accordingly. From natural catastrophes like a great cholera epidemic, to man-made disasters like the Ansei Purge, momentous events overtake Manjirou, Ryouan, and many others, threatening to sweep them away.

By the late 1850s, the struggle between the relentless expansionism of the Western powers on one side, and the feudal isolationism of the Emperor and the Sonnou Joui movement on the other, was pulling the Tokugawa Shogunate apart. The Shogunate tacked back and forth, trying to avoid either a foreign war or a civil war. First, it opposed the Western initiatives for open trade. Then, overmatched militarily, it signed trade treaties with the Western powers and began importing Western technology. When internal opponents took up Sonnou Joui as a rallying cry, the Shogunate tried first compromise and then brutal repression (the Ansei Purge). Neither worked, and the chaos inside the country only increased.

Although Ryouan is a doctor, and Manjirou is studiously apolitical, both are caught up in the press of events. Manjirou is arrested, tortured, and nearly executed simply for talking to the wrong people.


Ryouan must again use his devious skills - demonstrated during the Shogun's meeting with American envoy - to rescue Manjirou from a dangerous situation. Ryouan also confronts, treats, and outsmarts a group of wounded ronin assassins, garnering favorable attention from the Shogunate.


By the end of this batch of episodes, both men have experienced deep personal losses, and both have become involved (in Ryouan's case, reluctantly) with the Shogunate's efforts to reform itself before it's too late. Never has the future looked more uncertain. Kind of like current times, huh?

Some notes:
  • Ep 14. The great cholera epidemic of 1859 killed an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 Japanese. It was part of a world-wide cholera pandemic that impacted Russia and much of southeast Asia.
  • Ep 18. The marching song sung by the peasant soldiers is フジの白雪ャノーエ, from Shizuoka prefecture. While the song is famous, its meaning is obscure. In the episode, it is translated to fit the rhythm of the Japanese syllables.
  • Ep 19. The Roushigumi was the first of numerous squads of ronin formed by the Shogunate and its opponents to further their aims by violence. It was founded by Kiyokawa Hachirou, a swordsman and dedicated opponent of the Shogunate. Although the ostensible purpose of the Roushigumi was to protect the Shogun, Kiyokawa in fact offered its services to the Imperial court.Two years after the events shown in the episode, Kiyokawa was killed by a Shogunate assassin.
The staff for the show remains pretty much the same. Sunachan translated the dialog, songs, and signs. Eternal_Blizzard did fine timing on episode 14; starting with episode 15, Yogicat took over all the timing. I edited and typeset. banandoyouwanna, Nemesis, and VigorousJammer did QC. Skr encoded the workraws, and M74 the final raws. As a bonus, this set of episodes also includes the DVD booklets for all nine volumes. They were provided by the anonymous benefactor who purchased the DVDs.

You can get the third installment of Hidamari no Ki from the usual torrent sites (although nyaa.si is down temporarily; use nyaa.at instead) or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net. What are you waiting for? Go download it and watch it now!