Wednesday, November 29, 2017

What's Michael? OVA 2

Michael the orange tiger cat returns for another 40+ minutes of vignettes and parodies in the 1988 sequel, What's Michael? OVA 2. This OVA actually came out in the middle of the What's Michael? TV series but is apparently unrelated: the OVAs use a different voice actor for Michael than the series.

The sketches this time include a three-part sendup of The Fugitive, the famous 1960's TV show (the movie didn't come out until 1993).


Richard Kimble is now a veterinarian on the lam (lamb?), running from a false conviction for a murder committed by "a man with overbite." Despite the omnipresent danger, he must stoop and intervene whenever he sees a cat (always Michael) suffering; after treating the patient, he plays a trick on the cat and runs away. (He's a fugitive, after all.) Another sketch draws parallels between wandering husbands and wandering housecats, who seem to have similar proclivities. Two more point out what happens when a cat's instincts run up against the requirements of baseball or pro wrestling. (You can guess which side loses.) Once again, there's no continuity or plot, but the skits are pretty funny.

Iri translated, Yogicat timed, I edited and typeset, and Nemesis and VigorousJammer did QC. Erik of Piyo Piyo Productions encoded from his own Japanese laserdisc. As with the first OVA, there were a fiendishly large number of signs, many requiring seemingly endless hand clipping and typesetting. (There's one sign I couldn't do. You'll know why when you see it.) Still, the quality of the laserdisc was better this time around, and the encode clearly demonstrates that.

So this ends our cat-centric endeavors, at least for a while. If you want to see more of Michael, he's hanging around on the usual torrent sites. He can also be downloaded from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Hoshi Neko Full House

Here's an example of what might be called the "Wide Screen Baroque" school of sci-fi, the 1989 four-episode OVA Hoshi Neko Full House (Star Cat Full House). This comedy-adventure is filled with colorful characters, improbable coincidences, and unbelievable developments, all presented with a straight face and considerable aplomb. It's a hoot from start to finish.

As the show opens, young space smuggler Seitarou Yaoi, captain of the Iron Goblin, is idling along, listening to a dirty story told by his lecherous robot companion, Chiraku. Seitarou is leading a lonely and boring existence, smuggling porn and sex toys to desperate men on the frontiers of the solar system, when suddenly the all-powerful Earth supercomputer Eterna (shades of Bander Books's Mother) shuts down power to everything that lacks independent means of propulsion. Seitarou's smuggling ship was never registered officially, so it is one of the few vessels that can still move.

He receives a desperate call for help from three schoolgirls, who are stranded in space. They are from the Moon's Lunar Ferris Academy and are daughters of Earth's elite. Seitarou comes to their aid and finds he's picked up a lot more than he bargained for: Mayfa is the daughter of Eterna's designer; Jojo is the daughter of the CEO of a large aerospace company; and Lyla is the daughter of Earth's president! The four humans and Chiraku, aided by an alien lizard-creature and a winged star cat, must then figure out how to get to Earth, defeat Eterna, and save mankind, while having a rollicking good time in the bargain.


Hoshi Neko Full House was the brainchild of the late Ishiguro Noboru, who also directed the show. An industry veteran, Ishiguro directed Aoki Honoo (an Orphan project) as well as such science-fiction classics as Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Megazone 23, and Super Dimensional Fortress Macross. He also directed several episodes of the Anime Classics of Japanese Literature series. His last directing project was Tytania.

Seki Toshihiko, who played the nominal hero, Seitarou, should be a familiar name to readers of this blog, having appeared as fighter Nagase Jun in Akai Hayate, as well as Riki in Ai no Kusabi, Sanzo in all the Saiyuuki TV series, and the title roles in Alexander (Reign the Conqueror) and Kaiketsu Zorro. Takada Yumi, who voiced Seitarou's virtual girlfriend Purinpurin, played Saya and Monmo in Cosmic Fantasy, Yoshinaga-sensei in many of the Crayon Shin-chan movies, and Ayeka in the Tenchi Muyo franchise. She has also appeared in many classic h-animes, including Karakuri Ninja Girl, one of my favorites. But in my opinion, Kamiya Akira, in the supporting role of Chiraku the robot, steals the show. He's had many other major roles, including the lecherous judo coach Kazamatsuri in Yawara!, the lead characters in the City Hunter and Kinnikuman franchises, and featured roles in the Case Closed and Urusei Yatsura franchises. Demonstrating his versatility, he even played the seductive temptress Indra in Otaku no Seiza.

Curiously, the actresses who played the three schoolgirls have no other credits to their names and no biographical details. They are probably the members of the singing group LISP, which did the vocals for the songs. (This LISP should not be confused with the current seiryuu singing group LISP, which was formed in 2010. Its members were babies when Hoshi Neko Full House was released.) LISP gets a musical number in each episode, for no particularly good reason, but that's true of most musical numbers in anime.

Iri found the raws, which are fairly good and claim to be laserdisc rips. He convinced Sunachan to take on the translation. Yogicat timed (it has cats, after all), I edited and typeset, and Calyrica and VigorousJammer did QC. The translation is straightforward, but Chiraku's grammar is often strange or broken, which we've tried to convey in his English dialog as well.

So if you like the idea of saving the Earth in the company of a bunch of teenagers, a pervy robot, an alien, and a star cat, you can pick up Hoshi Neko Full House from the usual torrent sites or download it from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.

Happy Holidays from Orphan Fansubs

On behalf of all the dogs and cats and other critters of Orphan Fansubs...



Here's wishing you a joyous, and safe, holiday season.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Haguregumo

In spite of the torrid pace of Orphan releases this year, I do find time to work on other projects, usually within the back-catalog space. Here's one that's been gestating for a while: Toei's 1982 movie Haguregumo, from Soldado and Saizen (aka SolZen). It's been in the works for more than 18 months, starting as a DVD encode and finishing as a 1080p release encoded from an HDTV broadcast.

Haguregumo is set in the Bakumatsu, the turbulent period at the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate, after the "opening" of Japan in 1854. The country was being torn apart by competing factions - modernizers trying to apply Western technology and ideas to Japanese society; Imperial loyalists, trying to reassert to the ascendancy of the Emperor; and the forces of the Shogunate, trying to defend the military bureaucracy (bakufu) against all comers. The bakufu organized special police squads, notably the Shinsengumi and the Mimawarigumi, to "defend public order" and assassinate opponents. (In popular culture, they are all lumped together as the Shinsengumi.) Covert violence and even open warfare were commonplace.

The movie covers 1866 and 1867. It tells the story of a retired samurai, Kumosuke (or Kumo, for short), who is living quietly, not to say idly, in Edo (old Tokyo) with his wife and two children, a young boy named Shinnosuke and an infant girl, Ohana. While he nominally runs a courier business to earn a living, he seems to spend most of his time smoking his pipe, drinking sake, and chasing women. The arrival of a Shinsengumi squad led by a young swordswman, Ichimonji Hyougo, disrupts this peaceful routine. Kumo is forced to use his still-sharp sword skills to defend himself, but he'd basically prefer to stay out of the treacherous political currents. Nonetheless, he ends up saving Ryouma Sakamoto (a famous Westernizer) from the Shinsengumi and teaching Ichimonji the futility of the warrior way.

Despite the overlay of dramatic historical events, Haguregumo is basically a comedy about family. The central theme is the struggle of Kumo's son, Shinnosuke, to understand what it means to grow up and be a man in such a turbulent world. Kumo seems like an odd and neglectful father - cheating at chess, letting his son take a real samurai sword to a kids' fight - but in fact, he's trying to steer Shinnosuke through the crises of childhood without being overly constraining or prescriptive. He wants Shinnosuke to define his own path in life. Interactions with friends, a confrontation with bullies, a chance meeting with Ryouma, Ryouma's eventual assassination - all these mundane and extraordinary events help Shinnosuke understand the possibilities and perils of the future, as well as the need to be a child for a while longer.

The comedy often takes a bawdy turn. Aside from Kumo's womanizing (he's an inveterate butt-groper), there's an ongoing gag about his wife Okiyo's desire for a share of his amorous attentions:


Kumo is willing enough, but their trysts are perpetually interrupted by everyday life: children in crisis, children wanting attention, nosy friends, and so on. At one point, when Okiyo suggests a daytime "date," Kumo casually asks if they can try matsubakuzushi (translated as "the cross"), one of the classic 48 sex positions. This did not get an onscreen translation note...

The voice cast of Haguregumo belongs to an earlier era. Yamashiro Shingo, who played Kumo, has few modern credits. Kawashima Chiyoko, who played his wife, is best known to me as the ballet-dancer-turned-judo-practitioner Fujiko in Yawara! from the late 1980s. On the other hand, Furuya Tohru, who had the supporting role of Ichimonji, should be well known to Orphan's fans as Kosaku in Stop!! Hibari-kun and Bavi Stock in Bavi Stock. He's better known, of course, for playing the lead male roles in Kimagure Orange Road and Sailor Moon. Inoue Makio, who had a supporting role as Ryouma, went on to play Captain Harlock in many of the Galaxy Express properties and Goemon in the Lupin III movies and the first two TV series. The director, Masaki Mori, was a veteran of Tezuka Osamu's Mushi Productions. He also directed Barefoot Gen and Toki no Tabibito: Time Stranger.

I quite enjoyed Haguregumo. You can get it from the usual torrent sources and, eventually, from the Saizen IRC bot on irc.rizon.net.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Rainbow Signal: Hi-Fi Set

Here's a rarity: 1985's Rainbow Signal: Hi-Fi Set. These are six or seven loosely-related anime/live-action music videos from the Japanese singing group Hi-Fi Set. This show was released in 1985, right in the middle of Hi-Fi Set's career (1974-1994), and features songs from their 1984 and 1985 albums Pasadena Park and Indigo. (Information summarized from MyAnimeList.) It was never released on DVD and did not appear in either AniDB or AnimeNewsNetwork until we added it.

The story revolves around two cute dragons in a future high-tech city.


The plot doesn't venture any deeper than boy (dragon) meets girl (dragon), boy (dragon) loses girl (dragon), boy (dragon) gets girl (dragon), but it's hard to fashion a complex plot without dialog. (Actually, there is one line of dialog, or at least we think there is. It might be just a random exclamation.) Hi-Fi Set's song are harmonious ballads and pop songs - no angsty rock or heavy metal. And all ends happily.

Maho Kareshi, finally done with translating the entire Oishinbo TV series (136 episodes!), translated the songs from official lyrics, and Sunachan checked the translation. Yogicat timed, I edited and styled (no signs), and Nemesis and Calyrica did QC. Nemesis also corrected the romaji and added the background lines in the songs. Erik of Piyo Piyo Productions encoded from the Japanese laserdisc. We hope to subtitle other AMV rarities from Erik's collection sometime in the future.

So settle in to listen to some Japanese pop from the mid-80s and watch Ms. Red Dragon and Mr. Green Dragon find their way to reptilian happiness. You can get Rainbow Signal from the usual torrent sources or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.



White Fang (100th Release)

After a run of cat-themed shows (Neko Neko Fantasia, Neko Nanka Yondemo Nakai, Space Neko Theater, What's Michael? etc), Orphan Fansubs is going to the dogs, following up our earlier release of Wan Wan Chuushingura with the 1982 TV special, Shiroi Kiba: White Fang Monogatari (White Fang). Based on Jack London's 1906 adventure novel, White Fang tells the story of an Alaskan wolf-dog adopted by an Inuit boy, Mit-sah. After encountering and surviving all kinds of hardships, some natural and some man-made, White Fang eventually finds peace, contentment, and warm weather with the family of wealthy mine-owner Weedon Scott in northern California. This is Orphan's 100th release, counting by titles rather than files.

White Fang was a kind of sequel to London's 1903 book, Call of the Wild. The latter told the story of a domesticated dog that is forced into the wilderness and has to get in touch with its inner wolf in order to survive. White Fang told the reverse tale: a wild wolf-dog is gradually tamed and brought into civilized society by the power of friendship and love. (London thought of it as an allegory of his own life's arc, from teen-aged hoodlum to middle-class successful writer.) Both books were wildly popular in their day and have remained in print ever since. Although accused of portraying the natural world in an overly sentimental light by President Theodore Roosevelt, no less, London studiously avoided attributing thought and motivation to his animals, and he included the seamy and violent side of life on the frontier in the books.

The anime adaptation of White Fang is more overtly intended for a younger audience and provides more character continuity to simplify the plot. For example, the young Inuit who first finds White Fang, Mit-sah, remains the central character throughout the story. In the book, he drops out part way through. The villainous dog trainer Beauty Smith, who tries to turn White Fang into a fighting machine, follows Weedon Scott to California to provide the antagonist for the final segment. In the book, it's an entirely different character. Mit-sah's father, Grey Beaver, is almost a parody of the noble native. In the book, he's more rough-hewn, losing White Fang in a drunken gambling game. Nonetheless, the anime is reasonably faithful to the structure and major incidents of the book. Although White Fang has a few too many facial expressions for my taste, he's never portrayed as a Disney-esque anthropomorphic hero.



The movie isn't a sanitized G-rated adventure, either. It has graphic scenes of fighting, bloodshed, death, and animal abuse.

Tanaka Mayumi provided the voice of Mit-sah. She made her debut at age 10 in Kimba the White Lion. She's probably best known for her roles as Pazu in Castle in the Sky, Giovanni in Night on the Galactic Railway, and of course, Monkey D. Luffy in every incarnation of One Piece. She also played Son Gokuu in Tezuka Osamu Monogatari, an Orphan project. The late Naya Goro (Weedon Scott) played Inspector Zenigata in the Lupin III properties prior to this death. The director, Yoshikawa Souji, has a number of other credits, including Garon and Space Oz no Bouken.

Iri was inspired to translate White Fang after finding a 576p raw of a hi-def TV broadcast. (The TV logos are not intrusive.) M74 timed, I edited and typeset (very few signs), and bananadoyouwanna and Nemesis did QC. The encode is from heponeko. Given its age, White Fang must be cel-based and is thus a candidate for a true HD remaster, but it's probably not popular enough for that.

So let's go "North to Alaska" with Mit-sah, White Fang, and London's other colorful characters. You can get White Fang from the usual torrent sources or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #new on irc.rizon.net.




Friday, November 17, 2017

Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo movie 2

Kindaichi Hajime, teen detective, returns for his second big-screen adventure in 1999's Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo 2: Satsuriku no Deep Blue (The Young Kindaichi's Case Files: Massacre at Deep Blue). Unlike the first movie, which harked back to the locked room mysteries of the 1920s and 1930s, this one seems much more prescient, with terrorists recruited through the Internet holding innocent people hostage and threatening a massacre.

The movie is set at the Aizawa Group's brand new resort hotel, Hotel Deep Blue, on Konpeki Island. Its main attraction is a mysterious undersea ruined city that is just visible through the clear water. The chairman of the Aizawa Group, Aizawa Shuuchirou, has invited his executives and family to the opening of the hotel, despite an anonymous letter threatening destruction. His daughter Akane is worried and invites Kindaichi to the hotel through their mutual friend Miyuki. Just as Kindaichi's group is arriving, the Tokyo and Hakata offices of the Aizawa group are bombed, and the second Aizawa son is killed. Shortly thereafter, a group of five terrorists, who claim allegiance to an unknown "King Caesar," take over the hotel and announce their intention to kill everyone inside. While Kindaichi tries desperately to figure out an escape route, more members of the Aizawa group are killed, under mysterious or impossible circumstances. The young detective must figure out what is going on, who this "King Caesar" is, and how to stop the terrorists. Eventually, "all of the mysteries are solved," although it requires the usual twenty minutes of non-stop exposition to explain everything.


Meanwhile, there are lots of shiny explosions, traded accusations among desperate hostages, and state-of-the-art computer hacking using a blue PowerMac G4 with a Zip drive. Woohoo!
 
Starting with this movie, Matsuno Taiki took over the role of Kindaichi Hajime and played the character in all subsequent versions, including both TV series. The other characters from the first movie were unchanged, but several new characters were introduced who became regulars in the TV series. Morikawa Toshiyuki, who played Superintendent Akechi Kengo, was of course Panda Mama in Polar Bear Cafe, as well as Inugami Akira in Wolf Guy and Nanjou in Nozomi Witches, all Orphan projects. Ikezawa Haruna (Fumi) appeared in Gravitation, Daa! Daa! Daa!, and numerous other shows. The director, Nishio Daisuke, also did the first movie.

The movie is a laserdisc encode, one of many that various team members purchased in Japan. The translation was started by Iri and finished by Sunachan. M74 timed; I edited and typeset; bananadoyouwanna, Nemesis, and VigorousJammer did QC. The raw was encoded by Erik of Piyo Piyo Productions from his own Japanese laserdisc. The movie is widescreen, a format laserdisc doesn't support. Therefore, the release was letterboxed. Erik chose to leave the horizontal bars in. This keeps the subtitles out of the limited viewing area, but some viewers may find it distracting.

The movie has a large number of moving signs, but unfortunately, the laserdisc was poorly mastered and is a mess of blended frames. Therefore, some of the signs couldn't be tracked, and motion had to be approximated using linear moves. This looks rather blah. There's a 90-second promotion for the movie at the beginning of the laserdisc. (It required 1/3 of all the typesetting in the script.) I've used ordered chapters to move it to the end. If your player doesn't support ordered chapters, the promo will play first.

In any case, Kindaichi is on the job again, cracking a complex case under enormous pressure, with his life, and the lives of his friends, on the line. If you'd like to see how it all turns out, you can get the release from the usual torrent sites or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.