Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Recruiting: Translator for Hidamari no Ki

After years of searching, the team has found workable raws for 2000's Hidamari no Ki, the 25-episode series based on Tezuka Osamu's 1984 manga. Now we need a translator who is prepared to do justice to this show. It's about a doctor and a samurai in late Bakumatsu Japan, so specialized vocabulary knowledge may be needed.

This show is a true orphan, abandoned by four different groups with just four episodes completed. It's been on my wish list since Orphan Fansubs was organized.

If you have the skills and the interest to work on this series, please contact me on IRC, irc.rizon.net.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo movie 1

The Japanese anime-watching public seems to love mystery stories. Meitantei Conan (Detective Conan), a show about a teenage detective with the physical appearance of a primary school student, has run for more than 850 episodes, 15 OVAs, and 15 feature-length movies - longer than Naruto or One Piece. Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo (The Young Kindaichi's Case Files) hasn't been quite as successful, but it ran for 148 episodes in its first TV apperance in 1996, with two movies and two OVAs. It was subsequently revived for another 47 episodes recently.

Kindaichi retells the crime-solving adventures of Kindaichi Hajime, a high school student who is the grandson of a famous (fictional) detective, Kindaichi Kousuke. The plots often involve supernatural elements or locked room mysteries. In some ways, the show seems like a deliberate throwback to the "Golden Age" mysteries of the 1920s and 1930s, when the murder or murders were committed in an isolated location (a country house, a snowbound train, an ocean liner) among a small, self-contained group of suspects, and the amateur detective solved the crime by pure deductive logic.

In particular, the first Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo movie reminds me of the pre-World War II stories of John Dickson Carr, who wrote locked room murder mysteries almost exclusively. It has all the virtues and defects of Carr's stories: ingenious (or overly ingenious) plotting, a complex, seemingly insolvable puzzle, and too many interchangeable straw characters. Carr is generally credited with the "best" locked room mystery ever written, The Three Coffins (in the UK, The Hollow Man). The trick in the Kindaichi movie kind of reminds me of Carr's book. More I dare not say, but you might want to peruse chapter 17, "The Locked Room Lecture," after you've watched the show.

In this movie, Kindaichi and his not-quite-girlfriend Miyuki return to an isolated island hotel/theater, where the Illusion Theater Company is going to present a non-musical production of The Phantom of the Opera. ("Return" because the TV show has a Phantom of the Opera arc that supposedly happened first, even though the TV show aired after the movie was released.) The actors are at each others' throats, and pretty soon there's a murder in a locked room, apparently committed by the Phantom himself. Things spiral out of control from there, and it ultimately takes twenty minutes of pure exposition for Kindaichi to explain what happened. Not one word of it is believable, but Golden Age mysteries were rarely meant to be realistic. The puzzle was everything. Still, the movie plays fair, as the "rules" of the Golden Age mystery required. All the clues are in plain sight, and the solution follows logically from the clues... sort of.

For this movie only, Kindaichi was played by Yamaguchi Kappei, who jumped ship to the rival Detective Conan/Case Closed franchise. His prolific career includes leading roles in properties as diverse as Gravitation, Kiki's Delivery Service, Ranma 1/2, Inuyasha, and the currently running Kyoukai no Rinne. Nakagawa Akiko (Miyuki) stayed with the franchise, and it remains her best known role. The director, Nishio Daisuke, helmed both the original TV series and the more recent reincarnations. He has a good feeling for building suspense through camera angles and cutting; in one sequence, he even riffs on (or rips off) the famous shower sequence in Psycho.

The movie is a laserdisc encode, one of many that various team members purchased in Japan. Iri translated, M74 timed, I edited and typeset, and bananadoyouwanna, M74, Nemesis, and VigorousJammer did QC. Erik of Piyo Piyo Productions encoded. 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. You can always encode your own version.😋 Erik also kept the production company logos at the start, providing fine example of "state of the art" CGI circa 1996.

While this release is not the first English version of the first Kindaichi movie, it's the first with accurate subtitles and a laserdisc (rather than VHS) raw. You can get it from the usual torrent sources, from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net, or via this magnet link. The second movie is in a second batch of laserdiscs and will get done Sometime Real Soon™.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

"I am Son Gokuu"

Orphan is proud to announce a new high-definition release of the 1989 TV special Tezuka Osamu Monogatari: Boku wa Songoku, or in English, The Tezuka Osamu Story: I Am Son Gokuu. This was the last of eight Tezuka Production specials broadcast by NHK between 1979 and 1989 during its annual telethon. This TV special is half a sort-of autobiography, and half a science-fiction retelling of Journey to the West (Saiyuuki), a classic tale that was, according to this film, an obsession of Osamu's from his childhood.

Like a number of other Orphan Fansub projects, this one started with a request on BakaBT for complete and accurate subs. For the original DVD release, laalg and convexity worked on the translation sequentially, archdeco did the timing, I edited, convexity provided the styling and typesetting, and CP and I did the QC. For the BD release, M74 tweaked the timing, I reset the signs, and M74 did a final round of QC. M74 also encoded from a BDMV graciously provided by Beatrice Raws.

The autobiographical half of the show embroiders on the known facts of Osamu's life (for more details, see this fan web site.) Osamu showed an early interest, indeed obsession with both insects and drawing. As a result, he was teased as a child. Too young, fortunately, to serve in the Japanese military, in 1944 he was drafted as a factory worker in Osaka and harassed by his bosses for being more interested in drawing than in working. He was present when Osaka was firebombed, and it gave him a lifelong hatred of war and violence.

After the war, he started drawing manga while finishing his training as a doctor, and by the early 1950s he was a well-known mangaka. However, his interest in creating anime (or as they were known back then, manga films) had to wait until the end of the decade, when his financial success as a manga artist enabled his to form Mushi Productions. In 1963, his studio began producing Astro Boy, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The film is not a strict autobiography. Some of the scenes play fast and loose with chronology. In the film, Osamu goes to see, and is profoundly influenced by, the Wan Brothers Princess Iron Fan. Because Princess Iron Fan was produced in Shanghai and was released early in 1941, during the Japanese occupation, it's conceivable that it was shown in Japan and that Osamu saw it before the outbreak of war with the US. However, the film shows him as very young, whereas he was 13 years old in 1941. Further, he and Son Gokuu talk about a war breaking out soon, but in 1941 the Sino-Japanese war had been going on for almost four years.

The second half of the show is a science-fiction retelling of Journey to the West. It's partly a comedy and partly a moral parable about the value of good in the face of violence and evil. If it seems a little rushed - Son Gokuu the monkey is converted from egotistical bully to galactic savior inside of 15 minutes - that's only to be expected when the entire tale has to be compressed into half an hour. It's very standard Osamu fare, aimed at youngsters and young adults as they make the transition from self-centered behavior to societally-grounded adults.

Some notes on the translation, courtesy of convexity:
  • "It's the weirdo Osamushi!" Osamushi = Osamu (his name) + mushi (bug). Osamu (spelled 治) is his real name. Osamu (spelled 治虫) later became his pen name; a character meaning "bug" (mushi, 虫) was added to make the name a reference to "osamushi," or "ground beetle." (In fact, at first his pen name was pronounced "Tezuka Osamushi" rather than "Tezuka Osamu.") Ground beetles were his favorite insects, in part because their name resembled his. In this scene, "Osamushi" is being used as a derogatory nickname, probably as a portmanteau of "Osamu" and "mushi"; an English equivalent might be "Bug-sama."
  • "And accompanied by Hakkai, Sagojou, and Son Gokuu..." Hakkai (八戒 Zhu Bajie) means eight precepts in Chinsese, Sagojou (沙悟浄 Shā Wùjìng) means "sand aware of purity", and Son Gokuu (孫悟空 Sūn Wùkōng) in Chinese means "monkey king."
  • "Sanzou-houshi continued on his long, long journey to India." Sanzou-houshi (三蔵法師 Sānzāng fǎshī) means "priest who knows the tri-pi Taka"), while Tenjiku (天竺) is old Chinese for India.
  • "A monkey kicks some serious ass in this manga film!" The term "anime" had not been invented; cartoons were called manga films.
  • "Frogs are croaking, we are going! We're going home!" Kaeru (蛙 かえる) means frog, while kaeru (帰る) means go home; in short, a Japanese pun.
For more on Son Gokuu's and his accessories, Kintoun and Nyoibou, consult any of the Wikipedia articles on Journey to the West or Saiyuuki.

So enjoy some more Tezuka Osamu goodness, now in glorious high-definition! You can get it from the usual torrent sites, from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net, or via this magnet link.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Recruiting Translators, QCs!

We're up to our necks in scripts and raws at Orphan Fansubs; the backlog has never been so healthy (and so formidable). Here's a status report on currently active projects.
  • Stop!! Hibari-kun. All episodes encoded, translated, timed, typeset, and through QC. Episodes 1-6 released. This project desperately needs a dedicated translation checker. Awaiting translation check.
  • Smash Hit DVD. All episodes transcribed, encoded, timed; episodes 1-4 translation checked, edited, typeset, and in QC. Awaiting translation check and QC.
  • Condition Green. All episodes encoded; episode 1 translated and in QC. Awaiting translation and QC.
  • Eien no Filena. A joint project with Stardust. All episodes translated, timed, and translation checked; episodes 1-3 edited and in QC. Awaiting QC.
  • Chameleon. All episodes translated. Episodes 1-2 released. Awaiting translation check on episodes 3-6.
  • Kasei Yakyoku. A joint project with Iquix. Episode 1 translated; episodes 2-3 in translation check; episodes 4 in translation. We desperately need better raws. We have found a laserdisc for episodes 3-4 but need the volume with episodes 1-2.
  • Every Day Is Sunday. All episodes encoded; episodes 1-4 timed; episodes 1-2 translation checked, edited, typeset, and in QC. Awaiting translation check, timing, and QC.
  • Bewitching Nozomi. Lupin Gang scripts. Episodes 1-3 timed, edited, typeset, and QCed. Episode 1 translation checked. Awaiting translation check on episodes 2-3.
  • Kindaichi movie 2. Awaiting translation.
  • Yuukan Club (Leisure Club). Awaiting translation.
As you can see, translation, translation checking, and QC are the major bottlenecks. Translation issues have led to putting a number of other projects on the shelf for now, including Boyfriend, Dokushin Apartment, Greed, MapleStory, Marginal Prince, Sanada 10, and Techno Police 21C. New, interesting raws are arriving all the time, thanks to ongoing Laserdisc purchasing in Japan.

As usual, if a project strikes your fancy and you'd like to help with translation or other parts of the process, please let me know.

[Updated 12-Aug-2017]

Friday, July 7, 2017

Cosmic Fantasy

So here's another OVA promoting a video game series, 1994's Cosmic Fantasy, released as a tie-in to the last installment of the franchise, Cosmic Fantasy 4. The game series petered out after that, so there was no reason to migrate the OVA from VHS and Laserdisc to digital media. It has lingered in analog limbo ever since its release.

Cosmic Fantasy takes place in a space-traveling universe plagued by space pirates. To combat the criminals, the Cosmic Security Corporation dispatches Cosmic Hunters with magical powers. The OVA focuses on Cosmic Hunter Yuu and his partner Saya, Yuu's mechanical flying squirrel Monmo, and his shady cat-person merchant friend, Nyan, as they confront a rookie space pirate named Belga. Space piracy's a tough business, so Belga wants Yuu as a partner and lover, or if that's not possible, as a trophy to enhance her neophyte reputation. There's some action, some rom-com hijinks between Yuu and Saya, a lot of comedy, particularly involving Nyan, and of course, an inconclusive ending. It's quite enjoyable, if not particularly deep.

Like many shows of the period, Cosmic Fantasy has some fanservice, but it's equal opportunity and not overly strident:

The games and the spin-off doujins are a lot more explicit. No, I'm not providing links.

Technically, this is not the first version in English. However, the existing subs are guesswork and jokes. For example, the line "Yuu already has Saya as a partner!" was rendered as "Yuu already has Saya and he hates green tits!" You get the idea.

Speaking of translation, the subtitle is literally "The Galactic Panther's/Leopard's Trap." The Japanese word for panther/leopard has a subtext meaning a seductive woman, so it's been rendered as "Temptress." Because the show is not set in Japan, there are no honorifics.

The leads are played by a quartet of famous voice actresses, all of whom worked on the video games as well. Takayama Minami (Yuu) is a legend. She played Kiki in Kiki's Delivery Service, the title role in Space Girl Yamamoto Yohko, and, most famously, Conan Edogawa in the more than 800 episodes, OVAs, movies, and specials of the Detective Conan franchise. She also sang the ending song. Sakuma Rei (Belga) played Shampoo in Ranma 1/2, Carmencita in Starship Troopers, and Batako in all the Soreike! Anpanman properties. Takada Yumi (Saya and Monmo) played 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. Miyuki Sanae, whose performance as Nyan is a comic gem, appeared as Button in the Yu Yu Hashuko franchise and Alpha in New Dream Hunter Rem.

This release had an interesting gestation. A friend of one of Orphan's translators, skypilot, offered to buy the Laserdisc if skypilot would translate the show. A copy of the Laserdisc was purchased in Japan and shipped to Erik of Piyo Piyo Productions, who captured it as a raw. Then Real Life intervened, and skypilot's plan to translate the show was delayed until this month. VigorousJammer located an English playing guide for Cosmic Fantasy 2, the only installment released in English; this provided the attack names. ninjacloud timed the dialog, Yogicat timed the songs, I edited and typeset, and Nemesis, Vigorousjammer, and bananadoyouwanna did QC. The encode is from Piyo Piyo Productions.

So enjoy this light-hearted sci-fi action adventure; I certainly did. You can get it from the usual torrent sites, from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #news or #nibl on irc.rizon.net, or from this magnet link.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Ginga Tansa 2100-nen: Border Planet

For me, bringing out a new or improved version of a Tezuka Osamu anime is always a thrill. Accordingly, M74 and Orphan are proud to present a new version of Ginga Tansa 2100-nen: Border Planet (Galaxy Investigation 2100: Border Planet), his 1986 movie-length TV special. 

Ginga Tansa has been available in English translation for some time, using VHS-based raws and reasonable English subtitles. This version uses an R2J DVD source, purchased and encoded by M74, and a revised translation, thoroughly checked by skypilot. M74 timed, M74 and I edited, I typeset, and Redac, M74, and I all did QC. The result is a version with better video and improved subtitles.

Ginga Tansa is structured as an anthology of related shorter stories, a bit like Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles. The touching prologue wordlessly shows how the childhood friendship of two boys, Prokion and Subaru, and a girl, Mira, slowly morphs into a love triangle. Prokion eventually wins Mira's hand, leaving Subaru heart-broken. However, Prokion's and Mira's love idyll is interrupted when he succumbs to a deadly space virus. Mira must be placed in suspended animation to prevent her from dying as well. Subaru, still very much in love with Mira, vows to search all of space for the source of the deadly virus, so that Mira can be treated and cured. This leads to the story proper.

The first short story is a classic haunted house story, in which the crew members of Subaru's spaceship are picked off one after another by some unknown force. The second story takes place on a ruined mining planet, where the inhabitants are desperate to depart but seem unable to do so. The third story is a vampire analogy, with depraved inhabitants preying on their own kind in a quest for immortality. In between each act are wordless interludes of Subaru visiting Mira as she sleeps inside a glass case: the Prince visiting Snow White or Sleeping Beauty.

In the end, Subaru's quest is successful, although how and where he finds the source of the virus is never shown. However, his success comes at a price, and the ending is not quite unalloyed joy. It's a fitting conclusion to a show that emphasizes Tezuka Osamu's classic themes: the power of love, the possibility of horror amid beauty and vice versa, and the indomitability of the human spirit.

The movie is filled with great touches. The wordless interludes of Subaru gazing at Mira in her suspended state are very poignant.  The second story opens with a homage to various scenes from Star Wars, including the "creature cantina" and Jabba the Hutt's sinuous, snake-like dancing girl; the background art includes a classic "RKO Radio Picture" poster from the 1940s. Various familiar characters from Tezuka Osamu's films and manga show up in bits parts, including Shunsaku Ban from The Green Cat and Metropolis and Astro Boy himself.

Tomiyama Kei, who played Subaru, had a very successful career in the last century, but his premature death more than twenty years ago means he is not well known to modern audiences. Katsuko Masako, who plays the maiden-in-distress Mira, has had a prolific career, but she is best known to me for her portrait of another female ingénue, Maroko from Gosenzo-sama Banbanzai. The musical score, by Haneda Kentarou, makes effective use of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23, second movement (Andante), for its contemplative moments.

Without further ado, Ginga Tansa 2100-nen: Border Planet.

Update: Thanks to the kind folks at Beatrice Raws, Ginga Tansa 2100-nen: Border Planet is now available in glorious HD, in a 720p release from Orphan and M74, and a 1080p release from Beatrice. Script changes have been minor, other than adjustments for the larger screen area. Enjoy Ginga Tansa all over again in high-definition!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Fire Emblem

Here's another show that, like Wolf Guy, starts in the middle and ends without a conclusion. Released in 1996, Fire Emblem is a two episode OVA based on the popular Nintendo game series of the same name - specifically on the first game, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light. It sets up a complicated backstory about warring nations on the mythical continent of Akaneia. The evil sorcerer Garnef of Khadin has resurrected the Dragon of Darkness, Medeus of Duhrua. Together, they intend to Conquer the World. (What else would an evil sorcerer and a dragon of darkness do, anyway?) Their forces overrun Aritia and kill its king, Cornelius, bearer of the mystic sword Falcion, which is lost. The king's son, Mars, is forced into exile with a few surviving soldiers in the country of Talis. And all this happens in the prologue!

With such a rapid exposition of events, one might expect the story to move briskly towards the quest to recover Falcion, followed by a climactic confrontation between the Aritian exiles and the Big Bads, Garnef and Medeus. Instead, we get two side stories. In the first episode, Mars and the Aritians (sounds like a boy band, doesn't it?) save Talis' main port from an infestation of pirates. In the second episode, they rescue a healer, a nun named Lena, from local bandits. Only at the end of episode two, as the music is building towards the end credits, do Mars and his friends turn their sites on freeing their country. The climax is many turns - um, episodes - away, but the story is over. You can read how it all turns out, in the game at least, here.

After working on several OVA series that seem to go nowhere, I've concluded that they're intended as teasers for other media properties, kind of like the OADs that are bundled in manga volumes nowadays. If the OVAs actually resolved the story, the viewer would have no incentive to read the manga (Wolf Guy) or play the game (Fire Emblem and Cosmic Fantasy). But any viewer hooked by the OVAs would be forced to spend more money to learn how things turn out. Of course, if you don't read/speak/understand Japanese, that strategy doesn't really work, and the viewer is, as we say in English, SOOL.

In the voice cast, Mars is played by Midorikawa Hikaru. He's a sort of Renaissance man. In addition to starring in anime series such as Fushigi Yuugi and Gundam Wing and appearing in dozens of others, he's done numerous voices for video games and drama CDs, sung in several music groups, and written manga. Tange Sakura, who plays Sheeda of Talis, has had a long career, ranging from Princess Milli in Maze to one of the Chaika's in the recent series of the same name. The career of the director, Misawa Shin, spans thirty years, from High School Kinengumi in the mid 80s to the recent TV series Gingitsune. Kouzu Hiroyuki's music fits but doesn't stand out.

Orphan's release of Fire Emblem is the first English version from a Laserdisc source; all other releases have been based on the US or Italian VHS tapes. The release has its own complicated backstory. A colleague in another group had a friend who really liked Fire Emblem and bought the laserdiscs in Japan. Unable to rip them himself, the friend sent the discs to Erik of Piyo Piyo Productions for encoding. However, the original buyer really only wanted the raws, so he allowed Orphan to make a new English-subtitled version.

The subs are from the US VHS release, specifically from Exiled-Destiny's softsub version. We didn't bother to check the subs; based on the English audio track, they're a real translation and not dubtitles. There's no agreement about how the names should be spelled across multiple sources, so we've gone with official romanizations, where they exist. M74 did the timing, and I edited. Nemesis, Mizu no Kamo, and Xenath3297 did QC, and Erik of Piyo Piyo Productions encoded the laserdiscs. The result looks pretty decent.

So here's Fire Emblem with about as good an encode as we're going to see without a digital remaster. The show may leave you scratching your head, but it won't leave you tearing out your hair. As usual, you can get it from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #news or #nibl on irc.rizon.net, from the usual torrent sites, or via this magnet link.