Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Junod

Marcel Junod (1904-1961), a Swiss doctor, was a field representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) during some of the most tumultuous times of the 20th century - the 1930s and 1940s. He worked tirelessly to ease the suffering of victims of violence, first in the Italo-Ethiopian War of 1935-36, then the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939, and ultimately in World War II. By happenstance, he arrived in Japan just after the atomic bombs had been dropped. He was the first non-Japanese doctor to visit Hiroshima, where he delivered 15 tons of badly needed medical supplies. His life story is documented in a 2010 Japanese educational anime entitled, simply, Junod.

Dr. Junod's story was indeed remarkable. He was a first-hand witness to Italy's use of poison gas and its indiscriminate bombing of civilians in the war with Ethiopia. In Spain, he successfully brokered prisoner exchanges, even though the ICRC had no legal standing in a civil war. Eventually, his tireless work on behalf of prisoners of war brought him into contact with two of the most prominent Allied prisoners held by the Japanese: Lt. General Jonathan Wainwright (US) and Lt. General Arthur Percival (UK). Although there was little he could do for them, his refusal to knuckle under to the Japanese prison camp commander earned their respect. Following Japan's surrender, Wainwright and Percival were flown to Japan for the signing of the formal surrender documents. There, they met Junod as he was attempting to organize a relief mission to Hiroshima. Their influence with Douglas MacArthur led to the release of 15 tons of badly-needed medical supplies for Junod's work. After the war, Junod became a prominent activist in UNICEF, continued his work at the ICRC, and worked as a surgeon, until felled by a heart attack at the relatively young age of 57.

Dr. Junod's life deserves commemoration, and this film covers the highlights. However, it could have been stronger. For example, the film uses a framing device to make the story more accessible to children. Two middle school students named Yuu and Mii (ho ho) revisit scenes from Junod's career via a time-travel dream during a school trip to Hiroshima. The lesson they draw (and the film draws) - that one must stand up to school bullies and not just stand by - is a pretty small-scale conclusion for such dramatic events. A simpler, more documentary focus would have worked better and had greater impact, I believe.

As a historian, I would have liked more attention paid to the ambiguities of Junod's situation. The ICRC was constrained both legally and politically. Legally, the only treaties it could rely on were the Geneva Conventions about the treatment of the wounded and of military prisoners. (Treatment of civilians would not be addressed until after World War II.) Politically, it was constrained by Swiss neutrality and the geographic reality of being surrounded by Axis military might. As a result, the ICRC turned a blind eye to German atrocities against civilians, even though it had detailed information about the Holocaust by the end of 1942. (The Allied governments and the Vatican had the same information and kept silent as well.) Did Junod know? When he went to visit Japan in 1945, was he aware of the extent of Japanese crimes against Chinese civilians and Allied prisoners? The film does not address these questions.

This release uses an HDTV capture; the raw is badly marred with both logos. Iri translated, Yogicat timed, I edited and typeset, and Nemesis, M74, and bananadoyouwanna QCed. The encode is by tipota and is as good as the source material allows. (The animation is fairly low-grade.) There is no Blu-Ray release of the film, and even DVDs are only available to charitable and educational institutions.

One translation note: the film refers to the two sides in the Spanish Civil War as Republicans (supporters of the Spanish Republic) and Francoists (supporters of the military insurrection led by General Franco). The insurrectionists never used that term, referring to themselves instead as Nationalists. I have used "Nationalists" in the dialog.

Despite its flaws as a movie, Junod is a timely reminder of the need for good men to do good work in the face of evil. Its lessons seems particularly apropos these days. You can get it from the usual torrent sources, from Orphan|Arutha in channels #news or #nibl or irc.rizon.net, or from this magnet link.


Saturday, June 24, 2017

Time Slip Ichimannen Prime Rose

From 1978 to 1989, NHK's annual 24-hour telethon, "Love Will Save the World," frequently featured an animated special from Tezuka Productions. Over the next decade, eight of them were broadcast:
  • 1978 - Hyakumannen Chikyuu no Tabi Bander Book (One Million Year Trip: Bander Book)
  • 1979 - Marine Express
  • 1980 - Fumoon
  • 1981 - Bremen 4: Jigoku no Naka no Tenshi-tachi (Bremen 4: Angels in Hell)
  • 1983 - Time Slip Ichimannen Prime Rose (A Time Slip of 10,000 Years: Prime Rose)
  • 1984 - Daishizen no Majuu Bagi (Baggy)
  • 1986 - Ginga Tansa 2100-nen: Border Planet (Galaxy Investigation 2100: Border Planet)
  • 1989 - Tezuka Osamu Monogatari: Boku wa Son Gokuu (Tezuka Osamu Story: I Am Son Goku)
(The 1985 special, Akuma Tou no Prince: Mitsume ga Tooru, was derived from a Tezuka Osamu manga but was produced by Toei without his involvement.)

All eight special have, at various times, been released on DVD and translated, the last two by Orphan. Recently, all of them have been collected in a pair of Blu-Ray box sets. M74 has now released a 720p high-definition encode of the fifth, Time Slip Ichimannen Prime Rose.

After the failure of Mushi Production's attempts to create "anime for adults" (as opposed to adult or h-anime), Osamu repaired his reputation by returning to manga. Eventually, he started Tezuka Productions and began working on feature length anime again. Unlike the ill-fated Anirama series, Tezuka Production's feature length films were intended to appeal to a broader viewing demographic, although there were certainly some elements not intended for children.

Prime Rose is pretty typical of the group. The story begins with a present-day catastrophe. A giant space fortress, shaped like a death mask, breaks apart, and the pieces crash into Kujikuri Beach in Japan and Dallas in the United States. Both cities are thrown 10,000 years into the future. Sometime later, time patroller Tanbara Gai is sent to discover what happened. He encounters a future where one future city (Groman) has enslaved the other (Kukritt). Aided by a runaway noblewomen, Emiya, who is actually the princess of Kukritt, Prime Rose; and hindered by the inconvenient presence of his little brother, Bunretsu; Gai must coach the Kukritten slaves into rebellion, defeat the Groman army, and confront the sinister force behind it all - the secret hidden within the original Death Mask space fortress. This is done with a maximum of action and humor and a minimum of common sense, as a hard sci-fi story evolves into a sword-and-sorcery fantasy.

Prime Rose is not all-ages entertainment. The show includes a fair amount of bloodshed and violence, including an on-screen execution and a flogging. There's also lots of fanservice:



(This doesn't strike me as the most practical costume for a swordswoman, but what do I know? And a later bathing scene poses interesting questions about how Prime Rose manages to fit in this outfit at all.) But mostly it's comedy and zany touches; for example, Tanbara Gai's superior officer is a dead ringer for Mr. Spock. In the end, good triumphs, the bad guys (and space fortresses) get their comeuppance, and the hero and heroine are ready for new adventures.

The basic script is a professional translation and has not been checked. M74 timed and encoded. I edited and QCed. Beatrice Raws provided the BDMV (thank you!). I hope that more of these specials can be released in high-definition in the future.


Thursday, June 15, 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.
  • Junod. Translated. Awaiting timing.
  • Fire Emblem. R1 scripts. Timed, edited, typeset. In QC.
  • Bewitching Nozomi. Lupin gang scripts. Episode 1 timed, edited and typeset. I'd like a translation check on the original scripts. Awaiting timing and translation check.
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, Cosmic Fantasy, Dokushin Apartment, Greed, MapleStory, Marginal Prince, Sanada 10, and Techno Police 21C. New, interesting raws are arriving all the time.

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 15-Jun-2017]
 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Grim Douwa - Kin no Tori

Here's a bluebird, or more accurately, a golden bird - the 1987 movie Grim Douwa - Kin no Tori (Grimm's Fairy Tales - The Golden Bird). Released as part of Toei's Manga Matsura series, it was actually animated by Madhouse and released after a three year delay. The delay earned it a reputation as a "lost masterpiece." That's a bit overstated, but it's a beautiful and comic cartoon "for all ages" - rather different from Toei's faux Disney fare in the 1960s. I thoroughly enjoyed it. As one of the QCs said, it's adorable.

Kin no Tori is based on a fairy tale (number 57) collected by the Brothers Grimm. As is often the case, the original tale includes grim elements - such as attempted fratricide - not considered suitable for modern audiences, so the anime is considerably toned down. In this version, a wicked witch sends out her tame golden bird to steal the golden apples of the king of Kaiser Castle. He sets this three sons to watch for the thief, but only the youngest, Hans, stays awake and sees the bird. He tries to shoot it and succeeds in dislodging a golden feather. The three brothers are sent to pursue the bird, but only Hans really takes the task seriously. After many adventures and hazards, Hans reaps his reward. And they all lived happily ever after... sort of.

The summary can't convey the movie's humor, its imaginative visuals, and its outstanding voice cast. Madhouse not only did the animation, but the head of the studio, Maruyama Masao, did the layout. Here are two examples of the visual imagery:





The voice actors are amazing, led by legendary seiyuu Tomiyama Kei's bravura (and cross-gender) performance as the wicked witch. Kei, who won a posthumous Special Achievement Award in 2007, appeared in numerous series and OVAs before his untimely death in 1995. Yanami Jougi gave a hilarious turn as the wine-loving Big Bird (no relation to Sesame Street). He's better known to me as Ozora Ibari in Stop!! Hibari-kun. Takiguchi Junpei, who played the villainous king of Kanemacchi Castle, and Miyauchi Kohei, who played the more virtuous king of Kaiser Castle, also each appeared in one episode of Stop!! Hibari-kun. The female seiyuu playing the children (male or female) are uniformly good as well. The music, by Kawachi Kuni, is mostly lighthearted and fits the mood well, and the songs are a lot of fun, particularly the witch's insert song. The director, Hirata Toshio, directed numerous other movies and TV shows.

Iri translated the movie. M74 did the pre-timing before translation, and ninjacloud did fine timing after translation. I edited and typeset (there are only two signs, although one of them accounts for 80% of the script). Nemesis and konnakude QCed. The raw is an HDTV encode from heponeko.

Enjoy this golden-age classic in beautiful high-definition! You can get the release at the usual torrent sites, bot Orphan|Arutha in IRC channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net, or from this magnet link.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Yawara! Sore Yuke Koshinuke Kids!! (HD)

FroZen-EviL just released the 1992 Yawara movie, Yawara! Sore Yuke Koshinuke Kids!!, loosely translated as Yawara! Go Get 'Em, Wimpy Kids!!, in glorious high-definition. (The last word in the title is often misrendered as Kiss, by the way, which puts a wholly incorrect spin on the content.) This is a side story that occurs somewhere in the middle of the TV series. Hanazono asks Yawara for help coaching a pickup team of judo losers who are up against an elite judo club sponsored by none other than arch oujo-sama Honami. The plot follows almost the same arc as the one of the Mitsuba Women's Junior College matches in the TV series, but Yawara! has never been known for the originality of its plot arcs. However, the spotlight is very much on the wimpy kids and their dysfunctional families, rather than Yawara-chan and her friends and her dysfunctional family.

When I first worked on Wimpy Kids!!, I was somewhat disappointed, because it all seemed so familiar. It's a traditional sports movie: a team of losers, up against a superior foe, decide to fight back and triumph after a lot of hard work. Now, I find its standard story arc endearing. The wimpy kids are well characterized, their struggles are given proper weight, and the ultimate fight is suspenseful. Yawara and the rest of the main cast play a subordinate role; this is very much a movie about the kids. It moves along quickly and doesn't overstay its welcome.

This version was done directly from the remastered Blu-Ray box set, and it looks glorious. The script is not much changed from the original VHS-based release, but I have excised a few more exclamation points. The incomparable kokujin-kun did the original translation and timing; he also found and added the insert song lyrics for this version. ninjacloud retimed for the new encode. I edited both versions and added actual typesetting; kokujin-kun fixed up my mistakes. The original QC team included CP, kokujin-kun, Juggen, sangofe, Saji, and Skr; Mizu no Kamo and I QCed the new release. Suzaku encoded from the Blu-Ray box set, which was obtained by our late colleague, CP. As always, we miss him very much.

So enjoy this new version of Yawara! Sore Yuke Koshinuke Kids!! Even if you have the previous version, I recommend this one for its superior visuals, improved typesetting, and additional song translation. I hope there will be more Blu-Ray Yawara in the near future.



Monday, May 15, 2017

Stop!! Hibari-kun! 1-6


Orphan Fansubs is releasing Stop!! Hibari-kun!, which aired in 1983-1984. The only attempt to fansub the show was abandoned after five or six episodes, making it a true orphan. Stop!! Hibari-kun! is 35 episodes, so we'll be releasing it in batches, as translation checking is completed.

Stop!! Hibari-kun! is nominally the story of an orphaned teenager named Sakamoto Kosaku, who moves in with the family of a "friend" of his mother. This friend, Ozora Ibari, just happens to be the head of a Tokyo-area yakuza group. The actual Ozora family, as opposed to the mob family, consists of three daughters (Tsugumi, Tsubame, and Suzume) and a cross-dressing son, Hibari, who is the best-looking of them all. Kosaku is initially smitten with Hibari but tries to draw back when he finds out that Hibari is actually a boy. Comedic mayhem ensues.

This description makes the show sound like a madcap anime comedy with a "trap" lead character. Cross-dressing boys (or traps) are fairly common in anime and manga (BakaBT has more than 300 entries with the trap label). However, Stop!! Hibari-kun differs in a couple of respects. First, it is quite clear than Hibari is not cross-dressing for fun but really wants to be a girl ("identifies as female" in the current jargon); that is, Hibari is transgender. Second, Hibari's sexual identity is played straight. She is not an object of ridicule. The comedy arises from the reactions of the people around her, from her apoplectic father to her irritated sisters to the utterly confused Kosaku, who is increasingly attracted to Hibari even though she is physically a male.

I don't want to make Stop!! Hibari-kun sound like some politically correct precursor to modern gender attitudes. It often falls in with Japanese stereotypes about gay and transgender characters, as can be seen in chapter 21 of the manga (animated in episode 22). However, Hibari-kun herself is presented respectfully. This treatment of a transgender character is rare in Japanese anime and manga, outside of serious stories about gender dysphoria such as Hourou Musuko. For example, the 1994 OVA Otaku no Seiza also features a transgender character, Jonjon. She is presented as useless, and her ultimate fate – getting gang-raped by three effeminate bodybuilders – is treated as a joke. In contrast, Hibari is shown as a superb athlete, a capable martial artist, a good singer, an A student, and an excellent planner. She's also rather proficient with firearms. At the same time, she's a more or less typical teenaged girl, worried about her body, crushing on Kosaku, and exchanging clothes with her sisters.

Both the manga and the anime peter out without resolution. The mangaka, Eguchi Hisashi, said that he ran out of ideas. This becomes quite obvious as the anime series progresses. The same jokes are recycled over and over, particularly how men of all ages are smitten with Hibari at first sight. The mangaka couldn't fashion an actual plotline, because the passage of time would create increasingly intractable problems for Hibari as her body matured and changed; so the manga just stops. After episode 22, the anime stumbles on with anime-original filler episodes that push Hibari aside in favor of other comic clich├ęs and tropes. The series really should have been half as long.

Kosaku was played by Furuya Tohru, a well-known voice actor of that era. He also played the lead male roles in Kimagure Orange Road and Sailor Moon. Hibari was voiced by a female seiyuu, Majima Satomi, as might be expected. Satomi married Tohru, and after that she retired, a happier ending than Kosaku and Hibari were allowed. Hirano Fumi, who played Tsugumi, went on to voice Lum in all the Urusei Yatsura properties, but none of the other featured players rose to prominence.

Stop!! Hibari-kun is an unusually difficult series. The dialog is fast-paced, the signs (all hand-drawn) are numerous, and the show is long. Moho Kareshi translated the entire series. Iri, Onibaba, and tenkenX6 did translation checking on these first six episodes. Yogicat timed, I edited and typeset, Juggen styled the OP and ED, and Nemesis, konnakude, and VigorousJammer QCed. M74 encoded from a remastered DVD box. The remastering did little to improve the film burn and jitter in the show, but it's better than the original DVD release.

Some translation notes:

Romanization. All the long Japanese vowels are transliterated as is, so Kosaku rather than Kohsaku or Kousaku. This causes some discordance with the English names shown in the ending song.

Wani. Under stress, Ozora Ibari sees "shiroi wani," white alligators. "Wani" can mean either crocodile or alligator. I've chosen alligator because the critters are drawn with rounded snouts, like alligators, rather than trapezoidal ones, like crocodiles.

Tsugumi, Tsubame, Hibari, Suzume. All the Ozora children are named for birds: thrush, swallow, skylark, and sparrow, respectively.

Ep01. "I’ll give you one of Nakamori Akina’s armpit hairs." Nakamori Akina was one of the most popular singers in Japan in the 1980s.

Ep02. Sparta Tatsugoro's name includes “tatsu” (dragon), so he's known as the Spartan Dragon.

Ep03. Ibari's farewell haiku uses the lyrics of the Japanese children's song Donguri korokoro. The song is featured in several other episodes.

Ep04.
  • "What's your name? Joe? Gen? Ryuji?" The heroes of boxing animes Ashita no Joe, Ganbare Genki, and Ring ni Kakeru, respectively.
  • Kujikuri Beach is a 60km beach north of Tokyo. The town of Kujikuri was one of two places transported into the future in Tezuka Osamu's Time Slip Ichimannen: Prime Rose.
Ep06. "Who am I, Pegira?" A monster that appeared in episode 5 of the Ultra Q TV series.

Orphan started on this series 18 months ago. All of the episodes are done, except for translation checking. It has proven difficult to keep a translation checker engaged; three different people worked on the first six episodes. If you're an experienced translator and want to give the dialog a thorough review, please let me know ASAP. Maybe we can get the next batch of episodes out a little faster.

Meanwhile, enjoy Stop!! Hibari-kun! and forgive its numerous trespasses. You can get it from the Orphan|Arutha bot on irc.rizon.net in #news or #nibl, from the usual torrent sites, or via this magnet link.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Scoopers

I try not to criticize other fansubbers. After more than a decade working on fansubs, I know just how hard, tedious, and time-consuming the process is. It's easy to make mistakes, through inexperience, carelessness, or both. Leechers and blogging critics can be merciless. Mostly, I abide by Thumper's rule: "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all." But every now and then, a fansub appears that simply drives me up a wall.

Scoopers, a 1987 OVA, had been on my list of possibilities ever since it appeared in an endless BakaBT forum topic about old shows needing subtitles. I had banked the raw for future use. Then, a group called Kingmenu offered a version with English subtitles, and it showed up as an offer on BakaBT. I eagerly downloaded their version and started to watch. Then I started throwing things at the screen.

Kids, I'd like to offer a few simple rules if you're thinking about fansubbing an old show into English.
  1. Don't upscale your source, particularly if the source is bad, like a VHS or Laserdisc rip. Enlarging a bad source makes it look worse. Artifacts look 100% worse when they've been upscaled by 50%.
  2. If your source is an encode and not an original VHS tape or Laserdisc, don't re-encode it. Whenever you re-encode, you make the source worse. There's no more information available than what's in the original source. This implies that with a pre-existing encode, you should use softsubs and not re-encode it to add hardsubs.
  3. Don't subtitle random noises and grunts. "Arak" and "Ook" are not English words (although they might be Unix commands, for all I know), and they don't add value to the translation.
  4. Don't use different font sizes as a way of conveying loudness or forcefulness. That's what punctuation like exclamation marks, and typographic conventions like italics, are for.
  5. Make sure there's someone on the team who actually speaks and writes passable English.
You get the picture.

Had Scoopers been Kingmenu's first offense, I could have written it off to inexperience, but it's just one of a series of terrible subtitled offerings. Among the more bizarre was a 112p re-encode of Orphan's Adachigahara - the opening typesetting is a dead giveaway to where it came from. The world is indeed full of really, really bad fansubs. I know I can't fix all of them, but in this case, M74 and I felt compelled to try.

I OCRed the Kingmenu subs and eliminated the random noises. M74 retimed the show. Iri translation-checked (close to half the dialog was changed). I edited and styled, and Calyrica and M74 QCed. M74 tried to make better encodes from both a VHS tape and a VHD optical disk, but they turned out to be no better than the Internet raw: barely passable. Nonetheless, this version's subtitles are an improvement in every respect.

Scoopers is a fairly standard sci-fi action OVA about two newspaper reporters, Yoko and Beat, a beautiful woman and an android, respectively. They're out to expose the identity of an international gangster and terrorist who calls himself Mister X. (This name would not pass muster in a James Bond movie.) They trace Mister X to his hi-tech amusement park, Techno Land, where they must escape from roller coasters that end in mid-air, withstand the wiles of robotic Valkyries, and infiltrate Mister X's all-powerful AI, Baudelaire. Needless to say, not one second of this can be taken seriously, but it's a decent if nonsensical thrill ride. It has the usual violence and nudity of 80s OVAs, but there's not much sense of real menace, perhaps reflecting its origins as a Monkey Punch manga.

I'd like to offer hope for better versions of other Kingmenu releases, but as I said before, the world is full of bad fansubs, and life is too short to fix them. If other subbers want to take up the challenge, I'll be happy to cheer from the sidelines.

Update (20-May-2017): Scoopers is now available at the usual torrent sites or via this magnet link.