Wednesday, October 19, 2016


We're up to our necks in scripts at Orphan Fansubs; the backlog has never been so healthy (and so formidably challenging). Here's a status report on currently active projects.
  • Stop!! Hibari-kun. All episodes translated, timed, and typeset; episodes 1-23 through QC1. This project desperately needs a dedicated translation checker. It cannot be released without a translation check.
  • Cosprayers DVD. All episodes transcribed, encoded, edited, timed, and typeset. Awaiting translation check.
  • Cosmic Fantasy. In translation.
  • Twinkle Twinkle Nora Rock Me (Nora 2). In translation.
  • Juliet (joint with M74). Awaiting translation check. 
  • Mainichi ga Sunday (Every Day is Sunday). Episodes 1-6 encoded, timed, edited, and typeset. Awaiting translation check.
As you can see, translation checking is the major bottlenecks, as well as translation itself. Translation issues have led to putting a number of other projects on the shelf for now, including Boyfriend, Condition Green, Dokushin Apartment, Greed, Marginal Prince, Sanada 10, Techno Police 21C, and Wolf Guy. And more QCs are always welcome.

As usual, if a project strikes your fancy and you'd like to help with either translation, please let me know.

[Updated 19-Oct-2016]

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Meisou-Ou Border

Orphan has done many forgotten 80s and 90s OVAs. Some have been stunningly good, like Oz, and some have been stunningly bad, like Bavi Stock II. But none have led to as much head-scratching as Meisou-Ou Border, a 1991 OVA from Artland. One of the QCs remarked after watching it, "Well, that was random." Nonetheless, it's quite an interesting show.

Meisou-Ou Border is the only anime to come from a 14 volume seinen manga (completely untranslated) by Marley Carib and Tanaka Akio. It tells the story of two drifters, Kubota and Hachitsuka, who return from the Middle East and choose to live on the "border" of conventional society in Tokyo. The anime relates one specific episode from the start of the manga. Kubota and Hachitsuka are lured down to Osaka by an unscrupulous documentary producer, who places them as "innocent bystanders" in the middle of a yakuza gang war. The two manage to hold their own, much to the producer's dismay, and then they drift back to Tokyo. The episode closes with a completely unrelated encounter between Hachitsuka and his former mentor, Jinno, now a homeless man down on his luck. And that's it. The tone is mostly comic - even the yakuza violence isn't very scary or bloody - but the ending is elegiac and very sad.

Kubota was voiced by Horiuchi Kenyuu, a veteran voice actor who is active today, often playing authoritative figures like Colonel Yuuki in this year's Joker Game. Hachitsuki was voiced by Yara Yuusaka, who also had a prolific career (for example, he played Kai in Tomoe ga Yuku!) but is now retired. The director, Ishiguro Noboru, was an industry veteran who directed several episodes of Animated Classics of Japanese Literature; he also worked on Mushishi (another Artland property) before his death in 2012.

Iri found the raw - a VHS rip, apparently - became intrigued by the show, and translated it. ninjacloud timed, I edited and typeset, and Calyrica and Nemesis did QC. The raw is marred by awful frame blending, in a pattern of three good frames followed by two bad frames. There's also a noticeable dropout just past the 4 minute mark. As a result, it's impossible to make moving signs look good, and they've all been set "Yawara style," i.e., as notes at the top of the screen. If a better raw surfaces, we'll do a second version.

My main feeling after watching Meisou-Ou Border is that I wanted to know more, but just like with Sanctuary, this one episode is the only animation we'll get from a much larger manga. At least with Sanctuary, the manga is completely translated into English. For Meisou-Ou Border, the OVA is the only tantalizing fragment available to an English-speaking audience. Enjoy.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Yume Tsukai

Yume Tsukai, a contemporary fantasy series from 2006, was one of the first anime shows I worked on; I QCed the entire series for C1. It was quite popular with fansub groups at the time and was subbed to completion by Arienai and Ureshii, AonE and Ayu, and of course C1. However, it was never licensed in North America and, rather surprisingly, never resubbed in English from DVD sources. Accordingly, Orphan is proud to present Yume Tsukai in a softsubbed release based on the R2J DVDs.

Yume Tsukai tells the story of the Dream Masters (yume tsukai), who combat the effects of nightmares that cross the boundary between dreams and reality and erupt in the real world. Dream Masters are named after the seven stars in the Pleiades cluster, which in Japan are named for the seven days of the week.. The most experienced is the Sunday Star, Mishima Touko, age 17. She is a recluse and sleeps for 12 to 16 hours a day. Her younger sister is the Tuesday Star, Mishima Rinko, age 10. She is super genki and confident and calls herself the Super Elementary School Student. They are joined in some episodes by the Friday Star, Tachibana Hajime, a lolicon who regards anyone older than a teenager as ancient history; the Saturday Star, Sagawa Satoka, a relative newcomer who lives in Kyuushu; and Touko’s Aunt Misako, who is 29 years old and still a virgin.

The show is episodic, although there is an underlying background mystery about the fate of Touko’s father, who was killed while fighting a nightmare. In most episodes, Touko and Rinko are commissioned to investigate a baffling phenomenon which turns out to be a nightmare erupting in the real world. They must locate the dreamer, gain his or her consent to end the nightmare, and then fight its effects. They do this with shaman sticks known as Broom Gods, into which they place various toys. The toys transform into weapons to combat the nightmare, which is eventually returned to the world of dreams.

This summary makes Yume Tsukai sound formulaic and action-centric, but in fact, it's a series of character studies focusing on the troubled dreamers and their reasons for unleashing nightmares on the world. The dreamers include unhappy children, divorcing couples, bereaved lovers, and depressed teenagers – people who are experiencing real-life situations beyond their ability to cope. (In many ways, Yume Tsukai uses nightmares as a metaphor for the effects of mental illness.) The Dream Masters’ intervention can combat the effects of the nightmare, but the dreamer must choose whether or not to hold on to feelings that led to the nightmare. In some cases, the dreamer is able to resolve the underlying conflict, and there’s a happy ending; in other cases, not so much.

While the stories in Yume Tsukai are interesting, and the characters are engaging, the animation is problematic. Even though the show was produced by Madhouse in its prime (the same year as Nana and Death Note, among many others), it was clearly made on a low budget. As a result, whole scenes, particularly action sequences, are repeatedly recycled. The climactic battle in episode 3, using the Dream Cyclone, is reused more or less verbatim in episodes 4 and 5. The climactic battle in episode 8 is simply not animated at all. In medium shots, the characters' faces are often distorted beyond recognition. These shortcuts, combined with the wispy character designs, can be rather off-putting.

I had been looking for DVD sources for Yume Tsukai for years but never found any at full 480p resolution. Eventually, I bought a complete set on a Japanese auction site and had them shipped to the US (shipping was three times as much as the DVDs themselves). bananadoyouwanna encoded the show. The source was mostly progressive, but occasional scenes were interlaced, requiring careful attention to detail and multiple tries to get the encodes right. Yogicat hand-transcribed the Arienai-Ureshii subtitles, and I OCR’d the AonE-Ayu set. In addition, I had the C1 scripts from ten years ago. Orphan’s scripts are mostly Arienai-Ureshii, but I’ve used the other groups where the phrasing is better. I edited and typeset, Iri checked the translation, ninjacloud timed, Juggen contributed the karaokes (the OP and ED are terrific), and Calyrica and I did QC.

The fansub scripts date from an era when it was fashionable to leave Japanese terms untranslated and supply copious on-screen translation notes instead. After some discussion, the Orphan team decided to translate terms wherever possible, while still preserving honorifics. So yume tsukai is translated as "Dream Master," Nichousei as "Sunday Star," asobetatmatsuru as "play offering," ikai as "another world," tensou as "transform," Tsuburame Oo as "Round-Eyed King," 3-chome as "Third District," and so on. If you prefer untranslated terms, the original fansubs are readily available and quite watchable.

Some other translation notes, mostly from the original Ureshii-Conclave scripts:

  • Ep01 – The girls' school is Hanabirazaka Jogakyuin, so "Hana girls" is a nickname for the students.
  • Ep01 – Madoromichu means "Sleepy Town."
  • Ep01 – A Teru Teru Teru Bouzu is a paper charm shaped like a little ghost. When hung under a window or roof, it's supposed to keep rain away.
  • Ep01 (and others) – "Reality is but a dream! Our nightly dreams are the true world!" Based on a line from an Edogawa Ranpo story.
  • Ep03 – "Sway gently" is an ancient Shinto resurrection spell.
  • Ep03 (and others) – Clinamen bullet. Clinamen is the name Lucretius gave to the spontaneous microscopic swerving of atoms from a vertical path as they fall. According to Lucretius, without Clinamen, nature would never have created anything. This theory is a part of Epicurean physics. (
  • Ep08 – The kanji for Wakaba means "young leaf."
  • Ep09 - The chant "Kuwabara, kuwabara" originated as a farmer's appeal to the god of lightning so that his fields would not be struck during a storm.
  • Ep09 – "Grief, happiness, they don't exist to me." A death poem for Ashikaga Yoshimasa (1436-1490), a Shogun of the Muromachi period.
  • Ep10 - "Pai Pai" is a play on oppai, the Japanese word for breasts.
The lead voice actors are well-known veterans. Kawasumi Ayako (Touko) has had a prolific career, including Lafiel in Crest/Banner of the Stars, Saber in Fate/Stay Night, Ohno in Genshiken, and my personal favorite, Nodame in Nodame Cantabile. Seki Tomokazu (Hajime) has overlapped with Kawasumi Ayako in many series, playing Gilgamesh in Fate/Stay Night, Tanaka in Genshiken, and of course, Chiaki in Nodame Cantabile. Shindou Kei (Rinko) has also appeared in many shows, most recently Boku no Hero Academia. Hisakawa Aya (Aunt Misako) has had an active career as well, including Sailor Mercury in the Sailor Moon franchise and Skuld in the Ah! My Goddess properties. The music is by Terashima Tamiya, who also wrote the opening song. It supports the show’s mood well, with a "spooky phenomenon" theme that seemingly riffs on the main Harry Potter movie theme.

So enjoy Yume Tsukai in this new softsubbed version, and sweet dreams.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A-Girl v0

Here's a bluebird that happened by and flew through the release process in a flash: A-Girl, an OVA from 1993.

In 1992, Madhouse and Margaret Comics collaborated on an OVA of the shounen-ai romance Zetsuai 1989. This was successful, and in 1993, Madhouse issued six additional OVAs based on Margaret Comic properties:
  • Oshare Kozou wa Hanamaru
  • Singles
  • Pops
  • Oeda wa Nemurenai!
  • Kiss wa Hitomi ni Shite
  • A-Girl
Unfortunately, these additional OVAs were not successful and quickly sank into obscurity. None of them made it to Laserdisc, let alone DVD.

A-Girl is based on a 1984 shoujo romance manga by Fusako Kuramochi. It tells a very simple story: girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl gets boy. High-school student Mariko and her elder sister Mayu are forced out of their apartment by a fire and move in with their landlord. Mariko meets the landlord's handsome son, Natsume, who is also a model. They fall in love but break up when Mariko discovers that Natsume is seeing other girls. Eventually, they are reunited, and the end credits roll, except...

The raw we have - and the only one available - is defective: it is small (512 x 384) and is missing the end credits. Apparently, it was stitched together from three pieces on YouTube. Accordingly, we've labeled this release a "v0". If a better raw turns up - complete, and hopefully at 480p - we'll reissue the show.

A-Girl was the directorial debut of Kousaka Kitarou. (He also did the character designs.) He later worked for many years as an animation director and key animator on Ghibli films before achieving prominence as the director of the award-winning Nasu: Anadalusia no Natsu. For A-Girl, he chose a novel approach: he made a "silent movie." A-Girl has no dialog and is performed against a background of Japanese pop songs composed by Okada Tooru and sung (in English!) by SEIKA. Dialog placards provide continuity, like in old silent films. It works pretty well and doesn't interrupt the flow of the story.

Iri found the raw (after sitting on a dead torrent for a year) and then translated and timed it. I edited and typeset the captions, and Nemesis QCed.

So enjoy A-Girl in its truncated form. This will have to do, until a better source turns up. If you like the music, the soundtrack is available on BakaBT.

Friday, September 9, 2016


Another show from Anime Tamago 2016, and probably Orphan's last. Utopa is a sci-fi offering from STUDIO4°C, a veteran company known for adventurous fare like Tekkon Kinkreet and Ani*Kuri 15 as well as utter sellouts like PES: Peace Eco Smile. (Gotta earn a living, I guess.)

Utopa is set in the far future, as a longish voice-over at the beginning explains. After ruining the Earth's surface with biological and nuclear war, mankind has retreated to cities in the sky. There, for no particularly compelling reason, they have crossbred with the surviving animals to produce intelligent hybrid species. When a seed drifts into the sky city, three youngsters - Kui, a dog boy, Hiruma, a cat girl, and Ruto, a lizard boy - venture down to the Earth's surface in search of more seeds and new adventures. The biosphere has indeed regenerated, in a new, almost alien way:

Giant jellyfish float through the air, zapping potential prey with bolts of electricity. And nothing seems to be edible (except for the three of them). Hiruma befriends or adopts an oversized caterpillar, which is promptly seized by a giant talking bird as food. The three friends challenge the bird to a contest, with the caterpillar as the prize. All's well that ends well, as you might expect.

Utopa reminds me a great of last year's Parol no Miraijima. In that show too, three not-quite-human friends - two male, one female - set out on a voyage of discovery from a protected world into the great unknown, encounter many hazards, and eventually win out. I like Parol rather better than Utopa, I think - the characters are more engaging, and the animation more inventive and fluid. Utopa has an odd mix of character designs, as this shot of the bird with the three human hybrids shows:

Kui is played by rising voice actress Tanaka Aimi, probably best known as the titular little sister in Himouto! Umaru-chan. Hiruma is voiced by Ueda Reina, who has appeared in many recent series, including Bakuon and Dimension W. (Ruto is played by an actual child.) The unnamed bird is voiced by an industry veteran, Hoshino Takanori. The director, Tanaka Takahiro, has been a key animator on many projects and animation director on a few; this is his directorial debut.

Iri translated and ninjacloud timed. I edited, and Calyrica and Xenath3297 did QC. The raw is from Ohys and is an HDTV capture, not a Blu-Ray.

Enjoy another egg from Anime Tamago 2016!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Kaze no Matasaburou (2016)

Kaze no Matasaburou (2016) (Matasaburou of the Wind) is one of this year's Anime Tamago (formerly Anime Mirai, formerly Young Animator's Training Project) OVAs. It is based on Miyazawa Kenji's story of the same name and was already made into an experimental OVA back in 1988.

The plot is slight. A young girl from the city named Takada has to relocate to the country for a while, because her father is supervising a power project there, and her mother is away on a business trip. Her new home is so remote and rural that her school class is made up of a boy, a bear, a pig, a frog, a turtle, a cat, a deer, and a worm. Strong winds blow frequently, and all the students believe that this is due to Matasaburou of the Wind, a child of the wind god. Takada gets to experience the tranquil wonders of country life, make a new friend, and find out the truth about Matasaburou for herself. Then she goes back home to be with her mother in the city.

Matasaburou is quietly humorous slice-of-life comedy, but the animation is the real draw. The art style is simple and beautiful, employing watercolor-style fills on starkly drawn outlines. The country backgrounds are reminiscent of Miyazaki but are more impressionistic, like this waterfall:

There are frequent wonderful and whimsical touches too, like this shot of a cricket making his music as the clouds roll in.

Matasaburou is the product of a relatively new studio, Buemon, which has mostly done CGI work. This is their first venture in conventional (looking) animation.

The elementary school students are all voiced by children, a recent trend in Japanese anime that contributes to more realistic performances. The adult parts are voiced by veterans of the industry. For example, the deep-voiced Matasaburou is played by Tanaka Masahiko, who has worked in the industry since the second Astro Boy series in 1980. The music is spare and quiet, befitting the mood.

Iri translated and did initial timing; Yogicat did the detailed timing; I edited and typeset; and Calyrica and Xenath3297 did QC. The raw is from Ohys Raws.

Please enjoy this beautiful anime.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

How Orphan Chooses Projects

Orphan doesn't get a lot of comments on its releases, but along with the "thank yous" (always appreciated) are invariably requests of the form, "Can you translate XYZ?" Just as invariably, the answer is no, so perhaps I should explain how Orphan selects projects to work on. The process is different for original translations versus resubs, so I'll describe them separately. 

Original Translations 

Orphan was formed to translate series, OVAs, and movies that were never finished or unjustly neglected. That remains the group's core mission. However, it's not possible to do every untranslated show or incomplete series. A couple of severe filters get applied to any project idea.

The most important factor is the interest and availability of a translator. While translators can sometimes be coaxed into taking on other people's ideas, mostly they want to work on what interests them. The Orphan team includes a number of translators, but they all have real life commitments as well as projects they want to do. Like everyone on the team, they are volunteers, and like everyone on the team, their time is precious.

A second factor is the availability of source material. Some shows simply have no original source or existing encodes. Over the years, I've become more finicky about the quality of Orphan's encodes, so there's more emphasis on original encodes from primary sources, like LaserDiscs, DVDs, or BluRays.  (No one on the team has the facilities to rip a VHS tape.) But a viable source is no guarantee that a project can get done; Dokushin Apartment has been languishing for more than a year, despite the availability of a primary source. Ecchi is a hard sell.

A third factor is the interest of the team as a whole. If the team is not interested in a particular project, that project is unlikely to get finished in a timely fashion, if ever. And if I'm not interested, well… you can imagine.


While translation is much less of a factor in resub projects, it still matters. Whether the subtitles came from a fansub group, an R1 DVD or Blu-Ray, or a modern streaming source, they need to be checked. For fansubs, translation checking looks for errors in the original subtitles. For R1 and streaming sources, the focus is on overly clever localization or script simplification. Sanctuary and Hashire Melos illustrate the sort of problems translation checking will catch in R1 subs.

Source material is perhaps more important in resubs than in original translations. After all, there already is a subbed version; a new version needs to improve not just on the subtitles but also, if possible, on the video and audio quality. I'd be very reluctant to base a resub project on random Internet raws. This has led to some strange and expensive quests for rare LaserDiscs or DVD sets.

In addition, there has to be a compelling reason to do a resub. For Shirokuma Café, it was the lack of any Blu-Ray version of a favorite series. For Next Senki Ehrgeiz and Sanctuary, it was to improve the video and subtitle quality (LaserDisc softsub vs VHS hardsub). For Nagasarete Airantou, it was to have subtitles that were actually readable. For Princess Kaguya, I wanted a properly timed and edited version that would fit on a single DVD5.

Finally, the show has to interest me (or another project leader). I like comedy, slice-of-slice, historical, sci-fi, seinen, josei, shoujo, and cats. I don't like sports, mecha, or shounen. And I don't have the patience for really long series anymore.

Orphans and Orphan Fansubs 

I'll close by reminding my readers that the original purpose of Orphan Fansubs was to finish orphaned projects. These projects often mix resubs (the episodes that were completed) with original translations (the episodes that were never finished). True orphans must satisfy the criteria for both types of projects: a translator must be interested; there has to be source material (at least for the unfinished episodes); the team as a whole has to want to work on the show; and there has to be a compelling reason to complete the series. And there's one other critical factor: the project needs to have been formally abandoned by the original group, or the original group must have disbanded.

Many orphan series fail on one or more of these criteria. For example, Sanada 10 has source material but no translator for its three unfinished episodes. Hidamari no Ki has caught a translator's eye, but there's no decent source material. MapleStory doesn't interest the team very much. And Hiatari Ryouko has not been formally abandoned, even though group subbing it has not released a new episode in almost two years.