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.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

What's Michael? OVA 1

More cats. (Yay!)

This time, it's the first What's Michael? OVA, from 1985. Michael is a male orange tiger cat who lives in Japan. The show consists of short humorous vignettes depicting Michael, his mate Popo-chan, and various humans who think they are Michael's owners. (They apparently never heard the aphorism, "Dogs have owners; cats have staff.") There's no continuity between skits. Michael's owner is sometimes single, sometimes married; sometimes a professional, sometimes a Yakuza. Michael is sometimes an outdoor cat, sometimes an apartment cat. Regardless, the series is well-observed and very funny, particularly if the viewer has lived with a cat. I particularly like the "Day in the Park" sketch, contrasting what it's like to play outside with a dog versus a cat.




Michael's look says it all.

Michael was played by Ootake Hiroshi, a veteran voice actor with numerous featured roles to his credit. (In the TV series, Michael was played by the legendary Tomiyama Kei, who voiced the wicked witch in Grim Douwa: Kin no Tori.) Popo was played by Masako Nozawa, who also provided the title character's meow in Midori no Neko. However, she's far better known as Son Goku in the Dragonball franchise. Recent roles include Madame Curie in Marie & Gali and Obaba in Ping Pong the Animation. The director was Nagao Shuku; he also directed Dream Hunter Rem.

Iri translated the show; Yogicat timed; I edited and typeset; and Calyrica and Nemesis did QC. Erik of Piyo Piyo Productions encoded from his own Japanese laserdisc. It's not a great raw; there's a lot of film burn at scene boundaries. We'll do the second OVA One of These Days™, but we won't be doing the TV series; it's too long.

So enjoy this romp with Michael, Popo-chan, and various other humans and creatures, including the terrifying Nyaajira (aka Catzilla). You can get it from the usual torrent sites or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.



Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Bander Book

Orphan and M74 continue their high-definition survey of the Tezuka Osamu "Love Will Save the World" TV specials with the very first, 1979's Hyakumannen Chikyuu no Tabi: Bander Book (Million-Year Trip: Bander Book). This was the first two-hour (with commercials) anime movie made for TV in Japan, and it shows many of the themes, strengths, and weaknesses of the specials that would follow annually for a decade.

Bander Book starts with a bang, literally. A robot terrorist blows up a space liner with Bander's parents on board. In desperation, they put baby Bander in an escape capsule and send him off into space, hoping he will find a home. He drifts to a peaceful planet inhabited by intelligent shape-shifters and is adopted by the Queen. (Superman, anyone? Or maybe Exodus.) Fast forward seventeen years, and Bander is the heir to the throne and the object of unrequited affection from his step-sister Mimiru. However, Bander knows he is different; unlike everyone else, he can't transform. At last, the truth is revealed. He is from Earth, the planet feared throughout the galaxy for its greed and aggressiveness. Bander makes up his mind to leave his home and go to Earth, in order to find out the truth of his origins.

At that very moment, his peaceful home is invaded by "space gangsters," led by... Black Jack! (Yes, the Tezuka Star System is in full swing in this show.) While the rest of the population transforms into animals and flees, Bander attempts to fight off the pirates with just his sword. He is captured, along with Mimiru, who has unwisely decided to stay behind. Black Jack carries them off and maroons them on a desert planet, which will lead to a series of spoofs on Westerns. There he rescues Princess Marina of planet Sirius 8 from the Silicon Family of outlaw robots and returns her to her home world. And this is just the beginning. It's ODTAA (one damned thing after another) for 90 minutes until Good triumphs, at significant cost, over Evil, and Bander and Mimiru can be united in True Love.

Black Jack is just the first of the familiar characters repurposed on the show. Ban Shuunsaku, the detective, shows up as Ed the bartender on the desert planet. The leader of the evil Silicon Family is Don Dracula. The henchman to the evil Earth diplomat Dokudami is Hamegg. When Bander is imprisoned by evil Earthmen, his fellow prisoner, Dr. Sharaku, is the "three-eyed boy." Even Kimba the lion and Tezuka Osamu himself have brief cameos:



While the plot meanders towards the inevitable confrontation between Bander and the malignancy controlling Earth (a giant supercomputer, natch), there's time for numerous references, parodies, and gags. The ride to the Silicon Family's hideout includes a spoof of Forbidden Planet and a reference to The Exorcist, for example. The show never drags, but it does meander quite a bit, as Tezuka liked his anime to do. There's also a heavily-sped up, sketchily drawn time-line of Earth history that includes scenes of rape, dismemberment, and cannibalism. It's a kid-friendly show, after all.

Mizushima Yuu, who voiced Bander, played the male lead in another Tezuka special, Prime Rose. He also played the male lead in Tokimeki Tonight, Natsu e Tobira, and the God Mars properties. Koyama Mami (Mimiru) played the female lead in another Tezuka special, I Am Son Gokuu. She also played Arale in the Doctor Slump & Arale-chan franchise, the mature version of the title character in Millenium Actress, and the title role in the Minky Momo franchise. Oka Masako (Princess Marina) has a fairly thin resume, but she did appear as the phoenix in the first Hi no Tori movie. Ibu Masatou (Black Jack) played the same role in another of the Hi no Tori movies but not in the later TV series and OVAs. He appeared in almost all the Yamato properties, including the ill-fated Yamato 2520 (an Orphan project), where he played the evil Emperor Brone.

Yogicat transcribed the subtitles, which were professionally done, and M74 timed them. I edited and typeset, and Calyrica, M74, and Nemesis did QC. M74 encoded from a BDMV graciously provided by Beatrice Raws. This is a joint Orphan-M74 release.

Despite its meanderings, Bander Book is an entertaining ride, and it's fun trying to spot the references and cameos. 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.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Cathexis

Zetsuai (Desperate Love) was a shounen-ai (boy's love) manga that started its run in 1989. It was adapted into an OVA in 1992. Although it was not the first shounen-ai anime by any means, it was very influential. Its operatic plot, tragic characters, and strange character designs defined the genre for years afterwards. The manga and OVA both received sequels (Bronze: Zetsuai since 1989). In addition, the Zetsuai OVA was followed in 1994 by an anime music video, Bronze Kouji Nanjo Cathexis (or Cathexis for short), supposedly a set of music videos by one of Zetsuai's protagonist, musician Kouji Nanjo. Cathexis has not been available with English subtitles since the VHS fansub era... until now.

As a compilation of music videos, Cathexis has no plot. Instead, it's a fever dream of five rock songs:
  1. Bad Blood
  2. Jesus Christ Love for You
  3. Katuai
  4. 20XX Zetsu-ai
  5. Moonlight Eternal Mobius
The songs are sung by Hayami Shou, who played Kouji Nanjo in the OVAs. The lyrics are by Shou or by the mangaka, Ozaki Minami. The animation is a delirous cornucopia of homoerotic imagery, mostly featuring protagonist Kouji Nanjo and his love interest, Izumi Takato, as angels, soldiers, cyborgs, and so on. 


Some of the images are moderately NSFW, but it's all fairly tame by current standards. Following the music videos, there's a still image gallery of drawings by the manga author, Ozaki Minami.

The subtitles are from Lupin Gang Anime and have not been checked. Yogicat timed the songs, I edited and styled them, and M74 did QC. Erik of Piyo Piyo Productions encoded from his own Japanese laserdisc. For a while, I thought the audio in the encode was defective, because in the second song, the music is interrupted for one second by a test tone. Apparently, this is deliberate; the same tone appears on the original soundtrack.

So, love it or hate it, here's the first digital version of Cathexis with English subtitles. You can get it from the usual torrent sites or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Status (and yes, Recruiting Again)

Here's a status report on current 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 on episodes 9+.
  • Kasei Yakyoku. A joint project with Iquix. Episodes 1-4 in translation. We have new VHS raws for episodes 1-2, and laserdisc raws for episodes 3-4. We would really like to find a laserdisc of episodes 1-2. Awaiting translation.
  • Kindaichi movie 2. Laserdisc encode done. Translated, typeset. In QC.
  • Hoshineko Full House. Internet raw. Translated. In QC.
  • Oishinbo special 1 (Ultimate vs Supreme). BD encode done. Using Yoroshiku's fansub. Timing, editing, typesetting done. In QC
  • White Fang. HDTV encode. Translation, timing, editing, typesetting done. In QC
  • Cathexis AMV. Laserdisc encode, translation, timing, editing, styling done. In QC.
  • What's Michael? OVAs. Laserdisc encodes done. Episode 1 translated and timed. In typesetting. Episode 2 awaiting translation.
  • Rainbow Signal, Borgman Madnight Gags, Nadia AMVs. Laserdisc encode and translation done. In timing.
In addition, there are a number of resub projects pending, including Blue Sonnet and Kashou no Tsuki. Finally, we have two gigantic jigsaw puzzle to do: putting together a script for the Dallos movie from the TV series, and assembling scripts for AWOL Compression Remix from the VHS tapes of the original AWOL TV series.

As you can see, translation/translation checking and QC are the bottlenecks. Lack of translation resources has led to putting a number of projects on the shelf for now, including Boyfriend, Chameleon, Condition Green, Dokushin Apartment, Every Day Is Sunday, Greed, MapleStory, Marginal Prince, Sanada 10, Smash Hit,and Techno Police 21C. New, interesting raws are arriving all the time. Lack of QC is holding up completion of several shows, and projects using pre-existing scripts (resubs, summary movies, etc) will only make the problem worse

If you'd like to help with translation, QC, typesetting, or even editing (I'll share, really), please let me know.

[Updated 05-Nov-2017]
 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

A-Girl v1

When I wrote the blog post about the original, incomplete release of A-Girl in September, 2016, I said that if we ever found a complete raw, we'd release a new version. We did, and we have.

A-Girl is one of six shoujo OVAs based on properties from Margaret Magazine and animated by Madhouse. The others are POPS, Singles, Kiss wa Me ni Shite, Oeda wa Nemurenai, and Oshare Kozou wa Hanamaru. None of them was very successful apparently, because none were ever released on Laserdisc, let alone DVD. Orphan's previous version of A-Girl used a web 384p encode derived from a YouTube rip. It stopped after 25 minutes. Because the story seemed wrapped up, I assumed that only the end credits were missing. I was wrong.

The last segment of A-Girl, which lasts six minutes and is based on the song The Magic of Your Sight, brings the story of Mariko (the A-Girl of the title) and Natsume (the playboy brought low by her charms) to a real conclusion. It includes the end credits too, but it also includes actual dialog, a whopping six lines of it. (It also includes an additional 250 lines of typesetting just for a "Whipped Cream" label, but who's counting?) With the last segment, the OVA is now 31 minutes long and makes more sense.

Iri obtained the new raw by buying a used VHS tape in Japan. gamnark transcribed it, and M74 encoded it. It's still not perfect - tape stretch causes noticeable audio distortion in three places - but at least it's complete. Iri translated and timed the additional signs and dialog, I did the additional editing and typesetting, and Nemesis and Eternal_Blizzard did QC. This tape, imperfect though it was, was quite expensive, so I don't think Orphan will invest further in A-Girl media. Perhaps it will show up on DVD someday, in some sort of Madhouse retrospective.

As usual, you can get the complete version of A-Girl from the usual torrent sites or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.


Monday, October 23, 2017

Al Caral no Isan

Al Caral no Isan (The Legacy of Al Caral) is a 1992 science-fiction OVA based on a manga by Michihara Katsumi, who also wrote Joker: Marginal City. It has been on my wish list for a long time, and thanks to the efforts of a new translator, Sunachan, Orphan is finally able to bring you this intriguing show.

Al Caral no Isan is set in a familiar science-fiction setting of ubiquitous interstellar travel, and it explores an equally familiar theme: first contact with aliens. However, the story is very different. For 180 years prior to the beginning of the show, the Harz Bougen Corporation has been discovering and secretively exploiting relics of a vanished interstellar civilization. As the story opens, they discover an alien race, with golden, cat-like eyes, dark skin, and blonde hair, who call themselves the Sanaan. A young Sanaan boy named Toryune is captured and taken away to the Harz Bougen laboratories for "research."



Meanwhile, a small documentary film crew gets wind of the discovery and sets out to expose the truth. Part of the team is a mysterious girl named Shana T, who has a unique ability to unlock the alien relics and retrieve artifacts. Shana also wants to meet the "golden-eyes," as the aliens are called, but for an entirely different reason than the Harz Bougen team. She believes that she is not a real human and that the aliens hold the key to her identity and her future.

The Harz Bougen overseers, led by future president Zach Isedo, seem to be motivated by simple rapaciousness. They believe that the alien civilization which built the relics must have left untold treasures of knowledge or precious substances. They regard the Sanaan as unrelated, inferior "humanoids" with no rights or value. However, the truth is far more complicated. The Sanaan have inherited the power of their mystical creator, Al Caral, who was "the ruler of words." They have no need for weapons; they are far more dangerous than that.

The voice cast is stellar. Hisakawa Aya (Shana) has had a prolific career. She played Skuld in the Ah! My Goddess franchise, Sailor Mercury in the Sailor Moon franchise, Mishima Misako in Yume Tsukai (an Orphan project), and Koneko in Ear of the Golden Dragon (another Orphan project). Recent series include WWW.Working and Kyousogiga. Tanaka Hideyuki (Harmer) also has had a long career, including featured roles as Terryman in the Kinnikuman franchise, Rayearth in Magic Knight Rayearth, Sammy in Bavi Stock (an Orphan project), and Sawamura in Nozomi Witches (another Orphan project). Orikasa Ai (Toryune) made her debut in Shoukoushi Cedie. She also played Sara in Eien no Filena (an Orphan project), Seguchi Touma (the record company president) in Gravitation, Quatre in Gundam Wing, and Ryouko in the Tenchi Muyo franchise. The music, by synthesizer player Kotaki Mitsuru, is repetitive and hypnotic.

Orphan's release of Al Caral no Isan marks the debut of a new translator, Sunachan, who went over the script multiple times to make sure the nuances and complexities came through the process intact. Yogicat timed, I edited and typeset, and bananadoyouwanna, Nemesis, and Vigorousjammer all did QC. The raw is from the Internet and could be better. If anyone has an original Japanese laserdisc (Al Caral was never released on DVD), please let us know.

I don't think Al Caral no Isan was very successful. The director has few other credits to his name. The show was never released in digital form. It has rather average ratings on the various animation databases. But personally, I really enjoyed it. The background world-building is well done, although some details are never really explained. (What, exactly, are the small dragons that live symbiotically with the aliens?) The human characters include the usual black-and-white heroes and villains but also characters whose motives and actions are quite ambiguous. And finally, the gradual revelation of the true legacy of Al Caral and the power of words is an interesting twist. (I was reminded of the climax of Dune, when the protagonist, Paul Atriedes, says, "I can kill you with a word!") There is no clear-cut victory of good over evil or vice-versa. Humanity stands on the verge of first contact with aliens, and after a gruesome series of missteps, it is ready to pick up the pieces and meet the Other.

If you would like to take that step as well, you can get Al Caral no Isan from the usual torrent sources or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.