Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rescuing Orphans

As my nickname suggests, I'm an anime collector.  And like many collectors, I like my collection to be complete as well as inclusive.  Thus, nothing bothers me more than anime series that are started and then abandoned.

I understand the reasons why this happens.  In fact, the groups I've been part of  have abandoned almost as many projects as they've completed.  The usual reason is loss of interest by a key project team member, like the translator.  Without a translator, a fansubbing project is dead in the water.  Another frequent cause is competition.  If another competent group is working on the same series (or if CrunchyRoll has picked up the series), it's easy for a project team to lose interest and decide to do something else, or nothing.  A group may disband or disintegrate without finishing its projects.  And there's a fourth reason: a team may discover that a series is utter garbage only after working on the first episode, or a couple of episodes.

Usually, a fansubbing team's decision to abandon a project doesn't matter.  Popular series always have multiple groups working on them (or, these days, they're streamed); if one group gives up, another will see it through.  However, niche series often have only one group working on them.  If that group abandons the project, the series is orphaned: partially done, and possibly never to be completed.  In my five years in fansubbing, this has happened to many shows, including Hidimari no Ki, Maple Story, Perrine Monogatari, Love GetCHU, Kiss Dum: Engage Planet, Gokujou, Charady's Daily Joke, Jewel Pet, Yoshimune, Dash! Kappei, Saint October, Prism Ark, Souten Kouro, Amuri Star Ocean, Jang Geum's Dream,and the grand-daddy of them all, Lime-iro Ryuukitan X Cross, which was abandoned by no less than three groups.  There's also a long list of projects that have been stalled indefinitely but not formally abandoned.

I originally got into fansubbing more or less by coincidence: I offered some mild criticism of a group's release in their IRC channel and was told to join the team if I thought I could do better.  (I did, and I did.)  But I stayed in fansubbing because I wanted to complete orphaned series.  Unfortunately, I lack the crucial skill needed for that task: I don't know Japanese.  Accordingly, I have to make myself useful to fansubbing teams and bargain for translation help in return for editing and QC.  I did this first with the third episode of Usagichan de Cue, a low ecchi comedy.  The price was editing and QCing 41 episodes of the World Masterpiece Theatre series Peter Pan no Boukan: a harsh exchange rate, but one I gladly paid.

Over the last few years, I've managed to get a few more done.  Yoroshiku Fansubs picked up and finished Sisters of Wellber Zwei.  Frostii, under an alias, did the last episode of Mission E.  And my own "Orphan Fansubs" finished the last two episodes of Kage.

I'm not the only fansubber interested in abandoned series.  While it was active, digitalpanic often stepped in to complete series, like Beet Excellion, the second season of Emma, and Sakura Taisen NY NY.  MBT finished Chocotto Sister and Moetan.  A number of groups did "one offs," like the previously mentioned Frostii project.  But these efforts were rare.

Lately though, and perhaps as a consequence of simultaneous streaming, more groups are showing interest in the catalog of abandoned shows.  For example, Kiteseekers is working to finish both Ultraviolet Code 44 and Mizu Iro Jidai.  Gotwoot is 70% done with the incomplete second season of Moonlight Mile, while Dattebayo is almost halfway through Ninku.  ANBU has picked up Dragon Quest, Wasurenai Marie & Gali, and M.3.3.W Fighting Beauty Wulong.

Yet the number of completed orphan shows remains low: MUJI's Gallery Fake and Wasurenai-Licca's Les Miserables Shoujo Cosette in the last few months, and that's about it.  Ninku seems to have stalled out.  A third attempt to finish Love GetCHU collapsed before it could off the ground.  Again, there are multiple reasons.  It's hard to find raws, let alone good raws, for old shows.  It remains difficult to keep staff engaged in orphan projects, because the audience for them is small compared to current series.  And unlike fine wine, these shows do not get better with age.

Still, I remain optimistic that some of these series will find an interested translator, and if they do, I'll be the first to volunteer to do the editing or QC.  I'd really like to complete Love GetCHU, if it's at all possible.  Hell, I'd even work on Lime-iro Ryuukitan X Cross, a show that I wouldn't be caught dead watching.  Rescuing orphans is a noble cause.  If you want to help - that is, if you can translate - or if you have an "orphan" project that needs editing or QC help, give me a shout.


  1. It never sat well with me that Charady's Daily Joke was dropped. First the editor had RL issues then the translator issues popped up. I honestly wish that if anyone were to pick it up, it would be Frostii. *sigh* Wishing won't make it so, will it?

  2. Hello, Korokun here. You know that anonymous bastard that likes 'picking' unexpectedly as translator. Well good news for you I have LGC completed. But it's been completed for a good minute, so yeah I'm looking for a good editor *wink* *wink*.