After a rather long sabbatical, I'm back to editing a weekly show, and... it's fun. I'm working with a great team, including an excellent translator, a fast and accurate timer, and top-notch QC's. The team has developed a good work rhythm. The steady pace means that everyone can maintain continuity on plot, conventions, and styling. Even though the show is very long - more than a hundred episodes - the team can see how much progress is being made, and everyone is staying motivated.
Of course, it helps that the series aired in the early 90's; that takes a bit of the schedule pressure off. I'm referring to Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl.
At first blush, or even at second or third, Yawara! is not my kind of show. To start, it's a sports anime. Next, it's very long, 124 episodes. Then, it's rather repetitious. Each arc has basically the same structure. The heroine, Yawara, vows to quit judo so she can lead a normal life. Her sly grandfather, who is also her coach, tricks her into competing in the next tournament. After various suspenseful developments, Yawara trounces everyone. Step and repeat ad nauseam. And did I mention it's a sports anime?
Yawara! was a Live-Evil project, and like many back-catalog projects, it had stalled. L-E teamed up with Frostii for a few episodes, and then the project stalled again, with 58 episodes completed out of 124. Finally, Saizen, which specializes in sports anime, revived the project and set up a three-way joint with the other two groups, resulting in one of the best project names ever: FroZen-Evil.
To be honest, none of the three groups is known for its speed. Yet Yawara! has developed significant forward velocity, releasing 19 episodes in three months. The reasons offer a blueprint of what's required for success in back-catalog projects:
- Dedication by key team members. Yawara! has been humming along because the team members - translator, timer, editor, encoder, QCs - make it a priority. Episodes don't sit around for long stretches.
- Availability of raws. A team member owns the entire set of Japanese DVDs.
- Simplicity. Yawara! is entirely softsubbed. The karaokes are very simple. Styling is straightforward and can be done during timing or editing. There's no typesetting, except for episode and preview titles; essential signs are explained by top-of-screen notes. The "workraws" are actually the final encodes; all they need is the script, fonts, and chapters muxed in.
- Quality at every step. The translation is first rate, so editing takes hardly any time at all. The timer knows how to deal with the lack of keyframes in a final H.264 encode. The QC team is thorough and pounces on typos and infelicities of expression with equal ferocity. The encoder is quick and experienced.
And last, but hardly least, the show is fun. Yes, we know that the judo matches are going to end positively for the heroine and her friends. Yes, we know that Yawara's grandfather is going to play another dirty trick on her as soon as she wins the current tournament. But I still snatch up each new script as soon as it's available. I've taken to editing (at least on paper) before timing, because the continuity of the project allows me to understand who is speaking, even without the video.
As they say on Wall Street, past performance is no guarantee of future returns, so I can't promise that the team will maintain its blistering pace. We've only done about 30% of the total work; another 47 episodes remain. But as the man falling from the Empire State Building remarked as he passed the 77th floor, so far, so good.
In the interest of full disclosure: I'm also editing a couple of other "weekly" shows, but with one exception, they are not aiming at a weekly schedule. GotWoot is doing Showa Monogatari as its background show, replacing the recently completed Souten Kouro. Most people on the team profess to find it very boring, but I think it's soothing. Perhaps that's because I'm in the show's target demographic (aging baby boomers). AnimeYoshi is doing an archival-quality version of Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai. It finished last December, so it too is not a rush job. I like Boku's sly spin on the harem trope, although I know full well that it will end inconclusively, like all harem shows.
The exception is AnimeYoshi's Another. I was skeptical about this project, particularly after it was picked up for simulcasting. However, I'm hooked now. The show is deeply disturbing, on several levels, and I enjoy editing it as well as watching the finished product. I hope that fans will find the extra effort that goes into this version worthwhile.
I'd like to do more, but as usual, my ambitions are capped by lack of translation help. So, if you would like to see Towa no Qwon finished, or the missing pieces of the Harukanaru Toki franchise subbed, or watch Space Neko Theatre or the Urusei Yatsura Special with subs that are actually English, give me a shout. I'm always willing to trade editing and QC services for competent translations.