Monday, January 7, 2013

Yawara! Completed!!

The entire team's been waiting years for this:

11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1... done!

124 episodes to the ultimate, inevitable conclusion.

This is the longest series I've ever worked on — 66 episodes from the point where the project restarted as a joint effort between Frostii, Saizen, and Live-Evil. (Chi's Sweet Home had more episodes, but they were three minutes each.) It would not have been possible without the dedication of a small core team that stayed with the project from start to finish:
  • Translation: kokujin-kun (most episodes), blakbunnie27
  • Timing: Juggen (most episodes), sangofe
  • Editing: Collectr
  • QC: CP (all episodes), Mamo-chan (most episodes), Saji, Rosti, sangofe, kokujin-kun, retro, Skr, tlynnec, it06128
  • RC: Juggen
  • Muxing and release: Sqall, Juggen
  • Encoding: Skr (most episodes), toster
  • Raws: CP (R2J DVDs)
The project has some lessons for any group that wants to sub a long back-catalog series:
  1. Find a dedicated and proficient translator. The project never lost steam because kokujin-kun stayed well ahead of everyone else. This kept the pressure on the rest of us. The translations were almost finished products, requiring very little in the way of editing and thereby smoothing the QC process as well.
  2. Maintain staff continuity. By having the same editor, lead QC, and RC throughout, and mostly the same translator and timer, the team was able to maintain continuity on a show with lots of characters and arcane terminology. The team compiled an editing guide and a judo terminology guide to help with that.
  3. Keep it simple. The entire series was softsubbed. Typesetting was kept to a minimum, with most signs simply done as \an8 notes. (Occasionally, Juggen or I would show off a bit and try something more complex.) The encode was straightforward; no attempt was made to correct the numerous defects in the source, which was clearly just a transcription of the original VHS tapes.
  4. Stick to a regular cadence. The project took 15 months to do 66 shows. This was basically a weekly cadence, although the releases tended to occur in bunches, with pauses around vacations, exams, and the like. The steady pace meant that everyone on the team could see ongoing progress and maintain interest. Long breaks allow team members to get involved with other projects.
As for Yawara! itself... well, it's not a masterpiece, but it's quite a lot of fun. Yawara herself is a most appealing heroine. Her judo triumphs, while amazing, are not beyond the realm of possibility: at the Barcelona Olympics, Ryoko Tamura, a Japanese female judo player, won the silver medal. All of the judo moves are real. The plot structure is circular (see this blog entry), so it's easy to anticipate what will happen in any given story arc, but that's fairly typical for a shounen-like sports anime. The biggest weakness, in my view, is that most of the supporting characters are tropes: the haughty ojou-sama Honami, the conniving jii-san Jigoro, the clueless male protagonist Matsuda, and the scheming would-be suitor Kazamatsuri.

The team isn't quite done yet. The "Wimpy Kids" movie in in prepartion, based on a new encode taken directly from a relatively good VHS tape. We'd also like to do the "Atlanta Olympics" TV special, but the available source is a bad tape transcription. We're trying to get a LaserDisc of the special, but it's still an open question whether we can transcribe it once found.We're also looking for the four soundtrack albums:
  • Yawara! Original Soundtrack
  • Yawara! Sound Collection
  • Yawara! Songs!!
  • Yawara! Memories
We're not planning to do the Live Action series.

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