Sunday, November 10, 2013

"I am Son Gokuu"

Orphan Fansubs continues its focus on Tezuka Osamu with 1989's Tezuka Osamu Monogatari: Boku wa Songoku, or in English, The Tezuka Osamu Story: I Am Son Gokuu. This TV special is half a sort-of autobiography, and half a science-fiction retelling of Journey to the West (Saiyuuki), a classic tale that was, according to this film, an obsession of Osamu's from his childhood.

Like a number of other Orphan Fansub projects, this one started with a request on BakaBT for complete and accurate subs. laalg and convexity worked on the translation sequentially, archdeco did the timing, I edited, convexity provided the styling and typesetting, and CP and I did the QC. The encode is from Zero-Raws, from an R2J DVD.

The autobiographical half embroiders on the known facts of Osamu's life (for more details, see this fan web site.) Osamu showed an early interest, indeed obsession with both insects and drawing. As a result, he was teased as a child. Too young, fortunately, to serve in the Japanese military, in 1944 he was drafted as a factory worker in Osaka and harassed by his bosses for being more interested in drawing than in working. He was present when Osaka was firebombed, and it gave him a lifelong hatred of war and violence.

After the war, he started drawing manga while finishing his training as a doctor, and by the early 1950s he was a well-known mangaka. However, his interest in creating anime (or as they were known back then, manga films) had to wait until the end of the decade, when his financial success as a manga artist enabled his to form Mushi Productions. In 1963, his studio began producing Astro Boy, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The film is not a strict autobiography. Some of the scenes play fast and loose with chronology. In the film, Osamu goes to see, and is profoundly influenced by, the Wan Brothers Princess Iron Fan. Because Princess Iron Fan was produced in Shanghai and was released early in 1941, during the Japanese occupation, it's conceivable that it was shown in Japan and that Osamu saw it before the outbreak of war with the US. However, the film shows him as very young, whereas he was 13 years old in 1941. Further, he and Son Gokuu talk about a war breaking out soon, but in 1941 the Sino-Japanese war had been going on for almost four years.

The second half of the show is a science-fiction retelling of Journey to the West. It's partly a comedy, and partly a moral parable about the value of good in the face of violence and evil. If it seems a little rushed - Son Gokuu the monkey is converted from egotistical bully to galactic savior inside of 15 minutes - that's only to be expected when the entire tale has to be compressed into half an hour. It's very standard Osamu fare, aimed at youngsters and young adults as they make the transition from self-centered behavior to societally-grounded adults.

Some notes on the translation, courtesy of convexity:
  • "It's the weirdo Osamushi!" Osamushi = Osamu (his name) + mushi (bug). Osamu (spelled 治) is his real name. Osamu (spelled 治虫) later became his pen name; a character meaning "bug" (mushi, 虫) was added to make the name a reference to "osamushi," or "ground beetle." (In fact, at first his pen name was pronounced "Tezuka Osamushi" rather than "Tezuka Osamu.") Ground beetles were his favorite insects, in part because their name resembled his. In this scene, "Osamushi" is being used as a derogatory nickname, probably as a portmanteau of "Osamu" and "mushi"; an English equivalent might be "Bug-sama."
  • "And accompanied by Hakkai, Sagojou, and Son Gokuu..." Hakkai (八戒 Zhu Bajie) means eight precepts in Chinsese, Sagojou (沙悟浄 Shā Wùjìng) means "sand aware of purity", and Son Gokuu (孫悟空 Sūn Wùkōng) in Chinese means "monkey king."
  • "Sanzou-houshi continued on his long, long journey to India." Sanzou-houshi (三蔵法師 Sānzāng fǎshī) means "priest who knows the tri-pi Taka"), while Tenjiku (天竺) is old Chinese for India.
  • "A monkey kicks some serious ass in this manga film!" The term "anime" had not been invented; cartoons were called manga films.
  • "Frogs are croaking, we are going! We're going home!" Kaeru (蛙 かえる) means frog, while kaeru (帰る) means go home; in short, a Japanese pun.
For more on Son Gokuu's and his accessories, Kintoun and Nyoibou, consult any of the Wikipedia articles on Journey to the West or Saiyuuki.

So enjoy some more Tezuka Osamu goodness!

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