Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Lime-iro Ryuukitan X Cross

So at long last, Lime-iro Ryuukitan X Cross is complete.

This sequel to Lime-iro Senkitan has had a checkered history, to say the least. Released in 2005, it was started, and dropped, by no less than three fansub groups. Despite the availability of decent DVD raws, it remained untranslated and unloved until KiteSeekers added it to the backlog about three years ago. I joined KiteSeekers specifically to finish this orphan series.

Even with my constant nagging, progress was slow. Although the episodes had been translated, the translations were a bit suspect. Fortunately, Zalis116, who in the guise of ReDone Subs created the excellent DVD version of Lime-Iro Senkitan, agreed to translation check the scripts. It still took a year to finish the series, as higher priority was usually given to the Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream and Tantei Opera Milky Holmes franchises. Lolis trump historical mecha, I guess.

As a sequel, a drop in quality would not be unexpected, but it’s the shift in tone that’s more bothersome, at least to me. Lime-iro Senkitan was a guilty pleasure, gleefully mixing action, comedy, harem, and mecha with a healthy dose of eye candy to utterly subvert the tropes of the genres. The hero, Shintaro, far from being the usual ineffective harem lead, scores with almost every female who’s both of legal age and human. He never really takes the lead in the fighting; his role is coaching, mentoring, and sexual healing. It’s good, dumb, ecchi fun.

Lime-iro Ryuukitan, on the other hand, plays by all the rules of the shounen and harem genres. The lead is clueless about women, tongue-tied and embarrassed about emotions, and generally only good at charging head-first at the enemy. The girls are all in love with him, but none of them makes an impression on his heart of iron. Instead, he teaches them life lessons about believing in themselves as well as about wrestling wild animals and patching up scrapes and bruises. In the end, he is the HERO who defeats the enemy, and the girls are supporters. As a result, the show plays as a series of cliches, with only occasional flashes of humor to lighten the endless tropes. The villains, named Chiffon, Linen, and Cashmere (what are they, an 80s girl group?), have no personality to start with and don’t develop any along the way. It’s a big come down from the original.

I’m glad it’s finally subbed, and the Lime-iro series can be viewed in its entirety. Nonetheless, Lime-iro Ryuukitan serves to point up an important lesson about orphan series: when a show’s been dropped by lots of groups, it’s probably for a good reason.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ranma 1/2 Live Action

If the Usagi Drop live action movie embodies everything that can go right in a Japanese live action remake of an anime, then Ranma 1/2 shows almost everything that can go wrong. I have a soft spot for the original Ranma anime franchise because of its unremitting silliness, even though it wore out its welcome long before the 161 episodes, 12 OVAs, and 2 movies were over and done with. The live action TV special has all  the stupidity of the original and none of the charm. It's sexist, homophobic, and, worst of all, not very funny.

The core problem, I think, is that cardboard characters and repeated tropes are tolerable (barely) in a cartoon but are off-putting in a film with real actors. Thus, the best live action shows are adaptations of slice-of-life or romantic comedy series, such as Usagi Drop, Nodame Cantabile, and Honey and Clover. The anime characters in those series are semi-believable, and that gives real actors room to work. In contrast, a slapstick comedy like Ranma requires actors to behave like cartoons, complete with cartoon-like special effects. In my view, that's only been successful once, in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? It's not successful here.

So you might ask, quite reasonably, why I worked on this. As has happened before, I got dragged in by the simple awfulness of the original subtitles. I couldn't bear to archive that mess.(For example, the first ten lines include, "I'll be more gental next time!" and "He's finially coming!") So I started editing, and then found I had to retime, and then found I need translation checking on a bunch of lines... it went on and on. It's been more than a year from when I downloaded the original version to the release of this one. I've had to watch the movie through three times, and I never want to watch it again. I will be more forbearing in the future. The world is filled with awful subtitles, and I don't have time to deal with them.

The raw is by Rabite-Asses. The original subtitles are by LuffyNoTomo, with additional work by zdzdz. I re-timed, re-edited, and did some additional typesetting. CP did QC, and convexity translated the lines that were missing or so clearly wrong that even I could hear it. If you have the raw, you can patch to this version. A link to the patch is in the torrent.

Anyway, I can't recommend this live action special. But if you do want to watch it, I think this version is an improvement over what was currently before. That may sound like faint praise, but it's all it deserves.