Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Amatsuki Revisited

Amatsuki is  a favorite series that I've wanted to redo with better video sources. (I was the editor on Ureshii's original version.) Zalis of Redone Subs helped me obtain the DmzJ DVD rips, which are an improvement over the TV sources. Accordingly, I've rewatched the series and prepared scripts for a DVD re-release.

Amatsuki is set in a parallel Bakumatsu-era world where gods and spirits are real. The hero, Rikugou Toki, stumbles into this world when he crosses a bridge inside a virtual reality  historical exhibit. In a development worthy of The Worm Ouroboros, how Toki (and his high-school acquaintance, Kon) end up in another world is never explained; it's simply assumed. Toki, who starts out as a "get along, go along" type of anonymous teenager, slowly finds the skills not only to cope with his new environment but to influence events and indeed the fate of the parallel world.

The series has held up well, but it stops quite abruptly at the end of volume 4 of the manga. Were the creators expecting a renewal or a second season? It's hard to say. Given the short length, some of the creative decisions may seem difficult to understand. A couple of episodes are spent filling in back-stories on the major characters instead of advancing the plot. The second half is given over to a prolonged, seemingly irrelevant story about an inari (fox spirit), her violent quest for revenge for the destruction of her tree-spirit master, and her redemption through the hero's action. Nonetheless, I find the storytelling effective and affecting. For example, episode 8 provides the back story for Kuchiha, the girl fighter possessed by a dog spirit, and it is truly tragic. The inari's nihilistic quest provides the context for the revolt against Heaven that closes the show.
The subs have also held up pretty well, so I haven't had much occasion for Editor's Remorse, to use tophf's wonderful phrase. There are a few too many ellipses and a distressing tendency to separate compound clauses (as opposed to compound sentences) with a comma, but other than that, wording changes have been few. The timing was more problematic. Lead-ins and lead-outs are too short; too many pauses are turned into line breaks; and adjacent lines are not always joined, leading to unpleasant flashing. Finally, the complex typesetting was hardsubbed and has been reconstructed. In some cases, like the series logo, this hasn't been possible; and in other cases, reproducing the original AFX typesetting requires elaborate frame-by-frame typesetting. (Thank goodness for motion-tracking software.) The original, highly elaborate karaoke's were "hardwired" to the dimensions of the original encode and look a bit strange with the larger DVD encodes. They have been replaced by simple, line-timed translations. The original fansub credits have been preserved and augmented with the names of the Orphan team members. This may look a little clunky, but I believe in giving credit where credit is due.

I'd like to thank convexity for the occasional translation check and the wonderful typesetting in ep10; archdeco for retiming the episodes; CP and Saji for their usual thorough job of QC; and new team members Calyrica and Eternal_Blizzard for further checking. On the whole, this was much easier than the usual Orphan project, reflecting the quality of the original Ureshii scripts.

I enjoyed Amatsuki the second time around as much as I did the first time, and I hope you will too.


  1. Can you upload a 720p too please? ;D

  2. It's a low-res show that was only ever released on DVD and never had an HD airing. 720p would be pointless bloat.

    Anyway, shame about the wrong framerate in the DmzJ raws, but at least they're a general improvement.

    1. Yeah, any BD release would probably look like a dreadful upscale; the original animation isn't all that stellar.

      A properly encoded raw would be nice, but so far, the DmzJ raws are it.