Yes, I admit it. I put all the Happy Science videos up on BakaBT as a troll. Not of the films themselves, I hasten to add. The films have been left pretty much alone, except for minor fixes to the subtitles for timing, wording, and mistranslations. Rather, I offered these films to troll the BakaBT moderators.
It all started innocently enough. I found Medgirl’s rip of the first Happy Science film, Hermes: Winds of Love, on a different tracker, and I uploaded it to BakaBT because it wasn’t there. I hadn’t actually watched the movie, but I did carefully note the negative reviews and Happy Science connection in my offer. Next I put together a version of QTS’s The Rebirth of Buddha by lightly massaging the subtitles for timing, styling, and wording. Then the completionist in me led me to track down two more Happy Science videos and offer them, in whatever state they existed, with copious warnings.
If you’re not familiar with Happy Science, formally known as Kyoufuku no Kagaku (幸福の科学, or The Institute for Research in Human Happiness), it’s a Japanese religious cult. It is often compared to Scientology, because its cosmology is as much based on popular science fiction as it is on religion, but most authorities regard it as harmless enough. It doesn’t advocate violence or attack its detractors. Indeed, the head of the cult, Owaka Ryuho, was the target of a failed assassination attempt by the terrorist group Aum Shinrikyo in January 1995.
There have been six Happy Science films so far, one every three years:
Hermes: Winds of Love (1997)
The Laws of the Sun (2000)
The Golden Laws (2003)
The Laws of Eternity (2006)
The Rebirth of Buddha (2009)
The Mystical Laws (2012)
The films always do well at the box office. To each his own.
I began to have more sinister thoughts about these films when the BakaBT mods removed the Orphan Fansubs version of Space Neko Theater. The decision was, I thought, completely arbitrary: all "self-produced" anime was verboten, unless the creator was "well known." I’m particularly fond of Space Neko Theater, because it’s about cats, it’s really funny, and I went through a lot of trouble to get it right. As a result, I took this decision rather hard. If BakaBT wouldn’t take a wonderful comic short, then what truly terrible "legitimate" anime could I upload instead?
I’d been sitting on the QTS DVD rips of the second, third, and fourth Happy Science movies for some time when a request was made to offer QTS’s The Mystical Laws. Here was the perfect opportunity to hoist BakaBT on its own "we only offer the best version of legitimate anime" petard. I would create the "best" versions not only of The Mystical Laws but of The Laws of the Sun, The Golden Laws, and The Laws of Eternity. With full video resolution, dual Japanese and English audio, proper timing, and correctly edited subtitles, they’d be impossible to turn down. And so it proved. Mystical went up first, then Sun, the Golden, and finally Eternity. While some offers sit in limbo for months or even years, these were promptly accepted.
I tried to play fair with the BakaBT leechers. Each offer contained pointers to reviews (mostly negative), as well as copious remarks about the nature of the films as religious propaganda. Despite that, the member comments quickly filled up with howls of outrage about the films and how terrible they were. Even as my warnings became stronger, the outrage grew. I could only conclude that many BakaBT leechers don’t read (the offers). Caveat emptor.
So now I can rest from my labors, replete in the satisfaction of a job well done. BakaBT has what it claims to want: the "best" versions of six "legitimate" anime films. Are the Happy Science films a good tradeoff for expelling Space Neko Theater? I’ll let you be the judge. And was this project a good troll on BakaBT? Or was I the one trolled for putting in all those hours fixing up what’s basically religious propaganda? I’ll let you be the judge of that too.