Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 in Review

This is not a summary of my views on 2014's anime; why should you care? I didn't watch many shows. Instead, I was mostly working on editing projects, with a sideline of typesetting. Highlights included:

Orphan Fansubs

Without laalg, the team's prolific translator, the pace of work slowed. The group did more resubbing projects and fewer original translations. Still, Orphan completed twelve projects this year.
  • Rain Boy, Lunn Flies into the Wind, Yamataro Comes Back, Adachigahara, Akuemon. Thanks to outstanding translation help from convexity and Moho Kareshi, we finished off Tezuka Osamu's Lion Book series. The shows range from sentimental fables (Rain Boy) to horror (Adachigahara) and illustrate the range of Tezuka Osamu's interests and talents. Along the way, I learned the basics of motion-capture typesetting, so the typesetting for the last four is better than for the first two, although it's still amateurish.
  • Maze TV special. The notorious fanservice episode, subtitled in English for the first time as a public service to Maze devotees and anime connoisseurs alike.
  • Yamato 2520. The notorious (for a different reason) incomplete sequel to the Yamato franchise, abandoned after three episodes. This was the first fully translated version in English.
  • Sei Michaela Gakuen Hyouruuki. The token h-anime for the year (under the Orphan label, at least), distinguished by its mild content and wildly improbable and convoluted plot.
  • The Adventures of Horus, Prince of the Sun. A resub project using neo1024's excellent subtitles and tipota's BluRay encode. A highly enjoyable family film, in the old-school tradition.
  • Maroko. The baffling summary movie of the equally baffling OVA series, Gosenzosama Banbanzai! A resub project using Frostii/Ureshii subtitles and a sterling new encode by Skr.
  • Amatsuki. A resub project using Ureshii subtitles and DVD encodes.
  • Ranma 1/2 Live Action. Intended as a follow up to the very successful Usagi Drop live action project, it served to illustrate how variable the quality of Japanese live-action films can be - in this case, how bad the quality can be.
Orphan also established a formal h-anime sub-brand, Okizari, to allow for clearer labeling of h-anime releases; and at least one of the releases (Kunoichi Bakamatsu Kitan) was actually worth the effort.

The team has expanded a bit. It now includes three translators or translation checkers (convexity,  Moho Kareshi, and kokujin-kun), three timers (archdeco, ninjacloud, and Eternal_Blizzard), two typesetters (Juggen and me), four QCs (CP, Saji, konnakude, and Calyrica), and one editor (me). MrMew times the h-anime releases. macros74 pitches in on projects as well. Everyone has other commitments, but it's a fun group to work with.

Work for Other Groups
  • Kiteseekers finished the first English translation of Limeiro Ryuukitan X, as well as the BluRay version of Hanaukyo Maid Tai, which turned out very well in my estimation.
  • C1. My very first group has come back from beyond the grave, and I'm editing Kakyuusei 1999 for them. It's going slowly, as most back catalog projects do, but it got a pleasant boost when doll_licca was able to provide a DVD source for the series.
  • FFF. I continue to work on TV resubs and BDs. TV shows included the utterly forgettable Golden Time and Seikoku no Dragonar and the far better Hoozuki no Reitetsu and Akatsuki no Yona. BDs included Hyakka Samurai Bride and Walkure Romanze, both guilty pleasures.
  • WhyNot? I finished editing several incomplete series for the group, but they have not yet been released.
  • FroZen-EviL finished Miyuki (and there was much rejoicing). Yawara! Blurays are next.
  • Saizen roped me into Laughing Salesman and Psycho-Armor Govarian. On some of these shows, it's hard to tell the boundaries between Saizen, Live-EviL, Soldado, C1, and Orphan; the staffs overlap almost completely.
  • m74. I edited a few shows for macros74 as he explored the back catalog through European releases and translations.
  • ray=out. I finished editing Hiatari Ryoukou, but the show continues to roll out very slowly.
  • Magai. I helped polish up Morellet's version of the charming The Rose and Joe.
I'm almost always willing to help out teams that need a hand... but I've become more particular about the kind of material I'll work on. Extremes of violence and moe are out of scope now, but sci-fi, slice of life, and cats never get old.

Looking Ahead

Next year's, Orphan will finish up D4 Princess and Tokimeki Tonight.  Beyond that, projects will be based on the team's interests and on the availability of raw materials. We'd all like to do more Tezuka Osamu, if raws are available. I'm working with LaserDisc encoders to see if we can get raws for series or OVAs that never made it to DVD or are only available as low-quality Internet raws. And I really want to do BluRay versions of Polar Bear Cafe and the Cosprayers trilogy; a different team is already working on Nodame Cantabile.

I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season and a joyous 2015. Thanks for reading, or watching, or both.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Miyuki, Complete (with Spoilers)

'Twas the night before Christmas...

FroZen(-Evil) has released the 37th and final episode of Miyuki. It's taken close to two years to do 37 episodes, or roughly an episode every three weeks. The team has stayed remarkably constant from start to finish:
  • Translation: laalg
  • Translation check: Tsubasa (1-30), kokujin-kun (30-37)
  • Timing: Juggen (mostly), limpakos, Skr
  • Karaokes: Juggen
  • Editing: Collectr
  • Typesetting: kokujin-kun
  • QC: CP (all), Saji, sangofe, getfresh, limpakos, konnakude
  • RC: Juggen
  • Encoding: Skr
  • Raw provider: CP (R2J DVDs)
Special thanks to getfresh for providing the original Miyuki no Tamari fansub scripts as a starting point for episodes 1-8, and to laalg for translating all 37 episodes in less than two months in the winter of 2013. The name change from FroZen-EviL to FroZen was due to some unimportant "dorama" in the team; Live-Evil staffers participated throughout. I've already discussed why Miyuki proceeded more slowly than Yawara! Given that the show aired in 1983, I don't think the delay matters all that much.

Perhaps of greater concern to viewers is that the series simply stops, with everything up in the air. The protagonist, Wakamatsu Masato, is still torn between the two Miyukis, although there's a hint about his ultimate direction. His sister is still being pursued by a host of inappropriate suitors. At least Kashima Miyuki is no longer slapping him every episode.

It's not surprising that Miyuki seemed to peter out. The anime didn't have a linear story line and adapted chapters from the manga sort of randomly. By the end of its third season, the TV series had plundered the first nine volumes more or less completely and run out of material. Rather than tack on an "anime-original" ending, the TV series just stopped. Perhaps the creators hoped to do a fourth season when the manga completed its run. It didn't happen.

So as a public service, I hereby present some Official Miyuki Spoilers! Yes, dear viewer, you don't have to be left in suspense any longer. In volume 11, an old friend of Masato, a talented soccer player named Sawada Yuuichi, returns to Japan and ends up staying in the Wakamatsu household. He falls in love with Wakamatsu Miyuki and proposes to her. She agrees to marry him, and her brother gives his consent. However, at the wedding ceremony, Kashima Miyuki learns that the Wakamatsu siblings are not related by blood and goes to Hokkaido to sort out her feelings. Then Masato breaks down and confesses his love for his stepsister. They run off together, eventually getting married in the Philippines, where his father is living. In Hokkaido, Kashima Miyuki encounters Sawada Yuuichi. The implication is that Kashima and Sawada will eventually pair up. And everyone lives happily ever after, I guess. Your mileage may vary.

In a previous blog entry, I was rather hard on the show, because I was suffering from "Adachi Mitsuri overload" as well as frustration about how long both Miyuki and Hiatari Ryoukou were taking to get done. In retrospect, Miyuki turns out to be a fun slice-of-life comedy, typical of the more innocent era in which it aired. The characters are engaging, the comedy is broad and straightforward, and the Serious Development is confined to the very last episode. There are are certainly elements I find questionable - such as the various adult men who lust after Wakamatsu Miyuki - but I can chalk that up to the times and to Japanese culture. I'm glad that Miyuki is available to an English-speaking audience at last.

FroZen-EviL isn't done (we're not quite dead yet). We're slowly gearing up for the Yawara! BluRays. We'll keep the joint venture name, even though Frostii is moribund, and the boundaries between Saizen, Orphan, Live-eviL, Soldado, and several other "back catalog" groups are becoming increasingly difficult to find. Whatever their official homes, this team is a great crew to work with, and I hope we can keep our winning streak going.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Lunn wa Kaze no Naka (Lunn Flies into the Wind)

Lunn wa Kaze no Naka (in English, Lunn Flies into the Wind) is the third installment of a Tezuka Osamu anthology series called "The Lion Book Series." It consists of six standalone episodes:

1 The Green Cat 1983
2 Rain Boy 1983
3 Lunn Flies into the Wind 1985
4 Yamataro Comes Back 1986
5 Adachigahara 1991
6 Akuemon 1993

Orphan has already released The Green Cat, Rain Boy, Adachigahara, Akuemon, and Yamataro Comes Back. With this release of Lunn, we have finished all the Lion Books.

This version of Lunn features a heavily-modified version of Viki's English subtitles paired with ARR's encode. Lunn is sometimes described as a "low-key" look at adolescent first love. While it certainly lies on the sentimental end of the Lion Book spectrum, there's more to the show than teen romance. The hero, Akira, is a loner and underachiever, bullied at school by both his fellow students and his teacher. He finds an imaginary friend in the picture of a beautiful girl on a coffee advertising poster. He names her Lunn. She becomes his companion and consolation, but he regards his situation as so desperate that he almost kills himself twice - hardly "low-key" children's fare. Eventually, he becomes strong enough to formulate a goal and a dream for himself. By the end of the show, he is on his way to his first real friendship.

convexity redid the original Viki translation, and the changes are extensive. Eternal_Blizzard did the timing, I did the editing and typesetting, and CP, Calyrica, and konnakude did QC. (The typesetting was a pain in the butt, because of all the coffee posters.) The raw is from ARR.

This concludes Orphan's Lion Book project. We're on the lookout for raws of additional untranslated Tezuka Osamu shows, notably Hidimari no Ki. In the meantime, enjoy this final Lion Book episode.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Yamataro Kaeru (Yamataro Comes Back)

Yamataro Kaeru (Yamataro Comes Back) is the fourth installment of a Tezuka Osamu anthology series called "The Lion Book Series." It consists of six standalone episodes:

1 The Green Cat 1983
2 Rain Boy 1983
3 Lunn Flies into the Wind 1985
4 Yamataro Comes Back 1986
5 Adachigahara 1991
6 Akuemon 1993

Orphan has already released The Green Cat, Rain Boy, Adachigahara, and Akuemon. With this release, only Lunn Flies into the Wind remains.

This version of Yamataro features an original English translation paired with ARR's dual audio encode, which had only Japanese subtitles. Yamataro is a sentimental and slightly weird take on friendship, in this case between a brown bear cub rescued from an ice flow and a class C62 steam locomotive. The steam engine teaches the bear cub how to be strong and break free from his human masters and then returns the cub to the wild. They have another, fateful encounter when Yamataro has become an adult.

Moho Kareshi did the translation, and convexity the translation checking. Eternal_Blizzard did the timing, I did the editing and typesetting, and CP, Calyrica, and konnakude did the checking.

Our last remaining Lion Book project is Lunn Flies into the Wind, which needs a new translation. In the meantime, enjoy this newly subtitled Tezuka Osamu episode.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


Akuemon is the sixth and last installment of a Tezuka Osamu anthology series called "The Lion Book Series." It consists of six standalone episodes:

1 The Green Cat 1983
2 Rain Boy 1983
3 Lunn Flies into the Wind 1985
4 Yamataro Comes Back 1986
5 Adachigahara 1991
6 Akuemon 1993

Orphan has already released The Green Cat, Rain Boy, and Adachigahara. With Akuemon, we're on the home stretch.

Like Adachigarara, this version of Akuemon features an original translation and an original encode. And like Adachigahara, Akuemon is a departure from the rather light-hearted and sentimental content of the first four episodes. It's a parable on the cost of violence, the need to make reparations, and the possibility of redemption. The protagonist, Akuemon, is a violent ruffian raised to a position of power by the local governor. His mission is to kill a thousand foxes, in order to fulfill a prophecy about the governor becoming the ruler of the land. Akuemon's thoughtless violence ultimately rebounds on him and his family, and he is forced to face the consequences of his acts. The end is uplifting in some ways, but it's redemption in societal terms: Akuemon must pay the price for his actions.

convexity did the translation, and as usual, it's fluid and accurate. Eternal_Blizzard did the timing, I did the editing and typesetting, and CP, Calyrica, and konnakude did the checking. Last, but hardly least, my colleague Skr from the Yawara! project did the encode. Whether this reflects the quality of the DVD or his use of stabilization technology, the encode shows much less frame-to-frame jitter than the first four episodes.

Two translation notes:
  • In the Japanese language, the word "shu" (酒, "liquor", pronounced shu) generally refers to any alcoholic drink, and that's what's shown in the sign onscreen.  The beverage called "sake" in English is usually termed nihonshu (日本酒, "Japanese liquor"), or sometimes seishu (清酒, "clear liquor"). Sake was not the only alcoholic beverage available in Heian Japan.
  • The provincial governor is called a "general" because that's the word used and because it's a position in the military.
As I've said before, Orphan is doing the remaining two episodes. Yamataro is in QC, Lunn in translation. In the meantime, enjoy this never-before-translated Tezuka Osamu episode.