Saturday, October 31, 2015

Hi-Speed Jecy

As I've said before, I'm really fond of OVAs from the 80s and 90s. Orphan Fansubs has been very lucky to get help from two Laserdisc collectors, Erik of Piyo Piyo Productions, and ics- of lamonae. That has given us access to all sorts of rare shows that never made the transition to DVD. Hi-Speed Jecy has been on my wish list for a long time. Thanks to favorable circumstances, Orphan can bring you the entire series.

Like many Orphan projects, Hi-Speed Jecy has a rather checkered history. Anime Classic Rips (ACR) did the first three episodes and then dropped the show. Erik did four more on his own but ultimately grew dissatisfied with the quality of his initial encodes and stopped. The project lay dormant for three years after that.

Earlier this year, ninjacloud, Orphan's raw-hunter extraordinaire and part-time timer, found a complete set of Jecy raws on the Internet. That led me to reach out to Erik to see if I could use his scripts for episodes one to seven. To my surprise, he had scripts for all twelve episodes. Further, the news that Orphan was restarting the project gave him the impetus to go back and do new encodes of Jecy with an improved setup. Finally, the original translator volunteered to polish up the scripts. So this version of Jecy is translated by Ametuchi, timed or retimed by macros74 and ninjacloud, edited and typeset by me, QCed by Calyrica and konnakude, and encoded by Erik from his own Laserdiscs. Yay!

Hi-Speed Jecy is another OVA set from Studio Pierrot (they also did Dallos and Gosenzosama Banbanzai, among many others). It's based on a series of light novels and has a considerable backstory that the anime doesn't really flesh out. The hero is a young man named Jecy Moore. (It should be Jesse, of course, but the name is hardsubbed in the title.) His parents were killed by the evil Bismarck criminal gang when he was a youngster, and he has vowed revenge. Jecy hates weapons of all kinds. His only advantages are super-human speed and an organic, sentient spaceship named Paolon, which was created by an ancient, long-vanished alien civilization. Paolon can warp faster than light, absorb energy beam attacks (they act as food), beam people in and out, and otherwise dig Jecy out of the numerous scrapes he gets into. Jecy's closest friend is a beautiful young girl, Tiana. She's actually an artificial life form, created by Paolon as a companion. Jecy loves her but treats her more like a little sister.Tiana aspires to rather more than that, like any normal young woman, but Jecy is too guilt-ridden about the events that led to Tiana's creation.

Another major character is Falk Green, a priest of the Heartland Order, which is more fully fleshed out in the source novels than in the series. The Order believes that the universe is actually Hell, and that redemption must come through suffering. Accordingly, the Order's priests go around "saving" criminals by killing them painfully with a specialized weapon called a nerve gun. Falk is a classic "worldly priest" trope. He drinks, smokes, womanizes, fights, and generally enjoys himself, while always staying aligned to his mission. (German in the more recent Garo is another example of this kind of character.) Jecy is much more of a straightarrow and deeply opposes Heartland's murderous ideas, but he recognizes Falk's value in a fight.

The villains are the usual one-dimensonal cartoons. The patriarch, Lou Bismarck, seeks immortality and mastery of the universe. The eldest daughter, Jera, is a murderous strategist who has a yen for Falk. The only son, Cross, is a psychopath who just wants to blow things up and kill people, particularly Jecy. Only the younger daughter, Telaine, shows any depth, caught between family loyalties and her feelings for Jecy, which she never quite acts on. The Bismarck family seems able to run rings around the galactic military and police with ease, so why they act as criminals, rather than buying up politicians wholesale as in current times, is a bit of mystery.

Like many space operas from 25 years ago, Jecy has its weaknesses. Although the opening and ending songs are enjoyable, the background music is one cliche after another. (The "tension" music in episode 11 stands out as particularly hackneyed.) The plot is full of improbable coincidences and devices, many of which serve to get Jecy or Falk out of impossible jams. And Tiana simply doesn't have enough to do. She mostly stands around, looking pretty or being a damsel in distress. The other female characters, in contrast, are bold and active, whether for good or evil.

Despite these issues, Hi-Speed Jecy is a good watch. It provides glimpses of an interesting and rather dark alternate universe, populates it with an action-packed plot, and wraps up conclusively. I'm really puzzled why it was "left behind" on Laserdisc, when so many less deserving shows have been reissued on DVD or even Blu-Ray. It has action, explosions, heroes, villains, and even a little fanservice (equal opportunity, I might add). What more do you need?

Orphan is proud indeed to bring you Hi-Speed Jecy. As Miss Sasako always said, enjoy!