Sunday, February 21, 2016

Joker: Marginal City

Here's another lost 90s OVA, Joker: Marginal City from 1992. Based on a manga by artist Michihara Kasumi and writer Maki Yuu, it's a sci-fi thriller set in Blade Runner country, where it rains all the time and androids (but not cell phones) have been created. The story opens with a string of serial killing involving young women, whose hearts have been removed. On the trail of the killer are a Special Agent named Joker (a cyborg, not an android), who is allowed to be cop, judge, and executioner all at once, and a young policeman, Rikudo Rin.The trail leads to the mysterious Dr. Bayfarm and to one of Bayfarm's creations, an android named Saki. After suitable action sequences, and a pulled-out-of-nowhere plot twist that has the sole purpose of extending the action, the situation is partially resolved, and the episode ends. If it's not Oz-class sci-fi, it's not Bavi Stock-class junk either.

What distinguishes Joker from other 90s noir sci-fi OVAs is Joker's special ability: the cyborg can assume male or female form at will. As a man, Joker is a superhero, fast, lean, and deadly. As a woman, Joker is a "typical girl," pretty and interested in clothes, dating, and romance. Rin and Joker are in love. Joker is affectionate in both forms, but Rin will only reciprocate when Joker appears a a woman. This isn't a deep exploration of the implications of androgyny (read Ursula Le Guinn's The Left Hand of Darkness if you want that), and its deprecation of a male-male relationship is pretty typical for non-BL anime.

Moho Kareshi translated the episode and the songs. M74 timed the dialog, Juggen styled the songs, I edited and typeset, and Calyrica and Juggen did QC. Originally, we were going to use ARR's raw, but Erik of Piyo Piyo Productions agreed to rip and encode his Japanese laserdisc. The resulting raw has less jitter. The laserdisc picture is not quite 4:3, due to black bars in the original source.

The dialog is not complicated but it is very sparse on names. Rin's superior officer is given neither name or rank; Rin calls him "senpai" (senior). I have used his rank from the manga (inspector), because "senpai" made the dialog feel like it came out of a high-school slice-of-life dramedy. Other honorifics were removed as well, but they were few.

The voice actors were industry veterans who are active to this day. Hayami Sho (male Joker) played Hojo Akira in Sanctuary, a 90s OVA, but he is also working in the current Assassination Classroom. Tomizawa Michie (female Joker) was Latina Ascot in Hi-Speed Jecy, another 90s OVA, and C-Ko in the Project A-Ko series, but she also worked in the recent Magic Kaito 1412. Matsumoto Yasunori (Rin) was Muto in Oz, still another 90s OVA, but he has also appeared in recent shows like the second season of Magi. It's a coincidence of course, but Orphan has released all of the 90s OVAs I mentioned (Sanctuary, Hi-Speed Jecy, and Oz), and they're all worth watching.

I want to thank Crisisi on the FFShrine forum for scanning the booklets for the Joker CD albums. The booklets contained official lyrics for the insert song and the ending song, which facilitated translations. The insert song is an upbeat J-pop song covering a montage of a date between Rin and (female) Joker. It doesn't do much for the story - we already know that Rin and Joker are in love - but it does heighten the contrast between Joker's male and female personalities.

As with Sanctuary, there's a lot more in the manga than in this one-shot OVA, but unlike Sanctuary, the Joker manga has not been translated into English.

As nyaa continues to be unstable, here is a magnet torrent for the show. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks! But can you tell M74 that ARR want him back?