Friday, March 4, 2016

Chuumon no Ooi Ryouriten (1994)

Here's a genuine curiosity: the 1994 (maybe - see below for more on dates) version of Chuumon no Ooi Ryouriten (The Restaurant of Many Orders). This famous Japanese short story had already been animated twice, once in 1958 with puppets, and once in 1991 (the AllCinema date of 1993 is wrong) in silent-movie mode. This version, which followed only a few years later, is conventionally animated.

What makes this OVA unusual is that after release, it seems to have vanished almost without a trace. It isn't listed in any of the standard anime databases. Further, it doesn't appear on the web site of its production company. Perhaps it was released to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the death of the story's author, Miyazawa Kenji, along with another OVA based on one of his stories, Yukiwatari. However, Yukiwatari is well documented and has a full 480p encode; Chuumon (1994) is not and has only a 360p encode.

For Orphan, Chuumon is a happy accident. Our "want ad" for translators actually got a response, and one of the new team members had the show translated and timed. It took only a minor amount of polishing to get it ready for release. Iri translated and timed the script, Yogicat polished up the timing, I edited, and Calyrica QC'd. There is no typesetting to speak of; the raw, from hSa, is too small. The raw has the usual VHS defects, but there is no other choice.

Miyazawa Kenji was a famous Japanese author. Among his books and short stores are Night on the Galactic Railway, The Life of Guskou Budori, Matasaburo the Wind Boy, and Gauche the Cellist, all of which have been animated, some of them multiple times. Chuumon no Ooi Ryouriten comes from an early collection of stories intended for children. It describes the misfortunes of two hunters who get lost in a strange forest. More than that I cannot reveal without spoiling everything, but let's just say that it's closer in spirit to Roald Dahl than Walt Disney.

By the way, the 1993 date for the far more famous version by Okamoto Tadanari is wrong. According to the DVD label for a collection that includes it, it dates from 1991:

Further, that release won the prestigious Noburo Ofuji award in 1991, according to a blog that lists all the award winners.

As for our release, different sources give different dates. The website of the Japanese educational film company T&K Telefilm lists it as 1993. Another source has a date of 2003, as does MyAnimeList. hSA put a date of 1994 on his rip. So take your choice.

I hope that this release spurs more interest in this obscure show. I would love to have more information about it as well as a better encode. If a better encode does surface, Orphan will do a v2, as we have for other shows.


  1. Thanks for your work. Being a Miyazawa Kenji fan I'm downloading this. It is my 2nd favorite story from him after Night on the Galactic Railway. :)

    PS: according to most source the other version that you wrote being made in 1993 is actually from 1991.

  2. Thanks for the information! AniDB has it wrong, ANN has it right.

  3. Thanks for your work here.

    I was intrigued by the idea that this was so little-known that it wasn't in any databases, so I asked someone his thoughts on it. He suggested that this entry was identical to , and now that I've downloaded the release and compared the art to the poster on that MAL page, I'm inclined to agree. His explanation for the discrepancy in years is that the theater release was Aug 8 93, as indicated in that "1993" entry that is actually from 1991, but the home video release was in 2003. His explanation was a bit more winding and detailed with links to various Japanese sites, but that's the gist of it.

    But now I'm curious: where did you get the 1994 date?

    1. From hSa's raw. I don't know where he got it from - perhaps it was the date on the VHS tape he used. The picture on MAL looks could be either a VHS or a DVD cover. We know that the show was released on DVD as part of an anthology of Miyazawa Kenji films sold to public libraries in Japan.