Sunday, March 6, 2016

Preposterous! (Ear of the Golden Dragon)

As I was editing Ear of the Golden Dragon (Kouryu no Mimi), I was irresistibly reminded of a Monty Python sketch called Hell's Grannies, which features "gangs of old ladies attacking defenseless, fit young men". As the sketch goes increasingly off the rails, a by-the-book English colonel intervenes and shuts it down, saying, "Started off with a nice little idea about grannies attacking young men, but now it's got silly." That's how I feel about Golden Dragon. It started off with a nice little idea about a Romeo-and-Juliet romance across warring clans, but then it got silly.

How silly? Well, on one side is the ancient Natsume clan. The clan leader's left ear has the power of the "golden dragon." When this power is unleashed, the leader changes appearance from a boy to an action hero, and he becomes the luckiest man in creation, who "can make any woman submit to his will," according to the narrator. That's quite an ear(ful).On the other side, equally ancient, is the Mina clan of beautiful women, whose sole purpose is to destroy the men of the Natsume clan. They can hold dozens of poisonous needles in their mouths without getting nicked. They can seduce any man in creation, thereby attaining, among other things, a stranglehold on the Japanese government. And they are masters (mistresses?) of disguise.

Natsume Kiroemon, 45th leader of his clan, rescues Shijo Kanako, of the Mina clan, from the clutches of the ne'er-do-well son of a powerful politician. Of course, they fall in love and, by the end of the first episode, into bed. But Kanako recognizes that their Love Is Not To Be and returns to her family in Kyoto. Kiroemon is determined to rescue her and bravely charges into this nest of succubi, who make more progress with him than one might expect of a Virtuous Hero. After Kiroemon encounters and defeats various villains - including three ninjas who have kanji on their foreheads (so you can tell them apart) and a human-sized version of a Titan from Shokugei no Kyojin - Kiroemon and Kanoko are reunited, presumably to live passionately ever after.

In short, Ear of the Golden Dragon is the usual 90s OVA mix of sex, violence, and nonsense. The sex scenes are reasonably graphic for a non-hentai anime, there are buckets of blood, and the plot makes no sense at all. Not every 90s OVA can be Sanctuary. A "deeper" (or more scathing) review can be found here.

Moho Kareshi translated the dialog. Iri, who recently joined the group, translation checked the dialog and translated the songs. ninjacloud timed, I edited and typeset, calyrica and konnakude QCed. The raws were encoded by Erik of Piyo Piyo Productions from his own Japanese laserdiscs.

Morikawa Toshiyuki, who plays Kiroemon, has had leads roles in Gallery Fake and all three series of Junjou Romantica, but he's best known to me as Panda Mama in Polar Bear Cafe. Hisakaya Awa, who plays Kanako, has had a long career of featured roles, including Skuld in all the Ah! My Goddess shows. The script doesn't give them much to work with, but they survived and went on to better things.

Here's a contemporary advertisement for the show:

Ear of the Golden Dragon isn't top drawer material, but it isn't the worst 90s OVA you might watch either.

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