Saturday, August 19, 2017

Daishizen no Majuu Bagi

Orphan and M74 are proud to bring you a new version of Tezuka Osamu's 1984 TV special Daishizen no Majuu Bagi (usually translated as Bagi, the Monster of Mighty Nature). This release features a high-resolution, 720p encode and, for the first time, a professional translation. With this show, we've reached the halfway point in our collaboration with Beatrice Raws to release all of Osamu's NHK TV specials in high-definition.

Bagi tells the story of a human-cougar hybrid created in a super-secret government lab. Bagi escapes and is adopted as a normal kitten by a boy named Ryousuke, whose mother actually created Bagi as an experiment. As Bagi grows up, she starts to exhibit human traits, including the ability to stand on two legs and to write. Realizing that she is attracting suspicion, Bagi runs away. The devestated Ryousuke turns rebellious and joins a biker gang. Nine years later, the gang encounters the now fully grown Bagi. She tears everyone to pieces except Ryousuke, whom she recognizes. Together, they set out to discover the secret of Bagi's origin and to find Ryousuke's mother. Many wild adventures ensue.

The show is filled with nice touches. While the young Bagi looks like a normal kitten, the grown Bagi is a full anime cat-girl, complete with (fur-covered) breasts. This allows for some fanservice interludes, but they're not over the top. Bagi is very loyal to Ryousuke, a trait not normally associated with cats, particularly big cats, and she has the perplexing habit of sometimes dressing up in clothes and sometimes going bare, without any particular rationale for the choice. At one point, Ryousuke is guarded by Cerem Bond, a sort-of James Bond parody, at least if the background music can be taken as a clue. Bond leaves every decision to chance, kind of like Two-Face (Harvey Dent) in Batman. And various members of Osamu's "star system" show up as bit players.

According to Wikipedia, Bagi was Tezuka Osamu's protest against the Japanese government's decision to allow research on recombinant DNA. Today, the furor over gene manipulation has only grown, with large companies creating genetically modified organisms (GMO) for commercial profit, and a growing segment of consumers demanding clear labeling (fiercely resisted by agribusiness) and GMO-free food. The advent of inexpensive techniques for DNA manipulation, such as CRISPR/Cas9, means that recombinant DNA research will become ever more widespread - and potentially ever more dangerous.

I've chosen to use the literal translation of Bagi's name (バギ) rather than Baggy, which appeared in previous English translations. (Baggy would be バギー.) There's no reason to alter the Japanese title. For this release, M74 transcribed and timed the subtitles and encoded the BD source. I edited and typeset. We both did QC, along with Nemesis.

The adult Ryousuke was played by veteran seiyuu Inoue Kazuhiko. He has had starring roles in many shows, playing Yuki Eiri (the seme) in Gravitation, Saruwatari Gotou (co-lead) in Moonlight Mile, Tojo Iori (the noble gangster) in Tomoe ga Yuku, and Hatake Kikashi in the Naruto franchise. However, he's best known to me as the glorious comic voice behind Nyanko-sensei (and its alter ego, Madara) in all six seasons of Natsume Yuujinchou. Shimazu Saeko, the voice of Bagi, has also had a fine career, playing Yuri, one half of the eponymous Dirty Pair, as well as featured roles in the Ranma 1/2 and Urusei Yatsura franchises. Haneda Kentarou, who composed the music, has worked on many shows, including Barefoot Gen 1 and 2, Odin: Starlight Mutiny, Sherlock Hound, and the original Macross TV series and movies. Tezuka Osamu co-directed; he needs no introduction.

So enjoy this Tezuka Osamu classic. You can get it from the usual torrent sources; from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on; or via this magnet link.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Kidaichi Shounen no Jikenbo movie 1 ("full 480p")

When Orphan released its LD-based version of Kidaichi Shounen no Jikenbo movie 1, there was viewer pushback on the 640x480-with-letterboxing format that the encoder chose. Some viewers thought it should have been cropped to 640x352 (or thereabouts). Personally, I liked the letterboxing, as it minimized the subtitles' impingement on the limited viewing area, but that was just IMHO.

Shortly after movie 1 was released, a team member noticed that both movies had been broadcast on HDTV in Japan. We were too late to capture the first movie, but someone did encode it. Unfortunately, the encode featured horrible blocking and wasn't usable. Skr downscaled it to 480p and filtered it to produce a usable raw. We're rereleasing movie 1 using this raw for viewers who want a larger, clearer imaging without letterboxing.

This version does have its drawbacks. First, it has a bad video glitch at 35:20. It was probably caused by signal dropout, a common problem with satellite broadcast channels. Second, it doesn't have the wonderfully hokey preview for the second movie that was on the laserdisc. Accordingly, I don't regard this version as definitive and have labeled it as "v0." It's possible that the HDTV broadcast means a DVD or even BD version of these movies is in the offing. It's equally possible that these movies will not see the light of day again for a long time.

Meanwhile, if anyone does find a better raw or has an uncorrupted transport stream, we'll do a true v1.

I won't repeat the original credits. For this release, Yogicat shifted and aligned the script to the new raw, I restyled the dialog and redid all the signs, and Skr did the encode and the release check. You can get the release from the usual torrent sites, from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news, or via this magnet link.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Recruiting: Translator for Hidamari no Ki

After years of searching, the team has found workable raws for 2000's Hidamari no Ki, the 25-episode series based on Tezuka Osamu's 1984 manga. Now we need a translator who is prepared to do justice to this show. It's about a doctor and a samurai in late Bakumatsu Japan, so specialized vocabulary knowledge may be needed.

This show is a true orphan, abandoned by four different groups with just four episodes completed. It's been on my wish list since Orphan Fansubs was organized.

If you have the skills and the interest to work on this series, please contact me on IRC,


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo movie 1

The Japanese anime-watching public seems to love mystery stories. Meitantei Conan (Detective Conan), a show about a teenage detective with the physical appearance of a primary school student, has run for more than 850 episodes, 15 OVAs, and 15 feature-length movies - longer than Naruto or One Piece. Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo (The Young Kindaichi's Case Files) hasn't been quite as successful, but it ran for 148 episodes in its first TV apperance in 1996, with two movies and two OVAs. It was subsequently revived for another 47 episodes recently.

Kindaichi retells the crime-solving adventures of Kindaichi Hajime, a high school student who is the grandson of a famous (fictional) detective, Kindaichi Kousuke. The plots often involve supernatural elements or locked room mysteries. In some ways, the show seems like a deliberate throwback to the "Golden Age" mysteries of the 1920s and 1930s, when the murder or murders were committed in an isolated location (a country house, a snowbound train, an ocean liner) among a small, self-contained group of suspects, and the amateur detective solved the crime by pure deductive logic.

In particular, the first Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo movie reminds me of the pre-World War II stories of John Dickson Carr, who wrote locked room murder mysteries almost exclusively. It has all the virtues and defects of Carr's stories: ingenious (or overly ingenious) plotting, a complex, seemingly insolvable puzzle, and too many interchangeable straw characters. Carr is generally credited with the "best" locked room mystery ever written, The Three Coffins (in the UK, The Hollow Man). The trick in the Kindaichi movie kind of reminds me of Carr's book. More I dare not say, but you might want to peruse chapter 17, "The Locked Room Lecture," after you've watched the show.

In this movie, Kindaichi and his not-quite-girlfriend Miyuki return to an isolated island hotel/theater, where the Illusion Theater Company is going to present a non-musical production of The Phantom of the Opera. ("Return" because the TV show has a Phantom of the Opera arc that supposedly happened first, even though the TV show aired after the movie was released.) The actors are at each others' throats, and pretty soon there's a murder in a locked room, apparently committed by the Phantom himself. Things spiral out of control from there, and it ultimately takes twenty minutes of pure exposition for Kindaichi to explain what happened. Not one word of it is believable, but Golden Age mysteries were rarely meant to be realistic. The puzzle was everything. Still, the movie plays fair, as the "rules" of the Golden Age mystery required. All the clues are in plain sight, and the solution follows logically from the clues... sort of.

For this movie only, Kindaichi was played by Yamaguchi Kappei, who jumped ship to the rival Detective Conan/Case Closed franchise. His prolific career includes leading roles in properties as diverse as Gravitation, Kiki's Delivery Service, Ranma 1/2, Inuyasha, and the currently running Kyoukai no Rinne. Nakagawa Akiko (Miyuki) stayed with the franchise, and it remains her best known role. The director, Nishio Daisuke, helmed both the original TV series and the more recent reincarnations. He has a good feeling for building suspense through camera angles and cutting; in one sequence, he even riffs on (or rips off) the famous shower sequence in Psycho.

The movie is a laserdisc encode, one of many that various team members purchased in Japan. Iri translated, M74 timed, I edited and typeset, and bananadoyouwanna, M74, Nemesis, and VigorousJammer did QC. Erik of Piyo Piyo Productions encoded. The movie is widescreen, a format laserdisc doesn't support. Therefore, the release was letterboxed. Erik chose to leave the horizontal bars in. This keeps the subtitles out of the limited viewing area, but some viewers may find it distracting. You can always encode your own version.😋 Erik also kept the production company logos at the start, providing fine example of "state of the art" CGI circa 1996.

While this release is not the first English version of the first Kindaichi movie, it's the first with accurate subtitles and a laserdisc (rather than VHS) raw. You can get it from the usual torrent sources, from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on, or via this magnet link. The second movie is in a second batch of laserdiscs and will get done Sometime Real Soon™.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

"I am Son Gokuu"

Orphan is proud to announce a new high-definition release of the 1989 TV special Tezuka Osamu Monogatari: Boku wa Songoku, or in English, The Tezuka Osamu Story: I Am Son Gokuu. This was the last of eight Tezuka Production specials broadcast by NHK between 1979 and 1989 during its annual telethon. This TV special is half a sort-of autobiography, and half a science-fiction retelling of Journey to the West (Saiyuuki), a classic tale that was, according to this film, an obsession of Osamu's from his childhood.

Like a number of other Orphan Fansub projects, this one started with a request on BakaBT for complete and accurate subs. For the original DVD release, laalg and convexity worked on the translation sequentially, archdeco did the timing, I edited, convexity provided the styling and typesetting, and CP and I did the QC. For the BD release, M74 tweaked the timing, I reset the signs, and M74 did a final round of QC. M74 also encoded from a BDMV graciously provided by Beatrice Raws.

The autobiographical half of the show embroiders on the known facts of Osamu's life (for more details, see this fan web site.) Osamu showed an early interest, indeed obsession with both insects and drawing. As a result, he was teased as a child. Too young, fortunately, to serve in the Japanese military, in 1944 he was drafted as a factory worker in Osaka and harassed by his bosses for being more interested in drawing than in working. He was present when Osaka was firebombed, and it gave him a lifelong hatred of war and violence.

After the war, he started drawing manga while finishing his training as a doctor, and by the early 1950s he was a well-known mangaka. However, his interest in creating anime (or as they were known back then, manga films) had to wait until the end of the decade, when his financial success as a manga artist enabled his to form Mushi Productions. In 1963, his studio began producing Astro Boy, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The film is not a strict autobiography. Some of the scenes play fast and loose with chronology. In the film, Osamu goes to see, and is profoundly influenced by, the Wan Brothers Princess Iron Fan. Because Princess Iron Fan was produced in Shanghai and was released early in 1941, during the Japanese occupation, it's conceivable that it was shown in Japan and that Osamu saw it before the outbreak of war with the US. However, the film shows him as very young, whereas he was 13 years old in 1941. Further, he and Son Gokuu talk about a war breaking out soon, but in 1941 the Sino-Japanese war had been going on for almost four years.

The second half of the show is a science-fiction retelling of Journey to the West. It's partly a comedy and partly a moral parable about the value of good in the face of violence and evil. If it seems a little rushed - Son Gokuu the monkey is converted from egotistical bully to galactic savior inside of 15 minutes - that's only to be expected when the entire tale has to be compressed into half an hour. It's very standard Osamu fare, aimed at youngsters and young adults as they make the transition from self-centered behavior to societally-grounded adults.

Some notes on the translation, courtesy of convexity:
  • "It's the weirdo Osamushi!" Osamushi = Osamu (his name) + mushi (bug). Osamu (spelled 治) is his real name. Osamu (spelled 治虫) later became his pen name; a character meaning "bug" (mushi, 虫) was added to make the name a reference to "osamushi," or "ground beetle." (In fact, at first his pen name was pronounced "Tezuka Osamushi" rather than "Tezuka Osamu.") Ground beetles were his favorite insects, in part because their name resembled his. In this scene, "Osamushi" is being used as a derogatory nickname, probably as a portmanteau of "Osamu" and "mushi"; an English equivalent might be "Bug-sama."
  • "And accompanied by Hakkai, Sagojou, and Son Gokuu..." Hakkai (八戒 Zhu Bajie) means eight precepts in Chinsese, Sagojou (沙悟浄 Shā Wùjìng) means "sand aware of purity", and Son Gokuu (孫悟空 Sūn Wùkōng) in Chinese means "monkey king."
  • "Sanzou-houshi continued on his long, long journey to India." Sanzou-houshi (三蔵法師 Sānzāng fǎshī) means "priest who knows the tri-pi Taka"), while Tenjiku (天竺) is old Chinese for India.
  • "A monkey kicks some serious ass in this manga film!" The term "anime" had not been invented; cartoons were called manga films.
  • "Frogs are croaking, we are going! We're going home!" Kaeru (蛙 かえる) means frog, while kaeru (帰る) means go home; in short, a Japanese pun.
For more on Son Gokuu's and his accessories, Kintoun and Nyoibou, consult any of the Wikipedia articles on Journey to the West or Saiyuuki.

So enjoy some more Tezuka Osamu goodness, now in glorious high-definition! You can get it from the usual torrent sites, from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on, or via this magnet link.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Recruiting Translators, QCs!

We're up to our necks in scripts and raws at Orphan Fansubs; the backlog has never been so healthy (and so formidable). Here's a status report on currently active projects.
  • Stop!! Hibari-kun. All episodes encoded, translated, timed, typeset, and through QC. Episodes 1-6 released. This project desperately needs a dedicated translation checker. Awaiting translation check.
  • Smash Hit DVD. All episodes transcribed, encoded, timed; episodes 1-4 translation checked, edited, typeset, and in QC. Awaiting translation check and QC.
  • Condition Green. All episodes encoded; episode 1 translated and in QC. Awaiting translation and QC.
  • Eien no Filena. A joint project with Stardust. All episodes translated, timed, and translation checked; episodes 1-3 edited and in QC. Awaiting QC.
  • Chameleon. All episodes translated. Episodes 1-2 released. Awaiting translation check on episodes 3-6.
  • Kasei Yakyoku. A joint project with Iquix. Episode 1 translated; episodes 2-3 in translation check; episodes 4 in translation. We desperately need better raws. We have found a laserdisc for episodes 3-4 but need the volume with episodes 1-2.
  • Every Day Is Sunday. All episodes encoded; episodes 1-4 timed; episodes 1-2 translation checked, edited, typeset, and in QC. Awaiting translation check, timing, and QC.
  • Bewitching Nozomi. Lupin Gang scripts. Episodes 1-3 timed, edited, typeset, and QCed. Episode 1 translation checked. Awaiting translation check on episodes 2-3.
  • Kindaichi movie 2. Awaiting translation.
  • Yuukan Club (Leisure Club). Awaiting translation.
As you can see, translation, translation checking, and QC are the major bottlenecks. Translation issues have led to putting a number of other projects on the shelf for now, including Boyfriend, Dokushin Apartment, Greed, MapleStory, Marginal Prince, Sanada 10, and Techno Police 21C. New, interesting raws are arriving all the time, thanks to ongoing Laserdisc purchasing in Japan.

As usual, if a project strikes your fancy and you'd like to help with translation or other parts of the process, please let me know.

[Updated 12-Aug-2017]

Friday, July 7, 2017

Cosmic Fantasy

So here's another OVA promoting a video game series, 1994's Cosmic Fantasy, released as a tie-in to the last installment of the franchise, Cosmic Fantasy 4. The game series petered out after that, so there was no reason to migrate the OVA from VHS and Laserdisc to digital media. It has lingered in analog limbo ever since its release.

Cosmic Fantasy takes place in a space-traveling universe plagued by space pirates. To combat the criminals, the Cosmic Security Corporation dispatches Cosmic Hunters with magical powers. The OVA focuses on Cosmic Hunter Yuu and his partner Saya, Yuu's mechanical flying squirrel Monmo, and his shady cat-person merchant friend, Nyan, as they confront a rookie space pirate named Belga. Space piracy's a tough business, so Belga wants Yuu as a partner and lover, or if that's not possible, as a trophy to enhance her neophyte reputation. There's some action, some rom-com hijinks between Yuu and Saya, a lot of comedy, particularly involving Nyan, and of course, an inconclusive ending. It's quite enjoyable, if not particularly deep.

Like many shows of the period, Cosmic Fantasy has some fanservice, but it's equal opportunity and not overly strident:

The games and the spin-off doujins are a lot more explicit. No, I'm not providing links.

Technically, this is not the first version in English. However, the existing subs are guesswork and jokes. For example, the line "Yuu already has Saya as a partner!" was rendered as "Yuu already has Saya and he hates green tits!" You get the idea.

Speaking of translation, the subtitle is literally "The Galactic Panther's/Leopard's Trap." The Japanese word for panther/leopard has a subtext meaning a seductive woman, so it's been rendered as "Temptress." Because the show is not set in Japan, there are no honorifics.

The leads are played by a quartet of famous voice actresses, all of whom worked on the video games as well. Takayama Minami (Yuu) is a legend. She played Kiki in Kiki's Delivery Service, the title role in Space Girl Yamamoto Yohko, and, most famously, Conan Edogawa in the more than 800 episodes, OVAs, movies, and specials of the Detective Conan franchise. She also sang the ending song. Sakuma Rei (Belga) played Shampoo in Ranma 1/2, Carmencita in Starship Troopers, and Batako in all the Soreike! Anpanman properties. Takada Yumi (Saya and Monmo) played Yoshinaga-sensei in many of the Crayon Shin-chan movies and Ayeka in the Tenchi Muyo franchise. She has also appeared in many classic h-animes, including Karakuri Ninja Girl, one of my favorites. Miyuki Sanae, whose performance as Nyan is a comic gem, appeared as Button in the Yu Yu Hashuko franchise and Alpha in New Dream Hunter Rem.

This release had an interesting gestation. A friend of one of Orphan's translators, skypilot, offered to buy the Laserdisc if skypilot would translate the show. A copy of the Laserdisc was purchased in Japan and shipped to Erik of Piyo Piyo Productions, who captured it as a raw. Then Real Life intervened, and skypilot's plan to translate the show was delayed until this month. VigorousJammer located an English playing guide for Cosmic Fantasy 2, the only installment released in English; this provided the attack names. ninjacloud timed the dialog, Yogicat timed the songs, I edited and typeset, and Nemesis, Vigorousjammer, and bananadoyouwanna did QC. The encode is from Piyo Piyo Productions.

So enjoy this light-hearted sci-fi action adventure; I certainly did. You can get it from the usual torrent sites, from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #news or #nibl on, or from this magnet link.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Ginga Tansa 2100-nen: Border Planet

For me, bringing out a new or improved version of a Tezuka Osamu anime is always a thrill. Accordingly, M74 and Orphan are proud to present a new version of Ginga Tansa 2100-nen: Border Planet (Galaxy Investigation 2100: Border Planet), his 1986 movie-length TV special. 

Ginga Tansa has been available in English translation for some time, using VHS-based raws and reasonable English subtitles. This version uses an R2J DVD source, purchased and encoded by M74, and a revised translation, thoroughly checked by skypilot. M74 timed, M74 and I edited, I typeset, and Redac, M74, and I all did QC. The result is a version with better video and improved subtitles.

Ginga Tansa is structured as an anthology of related shorter stories, a bit like Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles. The touching prologue wordlessly shows how the childhood friendship of two boys, Prokion and Subaru, and a girl, Mira, slowly morphs into a love triangle. Prokion eventually wins Mira's hand, leaving Subaru heart-broken. However, Prokion's and Mira's love idyll is interrupted when he succumbs to a deadly space virus. Mira must be placed in suspended animation to prevent her from dying as well. Subaru, still very much in love with Mira, vows to search all of space for the source of the deadly virus, so that Mira can be treated and cured. This leads to the story proper.

The first short story is a classic haunted house story, in which the crew members of Subaru's spaceship are picked off one after another by some unknown force. The second story takes place on a ruined mining planet, where the inhabitants are desperate to depart but seem unable to do so. The third story is a vampire analogy, with depraved inhabitants preying on their own kind in a quest for immortality. In between each act are wordless interludes of Subaru visiting Mira as she sleeps inside a glass case: the Prince visiting Snow White or Sleeping Beauty.

In the end, Subaru's quest is successful, although how and where he finds the source of the virus is never shown. However, his success comes at a price, and the ending is not quite unalloyed joy. It's a fitting conclusion to a show that emphasizes Tezuka Osamu's classic themes: the power of love, the possibility of horror amid beauty and vice versa, and the indomitability of the human spirit.

The movie is filled with great touches. The wordless interludes of Subaru gazing at Mira in her suspended state are very poignant.  The second story opens with a homage to various scenes from Star Wars, including the "creature cantina" and Jabba the Hutt's sinuous, snake-like dancing girl; the background art includes a classic "RKO Radio Picture" poster from the 1940s. Various familiar characters from Tezuka Osamu's films and manga show up in bits parts, including Shunsaku Ban from The Green Cat and Metropolis and Astro Boy himself.

Tomiyama Kei, who played Subaru, had a very successful career in the last century, but his premature death more than twenty years ago means he is not well known to modern audiences. Katsuko Masako, who plays the maiden-in-distress Mira, has had a prolific career, but she is best known to me for her portrait of another female ingénue, Maroko from Gosenzo-sama Banbanzai. The musical score, by Haneda Kentarou, makes effective use of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23, second movement (Andante), for its contemplative moments.

Without further ado, Ginga Tansa 2100-nen: Border Planet.

Update: Thanks to the kind folks at Beatrice Raws, Ginga Tansa 2100-nen: Border Planet is now available in glorious HD, in a 720p release from Orphan and M74, and a 1080p release from Beatrice. Script changes have been minor, other than adjustments for the larger screen area. Enjoy Ginga Tansa all over again in high-definition!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Fire Emblem

Here's another show that, like Wolf Guy, starts in the middle and ends without a conclusion. Released in 1996, Fire Emblem is a two episode OVA based on the popular Nintendo game series of the same name - specifically on the first game, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light. It sets up a complicated backstory about warring nations on the mythical continent of Akaneia. The evil sorcerer Garnef of Khadin has resurrected the Dragon of Darkness, Medeus of Duhrua. Together, they intend to Conquer the World. (What else would an evil sorcerer and a dragon of darkness do, anyway?) Their forces overrun Aritia and kill its king, Cornelius, bearer of the mystic sword Falcion, which is lost. The king's son, Mars, is forced into exile with a few surviving soldiers in the country of Talis. And all this happens in the prologue!

With such a rapid exposition of events, one might expect the story to move briskly towards the quest to recover Falcion, followed by a climactic confrontation between the Aritian exiles and the Big Bads, Garnef and Medeus. Instead, we get two side stories. In the first episode, Mars and the Aritians (sounds like a boy band, doesn't it?) save Talis' main port from an infestation of pirates. In the second episode, they rescue a healer, a nun named Lena, from local bandits. Only at the end of episode two, as the music is building towards the end credits, do Mars and his friends turn their sites on freeing their country. The climax is many turns - um, episodes - away, but the story is over. You can read how it all turns out, in the game at least, here.

After working on several OVA series that seem to go nowhere, I've concluded that they're intended as teasers for other media properties, kind of like the OADs that are bundled in manga volumes nowadays. If the OVAs actually resolved the story, the viewer would have no incentive to read the manga (Wolf Guy) or play the game (Fire Emblem and Cosmic Fantasy). But any viewer hooked by the OVAs would be forced to spend more money to learn how things turn out. Of course, if you don't read/speak/understand Japanese, that strategy doesn't really work, and the viewer is, as we say in English, SOOL.

In the voice cast, Mars is played by Midorikawa Hikaru. He's a sort of Renaissance man. In addition to starring in anime series such as Fushigi Yuugi and Gundam Wing and appearing in dozens of others, he's done numerous voices for video games and drama CDs, sung in several music groups, and written manga. Tange Sakura, who plays Sheeda of Talis, has had a long career, ranging from Princess Milli in Maze to one of the Chaika's in the recent series of the same name. The career of the director, Misawa Shin, spans thirty years, from High School Kinengumi in the mid 80s to the recent TV series Gingitsune. Kouzu Hiroyuki's music fits but doesn't stand out.

Orphan's release of Fire Emblem is the first English version from a Laserdisc source; all other releases have been based on the US or Italian VHS tapes. The release has its own complicated backstory. A colleague in another group had a friend who really liked Fire Emblem and bought the laserdiscs in Japan. Unable to rip them himself, the friend sent the discs to Erik of Piyo Piyo Productions for encoding. However, the original buyer really only wanted the raws, so he allowed Orphan to make a new English-subtitled version.

The subs are from the US VHS release, specifically from Exiled-Destiny's softsub version. We didn't bother to check the subs; based on the English audio track, they're a real translation and not dubtitles. There's no agreement about how the names should be spelled across multiple sources, so we've gone with official romanizations, where they exist. M74 did the timing, and I edited. Nemesis, Mizu no Kamo, and Xenath3297 did QC, and Erik of Piyo Piyo Productions encoded the laserdiscs. The result looks pretty decent.

So here's Fire Emblem with about as good an encode as we're going to see without a digital remaster. The show may leave you scratching your head, but it won't leave you tearing out your hair. As usual, you can get it from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #news or #nibl on, from the usual torrent sites, or via this magnet link.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


Marcel Junod (1904-1961), a Swiss doctor, was a field representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) during some of the most tumultuous times of the 20th century - the 1930s and 1940s. He worked tirelessly to ease the suffering of victims of violence, first in the Italo-Ethiopian War of 1935-36, then the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939, and ultimately in World War II. By happenstance, he arrived in Japan just after the atomic bombs had been dropped. He was the first non-Japanese doctor to visit Hiroshima, where he delivered 15 tons of badly needed medical supplies. His life story is documented in a 2010 Japanese educational anime entitled, simply, Junod.

Dr. Junod's story was indeed remarkable. He was a first-hand witness to Italy's use of poison gas and its indiscriminate bombing of civilians in the war with Ethiopia. In Spain, he successfully brokered prisoner exchanges, even though the ICRC had no legal standing in a civil war. Eventually, his tireless work on behalf of prisoners of war brought him into contact with two of the most prominent Allied prisoners held by the Japanese: Lt. General Jonathan Wainwright (US) and Lt. General Arthur Percival (UK). Although there was little he could do for them, his refusal to knuckle under to the Japanese prison camp commander earned their respect. Following Japan's surrender, Wainwright and Percival were flown to Japan for the signing of the formal surrender documents. There, they met Junod as he was attempting to organize a relief mission to Hiroshima. Their influence with Douglas MacArthur led to the release of 15 tons of badly-needed medical supplies for Junod's work. After the war, Junod became a prominent activist in UNICEF, continued his work at the ICRC, and worked as a surgeon, until felled by a heart attack at the relatively young age of 57.

Dr. Junod's life deserves commemoration, and this film covers the highlights. However, it could have been stronger. For example, the film uses a framing device to make the story more accessible to children. Two middle school students named Yuu and Mii (ho ho) revisit scenes from Junod's career via a time-travel dream during a school trip to Hiroshima. The lesson they draw (and the film draws) - that one must stand up to school bullies and not just stand by - is a pretty small-scale conclusion for such dramatic events. A simpler, more documentary focus would have worked better and had greater impact, I believe.

As a historian, I would have liked more attention paid to the ambiguities of Junod's situation. The ICRC was constrained both legally and politically. Legally, the only treaties it could rely on were the Geneva Conventions about the treatment of the wounded and of military prisoners. (Treatment of civilians would not be addressed until after World War II.) Politically, it was constrained by Swiss neutrality and the geographic reality of being surrounded by Axis military might. As a result, the ICRC turned a blind eye to German atrocities against civilians, even though it had detailed information about the Holocaust by the end of 1942. (The Allied governments and the Vatican had the same information and kept silent as well.) Did Junod know? When he went to visit Japan in 1945, was he aware of the extent of Japanese crimes against Chinese civilians and Allied prisoners? The film does not address these questions.

This release uses an HDTV capture; the raw is badly marred with both logos. Iri translated, Yogicat timed, I edited and typeset, and Nemesis, M74, and bananadoyouwanna QCed. The encode is by tipota and is as good as the source material allows. (The animation is fairly low-grade.) There is no Blu-Ray release of the film, and even DVDs are only available to charitable and educational institutions.

One translation note: the film refers to the two sides in the Spanish Civil War as Republicans (supporters of the Spanish Republic) and Francoists (supporters of the military insurrection led by General Franco). The insurrectionists never used that term, referring to themselves instead as Nationalists. I have used "Nationalists" in the dialog.

Despite its flaws as a movie, Junod is a timely reminder of the need for good men to do good work in the face of evil. Its lessons seems particularly apropos these days. You can get it from the usual torrent sources, from Orphan|Arutha in channels #news or #nibl or, or from this magnet link.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Time Slip Ichimannen Prime Rose

From 1978 to 1989, NHK's annual 24-hour telethon, "Love Will Save the World," frequently featured an animated special from Tezuka Productions. Over the next decade, eight of them were broadcast:
  • 1978 - Hyakumannen Chikyuu no Tabi Bander Book (One Million Year Trip: Bander Book)
  • 1979 - Marine Express
  • 1980 - Fumoon
  • 1981 - Bremen 4: Jigoku no Naka no Tenshi-tachi (Bremen 4: Angels in Hell)
  • 1983 - Time Slip Ichimannen Prime Rose (A Time Slip of 10,000 Years: Prime Rose)
  • 1984 - Daishizen no Majuu Bagi (Baggy)
  • 1986 - Ginga Tansa 2100-nen: Border Planet (Galaxy Investigation 2100: Border Planet)
  • 1989 - Tezuka Osamu Monogatari: Boku wa Son Gokuu (Tezuka Osamu Story: I Am Son Goku)
(The 1985 special, Akuma Tou no Prince: Mitsume ga Tooru, was derived from a Tezuka Osamu manga but was produced by Toei without his involvement.)

All eight special have, at various times, been released on DVD and translated, the last two by Orphan. Recently, all of them have been collected in a pair of Blu-Ray box sets. M74 has now released a 720p high-definition encode of the fifth, Time Slip Ichimannen Prime Rose.

After the failure of Mushi Production's attempts to create "anime for adults" (as opposed to adult or h-anime), Osamu repaired his reputation by returning to manga. Eventually, he started Tezuka Productions and began working on feature length anime again. Unlike the ill-fated Anirama series, Tezuka Production's feature length films were intended to appeal to a broader viewing demographic, although there were certainly some elements not intended for children.

Prime Rose is pretty typical of the group. The story begins with a present-day catastrophe. A giant space fortress, shaped like a death mask, breaks apart, and the pieces crash into Kujikuri Beach in Japan and Dallas in the United States. Both cities are thrown 10,000 years into the future. Sometime later, time patroller Tanbara Gai is sent to discover what happened. He encounters a future where one future city (Groman) has enslaved the other (Kukritt). Aided by a runaway noblewomen, Emiya, who is actually the princess of Kukritt, Prime Rose; and hindered by the inconvenient presence of his little brother, Bunretsu; Gai must coach the Kukritten slaves into rebellion, defeat the Groman army, and confront the sinister force behind it all - the secret hidden within the original Death Mask space fortress. This is done with a maximum of action and humor and a minimum of common sense, as a hard sci-fi story evolves into a sword-and-sorcery fantasy.

Prime Rose is not all-ages entertainment. The show includes a fair amount of bloodshed and violence, including an on-screen execution and a flogging. There's also lots of fanservice:

(This doesn't strike me as the most practical costume for a swordswoman, but what do I know? And a later bathing scene poses interesting questions about how Prime Rose manages to fit in this outfit at all.) But mostly it's comedy and zany touches; for example, Tanbara Gai's superior officer is a dead ringer for Mr. Spock. In the end, good triumphs, the bad guys (and space fortresses) get their comeuppance, and the hero and heroine are ready for new adventures.

The basic script is a professional translation and has not been checked. M74 timed and encoded. I edited and QCed. Beatrice Raws provided the BDMV (thank you!). You can get in from the usual torrent sites, from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #news or #nibl on, or from this magnet link.

I hope that more of these specials will be released in high-definition in the future.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Grim Douwa - Kin no Tori

Here's a bluebird, or more accurately, a golden bird - the 1987 movie Grim Douwa - Kin no Tori (Grimm's Fairy Tales - The Golden Bird). Released as part of Toei's Manga Matsura series, it was actually animated by Madhouse and released after a three year delay. The delay earned it a reputation as a "lost masterpiece." That's a bit overstated, but it's a beautiful and comic cartoon "for all ages" - rather different from Toei's faux Disney fare in the 1960s. I thoroughly enjoyed it. As one of the QCs said, it's adorable.

Kin no Tori is based on a fairy tale (number 57) collected by the Brothers Grimm. As is often the case, the original tale includes grim elements - such as attempted fratricide - not considered suitable for modern audiences, so the anime is considerably toned down. In this version, a wicked witch sends out her tame golden bird to steal the golden apples of the king of Kaiser Castle. He sets this three sons to watch for the thief, but only the youngest, Hans, stays awake and sees the bird. He tries to shoot it and succeeds in dislodging a golden feather. The three brothers are sent to pursue the bird, but only Hans really takes the task seriously. After many adventures and hazards, Hans reaps his reward. And they all lived happily ever after... sort of.

The summary can't convey the movie's humor, its imaginative visuals, and its outstanding voice cast. Madhouse not only did the animation, but the head of the studio, Maruyama Masao, did the layout. Here are two examples of the visual imagery:

The voice actors are amazing, led by legendary seiyuu Tomiyama Kei's bravura (and cross-gender) performance as the wicked witch. Kei, who won a posthumous Special Achievement Award in 2007, appeared in numerous series and OVAs before his untimely death in 1995. Yanami Jougi gave a hilarious turn as the wine-loving Big Bird (no relation to Sesame Street). He's better known to me as Ozora Ibari in Stop!! Hibari-kun. Takiguchi Junpei, who played the villainous king of Kanemacchi Castle, and Miyauchi Kohei, who played the more virtuous king of Kaiser Castle, also each appeared in one episode of Stop!! Hibari-kun. The female seiyuu playing the children (male or female) are uniformly good as well. The music, by Kawachi Kuni, is mostly lighthearted and fits the mood well, and the songs are a lot of fun, particularly the witch's insert song. The director, Hirata Toshio, directed numerous other movies and TV shows.

Iri translated the movie. M74 did the pre-timing before translation, and ninjacloud did fine timing after translation. I edited and typeset (there are only two signs, although one of them accounts for 80% of the script). Nemesis and konnakude QCed. The raw is an HDTV encode from heponeko.

Enjoy this golden-age classic in beautiful high-definition! You can get the release at the usual torrent sites, bot Orphan|Arutha in IRC channels #nibl or #news on, or from this magnet link.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Yawara! Sore Yuke Koshinuke Kids!! (HD)

FroZen-EviL just released the 1992 Yawara movie, Yawara! Sore Yuke Koshinuke Kids!!, loosely translated as Yawara! Go Get 'Em, Wimpy Kids!!, in glorious high-definition. (The last word in the title is often misrendered as Kiss, by the way, which puts a wholly incorrect spin on the content.) This is a side story that occurs somewhere in the middle of the TV series. Hanazono asks Yawara for help coaching a pickup team of judo losers who are up against an elite judo club sponsored by none other than arch oujo-sama Honami. The plot follows almost the same arc as the one of the Mitsuba Women's Junior College matches in the TV series, but Yawara! has never been known for the originality of its plot arcs. However, the spotlight is very much on the wimpy kids and their dysfunctional families, rather than Yawara-chan and her friends and her dysfunctional family.

When I first worked on Wimpy Kids!!, I was somewhat disappointed, because it all seemed so familiar. It's a traditional sports movie: a team of losers, up against a superior foe, decide to fight back and triumph after a lot of hard work. Now, I find its standard story arc endearing. The wimpy kids are well characterized, their struggles are given proper weight, and the ultimate fight is suspenseful. Yawara and the rest of the main cast play a subordinate role; this is very much a movie about the kids. It moves along quickly and doesn't overstay its welcome.

This version was done directly from the remastered Blu-Ray box set, and it looks glorious. The script is not much changed from the original VHS-based release, but I have excised a few more exclamation points. The incomparable kokujin-kun did the original translation and timing; he also found and added the insert song lyrics for this version. ninjacloud retimed for the new encode. I edited both versions and added actual typesetting; kokujin-kun fixed up my mistakes. The original QC team included CP, kokujin-kun, Juggen, sangofe, Saji, and Skr; Mizu no Kamo and I QCed the new release. Suzaku encoded from the Blu-Ray box set, which was obtained by our late colleague, CP. As always, we miss him very much.

So enjoy this new version of Yawara! Sore Yuke Koshinuke Kids!! Even if you have the previous version, I recommend this one for its superior visuals, improved typesetting, and additional song translation. I hope there will be more Blu-Ray Yawara in the near future.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Stop!! Hibari-kun! 1-6

Orphan Fansubs is releasing Stop!! Hibari-kun!, which aired in 1983-1984. The only attempt to fansub the show was abandoned after five or six episodes, making it a true orphan. Stop!! Hibari-kun! is 35 episodes, so we'll be releasing it in batches, as translation checking is completed.

Stop!! Hibari-kun! is nominally the story of an orphaned teenager named Sakamoto Kosaku, who moves in with the family of a "friend" of his mother. This friend, Ozora Ibari, just happens to be the head of a Tokyo-area yakuza group. The actual Ozora family, as opposed to the mob family, consists of three daughters (Tsugumi, Tsubame, and Suzume) and a cross-dressing son, Hibari, who is the best-looking of them all. Kosaku is initially smitten with Hibari but tries to draw back when he finds out that Hibari is actually a boy. Comedic mayhem ensues.

This description makes the show sound like a madcap anime comedy with a "trap" lead character. Cross-dressing boys (or traps) are fairly common in anime and manga (BakaBT has more than 300 entries with the trap label). However, Stop!! Hibari-kun differs in a couple of respects. First, it is quite clear than Hibari is not cross-dressing for fun but really wants to be a girl ("identifies as female" in the current jargon); that is, Hibari is transgender. Second, Hibari's sexual identity is played straight. She is not an object of ridicule. The comedy arises from the reactions of the people around her, from her apoplectic father to her irritated sisters to the utterly confused Kosaku, who is increasingly attracted to Hibari even though she is physically a male.

I don't want to make Stop!! Hibari-kun sound like some politically correct precursor to modern gender attitudes. It often falls in with Japanese stereotypes about gay and transgender characters, as can be seen in chapter 21 of the manga (animated in episode 22). However, Hibari-kun herself is presented respectfully. This treatment of a transgender character is rare in Japanese anime and manga, outside of serious stories about gender dysphoria such as Hourou Musuko. For example, the 1994 OVA Otaku no Seiza also features a transgender character, Jonjon. She is presented as useless, and her ultimate fate – getting gang-raped by three effeminate bodybuilders – is treated as a joke. In contrast, Hibari is shown as a superb athlete, a capable martial artist, a good singer, an A student, and an excellent planner. She's also rather proficient with firearms. At the same time, she's a more or less typical teenaged girl, worried about her body, crushing on Kosaku, and exchanging clothes with her sisters.

Both the manga and the anime peter out without resolution. The mangaka, Eguchi Hisashi, said that he ran out of ideas. This becomes quite obvious as the anime series progresses. The same jokes are recycled over and over, particularly how men of all ages are smitten with Hibari at first sight. The mangaka couldn't fashion an actual plotline, because the passage of time would create increasingly intractable problems for Hibari as her body matured and changed; so the manga just stops. After episode 22, the anime stumbles on with anime-original filler episodes that push Hibari aside in favor of other comic clichés and tropes. The series really should have been half as long.

Kosaku was played by Furuya Tohru, a well-known voice actor of that era. He also played the lead male roles in Kimagure Orange Road and Sailor Moon. Hibari was voiced by a female seiyuu, Majima Satomi, as might be expected. Satomi married Tohru, and after that she retired, a happier ending than Kosaku and Hibari were allowed. Hirano Fumi, who played Tsugumi, went on to voice Lum in all the Urusei Yatsura properties, but none of the other featured players rose to prominence.

Stop!! Hibari-kun is an unusually difficult series. The dialog is fast-paced, the signs (all hand-drawn) are numerous, and the show is long. Moho Kareshi translated the entire series. Iri, Onibaba, and tenkenX6 did translation checking on these first six episodes. Yogicat timed, I edited and typeset, Juggen styled the OP and ED, and Nemesis, konnakude, and VigorousJammer QCed. M74 encoded from a remastered DVD box. The remastering did little to improve the film burn and jitter in the show, but it's better than the original DVD release.

Some translation notes:

Romanization. All the long Japanese vowels are transliterated as is, so Kosaku rather than Kohsaku or Kousaku. This causes some discordance with the English names shown in the ending song.

Wani. Under stress, Ozora Ibari sees "shiroi wani," white alligators. "Wani" can mean either crocodile or alligator. I've chosen alligator because the critters are drawn with rounded snouts, like alligators, rather than trapezoidal ones, like crocodiles.

Tsugumi, Tsubame, Hibari, Suzume. All the Ozora children are named for birds: thrush, swallow, skylark, and sparrow, respectively.

Ep01. "I’ll give you one of Nakamori Akina’s armpit hairs." Nakamori Akina was one of the most popular singers in Japan in the 1980s.

Ep02. Sparta Tatsugoro's name includes “tatsu” (dragon), so he's known as the Spartan Dragon.

Ep03. Ibari's farewell haiku uses the lyrics of the Japanese children's song Donguri korokoro. The song is featured in several other episodes.

  • "What's your name? Joe? Gen? Ryuji?" The heroes of boxing animes Ashita no Joe, Ganbare Genki, and Ring ni Kakeru, respectively.
  • Kujikuri Beach is a 60km beach north of Tokyo. The town of Kujikuri was one of two places transported into the future in Tezuka Osamu's Time Slip Ichimannen: Prime Rose.
Ep06. "Who am I, Pegira?" A monster that appeared in episode 5 of the Ultra Q TV series.

Orphan started on this series 18 months ago. All of the episodes are done, except for translation checking. It has proven difficult to keep a translation checker engaged; three different people worked on the first six episodes. If you're an experienced translator and want to give the dialog a thorough review, please let me know ASAP. Maybe we can get the next batch of episodes out a little faster.

Meanwhile, enjoy Stop!! Hibari-kun! and forgive its numerous trespasses. You can get it from the Orphan|Arutha bot on in #news or #nibl, from the usual torrent sites, or via this magnet link.