Friday, March 31, 2017

Karma (Chameleon)

A long time ago, in a fansubbing scene far, far away, I was happily collecting rarities and uploading them, often without viewing, to BakaBT (or as it was known back then, BoxTorrents). One of the shows I stumbled across was an anonymous rip of an OVA known in English as Bite Me! Chameleon. Only after I had done that did I find out that (a) it was actually the first of six OVAs, only one of which had been released in North America and (b) it was a gross-out comedy about delinquents and wannabe delinquents in 80s Japan. Even then, I didn't bother to watch it but simply added it to Orphan's growing orphans list.

In early 2015, ninjacloud, raw-hunter supremo, found the raws of all six episodes on the Internet. I inveigled Moho Kareshi into translating them and formally launched a project to sub them. But first I read a review of the series on AnimeNewsNetwork. It was not flattering. And then I watched the first episode...

Chameleon, as it is known in Japan (the Bite Me! was added by ADV Films), tells the story of a pint-sized wannabe hood named Yazawa Eisaku. Terrorized by real delinquents throughout middle school, he's determined to be the baddest (but not the biggest) baddie in Narita Minami High School. However, he often lets his big mouth lead him into situations which could well prove fatal if he can't extricate himself; as a devout coward, he must do that by his wits or by sacrificing his friends. The show is, in effect, an endlessly repeated gag about Yazawa's braggadocio putting him in lethal jeopardy and his escapes from near-impossible situations. ( "Run away!" is one of his key strategies.)

In the first episode, Yazawa crosses Aizawa Naoki, another first-year and leader of the Shadow Dance Gang. He attempts to woo the beautiful coed Asaoka Hikaru while he in turn is pursued by the cross-dressing brother, Yu, of a rival Shadow Dance member, Shiina Yuji. When Yazawa inadvertently destroys the Shadow Dance gang flag, Aizawa and Shiina put aside their differences to pound Yazawa into the pavent. He ends up in the hospital, where both friends and adversaries gather out of grudging respect for his chutzpah. But before then, the viewers get to experience toilet humor, fart jokes, violence, bad behavior, and outright stupidity of every possible variety. It's a comedy, right?

As you might sense, I'm kind of appalled by the show, but I seem to be in the minority about it. Most of the rest of the staff enjoyed it. On nyaa, the release garnered more positive comments and more "fans" than any other recent Orphan offering. I'm guessing I'm not its target demographic.

The ADV R1 release of episode 1 took the usual liberties with the script as well as the title. Chameleon refers to Yazawa's ability to take on protective "coloration" in whatever situation he finds himself; Bite Me! Chameleon means nothing. Moho Kareshi translated all the episodes from scratch. For episode 1, convexity checked the dialog and translated the songs, M74 rough timed and ninjacloud fine-timed, I edited and typeset, and konnakude and VigorousJammer (a new staff member) did QC. The raws are from the Internet and purport to be Laserdisc rips. They're rather old and barely adequate.

Orphan will be releasing this show an episode at a time, because I'm frankly not sure how long it will take to complete it. Episode 2 is in hand and will be released Real Soon Now, but after that... who knows?


  1. Thanks. Never heard of this series. Love the first episode.

  2. Thank you much. The first episode was very entertaining. Many series from that era are raunchier and more original than the plastic formulaic pap being put out now. This reminds me of 'Shonan Junai Gumi' and others in that vein. Please do the remaining episodes. Crass jokes and toilet humor are fine as long as it fits the story, as it does here.

    I was really happy to see this.