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. 

Opening. The flying “superhero” at around 0.55 is the author, Eguchi Hisashi, dressed as Takechan-man, the comic superhero played by Kitano Takeshi before he started making films. Eguchi appears frequently as a character, breaking the fourth wall to comment on the action. He is usually drawn wearing a red sweatshirt that says "KOTOBUKI" (寿), which means "congratulations" or "long life to you."

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 or from the usual torrent sites.


  1. Thank you very much. I hope the rest of the episodes get subbed soon !!

  2. Wasn't there also a transgender character in Cowboy Bebop? Then there was one in NANA.
    The most well known trans character would be Ranma ( the non traditional sense), but that development was for comic relief.

    1. Don't forget Shun from Koko wa Greenwood

    2. I haven't seen Greenwood in a really long time, but as I recall, Shun wasn't transgendered, he was just really pretty.

  3. So excited! Eagerly waiting for the next batch.

  4. I've always wanted to see this series as it sounds hilarious. Thanks so much for making that dream come true! :D

  5. >A parody of Godzilla, which couldn't be used for copyright reasons.
    Not really.

  6. More trap anime, less sjw jargon pls.

    1. It's appreciative viewers like you who provide motivation to hurry on... not.

    2. SJWs are the reason the US allowed women and African Americans to vote.

      Among other things, like the standard 40-hour workweek.

  7. One more piece of trivia:

    While at school, Hibari refers to herself as "boku" (typically masculine), and Kosaku usually refers to her as "Hibari-kun" (also typically masculine). Despite this, no one else seems to catch on that Hibari was born a boy.

  8. 10/10 release, this show is hilarious.

  9. hope you continue this series, I really liked the manga

  10. Really want to check out this show. Hope they'll be able to finish more soon.

  11. Worth noting Rie Kawai's voice actress was Hiromi Tsuru (also known for voicing Bulma, Ukyo Kuonji, Meryl Strife, and more).
    And 2nd trivia point: she also voiced the romantic interest Sister Angela in Rumiko Takahashi's One Pound Gospel opposite Furuya Tohru playing a different boxing Kosaku this time.