Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Yuukan Club (The Leisure Club)

The 1991 OVA Yuukan Club (The Leisure Club) is about six high school students who are the sons and daughters of the elite and powerful. Together, they run the Student Council at their private high school and still have time for adventures as The Leisure Club.



Clockwise from the top left corner:
  • Bidou Granmarnier, son of the Swedish Ambassador. He's a playboy with lovers around the world.
  • Kenbishi Yuuri, daughter of the Kenbishi conglomerate. She has inhuman appetite and stamina.
  • Shouchikubai Miroku, son of Superintendent General, Metropolitan Police. A mechanical genius.
  • Kizakura Karen, daughter of a jeweler. She's primarily characterized by her adult sex appeal.
  • Kikumasamune Seishirou, son of a major hospital's director. An an intellectual martial arts master.
  • Hakushika Noriko, daughter of a tea ceremony master. She is a Go master.
All of the Japanese characters are named for brands of sake; the one westerner is named for a French orange liqueur. The Chinese characters in episode 2 are named for Chinese alcoholic beverages.

The OVAs consist of two standalone episodes. In the first, the Leisure Club must contend with a nefarious petnapper. In the second, they get entangled with the Hong Kong mafia after impulsively flying there (in the Kenbishi private jet) to eat and shop. The episodes are random arcs from Ichigo Yukari's Yuukan Club manga, which ran to 19 volumes. In both, the emphasis is on comedy and madcap adventures. The franchise also includes a 2007 live-action TV series, which seems to have more of a mystery focus.

The voice cast is like a Who's Who of Japanese voice actors from the last 30 years:
  • Tsujitani Kouji (Kikumasamune Seishirou) played the lead in 3x3 Eyes, Irresponsible Captain Tylor, and Otaku no Video, as well as Miroku in the Inuyasha franchise.
  • Katsuki Masako (Kenbishi Yuuri) played Maroko in Gosenzosama Banbanzai and its movie version, Maroko, Mira in Ginga Tansa 2100-nen: Border Planet, and Tsunade (Fifth Hokage) in the Naruto franchise.
  • Tominaga Miina (Kizakura Karen) played Persia in Magical Fairy Persia, Hikaru in episodes 2-6 of Chameleon, Karen in DNA^2, and Kamiya (the antagonist) in Tokimeki Tonight.
  • Hidaka Noriko (Hakushika Noriko) played Satsuke in My Neighbor Totoro, Akane (the female lead) in Ranma 1/2, Peter in Peter Pan no Bouken, Mrs. Yamada (the mother) in the first two Chii anime series, Near in Death Note, and Kikyo in the Inuyasha franchise, among others. She is still active and recently appeared in Little Witch Academia.
  • Koyasu Takehito (Bidou Granmarnier) has appeared in hundreds of video games. He played Izumi in Zetsuai and Bronze, Doujima Gin in Shokugeki no Souma, Thirteen in Grimoire of Zero, Dio in Jojo's Bizarre Adventures, the title role in Master of Mosquitron, and Lennon O'Sullivan in Yamato 2520. He's currently appearing in 18if and Elegant Yokai Apartment Life.
  • Seki Toshihiko (Shouchikubai Miroku) played Sanzo in all iterations of the Saiyuki franchise (including the current one), Matsuda in the Yawara! properties, Riki in the original Ai no Kusabi, Zorro in Kaiketsu Zorro, and Mousse in Ranma 1/2.
  • Nagai Ichiro (the Hong Kong mafia leader) provided the off-the-wall narration in Gosenzosama Banbanzai and Maroko. He also played Professor Doherty in Nora, Togo in Yamata 2520, and, of course, Happosai in the Ranma 1/2 franchise.
  • Ogata Kenichi (the Hong Kong chef) played the put-upon father in Gosenzosama Banbanzai and Maroko, as well as Smee in Peter Pan no Bouken and, most recently, Gran Torino in Boku no Hero Academia. However, he's best known to me as the voice of Ranma 1/2's Sataome Gemna, whose alter ego - the grumpy panda - is my avatar on most anime forums.
  • Oobayashi Ryousuke (Miroku's father) played Tendo Soun, Akane's father, in Ranma 1/2.
  • Yokoo Mari (Yuuri's mother) appeared in Oz, Outlanders, and, most recently, Gangsta.
Most of them have also done h-anime work. (A voice actor's gotta earn a living, you know.) The director, Shibuichi Setsuko, is a veteran animator. She also directed Damekko Dobutsu (Useless Animals), one of my favorite short series. The songs are by Toy Boys and are typical 90s hard rock.

Iri translated the show, Yogicat timed it, I edited and typeset, and bananadoyouwanna and Nemesis did QC. The raws are from laserdiscs, encoded by Erik of Piyo Piyo Productions. The first episode includes a recorded performance of Toy Boys' Psychedelic Beat, which is used as an insert song in the episode. gamnark bought the CD single of the song, which facilitated translating the lyrics. The names of the Chinese dishes in episode 2 are a bit problematic; they are a mangled mixture of Mandarin and Cantonese spoken by a Japanese actor with a faux Chinese accent. gu niang (姑娘), also used in episode 2, is a Chinese word meaning a young girl or maiden.

So enjoy Yuukan Club. It is, as the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy says of Earth, Mostly Harmless. There's little onscreen violence and no nudity. (This can be seen as a plus or a minus, depending on your point of view.) You can get it from the usual torrent sites or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net. This episode 1 CD single (Psychedelic Beat, Shake Dance) is also available.

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