Saturday, September 30, 2017

Akai Hayate

So here's another OVA stranded on the wrong side of the Digital Divide: Akai Hayate (Red Hayate), a four-parter from 1991. As far as I can tell, it is based on an original story by Yamasaki Osamu, who is better known as a director. His directing efforts include Gallery Fake, Yotoden (OVA and movie), Hakkenden (both series), and Hakuoki (all versions). Akai Hayate was licensed by the now-defunct Central Park Media and released in English on VHS tape; a rip of those tapes was released by ARR, minus seven minutes of episode 2. This is a new version, based on the Japanese laserdiscs, and complete.

Akai Hayate tells the tale of a secret ninja organization called Shinagara which has controlled Japan for "thousands of years." Its strongest warriors use "Shadow Armor"(mecha-like suits constructed from magic and shadows) and named attacks to fight:

As the story begins, Kanuma Hayate, the son of Shinogara's leader, Kanuma Tanzou, suddenly and inexplicably assassinates his father. As a result, Shinogara splits into warring factions, with three of its six Shadow Warriors (Sanezuna, Miyabi, and Genbu) supporting the new leader, Ranotei, and the other three (Hayate, Date Ikkaku, and Satomi Shuri) in rebellion. The Shinogara loyalists hunt down and mortally wound Hayate. To survive, he transfers his spirit into the body of his sister, Shiori. She must now evade Shinogara's myriad assassins and unravel the mystery behind her father's death, with the intermittent help of the other rebel warriors. The show has a very somber tone, with lots of violence and violent deaths. (There's a bit of nudity and sex too, typical of an OVA from that era.) As might be expected in a civil war, there are no winners and no happy ending.
The cast consists of stellar character actors. The gravelly-voiced narrator was played by Tesshou Genda, who played Moloch in the Azazel-san franchise, Colonel Muto in Joker Game, the narrator in Kyoukai no Rinne, and the title role in New Laughing Salesman. Kantou faction leader Date Ikkaku was played by Yao Kazuki, best known for his lead role as Dark Schneider in Bastard!! and his recurring role as Franky in One Piece. Nansou faction leader Satomi Shuri was voiced by Gouda Hozumi, who played one of the leads in the Sengoku-era Sanada 10 series.  Seki Toshihiko, who voiced the fighter Nagase Jun in the first episode, played Riki in Ai no Kusabi, Sanzo in all the Saiyuuki TV series, and the title roles in Alexander (Reign the Conqueror) and Kaiketsu Zorro. The director, Tsuruyama Osamu, is better known as an animator; he did the character designs for Wolf Guy, for example.

Because the ARR rip was incomplete and subsize, M74 and I had long wanted to do a new version. We enlisted Zalis of ReDone Subs, who transcribed the existing subtitles and filled in the missing seven minutes. He also did a cursory check of the translation, which is quite liberal. We haven't tried to correct the usual R1 compressions and omissions, beyond the obvious clunkers. Iri filled in a couple of missing lines of the episode 1 insert song; M74 timed; I edited and typeset; Juggen styled the songs; and Nemesis and VigorousJammer did QC. M74 encoded from laserdisc images provided by an anonymous benefactor. This is an Orphan-M74-ReDone joint release. (Sorry, AniDB mods, but all three groups really did do significant work on it.)

While Akai Hayate feels like it consists of recycled elements, that may just be a modern perspective. I'm sure it felt much fresher when first released in 1991. You can get it from the usual torrent sites or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on

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