Wednesday, November 22, 2017

White Fang (100th Release)

After a run of cat-themed shows (Neko Neko Fantasia, Neko Nanka Yondemo Nakai, Space Neko Theater, What's Michael? etc), Orphan Fansubs is going to the dogs, following up our earlier release of Wan Wan Chuushingura with the 1982 TV special, Shiroi Kiba: White Fang Monogatari (White Fang). Based on Jack London's 1906 adventure novel, White Fang tells the story of an Alaskan wolf-dog adopted by an Inuit boy, Mit-sah. After encountering and surviving all kinds of hardships, some natural and some man-made, White Fang eventually finds peace, contentment, and warm weather with the family of wealthy mine-owner Weedon Scott in northern California. This is Orphan's 100th release, counting by titles rather than files.

White Fang was a kind of sequel to London's 1903 book, Call of the Wild. The latter told the story of a domesticated dog that is forced into the wilderness and has to get in touch with its inner wolf in order to survive. White Fang told the reverse tale: a wild wolf-dog is gradually tamed and brought into civilized society by the power of friendship and love. (London thought of it as an allegory of his own life's arc, from teen-aged hoodlum to middle-class successful writer.) Both books were wildly popular in their day and have remained in print ever since. Although accused of portraying the natural world in an overly sentimental light by President Theodore Roosevelt, no less, London studiously avoided attributing thought and motivation to his animals, and he included the seamy and violent side of life on the frontier in the books.

The anime adaptation of White Fang is more overtly intended for a younger audience and provides more character continuity to simplify the plot. For example, the young Inuit who first finds White Fang, Mit-sah, remains the central character throughout the story. In the book, he drops out part way through. The villainous dog trainer Beauty Smith, who tries to turn White Fang into a fighting machine, follows Weedon Scott to California to provide the antagonist for the final segment. In the book, it's an entirely different character. Mit-sah's father, Grey Beaver, is almost a parody of the noble native. In the book, he's more rough-hewn, losing White Fang in a drunken gambling game. Nonetheless, the anime is reasonably faithful to the structure and major incidents of the book. Although White Fang has a few too many facial expressions for my taste, he's never portrayed as a Disney-esque anthropomorphic hero.

The movie isn't a sanitized G-rated adventure, either. It has graphic scenes of fighting, bloodshed, death, and animal abuse.

Tanaka Mayumi provided the voice of Mit-sah. She made her debut at age 10 in Kimba the White Lion. She's probably best known for her roles as Pazu in Castle in the Sky, Giovanni in Night on the Galactic Railway, and of course, Monkey D. Luffy in every incarnation of One Piece. She also played Son Gokuu in Tezuka Osamu Monogatari, an Orphan project. The late Naya Goro (Weedon Scott) played Inspector Zenigata in the Lupin III properties prior to this death. The director, Yoshikawa Souji, has a number of other credits, including Garon and Space Oz no Bouken.

Iri was inspired to translate White Fang after finding a 576p raw of a hi-def TV broadcast. (The TV logos are not intrusive.) M74 timed, I edited and typeset (very few signs), and bananadoyouwanna and Nemesis did QC. The encode is from heponeko. Given its age, White Fang must be cel-based and is thus a candidate for a true HD remaster, but it's probably not popular enough for that.

So let's go "North to Alaska" with Mit-sah, White Fang, and London's other colorful characters. You can get White Fang from the usual torrent sources or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #new on