Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 in Review

This year, I've tried to bury my anxieties by avoiding the news and doubling down on my hobbies. I don't know if it works as therapy, but it sure has resulted in Orphan releasing a lot of shows in 2017.

Orphan Fansubs

I called 2016 a "banner year" for Orphan Fansubs, but 2017 has been even more amazing. There have been three important factors in the explosion of releases this year:
  1. New staff, particularly an additional translator (Sunachan) and translation checker (tenkenX6).
  2. The increasing availability of back-catalog media, both physical and streaming.
  3. The hard work of core staff members in all disciplines: translation, timing, QC, and encoding.
As a result, Orphan released a record number of new projects in 2017:
  1. Yousei Ou. A high fantasy OVA about fairies, witches, and elves, with shounen-ai undertones. DVD encode.
  2. Chameleon. The first two episodes of a "Yankee" comedy OVA about a wannabe juvenile delinquent and his misadventures. Episode 1; episode 2.
  3. Cosprayers. The foundation series for Smash Hit and Love Love?, both of which are considerably better. DVD encode.
  4. A Penguin's Memories. A moving story about the tribulations of veterans returning from a war (presumably Vietnam), told with penguin instead of human characters. Laserdisc encode.
  5. Neko Neko Fantasia. A fantasy OVA about a kitten that wishes to be human so she can participate in Christmas. Laserdisc encode.
  6. Tsuki ga Noboru made ni. A Japanese boy's memories of country life during World War II, told retrospectively to a skeptical city girl and her father. A wonderful, one-shot OVA.
  7. Stop!! Hibari-kun. A comedy series about a cross-dressing boy who wreaks havoc by being the best-looking girl in the family and in school. Episodes 01-06. DVD encode.
  8. Grim Douwa - Kin no Tori. A fantasy movie from Toei, based on the Brothers Grimm story "The Golden Bird." It features outstanding animation and voice acting. High-definition TV encode.
  9. Junod. An inspirational biographical movie of Doctor Marcel Junod, who worked for the International Red Cross prior to and during World War II. High-definition TV encode.
  10. Fire Emblem. A fantasy OVA based on a video game. Laserdisc encode.
  11. Cosmic Fantasy. A sci-fi adventure/comedy OVA based on a video game. Laserdisc encode.
  12. Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo movie 1. The first big screen adventure of Kindaichi Hajime, teen detective. The plot revolves around a locked-room murder during a production of The Phantom of the Opera. Letterboxed laserdisc and subsequent "full 480p" encode.
  13. Daishizen no Majuu Bagi. A Tezuka Osamu TV special, about a human-feline hybrid trying to find her place in the world. High-definition BD encode.
  14. Eien no Filena. A sci-fi fantasy OVA based on a series of light novels.
  15. Yuukan Club. A comedy OVA about rich private school students with a mind for mischief and too much time on their hands. Laserdisc encode.
  16. Nozomi Witches. An OVA about an ordinary high-school boy who is encouraged by a bewitching classmate to become a champion boxer. Laserdisc encode.
  17. Alice in Dreamland. A recent movie retelling of Alice in Wonderland, using dolls. DVD encode.
  18. Aoki Honoo. A dark OVA about a young man's ruthless pursuit of success. VHS encode.
  19. Fumoon. Another Tezuka Osamu TV special, about the rise of an alien species brought about by human environmental devastation. High-definition BD encode.
  20. Akai Hayate. An original OVA about a civil war within a secretive ninja clan. Laserdisc encode.
  21. Wan Wan Chuushingura. A comedy/adventure movie about a plucky dog name Rock and his battles against an evil tiger and a clever fox. High-definition streaming encode.
  22. Seikima II - Humane Society. An OVA that purports to tell the "true" backstory of the death metal rock-and-roll band Seikima II. DVD encode.
  23. Okane ga nai extras. Four omake from the Okane ga nai OVA series. DVD encode.
  24. Al Caral no Isan. A science fiction OVA about mankind's "first contact" with extraterrestrials, who are much more than they appear to be.
  25. Cathexis. An anime music video, supposedly of songs by Nanjo Kouji, the lead character of Zetsuai 1989. Laserdisc encode.
  26. Hyakumannen Chikyuu no Tabi: Bander Book. The first Tezuka Osamu TV special, about a human boy orphaned in space and his struggle to discover his identity and his destiny. High-definition BD encode.
  27. What's Michael? OVA (1985). Short sketches about an orange tiger cat named Michael and his human and feline companions. Laserdisc encode.
  28. Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo movie 2. The second movie about Kindaichi Hajime. The plot revolves around a terrorist takeover of an isolated resort hotel. Laserdisc encode and "full 480p" encode.
  29. Shiroi Kiba: White Fang Monogatari. Jack London's classic tale of canine survival and bonding, set in Alaska.
  30. Rainbow Signal: Hi-Fi Set. An anime music video of songs by HiFi Set, a Japanese vocal group. It tells the tale of a pair of cute dragons in a futuristic city. Laserdisc encode.
  31. Hoshi Neko Full House. A rollicking sci-fi/comedy OVA, featuring a smuggler boy, a lecherous robot, three rich high-school girls, an alien lizard, and a flying star cat, who must save the world from a revolt by the supercomputer Eterna.
  32. What's Michael? OVA 2 (1988). More skits from Michael and friends, including a three-part parody of The Fugitive. Laserdisc encode.
  33. Oishinbo Ultimate vs Supreme: Dishes for Longevity!! Ultimate Menu and Supreme Menu battle over dishes intended to promote long life. Modified Yoroshiku subs; 720p BD encode. 
  34. Kaitei Choutokkyuu Marine Express. The second Tezuka Osamu TV special, about conspiracy and high adventure aboard an undersea express train. High-definition BD encode.
Not counted in this tally were two new versions of A-Girl, based on a complete raw; a new version of Dragon Fist, based on a laserdisc encode; a new version of Ginga Tansa 2100-nen: Border Planet, based on a high-definition BD encode; a new version of Tezuka Osamu Monogatari: I Am Son Gokuu, also based on a high-definition BD encode; and the "full 480p" versions of Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo movies 1 and 2. That's more than 40 distinct projects this year, with not a dud in the bunch. Congratulations, and many thanks, to the whole Orphan team.

Work for Other Groups

There seems to be less of this each year, particularly outside the "back catalog" kairetsu.

  • FFF. I'm editing the third season of Shokugeki no Souma. The Akatsuki no Yoma OVAs are all stuck at various points in the process.
  • Frozen-EviL. I continued to edit the slow-moving Blu-Ray version of Yawara!
  • Saizen. I continued to edit, and picked up typesetting, Laughing Salesman, and I QCed Psycho Armor Govarian.
  • C1. I edited and typeset the second half of Kakyuusei (1999) and project-managed the last few episodes to complete the series.
  • Soldado. I QCed this year's Ninku releases. I edited and QCed the Haguregumo movie.
  • M74. I edited and QCed the high-definition release of the Tezuka Osamu TV special Time Slip Ichimannen Prime Rose.
Laughing Salesman continues to be a pleasure; I find it's exceedingly dark humor appropriate for the times.

Favorites of 2017

I'm not an anime critic, and I don't play one on the Internet, so I no longer try to compile a "best of" list for the anime year. These days, I don't watch enough anime, outside of the genres I like (slice-of-life, comedy, sci-fi, seinen, josei, cats), to be knowledgeable enough to make a "Top 10" list. Instead, I'm listing my favorites of the year and why they kept me interested all the way through.

In alphabetical order:
  • ACCA 13-ku Kansatsu-ka. This cool and jazzy caper series hit the right spot for me.
  • Hoozuki no Reitetsu S2. A fiendishly funny series about life in Hell. This season provides more backstory about the main characters without losing comic focus.
  • Isekai Shoukudou. A comfort food series, combining fantasy and cooking in equal proportions.
  • Kappeki Danshi! Aoyama-kun. This year's outstanding zany comedy, with an equal-opportunity focus on its crazy side characters as well as its lead.
  • Kobayashi-san Chi no Maidragon. Much better than its hackneyed premise led me to expect. It turned out to be a comedy about family and the accommodations everyone has to make to get along.
  • Mahou Tsukai no Yome. Gorgeous and engaging. This series continues next year.
  • Natsume Yuujinchou Roku (S6). Even after six seasons, Natsume does not disappoint or grow stale. Its combination of hope and melancholy is unique.
  • Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi Hen. This sequel continues and broadens its characters' stories and provides a deep and satisfying conclusion.
  • Uchouten Kazoku S2. My favorite tanuki family returns for more adventures. Just as good as the first season, and open-ended enough to allow for a continuation.
  • Youkai Apartment no Yuuga na Nichijou. Another show with a supernatural theme. It combines great character comedy with supernatural adventure, but the former always takes precedence.
No sports, no mecha, no magical girls, no idols, no shounen (sorry, Boku no Hero Academia), and no violence against children (sorry, Made in Abyss). Among short series, I really liked Osake wa Fuufu ni Natte Kara (adult characters), and I'm heartened to see the return of Fireball, even if for only three episodes.

Looking Ahead

Orphan Fansubs is now more than seven years old. Since the group's inception, the team has finished more than a hundred official projects. I hope we'll be able to maintain a reasonable pace in 2018, but two long series projects are in the works, and they will take up a lot of time. So if you are an experienced fansubber, particularly a translator, typesetter, or QC — or even an editor, for that matter — and would like to join Orphan in exploring the highways and byways of the anime past, please drop me a PM on IRC or leave a comment on the blog.


  1. Thank you so much for your great work. I like the old style animes. Best of luck in 2018!