Friday, December 15, 2017

Oishinbo Special: Ultimate vs Supreme (Blu-ray)

After years of languishing in limbo, Oishinbo seems to be getting its moment in the sun. The entire series and its two TV specials have been remastered in high-definition and released on Blu-ray. An ambitious translator (Moho Kareshi) worked through all 136 TV episodes and allowed his translations to be released for general use. The remastered episodes are streaming on Japanese web sites, with closed captions, which can help with translation checking.

If you're not familiar with Oishinbo, it tells the story of a competition between two Japanese newspapers for supremacy in the food world. On one side is Supreme Menu, led by Kaibara Yuuzan, traditionalist, potter, sculptor, and cultural arbiter. On the other side is Ultimate Menu, headed by his estranged son, Yamaoka Shirou, a lazy reporter with a strong competitive streak, and his long-suffering co-editor, Kurita Yuuko. Father and son butt heads about what is important in cuisine, while their despairing friends try to patch up their broken relationship. Stir and repeat for 136 episodes and two TV specials.

Orphan plans to release the two TV specials (only), as translated by Yoroshiku Fansubs, in high-definition. First up is Ultimate vs Supreme: Dishes for Longevity. This 1992 TV special documents a single match between Ultimate Menu and Supreme Menu, on the topic of dishes that promote long life. This gives the Ultimate Menu team an excuse for a field trip to Okinawa, whose inhabitants have some of the longest lifespans in the world. There they get to sample everything from aged awamori (distilled rice liquor) to irabu (sea snake), as they consult with gourmands, professors, and locals about what makes Okinawan cuisine special. They also get involved with local resistance to proposed development of a new airport on Ishigaki-jima, a small Okinawan out-island with a pristine coral reef. Then they must return to Japan for their showdown with Supreme Menu.


Inoue Kazuhiko played Yamaoka Shirou throughout the series. He is perhaps better known as Ryou, the hero of Tezuka Osamu's Bagi, Nyanko-sensei, the marvelously comic youkai cat in the Natsume Yuujinchou franchise, and Yuki Eiri, the seme in Gravitation. He is still active, appearing this year in ACCA and Isekai Shokudou. Shou Mayumi, who played Kurita Yuuko, appeared in Aoki Honoo and Hoshi Neko Full House, both of which Orphan translated. Otsukua Chikao, who played Kaibara Yuuzan, has had a lengthy career, starting back in 1963 in Astro Boy. He appeared in several Tezuka Osamu specials and played Captain Hook in Peter Pan no Bouken, among numerous other roles.

I have very fond memories of Yoroshiku Fansubs, which was my earliest training ground (along with C1) in the craft of fansub editing and QC. Their releases have withstood the test of time, and I see no reason to redo them unless better source material comes along, as is the case with the Oishinbo specials. For this release, the Yoroshiku subs have been used with some changes. The word "savoriness" has been replaced with "umami," now that the latter has passed into general use. Lines have been broken up for easier reading in high definition. In addition, more signs are translated, and the signs are fully typeset. As a result, the new script is ten times longer than the original.

laalg (who later worked with Orphan) did the original translation; izam translated the OP and ED. Yogicat retimed the subs for the Blu-ray encode; the original OP/ED timing, by Nanne, was retained. I edited and typeset both the original Yoroshiku release and this new one. Saji and MisterK did QC on the original release, Calyrica on the new one. Skr did the encode, from a BDMV.

With the passage of 25 years, we now know the end of the Ishigaki-jima airport saga. Local resistance did stop construction of the new airport at the site extending into the Sea of Shiraho. However, a new plan was devised around a site further inland, and construction began in 2006. The new airport opened in 2013. Ishigaki-jima is still a prime scuba diving destination in Okinawa, but climate change and invasive fishing techniques have decimated the coral coverage on the reef.

Oishinbo is from a different era than today's anime. (For one thing, it uses real company names, like ANA and Southwest Airlines, instead of today's "off by one letter" substitutes.) Although nominally about cooking competitions, like today's Shokugeki no Souma, Oishinbo has none of Souma's frantic shounen trappings or knockabout comedy. Depending on your tastes, you may find Oishinbo soothing or boring. Either way, you can get this release from the usual torrent sites or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net

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