Saturday, January 20, 2018

Hidamari no Ki, Part 1

In my look back at 2017, I said that Orphan would be undertaking two larger series this year. The first is the continuation of Stop!! Hibari-kun!, from 1983. And now, here is the second, Hidamari no Ki (A Tree in the Sun), from 2000. This historical drama has been on my wish list since I started pursuing orphaned shows. A fortunate chain of circumstances has allowed Orphan to bring it to you, at last.

First, the series appeared on streaming sites in Japan. This provided translation raws with reasonable video and audio fidelity. Second, the eleven volume manga became available online, both in Japanese and in (scanlated) English. Third, and most importantly, a new translator, Sunachan, joined Orphan. Sunachan had the stamina - and the experience with medical terminology - to undertake such a large project. And finally, an anonymous donor offered to purchase the Hidamari no Ki DVDs. This provided pristine material for generating final video and audio. Orphan will be presenting Hidamari no Ki in four "mini-batches" of six, seven, six, and six episodes respectively, with a full series batch at the end.

Hidamari no Ki is based on a manga by the legendary Tezuka Osamu. It tells the story of two young men during the Bakumatsu - the waning days of the Tokugawa Shogunate that followed the "opening" of Japan by Western countries. One is Manjirou Ibuya, a samurai raised in the strictest traditions of bushido. The other is Tezuka Ryouan, a doctor-in-training equally interested in women and the latest scientific discoveries. (Ryouan's last name is no coincidence; he is Tezuka Osamu's great-grandfather) Both have a penchant for getting into trouble. Ibuya inadvertently crosses an experienced samurai and is wounded in a duel. Ryousan ends up treating him. Then, Ryouan deliberately crosses the powerful official physicians of the Shogunate, who want to prevent Ryouan and his father from opening a smallpox vaccination facility. Ibuya ends up saving Ryouan from an attack by anonymous assassins. Ryouan goes to Osaka for further training and encounters both opportunity and tragedy. Ibuya exhibits exemplary leadership skills during the great Ansei-era Edo earthquake and is assigned to guard the new US consul to Japan. And that's just the first six episodes!

As the screencap shows, the male character designs are vintage Tezuka Osamu - large eyes paired with real noses, chins, Adam's apples, facial blemishes, and so on. The female character designs run more to type - either classic Japanese beauties, like Oseki, Oshina, and Okon, or dumpy matrons, like Ryouan's mother. This demonstrates Eguchi Marisuke's versatility as a character designer. The designs look nothing like his Adachi-inspired characters in Hiatari Ryouko and Nozomi Witches.

The Bakumatsu was a remarkably complex period, with factions promoting all kinds of views. The three most prominent were the bakufu - the military bureaucracy of the Shogunate, who wanted to defend their prerogatives; the neo-Confucians (Joui), who wanted to restore power to the Emperor as a prerequisite to expelling all foreigners; and the Westernizers, who wanted to embrace western scientific and political thought and modernize Japan along Western lines. Dividing lines were not clear-cut; for example, all factions wanted to embrace some aspects of Western military technology, for their own reasons. The eventual solution - the Meiji restoration - was a sort of "none of the above" answer and allowed Japan to avoid the fate of China.

The voice cast is stellar. Yamadera Kouichi (Ryouan) has had a spectacular career. Among his many roles are Spike Spiegel in Cowboy Bebop, Sukeroku in Shouwa Ginroku Rakugo Shinju, Ryouga in all the Ranma 1/2 properties, Melos in Hashire Melos! (an Orphan project), and the nameless hero of Otaku no Seiza. He also dubbed all the Mike Myers characters in the Japanese versions of the Austin Powers movies. Miyamoto Mitsuru (Ibuya) has appeared in numerous series, from H2 to this year's Kekkai Sensen sequel. Orikasa Fumiko, who voiced their mutual love interest, Oseki, played Rukia Kuchiki in all the Bleach properties as well as the heroine Okonogi Yuuko in Dennou Coil. The late Nagai Ichirou (Ryouan's father Ryousan) appeared in numerous shows, including Nora and Gosenzosama Banbanzai! He also dubbed Albus Dumbledore in the Japanese versions of the Harry Potter movies. Matsumoto Rica (Okon, a prostitute in Osaka) played Jim Hawking in Outlaw Star, the hero Fuusuke in the Ninku properties, and Satoshi in the Pokemon franchise. The director, Sugii Gisaburou, has done many outstanding shows, including the Mitsuru Adachi shows Nine, Touch, and Hiatari Ryouko; Nozomi Witches (an Orphan project); and several recent movies. The music is by the jazz/fusion composer and keyboardist Matsui Keiko and works well to underscore the series subtly.

Sunachan translated the episodes. Beyond that, she re-checked the episodes through editing and QC to ensure that the nuances of the translation were not lost. Eternal_Blizzard timed the episodes. Juggen provided a subtle karaoke for the ending theme, Hikari no Mukou e by Charcoal. I edited and typeset (not many signs). bananadoyouwanna, Nemesis, and VigorousJammer did QC. Skr encoded the original workraws that allowed translation to get started, and M74 encoded the final versions from the DVDs. The DVDs themselves were purchased by an anonymous benefactor. The entire team is intensely grateful to him for investing in this show.

Hidamari no Ki is a dense series, and there are lots of people, places, and things that need explanation. I've tried to keep on-screen translation notes to a minimum, but there are a few. Here are some additional notes for this batch of episodes:
  • Ep01. "Countless districts of Edo." Literally, the 808 districts of Edo. The number 808 is purely symbolic.
  • Ep01. "...with its pay of 15 bales for two people..." The combination of bales and people provides the measurement of a samurai's rank; in this case, not very high.
  • Ep01. "300 mon." An old unit of currency, not directly translatable to yen because of devaluation and inflation.
  • Ep01. "Hokushin Ittouryuu" is a school of martial arts, founded in 1820, focused on sword fighting.
  • Ep04. Ogata Kouan was a physician and scholar. His academy, the Tekijuku, taught medicine and Western learning. It was one of the foundations for Osaka University.
  • Ep04. Ryousen twirls his pinky when talking indirectly about a beautiful courtesan. The pinky signifies love affairs or sexual liaisons.
Because of the long delays in releasing more of Stop!! Hibari-kun, some viewers may wonder whether Hidamari no Ki will suffer the same fate. I expect this show to go faster because it doesn't require translation checking. We've restarted Stop!! Hibari-kun, of course, but an experienced, dedicated translation checker is needed for the show to progress more quickly.

Meanwhile, dig into Hidamari no Ki. It's a treat, a true overlooked gem. You can get this mini-batch from the usual torrent sites or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on


  1. Thanks, I didn't even know this existed!

    1. A lot of Tezuka's works are forgotten, especially anime and some obscure mangas. Glad that you like it.

  2. You guys are a shining light in the anime community. I've been waiting/Hoping/praying for subs on this since I found out it exists in like 2011. Thank you for undertaking this project, I really appreciate all the work you do and never miss any of your releases but this is definitely the most exciting one so far for me!

  3. I was just looking into Sugii's work and bam, there is a translation. Lucky me.
    Thank you!

  4. Woot, thanks for taking this on. I've had three AOI files collecting dust in my hard drive for many years. :)