Friday, January 26, 2018

The Soul Business

The roly-poly salesman with the shark-like smile

comes strolling towards the camera, and in the unmistakably resonant tones of Oohira Tooru he introduces himself:
My name is Moguro Fukuzou.
People call me "The Laughing Salesman."
However, I'm no ordinary salesman, because I'm in the soul business.
Human souls, that is.
The world is full of lonely men and women, both young and old.
I'm here to fill the gaps within your lonely souls.
Completely free of charge, I might add.
A satisfied customer is the only compensation I desire.
And today's customer is...
Yes, it's time for another darkly comic ten minutes of Warau Salesman (Laughing Salesman), a show that seems more fitting today than when it was made more than 25 years ago.

The premise of Laughing Salesman is deceptively simple. Moguro Fukuzou is a traveling salesman who provides things that give his customers their heart's desire. Once his deals are made and their desires are satisfied, Moguro's customers are often left with terrible repercussions, especially if they break the rules of his deals. Yet despite his warnings, and against their better judgment, his "customers" just can't resist the temptation to do a bit more, grab a bit more, go a bit too far. Retribution is swift - sometimes violent, sometimes comic, always disastrous. Then the episode is over, and Moguro is off to fullfill the needs of the next lonely soul.

Laughing Salesman is nominally a joint project between Saizen and Live-eviL, but it's more like a collaboration of the old anime kairetsu. onibaba and tenkenX6 translated the first few episodes; kokujin-kun (who did Yawara!) has done all the rest. Eternal_Blizzard timed the first group of episodes; sangofe has been handling that recently. I've edited all but the first few episodes. zegond typeset the first twenty episodes; she was reclaimed by Real Life, so I've done all the rest, with occasional help from Eternal_Blizzard. QC has varied a lot but has included Calyrica, Skr, konnakude, Eternal_Blizzard, sangofe, pheon18, Mamo-chan, and at the start, our late colleague CP. Eternal_Blizzard did the initial encodes, BakaProxy took over when the project switched to HD raws.

The project started off using the released DVDs, which were fairly terrible - muddy, jittery, and cropped. Last year, high resolution remastered web streams became available, along with closed captions. That has greatly sped up the fansubbing process, in particular translation (because of the captions) and typesetting (because of the much stabler image). I don't know if the team will ever go back and redo the first 25 DVD-based episodes; there's a long way to go to finish the series.

Laughing Salesman is best taken in small doses. Marathoning it can be hazardous to your (mental) health. Instead, next time the nightly news leaves you steaming and ready to chuck a brick at your TV, spin up another of Moguro Fukuzou's adventures. You'll soon see that no matter how bad things seem to be now, they can get much, much, much worse - and probably will.

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