Sunday, May 20, 2018

Katte ni Shirokuma

Here's another lost, offbeat OVA, 1987's Katte ni Shirokuma (Whatever, White Bear). Iri picked it up from an auction site during one of his shopping forays for used Japanese laserdiscs. Eventually, the disc made its way to Erik, who ripped it and released the raw. Now, Orphan has subtitled it for an English-speaking audience.

The title of the OVA is a bit of a puzzler. The Japanese title, かってにシロクマ, is partly hiragana and partly katakana. It is often translated as The "Something" Polar Bear, where the Japanese adjective かって might mean curious, whimsical, or selfish. シロクマ (shirokuma) is literally "white bear," but because the only white bear most Japanese know is a polar bear, the word also means that. However, the lead character, Shiro, is not a polar bear; he's an albino (white) brown bear. So a better reading of the Japanese might be Katte ni Shiro Kuma. This exposes another ambiguity. "Katte ni Shiro" means "Do What You Want," so when merged with "Shiro Kuma," the title is a joke, meaning "Do What You Want, White Bear." Based on Yogicat's pithy suggestion, we've shortened it to "Whatever, White Bear." Your mileage may vary.

Katte ni Shirokuma tells the story of an animal family consisting of a mother bear, albino cub Shiro, normal cub Dai-chan, and an adopted baby boar. While the mother and Dai-chan have normal spoken lines, Shiro uses non-verbal vocalizations, and the boar can only say "uri" (hence his name, Uribo, or Uri boy). They lead a placid life in the mountains. As the show opens, the mother bear is trying to teach her youngsters how to catch fish by batting them out of a swift-flowing stream. Dai-chan catches on at once. However, Shiro and Uribo are constantly distracted by the sights around them: birds, insects, and in particular, a turtle. The two goof-offs pursue the turtle into the stream, and Mom and Dai-chan go after them. The whole family is swept downstream. There, they start finding strange "rocks" and "animals," which are actually human artifacts - a knife, a TV, a costume jewelry crown. Reaching a cliff, they find a human city, devoid of life. They explore for a while and, after adventures both comic and macabre, eventually return to the mountains.

Ohara Noriko (Mom) had a long career starting in the 1960s. She played the title roles in Future Boy Conan and Arabian Nights: Sindbad no Bouken, Nobita in the Doraemon franchise (through 2004), and Oyuki in the Urusei Yatsura properties. Mizushima Yuu (Dai-chan) played the heroine's love interest, Makabe Shun, in Tokimeki Tonight (an Orphan release), Roland Chappelle in Shokugeki no Souma, and many other featured roles. Shou Mayumi (Uribo) made her debut in Cream Lemon, played Gannet in Hoshi Neko Full House (an Orphan release), and has also had an extensive career in featured roles. Nagira Kenichi (Shiro) mostly worked outside anime; his only other anime credit is Kappa no Coo to Natsuyasumi. The director, Sasagawa Hiroshi, has directed numerous science fiction and fantasy shows, including the original Time Bokan series, Tokimeki Tonight, Kennel Tokorazawa (an M74 release), and Bremen 4 (a joint Orphan-M74 release).

Moho Kareshi did the initial translation; Sunachan checked it and translated the ending song and additional signs. ninjacloud timed, I edited and typeset, and Calyrica and Nemesis did QC. Erik of Piyo Piyo Productions encoded from a Japanese laserdisc. The release uses ordered chapters in order to isolate an unrelated bonus at the end - a preview for the Appleseed OVA, which is not translated. If your player supports ordered chapters, it will play only Katte ni Shirokuma; you can access the Appleseed preview as the second "edition" in the file. If your player does not support ordered chapters, it will play the main OVA followed by the preview, without a break.

Katte no Shirokuma is a fine watch, a welcome addition to Orphan's growing menagerie of critter-centric shows. You can get the Three Bears, plus the boar, from the usual torrent sites or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on

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