Saturday, February 8, 2020

Senya Ichiya Monogatari Blu-ray

Here is the Orphan's third version of Tezuka Osamu's 1969 "erotic cartoon" Senya Ichiya Monogatari, usually translated as 1001 Nights. The first was based on topfh's excellent but upscaled DVD rip; the second on a high-definition web stream; and this one on the UK Blu-ray. Each version has improved over the previous one, but as with Cleopatra, three versions of the same anime is a lot. I hope this release is definitive.

I'm not going to rehash my previous blog posts about Senya. It has the virtues and defects of later Tezuka Osamu "entertainments," with a lot more nudity and sex. The plot meanders all over the place, and the movie could have been shortened without much loss. However, the stylistic variability helps to keep it visually interesting, and the individual set pieces are usually engaging. There are frequent "easter eggs" to reward the movie buff. For example, the titanic confrontation between the three-eyed giant and the equally gigantic bird Loplop is a direct tribute to the fight between King Kong and a pterodactyl in the original 1933 movie. For me, it's best to treat Senya Ichiya Monogatari like a chapter book, taking it in small doses. This helps to tame its extreme length and makes it possible to appreciate the scenes and set pieces individually.


So what's new in this version that makes it worthwhile to download and watch it yet again? Several things.
  1. A long and informative interview with Yamamoto Eiichi, the director of both Senya Ichiya Monogatari and Cleopatra. Yamamoto has great stories to tell about the movies themselves and his collaboration with Tezuka Osamu. His portrait of Tezuka is not always flattering, but it's always interesting.
  2. The original trailer. This makes it clear that the erotic content was front and center to both the creation of and the marketing campaign for the Animerama movies.
  3. The commentary track by Helen McCarthy, author of the excellent and informative The Art of Osamu Tezuka. She provides insightful comments on the movie and its individual scenes. She is particularly good in highlighting the (for the time) innovative imagery.
  4. "Remastered" video and audio. Frankly, I don't find either of them an improvement over the prior releases. The video did not look good at "full HD", despite the alleged remastering, so this release still uses 1280 width.
  5. Official subtitles. And therein lies a story.
The official subs for Cleopatra are quite good, so I had high hopes for the official subs for Senya. The fansub translator, convexity, thought they could be the default... until we looked at them. They're terrible: stilted, awkward, and, most surprisingly, full of grammar and translation errors. A sample:
  • "Miriam" is translated as "Milliam." There's no excuse for this: Japanese has an "r" sound but no "l".
  • "He might've been a guinea pig in his before life." Not "previous life"?
  • "This will do to every women." Uh, "This will do for any woman" or "This will do for all women"?
  • "So shall be it." How about something in English like "It shall be so" or "So shall it be"?
  • "They both said same thing." What happened to "the same thing"?
  • "We both seem lost." This is a fine sentence, but it's clear from context that the line is "We both seem to have lost."
  • "All hell is going to break lose." No, it's loose.
  • "I'll witness like that." Do they mean "testify"?
  • "So what you say a big thing is this, huh?" I'm not sure I can even parse this one. Maybe "So this is what you meant by something big, huh?"
I could go on and on.

Accordingly, Orphan's fansubs are the default subtitles. For those who want to get the full BD experience, the official subs are included in two versions: untouched PGS and extensively edited and styled. This means the movie has six tracks:
  1. Video (default).
  2. Japanese audio (default).
  3. English commentary audio.
  4. English fansubs (default).
  5. Edited and typeset English official subs.
  6. Original PGS official subs.
The interview and trailer have four tracks: video (default), Japanese audio (default), edited and typeset official subs (default), and PGS official subs.

For this release, M74 obtained the Blu-ray, ripped and OCRed the official subtitles, and encoded the movie and features. ninjacloud retimed the fansubs and the features; Yogicat retimed the official subs. I edited the official subs and features and typeset (mostly in the trailer). BeeBee QCed. The fansub credits are unchanged.

So here's the Blu-ray version of Senya Ichiya Monogatari. Even if you found the previous versions sufficient, you'll want this version for the extras and the commentary track. You can get the release from the usual torrent site or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Status 2020

I haven't done a status update in a while, and the news isn't good. Most of Orphan's projects, or potential projects, are stalled for lack of resources, notably translation checking and encoding. Here's what's "on the slipways":
  • Senya Ichiya Monogatari, Blu-ray version. In RC.
  • Ziggy Sore Yuke! R&R Band. Encoded; translated. In QC
  • Fighting Beauty Wulong. This will be Orphan's next series project. The existing Hong Kong DVD subs are awful. Translated; encoded. In timing.
  • Blue Sonnet. Encoded; translated; timed. In editing and typesetting.
That's it. Next, stalled at translation checking - encoding, translation, timing are done:
  • Bakumatsu no Spasibo
  • Genji Pt 1
  • Makoto-chan the Movie
  • Mother Saigo no Shoujo Eve (also needs re-encoding from uncompressed capture)
  • Nayuta
  • (Maris) The Choujo
Next, stalled at translation - encoded and pre-timing are done:
  • Bocchan (TV special)
  • DAYS OVAs 2016
  • Magma Taishi (Ambassador Magma)
  • Mellow
  • Raiyantsuurii no Uta
  • Sanada 10 ep 10-12
  • Sugata Sanshiro
  • Tengai Makyou
  • Tezuka Osamu Kyoto Animation Theater Works
Next, stalled at encoding. These include R2J DVD ISOs, Domesday Duplicator LD captures, and uncompressed VHS captures. 
  • VHS - Yamizaki: Long Distance Call; Oedo ga Nemurenai!; Rail of the Stars; Tottoi: Secret of the Seals; Okama Report (only vol 1 and 2 so far); Shin Dousei Jidai- Hawaiian Breeze; Kentauros no Densetsu; Mother Saigo no Shoujo Eve
  • LD - Super Real Mahjong
  • R2J DVD - Amatsuki; Haruka Naru Toki no Naka de 2: Shiroki Ryuu no Miko; One Pound Gospel; Mars OVA; Sanada 10 ep 10-12; Tezuka Osamu's Tales of the Old Testament
  • HD web rips - Sangokushi movies (need frame rate transcode); Saiyuuki 1960 (needs downscaling from 1080p to 720p); Nine OVAs (need black borders clipped off)
Many of the titles to be encoded already have scripts and could be started pretty quickly. However, all of Orphan's sources tend to be problematic; every analog capture, and even the DVDs, require detailed analysis and hand tweaking, unfortunately.

Finally, I would like to help Erik at Piyo Piyo Productions out by creating new versions of titles he's recently recaptured on the Domesday Duplicator: Exper Zenon, Amon Saga, and Stardust Paradise.

So Orphan needs staff, of all kinds: translators, encoders, QCs (particularly an RC), but yes, even editors and typesetters - I'm now the bottleneck on too many projects. If you're interested, and you know what you're doing, please contact me or other staff members on IRC.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Hiatari Ryoukou! Kasumi: You Were In My Dream

Often, an anime movie that follows a successful TV series is a summary compilation, like the movies made from World Masterpiece Theater series or Blue Gender: the Warrior. Sometimes, it actually provides a conclusion for a series that ended with unresolved plot lines, like End of Evangelion. Sometimes, it's a side story to the main TV series plot, like Yawara! Sore Yuke Koshinuke Kids!. And sometimes, it's an alternative version of the events in the main TV series. That's the case with the Hiatari Ryoukou movie, Kasumi: Yume no Naka ni Kimi ga Ita (Kasumi: You Were in My Dream), which came out just as the TV series was ending in early 1988.

Kasumi: Yume no Naka ni Kimi ga Ita starts at the point where Kasumi's boyfriend Katsuhiko departs for the U.S. to go to college (about midway in the TV series). Fast forward two years, and Katsuhiko suddenly returns to Japan. In the interim, he's become a star motorcycle racer and is rumored to be involved with another celebrity named Tadona. In fact, he's still in love with Kasumi and has come back to Japan to propose to her. Meanwhile, the boarding house gang have reached the last year of high school and are all preparing for graduation. Keiko-chan intends to go to a music university and become a teacher. Kasumi herself wants to study classical Japanese literature. Shin and Ariyama have plans too. Only Yuusaku is drifting, trying to see if professional photography might suit him. Katsuhiko's determination to get an answer from Kasumi runs up against her ambivalent feelings about choosing between him and Yuusaku. He decides to force the issue by winning a big race regardless of the risks involved, and then...


Because Kasumi is an alternative version, it's pretty clear from the outset that the events in the movie won't be conclusive, because we already know how the TV series turns out. This structural difficulty is compounded by weak writing. One of the joys of the TV series was the side characters, Shin, Ariyama, and Keiko, who figured prominently in the story and the comedy. Here, they have at best walk-on parts.The focus is relentlessly on the central trio of Kasumi, Katsuhiko, and Yuusaku, and their interactions have already been done to death. In addition, the previously invisible Makoto gets many more lines, most of them expository to advance or clarify the story. Another issue is that the TV series is a rom-com with baseball trimmings. The movie is a rom-com with... motorcycle racing? While this change allows Katsuhiko to have his do-or-die moment, it both defies belief and walks away from one of the core strengths of Adachi Mitsuri's writing. The movie feels not only irrelevant to the core story but unrelated.

The TV cast was mostly unchanged, except for Ariyama, who was played by Suzuki Kyonobu, a journeyman seiyuu with many featured roles. The TV director, the talented Sugii Gisaburou, was replaced by Oguma Kimiharu, who had only a few credits to his name. Kasumi: Yume no Naka ni Kimi ga Ita played on a twin bill with the first Kimagure Orange Road movie and used some if its songs as background music.

The original script for the movie came from the defunct ray=out Hiatari Ryoukou project. tenkenX6 checked the dialog, songs, and signs and revised them extensively. M74 timed. I edited and typeset. BeeBee and Nemesis QCed. The raw is a full HD web stream. I don't think it deserves such high resolution - I prefer watching it at 720p or 540p - but it's easier to downscale in a player than to upscale.

If I sound disappointed in Kasumi: Yume no Naka ni Kimi ga Ita, that's because I am. I would have liked a real continuation of the main story, carrying forward Meijou High's baseball quest in true Adachi Mitsuru fashion. Instead, it uses the trite "it was all a dream" trope to spin a yarn and then throw the whole concoction away. Still, if you'd like one last visit with Kasumi, Katsuhiko, and Yuusaku, then Kasumi: Yume no Naka ni Kimi ga Ita is your cup of tea. You can find Kasumi at the usual torrent sites or download it from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news in irc.rizon.net



Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Cleopatra Blu-ray

Here is the Orphan's third version of Tezuka Osamu's 1970 "erotic cartoon" Cleopatra. The first was based on topfh's excellent but upscaled DVD rip; the second on a high-definition web stream; and this one on the UK Blu-ray. Each version has improved over the previous one, but seven years is a long time to keep poring over the same anime. I hope this release is definitive.


I'm not going to rehash my previous blog posts about Cleopatra. It has the virtues and defects of later Tezuka Osamu "entertainments," with a lot more nudity and sex. Cleopatra is less coherent than its predecessor, Senya Ichiya Monogatari. The co-director, Yamamoto Eiichi, attributes this to Tezuka Osamu's greater involvement with the project, but the master is not around to defend himself, so it's impossible to know. It is certainly filled with Tezuka's trademark anachronisms and gags.

What's new in this version that makes it worthwhile to download and watch it yet again? Several things.
  1. The commentary track by Helen McCarthy, author of the excellent and informative The Art of Osamu Tezuka. She provides insightful comments on the movie and its individual scenes, with a strong appreciation of the beautiful artwork.
  2. The original trailer. The trailer has an extra scene not in the movie and puts the erotic content front and center, rather more than I had previously thought. Cleopatra may not be an "X-rated cartoon," but it's not just a Tezuka Osamu romp with more boobs.
  3. Remastered video and audio. I don't find either of them an improvement over the prior releases - the audio in particular is very soft - but your mileage may vary.
  4. Official subtitles.
The official subs are pretty good. I made some minor changes in the edited and styled version; the untouched subs are available as PGS.
  • "Apollodoria" rather than "Appolodoria." Although the character is fictional, the root name comes from the god Apollo, so one "p" and two "l"s.
  • Inconsistent naming. Octavianus is (mostly) shortened to the familiar form, Octavian, but Antonius isn't shortened to Anthony. I've left that as is, because it mirrors the audio track.
  • Rationalized line breaks.
  • Removal of ellipses (there are way too many).
  • American spelling and usage rather than UK spelling and usage.
Here are some comparisons between the official subs and the fansubs on the script's "tricky bits."
  •  6:00 - the Pasatorine words for the Cleopatra Plan. The official subs assume it's nonsense and translate it as "Beges Do Manto."  I agonized over finding any meaning and eventually came up with "Deces d'amant," as though it were mispronounced French, meaning "death of the loved one."
  • 12:45 - The Mayor's flowery greeting is literally "Lord Caesar, child of the sun." The official subs have a nifty pun, "Caesar, Son of the Sun." The fansubs are simply "the Great Lord Caesar." 
  • 16:20 - Apollodoria lists the attributes a woman must have to attract Caeaar. The official subs are explicit and crude: "She will need to be naturally tight, with the skills of a prostitute." The fansubs are indirect: "She must have both natural talent and consummate techniques."
  • 22:57 - A well-known quote by Namikoshi Tokujirou. See http://www.shiatsu-london.net/whatisshiatsu.html. The official subs say "The Art of Shiatsu"; the fansubs, "The heart of finger massage."
  • 29:02 - Caesar's exclamation at finding Cleopatra in the bag is literally, "Ah, says the surprised Tamegorou!" ("アッ驚く為五郎). This is Hana Hajime's catchphrase from a 1969-1970 TV variety show 『巨泉×前武ゲバゲバ90分!』; and Hana Hajime is the voice actor playing Caesar. "Tamegorou" is a character from a story Hana liked. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJh-FJXynzM. The official subs use a contemporary (to 1970) reference with "Sock it to me!" The fansubs are "Great gods of the heavens!"
  • 41:20 - In order to break Ionius, Pothinus orders his men to gang rape Libya. The official subs emphasize the brutality: "Do it until she's torn!" The fansubs are more circumspect: "Do it until she faints!"
  • 1:17:45 - Literally, "You can't get hemorrhoids without touching your ass." The start of some truly terrible punning, in Japanese and both English scripts. The official subs use "No butts, no glory hole." The fansubs are "No butts touched, no piles gained."
  • 1:17:50- Literally, "You can't catch a tiger cub without entering a tiger's lair." Official subs: "But it's 'No guts, no glory.'" Fansubs: "You mean, 'Nothing ventured, nothing gained.'"
  • 1:17:53 - Literally, "There's still the ass." "Ketsu" by itself means "ass"; tiger's lair is "koketsu." Official subs: "But nothin'!" Fansubs: "But you still gain something!"
  • 1:21:20 -  Literally, "I mean, mine's just a tiny one with a compact vehicle license," meaning the Japanese license for engines of 360cc or below. Official subs: "Mine's a compact car." Fansubs: "I mean, mine's just a tiny subcompact."
  • 1:21:24 - Literally, "Caesar's was a dump truck with a special license." Official subs: "Caesar's was a dump truck\Nthat required a special license!" Fansubs: ""Caesar's was a huge 100-ton dump truck."
  • 1:23:43 - "The word i-impossible is not in my dictionary." A real quote from Napoleon, to match the onscreen image. Identical in both scripts.
  • 1:27:26 - Here, the official subs ignore a pun on makase (leave it to me) versus Marcus. The official subs are the prosaic, "Leave this war to me, Marcus Antonius!" The fansubs have, "Big battles are a walk in the park for Big Mark!"
  • Ending song - "Guerilla, Guevera, Gewalt." "Gebaruto" means violence. To keep the alliteration, the German term for violence, "gewalt," is used in both scripts.
Helen McCarthy takes exception to the translation of the puns at 1:17:50, but I think the localizations work well. The greater explicitness of the official subs is perhaps more in tune with current times.

Tezuka loved his Easter eggs, and manga cameos and pop culture references dot the movie:

  • At 11:44, the spectators include Tensai Bakabon, Dame Oyaji, Osamatsu-kun.
  • At 34:24, the spectators include Fugata Sazae from Sazae-san and Hige Oyaji from Tezuka's Star System.
  • At 14:49, the ninja is Kamui, from Sanpei Shirato's manga of the same name.
  • At 1:26:40, the messenger is Rat-man from GeGeGe no Kitarou.
  • At 1:30:56, the fighter is Kagemaru from Sanpei Shirato's Ninja Bugeichou .
  • At 1:33:44, Anthony's incapacity as a result of his addiction is symbolized by a brief shot (14 frames) of the stylized logo from Otto Preminger's 1955 addiction drama, The Man with the Golden Arm.
Japanese anime continued to be blasé about copyrights into the 1980s, but eventually real brand- and character references were banished.

Orphan's fansubs are the default subtitles. The official subs are included in two versions: untouched PGS and edited and styled. Thus, the movie has six tracks:
  1. Video (default).
  2. Japanese audio (default).
  3. English commentary audio.
  4. English fansubs (default).
  5. Edited and typeset English official subs.
  6. Original PGS official subs.
The trailer has only four tracks: video (default), Japanese audio (default), edited and typeset official subs (default), and PGS official subs.

For this release, M74 obtained the Blu-ray, ripped and OCRed the official subtitles, and encoded the movie and the trailer. ninjacloud retimed the fansubs and the trailer; Yogicat retimed the official subs. I edited the official subs and the trailer and typeset (mostly in the trailer). BeeBee QCed the edited official subs. The fansub credits are unchanged.

So here's the Blu-ray version of Cleopatra. Even if you found a previous version sufficient, you'll still want this version for the trailer and the commentary track. You can get the release from the usual torrent site or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.

Discotek has licensed Cleopatra for U.S. distribution. The Blu-ray is scheduled to be released in March. Please support their ongoing efforts to rescue titles from the back catalog by buying the Blu-ray when it's available. I will!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

2019 in Review

After three years of continuous project growth, Orphan cut back this year. Many people on staff, particularly the translators and encoders, were snatched up by that dread event called Real Life; others retired or went missing or comatose. Still, there were quite a few interesting releases this year, ranging from a children's classic (Manxmouse) to epic historical drama (the Sangokushi movies).

Orphan Fansubs

Orphan's original projects for 2019 were:
  1. Majo Demo Steady. A sexy sci-fi comedy. Laserdisc encode.
  2. Eguchi Hisashi no Nantoka Narudesho! The second (and much worse) of Eguchi Hisashi's anthology shows. Hard to watch and harder to unsee. Laserdisc encode.
  3. Tezuka Osamu's Tales from the Old Testament: In the Beginning, episodes 1-6. Tezuka Osamu's take on the Bible, featuring substantial textual liberties and a lot of cute animals. DVD encode.
  4. DAYS: Touin Gakuensen. The true continuation of the DAYS TV series, documenting a high-tension match between rival teams. DVD encode. 
  5. Maze Movie promo. The Maze movie is probably lost forever; only this tantalizing fragment remains. Laserdisc encode. 
  6. Fukuyama Gekijou - Natsu no Himitsu. A charming anthology of stories for children, ranging from comedic to poignant. Laserdisc encode. 
  7. Oedo wa Nemurenai! The last of the Margaret shoujo OVAs, and by far the best. Set in the Shogunate era, it tells a fast-moving tale of a intrigue and romance. VHS encode. 
  8. Akatsuki no Yona OADs. The concluding episodes (alas) of Yona on anime, providing the background of Zeno, the last of the four dragons to be introduced in the TV series. DVD encode; joint with FFF.
  9. Manxmouse. The Paul Gallico children's classic about a misshapen ceramic mouse that comes to life and ventures off to see the world. Laserdisc encode.
  10. Amaama to Inazuma. An utterly charming slice-of-life series about a widowed father of a six-year-old girl, and their joint quest to escape an endless fate of store-bought meals. BD encode; joint with Godless Fansubs.
  11. Sangokushi Daiichibu Eiyuu-tachi no Yoake. The first movie in the Sangokushi trilogy, documenting Cao Cao's rise to power. DVD encode.
  12. Sangokushi Dai Ni Bu Choukou Moyu! The second movies in the Sangokushi trilogy, covering the events leading up to and immediately following the Battle of Red Cliffs. DVD encode.
  13. Tezuka Osamu Ga Kieta?! 20 Seiki Saigo no Kaijiken. A tribute to the godfather of manga, bringing together his most famous characters to solve a mystery. DVD encode.
  14. Sangokushi Dai San Bu Harukanaru Taichi. The final installment in the Sangokushi trilogy, covering the deaths of the major protagonists and the continuing stalemate in the battle for supremacy in China. DVD encode.
  15. Let's Nupu Nupu. A series of racy comedy shorts more or less centered around an inept talking cat. Laserdisc encode; joint with Beatrice-Raws. 
  16. AWOL Compression Remix. A ragtag team of specialists from the Allied planets must defeat a seemingly unstoppable terrorist organization. Laserdisc encode. 
  17. Hiatari Ryoukou 25-48. The completion of Adachi Mitsuru's classic slice-of-life romcom-with-baseball from the 1980s. DVD encode; joint with ray=out.
  18. Karuizawa Syndrome. A sexy, slice-of-life seinen show about a happy-go-lucky photographer and the women in his life. DVD encode.
The availability of new sources, as well as Orphan's significantly improved transcription capability for analog media, resulted in a record number of reissues:
  1. Hashire Melos v2. A new encode, with proper scaling and better color equalization. Laserdisc source.
  2. Tomoe's Run (v3?).  A new encode, at the proper frame rate, using the Domesday Duplicator. Laserdisc source.
  3. Singles v2. A new encode, based on an uncompressed VHS capture. The improvement over the original ARR capture is significant.
  4. Meisou-ou Border v2. A new encode, based on an uncompressed VHS capture. The improvement over the previous capture is amazing.
  5. Boyfriend OVA. This is the "full length" version of Boyfriend, two parts totaling 110 minutes, versus the 94 minute TV special. New material and a vastly improved encode. Laserdisc source.
  6. Al Caral no Isan v2. A new encode, using the Domesday Duplicator. Laserdisc source.
  7. Tsuki ga Noboru made ni v2. A new encode, using the Domesday Duplicator. Laserdisc source; a substantial improvement over the VHS raw used previously.
  8. Ultra Nyan (theatrical version). A new encode, using the Domesday Duplicator. Laserdisc source.
A big shout-out to our intrepid media maven, for setting up the media transcription capability in Japan, and to Erik of Piyo Piyo Productions, for his continual help and support. I also want to thank the Arutha foundation, which has hosted all of Orphan's releases on IRC. 

The Audio Side

Orphan released a lot of audio projects this year. Unless otherwise indicated, the sources were CDs and were ripped by Orphan's intrepid media maven.
  1. Majo demo Steady image album.
  2. Fukyuyama Theater original soundtrack.
  3. Oedo wa Nemurenai! original soundtrack.
  4. Singles original soundtrack.
  5. Kiss wa Me ni Shite original soundtrack. 
  6. Oshare Kozou wa Hanamaru original soundtrack.
  7. Capricorn image album.
  8. Project A-Ko 2 expanded soundtrack. Laserdisc source (Pony Canyon dual disc).
  9. Boyfriend OP/ED single.
  10. Hashire Melos ED single.
  11. Boyfriend original soundtrack.
  12. POPS original soundtrack.
  13. Tomoe ga Yuku! music collection.
  14. AWOL original soundtrack.
  15. A-Girl original soundtrack (from Meisen).
  16. Fighting Beauty Wulong OP/ED collection.
  17. Majo demo Steady original soundtrack. Laserdisc source (Pony Canyon dual disc).
This shows where most of my media budget was spent this year...

Work for Other Groups

There seems to be less each year.
  • Frozen-EviL. I continued to edit the Blu-Ray version of Yawara!
  • Saizen. I continued to edit and typeset Laughing Salesman.
  • Soldado. I QCed this year's Ninku releases. I'm actually finished, but the last five episodes haven't been released yet.
  • Kiteseekers. I finished typesetting Idol Densetsu Eriko... and right glad I am about that.
Laughing Salesman continues to be a useful diversion; I find its exceedingly dark humor appropriate for the times. The end is in sight, and the team is doubling back to redo the first 25 episodes in HD. Yawara! continues to be fun, and I'm getting to see all the episodes I missed by coming in at the middle of the story in the DVD project.

Favorites of 2019

I'm not an anime critic, 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.

My choices this year, in alphabetical order, are: 
  • Dororo. Although this seems to violate my preference for shows without violence, I simply could not look away. This updating of the Tezuka Osamu classic improves on the source material while remaining faithful to the master's humanistic spirit.
  • Doukyonin wa Hiza, Tokidoki, Atama no Ue. (My Roommate Is a Cat.) Well, it has cats, so need I say more? In fact, it's a remarkably complex story about how the interaction between a damaged man and his wary feline helps heal them both.
  • Fukigen na Mononokean: Tsuzuki. A totally unexpected sequel to a modest fantasy series that I really enjoyed. It was wonderful to see Abeno, Ashiya, and of course Fuzzy, again.
  • GeGeGe no Kitaro (2018). Still running after two years, and consistently excellent. It's made me look at earlier incarnations of the franchise, none of which, alas, are completely subbed.
  • Kanata no Astra. A damned near perfect space opera. Not ponderous like Legend of the Galactic Heroes, not totally goofy like Hoshi Neko Full House, it blends adventure, danger, comedy, and camaraderie perfectly.
  • Kono oto Tomare! A sports anime of sorts, but laser-focused on its characters rather than the typical shounen challenges.
  • Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin. Another supernatural sleeper that hit it out of the park, despite limited production values. A humanist take on human-youkai relations, rather more optimistic than GeGeGe no Kitarou.
  • Sarazanmai. This show that grabbed my interest from the opening frames and never let go. I did not like Ikuhara Kunihiko's previous series; I found them pretentious and depressing. This one has all of Ikuhara's trademark idiosyncrasies, but it tells a coherent and compelling story despite (because of?) the quirks.
I don't have any honorable mentions, but my Guilty Pleasure list is filled with detective shows, including anything with Tsuda Kenjirou, like Cop Craft and Special 7. And I liked the short series Yatogame-chan Kansatsu Nikki, for no discernible reason.

I know I should watch a broader range of anime. I'm missing out on terrific shows like Vinland Saga, Mix, and Beastars, but I Yam What I Yam - a confirmed old curmudgeon and likely to remain so. At least this way, I don't have to watch isekai or idol shows.

Looking Ahead

Orphan Fansubs will continue to focus on The Shows That Time Forgot, probably at a slower pace than before. There's no shortage of good material to work on, and interesting raws are more abundant than ever; but qualified staff is in short supply. If you're a translator, encoder, QC, or yes, even an editor or typesetter, with an interest in the back catalog, please get in touch. We're a harmonious group of cats, if a bit old-fashioned; a team without Discord, so to speak.

Thanks, everyone - both team members and fans. Have a happy and safe 2020.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Karuizawa Syndrome

Here's another OVA with a bit of a checkered past, 1985's Karuizawa Syndrome. As originally made, it included live-action sequences of nude AV models. The sequences had nothing much to do with the actual story, and as a result, the OVA was rather poorly received. An anime-only version was released on VHS in 1986, and amazingly, it crossed the analog-digital divide and got a DVD release in 2002. That's the version Orphan used for this release. Sorry, AV fans.

Karuizawa Syndrome tells the story of Aizawa Kohei, former leader of the biker gang Deep, now turned freelance photographer specializing in nudes. (Maybe that was the justification for the live-action sequences.) Kohei has nothing much more on his mind than having fun and getting laid. He and his best bud Matsunama Sumio hoped to bum their way across the U.S. in a jeep, but that fell through. Now the pair, flat broke, are forced to flee creditors in Tokyo and take shelter in Karuizawa (a mountain resort town in Nagano province) with Sumio's sister Kaoru, who is also Kohei's childhood friend. There, Kohei meets a number of other women, including Kuonji Noriko (known as Non), the former leader of a girls' biker gang. She's brought Kunoshita Kumiko with her, in hopes of settling the score with Deep, whose members gang-raped Kumiko's older sister and drove her to suicide. Also in the picture are the proprietor of the local coffee shop La Cuca, the proprietor's sister, Minowa Milk, a local girl named Tsunoda Eri, and the current leader of Deep, Onda Jiro. Kohei tries to score with anything female, succeeds with both Non and Kaoru, and apparently gets both of them pregnant. (Non's actually just late.) The stress causes Kohei to flee the scene and take up with one of his models, Yukari, but she's sick of her aimless life and intends to return home and get married. Kohei realizes that he can't continue drifting. He returns to Karuizawa and Kaoru, apparently ready for a steadier relationship... maybe.

It's hard to characterize Karuizawa Syndrome; perhaps it's best described as a seinen slice-of-life. There's comedy, there's angst, there's drama, and there's lots of nudity and sex. However, all the sex scenes are done with super-deformed (chibi) characters - a stylistic decision that seems weird at first but that helps to keep the scenes light and frothy.


The character designs are also a mix of realistic and chibi styles. The younger siblings (Sumio and Kumiko) are drawn as chibis, with massive mops of hair, making them look about eight years old. In fact, they're both grown-ups.

The voice cast is a who's who of 1980s seiyuu stalwarts, and there's a staggering amount of overlap with previous Orphan releases:
  • Shiozawa Kaneto (Kohei) played Shin in Hiatari Ryoukou, Iason in Ai no Kusabi, Rock Holmes in Fumoon, Shiina in Chameleon, Sanzou in I am Son Goku, and Kurahashi Eiji in Nine, all Orphan releases. He also played Joe in Tokimeki Tonight, Yoshio in Miyuki, Takeshi in Touch, D in Vampire Hunter D, Narsus in Arslan Senki OVA, Rosario in Dragon Half, and Abriel senior in Crest of the Stars.
  • Toda Keiko (Noriko Kuonji, Non) played Hitomi in Cat's Eye, Iczer-2 in Iczer-One, Blinky in Fushigi ga Koala Blinky, Kitarou in Gegege no Kitarou (1985), Nina in High School Agent, Kiki in the Kiki no Lala series, Anpanman in the Anpanman franchise, Karara in Space Runaway Ideon, Sophia in A Wind Named Amnesia, Kate Jackson in Bavi Stock, and Eterna in Hoshi Neko Full House. The last two are Orphan releases.
  • Sakakibara Yoshiko (Kaoru) played Sybil in Black Magic M-66, Sylvia Stingray in Bubblegum Crisis/Crash, Sir Integra Hellsing in both versions of Hellsing, Paula in Condition Green, Melinda Hearst in Dallos, and Mimau in Greed. The last three are Orphan releases.
  • Matsuya Yuji (Sumio) played Margu in God Mars, Tatsuya in Touch, Pen Pen in Mr. Penpen, Kouji in Kiteretsu Daihyakka, Irabu in Kuuchuu Buranko, Jecy in Hi-Speed Jecy, Yuusaku in Hiatari Ryoukou, and Daisuke in Stop!! Hibari-kun. The last three are Orphan releases.
  • Tsuru Hiromi (Milk) debuted as Perrine in Perrine Monogatari. She went on to play Kashima Miyuki in Miyuki, Madoka in Kimagure Orange Road, Barge in Blue Sonnet, and Mikami Reiko in Ghost Sweeper Mikami. She also played Keiko in Hiatari Ryoukou, Nozomi in Nozomi Witches, Jill in A Penguin's Memories, UFO-chan in Dokushin Apartment Dokudami-sou, and big sister Shizuka in Tomoe's Run!, all Orphan releases.
  • Tanaka Hideyuki (La Cuca's manager, Minowa Takanari) played Terryman in the Kinnikuman franchise and Rayearth in Magic Knight Rayearth. He also played Harmer in Al Caral no Isan, Sammy in Bavi Stock, Sawamura in Nozomi Witches, Ronron in Greed, Aoto in Oedo ga Nemurenai!, Katze in Ai no Kusabi, and Ma Su, Fengji's lover, in Sangokushi 3, all Orphan releases.
  • Tominaga Miina (Eri) played Ritsu in Fruits Basket (2002), Persia in Magical Fairy Persia, Rollpanna in the Anpanman franchise, Misaki in Tsuritama, Muuma in Bavi Stock, Hikaru in Chameleon (2-6), Kamiya in Tokimeki Tonight, and Karen in Yuukan Club. The last four are Orphan releases.
  • Hironaka Masashi (Jiro) played Ihika in Yousei-Ou and Kazusa in Tomoe's Run!, both Orphan releases, as well as Siegfried in Legend of the Galactic Heroes
  • Ogata Kenichi (Jiro's father) played the put-upon father in Gosenzosama Banbanzai! and Maroko, as well as Smee in Peter Pan no Bouken and, most recently, Gran Torino in Boku no Hero Academia. He played the Lord of Kaga and narrator in Oedo ga Nemurenai!, the governor in Akuemon, the crooked casino boss in Okane ga Nai!, the Hong Kong chef in Yuukan Club, and the ruthless rival cyborg in Kigyou Senshi Yamazaki: Long Distance Call, all Orphan releases. However, he's best known to me as the voice of Ranma 1/2's Sataome Gemna, whose alter ego - the grumpy panda - is my avatar on most anime forums.
  • Miyuki Sanae (Kumiko) played Lynn in Lady Lady!! and  Botan in Yu Yu Hakusho. She also played Namiko in Akai Hayate, the Star Cat in Hoshi Neko Full House, and Kotetsu in Oedo wa Nemurenai!, all Orphan releases.
  • Yokozawa Keiko (Yukari, the model) is probably best known for her starring role as Sheeta in Castle in the Sky. She played the title roles in Charlotte (1977), the Dorami-chan properties, and ESPer Mami, as well as leading roles in Plastic Little and Legend of Lemnear. She also played Pandora in Akuma-tou no Prince Mitsume ga Tooru, an Orphan release.
  • Yamada Keaton (Naruse Dai, head of the modeling agency) played the narrator in Master Keaton, Kanako's father in Boyfriend, and Xun Yu in Sangokushi 1 and 2. The last two are Orphan releases.
The director, Nishikubo Mizuho, also helmed Miyuki, Purple Eyes in the Dark (an Orphan release), and most recently, Giovanni's Island. The music is by Kazato Shinsuke, who also wrote the scores for Urusei Yatsura, the Kinnikuman franchise, and Legend of the Galactic Heroes (OVA version).

A few translation notes:
  • After Kaoru loses her virginity with Kohei, she makes an enormous breakfast, including red bean rice. That dish is a dead giveaway to her friends, because it's often used to celebrate a significant milestone in a woman's life.
  • When Milk is wondering why Kohei is so popular, she uses the word kei-haku-tan-sho, which refers to a trend in consumer products for "smaller, lighter, better." Kohei mishears it as houkei tansho, meaning "small and uncut."
  • Milk tries to teach Kumiko to resist Kohei's advances with the phrase, "I want to have a platonic relationship." Kumoko mishears "platonic" as "plastic" and proceeds to mangle the phrase totally, producing "I want to halve a plastic relay stripper."
  • Eri tells Kaoru that Non is also pregnant by Kohei; this seems to precipitate Kaoru's miscarriage. Eri isn't messing with Kaoru. The manga makes it clear Eri hadn't heard that Non's pregnancy was a false alarm.
Moho Kareshi did the original translation. convexity checked the dialog and signs and translated the songs. ninjacloud timed, I did editing and typesetting, and Nemesis and VigorousJammer did QC. The encode is by fong, from an R2J DVD. The raw includes a six-minute promo at the end.

So Orphan is ending 2019 on the same note as it began, with an ecchi OVA. (Our first release of the year was Majo Demo Steady.) I quite enjoyed Karuizawa Syndrome, although it's a bit dated in its attitudes. It's available from the usual torrent sites as well as IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.




Sunday, December 8, 2019

Hiatari Ryoukou

Every now and then, I remember that Orphan Fansubs was started to complete series  abandoned (orphaned) by other groups. Simultaneous streaming has reduced the likelihood of abandoned series, so the original mission has been complemented, or perhaps overtaken, by a focus on shows stranded on the wrong side of the analog-digital divide. However, I do keep an eye on my "orphan series list," and occasionally an opportunity arises to check one off. Here, without further ado, is Hiatari Ryoukou. 

Hiatari Ryoukou (48 episodes, 1987-1988) was the fourth of Adachi Mitsuru's manga to be adapted for anime, and his fourth baseball rom-com, following Miyuki, the much shorter Nine, and the much longer Touch. It took over Touch's TV slot, thereby providing Japanese audiences with three continuous years of Adachi Mitsuru.  It bears more of a resemblance to Nine than to Touch, but it has many of the same stock Adachi character types and plot situations.


The Hiatari Ryoukou project began in ray=out in 2012. I was asked to edit on a freelance basis. The project struggled to maintain a consistent release cadence: an initial set of releases in 2012, almost nothing in 2013, a burst up to episode 24 in 2014, and since then, nothing, even though the basic script work - translation, timing, editing, encoding - was finished in early 2014. (I documented my frustrations with the project in this blog post.) Well, the wait is now over. Starting just after Labor Day, I went back to the Hiatari Ryoukou scripts, revisited the editing, typeset where necessary, and asked the Orphan team to help with additional translation and QC. It took just about three months to get everything in reasonable shape. So here, at long last, are the final 24 episodes of Hiatari Ryoukou. I have not revisited the first 24 episodes, nor do I intend to, but they are included in the batch for convenience.

Hiatari Ryoukou is as standard an Adachi Mitsuru story as you can imagine. Kishimoto Kasumi lives in her aunt's boarding house with four (male) students from Meijou, her high school: Takasugi Yuusaku (the good-natured one), Ariyama Takashi (the heavy one), Mikimoto Shin (the conceited one), and Aido Makoto (the invisible one). She has an older boyfriend, Muraki Katsuhiko, who is often off the scene, in college in America. Yuusaku, Ariyama, and Shin all end up playing for Meijou's fairly pathetic high-school baseball team, which is managed by Kasumi's friend Seki Keiko. Shin and Ariyama have a yen for Keiko. Yuusaku, although attracted to Kasumi, believes that he should defer to Katsuhiko, particularly when the latter returns to coach the Meijou team. The messy romantic relationships overlap with the baseball team's quest to become contenders and reach Koshien. Stir and repeat for 48 episodes. It's lighthearted fun. However, the ending is very rushed and abrupt, and the baseball side of the story is never resolved.

The voice cast includes many veterans of Adachi Mitsuru world, as well as some newcomers.
  • Morio Yumi (Kasumi) played Akimoto Reiko in the long-running Kochikame franchise.
  • Mitsuya Yuuji (Yuusaku) played Tatsuya (the lead, a Yuusaku clone) in Touch, Pen Pen in Mr. Penpen, Kouji in Kiteretsu Daihyakka, Irabu in Kuuchuu Buranko, Jecy in Hi-Speed Jecy, Seki in Majo demo Steady, and Daisuke in Stop!! Hibari-kun. The last three are Orphan releases.
  • Shiozawa Kaneto (Shin) played Iason in Ai no Kusabi, Rock Holmes in Fumoon, Shiina in Chameleon, Sanzou in I am Son Goku, and Kurahashi Eiji, the ace pitcher, in Nine, all Orphan releases. He also played Joe in Tokimeki Tonight, Yoshio in Miyuki, Takeshi in Touch, D in Vampire Hunter D, Narsus in Arslan Senki OVA, Rosario in Dragon Half, and Abriel senior in Crest of the Stars.
  • Hayashiya Kobuhei (Ariyama) is a Humanities professor and rakugo artist. His anime credits include Koutarou (the Ariyama clone) in Touch and Yoichi in the Kochikame franchise.
  • Tsuru Hiromi (Keiko) debuted as Perrine in Perrine Monogatari. She went on to play Kashima Miyuki in Miyuki, Madoka in Kimagure Orange Road, Barge in Blue Sonnet, and Mikami Reiko in Ghost Sweeper Mikami. She also played Nozomi in Nozomi Witches, Jill in A Penguin's Memories, UFO-chan in Dokushin Apartment Dokudami-sou, and big sister Shizuka in Tomoe's Run!, all Orphan releases.
The chief director, Sugii Gisaburou, needs no introduction to readers of this blog. His many credits include other Adachi Mitsuru series (Touch and Nine); Nozomi Witches and Hidamari no Ki (both Orphan projects); and several recent movies. The songs are by various artists, including Serizawa Hiraoki, who did many of the songs for Nine. Just to emphasize the continuity, the last insert song in Hiatari Ryoukou is a variation on Midsummer Runner, the ending song for Nine.

This completion of Hiatari Ryoukou retains the styling decisions (dialog and song styles, the use of honorifics, the inconsistent romanization of long vowels) from the ray=out episodes. Compared to the state of the scripts in 2014, the main changes are:
  • Translation of missing lines and more signs.
  • Translation checking on the insert songs.
  • An additional editing pass.
  • Timing cleanup.
  • Additional QC. 
  • Wider horizontal margins and more frequent line breaks.
  • Typesetting with motion capture to compensate for image instability.
The credits for these 24 episodes are a bit complicated. Athanor provided the DVD raws. For ray=out, AgitoAkito encoded, tacokichi translated, nollarg timed, alchemist11 styled, and first Saji and then Samika did QC through episode 38. For Orphan, I edited, checked, and typeset, Nemesis did QC, and Skr, Iri, and convexity translated missing lines and signs. convexity translation checked the insert songs.

With the success of Mix, Adachi Mitsuru is experiencing another revival, and several of his properties have shown up in high-definition on Japanese streaming sites. Mostly, they look like upscales - sometimes laserdisc upscales - but we can always hope for remastered versions done from original sources. In the meantime, here's Hiatari Ryoukou. You can get the episodes from the usual torrent site or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.