Orphan's presents a new English release of the 1990 sword-and-sorcery OVA Onna Senshi Efe & Jira: Gude no Monshou (Woman Warriors Efe & Jira: The Emblem of Gude), more succinctly and familiarly known as Gude Crest. It is based on the first volume (The Three Meteors of Grafton) of a fantasy novel series by Hikawa Reiko. However, there is a problem.
The problem is not the story. It's a serviceable, if not exactly original, fantasy plot, set on another world (probably not Fantasy Island) whose backstory is painstakingly described in voice-over narration that runs on far too long. When the story finally starts, we are introduced to our heroines: Efere (Efe), a failed mage, and Jiliora (Jira), a runaway princess from the Muarl Empire. Even though they are fierce mercenaries, they have been captured and are chained up in a slave ship, bound for an unknown but presumably none too happy fate. Fortunately, their factotum, Orin ("the last survivor of the Enchanted Race" - an elf?), has sneaked aboard as well. He breaks them loose, and the two warriors make their escape. Another young captive begs them to take him as well, but he is fatally wounded in the ensuing melee with the slavers. He gives them a mysterious crest before dying. Efe and Jira find out that the crest is a dreamstone, showing the state of the Grafton triplets, Princess Rubiella and her brothers Yurion and the now deceased Kirian. Efe and Jira decide they must return the crest to the surviving siblings.
Unfortunately, the two remaining siblings are hostages in Forda, a powerful country with a strong magical religion, the cult of the Supreme Mother. Efe and Jira attempt a rescue but are taken captive, not just by evil Baron Celdion of Forda but also by equally evil Prince Shardon of Muarl - who just happens to be Jira's estranged fiance. Sword fights, daring escapes, out of body experiences, and a final confrontation with the Supreme Mother await Efe and Jira before they can extricate themselves from their dire situation. There's plenty of 90s violence and a little 90s gratuitous nudity to liven things up further.
No, the story is not the problem. And ADV's R1 translation isn't a deal-breaker either. It's terse, overly localized, and liberal, like many R1 translations, particularly the ADV translations of this era. Still, it has been thoroughly checked and corrected where necessary. It gets the essential points across without distorting the underlying meaning too far.
So if it's not the story or the translation, then what's the problem? The answer is: the source. According to Orphan's Intrepid Media Maven™, Gude Crest is the worst laserdisc source he's ever seen: interlaced, frame blended, jerky; impossible to correct. Intrepid did his best by encoding the laserdisc at 60fps. This smoothed out the jerkiness but exacerbated the blending, particularly at scene boundaries. It's not all that visible during viewing, but it looks bad frame-by-frame. Still, the team persevered, and now it's ready. The trailer - never subbed before - is just fine.
The voice cast includes:
- Ikura Kazue (Jiliora) is best known for the roles of Makimura Kaori in City Hunter, Toraou in Mashin Eiyuuden Wataru, Natsume Ryuunosuke in All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku, and Leni Milchstrasse in Sakura Wars. She also appeared in Sei Michaela Gakuen Hyouryuuki and 15 Shounen Hyouryuuki, both Orphan releases.
- Matsui Naoko (Efera) played Wato-san in Mitsume ga Tooru and Tezuka Osamu ga Kieta?!, both Orphan releases. She played the title role in Compiler, Uru Chie in High School! Kimengumi, Katsumi Liqueur in Silent Mobius, Run Run in Mahoujin Guru Guru, Roux Louka in Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, Suzuki Sonoko in Case Closed, Juushimatsu in Osomatsu-kun (1988), Marian in Robin Hood no Daibouken, and Matsu in Nobunaga no Shinobi.
- Ginga Banjo (Baron Celdion) is a veteran voice actor. He played the title role in 80 Days Around the World with Willy Fog, Baloo in The Jungle Book, and Tohtsuki chairman Nakiri Senzaemon in the Shokugeki no Souma franchise. He also played the title role in Oruorane the Cat Player, Ekuna in Amon Saga, and the head chef at Bongo in Ipponbouchou Mantarou, and he appeared in the two What's Michael? OVAs. All are Orphan releases.
- Touma Yumi (Kirian/Yurion) played the title roles in Emma: A Victorian Romance and Baby Felix and Urd in the Aa! Megami-sama franchise. She appeared in numerous Orphan releases, including Boyfriend, Condition Green, Fukuyama Gekijou, Tezuka Osamu ga Kieta?!, and Eguchi Hisashi no Nantoko Nareudesho.
- Asami Junko (Rubiella) appeared in numerous h-anime, including 1+2 = Paradise, Adventure Kid, Battle Team Lakers EX, Countdown Akira, Demon Beast Invasion, Doukyuusei Climax (an Orphan release), Dragon Knight, End of Summer, Midnight Panther, Nightmare Campus, Rance, Twin Angels, Twin Dolls, Urotsukidoji II, and Venus 5. She also appeared in Every Day Is Sunday and Eien no Filena, both Orphan releases.
- Hayami Shou (Shargan) starred as Nanjou in Zetsuai: 1989 and Bronze: Zetsuai since 1989, and Kushinige Hodaka in Oshare Kozou wa Hanamaru. He also played an angel in Tezuka Osamu's Tales of the Old Testament, Exper Kain in Exper Zenon, Iason's friend Raoul in Ai no Kusabi, Hojo in Sanctuary, Pat Leivy in Starship Troopers, Junoichi in Blazing Transfer Student, and Seichii in Mikoneko Holmes. All of these shows are Orphan releases.
- Yajima Akiko (Orin) played the title role in Idol Densetsu Eriko and Crayon Shin-chan, Pino in Ergo Proxy, Takami in Geobreeders, Chinami in Sepaphim Call, Tsubasa in Figure 17, Asumi in Twin Spica, Kintoki in Garo, Kohaku in Inuyasha, Mipple in the Precure franchise, Kogitsune in Natsume Yuujinchou, Lesser (Red) Panda in Shirokuma Cafe, Anna in Battle Athletes, and Angela in Kuroshitsuji. She also did some h-anime early in her career, playing Hikari in Kakyuusei (1995) and Karen in Doukyuusei 2, both Orphan releases.
- Mine Eken (Elder Gulk) played dozens of characters in Sabu to Ichi Torimono Hikae and appeared in everything from Ariel to Zou no Inai Doubutsen, including Fumoon, Perrine, and the second Sangokushi special, all Orphan releases.
- Yoshida Rihoko (Holy Mother) played Megu-chan in Majokko Megu-chan, Monsley in Future Boy Conan, Maria Grace Fleed in UFO Robo Grendizer, Michiru in Getter Robo, Clara Sesemann in Alps no Shoujo Heidi, Rosalie Lamorliere in The Rose of Versailles, Kurama in Urusei Yatsura, and Machiko in Maicchingu Machiko-sensei. She appeared in numerous other World Masterpiece Theater series, including Anne of Green Gables, Honoo no Alpen Rose, Katry the Cow Girl, Shoukoushi Cedie, Lucy May of the Southern Rainbow, Marco: 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother, Perrine, and Pollyanna. She played Diaochan in the first Sangokushi movie, an Orphan release.
The director, Kikuchi Kazuhito, also directed Samurai Gun and Saint Seiya, but he worked mostly as an episode director and storyboarder.
The subs are from the ADV R1 release. tenkenX6 translation checked the OVA and translated the theatrical trailer. ninjacloud did most of the timing, with help from Yogicat. I edited and typeset - the typesetting is all in the trailer. Nemesis and Uchuu QCed. Intrepid encoded from a Japanese laserdisc ripped on the Domesday Duplicator.
One translation note: I've rendered onna senshi as "woman warriors" rather than the more literal "female warriors." This is an homage to Maxine Hong Kingston's seminal 1976 book about the Chinese-American experience, The Woman Warrior. If it sounds ungrammatical to you, well... that's why they pay me the big bucks.
Reading through it, this blog sounds like a glass-half-empty appraisal, focusing on the flawed source. (Well, I'm a glass-half-empty kind of guy.) In fact, Gude Crest is a pretty good ride, with vivid if black-and-white characters, lots of action, and more of a bittersweet ending than is typical in this kind of anime. If you haven't seen Gude Crest, you could do a lot worse than downloading it from the usual torrent site or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news in irc.rizon.net.