Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Chameleon 5

We're seven months into a catastrophic 2022. War ranges unchecked in Ukraine. Inflation is at a forty-year high. Drought is killing the rivers in the southwestern US. The Supreme Court has taken a jackhammer to separation of church and state and to women's rights. And another episode of Chameleon is out.

Not much has changed. Pint-sized wannabe delinquent Yazawa Eisaku still tries to lord it over the hoods and girls of Narita High School. By now, his entourage accepts his pretensions either at face value or with amusement. His friend Shiina's cross-dressing brother Yu still has the hots for him. The highly dangerous Kyuu is still trying to go straight. His external rival, Matsuoka Eichi, is out of action with serious injuries received in episode 4. So the writers have to come up with new challenges, namely, younger (but still bigger) hoods from Narita Fifth Public Middle School.

The plot is predictable. The middle school students see challenging and/or killing Yazawa (who is shorter than they are) as a way of burnishing their reputations as tough guys. Yazawa tries to avoid getting sliced and diced by arranging for his friends to do the actual fighting. Even though Yazawa's plans always go awry, he gets out of dangerous situations by sheer luck or cowardly cunning and emerges with his reputation as "a man among men" intact or even enhanced. Rinse and repeat.

Chameleon reminds me of The Flashman Papers, a series of historical novels by George MacDonald Frasier. It chronicles the purported adventures of Harry Flashman (the bullying villain of Tom Brown's School Days), rake, gambler, and coward. Flashman flounders his way through Victorian England, achieving a totally undeserved reputation for bravery and dash. The series was fun at first, but the shtick quickly became repetitious and then boring. Chameleon has the same problem. Yazawa doesn't wear well as a central character. But readers know how I feel about the series by now.

I summarized the main voice cast in the blog post for Chameleon 3. Episode 5 introduces some new characters, namely, the gang leaders in Fifth Narita Middle School:

  • Miki Shinichiro (Niiya) played Kojiro in Pokemon, Fujiwara Takumi in Initial D, Urahara Kisuke in Bleach, Minamoto no Yorihisa in Haruka Naru Toki no Nake de, Shintarou in Lime-iro Senkitan, Bruce Wayne in Batman: Gotham Knight, Roy Mustang in Full Metal Alchemist (2009), Katze in Ai no Kusabi (2012), and Gintarou in Gingitstune. He also played Johnny in Jikuu Bouken Nuumamonjaa, John Bishop (the sharpshooter) in AWOL Compression Remix, Minamoto no Yoritada in Haruka Naru Toki no Naka de 2, and Cyber-X in Hand Maid May, all Orphan releases.
  • Horikawa Ryou (Kaoru) played Shutendou in Shuten Douji, Vegeta in Dragon Ball, Naoto in Slow Step, Anthony Brown in Candy Candy, Reinhard in LOGH, Tadao in Ghost Sweeper Mikami, Kai in Kizuna, Shinya in Okama Report, and Andromeda in Saint Seiya. He also appeared in Hi-Speed Jecy, Lunn no Kaze, and the first two Sangokushi movies, all Orphan releases

The director, Yotsuji Takao, also wrote the script. He was involved with many other anime series, most of them obscure.

Moho Kareshi did the initial translation. laalg and later tenkenX6 translation checked. convexity and Sunachan both tried their hands at the OP/ED song. ninjacloud timed. I edited and typeset; VigorousJammer provided valuable assistance by applying laalg's translation check. Nemesis and Uchuu did QC. The raw is an ancient Internet rip (DivX505!), but there are no signs of original media on the second-hand market in Japan. 

One note: the preview contains rapidly flashing signs, which can affect some people adversely. There's a warning in the subtitles, but it doesn't hurt to mention it again.

Chameleon was wildly popular in Japan. (I have no idea why.) The manga sold more than 30 million copies and spawned sequels, a live-action movie, and a pachinko game. You can get this penultimate episode of the OVA series from the usual torrent site or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Haruka Naru Toki no Naka de 2

Haruka Naru Toki no Naka de (In a Distant Time) is an otome game franchise developed by Ruby Party. It spans at least a dozen games and has spawned multiple anime adaptations, including a TV series, several OVAs, and a movie. Haruka Naru Toki no Naka de 2: Shiroki Ryuu no Miko (In a Distant Time 2: Priestess of the White Dragon) is a three-episode OVA from 2003-2005. It adapts the second game in the series.

Haruka Naru Toki no Naka de has been described, unkindly but not inaccurately, as "cut-rate Fushigi Yuugi." All of the anime shows begin with a modern high-school girl being whisked away to a fictionalized Heian city, where she becomes the main character in a historical, reverse-harem dating sim. Her job is to assemble a team of eight noble warriors, all bishounen (natch), and unify their power to defeat evil. All of them fall under her spell, but her feelings are never revealed. Some of the shows offer eight or more alternative endings, where the heroine ends up with one of the bishounen who have danced attendance around her.

Haruka Naru Toki no Nake de 2 is no different. Takakura Karin is summoned to Kyou (fictional Heian Kyoto) by the mysterious Akram. Kyou is consumed by rivalry between the current and former emperors, and it is Karin's responsibilities to purify the land with the help of her eight guardians:

  1. Minamoto no Yoritada, Seiryuu of Heaven
  2. Taira no Katsuzane, Seiryuu of Earth
  3. Isato, Suzaku of Heaven
  4. Akifumi, Suzaku of Earth; he is the younger brother of the current Emperor and the crown prince
  5. Fujiwara no Yukitaka, Byakko of Heaven
  6. Hisui, Byakko of Earth
  7. Minamoto no Motomi, Genbu of Heaven
  8. Abe no Yasutsugu, Genbu of Earth

The Seiryuu, Suzaku, Byakko, and Genbu are the shijin, or Four Symbols, from Chinese mythology:

  • Seiryuu, the azure dragon that guards the east. Its element is wood, its season, spring.
  • Suzaku, the vermillion bird that guards the south. Its element is fire, its season, summer..
  • Byakko, the white tiger that guards the west. Its element is meta, its season, fall.
  • Genbu, the black tortoise that guards the north. Its element is water, its season, winter..

As each bishounen rallies to Karen's side, he receives a colored jewel signifying his membership in the Hachiyou ("the eight leaves"). There are other characters too, including a pair of mystical twins, Fujiwara no Misono and Fujiwara no Yukari; Kazuhito, the half-brother of the current Emperor; and Taira no Chitose, a rival Dragon Priestess. Nominally, the story is about Kazuhito's scheme to overthrow his older brother (and the current regime) using evil spirits, but the story barely has time to get started before the OVA ends.

My association with Haruka Naru Toki goes all the way back to C1, fifteen years ago. I started doing QC on the Haruka Naru Toki no Naka de: Hachiyoushou TV series and ended up editing the last ten episodes or so. One of Orphan's first formal projects, in 2010, was cleaning up the subtitles on Haruka Naru Toki no Naka de 3: Owari Naki Unmei. In 2013, M74 and I released the first English version of Haruka Naru Toki no Naka de 2: Shiroki Ryuu no Miko, based on the AnimeFreakz R2E release. The same year, Orphan released two previous untranslated specials from the Hachiyoushou TV series. That was quite enough.

Still, I've always been a bit unhappy with the original Haruka Naru Toki 2 release. The AnimeFreakz raws had multiple encoding errors. I thought that the 25fps PAL transcription might have introduced stuttering. A few years ago, I bought the R2J DVDs and took a look at them. I was in for several surprises. First, the R2J looked utterly washed out compared to the R2E encode. Second, each episode on the R2J was about 5% longer than on the R2E. Finally, the R2J had totally different opening and ending songs. These issues delayed work on the show for a few years. Finally, I found an experienced encoder to work on it. He agreed that some color correction was needed, but not as much as the R2E encode. He explained that the time discrepancy came from the mastering method: the original NTSC 23.976fps version was played at PAL standard 25fps. This made every episode run about 5% faster. Neither of us could explain, though, why the music was changed for the R2E release. In any case, he made a new encode, I wrote a program to retime the subtitles (Aegisub would have done it, but I didn't know that), and the project was off and running.

In revisiting a show from almost ten years ago, I've tried to avoid Editor's Remorse™, but I was flabbergasted by the vast number of ellipses in the show. I dislike ellipses, yet they were everywhere. When I tried to get rid of them, I realized that they are there for a reason: most of the characters... speak... very slowly... and portentously... with long pauses... in their sentences. I can't tell whether this is poor writing or the actors trying to provide some depth to their one-dimensional characters, but I've had to leave most of the ellipses in. I was unimpressed with the R2J OP and ED as well; like the R2E songs, they are generic early ought rockers with little or no relationship to the story or the setting.

Because the cast is so large, most of the characters, other than Karin and Yoritada, don't get much screen time. Still, it's a well-known crew of seiyuu:

  • Kawakami Tomoko (Takakura Karin) starred in the titles roles for Revolutionary Girl Utena, Hikaru no Go, and Chiccha na Yuki Tsukai Sugar. She also played Chiriko in Fushigi Yuugi, Kamio Misuzu in Air, Soi Fon  in Bleach, Rosette Christopher in Chrno Crusade, Yura in Futari Ecchi, Kazuma in Detective Academy Q, Akane in Harukanaru Toki no Nake de Hachiyoushou, Youko in Tactics, Linen in Lime Iro Ryuukitan Cross, Sumi in Amaenaide yo!!, and a personal favorite, Elise the irate personal assistant in Nodame Cantabile. She also played Carrot in Waza no Tabibito and Rinko in Kigyou Senshi Yamazaki: Long Distance Call, both Orphan releases.
  • Miki Shinichirou (Minamoto no Yoritada) played Kojiro in Pokemon, Fujiwara Takumi in Initial D, Urahara Kisuke in Bleach, Minamoto no Yorihisa in Haruka Naru Toki no Nake de, Shintarou in Lime-iro Senkitan, Bruce Wayne in Batman: Gotham Knight, Roy Mustang in Full Metal Alchemist (2009), Katze in Ai no Kusabi (2012), Gintarou in Gingitstune, Johnny in Jikuu Bouken Nuumamonjaa, John Bishop (the sharpshooter) in AWOL Compression Remix, and Cyber-X in Hand Maid May. The last three are Orphan releases.
  • Seki Tomokazu (Taira no Katsuzane) played Keisuke in the Initial D franchise, Kenji in the original Pokemon, Ken in Weiss Kreuz, Kyou in the original Fruits Basket, Rentarou in Futakoi Alternative, Tanaka in Genshiken, Ryuuki in Saiunkoku Monogatari, Dee in Fake, Shinya in the Psycho-Pass properties, GIlgamesh in the Fate/Stay franchise, and Suneo in many Doraemon movies. He played Yamaoka Tetsutarou in Hidamari no Ki, an Orphan release.
  • Takahashi Naozumi (Isato) played Bunta in the Prince of Tennis franchise.
  • Miyata Kouki (Akifumi) played Suzaku no Rei in Saint Beast, Daisuke in Major, Ken in Kyou Kara Maou!, Kouta in the Baka to Test franchise, and Badger, Sea Otter, and Squirrel Mama in Shirokuma Cafe, an Orphan release.
  • Nakahara Shigeru (Fujiwara no Yukitata) played the title role in Arion, Trowa Barton in Gundam Wing, and Kurama in Kyousogiga. He had featured roles in Ziggy Sore Yuke! R&R Band, Ai no Kusabi, Dragon Fist, Dokushin Apartment Doukudami-sou, Chameleon, and Neko Neko Fantasia, all Orphan releases.
  • Inoue Kazuhiko (Hisui) starred as Yamaoka Shirou in Oishinbo, Yuki Eiri in Gravitation, the title role in Cyborg 009, and my favorite role, the irascible, sake-swilling Nyanko-sensei in the Natsume Yuujichou franchise. He also played Saiki Haruka in Tobira o Akate, Iori in Tomoe's Run!, Kanuma Hayate in Akai Hayate, Ryousuke in Daishizen no Majuu Bagi, Kitten Smith in Starship Troopers, Liu Bei Xuande in both Sangokushi TV specials, Ayako in Lunn Flies into the Wind, and Nakatsugawa in Boyfriend, all Orphan releases.
  • Hoshi Souichirou (Minamoto no Motomi) played Kira Yamato in the Gundam Seed series, Sanada Yukimura in the Sengoku Basara franchise, Eisen in Hachiyoushou, Kei in Onegai Teacher, Maebera in the Higurashi franchise, Tomoki in the Soro no Otoshimoto franchise, Son Goku in the Saiyuki franchise, Shinji in the Symphogear franchise, and Nagi in Tenjou Tenge.
  • Ishida Akira (Abe no Yasutsugu) has had a storied career. He starred as Sasuke in Samurai Deeper Kyou, Chrno in Chrno Crusade, Howard in Uninhabited Planet Survive, Rion in Galerians: Rion, Komugi in Hen Zemi, and Arima in Princess Lover. He played Gaara in the Naruto franchise, Shinichi in Nana, Athrun Zala in the Gundam Seed Destiny properties, Cho Hokkai in the Saiyuuki franchise, Xellos in the Slayers franchise, Natori in the Natsume Yuujinchou franchise, Tsukasa in the Shokugei no Souma franchise, and Kuchiki in the Genshiken series. He played brother Oomori in Let's Nupu Nupu and Gordon in Fire Emblem, both Orphan releases.
  • Okiayu Ryoutarou (Akram) starred as Aoyama-kun in Keppeki Danshi! Aoyama-kun, Mitsui Hisashi in Slam Dunk, Matsura Yuu in Marmalade Boy, Jinnai Katsuhiko in the El-Hazard franchise, Nueno Meisuke in the Hell Teacher Nube series, the title roles in Gambler Densetsu Tetsuya and Toriko, Samejima Ranmaru in Kizuna, Souma Shigure in Fruits Basket (2003), Berserker in Fate/Zero, Hideyoshi in Sengoku Basara, and Atsushi in Recorder to Ransel. He also played Takao-san in Let's Nupu Nupu, Abel in Fire Emblem, and Gion in Okane ga Nai!, all Orphan releases.
  • Ootani Ikue (the Fujiwara twins, who support Karin) provided the voice of Pikachu in in the Japanese, English, Spanish, and German versions of the Pokemon shows. She also played Mitsuhiko in the Detective Conan franchise and Tony Tony Chopper in the One Piece franchise. She appeared as Ann in Next Senki Ehrgeiz and Sumire in Kiss wa Mi ni Shie, both Orphan releases.
  • Asakawa Yuu (Kazuhito) starred as Kasumi in Seraphim Call, Rei in Shin Hakkenden, Nagi in the original Boogiepop, Motoko in Love, Hina, Sakiki in Azumanga Daioh, Jura in Vandread, Tachibana in the two Gravion series, and Rider in the Fate/Stay franchise.
  • Ishii Kouji (Minamoto no Tokitomo, Kazuhito's right-hand man) played Fujisawa in the El Hazard franchise, Taiga in the GaoGaiGar franchise, Mitsukake in the Fushigi Yuugi franchise, John Blade in Sin: The Movie, Tanaka in Kachou Ouji: Hard Rock Save the Space, and Garterbelt in Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt. He also appeared as Henry Hellgate in Alice in Cyberland, and Hyman in Fire Emblem, both Orphan release.
  • Kuwashima Houko (Taira no Chitose) played the title role in Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne and Arete-Hime and starred as Sango in Inuyasha, Aoi in Infinite Ryvius, Marlene in Blue Gender, Margaret in Madlax, Kou Shuurei in the Saiunkoku Monogatari series, Yuuko in Dennou Coil, Chizuru in the Hakuoiki properties, and Warp in Kaiba. She appeared in Sensou Douwa: Aoi Hitomi no Onnako no Ohanashu and Yume Tsukai, both Orphan releases.
  • Kawamura Maria (Shirin, the dancer) played Naga the Serpent in the Slayers franchise, the title role in Fujiko Fujio A no Mumako, Eluza in the Gall Force OVAs, Interpreter in the Compiler OVAs, Luna and Tiger Lily in Peter Pan no Bouken, and Kate in Hitomi no Naka no Shounen: 15 Shounen Hyouryuuki, an Orphan release.
The actors appeared in many of the other Haruka Naru Toki shows and many video games as well. The director, Tsunaki Aki, directed several other Haruka Naru Toki shows.
For the original release, M74 translated and timed, starting with the German language subtitles. laalg translation checked and corrected the subtitles from the Japanese audio. I edited and typeset (not much). CP and Saji QCed the original scripts. For this version, Intrepid ripped the Japanese DVDs, and an encoder who wishes to remain anonymous encoded the new raws. Yogicat tweaked the timing. ImAWasteOfHair did a release check. There's really no solution to the mastering issues. There are 29.97fps signs and foreground animation overlaid on 23.976fps anime. The encoder's solution was to encode at 59.94fps, which seems to minimize interlacing and frame blending issues. YMMV.
Because of the different OP/ED songs, this version of Harunka Naru Toki no Nake de 2 supplements rather than replaces the R2E version. Script changes have been minimal; you can watch either one. However, the original is finished 5% sooner, and some people will certainly count that as an advantage. You can get this new version from the usual torrent site or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.


Saturday, June 25, 2022

Hayou no Tsurugi

Hayou no Tsurugi was a series of forty (!) light novels by Maeda Tomiko, published between 1989 and 2017. (A spinoff series, Hayou no Tsurugi Gaiden, ran to another eleven volumes.) In 1992, the first volume was adapted into a two episode OVA, Hayou no Tsurugi: Shikkoku no Mashou (The Demon-Breaking Sword: The Jet Black Demon). Like many OVA teasers for works in other media, it never crossed the Digital Divide; in fact, it was never released on laserdisc. Orphan is now releasing the first English-subtitled version, ripped from Japanese VHS tapes.

Hayou no Tsurugi is set in Gandal Arith, your typical sword-and-sorcery world of humans and demons. The floating fortress of Fujou is home to demon-breakers and others who fight demons. This includes a young woman named Laethreel (Lath), who has been chosen by the bloodthirsty demon-breaking sword Gurenki as its master. Laethreel yearns for suitable adventures, but she doesn't have a "protector" or friendly youkai; without that, she'd be unable to fight truly powerful demons.

This all changes at the start of the story. First, a young man calling himself Anshu (he's actually a youkai) shows up out of nowhere, swearing to be Laethreel's protector.

Then the "jet black demon" Aju kidnaps Princess Shurain of Gandia, with the intention of forcing her into marriage. The royal family commissions Laethreel to retrieve Shurain from her captor. Then the complications begin.

Laethreel is actually Shuraku, the hybrid offspring of a demon father and a human mother. When unleashed, her "entrancing eyes" have the power to bewitch both humans and demons. She also has a brother, Leedyle, a hybrid as well. Shuraku rejected her demon heritage and wants to be known only as Laethreel. Leedyle, on the other hand, rejected his human heritage and wants to be known only as Lord Ranka. He'd be happy to see Laethreel dead, provided he can obtain the power of her "entrancing eyes." Their clash will be the motivating spring of the early novels, as well as the OVA.

With all the aliases, you can't tell the players, or their seiyuu, without a program:

  • Tsuru Hiromo (Laethreel/Lath/Shuraku) debuted as Perrine in Perrine Monogatari. She went on to play Kashima Miyuki in Miyuki, Madoka in Kimagure Orange Road, and Mikami Reiko in Ghost Sweeper Mikami. She also played Sarah in Mother Saigo: Shoujo no Eve, Sonnet Barge in Blue Sonnet, Fengji in the third Sangokushi movie, Keiko in Hiatari Ryoukou, Nozomi in Nozomi Witches, Jill in A Penguin's Memories, UFO-chan in Dokushin Apartment Dokudami-sou, Milk in Karuizawa Syndrome, and big sister Shizuka in Tomoe's Run!, all Orphan releases.
  • Hironaka Masashi (Anshu) played Bird Torigai in Blue Sonnet, Jiro in Karuizawa Syndrome, Ihika in Yousei-Ou, Kanou in Nine, Kazusa in Tomoe's Run!, and the hijacker in Stop!! Hibari-kun!, all Orphan releases, as well as Siegfried in Legend of the Galactic Heroes.
  • Kusao Takeshi (Leedyle/Ranka) played the lead roles in Junk Boy and Fujilog, the title role in Babel II, Trunks in the Dragon Ball Z franchise, Sakuragi in Slam Dunk, Lamune in NG Knight Lamume & 40, the teenaged Tezuka Osamu in Tezuka Osamu Monogatari, Daichi in Singles, the fast talking orca in Sensou Douwa: Chiisai Sensuikau ni Koi wo Shita Dekasugira Kojira no Hanashi, and the icy director Kurume Kenjirou in Smash Hit!; the last four are Orphan releases. He is still active, appearing in the recent Major 2nd.
  • Hayami Shou (Aju) 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, Shargan in Gude Crest, and Seichii in Mikoneko Holmes. All of these shows are Orphan releases.
  • Tsuboi Akiko (Mensuran) had featured roles in numerous shows, incuding Perrine Monogatari, Heidi Girl of the Alps, Lucy of the Southern Rainbow, Galaxy Express 999, Miyuki, Saint Seiya, and Nausicaa.
  • Shinohara Emi (Lady Manthrum, Laethreel's foster mother and Queen of Gandia) played B-Ko in the A-ko properties and Sailor Jupiter in the Sailor Moon franchise. She appeared as Yuri Onagara in Blue Sonnet, vulgar daughter Stephanie in Eguchi Hisashi no Kotobuki Gorou Show, Reiko in Akai Hayate, and Android 1025 in Oz, all Orphan releases.
  • Kasahara Hiroko (Princess Shurain) played the title roles in Armitage III and Mahou Angel Sweet Mint, Maron in Assemble Insert, Nanako in Dear Brother, Ami in DNA^2, Fuu in the Rayearth properties, Tama in the Tama and Friends franchise, and Hinako in Ultimate Teacher. She starred as Seara in Baby Love, an Orphan release.
  • Yara Yuusaku (Narrator/King of Gandia) played the destroyer captain in Zipang. He had many featured roles, appearing in Eguchi Hisashi no Kotobuki Gorou Show, Eguchi Hisashi no Nantoko Narudesho, Next Senki Ehrgeiz, Eien no Filena, Hidamari no Ki, Nozomi Witches, both Sangokushi OVAs, Prime Rose, the second Sangokushi movie, and both What's Michael? OVAs, all Orphan releases.
  • Yanada Kiyoyuki (Sesuran, a demon-breaker in Fujou) played Exper Venom in Exper Zenon, Kuroda in Akai Hayate and Ooniwa in Nozomi Witches, all Orphan releases. He also played Black Bear Cat in Chii's Sweet Home.
  • Tano Megumi (Satin, Laethreel's friend) appeared in Dragon Fist, an Orphan release, as well as Monkey Magic, Raven Tengu Kabuto, Samurai 7, and Genbanojou.

The director, Shibuichi Setsuko, also directed several of the Urusei Yatsura OVAs, as well as Yuukan Club, Ichigatsu no Christmas, and the 1994 version of Chuumon no Ooi Ryouriten.

Some terminology notes:

  • binder - hobakushi, or capture master
  • demon breaker - hayou no kenshi, demon-break swordmaster
  • entrancer - mibakushi, or charm capture master
  • There's a lot more in a 40-volume novel series, but that's enough for now.

Iri translated. ninjacloud timed. I edited and typeset (very little). Topper3000, Uchuu, VigorousJammer, and (new to Orphan) ImAWasteOfHair QCed. Intrepid encoded from a Japanese VHS tape. The tape had copy protection, which caused problems during the ripping process and may have contributed to audio sync issues in the encode.

Although Hayou no Tsurugi ends at a reasonable stopping point, it will, like most teaser OVAs, leave you wanting more. Unfortunately, the novels are not available in English. You can get the anime from the usual torrent site or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.

Friday, June 17, 2022

King Fang v2

In November of 2021, Orphan's timer ninacloud noticed that an uploader going by the handle of fabrebatalla18 had torrented a group of "rare raws" ripped from the web. One of them was King Fang. I downloaded the batch and was delighted to discover that the new raw was significantly better than the VHS tape Nanto and I had used for the original release: far less blurry, with better colors. I wrote to Nanto suggesting that we get the gang back together to make a new version, and he agreed. It took a while to redo the timing and typesetting, and the long-distance working relationship also slowed things down, but two weeks ago, TSHS released a new version - and I neglected to note it in the blog. I've now remedied that oversight.

I don't think this new version needs much justification. Here's a screencap from the original release:

 Here's the same frame from the new release:

Although the new raw is slightly overcropped, the gains is clarity, detail, and color balance are more than sufficient compensation.

I covered the show and the cast in my original blog post, so I won't repeat the information. For this version, I transposed the timing, redid the typesetting, and tweaked the dialog. Nanto did the fine timing, QCed and tidied up the dialog, and released the new version. Just like last time, this is a joint Orphan-TSHS release.

If you downloaded the originalversion, you'll want to archive this one instead, for the video alone. If you skipped the original, perhaps this version will convince you to watch. You can get the show from the usual torrent site or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Sotsugyou: Graduation

There are lots of OVAs with Graduation in the title. This one is the two episode OVA from 1995. It is based on a dating sim game and was followed by Sailor Victory, a parody of Sailor Moon, and Marriage. Up until now, it has only been available in ancient DivX5 encodes. Thanks to Rezo, Orphan is now offering an up-to-date laserdisc release.

Sotsugyou: Graduation follows five high school girls who are on the cusp of graduation and are wondering about their futures. Hiromi is the daughter of a motorbike shop owner; she seems resigned to taking over the business from her ailing father. Mika is the daughter of a soba shop owner; she expects to take over his business as well. Shizuka wants to be a vet but doubts her ability to meet the academic and physical requirements. Reiko is the daughter in a wealthy family; her father is trying to arrange a marriage to another prominent family. Mami, the ditz of the group, wants to go to college but lacks the academic qualifications. All of them are unsure of their next steps and glum about their high-school friendship dissolving under the demands of real life.

The first episode focuses on an attempted pre-graduation trip to a hot spring. It goes off the rails when Mami gets off the train in pursuit of lunch for everyone, gets back on the wrong train, falls asleep from eating all the lunches, and ends up in a tiny station in the mountains. Naturally, she's left all her luggage, including her pager and the destination details (this is before cell phones) on the first train, so she has to wait to be found, comforted only by the soothing words of an old stationmaster. Meanwhile, the others put their not inconsiderable ingenuity - and Reiko's family connections - into trying to find Mami. Eventually, Hiromi rides up on her motorbike and whisks Mami back to her friends and a well-deserved scolding.

The second episode concerns the seemingly predestined outcomes the girls face - Reiko's arranged marriage, Hiromi's and Mika's takeover of their fathers' business, and so on. Reiko does not want to get married but doesn't know how to resist her father when she has no plans of her own. The other girls hunt down her intended fiance and discover that he's not some ancient business crony but a nice young man named Takei, not much older than Reiko. They arrange for Reiko and Takei to meet, and Reiko soon discovers that Takei is no more interested in an arranged marriage than she is. He encourages her to pursue her own dream. That in turn gives Reiko the impetus to "interfere" in the other predestined outcomes. At the end of the show, all five girls are set to do what they really want to do. Hardly the most original of plots, but serviceable.

This release also includes a short promo for Sailor Victory. There was a copy of the promo at the end of each LD volume, but one seems like enough.

The voice cast includes:

  • Tsuru Hiromi (Kiyomi, the motorcycle rider) debuted as Perrine in Perrine Monogatari. She went on to play Kashima Miyuki in Miyuki, Madoka in Kimagure Orange Road, and Mikami Reiko in Ghost Sweeper Mikami. She also played Sara in Mother: Saigo no Shoujo Eve, Sonnet Barge in Blue Sonnet, Fengji in the third Sangokushi movie, Keiko in Hiatari Ryoukou, Nozomi in Nozomi Witches, Jill in A Penguin's Memories, UFO-chan in Dokushin Apartment Dokudami-sou, Milk in Karuizawa Syndrome, and big sister Shizuka in Tomoe's Run!, all Orphan releases.
  • Shimakata Junko (Mika, the soba shop girl) voiced Da Qiao and Xiao Qiao in the Dynasty Warriors games and played young Kotengu in Haruka Naru Toki no Naka de: Hachiyoushou.
  • Hisakawa Aya (Shizuka, the would-be vet) has had a prolific career. She played the title roles in Mamono Hunter Youko, Voogie's Angel, and Iria: Zeiram, Skuld in the Ah! My Goddess franchise, Cerberus in Card Captor Sakura, Sailor Mercury in the Sailor Moon franchise, Yuki in Fruits Basket, Haruka in RahXephon, Youko in The Twelve Kingdoms, and Storm in X-Men. She played Mishima Misako in Yume Tsukai, Shana in Al Caral no Isan, Sonia in Ziggy Sore Yuke! R&R Band, Tomoko in Sensou Douwa: Boku no Boukuugou, and Koneko in Ear of the Golden Dragon, all Orphan releases.
  • Kanamura Hinako (Mami, the twin-drill ditz) appeared in the third Sangokushi movie, an Orphan release.
  • Touma Yumi (Reiko, the rich girl) 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?!, Gude Crest, and Eguchi Hisashi no Nantoko Nareudesho.
  • Tsujitani Kouji (Takei, Reiko's would-be fiance) played the title role in the Captain Tylor franchise and the lead role in the 3x3 Eyes OVAs. He also played Guy in Ai no Kusabi, Homare in Okane ga Nai, Shou in Condition Green, Saburou in Kasei Yakyoku, and Seishirou in Yuukan Club, all Orphan releases.
  • Katou Seizou (old stationmaster) played Admiral Putyatin in Bakumatsu Spasibo, Ii Naosuke in Hidamari no Ki, Abraham in Tezuka Osamu's Tales from the Old Testament, Norbert in Apfelland Monogatari, Hatsutori Juuzou in Kage, Billy Bones in Shin Takarajima, and Jeigan in Fire Emblem, all Orphan releases. He had many other featured roles in the span of a 50 year career.

The director, Nishijima Katsuhiko, also directed Sailor Victory, Marriage, Project A-ko and its successors, Blazing Transfer Student, Labyrinth of Flames, and the pantsu-shot fests Megami Paradise, Aika, and Najica Blitz Tactics.

The original subtitles were by Central Anime. Rezo and Iri translated a lot of extra signs. Yogicat timed the subtitles to the new raw. I edited and typeset. Rezo and Nemesis QCed. Rezo encoded from Japanese laserdiscs that he ripped on his Domesday Duplicator setup. The audio is digital and therefore encoded as FLAC.

Sotsugyou: Graduation is a fairly routine shoujo coming-of-age story, and it shows its dating sim roots. Still, it's a reasonable watch, and you can find out what happens next by watching Marriage. There's a "five guys" analog called Sotsugyou M: Oretachi no Carnival as well. Meanwhile, you can get this OVA from the usual torrent site or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Help Wanted! (Status)

I haven't done a status report or posted a plea for help in a long time, because for a long time, there was nothing to report. Now, though, there are quite a few projects on the slipways.. Other teams have shown interest in Orphan's published catalog of raws, so I want to prevent any inadvertent collisions (or encourage joint project collaborations). Plus, Orphan needs help!

Currently in progress:

  • Bakuen Campus Guardress. Encoded. Episodes 1 and 2 at editing; episodes 3 and 4 at timing. Existing subtitles from Toy-RC.
  • Chameleon. Episode 5 at QC. Episode 6 at translation check and editing.
  • Don Dracula. Encoded and timed. Episodes 1-5 at QC. Episodes 6-8 at editing. Existing subtitles from ARR and others.
  • Doukyuusei 2 and specials. Encoded. Special episodes 1-3 at timing.
  • Haruka Naru Toki 2. Encoded and timed. OP and ED at translation check.
  • Haruka Naru Toki 3: Owari Naki Unmei. Encoded and timed. The DVDs have additional material; at translation.
  • Hayou no Tsurugi. Encoded, translated, timed, editing, typeset. At QC.
  • Kimama ni Idol. Encoded, translated, timed. At editing and typesetting.
  • Nana Toshi Monogatari. Encoded, translation checked. At timing. Existing subtitles from BlueFixer.
  • Okama Hakusho. Encoded, translated, timed, edited, typeset. At QC. Could use translation check.
  • Shiratori Reiko. Encoded and translated. At timing.
  • Sotsugyou - Graduation. Encoded, timed, edited, typeset, QCed. In release check. Existing subtitles from Central Anime.
  • Tales from Old Testament. Encoded. Released through episode 15; episode 16 complete. In translation/check for episodes 17 onward.

As is easy to see, translation and translation checking are the major bottlenecks, followed closely by QC. There are another two dozen potential projects stalled by lack of translation or translation check resources. So if you'd like to help out, please don't hesitate to give me a shout on IRC (irc.rizon.net) or even Discord.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Kakyuusei (1995), DVD Edition

The world doesn't need another version of Kakyuusei (1995), but here's one anyway.

An Internet pen-pal who goes by the handle of ProxyMan has been systematically collecting R2J DVDs of older Japanese h-anime - including most of Orphan's output in the field. He's provided ISO images of Kakyuusei (1995), Doukyuusei 2, Doukyuusei 2 Special: Sotsugyousei, and several of the episodes that Orphan released under the Okizari label. After much searching, swearing, and cajoling, I found encoders to provide new raws from these ISOs. Kakyuusei (1995) is the first to be released.

Kakyuusei (1995) is a four episode h-anime OVA. It should not be confused with Elf Ban Kakyuusei (1998), a four episode non-h OVA, or Kakyuusei (1999), a fourteen episode non-h TV series, all of which, like Doukyuusei and Doukyuusei 2, stem from Japanese "visual novels" or erotic games (eroge) with high school settings. The Kakyuusei shows focus on relationships between a male upperclassman and multiple female students, typically first-years. In the US, the protagonist could be arrested for statutory rape, but this is Japan, so what the hey.

Kakyuusei (1995) had the dubious distinction of being the only one of all the "-uusei" shows never released on DVD, until now. It also has a strange English (sub)title: My Petty Class Student. At first, I thought this was a misprint for "pretty," because "petty" usually means "trivial" or "unimportant." However, Zalis believed it to be an overly literal translation, using the second definition of "petty" as "of secondary or lower importance, rank, or scale; e.g., a petty officer."

Kakyuusei (1995) follows the usual format for the "-uusei" shows. The protagonist, Nanahoshi Kakeru, is a high-school senior hoping to "make happy memories" (i.e., get lucky) in his last year in school. He meets and beds a virginal young woman, Urara, to whom he declares his undying love. However, when she is conveniently sent abroad, he pursues and beds a different first-year girl in each of the succeeding episodes, only returning to Urara when she even more conveniently returns at the end of the series. The cast is fleshed out (so to speak) with the usual tropes, including Kakeru's younger sister, Mika, his hapless best friend, Minamino Takeshi, and the sneering, wealth playboy, Douda Shuichiro. The h-scenes are mild by modern standards, but there is a tiny bit of censoring in one spot. In addition, there's a dream sequence involving a St. Bernard that makes the horny mutt in Kennel Tokorozawa seem like a model of deportment.

The show was technically an orphan. The first two episodes were released in the US on VHS and ripped by Anime-Hentai. The last two episodes never appeared in English. For the Orphan releases, Zalis translation-checked the first two episodes and both translated and timed the last two. convexity did additional translation checking and translated the extensive signs. I edited and typeset,  and Calyrica, CP, and konnakude checked the original scripts, which are more or less unchanged. However, this release is completely restyled, using a base font with real italics and a darker character outlnie. The DVD encoder wishes to remain anonymous, and who can blame him? ProxyMan provided the DVD ISOs.

Because Kakyuusei (1995) is nothing special, the video has to show significant improvements to justify a new version.

However, the encoder was not impressed with the DVD release:

Notes: The DVD source's transfer left quite a lot to be desired. :no:
While colors are better and slightly more of the picture frame is retained, the level of detail isn't consistently superior to the LD. You can see... how [a scene] loses some detail in the DVD, and some fine line art is smudged as well.... That said, other scenes do look clearer, without motion blending... This source and the LD release both presented some of the most severe chroma bleed I've seen in awhile, which took aggressive measures to fix.... Cross-checking with the LD-based release, there is some slight wobble and reframing that occurs during scene transitions, which is most likely gate weave introduced during the original telecining process of the film for video distribution. There are filters which attempt to correct for this, which I've tried, but mostly seemed ineffective and can introduce their own issues. At several points you can even seen damaged edges where the film stock was mishandled during the original production. Overall, there is a small improvement with the DVD source, but the picture also appears dirtier than Orphan's current version.

For me, though, the significantly reduced level of frame-blending was the deciding factor. In the LD release, blending was so bad that some moving signs wouldn't track. With this encode, every sign tracked correctly. Still, YMMV.

One of the pleasures of revisiting the show was reading Zalis' insightful and occasionally scathing remarks about aspects of the scripts. Some of the highlights:

  • Ep1. "She and Urara-chan are as different as night and day. Though I wouldn't mind a bit of Urara-chan at night..." Kakeru actually says, "She and Urara-chan are as different as the moon and a mud turtle" or "tsuki to suppon." He then puns on that by thinking of naked Urara-chan or "suppopon no Urara-chan." Pretty good localization, in my book.
  • Ep3. "He was born as Mother was entering the Nika Art Exhibition for the seventh time." This is a real event.
  • Ep3. On the nude sketching scene: "For the record, this OVA precedes the famous Titanic nude sketching scene by over two years AND is gender-reciprocal!"
  • Ep3. On the final line of dialog ("I'm coming!"): "Wow, so much for a denouement."
  • Ep4. When Urara-chan forbears from making Kakeru swear fidelity: "How convenient for the purpose of adapting other routes while she's away..."
  • Ep4. When Urara-chan returns just after Kakeru has finished his dalliances with the other girls: "End (and a very conveeeeenient end it is!)"

Zalis, I miss you. 😉

For a routine h-anime, Kakyuusei (1995) had a pretty good cast:

  • Miki Shinichirou (Kakeru) played Kojiro in Pokemon, Fujiwara Takumi in Initial D, Urahara Kisuke in Bleach, Minamoto no Yorihisa in Haruka Naru Toki no Nake de, Shintarou in Lime-iro Senkitan, Bruce Wayne in Batman: Gotham Knight, Roy Mustang in Full Metal Alchemist (2009), Katze in Ai no Kusabi (2012), Gintarou in Gingitstune, Johnny in Jikuu Bouken Nuumamonjaa (Chrono Trigger OVA), John Bishop (the sharpshooter) in AWOL Compression Remix, and Cyber-X in Hand Maid May. The last three are Orphan releases.
  • Nishihara Kumiko (Hiromi, Kakeru's first crush) played Iris in the Sakura Wars franchise and Renko in Kujibiki Unbalance, both OVAs and TV series. She appeared in Kosuke-sama Rikimaru-sama: Konpeitou no Ryuu, Zetsuai 1989, Dragon Fist, Tenkousei, and Blazing Transfer Student, all Orphan releases.
  • Matsumoto Yasuno (Douda) played Mantarou in Ipponbonchou Mantarou, Johnny in Starship Troopers, Kaname in Singles, Muto in Oz, and Tooru in Every Day Is Sunday, all Orphan releases. He was in numerous OVAs in the 1990s, including Hi-Speed Jecy, Seikimatsu II: Humane Society, Fukuyama Gekijou: Natsu no Himitsu, Al Caral no Isan, Joker: Marginal City, Jikuu Bouken Nuumamonjaa, Yamato 2520, and Sei Michaela Gakuen Hyouryuuki, also Orphan releases. Among his notable roles were Wataru Akiyama in Initial D, Jean Havoc in Fullmetal Alchemist, Gourry Gabriev in Slayers, Ryou in Sonic Soldier Borgman, and a personal favorite, Dick Saucer in Dragon Half.
  • Takagi Wataru (Takeshi) played the title role in Great Teacher Onizuka, Nezumi in the 1996 and 2007 versions of GeGeGe no Kitarou, his namesake, as well as other recurring roles, in the Detective Conan franchise, and old man Gorou in the recent Godzilla S.P.
  • Iwao Junko (Mika) played the title roles in Ayashi no Ceres and Devilman Lady, Tomoyo in Card Captor Sakura, Natsuko in Shin Cutie Honey, Tokiko in Key the Metal Idol, and Mima in Perfect Blue.
  • Kanari Mika (Urara, episode 1 heroine) played the title roles in Obake no Holly, Idol Tenshi Yokosou Youko, Ruriro Princess, and the Licca-chan franchise, Ruu in Daa! Daa! Daa!, Floren in Tanoshii Muumin Ikka, Normad in the Galaxy Angel franchise, Sakoto in the Higuarshi no Naku Koro ni franchise, Pekorin in the Precure franchise, and Melonpanna in the Soreike! Anpanman franchise. She appeared as Kagami in Nagasarete Airantou, an Orphan release.
  • Imae Yuka (Rie, episode 2 heroine) played Jinto in the Crest of the Stars properties, Otaru in the Saber Marionette J series, Eiko in Geobreeders, Rekuta in the Duel Masters franchise, and Ranchiki in Maze. She appeared in Doukyuusei 2, an Orphan release.
  • Yajima Akiko (Hikari, episode 3 heroine) played the title role in Idol Densetu Eriko, Lemon in VS Knight Ramune & 40 Fresh, Takami in Geobreeders, Dorothy in The Big O, Pino in Ergo Proxy, Kogitsune in Natsume Yuujinchou, Mipple in the Futari wa Precure franchise, and the title roles in Shin-men and of course Crayon Shin-chan. She played Lesser Panda (Red Panda) in Shirokuma Cafe, an Orphan release.
  • Honda Chieko (Tsubomi, episode 4 heroine) played Kurumi in Kimagure Orange Road, Marybell in Hana no Mahou Tsukai Marybell, Amy in the Gall Force OVAs, Rullishia in Dragon Century, Meroko in Full Moon o Sagashite, Marie in Soul Eater, and Lea in the Ancient Book of Ys OVAs. She starred as Ruu in Elf 17, an Orphan release.

The director, Fukumoto Kan, directed h-anime, like Wordsworth and Doukyuusei Climax; ecchi shows, like Ikkitousen and Queen's Blade; and regular series, including Himarawi and Pandora Hearts. For both seiyuu and director alike, h-anime work was all part of the business.

I can't recommend Kakyuusei (1995) more this time than on previous occasions, but at least it looks better. You can get the series from the usual (adult) torrent site or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.