Sunday, March 29, 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":
  • Fighting Beauty Wulong. This will be Orphan's next series project. The existing Hong Kong DVD subs are awful. Translated; encoded. In timing and editing.
  • 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.

[Updated 29-Mar-2020]

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Mikeneko Holmes no Yuurei Joushu

Another purrfect adventure from Orphan Fansubs, the 1992 OVA Mikeneko Holmes no Yuurei Joushu (Calico Cat Holmes and the Lord of the Haunted Castle). It has mystery, adventure, hints of perverse doings, and, of course, a problem-solving calico cat. What more could you want?

Mikeneko Holmes is based on Akagawa Jirou's popular book series about a hapless detective named Katayama Yoshitarou. He lives with his sister Harumi, an aspiring actress, and their cat Holmes, which has a sixth sense when it comes to solving mysteries. Harumi has just appeared in a lurid melodrama about an incestuous brother and sister who come to a tragic end. At the after party, the acting troupe's vamp, Minako, turns up dead. Whodunit? Was it the director, Yasaka Yukari, or her imperious brother and troupe underwriter, Yasaka Seiichi? Was it the lead actor, Udagawa Kazuto, or the seemingly naive friend, Mizuta Mako? Could it even have been Yoshitarou's colleague (and Harumi's wannabe boyfriend), Ishizu? No one seems to be able to unravel the mystery until Holmes takes matters into his own paws and leads Yoshitarou and Harumi to the solution.

Like most mystery short stories, characterization takes a back seat to plot mechanics. The major players are briefly sketched, but there's no serious character development or exploration. Overly devoted brothers and sisters are a recurring theme, but that's mostly for atmospherics. The explanation doesn't hold water, but then again, neither can Holmes.

The voice cast includes:
  • Seki Toshihiko (Yoshitarou) was one of the leading male seiyuu in this period. He played the title role in Izumo, Riki in Ai no Kusabi, the hero Seitarou in Hoshi Neko Full House, the gang leader Hiba in Wild 7, Miroku in Yuukan Club, Chuuta in Satsujin Kippu wa Heart-iro, the fighter Nagase Jun in Akai Hayate, the unnamed protagonist of Oruorane the Cat Player, and Sara's younger brother Junichiro in Kasei Yakyoku, all Orphan releases. He also played Matsuda in the Yawara! properties, Sanzo in the Saiyuuki TV series, and the title roles in Alexander (Reign the Conqueror) and Kaiketsu Zorro.
  • Hidaka Noriko (Harumi) played Satsuke in My Neighbor Totoro, Akane (the female lead) in Ranma 1/2, Peter in Peter Pan no Bouken, Mrs. Yamada (the mother) in the first two Chi anime series, Near in Death Note, and Kikyo in the Inuyasha franchise. She also played Yuuki in Boyfriend and Noriko in Yuukan Club, both Orphan releases.
  • Nakamura Daiki (Udagawa) played Keith Winter in Condition Green and Chris Sheldon in AWOL Compression Remix, both Orphan releases. He also played the title roles in Dangerous Jii-san Ja and Demon Beast Resurrection, Dayakka in Gurren Lagann, Seiji Date in Ronin Warriors, and Liu Bei in Yokoyama Mitsuteru Sangokushi.
  • Ebara Masashi (Ishizu) played Might Guy in Naruto, Bolt Crank in Eat-Man, Alastor in Shakugan no Shana, Sebastian Viera in Nodame Cantabile, and Hamegg in Metropolis. He also played the referee in Blazing Transfer Student and Tanzou in Akai Hayate, both Orphan releases.
  • Hayami Shou (Seiichi) 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, Iason's friend Raoul in Ai no Kusabi, Hojo in Sanctuary, Pat Leivy in Starship Troopers, and Junoichi in Blazing Transfer Student. All these shows are Orphan release.
  • Doi Mika (Yukari) played the title roles in Angel Cop and Explorer Woman Ray, Hayase Misa in the Macross franchise, the empress (Lafiel's grandmother) in the Crest of the Stars saga, Tabitha in the Zero no Tsukaima properties, Eclipse in Kiddy Grade, the narrator in Mushishi, and Nanase in Natsume Yuujinchou. She appeared as Rosa in Seikima II Humane Society, Captain Deladrier in Starship Troopers, and multiple roles in Kage, all Orphan releases. 
  • Adachi Shinobu (Mako) played Rabi in Madou King Granzort, the title roles in Calimero and Jagainu, Tom (Sawyer) in Huckleberry Finn, Kayra Su in Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack, and Chou of Benten in Usagi-chan de Cue. She also played Amanda Kessler in AWOL Compression Remix, an Orphan release.
The director, Kitajima Noboyuki, had a long career at AIC as a character designer and animation director.

Once again, Mikeneko Holmes is Iri's brainchild. He found a VHS tape on the second-hand market and translated the show. Yogicat (of course) did the timing. I edited and typeset. Nemesis and BeeBee QCed. Our intrepid raw hunter make an uncompressed rip of the tape and encoded the result. It looks quite decent. Special thanks to Puto, who translated the last verse of the ending song, which was in Brazilian Portuguese. I took a bit of editorial license with his wording, to make it fit the Japanese verses better, but I hope he'll forgive m.

So here's a diversion for all you ailurophiles in these dark times, Mikeneko Holmes no Yuurei Joushu. You can find it on the usual torrent source or download it from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on

Update: I missed an obvious typo during release checking. There will be a v2 release, but in the meantime, you can get a patch here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Ziggy Sore Yuke! R&R Band

Anime offerings involving real rock-and-roll bands are pretty rare; and when they're made, the plots always seem to be slightly batshit. Perhaps it's the influence of Yellow Submarine, which placed the Beatles in a psychedelic fantasy world with a flower-people-versus-Blue-Meanies plot. In Seikimatsu: Humane Society, the titular band was portrayed as demons from another plane trying to conquer the world. And in 1991's Ziggy Sore Yuke! R&R Band (Go Ziggy! R&R Band), the real-life Japanese band Ziggy is portrayed as falling afoul of evil neo-Nazis who want to yet again Conquer The World™, this time through rock music.

I'm not sure who dreams up these plots, or who pays them to do it, but in greater detail: The Japanese band Ziggy, consisting or Morishige, Sounin, Oichan, and Ooyama, are in London for a recording session. Their producer, Bernie, is suddenly killed, and the band is framed for the crime. Pursued by both Scotland Yard and the true villains, the band members flee into the backstreets of London and take refuge in the local rock scene, led by Carrie and Sonia. The villains, directed by a right-wing big shot named Stronburg, track them down and steal a guitar Bernie left behind. But the real prize is in the guitar case: a mysterious song score that has the power to brainwash audiences. The bad guys kidnap Carrie and demand the score in exchange for her life. The trade is going badly when Scotland Yard intervenes and gives chase. It all ends at a rock concert in Liverpool, where Ziggy must decide whether to play the brainwashing song to save Carrie, or to stay true to the spirit of rock music. You can guess how it ends.

Ziggy Sore Yuke feels like a bizarre cross between Hellsing, with neo-Nazis in a Zeppelin, and a rock music video. There are plenty of songs, but there's also plenty of plot, including murder, kidnapping, foot chases, car chases, and aerial chases, all leading to a climactic battle in which a bunch of punk rockers defeat gun-toting villains by using drumsticks and bare fists. It makes for a pretty strange experience. Maybe it all depends whether you like the music, or what mushrooms you've eaten lately.

As in Yellow Submarine, the band members in Ziggy Sore Yuke! R&R Band are played by professional voice actors; only the songs feature the voices of the band itself. The cast includes:
  • Tsujitani Kouji (Morishige) played the title role in the Captain Tylor franchise and the lead role in the 3x3 Eyes OVAs. He also played Takuto in Boyfriend, Guy in Ai no Kusabi, Shou in Condition Green, and Seishirou in Yuukan Club, all Orphan releases.
  • Matsumoto Yasunori (Sounin) starred as Johnny in Starship Troopers, Kaname in Singles, and Tooru in Every Day Is Sunday, all Orphan releases. He was in numerous OVAs in the 1990s, including Seikimatsu: Humane Society, Fukuyama Gekijou - Natsu no Himitsu, and Al Caral no Isan, 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.
  • Nakahara Shigeru (Oichin) played the title role in Arion and Fujiwara no Takamichi in Haruka Naru Toki no Nake de 3. He had featured roles in Ai no Kusabi, Dragon Fist, Dokushin Apartment Doukudami-sou, and Neko Neko Fantasia, all Orphan releases.
  • Tobita Nobuo (Ooyama) played Lumial in the Angelique franchise, Ken Wakashimazu in the Captain Tsubasa franchise, Randy in Fake, Sinistra in Kiddy Grade, the title role in Locke the Superman, and Dayon in Osomatsu-san. He appeared in Condition Green and Eien no Filena, both Orphan releases.
  • Osamu Kobayashi (Stronburg) played the title role in Ogon Bat and Ulysses 31. He also appeared in Miyuki.
  • Orikasa Ai (Carrie) made her debut in Shoukoushi Cedie. She played the title role in Romeo no Aoi Sora, Fee in Planetes, Seguchi Touma (the record company president) in Gravitation, Quatre in Gundam Wing, and Ryouko in the Tenchi Muyo franchise. She also played Sara in Eien no Filena, Toryune in Al Caral no Isan, and young Mars in Fire Emblem, all Orphan releases.
  • Hisakawa Aya (Sonia) 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 starred as Mishima Misako in Yume Tsukai, Shana in Al Caral no Isan, and Koneko in Ear of the Golden Dragon, all Orphan projects.
The OVA was directed by Mori Kazuhiro, who did storyboards and episode direction for Idol Densetsu Eriko and Yawara!, among other credits.

One translation note: the credits at the end are in English and reflect the usual problems with transliterating, in both directions. I've chosen to use actual English names for the western characters and modern romanization for the Japanese ones:
  • Bernie instead of Burny
  • Carrie instead of Carry
  • Sounin instead of Sownin
  • Ooyama instead of Ohyama
Of course, some of the western names can't be untangled. Inspector Nerigun? No idea what that was supposed to mean.

This project is Iri's brainchild. He bought the DVD and did the translation. tenkenX6 and Sunachan filled in a couple of difficult-to-hear lines. ninjacloud timed, I edited and typeset, and Nemesis and Topper3000 QCed. The encode is by M74. The source is a mess, unfortunately: badly interlaced, with plenty of blended frames.

So if you'd like to rock out, late 80s style, and watch some rockers versus villains shenanigans, you can get Ziggy Sore Yuke! R&R Band from the usual torrent site or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on Party on, dudes!

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Hitomi no Naka no Shounen: 15 Shounen Hyouryuuki

In 1888, Jules Verne published his only novel for children, Deux ans de vacances (Two Years' Vacation). It tells the story of 15 schoolboys from Auckland, New Zealand, who are cast adrift in an ocean-going sailing yacht and end up stranded on a desert island for two years. There, they face many adventures and must work together to survive before they are rescued. It had already been used for multiple movies and an anime before Nippon Animation produced its version in 1987, the TV special Hitomi no Naka no Shounen: 15 Shounen Hyouryuuki (The Boy in My Eye: 15 Boys Adrift). An English-dubbed version was released in 1991 under the title The Story of Fifteen Boys.

The anime sticks pretty closely to the plot of the novel. Fifteen boys from the Chairman Boarding School in Auckland, New Zealand, are spending the night on a sailing yacht that will take them on a two-week vacation. Someone unties the mooring line, and the yacht drifts out to sea, with no captain or crew on board. After getting caught in a storm, the yacht runs aground on a desert island.

The boys must organize themselves functionally, as builders, hunters, cooks, log keepers, etc., in order to survive. There's a great deal of squabbling, particularly as food runs short, but they're able to build adequate shelter, forage for fish, birds, and edible wild plants, and maintain social order. After a year, they find another castaway, an adult woman who has escaped from mutineers. The boys must now overcome a gang of violent adults who are intent on covering up all evidence of their crimes. With ingenious tactics seemingly copied by the later Home Alone, the boys defeat the villains, just in time to be rescued.

Except for the lead hunter, Donovan, and the youngest castaway, Jacques, none of the boys get enough screen time or dialog to make a distinct impression, so they are characterized with a few character traits. Gordon always dresses in his school uniform, complete with tie. Briant, Jacques older brother, is the peacemaker. Dole cries a lot, until he's given responsibility for keeping a rhea that they find. (The rhea is a clue that the boys are stranded off the coast of South America.) Wilcox and Web are always squabbling. Costar is fat and always hungry. I had a hard time telling most of them apart, even with a montage that provides their names and assigned roles early in the show.

The cast is very large - 15 boys plus Kate, anxious parents, and villainous mutineers - and includes many names that should be familiar to readers of this blog.
  • Aoki Kazuyo (Baxter) played Huckleberry Finn in Tom Sawyer no Bouken, Hanae in Maison Ikkoku, and Gouda Yuriko (the protagonist's mother) in Ore Monogatari.
  • Ikura Kazue (Briant) played Makimura Kaori in City Hunter, Toraou in Mashin Eiyuuden Wataru, Natsume Ryuunosuke in the All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku properties, Leni Milchstrasse in Sakura Wars, and Tootles in Peter Pan no Bouken. She also appeared in Sei Michaela Gakuen Hyouryuuki, an Orphan release.
  • Nozawa Masako (Costar) is a legend. She played the leads in 30000 Miles Under the Sea, The Adventures of Gamba, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry no Bouken, Billy Inu nan demo Shoukai, and Hey! Bumboo. She was Enma-kun in the original Dororon Enma-kun, Son Goku in the original Dragonball, and Kitarou in the original 1968 and 1971 versions of GeGeGe no Kitarou as well as Hakaba Kitarou. Even though her first role was in 1965, she is still active, appearing as Obaba in Ping Pong the Animation, Madame Curie in Marie & Gali, and of course, Medama Oyaji in the current version of GeGeGe no Kitarou. She won a lifetime achievement award in 1997. She played the title role in Manxmouse, an Orphan release.
  • Utsumi Kenji (Cross) is best known for his roles as Roah in Fist of the North Star, Kaioh in Fist of the North Star 2, and Senbei Norimaki in the Dr. Slump and Arale-chan franchise. He was also the official dub-over artist for Steve McQueen, Sammy Davis, Jr., Victor Mature, and Robert Shaw.
  • Takano Urara (Donovan) played Mowgli in Jungle Book Shonen Mowgli, Tiger in Saber Marionette, and Maria Tachibana in Sakura Wars. She also voiced Sister Yumiko in Sei Michaela Gakuen Hyouryuuki, Sushi Neko in Let's Nupu Nupu, and Ken in Next Senki Ehrgeiz, all Orphan releases.
  • Fujita Toshiko (Gordon) played the title role in Ikkyu-san, Rui in Cat's Eye, and Yawara's mother in Yawara! She played Sharaku in Akuma Tou no Prince: Mitsume ga Tooru, Cyborg 1019 in Oz, and Takao, Usugumo's friendly rival, in Oedo ga Nemurenai!, all Orphan releases.
  • Namikama Daisuke (Jacques) played Takeru in the Freedom OVAs, Tokunaga in the just-completed Gurazeni, Tooru in Haikyuu!!, Italy in the Hetalia franchise, Hisoka in Hunter x Hunter (2011), and my personal favorite, the demon-summoning detective Akutabe in the Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san franchise. He also appeared in the DAYS OVAs, Sangokushi 2, and Cosprayers, all Orphan releases.
  • Hazama Michio (Jacques's father) began his career in 1963 with Astro Boy. He has appeared in numerous anime, including his role as Senator Dan Foster in Oishinbo: Japan-America Rice Wars, an Orphan release. His most recent role was in Onihei.
  • Kamamura Maria (Kate) played Melmo in Fushigi no Melmo, Eluza in Gall Force, Lachesis in Five Star Stories, Tiger Lily in Peter Pan no Bouken, as well as the title roles in Fujiko Fumio A no Mumako and Cinderella Monogatari, Interpreter in Compiler, Gracia in Slayers, and Shirin in Haruka Naru Toki de Naka de 1/2/3.
  • Shirakawa Sumiko (Service) played Andre in Dog of Flanders, Sidney in Tom Sawyer no Bouken, and Gino in Pinnochio.
  • Sakimoto Chika (Garnett) starred as Mei in My Neighbor Totoro, Campanella in Night on the Galactic Railway, the title role in Tsuruhime, Nonoko in Tobira wo Akete, Tendonman in the Soreike! Anpanman franchise, and Agumon in the Digimon franchise. She appeared as Yasuda Yumiki in Nine and as Suzume's erstwhile love interest, Katagiri-kun, in Stop!! Hibari-kun!, both Orphan releases.
  • Maruyama Hiroko (Moko) played Peter in Alps no Shoujo Heidi, Mokku in Kashi no Ki Mokku, Kenta's mother in My Neighbor Totoro, and Baby Panda in Panda! Gopanda, as well as the title role in Robotan.
  • Kenichi Ogata (Rock the mutineer) 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, Jiro's father in Karuizawa Syndrome, 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.
  • Hamura Kyouko (Webb) played John in Peter Pan no Bouken and appeared in Starship Troopers, an Orphan release.
  • Maruo Tomiko/Chico (Wilcox) played Ohana in Rail of the Star and appeared in Hi-Speed Jecy and What's Michael OVA 2, both Orphan release.
  • Mita Yuko (Jenkins) played the title role in Akuma-kun, Neko Musume in Gegege no Kitarou (1985), Akemi in Maison Ikkoku, Shinza Hattori in Ninja Hattori-kun, Charlotte in One Piece, title role in Ultra B, and Benten in Urusei Yatsura.
The director, Kuroda Yoshio, also helmed Peter Pan no Bouken (a common theme in the credits), Flone/Swiss Family Robinson, and other Nippon Animation projects.  Hittori Katsuhisa, who wrote the musical score, also composed the music for the Crest of the Stars/Banner of the Stars series, Argentosama, Infinite Ryvius, and Tezuka Osamu's Tales of the Old Testament.

Iri found the VHS tape, translated, and did preliminary timing. ninjacloud fine timed. I edited and typeset. BeeBee, Nemesis, and Topper3000 all QCed. Our intrepid raw hunter did an uncompressed rip on his state-of-2005-art All-in-Wonder setup and encoded the result. It looks pretty good for a VHS source.

So if you're in the mood for some shipwreck adventure a la Swiss Family Robinson (and not, thank goodness, a la Lord of the Flies), you'll find 15 Boys Adrift provides just the right balance of comedy and G-rated thrills. You can get the show from the usual torrent site or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #new on

Friday, February 21, 2020

Petit Gargantia (Blu-ray)

Another sterling example of why it's dangerous not to finish a project I was invited to work on.

One of FFF's last projects was a Blu-ray version of the Suisei no Gargantia series, using UTW-Vivid's subtitles. FFF released all the TV episodes, but the specials, the Petit Gargantia shorts, were left unfinished. I was tasked with QCing and cleaning up the shorts, which had been "blown up" from UTW-Vivid's 360p scripts. This involved adapting the typesetting to the larger canvas and dealing with the different color palette in the Blu-rays: no biggie.

However, the Blu-rays included an extra short, Petit Gargantia 14. It had been translated but not typeset. Because it had a lot of signs, no one was interested in typesetting it. FFF was shutting down, and the original typesetter from UTW had moved on. So it languished for two years. Finally, I got fed up and decided to typeset it myself. It's done, and I'm releasing the Petit Gargantia shorts under the FFF label. I thought seriously about releasing number 14 as Orphan, because the typesetting is frankly substandard for FFF, but I feel that FFF did the bulk of the work on the episode, in particular, encoding and translating, plus all the signs I managed to steal from the first thirteen episodes. And I'm a member of FFF... at least until now.

Petit Gargantia is a series of deadpan dialogs among chibi versions of Chamber, Ensign Ledo, Amy, Ridget, and the other girls in Ledo's orbit. It comments peripherally on the main series until the last episode, which is an excuse to think about Gargantia-based parodies of other famous series and to skirt the edges of copyright laws. It's all silly, and you can watch all 14 episodes in under half an hour.

The specials have been included in other Blu-ray releases of the main series, but the PGS subtitles in those rips don't do Petit Gargantia justice. Enjoy.

Subs Versus Dubs: The Debate Renewed

Korean drama Parasite's underdog win at this years Oscars has triggered anew the debate about subtitles versus dubbing. As this article in Vox explains, the subs vs dubs argument has now spilled over into the film scene, to the amusement or chagrin of anime fans, who thrashed this through decades ago, without reaching a conclusion.

I'm not going to rehash the arguments about anime. Between fansubbing and later simultaneous streaming, subtitled anime has basically won. Most Japanese anime is released in the US with only subtitles. Dubbing is expensive - script development, additional actors. The margins in the licensing business won't support the extra costs, except for massive mainstream hits, which are few and far between, or studios with money to burn, like Disney.

Fifteen years ago, when the sub versus dub argument in anime was still raging, I was decidedly anti-dub. I had watched too many dubs that were marred by bad acting and/or inaccurate scripts. (Besides, I'm an editor, so I wanted there to be words for me to work on.) Now, I'm more open. A good dub makes an anime accessible to a wider audience. I don't feel there's any sacrilege in replacing the Japanese voice actors, if the underlying meaning of the lines is preserved. As Miyazaki Hayao remarked, anime in dubbed in Japanese too.

For me, an example of a good dub is the Disney/Ghibli Howl's Moving Castle. The English voice cast is superb, and the script follows the Japanese pretty well. Of course, the Japanese voice cast is superb too. I've watched Howl's Moving Castle both ways, and I like them equally. On the other hand, the dub for The Tale of the Princess Kaguya bothers me considerably - not because of the voice cast, but because of the script. (I documented my misgivings here.)

I consider foreign-language films to be a completely different case than anime. An anime character has no "real" voice. It may have a familiar voice, through repeated viewing, but everything is dubbed. The mouth movements are somewhat abstract, and they can fit reasonably well with different languages. If Japanese anime is dubbed into English, or US animation is dubbed into Japanese, the key question to me is the quality of the script and the performances.

On the other hand, a film actor does have a real voice, and that's the voice I want to hear. I don't want any dissonance between the mouth movements or the facial expressions and what I'm hearing. The "one inch barrier," as Parasite's director Bong Joon-ho called it, is no barrier to me. I read fast, and I don't find the subs distracting. For me, the dub is the barrier and the distraction. If I'm expecting to see and hear Jean-Paul Belmondo or Toshiro Mifune, and instead I see that face speaking English, the movie's spell is broken.

Fortunately for me, English dubs of foreign-language films are rather rare. The US market for such films is small, and the incremental expenses for dubbing are not supportable. The reverse is not true. US films, particularly blockbusters, are frequently dubbed for overseas markets. (Disney's Frozen was dubbed in at least 30 languages, for example.) Japanese seiyuu often have dubbing credits on their resumes; it's no different than anime work, really.

Will the paucity of English dubs change over time, perhaps triggered by Parasite's success? I'm skeptical. Unless or until a foreign-film turns into a US-based blockbuster and spawns a franchise, economics will dictate subtitling. I hope it stays that way.

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