Friday, April 9, 2021

Gude Crest

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.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Aspect Ratios

In this blog entry, I am venturing into deep water without a life jacket, because I'm not an encoder, and I don't play one on TV. To keep things simple, I'm only going to discuss US standards (NTSC). European standards (PAL and Secam) only make matters worse.

The aspect ratio is the ratio between the number of pixels horizontally and the number of pixels vertically. This can be expressed as the actual number of pixels (e.g., 1280 x 720), as a ratio of whole numbers (e.g, 16:9), or as a ratio against one (e.g., 1.77:1). The last one is only approximate, because the decimal digits repeat indefinitely.

Up until the 1950s, aspect ratios were fixed at 4:3 (1.33:1), the so-called Academy Ratio, because everything was done on 16mm or 35mm film stock, and the frame size was 1.33:1. In the early 1950s, the movie industry created a raft of wide-screen formats - Cinemascope, VistaVision, Panavision, etc - at a variety of aspect ratios, including 2.40:1, 1.85:1, and 1.66:1. Some of these were done by anamorphically stretching the 35mm film stock, using special lenses; others used wider film stock, such as 65mm or 70mm. TV production retained 1.33:1 until this century. Wide-screen content such as movies had to be presented by one of two techniques - letterboxing, which showed the wide-screen image on a subset of the TV screen, with black bars and top and bottom; or pan-and-scan, which moved the viewpoint around to show the "essential" part of wide-screen image on the full TV screen.

The Japanese analog home-media formats - VHS tape and laserdiscs - were invented when all TVs were 1.33:1, and they basically copied the NTSC standard. Thus, it was fairly common for VHS tapes of wide-screen movies to be offered in two versions, letterboxed and pan-and-scan. (Laserdiscs were more typically letterboxed, because TV screens were bigger by then.) For fansubbers, then, there is (or should be) no issue about the aspect ratio of VHS and laserdisc-sourced material - it's 4:3 (1.33:1) prior to any cropping or upscaling.

Starting in 1984, Dr. Kerns Powers of the SMPTE Working Group on High-Definition Electronic Production proposed 16:9 (1.77:1) as a suitable wide-screen compromise between the US de-facto standard (1.85:1), the European standard (1.66:1), and the older Academy ratio (1.33:1). Driven by the EU, the proposal gained traction and became the standard for HDTV broadcasts, at 1280 x 720 or 1920 x 1080. And in the mid-1990s, the proposal was sufficiently far advanced that it was supported by the spanking new DVD standard.

DVDs can be considered an intermediate format, looking backward to the still-predominant 4:3 standard and forward to the forthcoming 16:9 standard. The actual DVD resolution was a compromise: 720 x 480 (1.5:1). Metadata on the DVD would tell a player whether to "stretch" the resolution anamorphically to 16:9 (1.77:1) or "squeeze" it to 4:3 (1.33:1). When TVs evolved to a 16:9 aspect ratio, the players had to handle four cases:

  1. 16:9 display on a 16:9 TV.
  2. 16:9 display on a 4:3 TV.
  3. 4:3 display on a 16:9 TV.
  4. 4:3 display on a 4:3 TV.

Blu-ray did away with the anamorphic mess. Blu-rays are always 16:9, and the content is letterboxed, pillarboxed, or cropped to fit. Modern web streams are the same.

However, DVDs had more than enough rope for fansubbers to hang themselves and six of their best friends too. A common mistake was to take the 720 x 480 (3:2) ratio as correct. The caused wide-screen material to look squashed and Academy ratio material to look stretched. This can be fixed pretty easily in players or by creating a Matroshka mux with the proper aspect ratio set.

Another mistake was to assume that the wide-screen ratio was 1.85:1. This was based on an unconscious assumption about the universal acceptance of US standards, as well as a set of arguments about pixel shape, but in fact, it's not what the standard says. A different justification was that 1.85:1 movies on DVD played on a wide-screen TV without letterboxing. In fact, there is letterboxing, but it falls in the overscan area and can't be seen. If the TV can turn off overscan, the letterboxing becomes visible, and a bit more of the frame appears at the edges. Encoding at 1.85:1 made anime looked subtly stretched. It wasn't as bad as the previous case - it's only 5% - but it's annoying if you're familiar with a DTV or HDTV broadcast of the same material.

Fansub encoders found a clever way out of this mess: they encoded at 720 x 480 and then set the display aspect ratio as part of Matroshka mux. That way, it was Not Their Problem. However, it created headaches for other members of the team, particularly the stylist and typesetter, who had to account for the stretch or squeeze in their work. Anamorphic encodes have been the bane of my existence as a typesetter.

At this point, you've probably gone "tl;dr" and are wondering what this has to do with Orphan, which works mostly from analog media anyway. Analog media are 4:3, so no headaches, right? Wrong. The DVD format has created problems in the handling of analog media, because analog captures were and are often distributed in DVD ISO format. That has led to mistakes about the origins of the material ("it's a DVD") and how to process it.

  • aarinfantasy's groundbreaking release of Zetsuai 1989 used an ISO image of a laserdisc capture and assumed the dimensions were correct. After cropping the pillarboxing, the encode was 700 x 480 - too wide - which actually made the ultra-narrow character designs more reasonable.
  • Toy-RC's groundbreaking release of Call Me Tonight also used an ISO image of a laserdisc capture. The encode used vertical expansion to correct the ratio (720 x 540) and is thus technically a 12.5% upscale.

More serious issues have arisen with letterboxed widescreen releases on laserdisc. The obvious way to deal with letterboxed laserdiscs is to encode them at 640 x 480, letterboxing and all. That's what Erik of Piyo Piyo Productions does routinely. I like the approach, because the letterboxing provides a nice place to put the subtitles without infringing on the image. Another simple approach is to crop the image exactly as shown, to 640 x whatever. That too is faithful to the original source.

However, sometimes encoders want to create a normal 480p (vertical) resolution encode, which involves upscaling. That poses a problem: what should the horizontal resolution be? Again, there's a simple answer: measure the original image to get the aspect ratio and upscale accordingly. However, sometimes the groups plump for the US widescreen standard (1.85:1), on the theory that the laserdisc must have been scaled wrong. However, that's incorrect. Japan did not use the US widescreen ratio of 1.85:1 but rather the "VistaVision" (aka European "flat") ratio of 5:3 (1.66:1).  It later showed up in Japan's first HDTV standard (Hi-Vision).

The result is that upscaled versions of widescreen Japanese movies sourced from laserdiscs can have incorrect aspect ratios. Orphan's first version of Hashire, Melos! was 1.85:1, because the encoder thought that's what widescreen movies had to be. As a result, it's too wide: more than 10% stretched horizontally. This can be seen by comparing the first version, done with "anamorphic stretch":


 versus the second, which was done at standard laserdisc resolution with letterboxing intact:

It's subtle, but the faces in the first version are too wide.

A similar problem occurs in Toy-RC's B.B. Fish. It is encoded (non-anamorphically) at 1.77:1 (16:9), as though it were a DVD. Looking at an untouched frame of the laserdisc output, with letterboxing intact, shows that it's actually 1.66:1 (15:9). The laserdisc jacket even says "Vista version." Orphan's first attempt at encoding the widescreen release of Hashire! Ookami Shiroi was also too wide, as a comparison with the 1.33:1 (4:3) US dub clearly showed. The widescreen version is actually 1.66:1 (15:9).

By now, your eyes have probably glazed over (mine have). The bottom line is twofold:

  • A DVD ISO does not mean a DVD source. The DVD ISO format is just a container. The encode has to be aware of the actual source media.
  • A Japanese media property mastered in the 70s and 80s will conform to the Japanese standards of the period, not to modern standards.
Being cognizant of these two observations will save a world of problems in encoding analog media.




Saturday, April 3, 2021

Sensou Douwa: Boku no Boukuugou

Sensou Douwa (War Tales or War Fables) was a series of TV specials by Shin-Ei Animation that ran annually from 2002 to 2009. In chronological order:

  • 2002    Umigame to Shounen (The Boy and The Sea Turtle)
  • 2003    Tako ni Natta Okaasan (The Mother Who Became a Kite)
  • 2004    Chiisai Sensuikau ni Koi wo Shita Dekasugira Kojira no Hanashi (The Tale of the Ginormous Whale That Fell in Love with a Little Submarine)
  • 2005    Boku no Boukuugou (My Air Raid Shelter)
  • 2006    Yakeato no, Okashi no Ki (The Cake Tree in the Ruins)
  • 2007    Futatsu no Kurumi (Two Walnuts)
  • 2008    Kiku-chan to Ookami  (Kiku-chan and the Wolf)
  • 2009    Aoi Hitomi no Onnako no Ohanashu (The Girl with Blue Eyes)

Orphan has already released The Boy and the Sea Turtle, The Cake Tree in the Ruins, The Mother Who Became a Kite, and The Tale of the Ginormous Whale That Fell in Love with a Little Submarine. Today, we're releasing Boku no Boukuugou (My Air Raid Shelter). Saizen has already done Two Walnuts, so we're in the home stretch.

Boku no Boukkuugou is set in Midori Ward, Nagoya, during World War II. The Kasamatsu family, consisting of father Tetsuo, mother Tomoko, and only child Yusuke, are a typical Japanese family, hard-working and patriotic. As the war situation worsens, the government urges citizens to build air-raid shelters, so Tetsuo and Yusuke build a strong, roomy shelter under the house. Then, Tetsuo is drafted and sent to the Kwantung Army in China, leaving Yusuke, who is probably seven or eight, as the "man of the house."


In late 1944, after the fall of Saipan, American B-29s begin bombing Nagoya, targeting the Mitusbishi Aircraft Works as well as other industries and the port. Although the loss of life is far less than in Tokyo, the repeated raids put great stress on Yusuke. The boy retreats to the shelter and imagines that his father is there, comforting him and urging him on. Whether his father is killed in China, Yusuke refuses to accept it, clinging to the image of his father in the shelter. Eventually, his world collapses. Sixty years later, as an old man, when he sits in the park where his house and the shelter used to be, he still feels the trauma from those days.

The voice cast is small:

  • Orikasa Ai (narrator) 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 Carrie in Ziggy Sore Yuke! R&R Band, Sara in Eien no Filena, Toryune in Al Caral no Isan,  Katchan's mother in Tako ni Natta Okaasan, and young Mars in Fire Emblem, all Orphan releases.
  • Kiyokawa Motomu (Yusuke as adult) played Kouzou in Evangelion and Norman Burg in The Big O.
  • Ookubo Shoutarou (Yusuke as child) was 10 years old when he appeared in this show. He played Katchan in Tako ni Natta Okaasan and Takaya in Lupin III: Kiri no Elusive.
  • Nobuo Tabita (Tetsuo) 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 Ziggy Sore Yuke! R&R Band, Condition Green, and Eien no Filena, all Orphan releases.
  • Hisakawa Aya (Tomoko) 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, Sonia in Ziggy Sore Yuke! R&R Band, and Koneko in Ear of the Golden Dragon, all Orphan projects.

The director, Takeuchi Yoshio, also helmed the Oishinbo TV series and specials, as well as Botchan, Gorillaman, Harlock Saga, Shin Megami Tensai: Devil ChildrenNight Head Genesis, and several of the Sensou Douwa specials.

As he's done for all the other Sensou Douwa releases, kokujin-kun translated Boku no Boukkuugou. Yogicat timed. I edited and typeset. Nemesis and Uchuu QCed. Uchuu also researched the locale and the background to the bombings. The raw is a 480p webrip from UNEXT. Unfortunately, there's an onscreen text for the entire running time. The text is simply the series name and the episode title.

Boku no Boukkuugou is a little less of a gut punch than some of the other Sensou Douwa episodes - no children are killed, at least on screen. Nonetheless, it sensitively explores the terrible costs that war imposes on children, even if they emerge physically unscathed. 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.


 

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Tabi Suru Tobi Neko

Today, Orphan is releasing Tabi Suru Tobi Neko (The Journeys of the Jumping Cats). It's about... cats! Cute Cats Doing Cute Things™: Playing! Eating! Sleeping! Playing! Eating. Sleeping. Playing... Eating... Sleeping... Did I mention it's about cats?

Okay, there has to be some serious prose in this blog entry. This release is a segment of the 1989 movie Dayan to Tama to Tobi Neko to: Mittsu no Neko no Monogatari (Dayan and Tama and Jumping Cat: A Story of Three Cats). The movie had three segments: animated segments about Dayan and Tama, and live action segments from photographer Igarashi Kenta, who created the Tobi Neko (Jumping Cats) franchise. The live-action portion was shot on Aoshima in the Seto Inland Sea. It's known as "Cat Island", because the cat population now outnumbers the aging and decreasing human population. The cats have the run of the place. They always do; there, it's just more obvious.


The narrator is Tsutsumi Yukina. Her only other anime credits are Kirara in Talentless Nana and a bit part in Tsugu Tsugumomo.

The dialog was translated by tenkenX6, friend to his sister's cats Hailey and Sky. ninjacat timed. I edited and typeset, between my shifts as staff to my cats Pixel and Pumpkin. konnakude, long absent, tore himself away from his cats Angel and Marley to QC, along with (Kuro) Nemesis, who brought Mikan Enikki to the English-speaking world. The raws are full HD web rips by R-Raws; his ailurophile status is unknown. The rest of us are just hopelessly devoted.

So despite the release date (it's already April 1 by the UT standard), this is a serious project. The only surprise is that it's live-action rather than animation. (Orphan has done a few live-action titles before, but not many.) You can download the kitties from the usual torrent site or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.



Thursday, March 25, 2021

Call Me Tonight

Pink Noise was a series of unrelated OVAs issues by C.Moon, the "adult" label of Bandai Visual. It consisted of four titles:

  1. Call Me Tonight (1986)
  2. Gakuen Tokusou Hikaruon (1987)
  3. Maryuu Senki, 3 episodes (1987-1989)
  4. Body Jack (1987)

It's not clear what they had in common, except perhaps some sexually suggestive material (hence "Pink"). In Japan, they were only issued on analog media (VHS and laserdisc). Some encodes claim to be DVD sources, but they are probably based on laserdisc rips in a DVD ISO container.

Call Me Tonight, the first OVA in the series, was considered to be near-hentai when it was released. Today, it looks positively tame compared to shows like Kaifuku Jutsushi no Yarinaoshi. A hardsubbed English release from Toy-RC, based on a laserdisc rip, has been available for more than a decade. It's a fine effort, but it's showing its age. So when a laserdisc of Call Me Tonight showed up in one of Orphan's multi-disc purchases, I suggested redoing the show. And here it is.

Call Me Tonight centers around Natsumi Rumi, owner and occasional worker at Telephone Communication Madonna, a somewhat shady operation that seems to be a cross between a telephone sex business and an advice-for-the-lovelorn service. One evening, Sugiura Ryou calls up with a rather unusual problem: when he gets aroused and tries to masturbate, he has visions, and his room and clothing end up wrecked. Intrigued, Rumi meets him at a coffee shop to discuss his problem:


When she uses her undoubted sex appeal on Ryou, he turns into an out-and-out monster, with tentacles sprouting from his back, which indeed explains why his room and clothing get wrecked. Rumi, though, is undeterred and takes Ryou on a "desensitizing" tour of Tokyo's steamy nightlife, with results more comic than terrifying.

Ryou's transformations attract the attention of a fearless, muscular Yakuza group heiress named Nohara Maki and her shorter and more timid sidekick Hayata. They track Rumi and Ryou around the city and photograph Ryou's transformations. The photos intrigue Maki's sister, Nohara Oyuki, leader of a juvenile gang, who thinks that Ryou might be a monster in bed as well. Oyuki and her gang kidnap Rumi and Ryou. Oyuki seduces Ryou (successfully), and the gang tries to rape Rumi (unsuccessfully). Neither initiative turns out as planned, but again, the emphasis is more on comedy than violence. And in the end, Rumi does solve Ryou's problem.

The synopsis makes Call Me Tonight sound like a routine sexploitation show, and some reviewers have seen it that way. However, it's more than that, as Justin Sevakis pointed out in his Buried Treasure review on Anime New Network. There's a lot of satire about gender roles and what adolescence does to young men, and some sly digs at then-current trends in Japanese hentai anime, as exemplified in Urotsukidoji. As Justin wrote, it "almost plays like a sketch comedy send-up of common adult anime tropes." I found it to be a lot of fun.

The voice cast includes:

  • Tamagawa Sakiko (Natsumi Rumi) played Shiori in Akai Hayate, Lar Lipp in Greed (both Orphan releases), Athena in Appleseed XIII, Tachikoma in GITS SAC, Kanoko in Shouwa Monogatari, Dotta in Sorcerer Hunters, Rouge in Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko, Masaki in Tenchi Muyo, Natsumi in the You're Under Arrest franchise, and Princess Suurya in Kamasutra.
  • Toriumi Katsumi (Sugiura Ryou) played the male lead, Wakamatsu, in Miyuki. He appeared as Shigeru in Yume Kakeru Kougen and Ishmael in Tezuka Osamu's Tales from the Old Testament, both Orphan releases.
  • Ukai Rumiko (Nohara Maki) played Fraw Bow in the original Mobile Suit Gundam, Rose in the Godmars franchise, and Kiyomi in Miyuki. She played Rachel in Dallos and Michelle in Ginga Tansa 2100-nen: Border Planet, and she appeared in What's Michael? 2, all Orphan releases.
  • Seki Toshihiko (Hayata) 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, Yoshitarou in Mikeneko Holmes, 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, Ootsuki in Milky Passion: Dougenzaka - Ai no Shiro, 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.
  • Koujiro Chie (Nohara Oyuki) appeared in many featured roles.

The director, Okamoto Tatsuya, also did the screenplay and the storyboards.

Toy-RC's dialog translation was good and required little revision. The songs, on the other hand, were pretty far off in places. This was because the songs contain a large number of English words, which were sometimes misinterpreted as Japanese. Fortunately, the EP with the songs became available online in the last few years, and the rip included scans of the official lyrics. That helped a lot; in particular, it provided lyrics for the insert songs, which had not been translated. Still, issues remain. One line in the song Call Me Tonight says:

    夜は Mevious 不安めいて

Mevious? Your guess is as good as mine.

Toy-RC did the original translation. Yogicat transcribed and timed the dialog, and he also transcribed the kanji song lyrics. Various team members helped put the songs in shape. I edited and typeset. This release has a lot more typesetting than the Toy-RC version, but there are far too many signs in the background to do them all. Nemesis, TougeWolf, and VigorousJammer QCed. Intrepid encoded from a Domesday Duplicator rip of a Japanese laserdisc.

Unlike the Lion Books, Orphan doesn't intend to redo all the Pink Noise OVAs. For one thing, we don't have sources for half of them. They're either not available or for sale at exorbitant prices. So it's sheer luck that we're able to offer a new version of Call Me Tonight, the best of the bunch. You can get it from the usual torrent site or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.


Monday, March 15, 2021

Chameleon 3

I bet you weren't expecting another episode of Chameleon. Frankly, neither was I. Even though laalg translation-checked all the remaining episodes years ago, I found the series so distasteful that I couldn't bring myself to work on it. Every couple of months, I'd plug away on a couple of minutes worth of dialog, rediscover why I loathed the series, and put it away. And then, without quite realizing it, I had finished editing episode 3. After that, it was only a matter of (the painful) mechanics to do the typesetting, QC, and release checks. So here we are.

Episode 3 ("The Hitman's Bonds of Brotherhood") continues the saga of pint-sized wannabe hood Yazawa Eisaku. Having survived two near-death encounters, first with the Shadow Dance gang and then with psychotic thug Kyuu Akio, Yazawa stumbles into deep yogurt yet again by attracting the attention of the ultra-violent Matsudo gang and its murderous leader, Matsuoka Eiji. Fortunately, he also attracts the attention of Mishima Jun, an even stronger fighter who is grateful to Yazawa for saving Kyuu in episode 2 (entirely inadvertently, I might add). 

Aided by former rival Shiina Yuji and pursed by Yuji's cross-dressing brother Yu, Yazawa dodges, weaves, lies, and flees to try and save himself from getting pounded into the pavement for the third time in three episodes. Laughs galore.

The voice cast includes some pretty famous names, although their fame comes from other roles:

  • Nanba Keiichi (Yazawa) played Locke in Choujin Locke, Lundi in Honoo no Alpenrose: Jeudi & Lund, Uesugi in Touch, Schneider in Captain Tsubasa, and Junta in DNA2. He also played Hongou in Nozomi Witches, an Orphan release.
  • Shiozawa Kaneto (Shiina Yuji) played Rock Holmes in Fumoon, Iason in Ai no Kusabi and the egotistic comic relief Shin in Hiatari Ryouko, all Orphan releases. 
  • Yamada Eiko (Shiina Yu) played the title roles in Anne of Green Gables, Ginga Nagareboshi Gin, Aramis no Bouken, and Legend of Lemnear, as well as Jo in Little Women, Misaki in Captain Tsubasa, and Gozu in Hoozuki no Reitetsu. She appeared in Nora, the Sangokushi specials,  and the What's Michael? OVAs, all Orphan releases.
  • Hirata Hiroaki (Mishima Jun). This was one of his very first roles. He went on to play Itsuki in the Kindaichi movies, Sa Gojou in Saiyuki and its sequels, Zaki in DearS, Jack in Moonlight Mile, Nantoka in Rita to Nantoka, Benny in Black Lagoon, Tiger in Tiger & Bunny, Vinsmoke in One Piece, Fujimoto in Ao no Exorcist, Kondou in Koi wa Ameagari no You ni, and Max Lobo in Bananafish.
  • Yamaguchi Kappei (Matsuoka Eiji) played the lead character in the Detective Conan franchise, Ranma in the Ranma 1/2 franchise, Inuyasha in all the Inuyasha properties, Usopp in the One Piece franchise, Sakuma Ryuichi in Gravitation, Arslan in the first OVA series, and the title role in Mouse, among many others. He played Shibuya in Zetsuai 1989 and Bronze: Zetsuai Since 1989, and Tooru in Boyfriend, all Orphan releases.
  • Tominaga Miina (Yazawa's crush, Hikaru) played Ritsu in Fruits Basket (2002), Persia in Magical Fairy Persia, Rollpanna in the Anpanman franchise, Misaki in Tsuritama, Muuma in Bavi Stock, Kamiya in Tokimeki Tonight, Karen in Yuukan Club, and Eri in Karuizawa Syndrome. The last four are Orphan releases.

The director for this episode, Matano Hiromichi, helmed other obscure works, including the Konpeki no Kantai franchise and Super Submarine 99.

Moho Kareshi did the initial translation; both laalg and Sunachan did translation check passes. (There are still unresolved issues, because the dialog is full of 80s slang and bad puns.) ninjacloud timed. I edited and typeset, with the greatest reluctance. TougeWolf, Uchuu, and VigorousJammer 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. I wouldn't spend the money to buy them anyway.

Some translation notes:
  • Thank you, Turtle God! A perverted pun. The usual saying is "kami-sama hotoke-sama" (O God! O Buddha!). Yazawa says "kami-tama kitou-tama," literally "Turtle-balls! Turtle-head (glans)-balls!" Localize as you will.
  • You're a blockhead! "Ishiatama" is literally "stone head," i.e., hard-headed.
  • For stiff shoulders, try Pip. Pip is a brand of magnetic therapy medicine.

Admittedly, I'm very jaundiced about this series. I'm not in its target demographic. Many members of the staff find it hilarious and hope to do more "yankee" genre shows. So when will episode 4 be out? Will episode 4 ever be out? Don't hold your breath. The last three episodes still need their songs translated, and so far, no translator has volunteered for the job. So if you want to see the last three episodes, find a song translator for this show.

However, in the meantime, after a mere 3+ year delay, here is Chameleon 3. You can get it from the usual torrent site or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.


Tuesday, March 9, 2021

MAPS: Densetsu no Samayoeru Seijin-tachi

Here's a wonderful example of the "wide-screen baroque" school of anime science fiction, the 1987 movie MAPS: Densetsu no Samayoeru Seijin-tachi (Maps: The Legendary Nomad Star Tribe), or just Maps for short. This first English release of the movie is a joint project between Inka-Subs and Orphan Fansubs.

At the outset, 16-year-old Tokishima Gen is over his head in a high-school soccer game, cheered on (or egged on) by his not-quite-girlfriend Kimizuki Hoshimi. Suddenly, a ginormous space ship shaped like a flying female figure (or a vintage Rolls Royce hood ornament) appears. The ship beams Gen up, as Hoshimi clings to his leg - and other parts of his anatomy - in a desperate attempt to keep him on the ground. Inside the ship, its statuesque captain, Lipmira Gweiss, informs Hoshimi that he is the legendary Mapman - a living map to a treasure, the Surging Light, hidden on Earth 200,000 years ago by the equally legendary Space Nomad Tribe.

While Gen is busy denying any knowledge of a map, Lipmira's ship is suddenly attacked by Captain Abe's "Space Patrol" cruiser. However, Abe is not part of the Space Patrol, but just another treasure seeker pursuing Mapman. After some hair-raising experiences, Lipmira, Gen, and Hoshimi turn the tables on Abe, who meekly accepts a role as cook on Lipmira's ship. Lipmira then reveals that she has deciphered the map, and the quartet set out to find the Surging Light. Of course, their quest will not be unopposed, because the Mythic Breed lurks in wait...

This bare synopsis cannot convey how delightfully goofy Maps is. Gen and Hoshimi are wonderfully mismatched. Captain Abe is basically a flake with a fantastically unrealistic view of his talents and prospects. There's one breathtaking (and often comic) escapade after another, leading to a galvanic final confrontation. And the conclusion is nicely open-ended, which is fitting, because the Maps manga, by Yuichi Hasegawa, filled 17 volumes.

The voice cast has many well-known veterans of 1980s anime, even in the smaller roles:

  • Tsuru Hiromi (Lipmira Gweiss) 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, Milk in Karuizawa Syndrome, UFO-chan in Dokushin Apartment Dokudami-sou, and big sister Shizuka in Tomoe's Run!, all Orphan releases. 
  • Tanaka Mayumi (Tokishima Gen) made her debut at age 10 in Kimba the White Lion. She's probably best known for her roles as Pazu in Castle in the Sky, Giovanni in Night on the Galactic Railway, Kuririn in the original Dragonball, and of course, Monkey D. Luffy in every incarnation of One Piece. She also played Flene in Cool Cool Bye, Mit-sah in White Fang, Rocco the fox in Tezuka Osamu's Tales from the Old Testament, and Son Gokuu in I am Son Gokuu: Tezuka Osamu Monogatari, all Orphan projects. 
  • Minaguchi Yuuko (Kimizuka Hoshimi) is best known for Yawara!, her breakout and defining role. She debuted as Kii in Greed, an Orphan release, and starred in numerous other shows, including Bosco Adventure, Dragon Ball Z and GT, Sailor Moon, One Piece, and Alexander (Reign: The Conqueror). She played Frieda in Apfelland Monogatari, Saki in Singles, and Felicia in Oz, also Orphan releases. 
  • Kamiya Akira (Abe Edinburgh) is best known for the title roles in the City Hunter properties, the Kinnikuman franchise, and Babel II. He played Kazamatsuri in Yawara!, Roy Focker in Macross, and Mendou in Urusei Yatsura. He also played Sergent Zim in Starship Troopers and Musakato Taira in Elf 17, and he stole the show as the lecherous robot Chiraku in Hoshi Neko Full House. All three are Orphan releases. 
  • Watanabe Naoka (Tsukime) played the title role in Vampire Miyu and the Jungle wa Itsumo Hare Nochi Guu properties, Puar and Chichi in the Dragon Ball franchise, and Catty in the Gall Force series. She appeared in Neko Neko Fantasia, Yousei Ou, and Aoko Honoo, all Orphan releases. 
  • Shibata Hidekatsu (Mibarihan) has been in anime almost fifty years. He played Baron Ashura in Mazinger Z, Kenzou Kabuto in Great Mazinger, Count Mecha in Galaxy Express 999, General Shadow in Kamen Rider Stronger, King Bradley in both versions of Fullmetal Alchemist, Backbeard in the 2007 iteration of GeGeGe no Kitarou, Nigira in Ushio to Tora (TV), and the Third Hokage in Naruto. He played Sun Quan in the second and third Sangokushi movies, Toujo in Tomoe's Run!, and Ling Changpu in Dragon Fist, all Orphan releases. 
  • Onosaka Masaya (Calion) played Kubota Kazuhi in Nineteen 19, Shuntaro in Aika, Mihara Ichirou in Angelic Layer, Isaac in Baccano!, Zelos in Tales of Symphonia, J.D. in Neo Angelique, Leeron in Tenga Toppa Gurren Lagann, Takeshi in the Prince of Tennis franchise, Vash in Trigun, and a personal favorite, Azazel in the Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san series. He also played Calion in the 1994 Maps OVAs.

The director, Nishizawa Sususu, also helmed Hikaru no Go and Ouran Koukou Host Club, as well as the two most recent Nanatsu no Taizai series.

Maps was remade as a four-part OVA in 1994, and as is often the case, that version completely superseded the original. As a result, the 1987 movie was hard to find; it was only issued on analog media. For years, the standard raw was a VHS rip. The laserdisc rarely came up for sale and always at exorbitant prices. So this project happened through a series of fortuitous coincidences.

On one track, an old-anime fan who goes by the handle GouNoKen got in touch with Orphan about trying to do Maps. He bid on and won a used Japanese laserdisc of the movie and had it shipped to Intrepid, who ripped it on the Domesday Duplicator and encoded it. There it sat, for lack of a translator. On the other track, Yume in Inka Subs had started to translate the movie, using the available VHS raw. When TougeWolf of Inka began freelancing on Orphan projects, he brought the separate tracks together. Everyone rapidly agreed to a joint project, and this release is the result.

The staff credits reflect the interrelated work of the two groups:

  • Translation - Yume
  • Translation check - TougeWolf
  • Timing - Yum, Yogicat
  • Editing - TougeWolf, Collectr
  • Typesetting - Collectr
  • QC - Programming Dragon, Nemesis, Uchuu
  • Encoding - Intrepid
  • Laserdisc provider - GoNoKou

A harmonious and fun project it has been.

I hope you can tell that I like Maps: Densetsu no Samayoeru Seijin-tachi quite a lot. It's playful and exciting, and it doesn't take itself too seriously. You can get the movie from the usual torrent site or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on irc.rizon.net.