Sunday, August 17, 2014

Maroko, or, Gosenzosama Banbanzai the Movie

Gosenzosama Banbanzai was a six episode OVA that started in Ureshii and finished in Frostii, after Froth-Bite and Ureshii merged. It's a deadpan send-up of the "family dramas" of the 1980s, highly stylized and very dry. The show consists of long set-piece scenes, filled with meandering dialogues, posturing soliloquies, asides to the audience, and pointless songs, punctuated (occasionally) by a great punchline. The intricate long lines, rarely broken by pauses, made editing this show one of the most challenging and difficult tasks of my early fansubbing days. I'm still very fond of it, although I can't watch it end to end. It's simply too bizarre.

As was often the case for OVAs and TV series, Gosenzosama was condensed and released as a movie, Maroko, now brought to you by Orphan Fansubs. Every line of dialog is from the original OVAs; only the additional signs required translation. I've tried to make as few changes as possible. The dialog font is larger, with better margins, and that required condensing or splitting a few lines. The original timing was off in a few places and has been corrected. The QC team turned up a number of mistakes that were missed in the original episodes. If you've seen Gosenzosama, there's not much point in watching Maroko, although the movie raw, encoded directly from a DVD reissue, looks much better than the DivX5 raws that were available to Ureshii and Frostii.

On the other hand, if you only watch Maroko, you're going to miss some of the very best bits in Gosenzosama. In particular, every episode of the OVAs begins with a long disquisition on a bird species and how its habits (sort of) relate to the human behavior in the episode. These standalone vignettes are hilarious and set the tone for the episode. There's no time for them in a 90 minute movie, but they're a serious loss.

This project has been gestating for a long time, primarily because of issues with available sources. The most common Internet source is from a LaserDisc and is corrupted in at least five places. An existing encode of the DVD proved to be bit-starved and improperly de-interlaced. Ultimately, a colleague bought a used DVD in Japan, which allowed a proper 10-bit H.264 encode to be made. I'd like to thank convexity, for supplying any missing signs and translation; Eternal_Blizzard for retiming and encoding; CP and Eternal_Blizzard for sitting through the whole thing and QCing; and Skr for obtaining the DVD source.

Gosenzosama Banbanzai and Maroko are lesser known works from the fertile mind of Oshii Mamoru, one of the lions of Japanese anime. The 1980s and 1990s were a period of great experimental creativity for him, starting with Dallos in 1983 and Angel's Egg in 1985 and culminating in the ground-breaking Ghost in the Shell in 1995. He remains an active force in Japanese popular culture, creating anime, live-action movies, and radio dramas; The Sky Crawlers (2008) is his most recent full-length anime work.

If anyone has ISOs of the recent Gosenzosama Banbanzai reissue on DVD, perhaps Orphan could redo the original OVAs. On the other hand, considering the content, maybe not. Meanwhile, enjoy Maroko.