Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 in Review

Another banner year for Orphan Fansubs, full of interesting releases, including two long and very different series, Stop!! Hibari-kun and Hidamari no Ki - both orphan rescues, by the way.

Orphan Fansubs

Orphan used to put out just a handful of releases a year. For the last three years, though, that number has been much higher, thanks to
  1. An expanded staff. In 2018, Orphan welcomed several new QCs, as well as the return of translation checkers laalg and tenkenX6.
  2. The increasing availability of back-catalog titles, on both physical and streaming media.
  3. The hard work of core staff members in all disciplines: translation, timing, editing, typesetting, QC, and encoding.
As a result, Orphan released a record number of new projects in 2018:
  1. Hidamari no Ki. An outstanding historical seinen series, about Tezuka Osamu's medical ancestor, set during the Bakumatsu. This is "must watch" anime. R2J DVD encode. 
  2. Smash Hit! The "inside story" of Cosprayers, as seen from the viewpoint of its harried and harassed producer. R2J DVD encode.
  3. Sonic Soldier Borgman: Madnight Gigs. A music video of songs from the series. It includes an epilogue providing the real ending to the show. Laserdisc encode. 
  4. Purple Eyes in the Dark. A music video of songs loosely based on a popular shoujo manga about a were-panther. Laserdisc encode. 
  5. Condition Green. A sci-fi story of Emerald Earth's resistance to evil invaders. Laserdisc encode. 
  6. Fantasia (The Girl from Phantasia). A fantasy comedy about an entire world hidden inside a discarded floor rug. Laserdisc encode. 
  7. Ai no Kusabi (1992). A dystopian sci-fi BL OVA about the forbidden romance between a member of the ruling elite and a slum-dwelling gang member. R2J DVD encode. 
  8. Starship Troopers. The Robert A. Heinlein sci-fi classic about interstellar warfare between mankind and BEMs. Laserdisc encode. 
  9. Bremen 4. A Tezuka Osamu NTV special. Four animal friends take on evil, Nazi-like invaders, with the help of a transformation gadget provided by a visiting alien. 720p BD encode; joint with M74.
  10. Zetsuai 1989. The BL classic about a fraught relationship between a successful singer and a budding soccer star.  Laserdisc encode. 
  11. Katte ni Shirokuma. A sci-fi comedy about a bear family (plus an adopted boar) exploring an abandoned city. Laserdisc encode.
  12. Dallos Special. A condensed version of the Dallos sci-fi OVAs, aired as a TV special. Laserdisc encode.
  13. Every Day Is Sunday. A caper comedy about the romance between a rookie policewoman and a lazy magician. Laserdisc encode. 
  14. Oruorane the Cat Player. An out-of-work youth meets a mysterious old man who plays cats as musical instruments. A forgotten classic. Laserdisc encode. 
  15. Dokushin Apartment Dokudami-sou. An ecchi, not to say sketchy, comedy about the misadventures of a single guy seeking female companionship. Laserdisc encode. 
  16. Sangokushi (1985). An anime adaptation of the epic Records of the Three Kingdoms, taking the story up through the Battle of Red Cliffs. 1080p streaming rip.
  17. Techno Police 21C. A sci-fi comedy/action film about cops and their robot partners chasing powerful criminals. Laserdisc encode.  Blu-ray version. 1080p BD encode.
  18. Bronze: Zetsuai ~ Since 1989. The continuation of Zetsuai 1989. R2J DVD encode. 
  19. Greed. A fantasy about a group of adventurers seeking to escape the "distortion" that encompasses their world. Laserdisc encode.
  20. Sangokushi 2 (1986). The continuation of Sangokushi (1985), carrying the story through the deaths of Cao Cao and Liu Bei. 1080p streaming rip. 
  21. Yume Kakeru Kougen. A biography of Paul Rusch, an American missionary who worked to improve conditions in the Japanese countryside before and after World War II. R2J DVD encode.
  22. Alice in Cyberland. A sci-fi OVA about combat in cyperspace. Laserdisc encode. 
  23. Oishinbo - Japan-America Rice War. A TV special about Japanese agricultural policy (yawn). 720p BD encode. 
  24. Okane ga Nai! A loan shark saves a college student from being auctioned off as a sex slave but demands "repayment" for his expenses. R1 DVD encode; joint with M74. 
  25. Kigyou Senshi Yamazaki Long Distance Call. A salesman who died from overwork is revived as a cyborg business consultant. VHS encode. 
  26. Wild 7. A gang of death row convicts is recruited to go after criminals who are "above the law." R2J DVD encode. 
  27. Ultra Nyan: Hoshizora kara Maiorita Fushigi Neko. An interplanetary cat saves the local felines from a gang of dastardly cat-nappers. ARR encode.
  28. Ultra Nyan 2: Happy Daisakuse. Our interplanetary cat confronts a gang of enraged (and allergic) crows. R2J DVD encode. 
  29. Kiss wa Me ni Shite. A shoujo romance, part of the Margaret Video series. VHS encode. 
  30. POPS. A shoujo romance, part of the Margaret Video series. VHS encode. 
  31. Boyfriend. A shoujo romance about a basketball player and a sickly girl. ARR VHS encode. 
  32. Singles. A shoujo romance, part of the Margaret Video series. ARR VHS encode. 
  33. Izumo (1991). A fantasy about a young prince, a mysterious girl with magic powers, and a mystic sword. Laserdisc encode.
  34. Kasei Yakyoku. A josei OVA about a quartet of star-crossed lovers in Taisho Japan. Operatic and compelling. VHS (episodes 1-2) and laserdisc (episodes 3-4) encode; joint with Iquix.
  35. Akuma Tou no Prince: Mitsume ga Tooru. A Tezuka Osamu NTV special, produced by Toei rather than Tezuka Productions. Shakaru, the last living descendant of the ancient three-eyed tribe, battles neo-Nazis for control of a powerful weapon. heponeko encode.
  36. Nine: Original-ban. First of three movie-length specials adapted from Adachi Mitsuru's first manga series about baseball and high school romance. Laserdisc encode.
  37. Nine 2: Koibito Sengen. The second special. Laserdisc encode.
  38. Nine: Kanketsuen. The third and last special. Laserdisc encode.
  39. Eguchi Hisashi no Kotobuki Gorou Show. A comedy anthology from the demented mind of Eguchi Hisashi, creator of Stop!! Hibari-kun. Laserdisc encode.
  40. Oshare Kozou wa Hanamaru. A shoujo romance, part of the Margeret video series. VHS encode.
  41. Mahoutsukai Tai! vs Shamanic Princess. An omake for both series. VHS encode.  
Not counted in this tally were five more mini-batches of Stop!! Hibari-kun, the HD version of Cleopatra, the HD version of Senya Ichiya Monogatari, and an Okizari project best left unmentioned. That's close to 50 distinct projects this year. Congratulations, and many thanks, to the whole Orphan team.

I must also thank Erik of Piyo Piyo Productions. Seventeen of the shows this year, and close to 40 over the last four years, have been based on his laserdisc rips. Without Erik's help, Orphan's release catalog would be missing many of its most interesting shows. I want to thank the Arutha foundation, which has hosted all of Orphan's releases on IRC. And finally, I want to thank our anonymous financial benefactor, who this year helped with setting up a better VHS ripping capability in Japan.

Work for Other Groups

There seems to be less of this each year, particularly outside the "back catalog" kairetsu.
  • FFF. I edited the fourth Hoozuki no Reitetsu OVA.
  • Frozen-EviL. I continued to edit the slow-moving Blu-Ray version of Yawara!
  • Saizen. I continued to edit and typeset Laughing Salesman. Psycho Armor Govarian was licensed and dropped.
  • Soldado. I QCed this year's Ninku releases.
  • Live-eviL. I edited one episode of Shoukoushi Ceddie. It reminded me of why I swore off working on World Masterpiece Theater series.
Laughing Salesman continues to be a useful diversion; I find it's exceedingly dark humor appropriate for the times. The team is half way through!

Favorites of 2018

I'm not an anime critic, so I no longer try to compile a "best of" list for the anime year. These days, I don't watch enough anime, outside of the genres I like (slice-of-life, comedy, sci-fi, seinen, josei, cats), to be knowledgeable enough to make a "Top 10" list. Instead, I'm listing my favorites of the year and why they kept me interested all the way through.

My favorite series for this year, actually, was Hidamari no Ki, but since it aired at the turn of the century, it probably shouldn't be included. So my favorite current series, in alphabetical order, are:
  • Double Decker: Doug and Kirill. A stylish and entertaining police dramedy, with the gore kept to a minimum. It went rather weird at the end, another victim of Serious Development syndrome.
  • Gakuen Babysitters. Slice of life at its best.
  • GeGeGe no Kitarou. A reboot with a point and a point of view. The third coeur (the Western Youkai arc) started off too darkly, but the show has regained its form recently.
  • Hakumei to Michoki. Little folks in the woods. D'ooooh.
  • Hinamatsuri. A very funny family comedy with sci-fi and yakuza elements.
  • Hinomaru Sumo. A traditional sports anime, and very good at what it does.
  • Hoozuki no Reitetsu S2 part 2. Cool-headed and outrageously funny to the very end.
  • Kyoto Teramachi Sanjou no Holmes. Part romcom, part travelogue, part detective story. I liked all the aspects.
  • Miira no Kaikata. Another terrific slice of life show, with supernatural overtones.
  • Tada-kun wa Koi no Shirai. A traditional romcom, but well done.
  • Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii. Another romcom, but rather untraditional, with the emphasis on comedy more than romance.
No mecha, no magical girls, no idols, no isekai, no shounen (sorry, Boku no Hero Academia), no excessive violence (yeah, I'm looking at you, Golden Kamuy). Among short series, I was completely bemused by Jingai-san no Yome, which was undoubtedly the strangest show all year.

Looking Ahead

Orphan Fansubs is now eight years old, more or less. Since the group's inception, the team has finished 145+ official projects. For 2019, we have a number of carryovers in the pipeline, including the three Sangokushi movies, the second set of DAYS OVAs, and the last Margaret OVA. In addition, we've established full media transcription capabilities in Japan - VHS tapes, laserdiscs, and DVDs - which will make acquisition of new media more affordable. So look forward to yet more unknown gems and turkeys from the back catalog. And we can always use more help. If you'd like to contribute...
Send me a postcard
Drop me a line
Stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely... Orphan Fansubs!
Have a happy and safe 2019.


  1. Wow, 50?! That's almost one per week o.O

    Very nice, minna otsukaresama~ :)

  2. Happy new year! Imma gonna keep ripping those LDs!

  3. Great work guys. You're almost only source for getting old rare and unknown stuff for retro anime junkies.

  4. Congratulations on a great year of output. I only wish I could be this productive.