Friday, February 1, 2019

Tezuka Osamu's Tales from the Old Testament, Ep 1-3

Orphan has a lot of Tezuka Osamu fans, me included. The team has provided quality (I hope) subs for many of his neglected works, including Hidamari no Ki, the Lion Book OVAs, Cleopatra, and Senya Ichiya Monogatari. We've also done high-definition versions of all of his NTV "Love Will Save the Earth" specials. So when Skr saw a limited-edition DVD box set of Tezuka Osamu no Kyuuyaku Seisho Monogatari: In the Beginning (Tezuka Osamu's Tales from the Old Testament: In the Beginning), he jumped at it, despite the rather exorbitant cost.I wasn't planning on another long series so soon after Hidamari no Ki and Stop!! Hibari-kun, but Tezuka Osamu is impossible to resist. Orphan will be releasing the 26-episode series a DVD at a time, so eight minibatches of three episodes, and a final minibatch of two, on a leisurely release schedule.

According to the official Tezuka Osamu website, in the late 1980s the Italian National Broadcasting Network forwarded an urgent request from the Vatican to Tezuka Osamu, asking him to depict the Bible in animated form. Tezuka accepted the request and spent two years working on a pilot film about Noah's ark (episode 3). He not only wrote the scenario but also drew for it himself. Unfortunately, he passed away during production. Director Dezaki Osamu took over the project, and it was completed it in 1992. The series was shown in Italy, Spain, and Germany. It was finally shown in Japan in 1997. It was also dubbed into English and shown on religious TV in the US, in cut form.

The episodes are, in many ways, vintage Tezuka Osamu. There are cute animals (Rocco the fox appears throughout). There is comedy. There is fanservice. In general, though, the stories are respectful of the original, adding filler when the Biblical text is too short for the required 20 minutes. Still, some of the add-ons were too much for religious TV, and both Rocco the fox and the boobs were deleted from the English release.

The first DVD covers well-known episodes from Genesis:
  1. Creation. The creation story is filled out with montages of Adam and Eve romping in the Garden before the fall and coping with hardship afterward. Rocco the fox is one of the many creatures that enjoys the Garden's bounty.
  2. Cain and Abel. Cain's murderous rage against Abel is given a backstory. Cain is jealous of his younger brother, and his unfilial anger leads God to reject Cain's sacrifice. Rocco appears as the first family's sort-of dog.
  3. Noah's Ark. The wickedness of man, cited as justification for the flood, is given a rather tame treatment, especially compared to what Tezuka Osamu showed in Kanashimi no Belladonna or even the time travel sequence of Bander Book. Rocco has a substantial side-story as a sly creature who sneaks on board the ark in hopes of feasting on the small herbivores.
None of the additions really distract from the stories.

As an episodic show, Tales from the Old Testament has an enormous cast of industry veterans. Episodes 1-3 include:
  • Shibata Hidekatsu (voice of God) is is best known for Baron Ashura in Mazinger Z, Kenzou Kabuto in Great Mazinger, King Bradley in both versions of Fullmetal Alchemist, and the Third Hokage in Naruto. He played the hero's father in Dragon Fist, an Orphan release.
  • Tanaka Mayumi (Rocco the fox) 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, and of course, Monkey D. Luffy in every incarnation of One Piece. She also played Mit-sah in White Fang and Son Gokuu in Tezuka Osamu Monogatari, both Orphan projects.
  • Arimoto Kinryuu (Adam) may be best known for the roles of Whitebeard in One Piece and Chief Karazuka in Elfen Lied. He played Dr. Ogata in Hidamari no Ki, an Orphan release.
  • Terauchi Yorie (Eve) has played Fune in Sazae-san, the longest running anime ever, since 2015.
  • Fujimoto Yuzuru (Noah) played Hiyoshi in both reasons of Moyashimon. He voiced the nameless Aoba gang boss in Kasei Yakyoku and the nameless police chief in Twinkle Nora Rock Me, both Orphan releases.
The series was directed by the late Dezaki Osamu, younger brother of Dezaki Satoshi. Fittingly enough, Osamu got his start at Tezuka Osamu's Mushi productions and went on to direct many famous shows, including Ashita no Joe and its sequel, Ace wo Nerae and its sequel, the Black Jack OVAs and movie, half a dozen Lupin III TV specials, and Kasei Yakyoku, an Orphan release. The music is by Hattori Katsuhisa, a classical composer who created some well known anime soundtracks, include Argentosoma, Crest of the Stars and its sequels, and Infinite Ryvius. It is portentous, in the Hollywood Bibilical epic vein.

Skr is taking the leading role in this project. He is doing translation, timing, typesetting, and encoding. I edited this minibatch; Nemesis and Topper3000 did QC. There are no staff credits in the scripts themselves. The English dub has been included, although the Japanese audio and the English subtitles are the default.

You can get the first DVD of Tezuka Osamu's Tales from the Old Testament: In the Beginning from the usual torrent site or from IRC bot Orphan|Arutha in channels #nibl or #news on