Friday, January 19, 2007

Kentai Returns! (Like I was ever gone?)

'Sup?

Okay to the 4 or 5 of you who actually stop and read this crazy thing, here's the deal: Kentai Films is still plowing along, and I'm currently learning some crazy freeware that'll let me set up a proper website to peddle my filthy wares. Pretty cool, eh? Well, there's a lot of new infos' and crap to report, so I'll get right down to doin' that on the projects that a couple of you may actually give a damn about. Yes, most of it involves delays... but of the good, "this DVD is gonna' kick SO much ass!" kind of delays.

What, you expected something done by this month? Ha! Where have you guys been?


VAMPIRE HUNTER D - The hold-up is two-fold, one while I battle with MPEG-2 and try to come up with a watchable transfer that's (preferably) progressive scan*, and also I'm taking my sweet time in part to aquire any and all special features to go in to the project. Since I'm about to get paid shortly, the first special feature will finally be on hand:

Vampire Hunter D: The Original Sound Track
That's right, several tracks of smooth goodness to go along with your Vampire Hunting experience. But it gets even better. Y'know the ending theme, YOUR SONG, a wholly unrelated pop song that got stuck on the end as corporate synergy? If not, it's one of the most overtly saccherine infused tunes the 80's had to offer, and opens with horrendous 8-bit Nintendo music. I'm not kidding. Regardless, Your Song was actually a single from T.M. REVOLUTION, which was one of the biggest bands in Japan during the 1980's. Again, I'm not kidding. A friend of mine asked me if I had the music video. There's a music video, I pondered? Hmmm... interesting.

He has it on DVD. I trade stuff with him often. You see where I'm heading with this.

*The original Japanese DVD is something like 7.6mbps. The current Kentai Films encode is 6mbps to make room for the extras, since something's got to give if I'm to fit 2 different versions of the OVA on a pair of DVD-R's. If I can perform a proper IVTC and -not- fuck it up like I did last time, that 6mbps should be the equivalent of 7.6mbps, due to progressive NTSC storing 24 frames of data per second versus interlaced NTSC's 30 frames per second. It should also make the noise reduction filters I'm using to try and cut down on mosquito noise work far better, since that stuff can really, REALLY fuck up interlaced material. The fun part is that Vampire Hunter D isn't QUITE progressive, with bad reel change-overs, destructive filtering and other things that would make the image not totally "film like", but it would still look better than if I just left it be. I envy PAL users.


So, this leaves me in an interesting spot: literally, the DVD is filled to the friggin' edge of the theoretical DVD-R with extras as it is. I don't think I can fit a 6 minute music video on this sucker if I want to. So what do I do? Ditch some of the video extras, all of which I consider semi-essential? Do I lower the bitrate dangeroulsy lower than 6mbps, which is already short-changing something with this much fast motion? Do I make it a 3 goddamn DVD box set? Do I make this the flagship Kentai DVD+R DL dual-layer bootleg and pray to god that the prodecure I'll use of using several professional level programs in succession works properly? This is a tough one... but not one I'm going to give up on any time soon.

Maybe I can compress the extras just a bit more... and I thought I could leave something alone in all this nightmarish encoding. Blah, I say. Oh, do I even care about the Johnathan Clements comentary on the overpriced UK DVD? Might be fun to laugh at a guy who called Legend of Lemnear pirate porn for 80 minutes, but it'd mostly just be something to slap on the DVD and make that "definitive" moniker all the more meaningful.


COUNTDOWN 2 - With Right Stuf/Critical Mass having purchased Soft Cel's rights to both episodes 1 and 3 of Utatane Hiroyuki's erotic masterwork, the plan on making this release an all-encompasing release just isn't gonna' happen. That's fine, I was primarily interested in Kurenai's nastiness to begin with. Plus, I haven't been sued yet, and in the immortal words of Master Shake "I haven't paid taxes in 8 years, I'm not getting busted by a sandwhich!" The encode is done, and the NTSC-PAL-NTSC conversion (aka: standards conversion suicide) didn't look any worse than... well, Urotsukidoji 5. Which is to say an LD source would probably be slightly crisper and definately have less ghosting, but as this version is 100% uncensored and an LD might not be*, I'm willing to let that prospect go. Japanese Dolby 2.0 is just fine, I have an accurate set of subtitles made (with maddening props and all that entails to Yui and Caterpillar), which after a re-timing due to file incompatability weird-ness is actually far more accurate than it was when I made it about a year ago. Cool.

Oh, the picture? Found it looking for cover art on the original manga. Apparently it's a poster advertizing the Countdown anime back in the VHS/LD days. Isn't it lovely?

*Kurenai and Zutto Amai Kuchibiru don't include any graphic depictions of genitalia, but the NEVA has been known to pixelate thrusting buttocks and invisi-cock/vaguely vagina-like imagery on principle. The Japanese versions of shows like Twin Angels and La Blue Girl become HILARIOUS due to this principle. I could spend $40 on an LD juust to check, but if I get that sucker and it's pixel city, I'll be pissed.

Motion menus, optional subtitles, and I'm figuring out what the best way to include a certain cool (and by "cool" I mean "hilariously bad") easter egg. Not gonna' say what it is, but if you know me and know the materials I'm using... well, you know. Yeah you do.

So, extras. There's not a lot: there's a still gallery I'm stealing from the German DVD, which is nothing exciting beyond being based on Utatane paintings, which are predictably hawt. There's a trailer I made, which isn't too bad, but it's not original so it's inclusion will be a gift rather than a bona-fide special feature. There's also the Original Vocal Soundtrack, which isn't Countdown 2 specific, but is pretty damn cool none the less, and it even includes an original drama track. AC3 files will be included in a menu structure so you can listen to each one separately or let the whole OST play while you go make dinner or jerk off or whatever. I'm very proud of it. There's the CD booklet, which isn't particularly long but does have character sketches. And there's the original manga.

Which I had as crappy JPG's, and can't seem to find on any of the DVD-R's I burned after my last HD failure.

Of course I can't find them.

There's a silver lining here: I know which chapters were turned in to Countdown 2, and I plan to buy them and scan them myself so the world has awesome, full-resolution images to wank to as opposed to the tiny little crappy scans I masturbated to when I was like 13. So the world gets brand new scans of skull-fucking and New-half cumshots, all in the name of progress and my laziness and forgetfull tenadncies.

I think it's a win-win situation, and it shouldn't cost me but $10 total. I'm down with that.

ANGEL COP - No, I haven't forgotten about my virtually-finished baby. But there are some minor issues with the menus. There were major issues with the subtitles for all of an afternoon, but those are resolved, and all the streams are groovy as can be. I have a spattering of special features, which I'm proud of considering how obscure this show is relatively speaking.

The menus' need some fine-tuning, mostly due to the fact that JASC Paint Shop Pro is a crappy dumb smelly stupid piece of crappy crap. Adobe Photoshop is so much better (once I found a few tutorials on how to make it do what JASC could do, and oh-so much more), and would make far more readable menus'. They aren't fancy-pants motion menus, but the button overlays don't line up, and I had very limited options on what I could do text-wise to make things readable. This is no longer an issue. Best of all, I can import what I do have finished in to Photoshop, tweak what needs the tweaking, and then be done in an afternoon if I'm feeling really motivated. So Angel Cop's menus' need to be tweaked one last time before burning, but that just means way better text for you to click on.

I've also been experimenting with upscaling the 4:3 letterboxed image to create a 16:9 anamorphic/progressive scan transfer. No, it doesn't magically make Angel Cop stop jittering all over the damn place, but it DOES mean you can get an awesome crisp screen-grab of all that great brain-splatter. While I've always believed that scaling video is little more than a crumy marketing ploy used by DVD studios that are desperate to make a fast buck (*ahem*), well... I'd like to think I know what I'm doing these days, and at least any crumy marketing ploy I emply would be a USEFUL one. I'm definately not changing Angel Cop this late in the game, but who knows, maybe this set will sell a bunch of copies, with said profits I could get the "new" Angel Cop DVD's with PCM audio and then get to work on an ultimate remastered DVD-9 sans extras, so anyone who -did- buy the previous release doesn't feel shafted? Who knows. I'm pipe-dreaming, but that's okay, the principle of upscaling 1.66:1 transfers to 1.78:1 window-boxed is stuff that'll come in handy later on.

Robot Carnival - I can get the English track from either a rip of the Korean DVD, or the hella-expensive Japanese DVD. So I won't need to track down the Streamline LD. Thank Jeebus. Expect a proper subtitle translation as opposed to dub-titles.


I have more good news to propogate. I know, I'm still working on projects I started in 2005, but forget all that. More projects gives me incentive to push the stuff I -am- busy with out faster, and that only means more crap for people to watch with my subtitles. It's one of the better vicious cycles I'm trapped in.
FIST OF THE NORTH STAR - Forget those new movies* and that hilarious cinematic abortion starring Gary Daniels. I'm talking about the original movie that made me fall in love with anime for the second time, the 2 hour marathon of manly violence that made me the gore-drenched slightly too homo-erotic-manly-tear-crying individual I am today. What I'm trying to say, see, is that I now have a perfect DVD-R copy of the Japanese LD. And by perfect I mean "no friggin' watermarks on the transfer like the Hong Kong pirate DVD". There was only one extremely minor drop-out the whole disk (not bad for a 20+ year old shiny!), and the original trailer is included to boot. Currently the transfer is being held on a pair of max-bitrate DVD-R's, and I'm not sure if this will be a DVD+R DL or if I can recompress the lengthy film and keep things watchable. All that matters is Kentai Films DOES have the materials to make an awesome release of the original Fist of the North Star movie on DVD, in both Japanese and English cuts.

Unfortunately, the English DVD looks better in almost every way compared to the Japanese DVD - colors, cropping, detail, you name it. But it was dub-only and had lots of English title cards and credits, not to mention the "International" ending, so for archival purposes it's basically worthless. C'est la vie. At least I never got a chance to buy the horrendous French DVD that literally craps out on the last reel and has no audio during the final scene.

Random Thought #49: the LD is matted to 1.53:1, and has slightly more information on the sides of the image than the US DVD. The US DVD us 1.33:1, and has WAY more information on the bottom, plus every slightly more on the top. Why present the DVD in this slightly-matted ratio when the proper aspect ratio would have been 1.85:1 (and would have looked incredibly bad)? The trailer is about 1.66:1, which is how it would have looked on European screens, but... bah. Y'know what? Every 80's anime was 4:3 and should be seen that way unless the VHS was widescreen too. Period.

*Wholly unrelated to Kentai Films, BUT... there's trailers for the next Hokuto no Ken OVA and Movie at the official site (Click Here!) - click "trailers", and after downloading the OVA trailer for JULIA-DEN, click on "RAOH II" to see the movie trailer for RAOH - BRUTAL BATTLE. While the second Raoh movie looks like it could be as awesome as the first Raoh movie, the classical music ripped from Fukusaku's BATTLE ROYAL had me in stitches. If only I laughed at the Julia-Den trailer... good god, it's not bad enough that NOBODY MOVED ONCE in the trailer ('cept for footage they used from the first movie - sneaky bastards!) or that they couldn't even get artwork that looked as nice as the train wreck New Fist of the North Star/Shin Hokuto no Ken OVA's from 2003, but that horrendous Dance Dance Revolution song in the background? It's actually a remix of "Julia... Eien Ni..." - I nearly vomited watching that thing. Remember the god-fecking-awful last few Saint Seiya OVA's? Well... there you go. These might be slightly more tolerable, though how I'd love to know. Admitedly, I like the new movie's tag line: "When you no longer have hatred... when you no longer have anger... all you have left... is love."

So, after this elative news, what more could Kentai Films have up it's sleeve? Well, I'll show you:

GO NAGAI CB CHARA WORLD!

For those who are confused, yes, that's Go Nagai's legendary dark hero Devilman slapping his money maker. Unbeknownst to only a select few fans by now, Go Nagai - while made famous in the West for violent and horrifying titles like Devilman, Violence Jack, Black Lion and Shutendoji - is mostly thought of as a comedian with a crazy streak in Japan, through bawdy comedies like Cutie Honey, Kekkou Kamen, Harenchi Gakuen and Dororon Enmakun. He's also the grand-daddy of all Gundam, having literally defined the mecha genre in the early 70's with Mazinger Z. He's literally created at least a thousand different manga since the late 1960's, and while he remains sort of a joke in the US, even licensors who are interested in bringing his unsavory works to the west roll their eyes and note that he's treated "like Jesus Christ himself in Japan". Yes, that's a quote. And if you know me, you know who said it too. Anyway, Go Nagai figured the only thing better than people making fun of his work was HIM making fun of his own work, and thus the CB Chara (Chibi Character) OVA series was born in 1990.

The first episode was subtitled by S. Baldirc Productions eons ago, who may or may not have been Ctenosaur/Cannibal King. Still trying to work all that nonsense out. I have crispy DVD-R versions taken directly from the 3 CAV encoded Japanese LD's, and the quality is stunning. Seriously, short of a D2 tape these episodes could not look any better. Running 45 minutes a piece, each episode focuses on a new Go Nagai world - episode 1 is Devilman, episode 2 is Mazinger Z, and episode 3 is Violence Jack. That's not to say there isn't a lot of cross-dimensional mayhem across the board, what with Doctor Hell trying to marry Silene and Mazinger Z trying to help Satan destroy Go Nagai's super-deformed smiling head. This show is all over the place, and it consistently as cute as it is vulgar. People who love Devilman will like it, and people who hate Devilman will like it, I promise.

I have a translated version of episode 1, and while I make no promises when CB Mazinger Z and Violence Jack get translated... c'mon. You know me. It'll happen.

It's 8:25am. Do you know where your sleep is? 'Cause I don't. I wouldn't mind borrowing someone elses for a while.