I've got to share something amusing with everyone.
Late last year Kurotokagi Gumi (aka Cannibal King, god of DVD bootleggging) released BOHACHI BUSHIDO SABURAI (roughly "The Clan of Eight's Villainous Code of Honor"), which is the awesome combination of an action packed Lone Wolf and Cub flick and a psychadellic Teruo Ishii soft porn film. In short, lots of tits, lots of spewing blood, lots of hideous souled human beings and a never ending spray of fucking awesomeness. I've only watched the first 10 minutes translated and can already guarantee it's worth your time. Seriously, how many films cut to the title card using the spraying blood from a raped white girl's throat as a transition?
What you see here is the transfer from Cannibal King. I gotta' hand it to him, whoever did the encode tried like hell to restore the VHS tape they mastered it from: the black bars were replaced with AVISynth or similar user-generated blacks to cut down on noise, it was upscaled to anamorphic resolution (not too poorly, even), and was given an IVTC... or, at least an attempted IVTC. The source had fucked 3:2 pulldown, so a truly progressive scan transfer is a literal impossibility. I know. I've tried.
Even the translation needed some help. Thankfully my Austrian partner in crime Kemushi took care of that, meaning I just had to do the patching part. I can live with that.
This is a recording I made back in, oh, 2006 or so? Compare the two (open them in a new tab for a fullscreen look). Notice something... off, in the CK transfer? Not only are the blacks crushed, hiding all those subtle dark gray details in his shiny-ass hair, but the color correction went horribly awry and left the rich blacks of the original VHS something of a murky gray, which may well have been a side-effect of not realizing that US and Japan analog NTSC handle black differently: basically Japan has always broadcasted black as 16 and white as 235 on a 0-255 IRE scale ("Blacker than Black" and "Whiter than White" doesn't exist on DVD, and is accomplished by stretching the black and white levels artificially). American analog formats have black at IRE 32, so if you record a US VHS/Laserdisc/NTSC broadcast, you need to drop the black levels of suffer with not-black blacks. It's entirely possible that whoever did the restoration simply didn't realize the blacks should have been left as-is, or it could even be a side-effect from using a stand alone TBC or a similar piece of restoration hardware.
Sure, my now dead Wal*Mart DVD recorded didn't upscale anything or (fail to) perform an inverse telecine, but at least it didn't completely bork the black levels either or make movement any jerkier than it needed to be. Further proof that trying to polish a turd - in this case a 15 year old ex-rental VHS tape - isn't worth the time of day. The only difference is I wasn't the one going crazy over it this time.
For anyone who asked last time, yes, anything I talk about here is available through the AsianDVDClub.org - and that happens to include SABURAI at the moment. Get it while it's gold, gentlemen. You'll also find a few other "Exclusive" DVDs under my profile, so get 'em while someone seeds them, because my share ratio needs no help.
I will point out, however, that the discs I post on ADC are not the same discs that I sell (...or, intend to... damnit, you know what I mean!). I have to keep a market for them somehow, so while the differences will vary from time to title, be prepared for any special editions to be on a purchase or trade basis. Anyone notice that Violence Jack 1986 didn't include the English dub, despite me owning the Manga UK DVD? You'll see why, eventually. Fear not on Saburai, however: I sold the VHS long ago, and even with my new DVD recorder I doubt the quality I'd get would be so dramatically better that it'd be worth recording a second time. I could probably capture everything to an external HDD and perform some AVISynth/CCE SP magic to turn it from a piece of shit into a piece of crap, but as we can see from the above example, sometimes the best thing you can do is nothing at all. I'll also say the Saburai tape was no looker: while it wasn't an awful blurry grainy mess like, say, OIRAN was, it was still really noisy , which led to more compression artifacts than usual (and my old recorder was damned good at making them). I probably could have tweaked the VCR settings to soften out the picture and minimize the noise, but really, the thought of softening a damned VHS tape just makes me shake my head sadly.
I'll also note that my transfer is probably over saturated, but this may well have been intentional, considering how candy colored the spraying blood is through the film. In effect, the simple VHS-to-DVD Recorder transfer is as good as it'll get until Toei actually restores the flick for DVD, which at the rate they've been going may happen before the decade is out.
I'll also give you guys the heads up that I recently translated a deleted scene (of sorts) for DOLLS OF HAREM (Ooku Jyuhakkei), SUZUKI Norifumi's 1986 tongue in cheek courtesian epic that may as well be the fond farewell to Pinky Violence cinema as we know it. That won't be a Kentai Films release, but I was partially involved, and if you guys are here because you like the movies I like you should probably take the time to check it out once it's finished. I actually only screwed one line really badly (and I had it right the first time... figures), but thankfully a kindly Japanese fellow with a love for this stuff fixed it for me. I also mistook a proper name for a pronoun, but it's not my fault Japan decided to make "Sister" an all-encompassing term of endearment. I guess I'm better at translating that horrible feminine period dialog than I thought I was... uh, so long as I'm allowed to use multiple Japanese-English online dictionaries.
Sorry to leave you all hanging so long without an update. I'm still trying to compose a fair judgment of KITE LIBERATOR, but it's such a train wreck full of glittering diamonds between the smoking choo-choo corpses that doing so is becoming increasingly difficult.