Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I Don't Want to Live Forever

Come clean, guys. Did anyone here make the mistake of watching HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE?

It's okay to admit it. It doesn't make you a homosexual, contrary to popular belief. It just shows you either have a boner for B-movies or refuse to give up on the Highlander franchise, in the hopes that somehow, somewhere, one of the sequels will be marginally watchable. Interesting that the least awful contributions after the first film are the TV series and (supposedly) Kawajiri's American scripted spin-off, which I'm still waiting to watch in its' uncut version. Come on, Japan, make with the bilingual R2 already!

In Soviet Russia, Highlander hates you!

I ask because if you saw the version on Sci-Fi Chanel or the Anchor Bay DVD, you're actually missing out on a lot of the (unintentional) fun. Oh don't misunderstand, I wouldn't suggest that anyone willingly watches this awful example of milking a 20 year old franchise for so much more than its' worth, but if you're going to suffer the consequences anyway, there's more than one way to destroy your brain cels. The US DVD/US cable version (identical save for editing some language) run 86 minutes, and features bookends of narration from Anna in a worthless attempt to make the wretched 2001: A Space Odyssey meets Power Rangers crapfest make even the slightest bit of sense. The "Moscow Version", initially released on DVD in Russia and later having filtered out to Germany, Brazil, Poland and Romania, runs 99 minutes NTSC. (There's also a Dutch release, supposedly a "slightly" alternate version of the US Producer's Cut.) and features no narration.

Just imagine, dear readers. Thirteen unlucky minutes. That's 780 seconds, even. 13 extra minutes of horrible, horrible pain and suffering for the viewer to endure. The US release also re-scored portions of the film and went as far as to tweak the CGI. Evidently fan outcry against the train wreck was so ceaselessly vengeful that the film's producer Peter Davis stated the following:

The Russian version is not the final producer's version. Lionsgate will release the finished film in September 2007.

In unrelated news, scientists have at long last confirmed that you can polish a turd.

Pyramid Head's lesser known little brother, Pyramid Neck.

Brett Leonard has some level of cult street cred for films like The Lawnmower Man and The Dead Pit. I can't honestly say I'm familiar with any of his work apart from this, but what I can tell you is that this is absolute trash. There are simply no redeeming qualities to be found in this film; not visually, not structurally, not in terms of delivering excitement or even shock value, unless flooring the audience with boundless levels of suck and failure is, in and of itself, entertainment. The sole purpose for which any human being would want to own this is, much like D-WAR, Killing Birds or even Pathfinder, to inflict burning, searing pain upon those who you call friends and loved ones. You feel brutalized and used by the awful film, and you want everyone around you to be just as miserable as you are. I don't think cult film fans are naturally vindictive, evil people, but I think after seeing a film this incredibly awful, something inside you just... snaps. You can't keep this film to yourself. You need others to know you aren't just making shit up. Much like the Lament Configuration made infamous by the Hellraiser movies, they have to see, to know.

And yes, just like Hellraiser's puzzle box, this film will tear your soul apart.

The sound you hear is that of Freddie Mercury rolling over in his grave. Watch the credits to the Moscow Version and you'll understand.

With this friend-torturing potential in mind, a friend of mine asked me (eons ago... I'm such an inglorious bastard) if I wouldn't mind making an NTSC version of the Russian DVD he imported. I told him sure, why not? The Russian DVD is no technical marvel and has plenty of blatant artifacting, but it is anamorphic, isn't cropped (unintentionally), has optional subtitles, and an English 5.1 track, so it's one of the nicer Russian DVDs out there even with the transfer looking like it was made with TMPGEnc Plus set to one-pass Constant Quality mode. Blech.

Anyway, I do have a technical angle to get at here. I had to pitch the audio from 25fps to 23.97fps, since PAL transfers typically play film at 25fps and pitch the audio 4% to go along with it. The difference winds up being about 2/3 a semitone, and while some people flip out the moment they hear pitched PAL audio, I'm not really one of them. I've always been a more visual oriented person anyhow, and oft small sound effect bugs or subtle remixing of music I'm somewhat familiar with don't jump out and slap me unless I'm really into the audio to begin with (or I've simply heard it 100 times). In effect, PAL speedup doesn't bother me because I don't listen for it, and if I've never seen a film before how the hell am I supposed to know what it sounds like in the first place?

Crazy eurotrash cannibals. They must be German.

Making things even more confusing is the fact that in recent years, PAL transfers have still been speeding up the audio, but they've also been pitching the audio down by that 2/3 semitone after it's been stretced to match the sped-up video. OVA Films' Vampire Hunter D is one such example, and it's very easy to tell when YOUR SONG plays over the end credits. Now, I don't honestly know if Russia's down with pitching. On the one hand they're probably given pre-made materials by the film's original owners (in this case Lion's Gate), and they may be down with pitched audio. On the other hand, Russian dubs are typically three guys reading the subtitles out loud over the original audio track - I swear to God, I'm not making this up - so clearly the standards for proper audio fidelity aren't very high up on the concerns of Russian DVD production. Not having an NTSC version to compare to, I'm left to my own rather tin ear to try and judge wither or not the stretched out NTSC audio is "right" or not.

Thankfully, the guy I'm doing the transfer admits he's no video/audio nut, so even if I make the wrong choice I don't think he'll be too upset. Still, it is a conundrum I'm likely to duel with in the future, and I wish I could figure out some simple way to make the call. I don't even own any new enough LG DVDs to have their "clockwork" opening, which would be a relatively easy way to compare the pitch now that I think of it. Blame a combination of my limited budget and my refusal to buy something I expect to see on Blu-ray less than a year after it hits DVD.

The worst part is that's his "O" face.

Errata: Freddie Mercury was cremated, not buried. In solance, I'm more than willing to get cockslapped by his ghost, if he ever so chooses. How could I turn it down from the guy who gave us Fat Bottomed Girls?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

太陽の傷 - Stare at the Sun until your Eyes Bleed

That's right, an exclusive subtitled DVD-9 of Takashi MIIKE's fantastic 2006 revenge drama SUN SCARRED. Original subtitles by Cannibal King, grammar policing by a certain very hungry kemushi, and the nitty-gritty patch work done by yours truly.

Show AIKAWA (Zebraman, Dead Or Alive trilogy) gets in a street fight with a gang of delinquents, and when he wins one of them decides to get more than even. Having lost everything he goes into seclusion, until he hears that the kid who took his life away has been released from Juvie. He goes back on the pretense that he wants to see with his own eyes that the wild child has changed and become a peaceful citizen, but neither Aikawa nor the heat-packing teenagers of Japan can let this old score be settled peacefully...

Just incase y'all didn't know, Takashi MIIKE is my God. After 30-plus films he's never left me unamused, and while not every film is an internationally celebrated revolution the fact that he's roughly as prolific as Jesus Franco or Joe D'amato while at least as talented as any dozen period grindhouse director glued together is a combination I just can't get enough of. This is much more in line with Koushounin/The Negotiator, or maybe even Kikoku/Yakuza Demon in being a smart, deeply sad drama with only moments of his trademark over the top insanity, but just like those two films the characters are strong enough that it still holds together nicely

It's no Sukiyaki Western or Audition, but it's probably Miike's most mature and sincere film since The Bird People In China, and manages to pack an even harder punch overall. Comparions to 70s grindhouse revenge movies aren't completely without merit, but go in with a clear head and just let the film's cold message wash over you, like so much bitter tears and dried blood.

You know you want it. You know where to get it. Here's the best part... it's Golden. So hop to it!

P.S. - Because I love you all.

My wife wants to try the caramel filled kind.

This is why Kentai Films doesn't outsource transfers

Before I begin I have to say that I have the utmost respect for evildee and all the hard work he's done for the good of Pinku loving wankers like myself everywhere. He's a lovely human being (I'm sure), and by posting this I mean no ill-will towards him or the things that he does. I just want to point out, once and for all, why you shouldn't "remaster" something if you're not 100% sure how to make it better without making another aspect worse in the process.

And yes, that goes for me too.

What we have here is a screencap from the ADC Exclusive release of SCENT OF A SPELL. In perhaps a bid to match the recent 16:9 upscale I made for Slave Wife, a new 16:9 transfer for Scent was made as well. In and of itself a fine idea... there's just one problem. The above screencap isn't deinterlaced. The disc looks like that in progressive mode, effectively a 30fps deinterlaced DVD.

This is a problem because the Scent tape looked to have fairly good 3:2 information. So instead of looking like that, we could have had clean and progressive FILM frames like so:

Let me teach everyone here a little something. You HAVE to perform all IVTC/deinterlacing BEFORE you crop, upscale, or in any way change the size of the original frame. The reason is simple; NTSC is made up of frames 480 lines tall, with constantly intersecting A fields and B fields. If you keep the field interlaced and then stretch these lines vertically, the A fields no longer blend with the B fields. This leads to ghosting, aliasing, and all sorts of ugliness I can't rightly describe or even show in still form. It's exactly what Manga Entertainment did for their "remaster" of The Wings of Honneamise, thought to be one of the worst anime DVDs of all time, and I'm glad to see they've never manage to royally screw up a digibeta quite so badly since.

If your transfer has no 3:2 pulldown (such as BOHACHI BUSHIDO SABURAI)... well, you're basically screwed anyway. You can either deinterlace and then upscale (as above), or even deinterlace, IVTC, and THEN upscale. But that whole road is moot for this particular source, and there's nothing you can really do to make it look 'good' at that point, so stop trying to restore it. You're really just wasting your time. I'm looking at you, Cannibal King.

Deinterlacing instead of performing an IVTC is bad for two reasons. The first is that by deinterlacing, you've already gone from 480 lines of information to 240. The biggest drawback to BOB (simple) deinterlacing is the fact that you get jagged diagonal lines and regular ghosting on motion, which is why you can see two bats in the first cap, and also why his shoulder and head look all jagged-like. Even with this letterboxed screencap, you can clearly see more high frequency detail in the trees and hair. Not that Scent of a Spell is exactly a razor sharp source, but the difference between noise, grain and detail becomes a moot point on such transfers, and you should really keep as much detail as you possibly can under the circumstances.

The second problem - this is a big one - is the fact that no DVD player knows what the hell to do with an image like this. If it were IVTC'd, it wouldn't have to deinterlace it at all, and everything would be groovy. The frames themselves are 30fps progressive, meaning that even on a DVD player designed to reconstruct interlaced frames and perform an IVTC on the fly won't know what to do with these frames. In effect, progressive 30fps should only exist for animation made at 30fps. A good progressive deinterlacing DVD player would be able to recover the original 24fps FILM frames from the original VHS-DVD transfer I made and avoid all those jagged lines and ghosts. No DVD player on the planet has the power to fix the upscaled transfer because the interlaced frames have been changed so much. With video restoration, less is absolutely more, and the simple act of an IVTC/Upscale combo is more than enough to make a transfer look better than it did before.

So, for all FILM based NTSC sources, first you try this first:

IVTC, Crop, Upscale, Encode

And if that doesn't work, you do this:

Deinterlace, Crop, Upscale, Encode

PAL sources and shot-on-video/hybrid affairs are another issue entirely. For the purposes of this entry, they can die in a gutter somewhere.

He was nice enough to create a patch for the letterboxed DVD I uploaded too, so it's not as if he didn't give me options. I'm downloading the patch now. I don't know evildee personally, and without him I wouldn't have a usable subtitle file for this classy looking film, so I can't really say anything bad about him or the work he does. This transfer just doesn't seem to be his finest hour.

More and more I feel I should try upscaling one of those god-awful Universe DVDs of DAUGHTER OF DARKNESS or RAPED BY AN ANGEL. No, I doubt anyone would care, but it'd still be fun to try.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hokto no Ken Re-Exploded

The production of the Hokuto no Ken movie just astounds me.

The above screencap is an accurately IVTC'd shot from the R1 Fist of the North Star DVD. The R1 is clearly a telecine from a different print than the Japanese LD, which can be proven by the film generated credits at the end of the film, and the fact that the Japanese telecine has frame blending on all the footage while the R1 does not.

No, I don't feel like screencapping them both. You can trust me on this one.

What we have above is clearly a video edit, between the lack of resolution and the bizarre deinterlacing in the hair that blends separate film frames. The censorship is identical on the Korean R3, which is taken from the same telecine as the Japanese VHS/LD releases from 20 years ago. In other words, both the R1 and R3 telecine, though taken from different prints, both have video editing. The film was edited on video and printed to the film master before the video telecine, and all subsequent film prints (ie: all one of them for Streamline) have been released have been from that new, haphazardly edited film master. Which makes zero sense when you realize that Streamline was intentionally seeking out unedited, controversial Japanese animation.

What the hell, Toei?!

Remember that comparison of Shin turning Ken into swiss cheese last time? Remember how the film clip shows the finger moving out of frame and the LD didn't? That wasn't my doing. There's at LEAST 6 frames missing from that 35mm print, so all the rumors of the original theatrical edits being uncensored seem to be genuine. For having said "hell no", what with the edits being done on film, I apologize to the world. Simply put, Toei is friggin' insane for having edited the film this way, and I could not wrap my brain around why anyone in the world would have telecined the film, edited it on video, and then printed the video frames back to film and splice them into the IP.

It's nuts. Absurd. Daft. Looney. Crazy, I tells ya!

With any luck the "new" R2 DVD will be a brand new 35mm print from the uncensored camera negative, or even a scan of the actual OCN (Original Camera Negative). If it isn't, that means we're literally seeing a new transfer of a 22 year old 35mm IP (Interpositive Print), complete with 22 year old scratches, hairs, dirt and punches in the film to show where the film is split onto different reels. I'd say that using the first old print lying around is inconcievable, but that's exactly what Geneon did on their botched Perfect Blue HD Remaster, and in the case of Macross: Do You Remember Love? Bandai was very careful to note it was taken from the "Original Positive Print" - likely a 16mm blow-up, but I digress. If Toei releases a censored version of this most holy of holies, I'm going to be very upset, but seeing as how the English dub is included as a first-press bonus I can't not pre-order this one.

Please, Toei. Don't screw this one up.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hokuto Shinken Class of '86, Unite!

お前はもう... 死んでいる!!

That's right, I finally figured out how to type in Kanji. There'll be no living with me now!

Despite keeping no secret that I am a generally heterosexual male, absolutely nothing in this world gives me a raging man-boner harder than the 1986 Hokuto no Ken Theatrical Movie from Toei. I saw it over a decade ago now, and the film - in itself little more than a glossy and censor/budgetary/schedule limitation free recap of the first 50 odd episodes of one of Toei's biggest hit TV shows of the period (before Dragonball came along and stole the thunder from the 80s as a whole) - still fills me with the wide eyed wonder and burning manly passion that, I've found, only comes with 80s anime in which manly men talk of manly things and beat the manly hell out of each other. There's no cream for that itch, and you'll find that as time goes on, it only gets worse from there. Hokuto no Ken was actually the original weekly anime TV show in which men made each other bleed to establish how manly their existence was, so all the kids today who think Naruto Shippuden 147: Gaara Just Has to Dance! Take his Toes of Fury like a Power Top! is just the height of awesome really have no-one to thank but the tag team of Tetsuo HARA/Buronson, the manga's artist and writer respectively, and Ashida TOYOO, the series director who also rocked my socks with the original Vampire Hunter D OVA a year before Hokuto's first big screen outing.

Up until now, there have been a hand-full of completely unsatisfying DVD releases. Image Entertainment first released the Streamline version of the feature with no Japanese track in 1998, and that snapper-case atrocity remains one of the crowning jewels of my DVD collection. There is a French DVD known as Ken le Survivant: Le Film, and is reportedly a worse pile of crap than even the Image DVD. Likely the most widely known DVD release for the film out there is the MI bootleg, which is effectively the 1987 Toei LD (complete with trailer) with some fancy motion menu, poorly timed English subtitles, and a big ugly "MI" watermark at every chapter stop. Still, if you wanted to watch the flick in Japanese with subtitles, it was your only DVD option out there. A Korean distributor picked up the rights in 2007 and released it with a twist; the original theatrical version of Hokuto no Ken ended Raou actually winning the fight against Kenshirou, not out of disrespect to the show's infalable hero, but because it gave the film version a better sense of closure. With the TV show still getting strong ratings and the video release showing up shortly before Ken and Raou's climactic TV battle, Toei crafted a new tack-on ending in which Ken and Raou fight to draw before Rin shows up, where much the same events follow from there, with some alternate footage (my favorite being a shot from the original ending with Ken literally optically printed in last-minute). Having watched both endings several times now, I respect the guts and narrative ramifications that the original ending carry with it more than my eternal fanboy that shouts "What?! Raou letting Ken survive during their first encounter without Toki there to make him feel guilty? You've got to be kidding me!". The Korean version has Korean and Japanese subtitles, but no additional dubs or extras of any sort. It does have some Korean text pieces trying to fill the audience in on how Hokuto Shinken works (I think?) and a still gallery, but assuming the Korean subtitle translation was better than the Streamline English dub, these are rudimentary gaps that (hopefully) should be filled with the TV series, manga, or better yet those god-awful/totally awesome looking Korean live action movies that Toei had secretly destroyed in the early 90s. You know what I'm talkin' about...

Asian Pride!!

Anyway, the point of this hopeless rambling is the fact that Toei, 7 years after having released the TV show (thrice now, and on their second remaster!), is doing a Japanese DVD release of the original movie this November for roughly $50 USD. The standard edition will feature a newly minted 1.33:1 HD restoration, DTS Japanese, the theatrical trailer, and a photo gallery. The first press is set to include (and I quote) The Original Theatrical Multi-Ending, a booklet, and - most surprisingly - the English dub. But the solicitation makes it sound as if it'll be included as an extra on a second disc, rather than simply as a selectable audio track. Hard to say. The real stumper is wither or not it'll be uncensored or not. See, Hokuto no Ken '86 may be the single most violent 2 hours of animation the world has ever known, but it was always intended for Japanese 10 year olds. You might think an insanely violent Road Warrior meets The Street Fighter (by which I mean Sonny Chiba, not Chun-Li) combo in which the hero tends to literally make his opponents erupt into gooey geysers of blood and chunky organs would be a bizarre conflict of interests, but Japan is a very fun and crazy place.

LD vs 35mm. One of these things is not like the other...

I am confused about the OAR of the Hokuto no Ken movie to some degree... the 35mm prints found here* prove that the theatrical release prints were, indeed, 1.33:1. While odds are that all theatrical anime of the 1980s were projected at 1.75:1-1.85:1, as most theaters literally aren't equipped to project anything smaller than that, that doesn't necessarily mean it should be shown in widescreen. The Toei LD was matted to 1.58:1, but was literally the 4:3 telecine with some bars slapped over the top and bottom. Shots like this simply don't look very good cropped to 1.58:1, forget the "new fullscreen" 1.78:1 that I was expecting, so I can only assume that Toei knows something I don't, or the restoration team simply used their better judgement. I'd ask for Toyoo's opinion on the matter, but as he was fine with Vampire Hunter D losing everyone's chin and forehead (despite it never having had a Japanese theatrical release!), I'm inclined to believe he simply doesn't know any better.

To be honest, seeing a title in a theatrical setting is better than seeing it at home regardless of aspect ratio, so I can see why some people would want even nasty, clearly over-matted theatrical ratios (see: The Evil Dead). For a home video release to modify that without the project having literally been framed for it, however, there's just no excuse to mess with it. Stuff like King Kong and now The Dark Knight pose interesting aspect ratio quandaries, and as we saw recently with Terra E..., Toei isn't above matting theatrical features. Whatever the case, I'm stoked that Hokuto no Ken will be presented open-matte.

*That Italian Hokuto no Ken collector is helping me out a bunch here. Poor guy doesn't even know it. Check out his site English here. That boy's got all sortsa' neat stuff.

I'll also point and laugh at the mono audio. I know the LD is Stereo, so I'll assume that 80s Japanese prints were simply mono to be compatable with mono theaters? Hollywood was done with mono films by the early 80s, but it's not surprising in the least that Japan was a few years behind, but likely they prepared a stereo remix for home video since the soundtrack was already stereo to begin with. This would also explain that "Original Mono" mix on the OVA FIlms Vampire Hunter D remaster, come to think of it.

Expect a fullish review once it's out, and for a subtitled version to be made available to the public shortly thereafter.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

VHS Sourced Wife Enslavement

So, here's the skinny:

DOREIZUMA/SLAVE WIFE, likely Nikkatsu's wildest Oniroku Dan/Tani Naomi adaptation is up on the ADC. It's a recording of the Nikkatsu VHS circa 1994, and had a good enough 3:2 pulldown that I managed to create an anamorphic/progressive transfer. No, it doesn't look like a "real" DVD, but I challenge Exploit Asian to do any better (hint: they've failed). The film starts out as proper 2.40:1, but as you can see the bulk of the transfer is about 1.75:1, which is really a damned shame. Still, until Nikkatsu makes a new print and releases a legitimate DVD, this 14 year old VHS upscale is as good as it's going to get.

The upcoming translation was stolen from the Video Serach Miami bootleg, which retitled it "Captured for Sex 3"It's raw, but there will be a downloadable patch posted in the next week or so, so iffun' you want to watch Tani's tit molested by razor sharp stuffed crow claws, and American GIs, and uh, steak knives, get crackin'.

Delicious, succulent Tani-sama... Ah heck, one more can't hurt.

Great job!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Adventures in Subtitlng

A summary of the conversation I had with my boss regarding the newest set of exploitation videos we're releasing:

Me: "I got 3 discs today. The extras definitely need subtitles. I can try to translate them, but last time... that didn't go so well."

Boss: "Well, that was a license from [X], this was with [Y]. They don't give a shit."

Me: "Huh."

Boss: "So get it done as soon as you can, all right?"

Me: "Sure thing."

I've successfully translated the first 5 minutes of the making-of... the rest of it I'm not convinced I can do. Likely I'll take a crack at the 10 minute interview and see how that turns out. If I can do that, the rest of the making-of I can probably fake my way through and still come out with a translation reasonably close to the original dialog. Unfortunately, it won't be fast, it won't be fun, and goddamn it, it will be cheap for the translator, wither it's me or not.

I asked a fluent friend of mine to give it a look over. He agreed that it was a pain in the ass and that the money wasn't really worth it. So, I call up my boss again, and do the smart thing; tell him the truth, that any translation I give him will be incredibly incomplete, and potentially wrong.

Not that anyone will ever care, and likely only a half-dozen people who even know better would ever watch these piles of shit in the first place, but still. This is the stupid crap that keeps me up at night.

His reply? "If you only pick out like, 3 words out of 7, just roll with it. It doesn't really bother me."

The moral of this story is, to all you international licensors out there, include a shooting script. Or a transcript. SOME kind of script so the poor bastard who has to translate your awful movie isn't sitting there with a crappy pair of headphones going "Shit, rewind it- there? No, here... what the hell did he say while that other guy was coughing? Something about... radishes? No, about house paint... Agh, this sucks! He's gonna' say 'Suck me sideways' now."

'Cause we'll do it.

The worst part is the flicks I'm actually working on. Obviously I won't say what they are, exactly, only that they're the most boring, pointless, god-awful piles of shot-on-VHS waste I've ever laid eyes on. Clearly the intended audience is there to masturbate while they choke back vomit and tears of joy, but when I wait 15 minutes for a nipple and 30 minutes for gore, I'm neither horny nor grossed out. Just incredibly bored.

Suehiro MAURO's Bloody Ukiyoe personifies what I'd rather be doing instead of translating my next "legit" project. We should all buy this book. It's amazing.

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Night Shift Nurses Shit No More

The following post is stolen, sans shame, from a post by mk2000 over at the Anime on DVD forums. I don't know how well Mania archives posts, so I figured I should really swipe the information now while there was a chance to:

"Okay, it took a while in between other duties and my utter shock over losing Kanon Vol 6 but here it is -


There were 4.7 Minutes cut from the R1.
7 Sequences/Sex Scenes/Sex Sessions were Altered/Deleted.
86 Storyboard/Continuous Camera Shots Deleted

Many sequences had to have "approved" shots looped to add time due to the all the cutting.

R1 Running Time 22:10 before end credits (even with the looped sequences)
R2 Running Time 26:28 before end credits

As noted previously, the script was also massively altered to turn possible "forced" situations into consensual ones.


First Cut Altered/Cut sequence comes at minute 7:53 of the R1.
In the original sequence, the Doctor is forcing Remi to eat Hikaru's feces.
11 seconds
3 storyboard shots

The sequence right after that one is also cut where the doctor sits on Remi's stomach to force her cork buttplug to shoot out and allow the feces to flow.
39 seconds
14 storyboard shots

Although the timing is now off from the R2, at minute 11:04 of the R1 the next cut sequence comes with Ako's Necrophilia sequence in which the doctor overdoes it with the defibrillator, doesn't notice she's gone into cardiac arrest and so proceeds to have sex with her. He later revives her for those wondering but that sequence is not shown in this compilation version so any newcomer could assume she died.
1 minute and 55 seconds
32 storyboard shots

The following cut scene at 11:10 was the Narumi sequence from the never released Episode 10. This sequence is partially cut.
First 16 seconds where he tears off her clothes.
7 storyboard shots

12:21 again during the Narumi rape sequence they cut before they show her blood and semen drizzling out from her vagina.
5 seconds
1 storyboard shot

13:15 were he violently slaps her face until her nose bleeds.
5 seconds
1 storyboard shot

13:24 vertical pan of her body up to her bloody face.
10 seconds
2 storyboard shots

13:27 more shots of her bloody face
11 seconds
2 storyboard shots

13:52 Finally to the next sequence, the Doctor Eating Hikaru's Feces
4 seconds
1 storyboard shot

14:06 Hikaru lying on the floor with her face on her feces
5 seconds
1 storyboard shot

16:22 Hikaru train sequence where she willing eats her chocolate covered poop on the floor and says its yummy. :puke:
2 storyboard shots
16 seconds

Exclusive 10.5 Hikaru Hot Springs sequence.
Getting slapped in the face
15 seconds
4 storyboard shots

The Doctor's Penis
2 seconds
1 storyboard shot

17:56 The Doctor's Penis (why?)
7 seconds
1 storyboard shot

18:00 Hikaru giving consensual oral sex to The Doctor with his Penis showing.
Okay, in the R1 they are looping sequences to extend the time of the oral sex sequence because of all the cutting. HAHAHAHA!
And they finally show his penis in an aliased 2 second still frame they inserted. How generous of them...
30 seconds
3 storyboard shots

18:45 Pulling out Hikaru's butt plug.
Once again, they loop "approved" sequences to add time.
11 seconds
2 storyboard shots

19:02, 19:22, ?
It's getting more difficult to keep up with their cuts since they are rearranging the entire sequence and looping some sections to avoid showing when the doctor inserts his penis into her anus to push in the eggs. (or anything too "graphic" or forceful)
About 30 seconds
About 9 Storyboard Shots"

In short, Adult Source Media is, at this moment in time, marginally more disgusting than the scat they've cut for this title who's sole purpose is to offend the viewer into a fucking coma. I only ever bought Vol. 2 of the initial Anime 18 release of the series, because vol. 1 was a heavily cut train wreck and I figured, eventually, we'd get either a complete box or a "Director's Cut" featuring the restored versions of episodes 1-3 instead of that ridiculous 'deleted scene' crap they pulled on vol. 2, 'RN's Revenge'. Of course, Anime 18 bit the big one before any of that ever happened. I inhereted vol. 4, 'Carnal Corruptions' somewhere along the way, and still have my copy of vol. 2, which sadly is full of cracks through the actions of people other than myself.

Resurfacing is a scam. Don't bother, just buy a new copy.

Adult Source Media literally cut the crap right out of 10.5, so I'm doing my best to find the original Japanese versions of 5.5 and see if this was a one time thing or not, as there have been rumors flying around for some time that they "rescued" the title from Anime 18 and will be re-releasing the entire KARTE series from start to finish. If this is their idea of a 'rescue', we might be better off letting the franchise drown in its' own filth.

I'm probably not going to buy any ASM DVDs sight unseen ever again, since the odds of this being some sort of bizarre pre-cut by the Japanese seems virtually impossible - I'll also point out that, having asked ASM point blank if they cut the title or recieved a cut master, I was ignored. This is in rather stark contrast to my having asked them ages ago if they were planning on picking up the rest of the Yakin Byoutou franchise, which - as you can see - they were more than happy to take my advice over at the time.

A shame, as controversial material in shows like ANGEL CORE, DAIAKUJI: THE XENA BUSTER, HARUMI'S BAD PLAY, and even SHUKAKU: HARVEST NIGHT were all untouched. I don't know why they'd suddenly have a change of heart over what has to be the most infamous title out there, but when shots of face-slapping and forced clothing removal go missing, there's clearly something more dastardly going on than "we didn't have uncensored pussy footage, so we had to cut it". Even if that were true, they could have stolen the footage from the Anime 18 releases.

Friday, August 01, 2008

ShotGunnm to ADVs Bootlegging Days

I'll keep this brief.

ADV released Battle Angel (aka GUNNM) on VHS in 1996, in both English dubbed and subtitled versions.

ADV re-released Battle Angel on DVD in 1999, with English and Japanese audio with optional English and Español subtitles. ADV promptly re-authored the DVD and replaced it with a non-Latin friendly version in 2000.

Those who speak Spanish have said that these subtitles had plenty of spelling errors and truly bizarre grammar. ADV is located in Houston, TX, and I refuse to believe they couldn't find one competent Spanish translator. Still, the issue isn't that the subs were crappy, it's that they were dodgy. See, removing a language track on a DVD costs time and money, so it's not something you usually do unless the copyright holders (in this case, Shueisha/KSS) say "hey, you didn't pay to exploit the Mexican marketplace: your contracts say 'English', so get rid of 'em or we'll sue your ass".

In 2001, the title went out of print entirely, supposedly in relation to James Cameron having bought the rights to make a 3D version of the franchise. The details of what happened are sadly not clear: ADV said at the time that they didn't actually lose the rights to the title, but it's been assumed that Cameron's involvement meant that the title couldn't be released. This didn't stop Viz Media from re-releasing the Battle Angel manga in 2002.

In August 2008, ADV re-released Battle Angel on DVD. Sorta'.

As you guys probably know, ADV has been under... let's say, a lot of stress lately. Their English Netwype magazine was usurped by PiQ, which imploded after just 4 issues. The Anime Network has been scaled back considerably. Their club-support program, ADVocates, is gone. Despite the ADV Manga line still existing, they aren't releasing or printing any new volumes. The big shocker came in January of this year, when ADV removed and ceased distriburing about 30 titles, licensed by their Japanese business partners Sojitz from the ARM coropration. I can tell you with certainty that the basic struggle was over money. ADV wasn't paying Sojitz as they promised, and in retaliation they yanked back all of their titles. ADV was given a second chance, minus the two most lucrative properties, namely Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, and Keroro Gunsou/Sgt. Frog.

At AX this year, FUNimation announced that it would be handling all of the Sojitz titles ADV was formerly distributing, minus Gurren Lagann which went to Bandai Entertainment some time before that. ADV further announced that even more titles would be going OOP, including 5cm Per Second, a mere 4 months after they released the title! ADV promised that KIBA, the latest in Japan's never ending onslaught of card-game based tie-in anime would premier from them in the near future, only for that to be a half-truth: the English dub production was handled by Amusement Park Media, a subsidiary of ADV Films, but the title was neither licensed nor is it being distributed by ADV Films.

So a week and change ago, ADV calls up Anime Nation, saying that they're going to re-print Battle Angel in a limited run of somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 discs. John, the ever-knowledgable company jack of all trades, repeats this information on the AN blog. A day later, ADV corrects the statement: they have a limited number of the original DVDs, and are offering them through a select number of anime specific retailers, including Anime Nation, Right Stuf, and Robert's Anime Corner Store. Gincy, right?

Not quite.

First of all, even if ADV had somehow wrestled the title back from James Cameron (which makes no sense... Viz seemingly had no trouble re-releasing the manga that the OVAs and Cameron's future film are based on), most licensing contracts only last between 3 and 7 years. For ADV to have the legal right to sell the title, we'd have to assume that their contracts were renewed circa 2001... right when the title went out of print. What the hell kind of sense does that make?

Second, the DVDs actually being sold still have those illicit Spanish subtitles. Urm... so ADV still has their old contracts, and they've been upgraded to include Spanish this time? Oh... okay, sure. If this is true though, why do the newly printed covers - claiming a 2008 copyright, no less - only list English subtitles?

Finally, if they really did rescue their contract for what is (at this point) a relatively obscure decade-plus anime OVA series, why wouldn't they do a genuine recolicitation to Best Buy and Deep Discount, you know, stores that sell more than a few dozen copies of any given title? Why does ADV keep saying one thing and then take it back officially a week or two later (as has been their MO more or less all year)?

The answer is pretty simple: ADV doesn't have the rights to Battle Angel anymore. No part of this situation leaves them likely to have any legal right to release the title in North America - let alone with Spanish subtitles they never bought the rights to use in the first place. ADV is in the shitter, and they decide that this will be their savior? Please. ADV found a box with a couple hundred returns from the Spanish subtitle debacle, weighed the likelyhood of actually being caughed (and/or sued) if they only hand it to friendly anime focused distributors against how badly they could use some fast cash. ADV has admitted in the past to keeping a hand-full of OOP titles on hand should they get a request for a return for a damaged or faulty disc (it happens), and with Battle Angel, they had PLENTY of leftovers due to the fact that they were never supposed to sell it en Español in the first place. In a sense, any copies kicking around are free money to be made.

No, I don't have any hard proof. How would I? All I do have is a lot of common sense and a rudimentary knowledge of how licensing contracts work thanks to being friends and employees of people who deal with them for a living. Battle Angel simply has a multitude of hallmarks that label it a not-quite-legitimate DVD release, and while I personally don't care if Shueisha/KSS is missing out on the royalties (that'd be rather hypocritical of me, no?) it does amuse me that when these obvious red flags are thrown out on forums like AoD, the whole thing just explodes into stupidity and people blindly assuming that the R1 studio that's been lying to the public and avoiding explanations has just got to be in the right somehow.

There's a rumor going around these days that after ADV pissed Sojitz off to no end, they've come up with a new partner - an American this time - and that what they plan to do is create a new puppet company to transfer all of ADVs licenses to it before they disolve ADV totally. The reasoning is that after the Sojitz debacle, no one in Japan will deal with them, and the fact that ADV's sole premier this summer has been a show for Upper Deck lends some credence to that fact. I'm not saying all this is true, but I am saying that, if a new studio pops up and says it has all of ADVs' old titles, I'm going to write this all off as a masterstroke: even if KSS/Shueisha wanted to sue ADV for selling copies of Battle Angel under the table, how would they if there's no ADV left to sue? For fuck's sake, they already co-produced the final dubbed epiosodes of Welcome to the NHK with Crunchy Roll, and personally I think partnering with a website that makes you pay to watch free fansubs you could steal from usenet (in fullscreen, at least) has already taken a wrecking ball to whatever spotless reputation your company may have had a week before.

And yeah, Gonzo worked with Crunchy Roll. It was a stupid idea then, too.

So, am I a delusional paranoid crazy-pants for suspecting ADV of pulling a DVDAni/Nova Media, or is ADV about to bite the big one and emerge as a new and exciting company that Japan will work with briefly until they realize the management is the same as the studio they told to fuck themselves vigorously with a forked thor?