Sunday, November 30, 2008

Properly Color Timed Bullshit Stories

The last VHS restoration I would up posting was quite a simple matter. No IVTC, no upscale, just mathematically checking the contrast and then eyeballing the saturation. Color correction is something I've dabbled in once or twice, but never something I'd do without either some cash for my time/sanity, or it being a project I can be 100% convinced is in dire need of fixing. It's a far more frustrating and whimsical bastard than the hard mathematical truths behind things like "resolution", and I take some satisfaction in knowing that the people who get paid for it don't even seem to get it right all of the time.

Color timing is difficult to judge without a comparison point, because its' something done not just in the camera, but in post production. Certain shots getting their contrast boosted or tinted a certain color for effect are relatively simple tricks of the film making trade, and in modern productions especially scenes of intentionally blown out contrast or desaturated color are seemingly common place. Typically people only start to hem and haw if there's two DVD releases and one of them looks dramatically different than the other. In these situation, do you trust the older or newer transfer? More importantly, why should you trust that either of them look the way its' "supposed" to?

The poster child for color timing gone awry is, without fail, John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN. Not having seen the film for a decade now I remember it being less than revolutionary, but my tastes have changed and my undying love for Rob Zombies' gritty realist take on much the same material has piqued my curiosity enough that I'm willing to give it a second look. Of course, now I have to decide which version is worth watching... and that's going to be no easy task, I'm afraid.

Anchor Bay initially released a terrible looking non-anamorphic transfer in 1998. This was replaced with a 2 disc Limited Edition in 1999, with a brand new THX approved transfer supervised by Dean Cudney, the film's director of photography. It was hailed as a gorgeous disc by pretty much every critic out there, despite the fact that the print was in slightly rough shape.

In 2003, Anchor Bay released the "Divimax" HD remastered version. While the print was cleaner and the transfer sharper, the vivid blue hues of the films' second half, and the muted orange of the daylight scenes were nowhere to be found, creating a less vivid, all together flatter presentation of Halloween. Fans were pissed. In 2007, the Divimax HD transfer was released on Blu-ray, with some additional color tweaks... but not a brand new transfer. As such some scenes look identical to the THX transfer, while others are almost exactly like the Divimax transfer. Whilst you can see more/better examples here, I'll provide a few split-screen captures to make it easy:

So, one of these just has to be wrong, right? The fact that Anchor Bay actually fixed the first shot to have the more yellow, fall-hued colors of the THX transfer on last years' Blu-ray seems to confirm it... yet the second shot was left white instead of being colored electric blue. So what's going on here? Which transfer is the way Halloween is supposed to look?

After all the hullabaloo last year of the Blu-ray not featuring the oft-prefered THX color timing, people shocked me by being objective and intelligent, pointing out that if the film was "supposed" to be glowing like a laser rock show, older video versions should look that way, too. One guy compared the Criterion LD to the two above transfers, finding them to be bluer than the HD Divimax master, but nowhere near as saturated as the THX transfer. Another decided to compare a theatrical trailer... again, the same results. Blue, yes. Neon, no. While people will take with them to their graves opinions over wither or not the DP approved SD or the nobody-approved HD transfer more accurately represents Halloween as it was always meant to be, I have little doubts that the Anchor Bay HD transfer is pretty close to what the film negative looks like... they were just a bit overzealous in their white balance.

See, the way you color correct film is you find the whitest object in the scene, and then change the red/green/blue balance until it becomes perfectly white. This doesn't work if there are no white objects in the scene, however, and it gets especially complicated if the film literally reqires the printed film to vary from the negative, for example, if it was shot day for night and then a blue filter will be added to the printed master. Having seen transfers where day-for-night footage wasn't properly filtered I have no doubt that for many vintage films - particularly obscure, foreign cult films like Francos' The Marquis de Sade's Justine and Umberto Lenzis' Man From The Deep River - a complete list specifying how to properly print each and every frame of footage simply isn't available, leaving the modern restoration crew to literally look at the negative and take their best guess. Sometimes 35mm positive back-up prints are used as a reference, but this is generally only done by massive Hollywood productions like for The Godfather and Sleeping Beauty. Granted, even the latter has its' number of odd idiocyncricies... maybe another time I'll get into what went wrong there.

I'll also point out right now that anyone claiming to remember EXACTLY how Halloween looked on the big screen circa 1979 is full of shit. Even if they did remember exactly what color the film was 30 years ago, theatrical prints are multiple generations away from the camera negative and approved answer prints form which directors' and DPs give their blessings. In short, even if you did remember what Halloween looked like at the local multiplex, that's not what Dean Cudney saw in a screening room when the film was finished some months before. To this day, theatrical prints tend to have far more grain and more blown out contrast than the negative (digital intermediate or otherwise), and in many cases a DVD may literally be about as nice as the average 35mm roadshow print. How white the screen and how white the bulb in the projector can make a big impact, too. 2k/4k digital projection theaters are slowly doing away with this level of analog confusion, but we're still a long way off from even modern blockbusters being seen digitally in every town, forget 30 year old horror films.

If you don't have any sort of reference and you're working from a vintage print, about all you can do is try and get the white points to be white, and then adjust the contrast/brightness so that neither the blacks get crushed nor the whites get blown out. For a classic example of what not to do, let's check out this shot from Francis Ford Coppoplas' visually stunning BRAM STOKERS' DRACULA, which also has a colorful (ha!) DVD history. Initially the entire 2+ hour feature was released on a single layer DVD, and looked quite a bit like ass. Sony fixed that by adding the title to their Superbit library of movies who had been treated so badly prior that the entire film got a DVD9 with a new DTS track to itself... albiet without extras. When it was announced that the film would get a Blu-ray release, many were excited, but the fact that it was restored when the Superbit transfer looked so good to begin with was just a bit... odd.

Oh, for fucks' sake...

Don't get me wrong, the Superbit transfer does appear just a little warm (red) and over saturated from time to time, but take a look at the torch. The old transfer has a glowing orange torch... the new transfer turns the fire GREEN. I could be wrong, but I think if it were supposed to be green it would have been caught in the 14 years between the original Criterion LD and the new Blu-ray/Collectors' Edition DVD. There are countless other examples of major color changes - much of it desaturation, others contrast boosting to make "inky" blacks... the two of them literally turn Dracula into an inescapably dark and dull looking black hole. Ironic, considering that every single prior video release (including the Coppola approved LD) had a vibrant, practically garish color palette.

Just to be safe, lets' try again...

While I've said before that minimizing Keanu Reeves' presence would have made it an overall better film, this wasn't quite what I had in mind. Plenty more great comparisons - including the film edited documentary featuring "finished" footage that looks exactly like the Superbit DVD - can be found here on the AVS forum. You'll have to sign in, but it's so worth it. I haven't even posted any of the worst offenders.

How did this terrible restoration of a modern film that didn't even need a new scene by scene restoration even come to be? The short answer is that Zoetrope - Francis Ford Coppolas' own production studio - created a new HD transfer in the wake of the realization that releases like Fullmetal Jacket and The Fifth Element - old 1080i HD transfers that were fine in the era of DVD - weren't nearly as good now as they were then. This brand new restoration from the camera negative was then (supposedly) color timed to a vaulted answer print made in 1993, effectively an exact copy of the master print that FFC and co. signed off on as being finished before the theatrical prints were made. Considering that some scenes look exactly like the old transfer, and others look wildly different - often crushing blacks or desaturating reds - I'm finding all of this rather hard to swallow. The short of it is the desaturated colors and crushed, noise free blacks LOOK digital in nature, like the film was shot on HD video and then finished in 2008 to look like a Saw sequel. No, without the negative and the answer print in my hands I can't be sure, but either this phantom dupe AP never existed and Zoetrope is covering their asses by pretending it does, or it does exist and its' simply faded into horrible disrepair.

You can also fuck up royally by using a multi-generation film print, for the reasons I outlined above. Lets' take a peek at the 2001 Anchor Bay from-the-negative DVD release of SUSPIRIA, next to the 2006 "Definitive Edition" transfer restored by Technicolor themselves. I'll point out that Technicolor doesn't specify what print their HD transfer was taken from. That can't be some ominous sign, can it?

She hasn't seen a ghost... just the Technicolor transfer.

...I was going to compare more scenes, but I realized I was throwing up in my mouth looking at this one shot alone. Just read everything that Mike M. has to say over here at the DVD Times. I wouldn't doubt that the Anchor Bay transfer is a bit under saturated and dark, and I KNOW its' audio mix is a cluster fuck, but dear God, what the hell happened over at Technicolor? Not only is the contrast so overly blown out that it makes my eyes hurt, but the fact that the films' original DP, Luciano Tovoli, approved it makes me wonder if anyone signing off on a transfer of anything really means a goddamn thing? If Suspiria, perhaps cinemas' most stunning visual assault, can look this awful and the guy who was there behind the camera still gives it a thumbs up, clearly we as viewers need to realize when something is amiss ourselves, and simply not purchase "restored" transfers that look worse than the perfectly fine versions we owned to begin with.

The saddest part? This nonsense hasn't even gone away with modern productions released a year ago! MAD DETECTIVE has been released on Blu-ray in both the UK and Hong Kong, with vastly different results... namely, one is BLUE and one isn't.

See more here. The Masters of Cinema transfer was evidently approved by Johnny To, so it's the "right" transfer only by default. (It's also not as tightly cropped and has no edge enhancement, but that's another issue.) The entire director's approved master is tinted blue like this, and while it is the superior transfer overall, the Mei Ah Blu-ray is certainly the more attractive looking version in terms of vibrant, natural color and contrast. I won't second-guess Johnny To on why the whole film is this way, I'll only say that it's yet another OLDBOY situation, where the final color timing was done after the Digital Intermediate was finalized. That said, why the hell don't directors - in Asia and elsewhere - time the DI itself? Perhaps it's simply out of their control, and in the case of Oldboy especially the difference is so subtle that it's certainly not early onset revisionism kicking in, but it would just fix so many problems to get that nonsense fixed before you get out of the gate...

As you can see, even the people who made the movies don't always seem to know what they're supposed to look like. It's a combination of careful research, personal judgement, and a little luck. Prior video versions sometimes color our perceptions of how a film "should" or is "supposed" to look, and in the case of restorations like Halloween, it's really impossible to say which version is 'right'. Dracula and Suspirias' restorations, however, are so blatantly wonky that it's almost impossible not to feel that the new version is somehow screwed beyond compare. Certainly some of it will come down to personal preference, but again... green torch. Sometimes a pooch has simply been screwed, and it's not impossible to figure out how, or why.

Is color timing and contrast boosting really that bad? I look at Halloween and wonder... then I look at Dracula and nod. Then at Suspiria and hide under my desk, cowering that the contrast boosting Angel of Brightness will soon come for my soul. Sure, its' tempting to bring out a certain aspect in a transfer that seems to be underutilized - increasing the reds or crushing the blacks, what have you - but correcting colors is far removed from changing them. The whole of the home theater crowd and the individuals who cater to them would do well to remember that.

Anyway, enough bitching about DVDs. I'm gonna' go watch one instead.

Hilarious that two of the "better" transfers in these examples were THX approved. THX isn't inherently good or bad... their version of Evil Dead 2 on DVD actually wipes the floor with Anchor Bays' Blu-ray release, and the THX approved version of The Evil Dead is such a wreck that the Elite LD master may well be the lesser of two evils. Several early THX DVDs were also interlaced and/or non-anamorphic, with several completely screwed up audio mixes including Highlander and Suspiria also bearing the Lucas seal of approval. In short, it doesn't really guarantee anything.

OI~RA Sukeban, yarou-tachi me!!

Video Search of Miami Bootleg

(Sure it's protected by US copyright laws... FROM VSoM!)

Kentai Films Transfer

(Note the lack of pretentious bullshit. On my part anyway.)

Well, this one isn't quite the jaw-dropper I was hoping it would be, but the original tape is to blame. Nikkatsu (for whatever reason) added pixel based censorship on what appears to be a pre-fogged theatrical Roman Porno, and the editing suite they used wreaked havoc on the source, giving me all sorts of aliasing and weird-ass blurring artifacts that seemingly come and go at random. At first I thought my usually reliable IVTC algorithm was just going nuts, but no, the flaws were only being magnified by my well-meaning attempts to restore the title. In the end I fixed the contrast ceiling, brought the firey saturation down a notch, de-blocked the transfer, let CCE SP worry about the IVTC duties, and wound up with... a pretty damn good looking VHS tape capture. No more, no less.

Y'know what? That's okay. All things considered I should be proud my copy doesn't look like an nth gen VCD like most of the Video Shit Miami catalog. Fuck Nikkatsu, fuck the NEVA, and fuck Video Search Miami while you're at it for almost having gotten this one right. This is the best looking VHS capture of SUKEBAN MAFIA (Girl Boss Mafia) that there ever has been, ever will be, and short of Nikkatsu making a brand new print and telecine, that's just the way it's gonna' be. Decent flick, at that. Check it when you have the chance.

I've come to realize that the built-in noise reduction in my VCR does lead to some slight chroma smearing... I don't like it, but I realize that not only is there probably chroma smearing on the original tape, but that turning it off also kills my Time Base Corrector. And I'll be damned if I'm using a JVC prosumer deck and turning off the TBC unless I absolutely have to.

In other news, Kurotokagi Gumi/Cannibal King released BOUNTY HUNTER MUYONOSUKE at a native 352x480 "Half D-1" resolution, cutting just over half of the horizontal resolution of the R2 DVD they likely sourced it from. I doubt anyone but me noticed. Or would care if they did.

I try why, exactly?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wife Gobbler

Subtitled Video Search Miami DVD-R

Kentai Films Remaster

Damn... If I hadn't mastered this one from VHS myself, I wouldn't think that big a gap could even exist. This is probably the best looking restoration I've done yet, in no small part due to the original tape being of fairly good quality, but I'm willing to yank my own chain and say that I think I did a pretty good job of fixing the black/white levels, and finally found a way to cut down on that omnipresent VHS related analog noise without visibly softening out the picture in the process. No, I didn't erase the grain entirely, but as this was likely shot on cheap stock with little controlled lighting, even the negative is probably grittier than a sheet of sand paper.

This took longer than it ought to due to me trying like a madman to boost the color saturation... made the daylight scenes look great, but then the dark interiors looked like they were positively glowing. I'm not getting paid for this, and it's not a film I've masturbated to dozens of times, so I just can't get excited about doing a scene-by-scene color correction, and I'm afraid even if I tried the limited nature of the tape I captured all of this from would mean I couldn't fix the washed out colors as much as I'd like to, anyway. Hollywood restoration laboratories and their 35mm 4k 4:4:4 scans can do things I can't with a VHS tape and AVISynth, and the sooner I realize this, the happier I'll be.

Subtitle patch is on the way, so download now and watch later! ...please? I could sure use the ratio boost. I'll be uploading another to-be-subbed pinku in the next several days, so look forward to it.

Happy Turkey Day to you and yours from everyone here at Kentai Films!

And to all the Native Americans who call bullshit on it... well, duh. What part of celebrated American history isn't a crock of half-truths and revisionist glorification?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Five Dollars More For Mr. Bandai

I recently did some translation work on Takashi Ishii's yakuza epic GONIN (aka: The Five).

Yeah, I know, it's available through Media Blasters in a two pack with its' wholly unrelated pseudo-remake Gonin 2, but Sirabella and co. only released the 109 minute Theatrical Cut based on the 10+ year old LD transfer. The work I did was specifically on the previously unseen Director's Cut footage - roughly 6 minutes of new material - which is being worked back into the already existing English translation, to inevitably be added to the Remastered R2 DVD.

It won't be a Kentai Films release, exactly, but I'm glad it'll be out there all the same. Damn good film. I can't wait to watch the film on a nice anamorphic transfer, having originally seen the MIA UK release which is one of the least pleasant NTSC-PAL conversions I can remember having seen. VIOLENT COP didn't look too hot on UK DVD either, but as that still doesn't have a watchable DVD anywhere else, so I guess there's no use complaining over spilled transfers.

In other news, Mnemosyne got licensed... in the United Kingdom. If it weren't for the NTSC-PAL conversion issues inherent with UK anime releases, I'd be on this like R. Kelly on a prom night after party. Fucking Australia has Evangelion 1.0, and we don't even get Oh! Edo Rocket in the US? Something is seriously messed up with the American anime industry right now...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My True Lady Blue

Blah blah blah...

Whew! Not one, but TWO scenes were edited on this, the final episode, making up for the no-show comparison I gave you last time. Both of these scenes are quite amusing, and readily establish why cutting animated comedy pr0n is never in its' favor. If my math is right (likely it's not), the first cut is somewhere around 23 seconds, the second about 12, for a total of about 34 seconds worth of cuts not compensating for any freeze-frame shots and the like. I'll no longer be talking about the runtimes directly, since Anime 18's credits kills the timecode display on Media Player Classic, making my estimates kinda' lopsided at best. What I can confirm is that the R2 runs 29:15, and that the R1 is... uhm... about 30:55, with credits and Daiei logos? Something like that, at least.

R1 (01:31:33)

R2 - CUT

R2 - CUT

R2 - CUT

...that's NOT cut, but the above shot is? You only see his boner for like 2 frames! Honestly...


R2 - CUT
Do me like the vile rabid Ewok you are!

R2 - CUT

R2 - CUT
Damn you, parachute pants...


R2 - CUT

R2 - CUT
Nobody saw that one cumming!

R1 (1:31:58)

Wasn't that fun? Man, Americans like me have really missed out!

R1 (1:42:34)
For some reason, this shot is a cheesy freeze-frame on BOTH versions.

R2 - CUT

R2 - CUT

R2 - CUT
Is that shot sexy? ...yes. Yes, I do believe it is.

This one, too. Not sure if I blame the Rin-Sin character designs for being so damn cute, or the core concept of making out with a near corpse.

Hmm? When did I ever say I DIDN'T have issues?


It's not what it looks like-nya!

R1 (1:42:39)

Oh, that crazy Nin-Nin! To his credit, playing with Yaku's boobs did do the trick. Also, watch the R1 and you'll see her massive sweater melons actually settling from when Nin-Nin lets go. It's another sort of "...huh" cut, just like in the first episode when you can just barely see him shaking his weiner.

The R2 DVDs are designed to not allow me to rewind/fast forward without ripping the VOB files apart and making new MPEG files, so I'm doing my best to keep track of what all is how long by skipping to the right chapter and trying to keep an eye on the timecode. I'm sure a more detailed analysis would prove these edits to be off +/- a second on average, but for the purpose of the Kentai Blog, I think this is rather sufficient. If someone wants to do a full blown Edit Report with frame by frame accuracy, by all means, I'll leave it to them.

I also can't fathom why now the R1 DVD has brighter colors and hotter contrast than the R2... it was the other way around on episode 2, and more similar on episode 1, and I can't even remember what episode 3 was like now. Honestly, why? For that matter, how? Did Anime 18 just fuck with the dials on their hardware just to spite me in the future? Even with some weak looking black levels the R2 is sharper, and doesn't totally blow out details in over saturated color, so the R2 is still the winner. Just... for different reasons, now. (Ow. My brain.)

So, there you have it ladies and gents, the definitive answer as to wither or not Anime 18's release of LADY BLUE/INJUU GAKUEN EX's was truly uncut or not. At least this time it didn't have a big 'Uncencored' bar across Miiko's tits, blatantly lying to consumers. Well, not on DVD at least... the fact that all R1 covers of La Blue Girl 1-6 shout "UNCENSORED!" while being edited for content is one of those things that burns my balls like you just wouldn't believe.

Hope you enjoyed the report. Good night.

P.S. - None of the cut footage in Lady Blue actually has any odious Japanese obscenity nullifying censorship, which means crafting a 100% uncut and uncensored version is totally viable. I already know I'm not so lucky on the Original/Shin La*Blue Girl OVAs, but that is an unexpected bonus (of sorts).

Friday, November 21, 2008

Unbelievably Blue


I'll be damned... no cuts on the R1 this episode! At first I thought this was going to be a Nin-Nin fuckfest with the R1 running 27:14 (with several additional logos) and the R2 running 28:53. Remove the logos and credits from the equation and both versions run about 26:35. For whatever reason, Anime 18 removed the credits from episode 3, and it literally cuts from the last shot of episode 3 and then starts up at the Daiei logo for episode 4.

Anime 18 left the credits for episode 1 in before getting to episode 2, so I didn't think this would be an issue. Ero Anime being edited into bullshit "movies" by foreign distributors wanting to cram multiple episodes onto a single video is quite common, but I can't for the life of me figure out why A18 would do that for the second tape and not the first. I'd expect that sort of random inconsistency from Manga Entertainment, but I always figured Anime 18 had a bit more common sense.

To compensate for a distinct lack of Nin-Nin dork, here's an amusing cut-away shot from when princess Shana literally bites off and swallows oni cock.

It only lasts one frame.

Tongue (...tentacle?) in cheek moments like these keep the entire Injuu Gakuen LA*BLUE GIRL franchise head and shoulders above every other show with "Injuu" in the title. While the third episode didn't wow me quite as hard as the second, I still feel that I've been a bit unfair to the EX series. It's not quite as wild as anything that Maeda actually wrote, but it does build on the mythology it created and does it with plenty of style, and sits comfortably alongside the latter two episodes of GEDOU GAKUEN: BLACKBOARD JUNGLE as the best Maeda inspired (I do't really want to say 'adapted') Ero-Anime series after the original Urotsukidoji trilogy. Demon Beast Invasion and Adventure Kid both have their own sort of clumsy charm, but in the end they're not much better than their non-Maeda contemporaries like Injuu Kyoushi/Angel of Darkness. Of course, while The Wandering Kid franchise got progressively worse as time went on, La Blue Girl kept getting better, so comparing them one for one is even more difficult than it really ought to be.

Anyway, I can promise you Episode 4's report will contain more than one edited sequence, so look forward to it!

Hokuto no Depreciation Day

What a day...

Oh, you've forgotten? Today is when the 世紀末救世主伝説 北斗の拳/Legend of the Century's End Savior HOKUTO NO KEN (ie: Fist of the North Star '86) came out on Japanese DVD. The good news is 90% of the flick looks great, with the first ever HD restoration of 35mm film elements, and the English dub is indeed included in its' entirety. There's also an alternate angle feature so you can watch the Japanese home video ending where Raou doesn't win, albeit culled from a letterboxed and composite tape master. There's a few never before seen features, a even a spiffy booklet, all for under $50. It's easily the best release of this classic film there's ever been, and odds of any international release being better are slim to none.

That's all of the good news.

So... bad news. IT'S STILL FUCKING CENSORED. I'm awaiting more screencaps to confirm if the 'edited' footage has any dot-crawl or similar composite video artifacts, but more likely than not they were just optically printed to fuck, and then spliced into either the original camera negative (OCN) or a 'new' Answer Print (AP) once the film had made its' theatrical rounds. The 35mm theater prints were uncensored, and I've shown y'all proof of that before. It may be possible that the "uncensored" negative was simply destroyed. I don't know. But even if that were the case, I find it hard to believe that Toei wouldn't have the damaged remains of a 35mm theatrical print they could cull the uncensored footage from and then just include as a special feature. Then again, the censoring methods were so severe and awkward that even splicing in an authentically grindhouse quality roadshow print may have yielded better results.

So, with Toei's incompetence having riled me up, I'm going to pass along some screengrabs that my buddy Jong sent to me a while ago. Recently the denzies of ADC have been hard at work adding the R1 Neil Nadelman subtitles to the R2 HD remaster of Hokuto no Ken TV. You'd think the HD restoration would look much better than the 5 year prior SD remaster... but of course, if that were the case I wouldn't be bringing it up in anger, now would I?

On the one hand, the SD transfer isn't perfect. There's some minor edge enhancement, and the contrast has led to some majorly overblown colors, looking so garish and bright that these punks appear to have stepped off an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba!

On the other hand, the HD remaster has magically lost virtually all of its' film grain. If you compare the subtle details - brush strokes in the background and lines in the victim dude's face - the High Definition remaster is actually softer than the Standard Definition remaster! Yes, the EE on the SD transfer means not all of that grain is 100% natural, but it looks more like 16mm film than this smeared looking transfer. One can argue that 16mm has an inherently grainy texture, and so using Noise Reduction to minimize it is actually a positive. Too all these people, I say compare the two - preferably zoomed in at fullscreen - and see how the HD remaster has lost detail along with that film grain. No, neither transfer is perfect, but the old transfer at least doesn't look like it's been digitally processed to Hell and back.

Let's do another comparison. Just for shits and giggles.

The SD transfer has crushed the black levels.

The HD transfer has smoothed out the outlines.

In this shot the HD transfer wins, but not because it's any sharper. The fact a newer HD transfer is inferior to an older NTSC transfer in any way is the reason the face palm was invented, and it seems to get more and more common as time goes on and studios start releasing their catalog titles in HD ready editions.

Personally, I'd be willing to sacrifice some black levels on as low budget a show as this if it means I could keep more of the hand-drawn details in the original film frames. The HD remaster also crops the bottom of the frame, but I don't know if the HD remaster is stretched to compensate or if the SD remaster was always squashed slightly. The Noise Reduction is the real bone to contend with, and odds are it was performed at the HD telecine stage, so if I really want to be smart and buy Hokuto no Ken in HD, I'd better get used to it being scrubbed completely clean of grain and fine detail.

My soul thoroughly crushed, I'll return to crafting the LAdy BLUE comparison later tonight.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Blue Pink Gets Better With Age

R1 DVD (28:35)


R2 DVD (28:49)

I feel bad for some of the things I said last time. While the first episode of Injuu Gakuen EX/LAdy BLUE still bores me more than anything, the second episode is easily as good as either of the SHIN OVA's, if not even better in every way that makes a tongue-in-cheek ninja porn anime good in the first place. Maybe I'm just getting old and demand more out of my wank material. Maybe recording dozens of Pinky Violence samurai erotic films has warmed me to all forms of Tokugawa boot-knocking. Maybe Shana-Hime's gorgeous self performing lengthy acts of cock worship did me in more than the pulsing 10 foot peni that attracted me to the show in the first place. I don't really know. I just know I liked the second episode a hell of a lot more than when I first watched it several years ago, and I'm looking forward to comparing the next two later in the week.

But enough commentary from my libido. On with the show.

R1 DVD (47:51)




I'm watching you pee...




What paintball taught me: always wear a cup.



Do... not... want...


R1 DVD (47:55)

As you can see, quite a bit of footage went missing in that 4 second stretch, and this time it was at least somewhat kinky. Granted the reasoning of cutting Nin-Nin for looking like a child becomes even more insane when we see that he's 3 feet tall with a 10 inch dick, but really, I digress. Anime 18 has since made ammends and even said they'd include all of the cut La Blue Girl/Lady Blue footage, should they ever release yet another La Blue Girl sequel which never actually got animated. Of course, Anime 18 doesn't really even exist anymore, so that's sort of an empty threat... maybe it always was?

This time we also lost about 14 seconds' worth of runtime, though I'd argue that Nin-Nin literally tripping on his own dick is more interesting than watching him take a leak like we'd see in any old episode of Dragonball as per the last comparison. The cuts also delete more actual footage than the 14 second window would suggest, because Anime 18's old friend, Mr. Freeze-Frame and Miss Slow-Mo, return to ensure that Nin-Nin's cooing of "I can't get enough of that scent!" fits into the R1 insert shot... by which I mean the only one that doesn't show his hilarious boner. Naturally some dialog gets the axe, but that's really the least of our worries this episode.

I also take back my comments saying that the R1 and R2 look similar, having spent more time with both transfers. The last comparison didn't show (for whatever reason) the rather drastic differences in overall brightness, contrast and saturation.



Don't get me wrong, the R1 isn't unwatchable, but side by side with the R2 the Anime 18 transfer just looks... muted. Solid blacks on the Japanese transfer become muddy grays, the bright whites in special effect shots have a similarly faded quality, and color saturation - particularly red - seems paler on the US release, leaving less vivid and pink skin tones on the luscious girls' freshly tentacle-slapped asses. This general shift toward muted colors is simply the side-effect of Anime 18 having created the video master in the days when VHS ruled the market, so there isn't much use complaining about it now, I suppose. If this were a new transfer it would be worth shitting kittens over, but as it stands the A18 DVD looking less impressive than the censored Japanese DVD is really just a part of their infuriating charm. Or, so I try to tell myself...

Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed the first half of the LAdy BLUE Editing Comparison (now with more obnoxious color than ever before). The fact that Anime Prime doesn't even list this show as being cut means this is likely exclusive info, and I'm all the happy to show fellow fans of Kan FUKUMOTO directed tentacle smut what they didn't know they've been missing for the last 12 years or so.

Random though... Banzai in France released LA BLUE GIRL 1-6 (see last blog for what that entails) uncut and uncensored, but French dubbed only, so I never bothered to buy them. I'm all for uncensored Nin-Nin penis, but not if I have to pay for EMS shipping and then have to listen to a bad Euro porn dub on top of it.

EVA, sometime later, released "Le Retouer de La Blue Girl" (aka La Blue Girl Returns) in a bi-lingual form, but as the R1 is supposedly uncut, and even features a Maeda/Ikeda commentary, I never paid the French release any mind. So... why didn't any studio in France ever get Lady Blue? They certainly liked releasing all of Urotsukidoji and as much Bible Black as any other country's had, so where's the hold up on this legendary franchise?