Manga Nihon Emaki (Anime News Network offers the title translation of “Animated Japanese Picture Scrolls”) was an anthology series from that featured traditional and historical Japanese stories. The show’s chief director was Noboru Ishiguro, whose long resume includes Space Battleship Yamato, Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Sabu & Ichi, Future Boy Conan, Megazone 23 Part I, Macross (original TV series & movie), Orguss…you get the idea.
The series first aired in Japan in 1977, and was shown with English subtitles in the 1980s on KHAI-TV, UHF channel 20 in Hawaii. I shared some episodes in 2014, from a VHS tape provided by Laurine and digitized by AnimeSennin. Now Dougo13 has provided me with episodes from a second tape, recorded by the same trading pal in Hawaii.
So, here’s a new batch that contains all of the episodes I posted from the first tape, plus several new ones from this second tape. Massive thanks to Dougo13, Laurine, Dave, and AnimeSennin, for their work in preserving these subtitled episodes for so many years. Now they can be shared with the world…
Now here’s an interesting puzzler. These tapes also contain some subtitled episodes of Manga Nippon Mukashi Banashi, another anime adaptation of traditional Japanese folk tales. The show had a massively successful run from 1975-1994, but I’ve been having difficulty figuring out the episode numbers of the ones on these tapes. Both ANN and the Japanese Wikipedia page for the series have listed a vast number of episode titles, but I can’t seem to match up a single one of them with the episodes on these tapes. If anyone can help figure this out I’d appreciate it, otherwise I’ll probably just end up releasing the episodes without official numbers.
A search for the text まめだ comes up with nothing in either episode list. I’ve tried this with a few of the other episodes as well.
Back in 2008-2009, SkewedS Translations and Order of Zeronos subtitled the first five episodes of the fifth (and at that time, the most recent) series of GeGeGe no Kitaro. At that time I was making steady progress on subtitling the first series (the black and white episodes from 1968). So when Order of Zeronos dropped out of the project, I contacted SkewedS and we arranged to continue the fifth series together as a joint project. Scripts for episodes 6 and 7 were translated and in various stages of editing and typesetting. But SkewedS was busy working on Sukeban Deka I and other projects, and TSHS was busy working on Sukeban Deka II and other projects, so the fifth series of Kitaro ended up on the back burner, going on an extended hiatus some time around 2010.
In 2012 I was contacted by Hokuto no Gun, who volunteered to help out with the first series, and most of my other GeGeGe projects (series 2 & 4, and the movies) have been joint projects with them ever since then. And then of course there’s series 3, which ran on the Hawaiian pay-cable station Nippon Golden Network years ago with somewhat rudimentary English subtitles. Thanks to old VHS recordings provided by Dougo13 and Laurine, I’ve been able to share many of those as well.
Fast forward to 2018. GeGeGe no Kitaro has long been popular in Japan, and they’ve been consistently making a new anime series every decade since the 1960s. So of course the 2010s were no exception, and 2018 was the perfect year for Toei to release the sixth series, as it was the 50th anniversary of the original series from 1968. The new series is still going strong in Japan, a subtitled version has been licensed for streaming in North America by Crunchyroll, and in some other countries by Wakanim.
SkewedS decided to pick up the 2007 series again, and released a revised version of episode 1. Now in 2019 we’ve joined forces again, with SkewedS and TSHS working together from episode 2 onward. Be warned, there are a few typos in this episode that I caught too late to fix for this release, but they’re mostly pretty minor (a space missing from one line, an extra space in another, a missing comma, etc.) These will eventually be fixed when we get to a batch release.
It also turns out that nis-aihara was very busy in the Kitaro anime anniversary year of 2018, creating fan subtitled versions of episodes 6-18 and 20-45 (episode 19, the Kappa story, had already been subtitled by a group called Oedipus back in the late 2000s). So SkewedS has put together batches of episodes 3-45 from these different sources, which can be found here:
Episodes 3-5 [OZ-SkewedS] v1 Hardsubbed AVC 8-bit from Mega
Episodes 6-45 [nis-aihara & Oedipus (ep19)] Hardsubbed AVC 8-bit from Mega
Megapack of 3-45 from Nyaa
Also, I might as well post the links to the older series here as well:
SkewedS and TSHS had originally been planning to work on revisions of episodes 3-5 and finalizing our old subtitles of 6-7 that never got released. However, with this huge batch of 2007 episodes now released, we’ve decided it makes more sense to forge ahead with episode 46, and go back to the revisions once a few newer episodes have been completed. And of course older episodes and movies from TSHS and Hokuto no Gun are still in the works. Stay tuned…
Here’s a guest post by my old friend DeTroyes, who co-founded TSHS with me in the mid-1980s. He started out writing this in the comments section, but it got a bit long for a comment, as he has accumulated quite a bit of interesting information to on the subject over the years.
DeTroyes also asked me to add this disclaimer: all of the opinions expressed here are his, and he takes responsibility for any errors or omissions.
Some perspective about why the Lensman anime is so rare, and why its not likely you’ll ever see it released anywhere until 2040 at least. Much of this story comes from Frederick Pohl, who was a close friend of E.E. “Doc” Smith’s family and who talked about this situation at SF/F conventions numerous times as a cautionary tale for writers about guarding their property rights. Also, some information from several SF/F convention panels on copyright that I’ve attended over the years, including one that had a lawyer who had represented Smith’s family in some of these matters.
When E.E. “Doc” Smith died in 1965, the control of his literary estate passed over to his wife Jeanne and his daughter Vera (the latter of whom became Literary Executor; her son Kim is the current Literary Executor). Among the rights they inherited where the media rights, including movie and television rights. While Smith and later his estate had tried numerous times to get Lensman or one of his other properties adapted by Hollywood, it wasn’t until late in the 1970s – with the success of Star Wars – that any of these attempts began to gain any traction.
According to Frederick Pohl, after years of lobbying and proposals a major studio bit and decided it was going to produce a series of big-budgeted Lensman films. Deals were made, contracts were written, millions of dollars were going to be invested – and the Smith family stood to profit greatly from the entire endeavor.
Then, a video tape showed up on the Smith family doorstep.
Back up. Up until the 1980s, Japan (and much of Asia) worked on a different system of copyright and licensing rights than the Western world; if a Japanese publisher bought the publishing rights to something, under Japanese law they bought the rights to EVERYTHING – including the rights to exploit that property in movies, tv, comics, or whatever. This is one of the reasons why you ended up with things like Batman manga, two different adaptations of Captain Future, etc. Western publishers knew this but worked with it anyway, reasoning that even if someplace like Japan made a TV or movie adaptation of a property it was highly unlikely that copies of it would make their way back to the west, and even if they did, who would want to watch them anyway? (Remember, this was all before the advent of the VCR, and the subsequent tape trading/collecting culture of SF/F media fandom). So when Japanese publisher Kodansha bought the rights to publish E.E. Doc Smith in Japanese in the 1960s, they considered themselves the owners of all the Japanese rights to Smith’s oeuvre. Meaning, they could make TV series or movies of any of it if they chose to, so long as it stayed in Japan.
Also worth noting, Literary Executor is different from publisher. Literary Executor is the person who has the authority to make decisions about a literary estate, but as a practical matter they usually sign over some of their rights to the publisher. In this case, the publisher (who I believe was Ballantine, but I could be wrong) held the rights to publish the books themselves, as well as the license to sell those rights in overseas markets. This is a generally common arrangement for publishers and authors, even to this day. In the case of this discussion, Kodansha bought the publishing rights for Lensman directly from the US publisher on a license set to last a standard number of years, usually 20-25. This set up a potentially troublesome situation – Smith’s family believed they owned the exclusive worldwide media rights to Lensman, but under Japanese copyright law they didn’t entirely; within Japan, Kodansha owned a license as well. And they decided to use it.
Here’s where the story gets a little murky. Kodansha evidently had always been interested in adapting Lensman in some form, but for whatever reason it didn’t start coming together until the late 1970s/early 1980s. When the decision was made to try to make an animated adaptation, Kodansha says they did inform the US publisher, which is probably true. However, it appears no one bothered to pass that information further along – not to the people who were negotiating with Hollywood, nor (most importantly) to E.E. Doc Smith’s family and literary executor. So just when it looked like a big Hollywood deal was about to be made, along comes a video tape from Kodansha with early animation of the in-production film, which had been sent to the Smith family as a courtesy. And shit hit the fan.
Hollywood immediately backed off. The very existence of an animated version being produced elsewhere was a big problem, because the studio in question wanted complete control of the property. Also there was the fact that the production, well, didn’t look half bad (by the standards of that time), and that meant it had the potential to be a competitor to the big-budget series they were envisioning. The deal collapsed, and Doc Smith’s widow was furious.
Being unable to stop Kodansha’s production, Smith’s family did reluctantly decide to try to make the best of a bad situation and work with them on at least letting the production finish unmolested, and see what the final result was. When it finally came, they were not impressed. The movie was “disappointing”, and the changes made to the story in the TV series adaptation killed any interest they might have had in rescuing the production. At first they thought they could wait it out, and try again with Hollywood in a few years. But by then the video revolution was in full bloom: video copies of the movie and TV series started floating around and showing up at US conventions, and word of its existence started to spread. Then someone at Kodansha (probably without the publishing arm’s knowledge) turned around and sold the North American rights for the movie and TV series to Carl Macek’s Streamline Productions, again without Doc Smith’s family’s knowledge. At this point Doc Smith’s widow put her foot down: with Streamline Productions trying to market a US release of the Lensman anime and copies starting to float around and appearing at conventions, she feared they were losing control of Lensman. Smith’s family sued Streamline, Kodansha, and everyone else they could in order to re-assert their control.
After years of litigation, a settlement was made whereby Streamline was allowed a VHS release of the anime in exchange for paying a (very) limited license. That license expired in the late 90’s, and Doc Smith’s family flat-out refused to renew or re-issue it. Kodansha’s Japanese license to E.E. Doc Smith’s works also came up for renewal sometime in the early 1990s, and Smith’s Family made sure that media rights were not included. Thus, Kodansha has been unable to release either the film or TV series since then.
(ADDENDUM: A comic book spinoff based on the anime film appeared in the US in the 1990s, but it was restricted by Doc Smith’s family to only concepts and ideas that came from the anime film and could not reference any of the original books. This license also eventually expired and was not renewed).
Doc Smith’s widow died in the mid 90s, but apparently she set the official policy that the E.E. Doc Smith Literary Estate now follows in regards to the anime: So long as Doc Smith’s copyright and intellectual property rights continue to hold sway, the anime is never to be licensed in any form. Edward Elmer “Doc” Smith died on August 31, 1965; according to the current laws governing US copyrights and intellectual property (at the moment, basically the 1978 Berne treaty), the rights of an author’s literary estate extend to life of author plus 75 years. This means that, barring any changes between now and then (read: Disney gets their way), the rights of E.E. Doc Smith’s literary estate will fully expired on August 31, 2040 and all of his works will enter the Public Domain. Unless Doc Smith’s Literary Estate has a change of heart, this is the earliest date I would expect any release of the Lensman anime in any form can be made.
As an aside, in theory Kodansha could re-release both the Lensman film and the TV series at any time; they just can’t call it Lensman. If they remove all the names and anything else that could be associated with the story and concepts of E.E. Doc Smith’s original novels, they could release the anime with a rewritten story and a new dub. I’m not sure how practical this would actually be to accomplish, but its worth pointing out. Even if Kodansha has lost the right to market a Lensman adaptation, the animation they produced is still a separate intellectual property as a distinct work in of itself, and they certainly retain the right to use it however they want. But while I expect Kodansha is well aware of this, I also think it is likely that they feel a little bit of guilt about how things transpired. Consider this: Japanese publishing culture takes the opinions of its authors and how their works are utilized very seriously. The fact that the Literary Estate of an author they otherwise admired enough to translate was so dissatisfied with their production that they forbade its subsequent dissemination is probably bad enough; but since the problem was compounded by a series of events which kept putting Smith’s family in the dark – including attempting to sell something they probably didn’t have the rights to sell (the anime’s US rights to Streamline) – they may feel a little shame over the whole matter. All of this possibly carries a degree of weight with Kodansha. Thus, it is quite possible that a proper release of the Lensman movie and TV series might never be made, and the fansubs currently making the rounds might very well be the best quality we will ever see.
Which is a shame, because for all of its problems, I think both the Lensman movie and its subsequent TV series are actually quite a fun little gem. Its 1980s anime space opera, silly sometimes but not overly so, action oriented but not violently so. Yes, it veers substantially from its source material; so do a lot of movie and TV productions (I mean, have you actually READ Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?/Blade Runner). But I don’t think it does so to its source material’s detriment, and I certainly think it’s worth a watch in its own right. While I can understand the Smith Family position and even sympathize with their frustrations, the fact remains that its now 35+ years since the original dispute metastasized. Maybe its time to give this particular grudge match a rest, and maybe raise the profile again on what was once the most popular space opera ever written.
Thanks to DeTroyes for filling in so many details of a story I was only vaguely familiar with. As an addendum, it’s worth mentioning the abortive attempt by Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski to adapt a Lensman movie for Universal Pictures/Imagine Entertainment in the mid-to-late 2000s. He actually completed at least two drafts of the script before Universal got cold feet about the $130 million budget, and the rights ended up reverting back to Smith’s estate.
Dave Merrill wrote an article about Lensman on his entertaining and edifying Let’s Anime site. Definitely worth a read if you haven’t seen it already, you can find that here. Any fans of Showa era anime (i.e. made before 1990) should check out this site, it’s sort of the online equivalent of the fanzines we older fans used to read in the “before times.”
And here’s an overly optimistic (I don’t mean that in a bad way, I was also very excited about this news at the time) article about the JMS adaptation from Cinemablend in 2009. The brief article also links to a podcast where JMS discusses the current status of the project. Check it out here.
2019 is the 35th anniversary of both the Lensman anime film & TV series, as well as the 85th anniversary of E.E. “Doc” Smith’s Triplanetary being serialized in Amazing Stories Magazine. So it seems appropriate that our first release in this anniversary year is a revised batch of the first 10 episodes of the incredibly rare Lensman TV anime. This is a joint project with /m/subs, be sure to check out their release site here.
The Lensman TV series is quite rare. In fact there are probably quite a few people reading this who remember the anime movie from 1984, but had no idea it spawned a series later the same year. Only the first six episodes have ever had any kind of official home video release in Japan (on VHS and LaserDisc in the 80s), and the chances of the series ever being released on DVD seem slim to none. So a big thanks goes to the hardcore old-school video collectors who provided the raw sources: Alrow for the LaserDisc episodes, Dougo13 for the Betamax ones, and Laurine & AnimeSennin for the VHS.
Big ups to everyone in the /m/subs crew who helped make this joint project a reality. Marty McFlies was the one who originally got the party started with his project of creating a properly subtitled version of the Lensman movie from the best available video sources. He enlisted the help of lots of different people, many of whom were in the /m/subs family. Shidoni also deserves a special mention for loaning me her pre-recorded VHS copy of episode 1, which was used for the initial translation that kicked off the TV series before I was able to locate a LaserDisc source. Thanks to sky79 for translations and timing, starseeker for translation checks, drmecha (from sakuga80/Gunsight Team) for helping out with many of the staff credit translations, Shidoni & Crush-Zombie for the song translations, and Ametuchi for help with the insert song.
Obviously the animation on a weekly TV series is not going to be up to the standards of a big budget summer movie. The Lensman series, which was farmed out to several different production companies, definitely has a problem (particularly in the early episodes) with characters drawn in widely varying art styles from scene to scene. But while it may not pack the (somewhat dated) visual punch of the movie, I actually prefer the series from a storytelling perspective.
The first six episodes were written by legendary anime scribe Masaki Tsuji, and in the opening few he quickly establishes that the TV series has its own continuity seperate from the movie. Episode 1 features an alternate origin story for how Kimball Kinnison became a Lensman, and Worsel gets a completely different introduction in episode 2. Episode 3 introduces another Lensman, Tregonsee, who is featured in the books but not the movie, and main villain Helmuth makes his first appearance in episode 4.
Probably the best of the Tsuji scripted episodes are 5 and 6, a two part story about the 30th anniversary of Galactic Patrol. Admiral Haynes is determined to visit planet Dzoara, to join in celebrations with one of the earliest non-human civilizations to join the Patrol. The ensuing story fills in some details about the early days when Admiral Haynes and Kim’s father Gary Kinnison founded Galactic Patrol, and the reasons why Gary left the Patrol to travel the outer reaches of space. Also notable about this story is that Yasuomi Umetsu was the animation director for both episodes, and you can definitely see his influence in many of the key layout drawings.
Next comes episodes 7-10, the four part “Wandering Dutchmen” story arc written by Armored Trooper Votoms scriptwriter Souji Yoshikawa. This is my personal favorite section of the Lensman TV series, I’m really glad to finally be able to watch it now complete with English subtitles. I hope that some of you enjoy it as well.
More episodes of the TV series are in the works for 2019, and perhaps another polish of the movie as well. A belated Happy New Year to you all!
This joint project with Hokuto no Gun finally inches past the halfway mark, with a rather unique episode. A decade before his groundbreaking work on the Captain Harlock TV series, Rintaro co-directed several early episodes of Sabu & Ichi, helping to establish the show’s visual style for other directors. This is the first and only Sabu & Ichi episode in which Rintaro receives a solo director’s credit, and the master’s work in some of the action scenes really shines. Particularly notable is Ichi’s climactic beach-side duel with the ronin bodyguard, complete with a few strategically intercut live-action bits. Even in a low budget weekly TV series, Rintaro’s cinematic ambitions were foreshadowed.
The conclusion is finally here, after all these years. I had intended to make a revised batch of the entire series to release at Christmas, but time constraints with other projects and real-life emergencies made it seem unlikely I could get 42 episodes checked and revised before the end of the year. So I’ve made this mini-batch that includes the recap episode and all of the “Part II: A Tale of Turmoil” episodes, where the main story arc with Seiroukai, Kage no Soto, and the Old Man of Kamakura (aka the elder Shigaraki) kicks into high gear. Hopefully sometime next year I will have time to release revised versions of the earlier episodes.
As is mentioned below in the comments, I first heard about Sukeban Deka, the juvenile delinquent detective who fights crime with a steel yo-yo, from DeTroyes. He and I were co-founders of The Skaro Hunting Society, back in the 1980s when TSHS was a local club that showed rare videotapes at a public library. A few years later, I managed to get the last few episodes of Sukeban Deka II in a VHS trade with Laurine. After watching that gripping final few episodes, the series immediately went onto my mental want list of shows that I would like to fan subtitle, if and when the technology became available to me.
Over the next several years I collected the Sukeban Deka II series on LaserDisc, and was eventually able to watch it in Japanese and mostly understand what was going on with the help of an episode guide written by Verne Innhel, who ran a site devoted to 80s and early 90s idol singers called Encyclopedia Idollica.
A few years later I finally became a fan subtitler, complete with the tools of the trade in those days: Pioneer LaserDisc players, Mitsubishi S-VHS recorders, a DeltaScan Pro genlock box and Sub Station Alpha, the revolutionary new subtitling program written by Kotus. I discovered that Video Search of Miami, one of those shady VHS bootlegging operations, was selling subtitled tapes of a few early episodes of SDII, rather shoddy quality and with some sloppy grammar and poor timing in the subtitles. I decided to transcribe and clean up these subtitles, and use them as the basis for a better quality subtitle direct from LaserDisc. I never ended up finishing this project though, when I managed to get into contact with Accius, a native Japanese fan of the show who was functionally bilingual, and willing to translate episodes for the project. Accius had seen the episodes subtitled by VSOM and said the translations weren’t very accurate, so I ended up not using them after all. Accius and I ended up subtitling the first four episodes together, and I eventually lost touch with him when I took a brief hiatus from subtitling to move across the country in the mid-2000s.
Returning to fan subtitling in the late 2000s, I picked up the project again, this time working with newly available digital tools like Aegisub, the current generation’s answer to Sub Station Alpha. Now, in the late 2010s, I’ve finally reached the end of the series, and I’m just as happy to see the final episodes subtitled as you folks are. I’m still looking forward to releasing revised batches of the earlier episodes when I get the time.
Don’t forget that scanlations of the original Sukeban Deka manga are available from HappyScans!, and the entire first TV series has been fan subtitled by Skewed-S. And to answer the obvious next question, there is a group that plans on subtitling Sukeban Deka III, although it may be a while before they announce it publicly.
HAVE SUBS - WILL TRAVEL
For Hokuto and Old School Anime Lovers Alike
"If Nanto won't subtitle it, who will?"
We sub old stuff.
/m/echa's own sub group
anime subtitles etc