April 13, 1967 was a fateful night, when both Shinobu Mastumoto and Chizuko Daimaru were born under the same mysterious star. Their backgrounds couldn’t have been more different. Chizuko was born into a Tokyo family of power and wealth, and her mother died during childbirth. Shinobu grew up in a rural fishing village, and her mother struggled to raise two daughters after her father abandoned the family and became a petty criminal, drifting in and out of jail for years. But despite their differences, Shinobu and Chizuko share a common destiny, intertwined by a secret that could end up tearing both families apart.
Chikyodai (commonly known in English as “Stepsisters”) is one of those wonderfully over the top 1980s J-Dramas produced by Daiei TV. This series was adapted from the 1934 Nobuko Yoshiya novel “This Road, That Road.” The novel also had a 1936 movie adaptation directed by Yasushi Sasaki, and a 2005 Fuji TV drama titled “A Winter Round Dance”.
The first episode starts out somewhat slowly with a bit of exposition, but this show doesn’t take very long to get just as bonkers as any of the other Daiei dramas. It even features a moody biker gang leader who expresses his rage through jazz trumpeting, and a theme song that’s a cover (with very different Japanese lyrics) of the cheesy 1980s bubblegum pop-metal classic “Runaway” by Bon Jovi!
This is a joint project with GUIS (Grown Ups in Spandex), a tokusatsu subtitling group that mostly specializes in 1980s and early 1990s entries in the Toei Super Sentai genre. I’ve been a fan of theirs for many years…my favorite show they’ve subtitled is Jetman, and my favorite that they’re currently working on is Flashman. I’ve long wanted to do a joint project with GUIS. Several years ago when they dropped Shotaro Ishinomori’s JAKQ, I was hoping to interest them in re-starting it as a joint project with TSHS, but I never got around to asking (and of course now Love & Care is doing a fine job of subtitling that show.) So I was pleasantly surprised when Shir from GUIS got in touch with me about the possibility of working with them on a joint project, and even more pleased to hear that the project being proposed was a classic 1980s Daiei drama.
Obviously 1980s J-Drama isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but my subtitling has always been about offering a wide variety of different projects to suit niche audiences that were being undeserved by the various fan-subtitling communities. For those of you who take the plunge and check this show out, you may find yourselves enjoying an unusual change of pace.