[UPDATE: December 2020. Links removed, this series has been licensed by Discotek. I’m really looking forward to buying the set with official English subtitles!]
MATRIX IN! Time for our final release of the 2017 (or first release of 2018, depending on what time zone you live in.) This joint release between TSHS and Luurah Productions has been in the works for a long time, but after a lot of hard work from some very dedicated people, I’m very happy to finally get these episodes released. The initial translations were done by Kiseki 83, with a few problem lines translated by Afternoon Teasan, doanobu and of course the mighty Ametuchi.
Piles of thankitude to Pundercracker of MegaBeast Empire Fansubs for his detailed translation QC on episode 1, which included some research on Japanese-language Laserion websites. Shout out to HeatMetal for one last pass on episode 1, and full translation QC of episodes 2 and 3. And a special thanks to Auron_Kenobi.
Laserion is very much a product of its time. In the previous year, the Matthew Broderick film WarGames had introduced computer hobbyist culture to a mainstream audience. Following this film’s release, the people running computer bulletin boards noted a sudden surge in BBS traffic as kids dragged their parents to Radio Shack or Toys R Us to buy a precious 300 baud acoustic dial-up modem. That high pitched whine (of the modem, or possibly the begging for the trip to purchase it) signaled the entry to a magical world where you could hack into the school computer and change your grades, or at the very least get into a text based conversation with strangers about how Captain Kirk might go about defeating the Daleks.
I grew up watching rerun of English dubbed anime series like Prince Planet and Speed Racer. I had fond memories of “those weird old Japanese cartoons,” but 1984 was really the year when I became an anime fan. A friend of mine had brought his portable Betamax with him on a vacation in Canada, and the friend he was staying with there introduced him to a show she had videotaped off a French-Canadian TV station, a Japanese cartoon dubbed into French called “Albator.” All three of us became obsessed with the show, which we eventually learned was titled Space Pirate Captain Harlock in its original Japanese version. The dealer’s room at a local SF convention provided an opportunity to purchase the cel-reproduced Anime Comics for the feature My Youth in Arcadia, as well as bendy figurines of the characters. Voltron hit the UHF airwaves, a hideously dubbed and brutally censored package of episodes from two Toei robot shows, GoLion and Dairugger XV. The American version had kind of a catchy theme song, but I quickly discovered that the English dubbing made it more fun to watch with the sound off. All of that badly written and campily acted dialogue that attempted to cover up character deaths and explain why these two combining super robot shows that looked nothing like each other were actually set in the same universe made my brain hurt.
How many of you are aware of the 70s-80s anime club, the Cartoon/Fantasy Organization, better known as the C/FO? I’m sure there’s an article about them somewhere, probably on Let’s Anime. I used to go to a lot of SF and/or comic book conventions back then. It was at a con that I met the guy who was at that time the President of the Chicago branch of the C/FO, and went on to create one of the earlier US comic books inspired by mecha anime, Dynamo Joe. He was showing Japanese cartoons on one of those VHS & TV A/V Club carts like they used to have in schools and hotels. I’m pretty sure he was tape trading directly with a pen-pal in Japan, because many of the episodes he was showing had aired really recently, stuff like Deadworld Sunsa episodes of Votoms, Mospeada #3 with that fantastic knife fight in the saloon and Yellow’s gender-bending reveal at the end of the episode, and the very first episode of this series, Video Senshi Laserion. This was the day I got to finally see anime in Japanese, which led to an interest in VHS tape trading during the dinosaur era of fan-subtitling. and it wasn’t long before I was wishing I could get affordable subtitling equipment of my own. It actually would turn out to be nearly 15 years before the consumer grade $500 DeltaScan GL genlock box and the freeware program SubStation Alpha would make subtitling a realistic thing that I could finally pursue.