I had been vaguely aware of Shotaro Ishinomori’s “Toei Fushigi Comedy Series” for many years before I actually saw any episodes. They re-ran them all on cable TV in Japan at some point in the 2000s, and a bunch of raws from these reruns showed up on the Henshin Justice Unlimited forums at one point.
HJU is also where I found out about Dead Fish Fansubs, a one-man subtitling army that appeared out of nowhere in 2010, started cranking out tons of older tokusastu shows that none of the other subtitling groups would touch, and then just as suddenly retired from subtitling to join a rock band. His subtitles started out a little rough, but improved dramatically as he gained experience. And remember, this was one dude translating, timing, encoding, the whole deal.
Today there are plenty of groups working on older tokusatsu series, but 10 years ago the toku subtitling scene was mostly (though not entirely) focused on newer shows. DFF cranked out episodes of shows that I thought I’d never see with English subtitles, like Akumaizer 3 (and a couple episodes of its sequel, Bibyan), Robot Detective, Juspion (now available legally on SD-BD, buy it!), Metalder, and several of the Sentai shows like Goranger and Flashman.
DFF also subtitled a bunch of episodes of Dokincho! Nemurin, the fourth show in the Fushigi Comedy series. It stars child actress Sayuri Uchida, who seven years later would portray Ako Hayasaka (the Blue Swallow) in Jetman. The show is about three ancient mystical creatures (one puppet and two suit actors) who awaken from an 800 million year nap and move in with a typical Japanese family, causing much disruption in their lives.
When Sinistar closed down DFF to pursue his music dreams, he posted all of his scripts, and gave blanket permission for anyone to use them. Many groups took him up on this, including Hi no Tori Fansubs and MegaBeast Empire, who did some very nice editing and cleanup work on some of the Robot Detective series.
My own little contribution involved polishing some of those Nemurin episodes, which I would occasionally release as April Fools Day gags. This show is off-the-chain bizarre, even by the usual standards of the Fushigi Comedy series. I haven’t watched every episode, but these are certainly the weirdest two that I’ve seen so far. I’ve also included a rare clip from one of the original broadcasts, with cast members introducing a viewer mail and prize drawing segment at the end of the episode.
A huge thanks to Champstice and MegaBeast Empire Fansubs for all of that group’s help with the Dokincho! Nemurin episodes. Episode 20 actually wasn’t one of the ones that DFF subtitled, and MBE deserves the lion’s share of credit for that one, providing me with translation and timing.
And now, an announcement, for any tokusatsu fans who haven’t already heard. Monday, April 6th will see the launch of the Toei Tokusatsu World Official YouTube channel. Toei will be posting Japanese language versions their 1960s-1990s Tokusatsu series on this channel, including the Fushigi comedy series, and some super robot anime as well. When the channel launches, they will be posting the first two episodes of each of these 70 different shows in all, complete with English subtitles!
They will then start releasing weekly two episode blocks from selected series on the channel, which will vary over time. At least at first, these episodes (apart from the first two of each series) will be in Japanese with no subtitles, something I misunderstood initially. To quote from the announcement: “Further episodes will be available in Japanese for now, but there could be frequent updates. We plan on making a public call for subtitles in any language.”