Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Jeffrey Kenzaki, the Black Eagle?

Jeff Promoting his band 'Black Eagle'

As many of you probably already know, I have been translating the Jetman manga for the past few weeks. The manga is currently in quality control, so it should be ready in the next few weeks.
I am not going to write about the plot, because although many people have seen the show, not many have had the chance to read the manga yet.

Many among us have heard of the character 'Jeffrey Kenzaki', or just 'Jeff'. Until now most of us, including myself, have thought of this character as the Green Eagle. But is he really green?

I believe he is not, and I have my reasons to believe so.

First of all, Jeff plays in a band called 'Black Eagle'. This is the first indication that he is actually a black Jetman. You can see Jeff promoting his band 'Black Eagle' in the picture above.

The second reason I have to believe that he is a black Jetman is the fact that he is drawn darker than the other Jetmen in most of the pages. If he would be a green Jetman, it would have to be a damn dark variation of the colour green.

And last but not least; his colour is never really mentioned in the manga. The only time the colour green is mentioned is in a little note as seen in the picture below. I would roughly translate this line as "comment: Jeff is the Eagle. ...what if he was green..." This line is followed with a little 'drop of sweat'... which implies this might be meant as a joke. I believe Ms. Akiko Fujii was trolling the readers here.

However, there is a reason to believe he is Green. First of all the little comment stated above, and secondly a little piece of artwork where he is coloured in light green. But this is a piece of artwork... The artwork is made by Keita Amemiya. Is this his interpretation of the character? Or did he colour him green because Ms. Fujii asked him to?

The manga is in black and white, so there is no real way to know if Jeff is the Green Eagle or the Black Eagle. Everybody is free to interpret the character's colour as they want, and I think this also is what Ms. Fujii wanted.

I believe... that the dude is black.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 bar talk

2012 is coming to an end. I want to reflect on what happened this year. 

2012 meant the end of Gokaiger. I have mixed feelings about this show. I'm sure most of the fanboys and fangirls loved seeing the old suits and old actors coming back. I was one of them. I especially loved the Dekaranger, the Hurricanger and the Jetman episodes.
I thought the Deka and Hurri episodes were quite memorable because they had more than one of the actors returning. Of course these were not the only episodes with more than one returning actor, but I really liked 'em.

The Jetman episode was very special to me because I spent a lot of time and effort translating that show... and of course because they had Toshihide Wakamatsu returning as Black Condor. People often say this episode brought a sense of closure to the show by confirming the death of Gai Yuki. I personally thought this was already pretty clearly shown in the last episode of Jetman, not to mention the Jetman Encyclopaedia and the Jetman manga. However, Toei had to confirm it in Gokaiger because a large number of people didn't believe it. The episode itself was a lot of fun to watch. I was afraid that Toei would censor the character 'Gai' a lot for Gokaiger, knowing that Gai was a rebellious lady killer who loved to drink, smoke and pick up fights. It was only the smoking part that they left out. I can understand that Toei doesn't want to show a 'smoking hero' to kids nowadays.
However, there are many things I disliked about Gokaiger. First of all... there wasn't really a plot in the show, or not a good one anyway. Secondly, the Gokaigers were obviously overpowered, and the enemies were pretty weak and forgettable. It is obvious that Toei needs some new better writers or some writers with guts.

Akibaranger was a big disappointment for me. I thought it was fun seeing the toei studios from the inside and the legendary suit actor, but I didn't like the show as a whole. Akibaranger clearly was a show for a more mature audience. In my point of view: Akibaranger was a big waste of money and time, a lost opportunity. In my opinion they could have used that money to make a show that many of the 'old school' toku lovers want to see: a more violent show, more mature actors and a serious and more dramatic plot.

My point of view on Gobusters: "I think it would have been a good idea to stop Super Sentai or to put Super Sentai on a hiatus after Gokaiger." I do appreciate that they tried some new things with Gobusters, but it didn't work out that well.
We have seen the first Kyoryuger scans and they don't look too promising. Of course I will give it a chance, but I think it wouldn't be a bad thing to put Super Sentai on a hiatus. Toei clearly needs some new ideas.

I will remember 2012 as a great year for old sentai shows. I think Gokaiger had a big influence on the fans in Japan and abroad. It made people want to know or rewatch those older shows. Although I don't have any numbers, and I don't want to pull any numbers out of my arse, I am pretty sure many people in Japan rented the older shows at Tsutaya or Geo.
Abroad, we are seeing more and more older shows getting subbed. My group, Grown Ups In Spandex, has finished Liveman and Jetman, Zyuranger (with MegaAnon) and we are currently working on Bioman and Jetman. GSF subbed Gaoranger and Sun Vulcan. And recently Over-Time started translating Dekaranger.
Most shows that get an English fansub release, get a release in French, Spanish and Portuguese as well.
I'm sure more shows will be getting an translating in English and other languages in 2013. I'm looking forward to that.

At GUIS, we are putting the final touches to the Liveman V2's and the Maskman translations are nearly finished. The Zyuranger team is working on a special project, and we are planning to release Changeman somewhere next year. When Maskman is over, I would love to work on Abaranger or Spielvan.

Anyway, I hope 2013 will be a good year for all of us... and please, don't let us down Toei!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The guy who was to become Gai

The other day I read a post on Henshin Justice Unlimited on similarities between Chojin Sentai Jetman and Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger. I had to agree that there are many similarities to be found between those two shows. Of course, there are similarities to be found between all Super Sentai shows. However I believe that there are many similarities to be found between Maskman and Jetman. Sometimes I think that Maskman was actually a Jetman prototype. I may be mistaken or maybe Maskman is just a forgotten show.
Toshiki Inoue worked on a few Maskman episodes. The most famous episode he worked on was episode 39: The Return of the Mysterious X1 Mask. As everybody knows, Mr. Inoue is a very inventive guy: he never repeats himself.

I'll start with a little anecdote on the X1 Mask costume. I recently found out that it was actually a prototype for a previous Sentai show.

That being said, let's take a look at this character called X1 Mask.
The man behind the mask is Ryo Asaka, a young rebellious man in his early 20's. He's overflowing with energy and has a bad mouth. His personality is very similar to Jetman's Gai Yuki. Above that, he rides a bike and spends time in bars drinking and shooting pool.

Left: Ryo Asaka; Right: Gai Yuki

Ryo Asaka at a bar
Left: Gai yuki shooting pool; Right: Ryo Asaka pointing a cue at Takeru

Takeru wants Ryo to join the Maskman team and decides to stalk follow him. He follows him to the bar, to a casino and keeps on following him by bike afterwards. Does this sound familiar?

Left: Ryo: Right: Gai

While riding their bikes Ryo proposes Takeru to play a little game: a bike race. If he wins, Takeru should stop following him and would stop trying to make him join the Maskman team. The exact same thing happened between Ryu and Gai in Jetman episode 3.

Left: scene in Maskman ep.39; Right: scene in Jetman ep.3

Although there is a small differnce in the conclusion of these scenes, the story is pretty similar: in Jetman Gai and Ryu are attacked by Vyram to which Gai decides to continue the race. In Maskman however,Takeru wins the race. After the race they are attacked by Tube, to which Ryo decides to make his exit.
Left: scene in Maskman ep.39; Right: scene in Jetman ep.3

Ryo can't get Takeru's words out of his head and decides to head back and help him. Gai did exactly the same thing. And yes, both used their bike to make their entry.

Left: scene in Maskman ep.39; Right: scene in Jetman ep.3

When returned, Takeru thanks Ryo saying "I knew you'd come back". The exact same line is used in Jetman between Ryu and Gai.
This is where the story ends. Episode 39 of Maskman is in my opinion not a great episode, but it is very intriguing. What bothers me about the story of Ryo Asaka is that it feels very rushed. I think Mr. Inoue wanted to make a full ark of this 'rebellious' sentai member. It's obvious that he couldn't do the because he was not the lead writer of the series, so he experimented with the idea. As we all know, he reused this idea in Jetman.
Another thing that bothered me about this episode is the way it was wrapped up. Suddenly Ryo loses his Aura power and leaves. Ah... I guess Mr. Inoue is just not that good with wrapping up stories.

Of course there are other similarities between Maskman and Jetman: Blue mask being a midget and Blue Swallow being a child. Red Mask and Red Hawk lose their girlfriends in the first episode of the show and are reunited towards the end.

I wonder if the same piano is used in Maskman and Jetman. Can anyone confirm this?

And for the Gokaiger fans among you: do you remember this location?

The screenshots used in this post are from the Grown Ups In Spandex release of Jetman and Maskman.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A start

Let me introduce myself. Of course it is not my real name, but I go by the name 'Shir'.
I'm pretty sure that most people know me from my fansub work or from Henshin Justice Unlimited or Rangercrew.
When I was a child I enjoyed watching tokusatsu on French television. I woke up every Wednesday to watch my favourite shows. I can't believe there was a time I could wake up early just to watch television. The shows I was most found of were Liveman, Jetman and Spielvan. Who would have thought that those shows would change my life so drastically? It's really silly when I think about it.

One day Jetman got cancelled and replaced by MMPR. I still remember how shocked I was. In those days - yes, I feel old when writing this - there was no internet connection. If a show was cancelled on TV  it just was impossible to access it. The years went by and I still couldn't forget about those Japanese shows I loved to watch as a child, I was really obsessed by it. I really wanted to see how that show called Jetman ended, and I would have killed to watch Liveman again. This was my reason to study Japanese.

Now, things have changed. I have become a translator, I have a computer and a internet connection. One of the things that hasn't changed is my love for those tokusatsu series I watched as a child.
It has been a windy road, but I found people with similar interests and we decided to start a fansub group. We decided to call it 'Grown Ups In Spandex'. We were looking for a silly name -and one that might stand out. We started off slowly but we are getting there. To be honest I never thought we could pull it off, I thought the group will die out within a few months, but we are still there.

I really enjoy working with these people on the shows I loved as a child and discovering new ones.

In this blog I would like to write about my opinions of certain shows or episodes and talk about some problems I encountered while translating some of them.