Sunday, 27 November 2016

Still subbing: Furuhata Ninzaburo

Some of you...

Well, a few of you...

Maybe one of you may be wondering why there was a long gap between posts this year. Well, a large part of it was down to work suddenly ramping up but also there was the part played by Furuhata Ninzaburo and my role in subbing it in English.

It is one of my favourites and an absolute joy, but I found that my decision to do the subtitles for season 3 and then the specials has had a knock on effect on my drama watching.

If I sat and watched a J-drama, I would think to myself that I should actually be doing some work on the subtitles. It’s a bit of a burden because I’ve always thought that Furuhata Ninzaburo deserved English subs, so now that it’s me doing them it seems wrong to ignore them. So I stopped enjoying Japanese TV and I pretty much stopped watching.

I still enjoyed Japanese culture, though, and in my time away from blogging I completed a free on-line course on antique Japanese books, which I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend. I also planned my next trip to Japan in some detail only to watch as, post-Brexit, the pound went down and the yen went up, adding about £500 to my plans and causing me to postpone it for a year.

But recently I’ve changed my subtitling habits from trying to do a lot of subtitling in one go, and instead chipped away at it, five minutes at a time whenever I can. I doubt this is quicker, but it’s not much slower, either. Also it helps with my guilt because I can sit down to watch TV without the nagging doubt that I haven't done any subbing in a while.

Whenever an episode is complete, I feel very proud of it so I have absolutely no intention of stopping this project and, hopefully, after this special I’m doing at the moment, things will soon be smoother since I’ll actually have two sets of subtitles to work from which should solve any ambiguities in the dialogue.

In the meantime, sorry about the delay but I feel much better now that I’m able to watch and enjoy J-dramas again.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Currently watching: Society Game

This new reality game show, a collaboration between Endemol and TvN, pits two teams against each other for a single cash prize at the end which goes to one person. Each team lives together for twelve days (during which the twelve episodes are recorded, making this a very efficient piece of TV) with one team working as a democracy, while the other is a benign dictatorship. Which will create most harmony?

It’s very addictive, as you might expect from TvN who also gave us The Genius and Crime Scene. Each episode is split between showing us how the players interact in their living quarters and the actual games between the two teams. With moments of levity and a lot of scheming, this part is an essential aspect of the game showing that the power struggles within the team are as important as the struggle between teams.

If a team loses the game, then they have to lose a player and this is decided by the leader at that time.

So we have it all: subterfuge and scheming, games, and all in a reality show setting that is self-contained. No islands or anything messy like that. The cynic in me sees it for what it is: a format designed to make profits in overseas sales. However, I can’t deny it’s my favourite show right now. And that’s down to the contestants.

These have been chosen from a wide range of backgrounds and none of them are particularly famous, which is probably a lesson that TvN learned from The Genius where people of similar professions/level of fame tended to group together.

The “stars” so far have been the comedian Yang Sanggook who’s managed to be the dictator of one team for the first four episodes.

Also there’s MJ Kim, a female MMA fighter who is basically a tiger in a woman’s body. She’s proven herself as a valuable team-member and – at the time of writing – a team leader.

But everyone has something to add. Macho Yoon does not live up to his name of macho, and is fairly ineffectual at everything. Choi Seolhwa is one of Yang Sanggook’s confidants, but she seems a bit paranoid and is constantly wondering if she should start a rebellion against the dictator.

It’s delightful nonsense. In episode one it tries to dress itself up as a sociological experiment, but its true purpose is clear: to entertain. And it does that so well that you can’t help but be carried along in its gossipy back-biting. Enormous fun.

You can keep up to date with English subs here thanks to the wonderful Bumdidlyumptious.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Currently watching: Mamagoto

Considering how long it takes me to do subtitles, it might seem odd that I felt jealous when I saw that someone else was doing the subtitles. I had even subbed the first few minutes until I saw that Earthcolours were doing them. Good job too, because their subs were far better than mine. I’ve been doing police dramas for too long: I struggle with drunken banter.

Which brings us to the premise of this series: a woman who runs a bar suddenly finds she has to look after the five-year-old child of an old friend who turns up one evening and then vanishes. This does not fit well with her nocturnal lifestyle, and it also brings back unwelcome memories that she'd rather forget.

The series is, for me at least, a chance to watch Ando Sakura at work. She moves pretty effortlessly between moods, switching from benevolent mother-figure to loudmouth insolent without it seeming strained. But of course she's excellent. It seems a little redundant to point it out.

Koyama Harutomo, who plays the part of the five-year-old, is pretty good. There are moments when his acting seems to stop and then start again, but nothing major. He's certainly got a good look, with an unruly mop of hair on top of his round expressive face.

I'm quite unconcerned about where the story goes. A debt collector is involved now, so it won't just be about a woman learning to care again after a troubled past, but beyond that I'm not really bothered. I'm just going to enjoy Ando Sakura and hope that everything else is half as good.

Monday, 7 November 2016

The Curse of Kabachitare!

Do you know what a ghost ship is? Not a spooky spectre of an ocean going vessel, but a real ghost ship. It’s a ship that’s been abandoned but, for whatever reasons, doesn’t sink and just floats around the oceans unmanned and alone. The best example I know of is the SS Baychimo that was sighted several times over the space of thirty years without ever being salvaged.

Which brings us to Kabachitare! This series (broadcast in 2001) was one of the first J-dramas I ever watched. Except I didn’t see more than the first two episodes, subbed in 2006 by YamaQ-T fansubs. Then nothing.

Suddenly, in 2010, BON Fansubs said they were going to sub it. They didn’t get too far either (episode one hardsubbed), and once again Kabachitare! vanished into the mist.

Then in June of this year, quite out of nowhere, a d-addicts user Virgule said that the translation was done, and all that was needed was QA. He didn’t say which episode, but it was encouraging.

But since then, it’s been radio silence again.

I wonder how many more fansubbers will become stuck on Eri Fukatsu’s lightning delivery, or be bemused by out-of-date references to things that everyone knew fifteen years ago but are now forgotten.

I don’t envy them. It seems like a hell of a job to take on. I certainly couldn’t do it, especially with no Japanese subs to work from.

All that’s left is to keep an eye on the horizon and hope it comes into view.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Currently watching: IQ246

Well, hello there. Hisashiburu desu ne.

Much as I’d like to say this is a return to regular service, it’s more likely to be a blip. Having said that, there are a few things I want to write about regarding J-dramas, so who knows: I might be back soon. I’m making no promises, though. I doubt that anyone’s too concerned.

But why, then, write about this series? On the face of it, this is another semi-comedy cop show with unlikely storylines and everyone has an adorable quirk. However, when I read the synopsis I saw shades of Sherlock Holmes, and I’m a bit of a Holmes fan, so I gave it a chance.

And to my surprise this has, for some reason, dragged me back into watching J-dramas. First, I like the leading actor, Oda Yuji. His character is pompous and arrogant, just like Sherlock, but is also slightly off-kilter in a way that reminds me of the Japanese Poirot in Orient Kyuukou Satsujin. That performance by Nomura Mansai was perfectly pitched between refined tastes and oddball eccentricity, and I see a lot of that in the lead role in IQ246.

The Sherlock Holmes references – or to be more exact BBC Sherlock references – keep cropping up. Episode two has, as it’s central premise, the same as Sherlock’s opening episode “A Study In Pink” (give the victim a choice between two pills) albeit with a different ending.

Alongside this off-centre genius are some pretty typical J-drama staples. The rookie detective given a job just to keep her out of the way. A Japanese guy who keeps using English when he speaks. And a geeky love-struck pathologist who has the hots for the lead role (also taken from the recent BBC version of Sherlock, maybe?).

This last one, played by Nakatani Miki, reminds me of her work in the first Keizoku and makes me wonder if there might be a way she can do a proper sequel...

I can but dream.

Oh, and excellent subs from candylemon.