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Buried Garbage - Arcade Gamer Fubuki

by Justin Sevakis,

I'm often asked how working on subtitling anime as a fansubber is different from working as a professional. There's a lot of things that are different: deadlines, having other people to answer to, and having your work be subject to approval are probably the most obvious. But perhaps the biggest difference is that you can't pick and choose your assignments. Inevitably, a project comes along that you hate, and that you simply can't stop working on.

My time at Central Park Media was both a blessing and a curse in this way. For every BlackJack or Project A-ko, there was a Zeguy or a Harmageddon (and plenty of violent, offensive hentai as well). However, there was one project during my tenure that almost broke me. A 4-episode punch-to-the-soul that not only drained me of my zest for my job but life in general.

That show is called Arcade Gamer Fubuki.


I remember the meeting at which the Business Affairs team popped in the VHS screener and showed us what they had just licensed. It looked mildly interesting, colorful, and potentially fun. There was a stadium, an insanely enthusiastic announcer, and a giant game of the old arcade game Krazy Klimber. There was a pre-teen girl in the middle of the mayhem, about to face-off in a head-to-head competition.

Had I known that this was the sum total of the series' ideas, perhaps I'd have been inclined to quit my job right then and there. That the apex of the series, it's raison d'être, came next. As the girl Fubuki begins to fall behind in the game, her friend whips out a giant fan and blows up her skirt. Clinging to her bottom like so much wet toilet paper are her crown jewels, her "Passion Panties." And as she leaps atop the controllers, suspended upside-down over them in a vortex of chi, she manages to... (ahem) do really well at video games. And we, the audience, get to revel in seeing underaged cameltoe. Those Passion Panties are the centerpiece of the show. (In fact, the opening theme is actually called "Thunder of PP.")

I had to subtitle this. And let me tell you, it is not easy to subtitle something while your entire being is rejecting it like a botched organ transplant. At some point my brain stopped functioning, and began clawing at the sides of my skull like a hamster. I had to stop. I made frequent trips to the bathroom, and visited the water cooler so often that I began to feel bloated, as if I'd just eaten an entire bucketful of water balloons. I believe this is also where I took up smoking, fully conscious of the long-term damage I was doing to my respiratory and circulatory systems and committing myself to 7 years of self-loathing and on-again off-again nicotine withdrawl. It was worth it.

With little other direction to go, the story takes some incredibly predictable and childish turns towards Fubuki and her video gamin' powers coming toe-to-toe with the Gulasic Group, an evil organization bent on world domination (through video games). Fubuki might also MEET HER MATCH in Chizuru, a roller-skating girl with an attitude and a BLACK pair of Passion Panties! There's also the muscle-bound Mr. Mystery who secretly watches over Fubuki in a really really creepy way. And oh! What ever will happen to Fubuki if her panties get stolen while she's in the bath? I think most children would be able to tell you what comes next, but they'd probably have a pretty good case against you for child abuse if you ever had opportunity to ask them.

What is wrong with this show, exactly, aside from its sheer flailing stupidity? It's well-animated and clearly had a decent budget. (It was a 4-part OAV with cable TV airing.) No, its problems are less obvious. First and foremost among them are the character designs, based on the manga designs by Sgt. Frog's Mine Yoshizaki. Yoshizaki's characters are cute, but most certainly not sexy. It tries for laughs while being loud and obnoxious, but has such terrible comic timing that if it weren't for the Looney Toons style wild takes it would be difficult to tell where the jokes are. In addition to that, there are some strangely incestual undertones, a creepy stalker character, and an abusive best friend, and then attempt to white-wash the whole thing as innocent and wholesome (while still maintaining enough obvious creepiness to turn off most people). The attention-deficient pacing is courtesy of director Yuji Mutou, helmer of such illustrious works as Green Green and Ultimate Girls.

The end result is not mediocrity, but outright discomfort. It attempts to sexualize something that is not sexual at all, and plays for laughs things that are either too stupid or too gross to be funny. I'd sooner masturbate to Doraemon. I'd sooner laugh at Grave of the Fireflies. And this isn't a show that one can claim to be harmless or "maybe just not your cup of tea." It's aggressive in its badness, loudly and violently making sure you know it's there and trying to make you laugh. It's not the guy in the subway with really bad, eye-watering B.O.; it's the guy with really bad eye-watering B.O. that stands in front of a fan.

Even worse are the special features, which are shockingly plentiful. There's a special 6-minute bonus episode in which stalker character Sanpeita ogles the girls in swimwear. There are storyboard comparisons (which I don't remember, but I probably edited). But most annoying are the interviews with Fubuki's voice actress Sakura Nogawa. Nogawa is dressed in Fubuki cosplay (which is really just a big blue hoodie, a frilly miniskirt and bulky yellow shoes), and talking to the camera in her little girl voice, informing us of all the great Fubuki-related items we can buy. She's happy to show off her music video, which features her eating candy and pedaling a stationary bike surrounded by a bunch of balloons. "It was my first time to be filmed amidst a bunch of balloons!" she proclaims.

Nogawa then proceeds to attempt a bunch of elementary school level exercises and fails at almost all of them. She mugs to the camera and whines, "I did three sit-ups!" I guess this is supposed to be moë, but all it made me want to do is throw her off a building.

Few shows fill me with as much rage as Arcade Gamer Fubuki. I keep flashing back to that cubicle in the back of the Central Park Media offices, trapped in front of a screen, having to proof-read every breathtakingly stupid line, and feeling like an animal caught in a trap.

A Abundant. Available anywhere that carries anime.
C Common. In print, and always available online.
R1 US release out of print, still in stock most places.
R2 US release out of print, not easy to find.
R3 Import only, but it has English on it.
R4 Import only. Fansubs commonly available.
R5 Import only, and out of print. Fansubs might be out there.
R6 Import long out of print. No fansubs are known to exist.
R7 Very rare. Limited import release or aired on TV with no video release. No fansubs known to exist.
R8 Never been on the market. Almost impossible to obtain.
Adapted from Soviet-Awards.com.

Where to get it:
Like most of CPM's library, Arcade Gamer Fubuki is out of print and its license is probably expired. It can be had online for around $10 from second-hand places online like half.com (but watch out for bootlegs).

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