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subCulture - Fansubs for Christmas

by Zac Bertschy,
The snow is falling, obnoxious J-Pop Christmas songs can be seen on every Otaku's playlist and there are countless holiday movies hoping to have a strong final weekend before bowing out after the big day. Yes, it's Christmastime, whether you like it or not. Most otaku spend their Christmas mornings unwrapping DVD or VHS boxed sets of whatever series they love most. Some get UFO catcher dolls, others get pointless bits of merchandising like pencil boards or keychains. Nothing to unwrap this year? Then order yourself a truckload of fansubs, put the packages under the tree and crack 'em open on Christmas morning! The question at this point is, which fansubbed series have good Christmas episodes? Well, there's not a lot of them - Christmas isn't as big a deal in Japan as it is here, and thus, only a few popular anime series (And presumably series whose writers are fresh out of ideas around the holidays) come equipped with a good Christmas episode. Here's a list for the uninitiated:

  1. Marmalade Boy - The long-running shoujo series everyone loves to hate. I, personally, love this show, and it's one of the few series that will probably only ever see the light of day in fansubbed format - imagine ADV licensing a 76-episode long shoujo series from 1992! In any case, late in this series' run, there's a remarkably cheesy and yet oh-so-touching Christmas episode involving - you guessed it - a mix-up and subsequent melodrama between Miki and Yuu. Just be glad you aren't dating these two - Miki gets Yuu hand made UFO-catcher style keychains of the both of them and Yuu gets Miki a prismatic Christmas tree. If you hold it up to the city lights, it sparkles! Whatever. Twenty bucks says Yuu asked for an Aibo.

  2. Maison Ikkoku - The perennial fanboy favorite series is, yes, still available in fansubbed format, since Viz releases one subtitled volume with one episode for 69.99 bi-annually. I hear they're approaching episode 4 at this point. There are a few Christmas episodes in this series' run, and, as with most of the Maison Ikkoku series, they're all top-notch. If you like your yuletide with a dash of bittersweet romance and some token Takahashi-style emotionally stunted males, these episodes are for you.

  3. Martian Successor Nadesico - Yeah, yeah, ADV's releasing it, but this fantastic Christmas episode won't be available until next year sometime. Any episode that opens with two characters singing the theme song in front of a giant snow-covered Christmas tree gets a thumbs up from me. Watch for the annoying Christmas song Yurika records and proceeds to play throughout the ship during the entire episode - classic Nadesico humor.

  4. Kimagure Orange Road - Another classic fanboy favorite, this episode highlights Kyosuke's journey back and forth in time as he witnesses several important events in the past and future, always ending up back at a lame Christmas party. It plays out a bit like a really warped version of Lewis Carrol's classic “A Christmas Carol”, and it's definitely a must-watch around the holidays. AnimEigo released this one a while back, and if you can find it on VHS or LD, you're a pretty lucky person.

Hopefully, this guide will prove somewhat useful and you'll be able to spend your Christmas morning enjoying a few classic anime episodes. Now, on to the fansub news:

The winter fansub curse has taken its toll on many a fansub distro this year. At the time of this writing, Soyokaze fansubs hasn't updated their site since October. If Soyokaze goes down, it'll be a major loss to the community at large; truly, they were one of the good ones. Kodocha continues to update their site every other day, usually just removing a title or adding yet another tape of Legend of Galactic Heroes (Does anyone actually order that series?). Sachi's distribution is, surprisingly enough, steaming right along with more Hana Yori Dango on the way this weekend and lots more to come. I've been getting reports about how some digital series - Love Hina, FLCL, and a few others have been finding their way onto tapes and making the usual VHS distribution circuit. An interesting and expected development, to be sure - not everyone has a high-speed connection or a fast enough computer to run the digital titles, so it's nice to see someone's either fansubbing these shows from DVD or simply converting the AVI files. Speaking of Digital fansubs, that scene is chugging along nicely. Elite Fansubs is nearly done with their TV-rip and subtitle job on Vandread, an excellent little show that recently saw its conclusion in Japan by airing the final 2 episodes back to back. Elite promises that they'll have those episodes out soon - once again proving that while they may be a little cocky about it, they do good, fast work. Once the holidays are over, things will pick up again and the fansub industry gets ready for the big springtime rush - so get ready for a flurry of news.

Ma-li Ku-ri-su-ma-shu!

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