Monday, May 04, 2009

Lost in translation — The Daughter of Twenty Faces

2008 was a fairly disappointing year for new anime compared with the previous two years, a lot of shows that were merely average, and the few titles that stood out as better than the usual run of moe-blobbery and wacky hi-jinks had some other things in common : slow and erratic subbing, and little if any likelihood of ever getting an official English language release.

At least Hakaba Kitarou actually got complete subtitling. The Daughter of Twenty Faces still languishes with the concluding episode -- thankfully only a post-script -- lacking decent subs.

The story, set in 1950s Japan, is pulp at its finest. The Mystery Man with Twenty Faces is a gentleman thief/pulp adventurer type from Japan's own pulp era, a hybrid of Doc Savage and Blackshirt or Raffles in the form we are introduced to him; Chiko, the titular character, is an orphan heiress, fostered by scheming relatives.

To nobody's surprise, she is rescued from her peril by Twenty Faces, and for a time becomes one of his gang, joining in his various capers -- until a trap is sprung that leaves everyone but Chiko for dead.

So, not only does Chiko now still have to contend with the scheming aunt who stands to inherit the fortune to which she is heir, but a long list of former adversaries of her mentor, who believe that she is the one remaining link to a wartime secret of Twenty Faces', culminating in the eventual showdown on top of the inevitable Tokyo Tower.

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