For several years now, I’ve been a fan of Tatsunoko Production’s Irresponsible Captain Tylor. Back in 2016 when I bought the complete series DVD set released by Nozomi Entertainment in 2013, I barely had a clue as to how hilarious and captivating the show would be. After I finished a batch of episodes on one of the 5 DVDs, I’d always go to the bonus features and find some fascinating liner notes pertaining to the subbing process and other little tidbits of the show itself. I’ve always wanted to look back at them without having to bust out the DVDs every time I wanted to do so, and since I can’t readily find them online, I’m here to transcribe them for myself and other curious fans of the show to read at their leisure. Just know that the notes not only contain mild spoilers of the show, but require context of actually watching the episodes in order to understand even half of what they’re talking about. I’d beseech anyone to try this show out, as it’s as hilarious and captivating as it is gorgeous, with boisterous personalities and a wonderful soundtrack to boot.
If you wish to purchase this incredible space opera comedy to see how its narrative unfolds, you can purchase the show over at Nozomi Entertainment’s website. You can also find the show streaming subbed on Nozomi Entertainment’s YouTube channel via a playlist of the entire show and the 10 episode follow-up OVA if purchasing is out of the question for you. The DVD allows you to choose between sub and dub, for those who care about being able to choose (the DVDs for the show and the OVA are separate, just to let you know.) I highly recommend watching this cult classic.
Those of you with sharper ears can probably hear what sounds like a news report going on in the background of the recruitment ad. While the information it gives is interesting, subtitling it along with Noriko’s dialogue would have filled the screen with text. Therefore, we’ve decided to give you the text of the report in these liner notes.
“…and owing to the newly developed warp drive system, which greatly expands on the frontline area to be defended as well as our own local defense zone, the military strength of the United States Space Force is critically low. As a result, the strength of the outer galactic fleet’s primary defense line is the lowest it’s been in 30 years.”
1. In the pension department office, the war game Tylor and the old chief petty officer are playing is identified in the script as “3-D chess.”
2. The Japanese Computer readout given next to the picture of Admiral Hanner is simply a repeat of what the computer says before we can see it.
3. When the Chief asks how Tylor could tell, Tylor replies “Tsuu no ieba, kaa to ieba kokusan!” The phrase “Tsuu no ieba kaa” means something like “Your talent is always knowing the right thing to say.” “Kaa to ieba kokusan” is a phrase “When it comes to buying cars, always buy domestic.”
This is a fairly common wordplay in Japanese. The writer basically combined the two phrases together that had similar sentence structures and began the second part of the phrase with the word of the previous one.
1. The small statue we see Yamamoto digging out of the wreckage in his room is a trophy for kendo, which is Japanese fencing. We saw Yamamoto doing exercises for this in episode 2.
2. Dr. Kitaguchi’s preferred brand of Japanese sake is Kin no Tama (Golden Jewels). This is actually a reference to private parts.
There are no liner notes for episode 4.
1. “Angel in White” begins with an “H”
A typically Japanese multi-level pun. The phrase “angel in white” (hakui no tenshi) is a nickname for nurses in Japan. It very obviously begins with H, but there’s more to this. Although the nurse in question is named Harumi, that’s not the real joke. H (or ecchi, as it’s pronounced in Japanese) is a slang term for having sex or being aroused. Considering the uproar Harumi’s presence causes among the male crew of the Soyokaze, it’s clear that the appearance of this particular angel in white begins with a lot of H!
2. The card Bunta holds up is a Japanese hanafuda card, which is a typical game played with cards with flower patterns on them. Originally introduced to Japan by the Spanish in the 1500’s, they can apparently be used for fortunetelling, like their western counterparts.
3. Yet another Japanese superstition rears its head in this episode when Tylor sneezes and wonders if someone’s talking about him. The joke usually goes that if you sneeze once, someone is saying something good about you. Twice, and they’re saying something bad. If you sneeze three times, you’re probably catching a cold.
4. Kojiro threatens to bite his tongue when Harumi approaches him. Biting your own tongue and bleeding to death is a way for captured prisoners to commit suicide.
5. Admiral Fuji’s command carrier is called the Ho-oh. While the usual translation for this word would be “phoenix,” the actual Chinese characters in the name turn it into “phoenix parrot.”
1. The Tail of the Lizard’s Tail
Another title with a cultural idiom. Anyone who’s ever played with a salamander can tell you, these reptiles can actually detach their tails from their bodies to escape if they’re caught. Thus, in Japanese, the phrase “a lizard’s tail” has come to refer to a p[erson or group of people who get sacrificed in order to save the larger group. For example, criminals who let one of their own get caught by the police are “cutting off the lizard’s tail,” so to speak. With a title like “The Tail of the Lizard’s Tail,” we get both the image that the group who’s supposed to be sacrificed (i.e. the Soyokaze crew) have some trick up their sleeves to save themselves and the image of something totally insignificant that’s even lower than low.
2. An aesthetic salon is a place set up to provide skin and body care, offering facials, mud packs, and massages. Although mainly frequented by women, some men also use them.
3. The name of the Ohka, the gigantic interstellar “ballistic missile,” translates as “Cherry Blossom.” In World War II, it was also the name of the piloted bombs used by Japan towards the war’s end (aka “The Baka”).
4. Yamamoto says “Now I’ll show them how a real captain acts!” The term “real captain” in Japanese is “makoto no kanchou.” The funny thing is that Yamamoto’s first name is… Makoto!
5. We learn at the end of this episode that Admiral Mifune’s super battleship is called the Hizen, which is the name of a province in Japan.
6. Souji Daijin literally means “Cleaning Minister,” and is a play on the title of Prime Minister, Souri Daijin. As for it being a giant out of season cleaning, this refers to how the Japanese traditionally perform what we’d call “spring cleaning” in the dead of winter, for New Year’s.
There are no liner notes for episode 7.
1. Life4 is Short, So Girls Should Kill (Inochi Mijikashi, Koroseya Kotome)
The title of this episode is a play on an old Japanese song. The Original lyrics are “Life is short, so girls should love.”
2. The Kowloon Nebula is apparently named for the Kowloon peninsula in Hong Kong.
3. The Ranpu that Kojiro is referring to is his space fighter, the type-96 carrier-based fighter whose name translates to “Storm Wind.”
1. When You Wish Upon a Flower (Hana Uranai ni Inori o Komete)
The title’s actual translation is “Staking a wish/prayer on flower divination.” The problem is that there really isn’t a short word in English for flower divination (you know, that plucking the petals off a daisy while saying “she loves me, she loves me not” thing), so we decided to play it more as a pun.
2. The reason why everyone on the ship is so upset about being sent to the “demotion sector” is that promotion in the military is based mostly upon seeing actual combat duty. So being sent out to “the galactic boonies,” as Cryburn puts it, effectively dead ends your career.
3. “This drop… I’ll stop!” The word for demotion or downgrading is sasen, which, coincidentally, sounds like the negative form of the word saseru, which means “to let (someone) do (something).” So, when Tylor says “Sasen nado… sasen!“, he’s making a play on words by saying “All this demotion stuff… I’ll prevent it!”
4. In Japan, it’s considered a sign of good luck if you see a piece of tea stalk floating upright in your tea.
5. It’s pretty funny to see just how many different lucky charms the crew assembles when they’re praying for success.
Among them are:
A maneki neko which are those little beckoning cats that Asian stores display to give them good business.
Several ema, which are the plaques with horse pictures on them. You write a wish on them and then hang them on a wall (usually in a temple or shrine) to make your wish come true.
Those little paper purification wands which shinto priests use.
A christian cross, complete with votive candles.
A horse shoe.
A teruteru bozu, which are those little ghost-looking things which you hang up to wish for good weather.
(Forgive my photo, it’s the best that I could do given that I’m getting this off a TV. The orange light at the top is the reflection of the ceiling light in my room. It isn’t part of the menu.)
1. Minds’ Eyes Half Blind, Headed for a Rough Ride (Shingan Kingan Dogan-Dogan)
The literal translation of the episode’s title is “Short-sightedness, inner-sight, crash-boom.” The short-sightedness is probably us probably referring to Yuriko and Yamamoto’s refusal to see beyond Yumi and Emi’s test scores, while the inner-sight can be seen as both certainly Tylor’s ability to see the potential in others as well as the hidden potential the twins possess. The crash-boom could be seen as both the sound of the twins’ planes smashing into the asteroids looming in their path as well as the collision of Tylor’s inner-sight with his officers’ short-sightedness.
2. The board game we see Tylor and Kitaguchi playing is identified as “soldier shogi.” Shogi is the Japanese equivalent to chess.
3. The actual grade the twins scored on their flight aptitude tests was “tei.” The character for tei looks like the English letter “T” and approximately equivalent to a U.S. grade of D. Since Tylor later comes in and asks “What’s with these T’s here?” when he sees the test paper, we changed it to a letter that he could logically confuse with a D, so we chose to use B instead. This works pretty well, since it makes him look as though he thinks their test scores are much higher than they actually are.
4. One wonders if Kojiro gets his inspiration from watching old 20th Century (Fox) science-fiction films. Particularly one from 1977 that also has its hero pilot turn off his targeting computer before making the important shot.
1. Kim doesn’t actually call Yuriko a “hall monitor,” but rather a “discipline committee member.” Japanese high schools organize these student committees to make sure that all students are following the rules, especially dress codes. Since American schools don’t really have an equivalent, we went with hall monitor. Either one’s a pretty bad insult to someone as rules-oriented as Yuriko.
2. Sharp-eared viewers will notice that Kim refers to Yuriko as senpai when they’re sharing drinks at the end of the episode. The term is used by lower-classmen (kohai) to refer to upper-classmen in school, and is also used by junior employees in a business as a sign of respect for those who have been working there longer. The fact that she’s calling Yuriko senpai instead of shosa (her rank) would indicate that Kim’s gained a certain level of respect for Yuriko after all that’s happened.
1. Once Yamamoto has been possessed by the ghost, you may notice that he starts to walk around with a couple of flashlights strapped to his head. This fits with the traditional Japanese view of ghosts having weird “ghost lights” hovering on either side of their head. While the old-fashioned way of portraying this is for you to tie a couple of candles to either side of your head, Yamamoto has opted for flashlights.
1. Be Prepared, Be Smart, or Be Lucky (Yoshuu, Fukushuu, Fubenkyou)
The title literally translate[s] as “prepare, review, don’t study” and describes the three approaches for students towards their school work.
Some practice Yoshuu and actually read all the stuff required on the reading list, check up on the subject in the library, and generally get themselves a working knowledge of the subject before ever stepping into the classroom.
Those who practice Fukushuu will go to the class, be not all that interested in it or do anything above the minimum level required, and then cram like crazy at the end to be able to pass the exam.
Those who opt for Fubenkyou just blow it all off and go to the final exam on a wing and a prayer.
We eventually decided to boil all of this down to what you needed to pass a test, depending on which kind of student you are: The Yoshuu student is prepared; The Fukushuu has the brains to absorb all the material quickly; and the Fubenkyou student needs pure luck if he’s going to pass.
2. The banner on the wall at the back of the party says “Back to the front lines!”
There are no liner notes for episode 14.
1. Shiny! Happy! (Deadly) Germs (Kin-Kin Kiken na Byougenkin)
The biggest problem for this one is the Kin-Kin at the beginning. Written phonetically. there is no way to tell if it means “only,” “shortly,” “tinkly,” or “shiny”; most likely the writer put it there to make the entire title rhyme. We could have just called it “Dangerous Germs,” but then we would have lost the Kin-Kin part of it. Then a weird thought hit the producer: wouldn’t it be funny to interpret Kin-Kin as “shiny” and then turn the whole thing into a pun on an REM song title? The fact that these “shiny, happy” germs don’t look happy at all makes it funnier.
1. It’s hard to tell in the translation, but the reason why Tylor says that Azalyn “talks funny” is because she speaks in a very formal way and uses the hyper-formal “yoh” when referring to herself instead of the more common “atashi” or “watashi.” This led to a weird little problem that sometimes crops up when translating Japanese to English: she switches politeness levels mid sentence. When her father beckons for her to come, she says “Watashi wa–Iya, Yoh wa…” which literally means “I (common) –No, I mean I (formal)…” She begins by using the common female word for “I” (watashi), indicating just how much she was starting to see herself as a normal girl and not as an empress, and then remembered to switch back to the royal version when talking to her father.
1. The Unjust Desert (Jinginaki Dasshutsu)
“Jinginaki Dasshutsu” literally translates as “Immoral Escape.” When the producer considered that the screw was escaping to do the right thing and save Tylor while the admirals had locked them up as criminals, it was clear that justice and morality in this episode had been turned on its head. The crew was now the “unjust” and the admirals the “just” so when they make their “immoral escape” (for the most moral of reasons), it’s a desertion by the unjust, hence “The Unjust Desert”.
2. Fuji and Mifune have set up a traditional Japanese memorial to Tylor in their office; a picture of him framed by black ribbons, incense burners, and a little tray of manju cakes as an offering to his spirit.
3. Tylor likes to needle Wang by calling him “Taisho” (General) instead of “Saisho” (Prime Minister). Since taisho is also a playing piece in shogi (Japanese chess), it’s a subtle dig at how Wang considers everyone around him to be his pawns.
4. Speaking of shogi, we see Kitaguchi playing it against Bunta in the quarantine cell.
1. A Place for Confession (Kokuhaku no Yukue)
The word “kokuhaku” used in the title literally means “a confession,” but when it’s used to talk about a woman talking to a man, it also carries to meaning of the confession of one’s love.
2. Chaff (the stuff the Soyokaze fires to confuse the Raalgons’ sensors) is a real life radar countermeasure. For years, combat aircraft have been equipped with chaff dispensers which fire bits of aluminum which can break the radar lock of an approaching missile.
3. The joke title of “The Calm and Composed Captain Yamato” inspired a drama track on one of the Tylor soundtracks released in Japan. In a parallel universe story, Yamamoto is the captain of the Soyokaze and Tylor is his goofy first officer. As is typical for Yamamoto, nothing goes well for him and he’s the one who ends up being captured by the Raalgon and becoming Azalyn’s pet. The crew is let go, with everyone happy to see Yamamoto gone and having Tylor as their new captain!
1. Sleeping Beauty (Nemureru Mori no Bishojo)
The title of the episode is literally “The Sleeping Beauty in the Woods.” This is the Japanese title for the classic fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty.”
1. Well-Handled Solutions (Yoki ni Hakarae Zengosaku)
The phrase “yoki ni hakarae” literally means to “to handle well,” but it carries the meaning of “To handle something as you see fit.” A more literal translation of the title might be “The ‘do as you feel is right’ solution.” This fits in with the theme of the episode where everyone comes to Tylor to ask how he feels and ends up answering their own question.
2. The brand name of Tylor’s VCR is “Masimo.” That is also the name of the series’ director, Koichi Mashimo. I know, it looks like it’s spelled differently, but the -shi sound can be romanized both as -shi and –si depending on which style you use.
3. The line “two times four is eight” in Japanese is “ni shi ga hachi.” “Ni shi” sounds like the word “ninshin,” which is the word for pregnancy.
The original line went
“Two times four (ni shi) is eight.
Pregnancy (ninshin) is eight… Pregnancy?!”
As you can see, it just wouldn’t have translated well into English.
1. A tanuki is a Japanese raccoon dog. The tanuki statue that we’ve seen sitting in the corner of the Soyokaze’s bridge throughout the series is supposed to be a good luck charm, like the maneki neko (beckoning cat) statues you often see in Japanese stores
2. In the preview for the next episode, there’s a reference made to Tylor climbing the hill of Golgotha. This is a biblical reference to the hill upon which Jesus was crucified.
1. Force of One (Tatta Hitori no Guntai)
The title literally translates as “The Lone Military Force,” but we rendered it as “Force of One” for a bit of double-meaning. In effect, this is an episode about individuals coming together to try and do what they can the way they want to, all because of the effect that Tylor has had on them. In other words, the English title can refer to either a lone military force or the power that one man has shown over all these different people.
1. The Longest Day in Space (Uchuu no Ichiban Nagai Hi)
Point of historical interest: the day on which Japan finally surrendered to the Allies in World War II is often referred to as “Japan’s Longest Day.”
1. Snap! Snap! Crackle! Snap! (Puttsun, Puttsun, Pichi-Pachi, Puttsun)
This title is actually a parody of a commercial for Putchin brand pudding which was running on Japanese television at the time this episode was broadcast. The original commercial’s catch phrase referred to the sounds you heard when making this instant pudding both to the fizz it made inside its plastic container (the “pitchi-patchi” sound) and the snap of opening the container to eat it (the “putchin” sound). But the title for the episode substitutes the word “puttsun” for “putchin“. Puttsun means both a literal snapping sound and the act of mentally snapping.
2. When the admiral’s body is wheeled away, he has a handkerchief over his face. This would be akin to doctors pulling the sheet over the face of the deceased in Western hospitals.
3. The sign “The Church of the Galactic Fool” literally reads “Galactic Fool Tara-Kyo.” Tara seems to be a proper name, made up of the characters for ta (steep) and ra (thin silk), while kyo is used to identify the teaching of a church or religious cult.
4. The smokestack you see as the mourners walk away is the smokestack of a crematorium. Cremation is the usual method for interment in Japan.
1. My Way is the Hard Way (My Way ga Setsunakute)
Setsunakute is more literally “heartbreaking” while the term “My Way” is used in Japanese to refer to one acting according to their own personal beliefs. To say that “My way is the hard way” is to say that sometimes living according to your own beliefs can lead to heartbreak.
1. For His Was a Genius No Rule Could Contain (Okite Hiroki Utsuwamono)
The title literally translates as “Rule Wide Person of Great Capacity/Talent” and has no grammar particles to tell how any of the words relate to each other. Dom, towards the end of the episode, states that “Tylor’s capacities may be far greater than we imagine.” “Okite Hiroki Utsuwamono” translates as “A Man Whose Capacities are Broader than Any Rule” referring to Tylor’s genius for never letting someone’s rules contain him.
2. When Yuriko is about to leave, she switches from referring to Tylor as kanchou (captain) to anata (you). It’s a telling moment for her because she finally drops the pretense of formality and talks to him as a friend.
3. The entire sequence of the Soyokaze rising from the shattered space dock is a direct homage to the launch sequence in the original Space Battleship Yamato (aka Starblazers) series.
Thank you for making it this far, and I hope this was at least somewhat fascinating to those who have seen the show. It was a pleasure to go through these notes again, especially with one of the more beautiful tracks from Kenji Kawai’s score for the show playing in the background of that particular menu. If this encourages you to rewatch Irresponsible Captain Tylor with these notes in mind (preferably with a friend to you can hit them with some interesting trivia as they’re watching), then I feel I’ve done my job and then some.