Japanese Merchandise

A Red Dwarf overload for the land of the rising sun.

17 January, 2003

Smegging hell, they've got a lot of stuff! Red Dwarf's international appeal may be well-documented, but Japan have taken to the show with something bordering on mania. The exploits of Lister and co. - dubbed into Japanese, naturally - have been showing on NHK (their equivalent of the BBC) and are soon to be released on DVD amongst a flurry of merchandise.

Japanese Merchandise

There are Kryten masks, posters, JMC clipboards, hologrammatic Hs, mobile phone strips, badges, postcards and even Red Dwarf curries. But demand is highest for the DVDs, which are set to be released in two four-season boxed sets, as well as individually, on January 25th and March 21st this year. The boxed sets - 3,500 limited editions, of which all but 500 are already pre-ordered! - will also include DVD versions of the Smeg Ups and Smeg Outs videos respectively.

While fans in the rest of the world might bemoan the speed with which Japan is getting all eight series on DVD, the Japanese editions are quick release versions with very few extras. Episodes are the dubbed NHK remastered versions (which have not been through the digital clean-ups of the main versions), and bonus material is restricted to three images, character profiles and brief interviews with the Japanese performers who play Rimmer, Lister and Cat's voices - Mr Horiuchi (Lister), Mr Ebara (Rimmer) and Mr Yamadera (Cat).

Japanese Merchandise

Both dubbed and subtitled versions are also being made available on video from January 25th onwards - with each tape, bizarrely, containing four episodes of the show. Japan will also be getting the 'full' versions of the DVD, as released in the rest of the world, at a later date, starting with Series I-IV in Spring of 2004. In the meantime, we thought we'd present you with the thoughts of Japan's premiere Red Dwarf dubbing artists:

Mr Horiuchi's first impressions of Red Dwarf were very positive. "I was so excited to watch this programme in rehearsal. It's very funny, but there is also cynical element to it. I was afraid that it might not work if we exaggerated [our performances]. I want to be like Lister. He doesn't take things too seriously and does what he wants to do. He is going his own way."

"I was very surprised that there were some dirty jokes!" reports Mr Ebara. "The BBC filmed Red Dwarf, right? There was an audience in the studio, so it was like theatre. A very joyful mood."

Japanese Merchandise

Having taken on the part, his enthusiasm for the original Rimmer is boundless. "Chris Barrie is an expert! I am so surprised by his performance. I think he could do Shakespeare! He's very skilled, so, I did wonder if I could dub him well. I need great physical strength to dub. If I was tired, I couldn't dub well. Especially when there were long [speeches] and a lot of words, it was very hard work for me."

"It was my very first time dubbing a SF situation-comedy!" laughs Mr Yamadera. "I like the intelligence of the programme. At first, I was conscious of [doing a] Cat voice. 'Meeow'. But I stopped. I just tried to think about Cat's character." As for the fans... well, they certainly love the Smeg Ups: "There are a lot of fans, but they are strange men. They say 'maaaarvelous' in chorus!"

"To tell the truth," he continues, "my part was taken separately from the other actors, [though we had] a celebration party after recording. Mr Horiuchi talks too much, so I'm happy I didn't dub with him!"

The Japanese NHK website can be found in the Links section.

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