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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Why Pokemon, Dragon Ball, and Voltron Were Changed In America (+ Ghibli, and More) - Anime Explained

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Onigiri is a Japanese staple made from white rice that is formed into a triangle or other

fun shapes and often wrapped in seaweed that you eat with your hands.

Theyre a great go-to food and theyre as cute as they are distinctive.

And thats why its weird as hell that Brock says this:

These donuts are great!

Jelly filled are my favorite!

Nothing beats a jelly filled donut!

Now. Originally I planned to title this videoCanonical proof that Brock is a stupid idiot

dumbass,” show that video from before, and then the video essay would end right here,

but unfortunately for me literally right before that Brock clip Misty says this heck.

[Pikachu and Misty eating Jelly Donuts™]

You look kind of down, Ash


Have a donut!

That always cheers me up

What the fudge is going on here!?

And thats when I decided to go in deeper.

Oh yes I went and watched the episode those two clips come from...

Its episode 25, Primeape Goes Bananas

and guess what...

It goes bananas.

Mankey you're mine now!

[Mankey noises]

It's a donut!!

A donut Pokémon..?

So what is going on here huh?!

I mean even if you dont know what a rice ball is you know that that thing isnt a... jelly donut...

Which goes to show how stupid you were when you were a kid for accepting that was a donut

cause it DEFINITELY was not a donut.

Fun fact, I never fell for it as a kid, because I saw Pokémon in Korean.

자 이제 시작이야 (내꿈을) Now this is the beginning (My dream)

내 꿈을 위한 여행 (피카츄) An adventure for my dreams (Pikachu)

And you might think "oh its just that one episode..." but no..

They were editing rice balls all over the place.

Like in this shot where the rice ball becomes a footlong that doesnt animate very well.

At all.

And then they replaced it with an over rendered graham cracker.

Lookin like a bad photoshop edit... oh god....

So what happened here.

Are Americans incapable of understanding that stuffed, triangular rice treats are a thing

or did 4Kids just do it for some other strange and probably stupid reason?

The answer isyes

And the reason why, in short, is localization, which is basically like a super translation when

you need to edit the source text to match the linguistic and cultural norms of the target country

Often that can mean changing characters' names and editing outinappropriatecontent,

but it can often be a lot more transformative than that.

And often anime was transformed a lot in its trip over the Pacific ocean to the US

Especially when the Americans doing the importing insisted that cartoons were always, only for children

Children who are too stupid to know that a rice ball isnt a friggin donut.

Anime localization has a pretty wild history, so let's go into it.

Here is our: Severely Abridged History of Anime Localization in America!

bam ba ba bam~

In the mid-60s there were a few dubbed animes that were kicking around the Americas.

Shows like Gigantor in64 and Kimba in66

Kimba is interesting in itself since Disney was actually accused of plagiarizing it in their

production of the Lion King, but it wasnt until 1967 that anime really took off.

Speed Racer was a massive success for its time - both as a show and, more importantly,

in merchandising.

Now as far as localization is concerned, Speed Racer actually kept a lot of the core show intact

They changed the name from Mach GoGoGo, but they didnt mess with the basic story.

That said, Id argue that a lot of the misconceptions that broader society had about

Japanimationcame from this era.

You know, that anime has a low frame count, and re-uses a lot of animation, and that the

lip syncs areweird.

Well Speed, here we are in the Alps but I don't think you should enter The Big Race

I've got to, Sparky! I've got to beat the car acrobatic team...

But shouts out to Speed Racer though...

Whats most important about Speed Racer is that it was profitable and that it opened

the door for more anime to come into the US.

Now were jumping ahead a lot, but the next big anime to break in the US definitely didnt

have lasting cultural impact of Speed Racer, but nevertheless is influential, that anime is...

Star Blazers

Also known as Space Battleship Yamato.

Like Speed Racer, Star Blazers was actually pretty true to the original.

They replaced all the Japanese text and renamed it, but otherwise kept it pretty much intact.

The reason Im mentioning it here is that it was wayyy ahead of it's time.

Not only was it a post-apocalyptic, military space opera, but it introduced serialized

storytelling to a lot of children back in 1979.

Thats important because Star Blazers finished up in the mid-80s, which is when anime localization

starts getting pretty wild.

Lets start with Robotech, another serialized sci-fi action series.

Robotech isnt just an anime about an alien starship that crashed on Earth and gave humans

access to the advanced technology they would need to fight off an alien invasion..

Its literally three animes about three different alien invasions.

Harmony Gold took Super Dimension Fortress Macross,

Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross,

and Genesis Climber MOSPEADA - three completely different shows - and patched up

the inconsistencies by splitting them into a 3 season chronology that spanned 45 years.

Each season focused on a differentRobotech War'’ that was fought by the ancestors

of the previous season. Now you might be wondering why?

Why would they do this?

Why not release three different shows?

Well its because of broadcast standards!

In order to meet American syndication standards that required enough episodes to run 5 days

a week for 13 weeks. Thats 65 episodes - minimum

Wayyy higher than the standards set in Japan.

But it wouldnt be the last time a studio would cram together a couple sources in the

process of bringing an anime to America.

Maybe youve heard of this one:

Thats right, Voltron!

Voltron is a classic of American pop culture.

Its one of the few animes that has maintained its popular culture relevance, especially

since that Netflix remake came out a couple years ago.

Like Robotech, the original run of Voltron was separated into two seasons.

The first was largely re-edited from Beast King GoLion, which takes place in the

Far Universeand has the iconicLionsVoltron.

While the second season is edited out of Armored Fleet DaiRugger, in thenear universe',

and where Voltron is made out of... cars

Yep, I bet a lot of you didnt remember when Voltron was made out of a lot cars and airplanes

And by a lot, I mean a lot.

Too many.

One of the main reasons why people mostly remember thelionVoltron despite both

seasons having 52 episodes is that vehicle Voltron was made up of 15 different vehicles

separated into an air, sea, and land team.

And let me tell you it was a lot more compelling to argue with your friends over which of the

5 lions you were than whether you were Jeff, Tagor, or one of the other 13 pilots.

Vehicle Voltron did so poorly that a third season that would take place in themiddle

universeand bring back the Lions was planned, but the show never came out.

They did make a straight to VHS crossover show called Fleet of Doom where both of the

Voltrons have to join forces to beat up the titular Fleet.

This VHS was edited together from Beast King GoLion, Armored Fleet DaiRugger, and also

had a lil bit of original animation!

Still the third season never happened.

Fleet of Doom was the only true crossover between Vehicle and Lion Voltron, but DaiRugger

was still present in the Lion episodes.

And it was only included to pad out the episode run time after they had to edit down the

GoLion episodes because they were wayyy too violent - and violent in a way that couldnt be

chalked up to "lil Johnny is just sleeping" or "the baddies are just robots."

People died.

Incidentally a lot of GoLions episodes would end with Voltron beating the robeasts

by using their blazing sword.

Like an actual sword...

With the whole blood and the cutting and the stuff

Well to avoid that in the US version the robeasts all blow up with pretty much the exact same

explosion every time.

And then theres Sven.

You know the character - the one with the really, really good Swedish accent.

It's too bad...

I wanted to see Castle Gradam fully restored with my own eyes...

Well in GoLion that was Takashi Shirogane and he dies.

In the US version they dub in some audio about how theyre gonna take him to a doctor,

and then replace him with his brother, Ryou cause they look so much alike.

There's a doctor on planet Ebb

Get me there fast!

But that said, I wanna talk about one more movie before we move on, its a little film

called Warriors of the Wind.

Do you recognize it??


Well let me give you a hint.

Ignore every single thing in the poster and then just focus

on that girl in the upper right corner.

Really focus in on her

Does she look like anyone?

Yeah, Princess Zandra..

Also known as Nausicaa in the Japanese version.

This is the American release of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind,

One of Hayao Miyazakis first movies

None of those dudes on that poster are in the movie and that thing theyre riding on

is the resurrected God Warrior that is all gross at the end of the movie.

But the poster is just the tip of the iceberg.

They also cut out 22 minutes for one thing.

For another they never briefed the voice actors about the plot of the movie, so the performances

are all over the place.

[Cat Human Hybrid Type Screaming Noises]

Princess Zandra...

[More Cat Human Hybrid Type Screaming Noises]


And worst of all they removed the whole Ohmu plot pointwhich not only

removes the environmentalist core of the movie, but also means that the final conflict with

the bugs happen for no reason.

Like these bugs just appear

Lemme tell you, Miyazaki mustve been pissed when this happened.

Not only was this one of his first directed films, but it's based off the manga he drew

a couple years earlier.

This film was as good as his baby!

But you know Miyazaki, he sticks up for what he believes in, and thats why he instituted

the first strictno cutspolicy when he founded Studio Ghibli..





From that point on no Ghibli film could be localized in a way that edited the content

or americanized the themes or characters, everything would be kept

as close to the original as policy.

And that rules, right?

Miyazaki was way ahead of his time and cared about preserving the sanctity of the story.

Except this was 1985 and Miyazaki was a little too ahead of his time cause it wouldnt be until

1993 that another Miyazaki film would make its way to America.

That film was My Neighbor Totoro and it was faithfully localized by Streamline Pictures

in 1989, but it took them 4 years to find a distributor in Troma films.


The guys who made Class of NukeEm High, The Toxic Avenger, and Cannibal the Musical

- which was a movie Trey Parker and Matt Stone made a few years before South Park came out

Those were the movies being advertised right next to My Neighbor Totoro.

That wouldve been a weird boxset

Fun fact! Fox was in charge of the home distribution

and my God, that box set looks like... Dumbo.

Even as late as 1997 people challenged the sanctity of Miyazakis work when Miramax

asked permission to cut Princess Mononoke to make it less violent.

Prompting Miyazaki's producer to send Harvey Weinstein

a katana with a note that saidno cuts.”

But we got a little ahead of ourselves, 1997 is coming, we need to get back to 1988

the year that Nickelodeon started a new programming block for very young children.

It was called Nick Jr. and to get it off the ground they needed a lot of cheap content

quickly and the best way to do that was to import it.

The way Nick Jr. figured it, they could bring over childrens anime so they don't

have to spend money censoring it.

Whats more they could skimp on the voice actors since their target audience was way

Too young to notice how bad the dubs were.

And thats how we got mostly forgotten anime that most of you have never heard of like

Noozles, Adventures of the Little Koala. and other obscure ass little titles....

Now whats important about Nick Jr. isnt any of the specific shows, but rather that

That their strategy proved way more cost efficient than re-editing anime footage into entirely

new plotlines like they did for Robotech and Voltron.

So Harmony Gold, the same company that produced Robotech, decided to follow in their

footsteps and license a childrens anime of their own, another obscure little anime called...

Dragon Ball.

Out of the 11 English dubs of Dragon Ball, the Harmony Gold version is considered the

Lost Dubof the franchise, but that doesnt necessarily mean it was bad.

Sure, it is pretty damning that it renames a bunch of characters.

Like Goku becoming Zero, Krillin became Bongo... hm...

and Bulma became Lena despite her still wearing clothes

that sayBulmaon them.

Mustve been a fashion brand, I guess....

But believe it or not, the voices in Harmony Gold are actually pretty good.

This was also one of Wendee Lees first voice acting roles as Bulma, a character she

would reprise 30 years later in Dragon Ball Super... Now isnt that just... adorable.

No, quality isnt the reason the Harmony Dub is so obscure.

Its obscure because it tested really poorly.

It's hard to find information on the Harmony dub outside of a few YouTube clips and a short

page on the Dragon Ball fandom wiki, but rumors suggest it never amounted to more than a few

episode pilots and dubs of the first and third Dragon Ball movies - Dragon Ball: Curse of the

Blood Rubies and Dragon Ball: Mystical Adventure

Now I know what you might be thinking.

How the hell did Dragon Ball test poorly?

Its Dragon Ball!

But no.

Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z struggled to find audiences in the United States all the way

up to 1998 when Cartoon Network licensed it from Funimation.

And, fun fact, they licensed it for very little money due to the show's failure up to that point

Dragon Ball Z went on to become the best rated Cartoon Network show up to that point.

But that was Dragon Ball Z...

Dragon Ball would never find a significant US audience.

That lack of interest combined with how disposable anime was treated in the late 80s means that

no one bothered with preservation.

Which is a shame, cause remnants of the dub that exist on YouTube show that it really

was surprisingly good at the time.

Even the comments say so, and you know how comments can be.

Meanwhile the Big Green dub of Dragon Ball Z will last forever because people care about

Z in a way they dont care about Dragon Ball.


Also, shockingly, that dub was made in the early 2000s, after preservation became

a bit more standard practice.

Its a shame we lost something historical and pretty good, and kept something

that's horrible... but thats life.

Heres a clip of the Big Green dub so you can see what I mean:

It's about time I was allowed to have some fun... Now I'm gonna teach our visitor a lesson

No don't do it! He's too powerful!!


You're right why didn't you tell me sooner?!

Well scrap that... the Big Green dub is good.

Its official. You heard it from me, folks...

Well, we have so much more info for me to rant about BUT my leg is falling asleep and...

I wanna go home

So Im gonna wrap part 1 of

Severely Abridged History of Anime Localization in America!

Ba ba ba bam~

Stay tuned for the next one where we're gonna wrap this topic up and talk about

Power Rangers, Sailor Moon, everyone's favorite 4kids, and much, much more

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All I have to say is thank you for watching and I'll see you next time

Bye now!~

The Description of Why Pokemon, Dragon Ball, and Voltron Were Changed In America (+ Ghibli, and More) - Anime Explained