It should be noted that I consider general video posting and posting an entire series to be two different things. So while I have general permission from MarzGurl to post her videos in my articles, I haven’t heard from her considering her newest “translation terrors” series. She and I agree on a number of things, but we do have things we disagree on. The biggest is the one that puts me at odds with at least most of the anime community, namely 4Kids Entertainment.
To summarize past postings, while I feel anime fans have a right to be disappointed with SOME changes, others do in fact make it easier for a wider American audience to enjoy it, and may lead them to the more “important” stuff. Or not, it depends. At any rate, the first official episode of her series finds MarzGurl discussing anime intros, the original versus the 4Kids version. Since I recently started a series of intro-review articles here at the Spotlight, I feel the need to address at least this one.
First, of course, you should hear her side of the story, and then you can read my response.
[UPDATE: 7-15-2019: Unfortunately she seems to no longer have the video up anywhere, or I can’t find it, so it might have been lost in the Blipopcalypse. Hopefully you can still follow along and get an idea of her viewpoint.]
I do want to start my portion by saying that in a number of cases, as you’ll see, it comes down to preferences and tastes. Remember than Japan can do its own “butchering” (I’m certain that Beast Wars isn’t the only show to be changed once it hits the Land of the Rising Sun) and swap our intros for theirs. That’s an article for another time, but it’s differences in tastes between MarzGurl and myself that will be important to the way we view these intros.
For example, I believe that “selling the show” is the primary purpose of the show opening. (The other should be credits, but this only seems to apply to live-action shows in the US. I can only think of one show off the top of my head that was made for the US and had opening credits.) If you look through my “Favorite” and “Not-So-Favorite Intros” categories you’ll find that how well the show convinces you to watch will affect which list it goes on.
Also, my favoritest intro on the list is Starcom: The US Space Force, where the only vocal part is when the commander orders the cool toys buy them now! ships to take off. As far as 4Kids, if you go through the list of programs they own or have produced (ignoring programs they merely distributed, few of them had a stellar intro. Frankly, the fact that Pokémon had mostly good intro during 4Kids’ run (the dub is currently produced by a Nintendo affiliate and distributed by Viz Media) may well be a fluke. This is something else to take into consideration. Also, as MarzGurl does state, the US has more commercials and thus shows have shorter intros, but this is hardly new. Look up Speed Racer and compare it to Mach Go Go Go sometime or even the US dub of the first Ultraman series.
So let’s go through the shows as she did, starting with F-Zero. Regardless of which translation or subtitle you want to use, honestly neither get me jazzed for the show. The Japanese version has the same flaw that I find in a lot of anime openings. It’s just a bunch of random character going “hey, we’re in the show…somewhere”. (There are times when you will have a character in the intro that doesn’t show up until half way through the season and won’t mean anything to you for a few episodes after that.) The US version is the same thing with ADD and a techno beat. To be honest, the narrator at the beginning does more to set-up the show than the intros do.
That’s my real problem with some intros. Some, like Conan the Adventurer, talk a lot and say nothing and other say nothing because they’re talking about something else. A lot of anime intros fall into the latter. The theme song tells you nothing about the show while the visuals just show random people. Only in the case of something like Cowboy Bebop do they do this right, by still giving you a sense of the world you’re going into and making you curious about who the characters are. Even shows I like, such as Gundam Wing or Dancougar, are guilty of this. They’re great songs, but they tell you nothing about the show.
Also, I’m pretty sure that the US name, GP Legend, should be blamed not on 4Kids but on Nintendo. That was the name of the video game when it was brought to the US, so unless someone at 4Kids convinced the right person at Nintendo to change it, let’s put the blame where it belongs. This is different from the Battle Network games being called NT Warrior by the not-4Kids studio that produced the dub, which was also used in the Viz Manga translation. I don’t think 4Kids was even running the WB’s kids lineup at the time.
Sometimes, like the Pokémon opening, it is a case of length. I watched the Japanese opening, and she’s right, it would have worked fine. However, it would have been too long. The show was originally released in syndication before being picked up by Kids WB and later the Cartoon Network, and even though syndicated opens can be a bit longer than network opens (to the point that both this show and Beast Wars: Transformers had their openings shortened when picked up by a network) that still would have been too long. Where would you cut it? It was probably easier to create a new open, plus they have full rights to that theme. (Which may well be another issue when it comes to theme changes.)
Let me use Tokyo Mew Mew/Mew Mew Power (has “mew” ever been written so often so close together?) as a prime example. Here is the Japanese version, with subtitles. (See, easy to find on this one.
Now compare it to the 4Kids theme.
First off, why bash the US opening for sounding like “Disney pop-stars”? I wonder if liking “J-Pop” (the term for pop music out of Japan) comes from it being foreign and in a different language. US pop music seems to be OK over there, at least from what little I hear. But are there Japanese who look at their pop stars the way we do ours? If their culture had such things, would there a Japanese counterpart to Todd in the Shadows, a music critic over at That Guy With the Glasses (MarzGurl’s second home)?
Second of all, even if it’s only a line or two, Mew Mew Power‘s theme song talks about “saving the world” and “teaming up”, which gives you some idea about what the show is about besides girls in catgirl costumes having romantic issues. That’s why I have to give the edge to 4Kids here. You know this is a show about girls battling monsters (and elves who sexually assault teenage girls, but you know, Japan).
We agree on Sonic X (seriously, you want a good Sonic intro, try the Saturday Morning cartoon from the 1990’s), but I think little kids would like the Tama & Friends opening. Granted, I wouldn’t watch it, either, nor did I bother to look up either theme song. Then again, I’m not 5. Much like another friends-show featuring a certain purple dinosaur, I’m not the target audience. I don’t have to like it.
By the way, I wouldn’t begin to know which Yu-Gi-Oh intro to use. That’s another issue I have with anime. It’s one thing to change the visuals to match a new season. Live action shows in the states do it, and I wish more US animated series did. But do they have to change the theme song every season? It’s one thing with something like Kamen Rider or Ultraman, where each show is part of a franchise, but Ultra 7 and Ultraman Tiga are two different shows. It would be like having every CSI show using the same intro when one is the New York based show and one is the Miami based show, both with a completely different cast from the main series. But imagine if every season of Scooby-Doo (no, stop, there were multiple shows, but some had more than one season) had a different theme song?
Shaman King was one of those animes that actually did concern me as a Christian (I mean the show is about people allowing themselves to be possessed by spirits so they can fight each other better), and Kirby and Dinosaur King was a show I couldn’t care less about, so let’s not drag this article out any further. I also couldn’t find the original Japanese opening to One Piece with subtitles to know how well it did as saying “hey, here’s why you want to watch me”, and trying to say anything positive about the 4Kids opening to an anime fan is suicide anyway. (Although oddly the video for “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” kept popping up. Everyone should hear that song, but how does it connect to One Piece?)
As for outros, would we ever see them? End credits in the old days just played while a voice over told you what show was coming up next, and now you get a video advertisement with credits pushed into a box so small you need a microscope to read it, even if you have perfect vision. So what would be the point? Some shows just end up using black screen with white text because final jokes or show highlights aren’t being seen either.
So which version is “the best version”? Heck if I know. I only which ones I prefer. Sometimes it’s the Japanese, sometimes it’s the English. You’ll see both in the “My Favorite/Not-So-Favorite Intros”, but it’s not like 4Kids is the only culprit here. To wit:
[UPDATE from 7/15/2019 AGAIN: I like the song but it just doesn’t fit the intro. Also, this might not have been the original example. The video was dead and I don’t remember what my original example was so I chose Knights Of The Zodiac.]
Not as bad as One Piece, but not very good and not 4Kids. So why do they get all the abuse when they aren’t the only criminal?