Takara thought Hasbro had a good idea there and started releasing the Beast Wars line in Japan, since they’re still the Transformers distributor in Japan. As far as I know there is no Japanese branch of Hasbro like there is in the UK. Naturally they also imported the Mainframe cartoon rather than create one of their own. Although they would make their own, but that’s for next time. Due to the episode count seasons two and three of Beast Wars: Transformers ended up as their own show. We still end up with three videos for this one however.
So why not combine this one with the two Japanese exclusive shows? Because this is the installment I’ve teased in the anime dub articles, the one that shows the way we do anime in the US is the same treatment they give our shows. Of course the anime purists say nothing about that but when you complain about the comedic dub of Ghost Stories you’d best not be the hypocrite and call them out too. If you didn’t like how 4Kids or Saban handled anime tonight I also get to introduce you to their Japanese counterpart, Yoshikazu Iwanami. What he’s done may actually be worse because he got to do a lot more of it. First…the intros!
Remembering that in Japan Autobots and Maximals alike are known as “Cybertrons” and Decepticons and Predacons called “Destrons”, here are the lyrics for the theme, Oh wait…as of this writing I can’t find it! It’s not on the TF Wiki, searching online turns up jack, the only way I can do this is find a translation site, copy/paste one of the other lyrics from the Wiki there, and give you something that sounds silly. Well, it’s the internet’s fault for failing us.
WAR WAR fight scares STOP IT
WAR WAR Stupidity Gone
WAR WAR Hate Stop IT
WAR WAR Love can’t win.
This power that is born in this world
Light natural shower saine all over the body
What is good and evil in.
The power of justice to stop
You can’t live. Don’t run away for anyone.
A robot in the hope of peace in the whole universe
Cybertron Power is fully open.
Deathtron’s mecha destroys all this
Evil ambition settling in the corner of the heart
Hope right there that i’m about to lose sight of
any flow anything in this any
Today is the key to victory
You don’t stop all the time
It’s the light that protects the planet Now! Fight! Go!
Super Life Transformers
WAR WAR Planet BROKEN
WAR WAR Peace is gone
WAR WAR Repeated Lessons
WAR WAR: You can’t win justice. WAR WAR fight scares STOP IT
I guess it matches the show about Transformers having beast wars? That at least puts it above most of the other Japanese intros. It’s just clips of the show plus the Japanese version of the logo, but that’s all the original intros were, clips and a logo.
When Iwanami started his dubs, and I’m going by the Wiki on this since I haven’t seen it, he started to do all that stuff anime fans hated Saban doing on Digimon: Digital Monsters.
Iwanami’s signature style of localization and dubbing relies heavily on satirical comedy and ad libbing, most commonly turning the programs into self-referential parodies of themselves (appropriate in the case of Ninja Turtles, an awkward fit for X-Men). While the early episodes of Beast Wars were fairly innocuous in their ad libs, as time went on their inclusion became progressively more intrusive and by the last third of the series there was a severe tonal shift.
The ad libbing in Beast Wars primarily consisted of “noise”; talking for the sake of talking and reducing atmospheric silence or visual subtlety to a minimum. One particular trait of the dub was that each character had their own unique vocal tic with which they would punctuate their sentences or, more commonly, chant incessantly for no apparent reason. For instance, Waspinator would chant “bun“, Scorponok would chant “orya“, Blackarachnia would hiss “chā“, Rhinox would ramble “dana” and so on. This gimmick was especially pronounced during fight scenes, when characters would repeatedly and comically shout their vocal tics every time they pulled the trigger of their weapons, reducing firefights to a cacophony of unending gibberish.
Many characters underwent considerable changes in personality and characterization. Some of these changes were gradual; Megatron began the series as a gravelly voiced and uncharismatic slob who would loudly hock loogies after fits of maniacal laughter. That trait was phased out in exchange for him becoming an effeminate, mood-swinging goofball; his tone of voice transitioning from a ferocious baritone to a silly high pitch at the drop of a hat. He was also made humorously cowardly, shouting out wimpy excuses while retreating (including the claim that he was late for piano practice).
Other characters were fundamentally altered right from the get go. NAVI-ko, the Predacon computer, gained a girly and fitful personality and characters would talk with her rather than at her. Tigatron was made into a humorous samurai ronin parody. Airazor, perhaps most infamously, had her entire gender changed, becoming a young male and Tigatron’s trusty ward (and later, his lover).
So the Japanese dub of the US show got rid of one of the two female Beast Warriors, drained Megatron and Tigatron of their cool personalities, and added weird vocal tics. Yes, tell me how badly the US ruins anime again. Note that this guy also worked on the 90s X-Men translation, and probably did the same stuff there. Otherwise, all the episodes aired as is, but in the wrong order. Look, I’m not against calling out the US networks for doing that, but you better be consistent and call this dub out. Oh, but it gets worse. Wait until you hear what they did to the next two seasons, Beast Wars Metal, named for the new Transmetal figures.
I’m going to assume that the narration was getting the audience up to speed because otherwise they’re going to be confused. At least the US intro for season two set up what was coming without narration, letting the visuals speak for themselves before going into the action after the logo appears. This is just “hey, they’re shiny now!”, and that’s disappointing. At least “Tamashii no Evolution” (“Evolution Of The Soul”) by Hironobu Kageyama has translated lyrics this time!
Shake awake your sleeping dreams now,
For the miracles that bind together heaven and earth.
Revive the ancient wisdom
Within the roiling blood in the depths of your heart.
Come on now, boys with the soul of a soldier
Come on, stand up
- Shinin’ your soul
- Leap over the darkness.
- Become stronger
- Than you were yesterday.
- Until love conquers the universe,
- Fight, BEAST WARS
- BEAST WARS
Again, the theme matches up to the show better than the US intros for G1. However, despite Metal being a combination of seasons two and three it somehow got a second intro, and this time with a new theme song. Take that, Masterforce.
Again I can’t find a translation for this song and I could have sworn one of these had a proper subtitle on YouTube. So, let’s do the same thing I did last time. This song is “Sennen No Soldier” (“Millennium Soldier”) by the same artist.
Don’t turn your eyes off me now.
Because he’s a witness to the days of blowing fire.
The cry of the universe resonates in my heart
To believe in each other
On the day life was born in mother sea
Let’s get our passion back to life
On the land I love
Lonely soldier Even if i become the last one
Never givin’ up will keep fighting
To an irreplaceable person
This eternal life is now dedicated Beast Wars!
At least the sentences make more sense this time. There were also a few specials created but those intros are either big long explanations or something like this:
Iwanami really did a number on Metals, again according to the TF Wiki:
While Beast Wars had been fairly judicious in its self-referential humor, even in its last stretch of episodes, Beast Wars Metals was an unrestrained self-parody, constantly breaking the fourth wall and demonstrating awareness of its own status as a TV series.
Ad libbing was done to the extreme and characters all received major personality adjustments to reflect the aggressively comedic nature of the series. For example, Depth Charge was turned into a goofy old man who enjoyed singing fishing songs while transforming, Silverbolt was now psychotically polite with an obnoxious happy-go-lucky attitude, and Rampage now talked in the rough-and-tumble dialect of a cartoon street punk. The show was incessantly self-aware, regularly acknowledging the camera, the TV channel and, in one of the more oppressive gags, Rattrap would constantly smell what the audience was eating (making remarks to the effect of, “Oh, that’s Sato-san’s curry” as he sniffed). Yoshikazu’s dubbing style would become synonymous with all imported Western Transformers cartoons in Japan, as he would be placed in charge of localizing every series through Prime, all with the same overbearingly satirical attitude.
That’s not all. In addition to Rattrap/Rattle being a little kid, Optimus Primal, taking Optimus Prime’s Japanese name of “Convoy” (which makes no sense for a gorilla and will make less sense next week) becomes obsessed with bananas in the Japanese take. In fact two of the specials, including where that last intro video came from (that’s the characters singing the 1st Metal theme) are called, I kid you not, “Where’s The Banana” and “I Lost The Banana“, both of which are original clip shows meant to take the place of episodes released in theaters alongside the Beast Wars II movie. And I will be chronicling what Iwanami did to the other shows, although at least Animated had enough comedic moments. Doing gag dubs of Beast Machines and Prime is really missing the point. Again, I want to hear the anime purists at least admit this was wrong. Note that I’m not defending Ghost Stories either, but I’ll get into that when I post my final (for now, given how this site works) thoughts on the defense of dubbing in anime. The point is this happens in Japan too and they should be calling this guy out for it. The sad part is these intros work fine for the original tone of the show, which already included comedic moments to break up the action and things like Dinobot’s sacrifice. I hope they didn’t screw that one up too much. Even Abridged series know when to take a moment seriously.
Next time here we will get to Beast Wars II and Beast Wars Neo. This should be another short article, so enjoy it. Actually, I might be done with longer articles. It depends on how I go over the other shows in this franchise and their intros. See you then…or in one of the other articles between now and then.