4Kids Entertainment gets a lot of flack from the anime community. They took anime and re-edited it for Western audiences, which they feel is somehow artistically wrong. I’m not saying they don’t have a point, especially given recent shenanigans where translators are inserting their views into characters’ mouths, like a crossdresser who still identifies as a boy being turned trans in the translation (no pun intended) when that’s not what he was in the original manga, or adding references to Gamergate into an anime made by people who never heard of Gamergate. I think there’s a difference however. 4Kids never sold their stuff as a anime dub studio. It was a studio who made TV shows and the occasional movie for kids. It was right there in the name.
It just so happened that Pokémon was big in the US and it was 4Kids, originally in syndication and then on Kids WB if memory serves, who brought it to Western kids. Their goal wasn’t to present anime to Western anime fans, it was to make a kids show just like all their other non-Japanese kids show. I’ve gone over 4Kids long library of shows in my defense of the studio years ago including my favorite version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the prematurely canceled WMAC Masters. Anime was popular and cheaper to dub than create shows like this or Cubix: Robots For Everyone and that’s what they did.
Some time ago YouTuber Saberspark went over the demise of 4Kids and why the company failed. There’s more to the story than their anime but did he touch on that? Let’s find out. It’s been a while since I dropped it into the potential article playlist. Also features a cameo by Yu-Gi-Oh Abridged.
If I never have to hear some anime dub video mention jelly donuts again (unless they’re actually eating jelly donuts) I will die a happy man. Practically all of them reference that #@%$#*$ line at least once a video and I’m sick of hearing it! At this point I’m not convinced it was in the show and the Mandela Effect is taking from some parody, like the whole “we are not amused” line Queen Victoria maybe said once when she was still alive. Could I be wrong? I’d have to care before I gave you an answer. I’m just sick of hearing about jelly donuts! I don’t eat the things (I prefered glazed, cinnamon, or chocolate creme filled–I wonder what all three would taste like?) or rice balls and if I never hear about them again it will be far too late!
Sorry, had to vent. Speaking of which, Kamen Rider Dragon Knight needed to be treated better as well. I still don’t know why 4Kids only aired the last episode on their website. Was Kids WB that bothered by it?
So if it wasn’t for 4Kids (under an old name) we wouldn’t have ThunderCats. Meanwhile the other shows I mentioned (actually I was neutral on Cubix) are among some of my favorite shows. Sadly WMCA Masters ended on a cliffhanger. While season one had the competitors discussing what got them into martial arts, including stunt actor and martial arts enthusiasts like Aheem Austin, aka “The Machine”, the second introduced a rival group seeking revenge on the World Martial Arts Council using undercover agents to undermine the competitors. Sadly this included my favorite, Hien “Tsunami” Nguyen being one of the spies. This was a live-action series and a sort of “pro wrestling” approach to martial arts competition, including one of the Masters being a pro wrestler and bringing those skills to what was essentially an early example of mixed martial arts.
Short correction: Disney only purchased Fox recently. The Fox Box was the Fox Network abandoning programming their Saturday morning lineup and letting 4Kids deal with the headaches causes by parent groups over advertising and content, and they weren’t the only network to do so. ABC was purchased by Disney, or more accurately Capital Cities, which owned ABC and ESPN. That’s why Disney took over ABC’s whole Sat AM lineup through the “One Saturday Morning” block. CBS turned their line-up over to Cookie Jar, NBC to Qubo, and Kids WB would go with Jetix before the CW gave 4Kids control with CW For Kids. Only UPN controlled their lineup throughout the brief time they aired Sunday morning shows, to not compete on Saturdays (though they were competing with church and family time). Now all of them have abandoned Saturday Morning, the weekday versions of Fox Kids and Kids WB essentially ruined first-run and rerun syndication of kids shows and now you almost don’t have first-run syndication. Local channels air sports if they’re part of a network or otherwise run infomercials and educational shows.
I could see demanding a share of the home video royalties and I’m even on their side, but for TV Tokyo and Nihon demanding ALL the royalties? That seems a bit much.
Again, 4Kids Entertainment didn’t adapt anime for Western anime fans. They made shows for kids, had to deal with parent groups and jittery television networks and local channels, and thus had to alter the shows accordingly. These “hack dubs” going as far back as Gigantor in the 1960s were how American kids were introduced to anime, showing production companies looking to ride the home video wave in the 1980s. This led to the “Japanamation” boom where dubbing the dialog was actually worse than the kids show translations of the time and just featured all the non-kids shows and movies featuring graphic violence, nudity, and language (even if the original Japanese didn’t have the same level of curse words). I’ve stated many times in articles and the Clash Of The Bionoids review that I grew up with Voltron and Battle Of The Planets and I’ll defend the daylights out of Robotech because they did pull a Power Rangers/Kamen Rider and make a whole new show out of the footage. Battle Of The Planets even had new animation created to send the team into space and creating three new characters–7-Zark-7, Susan, and 1-Rover-1, plus scenes of the heroes at rest or visiting Zark in his observation room at the heroes’ base of operations. If it wasn’t for these shows introducing kids and teens to Japanese productions you may not have the level of fandom you have today when it comes to anime or manga.
Meanwhile kids today really don’t get exposed to anime unless someone in their family is already a fan and show it to them, the only kids anime being translated being continuations or remakes of the “hack dubbed” shows Americans grew up with. It’s wrong to treat 4Kids as the poor man’s Funimation or something because they weren’t an anime translation studio. They only dived in on the translated anime once the second wave of anime fandom hit the US, which can be blamed in part on their dub of Pokémon. They made kids shows for a western audience. It’s in the name, For Kids/4Kids. Anime fans may be happy they’re gone but I still want to see a proper ending for WMCA Masters and for their version of the Ninja Turtles to air on TV again instead of buried on the Pluto TV TMNT channel with all the Nickelodeon takes (and what happened to the original series, the pre-Nickelodeon live-action and animated movies?). I wonder what shows they could have come up with?