What Happened to Your Promises TPCI?
by, 18th December 2010 at 06:29 PM (2721 Views)
Okay, so many of us who are long term fans of the Pokemon Anime who have watched the English version regularly under both 4Kids and TPCI have hoped that one day we'd get a Dub that was unedited, unaltered, and uncut. But given recent events, it looks like that's never going to happen.
Those of us who were regularly a part of the Pokemon Anime fandom may remembed mid-2006 and the contentious debate that took place when production of the English Dub was transfered from 4Kids to TPCI (PUSA at the time). During that time, the webmaster of Pokemon fansite Pokebeach provided an audio clip of a San Diego Comiccon Q&A session hosted by TPCI. In that session, Lawrence Neves, then a spokesperson for TPCI had the following to say:
So what happened to keeping "the show as traditional as possible and as close to the Japanese version of Pokemon as possible." The consistent decline in original Japanese BGM over the years under 4Kids, in favor of using their own excessive, repetitive, uneven, and completely out-of-place Dub-over music was a key reason as to why many of us supported taking the Dub out of 4Kids hands. Based on the initial sampling by the company that would eventually take over Dubbing of the series, we had reason to believe that the English version would keep all of the original BGM intact. However, in sharp contrast to Mastermind of Mirage Pokemon, Fear Factor Phony only kept a small handful of Japanese tracks (one of which was the Title Card Cue.Our commitment this year and for the years of ongoing from here, is that we are going to try to keep the show as traditional as possible and as close to the Japanese version of Pokemon as possible, including trying to keep a lot of background music that comes straight from Japan.
Despite the initially disappointment in TPCI's handling of the Dub, I was willing to wait things out. I simply believed that we'd eventually get to the where the soundtrack would be completely unaltered (though I was hoping it would happen sooner rather than later). For a while, it seemed the trend that was established under 4Kids was being reversed as a greater portion of original BGM was being kept with each following season. In fact, in Season 12, as many as half a dozen episodes maintained music just as it was in the Japanese version with no additions or alterations (with 8 seconds being a possible exception).
However, things appear to have changed in the latest season, with far fewer tracks being kept in the most recent episodes than one would have expected from TPCI at this point. It is amazing that after almost 13 years into the Dub, and nearly half a decade since it was taken out of the hands of fan-averse 4Kids Entertainment, that we still have episodes that keep as little as one or two pieces of original music. It is astonishing that after all the fan feedback, and all the reasoning as to why the English Dub benefits from having a soundtrack that is completely unaltered, that episodes are still plagued with underwhelming and completely unfitting Dub-over music. If TPTB don't get it by now, I don't think they'll ever get it.
Another issue I have with the Dub under both 4Kids and TPCI is the script editing. Like with the music, the script alterations became more frequent over the years under 4Kids management. Just as changing the music in an overseas adaptation of foreign language television program aversely effects the quality, so does altering the dialog, as doing so more often not will not adequately reflect what's being shown on screen.
Sadly, it seems that TPCI has not learned from 4Kids' mistakes when it comes to script adaptation, and it seems that in some cases, they make mistakes of their own. To be fair, the majority of translated dialog is spot on. But that doesn't change the fact that their are still numerous mistranslations scattered about on an episode-by-episode basis. Most notable of these mistranslations, are the complete personality overhauls of Jessie, James, and Meowth, the infamous Team Rocket Trio. It is worth noting that Team Rocket's dialogue was equally mistranslated under 4Kids, but at least then, they sounded somewhat human. Under TPCI however, nothing that is ever uttered by the trio sounds even close to anything ever spoken by a normal human being. Nowadays, not a single member of the fandom seems to think that Team Rocket is funny in the least. And from stories I've heard even audience members who are of target age (6-11) seem to groan in disgust at the Trio, and want as little time spent on them as possible.
Every one of TR's groan inducing dialogue includes one or more more of the following:
A. Wordplay such as rhyming and alliterations
B. Outdated Slang (Meowth's "Dig it" seems to be the prime example)
C. Cheap insults that don't reflect what was said in the original version.
Unfortunate, it doesn't look like this will change given that Carter Cathcart a.k.a Jimmy Zoppi a.k.a Billy Beach, the lead writer under TPCI's Dub, had the following to say back in February 2010:
Okay, first of all, what compelled Jimmy Zoppi to think it was a good idea to not only rewrite Team Rocket's dialogue from the Japanese translation in general, but specifically rewrite them in the manner he's been doing over the past few years? What focus group told him his rewrites were funny or even clever? Secondly, what prompted Zoppi to make such an outburst? You know, this is the same guy who jumped ship prematurely to work on TPCI's Pokemon Dub at the expense of being blacklisted from future work by 4Kids Ent., and he knows full well how the latter company responds to fan feedback. So I find it completely ironic that he of all people would make such fan averse comments in the same vein as Alfred Kahn himself, the CEO of 4Kids. I mean, are these remarks a reflection of Zoppi's own personal opinion, or was it just an ego-driven statement based on an internal or external grudge he has? No one knows for sure, but seeing this is just mind-boggling.The only thing I will say about Japanese vs. US is, the Japanese translation is not funny at all. What made Pokemon popular in the 1st place was being able to stray from the original Japanese, and that will continue. And my experience is- that Team Rocket is the funniest stuff on the show!
It's been a disappointing 4.5 years for me... not just from a quality perspective, but from a personal perspective as well. I spent a long time defending TPCI's decision to handle production of the Dub in-house, despite a controversial (but unavoidable) cast change, because I believed overall that they would be more receptive to fan input, and that their handling of the Dub would be an improvement. For a while, I thought it was an improvement over 4Kids (TPCI's lack of paint edits are noteworthy but insignificant). But at this point, I'm convinced that Pokemon will never be the edit-free Dub I had hoped it would be. In my opinion, Pokemon under 4Kids and TPCI are both equally under-quality in their own ways. Picking either company over the other to me would just mean picking the lesser of two evils, and that's about it.
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