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Kazamatsuri

What Happened to Your Promises TPCI?

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by , 18th December 2010 at 06:29 PM (2866 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:

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.
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.

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:

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!
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.

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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Updated 18th December 2010 at 07:19 PM by Kazamatsuri

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  1. Musashi's Avatar
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    I couldn't agree with you more. One piece of music kept today? I almost wonder if the Japanese music will be completely gone with BW starts.

    Loved what you said about the Rockets too. It's a real shame what happened to them.
  2. Gligar13's Avatar
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    I agree with this. When I still watched the anime, the dub was getting worse and worse, and then I just got out of the anime anyway.
  3. Nekusagi's Avatar
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    Jimmy Zoppi and Billy Regan can DIAF.
  4. Nelly's Avatar
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    Quick question; why does it have to stick to its source material?

    It's a kids' show. They try to make it as accessible to kids in America as they can when comes to the dub...

    I mean, come on, 4Kids was "fan-averse"? Really? No, they just, you know, did everything they did to the show with the target demographic in mind. And guess what? It worked! For years Pokemon was #1 Saturday mornings... why fix what wasn't broken?

    There is nothing to stay true to, either... Pokemon in Japan is just as vapid and just as stupid. It isn't some Holy Grail of high-art that Americans are shitting all over... it's a kids' show.

    Kids in America generally like cheesy jokes and bad puns and random slang... I know because I was a kid once, and I'm certainly in America... and so were all of my friends. And we all dug the shit out of that show.

    Oh, and I use "dig it" all the time. Maybe I'm outdated, I don't know... but I definitely use it.
    Updated 18th December 2010 at 08:23 PM by Nelly
  5. Kars's Avatar
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    i use radical
  6. Ampris's Avatar
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    First reaction: Jesus, has it really been over four years since the switch? I didn't realize it was that long ago.

    But yeah, I agree with you. I may not be very affected by the music in Pokémon, personally (meaning that I'll notice if it's good, but if it's not I'm not bothered) but I can see how frustrating it would be to have to put up with the replacement music, and especially considering how unnecessary it seems. Why bother with new music at all? And you are absolutely right about Team Rocket. Honestly, if it wasn't for the Trio I would still watch the dub, schedule shifts and voice changes and all. The trashing TR and their characters get under TCPi makes me rage so hard, and considering how normal and even pleasant the rest of the show's dub is (musical issues aside) Team Rocket's terrible treatment is even more glaring. It's just a huge disappointment.
  7. Mitsuru's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YeOldeJacob
    Quick question; why does it have to stick to its source material?
    Because they can use BW to re-ignite older fans' interest, gaining more revenue.
    It's possible to have a slightly more mature show that can still entertain children.
  8. Nelly's Avatar
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    @Mitsuru Not really... I'd say a strict translation would lose more kids than it would gain in the very small fanbase who seem to think changing anything is downright HERASY, MAN.

    The way they tell stories is different than we do here... that alone makes strict translation a no-no if the show is for kids.
  9. Mjolnir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YeOldeJacob
    The way they tell stories is different than we do here... that alone makes strict translation a no-no if the show is for kids.
    I don't get this. So are you implying that:
    Fullmetal Alchemist,
    Funi dub One Piece,
    Bleach,
    Naruto,
    and/or DB(Z) Kai are somehow different stories since they were dubbed faithfully?
  10. Mitsuru's Avatar
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    @YeOldeJacob: Your Mileage May Vary. Their way of telling stories may be different, but they did make an effort to make it easier for international dubs.

    @Mjolnir: Two of those are adult shows.
  11. Nelly's Avatar
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    Those are completely different shows... with completely different audiences... some of those are very-much geared toward that 18-34 demographic. The older you get the more you are able to appreciate different methods of telling a story, just like kids don't like vegetables, but eventually find themselves loving them...

    Pokemon is different because there really isn't much of a story to speak of, and you instead have one version of the show tailored specifically for kids in Japan one for kids in America. Not to mention, Pokemon the anime is there to help sell Pokemon the video game (as well as Pokemon the merchandising machine). So it isn't something to be taken as seriously as some seem to...

    Kids still like Pokemon. In fact, some kids who live down the road from me are fanatics... it's all they talk about (the anime, that is). Again; why fix what isn't broken? Why does America need a perfect translation of Pokemon? What is so damned important about it? Is there some artistic brilliance within the 'writing' of the Japanese Pokemon that I'm not aware of? Like, is that shit gonna win Emmys and be put on Critics' Top-Ten Lists each year if they strictly translate it? No, it's not... it'd only alienate their target audience; kids (who have parents, who have money)... so what's the point?
  12. Mjolnir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mitsuru
    @Mjolnir: Two of those are adult shows.
    Quote Originally Posted by YeOldeJacob
    Those are completely different shows... with completely different audiences... some of those are very-much geared toward that 18-34 demographic.
    Um what? I know FMA(currently Brotherhood) and Bleach air on Adult Swim but all the titles I've listed are shounen, meaning they're for kids. Them airing where they do doesn't make them any more adult then the other ones there.
  13. The Outrage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mitsuru
    Because they can use BW to re-ignite older fans' interest, gaining more revenue.
    It's possible to have a slightly more mature show that can still entertain children.
    Any older fans that are still in this franchise probably buy the games regardless of the Anime's advertising, and those fans that out-of-the-loop aren't going to come flocking back because they heard that the anime had suddenly become more true to the source material, when you know, they grew up with the heavily edited 4Kids dub anyway.

    Gen IV brought back a lot of people who used to play Pokemon, and I know quite a few of those people. Trust me, it wasn't because of the anime, and none of them are interested at watching it.

    The older fanbase isn't really much of a point in this argument.
    Um what? I know FMA(currently Brotherhood) and Bleach air on Adult Swim but all the titles I've listed are shounen, meaning they're for kids. Them airing where they do doesn't make them any more adult then the other ones there
    FMA isn't a kids show conceived for the purpose of selling merchandise, its actually out there to tell a story. Yeah, it has merchandise, but so does everything that gets popular. Let's not lump it in with something that was born to sell video games and only still exists to do so.
    Updated 18th December 2010 at 10:00 PM by The Outrage
  14. Mjolnir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Outrage
    FMA isn't a kids show conceived for the purpose of selling merchandise,[...] Let's not lump it in with something that was born to sell video games and only still exists to do so.
    Ok, I only put it there because YeOldeJacob never specified anything beyond "The way they tell stories is different than we do here... that alone makes strict translation a no-no if the show is for kids".

    I then listed some shows meant for kids that were faithfully dubbed (still waiting for that answer by the way) so, I don't get why everyone's jumping on me.
  15. Nelly's Avatar
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    @Mjolnir Pokemon was (and maybe still is) more popular with kids than any of those shows were or are. And that is because they changed things with their demographic in mind...
  16. Mitsuru's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mjolnir
    Them airing where they do doesn't make them any more adult then the other ones there.
    Oh, okay. So the kids shows my little sisters watch always have the word 'bastard' running about every few episodes. Right.
  17. The Fighting Misty's Avatar
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    Well look on the bright side, in Best Wishes TR don't get more than 2 minutes of screentime per episode and just talk about their mission.

    No way for the dub to screw up TR next arc!@
  18. Mjolnir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mitsuru
    Oh, okay. So the kids shows my little sisters watch always have the word 'bastard' running about every few episodes. Right.
    The "Bastard" is merely their choice of translating "yaro" or "teme", iirc. But the real question is, why are your lil' sisters up that late to begin with? :P
    Updated 19th December 2010 at 11:38 AM by Mjolnir
  19. Dogasu's Avatar
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    The "it's just a kids' show, it doesn't deserve a decent translation" argument is complete bull. Who are any of us to say what is and isn't "worthy" of a decent translation?

    A show doesn't have to be "high art" to deserve keeping its original music and have a decent script.
  20. Lethal Carnivine's Avatar
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    "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."

    Key word: trying. They didn't say they WERE going to do it. They just said they would try :/

    About TR, I soooo agree with you about that. I don't mind slang, but it is extremely unnatural to try to rhyme EVERY SINGLE THING that is uttered out of your mouth. Why not just talk like everyone else? The insults are unecessary as well. Especially for contests. Jessie is not a bloodthirsty murderer who is waiting to kill you if she lost a contest.

    Zoppi is right, the translation isn't funny. But, sometimes it doesn't need to be funny. Add your own spin to make it better, but don't have TOO much artistic license.

    I'll still stick with the dub though. Not going to boycott the show because of it lol. At the same time, I have a feeling TPCI is going to be more faitful to the script in BW (don't really care about the music).
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