Created By: Pichu-kun on October 24, 2017 Last Edited By: Pichu-kun on December 7, 2017

Dub Personality Change

A translation or dub changes a character's personality

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A translation changes a character's characterization compared to their original personality. This is often due to Values Dissonance, cultural or marketing reasons. A character's personality might be more acceptable at home than it is in other cultures, so translators soften them up or otherwise edit their dialogue. Othertimes, it's often an case of flanderization or an attempt at making characters less cute or goofy. Tropes Are Not Bad as, though most people associate this trope with bowdlerization, it can work and sometimes is even preferred by many fans.

Compare to Adaptational Personality Change, for when adaptations change a character, and Cultural Translation, for when details get changed to fit cultural differences. Can be the result of She's a Man in Japan.

Examples:

Anime & Manga
  • The 90s Sailor Moon dubs flanderized Rei's personality. In the original version, she bickers with Usagi often (in sharp contrast to her Aloof Dark-Haired Girl manga incarnation) but is shown to be very close to her nevertheless. In the dub, Raye is constantly fighting with Serena and is closer to being The Friend Nobody Likes.
  • Pokémon:
    • In the Japanese version, Misty was a Proud Beauty who considered herself the World's Most Beautiful Woman. This element was absent in the 4kids English dub and several other dubs, making her a more humble-seeming character. When she reappeared in Alola, the new dubbers (TPCi) kept Misty's comment about her beauty.
    • Gary was a nicer and more respectable character in the Japanese episodes of the Original Series. The English dub made him more similar to his game counterpart, Blue, by making him brattier and having Ash's friends hate him.
    • In the original version, Meowth is largely a philosophical and rather soft spoken character, while in the English dub, he has more of a Brooklyn tough-guy demeanour (though far from void of some of the Japanese version's wistful moments). His, Jessie, and James' ditziness is also regularly flanderized in the English dub.
    • The dub downplays Lillie's very soft spoken and formal dialect from the original, making her almost a Genki Girl in some scenes. This also causes her to be a case of Adaptational Personality Change, as Lillie is timid in her source games.
  • For the English dub of Dragon Ball, Goku underwent a case of Adaptational Nice Guy, being a great deal nobler and having his more selfish traits toned down. He's also noticeably smarter than his Japanese counterpart, not above using technical words instead of speaking like a country bumpkin.
  • The Cardcaptors English dub of Cardcaptor Sakura took several liberties with the characterisations of the cast, largely to make them more politically correct with Western ethics:
    • Sakura was made more tomboyish and plucky, with a greater sense of sarcasm. A lot of her more innocent or vulnerable moments such as scenes of her crying or generally acting like a small child were also cut down to make her more precocious and mature, while in the original she is pretty much The Cutie in-universe.
    • Syaoran's crush on Sakura was heavily trimmed down from Official Couple to mild hints. He held a grudge against Sakura becoming Master of the Cards to improvise against his screen time and awkwardness revolved around this, while in the Japanese edit he had pretty much lost all sense of rivalry towards Sakura by then.
    • Similarly Tomoyo (renamed Madison) had her delusional crush on Sakura written out in favour of her just being a Camera Fiend.
  • Cowboy Bebop: Spike has a pretty different personality in the original Japanese language, and that similar changes were made with a lot of characters. Basically, in the original, Spike was presented along the lines of your typical anime character who does Obfuscating Stupidity- so like a goofy voice and mannerisms much of the time, and then a stereotypically gruff and hardboiled voice in action scenes or serious, dramatic moments. In contrast, in the English dub, Steve Blum, who has a gruff-voice to begin with, voiced Spike with a more subtle personality and less change in his voice tone/personality between comedic and serious moments, presenting Spike as having an undertone of world-weariness at all times.

Video Games
  • In Splatoon 2, Ida is a very soft-spoken character who calls her partner Hime "sempai". This makes her a Contrasting Sequel Main Character to Marie from Splatoon. The original English translation gave Marina more sass and bite, making her more similar to Marie's dynamic with Callie. She'd often tease and belittle Pearl (however her body language implies she's being more playful than Marie). An update released a few weeks post-release added new dialogue that softened up her character.
  • Final Fantasy VII changed Aerith's characterization in translations. Despite her cute appearance, Aerith has a somewhat stubborn personality and an informal way of speaking due to her upbringing. This was Lost in Translation which makes her closer to The Ingenue. Her personality from the translations ended up becoming canon due to flanderizing Aerith's sweetness into an Incorruptible Pure Pureness.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: In the Mega Drive era, Sonic's personality wasn't defined in-game and thus he was marketed differently depending on the region. In Japan he is laidback and nice while elsewhere he was a Mascot with Attitude. Sonic Adventure is when his Japanese personality began appearing in-series, however Sonic Colors added some sass to Sonic.

Western Animation
Community Feedback Replies: 9
  • October 24, 2017
    Chabal2
  • November 1, 2017
    Snowy66
    • For the English dub of Dragon Ball, Goku underwent a case of Adaptational Nice Guy, being a great deal nobler and having his more selfish traits toned down. He's also noticeably smarter than his Japanese counterpart, not above using technical words instead of speaking like a country bumpkin.
  • November 27, 2017
    Hodor2
    • I learned from this excellent analytical video about why Cowboy Bebop has such a good English dub (in fact preferred by the creator), is that Spike has a pretty different personality in the original Japanese language, and that similar changes were made with a lot of characters. Basically, in the original, Spike was presented along the lines of your typical anime character who does Obfuscating Stupidity- so like a goofy voice and mannerisms much of the time, and then a stereotypically gruff and hardboiled voice in action scenes or serious, dramatic moments. In contrast, in the English dub,, Steve Blum, who has a gruff-voice to begin with, voiced Spike with a more subtle personality and less change in his voice tone/personality between comedic and serious moments, presenting Spike as having an undertone of world-weariness at all times.
  • November 27, 2017
    Psi001
    • The Cardcaptors English dub of Cardcaptor Sakura took several liberties with the characterisations of the cast, largely to make them more politically correct with Western ethics:
      • Sakura was made more tomboyish and plucky, with a greater sense of sarcasm. A lot of her more innocent or vulnerable moments such as scenes of her crying or generally acting like a small child were also cut down to make her more precocious and mature, while in the original she is pretty much The Cutie in-universe.
      • Syaoran's crush on Sakura was heavily trimmed down from True Official Pairing to mild hints. He held a grudge against Sakura becoming Master of the Cards to improvise against his screen time and awkwardness revolved around this, while in the Japanese edit he had pretty much lost all sense of rivalry towards Sakura by then.
      • Similarly Tomoyo (renamed Madison) had her delusional crush on Sakura written out in favour of her just being a Camera Fiend.

    • Carrying on from the Pokemon examples:
      • In the original edit, Meowth is largely a philosophical and rather soft spoken character, while in the English dub, he has more of a Brooklyn tough-guy demeanour (though far from void of some of the Japanese version's wistful moments). His, Jessie and James' ditziness is also regularly Flanderized in the English dub.
      • The dub downplays Lillie's very soft spoken and formal dialect from the original, making her almost a Genki Girl in some scenes.

    • A rare Western Animation to Japanese dub case, the original series of The Transformers conveyed Shockwave as a rather stoic and dutiful Dragon to Megatron, while in the Japanese edit, he is more of an erratic Grumpy Old Man.
  • December 6, 2017
    Prime32
    A bit too long for a page quote, but here's an English/Japanese dialogue comparison for the scene in Dragonball Z where Krillin prepares to finish off a wounded Vegeta:

        English 
    Goku: "No! Listen, just... let him go, Krillin. Show... him... what it means to be... merciful."
    Krillin: "Merciful? Goku, he's-"
    Goku: "I know what you must be thinking, Krillin... But believe me, I know what I'm doing."
    Krillin: "But this is the guy who threatened all the people here on Earth! Surely he'll come back and try to destroy us again! I just don't think it's a good idea to let him escape now that we have a chance to stop him for good!"
    Goku: "By doing this... we're showing him that there is another way... A better way."
    Krillin: "Goku, I don't think this is the kind of guy who can learn a lesson like that. He'll just think we're weak! It won't change him at all."
    Goku: "Don't be so sure about that, Krillin. It wouldn't be the first time something like that happened... Think about it. When Piccolo first came to us, he was just as evil as his father; he nearly destroyed not only me, but the entire planet. And now..."
    Krillin: "And now he's one of us."
    Goku: "Right. And if someone as evil as Piccolo can change, I think anyone can. Vegeta deserves to have that same chance! By showing him that the people of this planet have compassion and show mercy, maybe he can learn to show some of his own. Piccolo learned, and now he's not only a powerful ally... he's also a good friend. He even took care of Gohan while I was gone, and traded his own life to protect him. Who knows, Vegeta might do the same thing for one of us some day... Krillin, please! I know this is the right thing to do, you've got to trust me."
    Krillin: "But the Saiyans killed Yamcha! And Tien, Chiaotzu! I can't let him get away!"
    Goku: "Don't do it, Krillin! I know it seems like justice, but it's not right. If you strike him down, it'll only show that we aren't any better than he is. It means that they won, no matter what! Be strong! Don't forget, Krillin, I am a Saiyan just like he is."
    Krillin: "..."
    Goku: "Thanks, Krillin, that took a lot of strength and courage. I'm proud of you."
    Krillin: "Goku... I sure hope you're right about all this. I'd hate to think of what might happen if he comes back to try this again. But if he does... we'll be ready for him, and we'll stop him again!"
    Goku: "You bet!"

        Japanese 
    Goku: "K-Krillin, I'm sorry, but let him get away..."
    Krillin: "Let him what? Are you crazy?!"
    Goku: "P-Please... Th-this is the only thing I'm ever gonna ask for myself..."
    Krillin: "But Goku, this is the guy who killed our friends, who tried to kill everyone on the whole planet! If we let him go now, he'll just heal his wounds and come right back!"
    Goku: "Y-You're probably right..."
    Krillin: "If you're thinking he'll change his ways like Piccolo did, then you're wrong! He doesn't have that in him!"
    Goku: "I know that... and I know full well how dangerous this guy is... But... I ain't sure how to say it, but when I saw him lying there half-dead, all I could think was... what a waste."
    Krillin: "'What a waste'?"
    Goku: "After I trained with King Kai, I thought I'd gone and pushed myself as far as I could... but that Vegeta went even further. It caught me completely by surprise... but to be honest... it made me incredibly happy, and excited. I guess it's in the blood for us Saiyans... Whenever I see someone that amazing, my heart just starts beatin' like crazy. I want to train even more, and fight him again..."
    Krillin: "This is the guy who killed Yamcha, Tien and Chiaotzu!"
    Goku: "I know it ain't the right thing to do... but please... do this for me... Let me have... another chance to fight him!"
    Krillin: "...Alright. You're entitled to this much. After all, it's thanks to you that the Earth is even still around. But remember, Goku, next time you take him down with everything you've got!"
    Goku: "Yeah. I sure will."

  • November 28, 2017
    Omeganian
    Can be the result of Shes A Man In Japan.
  • November 28, 2017
    PDL
    ... I don't remember Misty appearing in the X and Y series (Kalos). You must mean the Sun and Moon series.
  • November 29, 2017
    BoukenDutch
    • Yu Gi Oh: Seto Kaiba. In the Japanese dub of the anime and the original manga, he is well aware that the supernatural events he gets dragged into are real, he's just not interested in them. The English dub however turns him into a full-blown Agent Scully, who outright refuses to believe anything supernatural is going on, no matter how many times he gets confronted by it. Even traveling back in time and meeting his own ancestor doesn't convince him that the supernatural exists.
  • December 7, 2017
    Snowy66
    Also from Yu Gi Oh:
    • Yami Bakura and Marik Ishtar are noticeably more friendly and civil to each other in the English dub of Yu-Gi-Oh!. Best shown where they become allies far quicker and easier in the dub.
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