The Japanese does the animation and manghe (Anime and Manga)
The French dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! messed up and forgot that Jack, other than being a proper name, is also the face value for a card. This resulted in card names like the Knight of the King, the Knight of the Queen, and the Knight of Jack, whoever that Jack may be.
In one dub of Yu-Gi-Oh, it translated a line saying "I'm tired of your six decks." into "I'm tired of your sex decks," in Swedish. In Swedish, the difference between 'sex games' ('sexlekar') and 'six decks' ('sex lekar') is a matter of a single space. Even worse, when this was subbed into English, it was subbed as "I'm tired of your sex games," because deck and game are both the same word.
The Brazilian dub of Yu-Gi-Oh was shares between two translators, informally known as "the good one" (that does most of the episodes) and "the bad one" (that did some episodes). For examples of the bad one:
In one episode, the bad one misheard "Great Moth" for "Great Mouth" and, yes, that giant moth thing was called "Great Mouth" (in Portuguese) for the rest of the episode. Weird? You have no idea how much.
In the movie, Queen's Knight was misheard for Queen's Night. Since the name makes no sense, the bad one changed it to Queen of the Night. With the other two following the pattern.
In a flashback, Marik calls Mai "meu caro", Portuguese for "my dear". The problem? "Meu caro" can be only used with men. In Mai's case it should be "minha cara".
In a later season there is a small joke with a "secret identity" of Yugi's grandpa called Apdnarg Otom, which backwards spell "Grandpa Moto". At the end of an episode, this is explained. The bad one apparently didn't catch the joke and transliterated, which makes no sense because "grandpa Moto" is "vovô Moto" in the dub.
The US version of the Yu-Gi-Oh manga would occasionally refer to Mai Kujaku (Mai Valentine) as Mai Shiranui. Mai Shiranui is a character from a completely different franchise.
In the Danish dub of 5D's, "Satellite" is translated to "Satellitten", which is acceptable enough, though it should actually just be "Satellit". On occasions, though, they also translate "Yusei" into "Siger du?", leading one to think they heard it as "do you say?"
Early Manga on Indonesia translation is quite misleading during the part when the card games kick in. Some of it is pure wrong, some of it is because of the difference in the word structure, such as Infinite Dismissal in Indonesia states that "when your opponent say "attack" instead of "declaring attack" and some card effects being hard to understand with the wording. The First opening translates very roughly and is very different when translated back to English. Some even changes the word completely from what it's supposed to say. Like Anzu causing global warming.
During Kaiba's duel with Zigfried, the German dub confused the word "invincible" with the similar word "invisible", so they mistranslated it to "unsichtbar" instead of "unbesiegbar". It made no sense in context.
The epilogue of the Eyeshield 21 anime. The best example is "Welcome to National Football League" Weird part is, it was said in a perfect accent, and the only time the accent messed up the lines was when it tried to pronounce "rookie". The R got in the way.
One of the title translations displayed in the second Death Note opening is in Russian: "Zapiska Smerti". While this is a literal translation of "death note" into Russian, it disregards the fact that "note" means "notebook". An accurate translation would be "Tetrad' Smerti", literally "notebook of death".
The title itself is actually officially translated as "Tetrad' Smerti", and the opening read "Zapiska angela smerti" (Death angel's note).
Also in the first live-action movie Naomi Misora gets a comforting letter◊ from the FBI.
There's a Japanese response word which means "Your question cannot be answered, because it depends on incorrect assumptions". That word is mu. It's what you might reply with if you can't answer either yes or no. At the very end of the series, the last three rules tell us about the afterlife in that setting: "All humans will, without exception, eventually die; After they die, the place they go is MU. (Nothingness); Once dead, they can never come back to life." The problem is that if you look at the Japanese rule for "the place they go is mu", and at the original text for the author's explanation that is translated as "death is nothingness", it's pretty clear that they're using this "your question is invalid" sense of "mu" — people don't go anywhere after they die, because there is nowhere for them to go! Yet thanks to the (perfectly understandable) wording of the translation, fandom is awash in people who think there's a world of nothingness called Mu where people are supposed to go after they die, or even that the shinigami realm is the afterlife. This is despite ample Word Of God stating that the message of the whole story was that this life is all there is and death is final and forever.
The dub of the Garzey's Wing features this. Likely the translator just translated it verbatim from Japanese and CPM didn't bother with a script editor. A review (with clips) is available here. Watch as Chris wrings his hands in stress and says "I must somehow make sense of our convoluted situation." in a dull monotone.
"Oh my god! I feel like I just had a dream!!"
"He's just a human. Humans are just human."
"There are bruises all over my body because I had to fight naked."
Transformers Armada and Transformers Energon were created on so rushed a schedule as to feature first-draft translations as finalized scripts, and even unfinished animation used for broadcast. Translation errors fly about freely, characters are regularly referred to with the wrong name, there are typos in the title cards, and a hugely disappointing proportion of dialogue, put simply, does not make sense. This is especially problematic in Energon, in which every single episode has plot points that are obscured by dialogue that apparently got most of the words but missed the point. Thankfully, their sequel series, Cybertron, received a competent localization, appropriately peppered with Woolseyisms and other cleverness that, y'know... made sense.
Energon's English translation also had characters talking where originally no one did and using drawn-out "uh"s to fill out the frankly sparse dialogue. The only advantage it had was having characters react to certain important events, like getting new bodies or color schemes, at all, where in Japanese they kept on like it was the most normal thing ever.
And then there's the Polishoverdub of Armada, which failed so badly that it is to this day considered the worst Polish translation of a Transformers series ever. Characters would often get new names that were so ridiculous it made you think whether the translators were doing it on purpose. Example: "Hot Shot" became "Piorunus", which, when translated back into English, becomes "Lightningus".....which is just plain wrong. It even more wrong when you realize that his character has nothing to do with lightning whatsoever. And to make it even worse, the translators were somehow able to make Armada's already nonsensical dialogue make even less sense at times. *coughCyclonusisnotaplanetcough*
Then there's the Hungarian dub, which is equally abysmal, but there is no fan consensus over how bad it is compared to other Transformers localizations simply because TF media is so screwed over in Hungary that fans mostly stopped paying attention to them. While the translator himself is a very prolific and quite decent one, since he had to work with the error-filled English script, he fumbled up parts of the dialog even more in trying to make sense of it. But he has no excuse for the names he gave some of the characters. For example, Side Swipe became Sűrű, meaning "Dense" or "Thick", as in "thick forest". Not that he managed to keep track of his own names either: Sparkplug has been called everything from Grindor to Incinerator (and at one instance his name was out-right omitted from the dialog), the translator mistook Sideways for Side Swipe at one point, and some of the special combinations and weapons also changed names every other episode.
Before Armada and Energon, Transformers suffered a particularly infamous instance of this trope. The So Bad, It's Good English Headmasters dub changed dialogue so nonsensically that you got translations like "Fortress Maximus has come himself". There were also bizarre and completely pointless name changes, like renaming Blurr "Wally" and dubbing Spike as SPARKLE of all things. The whole dub has become a minor meme in the Transformers fandom and is often considered a good example of what can happen with incompetent dubbing elsewhere.
A particularly amusing example comes in the official dub of Getter Robo Armageddon, where the dub could not decide on which giant robot would be known as Getter-2. Tradition and every other source of media has the silver Getter with a drill-arm being known as the Getter-2, but the name was also strangely applied to the rubber-armed and insanely-different-looking yellow Getter-3 as well.
The dub also had trouble getting the attack names right. One example has Gou using the right name to fire Shin Getter's Getter Beam in the first episode, but the next time he used it, he called it "Fire Ray". Hell, the never said "Open Get" even though that was English to start with. Although, it did give Ryoma some interesting lines.
Ryoma: Laugh while you have a head old man! <and> Payback is a bitch you bloated corpse!
Viz's English translation of the Read or Die manga was often overly literal. It gave Yomiko's organization as the "Library of England". While that's technically a correct translation of the original's Daiei Toshokan, the organization in question is in fact the British Library. May be a case of Creator Provincialism, if the American translators had never heard of the eponymous British institution, or had never seen the (nicely translated) TV series that had come out a couple years before.
Manga Entertainment's otherwise good translation of the OVA had an error involving the post-it notes left by Nenene Sumiregawa for Yomiko, which are seen near the beginning of the first episode. These say things such as "Clean this up. — Nenene". However, the translators apparently didn't recognize that Nenene was supposed to be a person's name (which is understandable since she doesn't actually appear on-screen in the OVA), and interpreted it as the question-tag particle "ne" repeated three times. As a result, the on-screen translation of this note is "Clean this up! Up! Up!" (and similar things for the other notes).
Kiseki Films' subtitles for Macross: Do You Remember Love? completely change the meaning of some lines. For example, the line "We fell into the engine block" became "My engine blocks are angry at me", and the line "He screwed up during an acrobatic maneuver" became "Well... you seem to jump back and forth between subjects like an acrobat".
Horribly, horribly present in Hellsing. From the fact that the title comes from "Van Helsing", which is only ever spelled with one 'L', to the fact that some British characters have names in Eastern order ("Seras Victoria" instead of "Victoria Ceres"), to opposite gender titles of nobilitynote It's actually worse than just the gender screw-up; it is strongly hinted that Integra's title is hereditary – KBE titles like "Dame" are never hereditary – thus her "proper" title should be either Baroness, Viscountess, Countess, or possibly Marchioness; regardless, she should not be called "Sir", to (most egregiously) the fact that in the official subtitles a character whose name is "Dracula"reversed is called "Arucard". Because Bram Stoker wrote a book called Dracura, apparently. The original author admitted that he had no idea what he was doing when he wrote the English bits.
At an anime convention, Taliesin Jaffe (ADR director and scriptwriter of the English dub) addressed the "Arucard" issue. They knew "Alucard" was correct, but the Japanese licensors insisted that they use "Arucard" in the subtitles on the grounds that "It's Dracura backwards". Cue facepalm from the localizers.
A Chinese fan nickname for Hellsing is 《地獄之歌》 Diyu zhi Ge, which is literally "Hell Sing" or "Hell's Song".
And then there's Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, which transliterates "dhampir" (half-vampire) as "dunpeal". And carries the same mistransliteration into the English version, to the point Fan Fiction continues using the term...
The Swedish subtitles for the line "Why did you miss my heart?" translated "miss" as if it was the word for "lacking/wanting" ("I miss you") instead of the word for "not hit".
The Polish translation of Sailor Moon, while very good in most parts, had Sailor Venus' "crescent beam" spell translated into "peas and beans", probably because the translator mistook the word "bean" for "beam" and just ran with it.
"Sailor Saturn" was also mistakenly translated as "Sailor Satan" for two volumes (presumably because both words have an identical pronunciation (Satān) in Japanese).
The English dub did this once, with an early episode in the first series that featured a tennis player that Naru referred to as "Onee-san". Usagi, being dense, acted offended that Naru had never told her she had an older sister. In Japan, it's not uncommon for younger children to refer to older people they look up to as a big brother or big sister, so the joke was relating to Usagi's cluelessness. However, the dub translated the line literally, even though the practice is completely unheard of in America and Serena's misunderstanding isn't a joke at all. Even odder was that the dub simply cut out every other instance of a character using "oneechan" or "oniisan" like this, so someone wasn't paying attention.
There's another example in the English translation of Sailor Moon. In the Sailor Stars series, Sērā Reddo Kurou was translated to Sailor Red Crow. It should have been Sailor Lead Crow, which would have made more sense since the enemies in that arc were named after a metal and an animal.
In the Kodansha English re-release of the manga, Jupiter's 'Sparkling Wide Pressure' is 'Spark Ring Wide Pressure' for Volume 3. Tokyopop had gotten it right, and Kodansha corrected it in future printings.
Also, who could forget Kodansha's "I am Princess Beryl! Queen of the Dark Kingdom", where her line should've been "I am Queen Beryl! Mistress of the Dark Kingdom". The fansubs of the live action series also screwed up this line by translating it as "I am Queen Berry! Queen of the Dark Kingdom".
The Russian dub of Sailor Moon occasionally fell victim to this, mainly due to very obvious lack of any research on the translators' part.
Probably one of the best examples: in a first season episode that featured a cat Youma, the cat in question was named (in the dub) "Red Hunter". Except... his original name was supposed to be a pun on "Rhett Butler", not "Red Battler" (whatever the translators might have heard); apparently, the massive amount of Gone with the Wind jokes in this episode was missed by the dubbing team... And you'd think the fact that the cat in question is light blue could give them a clue that something is wrong (amusingly, Luna's comment about the name not fitting was left intact in the dub...).
Minako's warped proverbs and puns were more or less okay in early seasons, but the second translation group missed most of them. One episode in particular had a pun involving the Japanese words for "spider" and "clouds" (both pronounced "kumo"). In the Russian dub, the line is translated literally, and happens not to sound silly enough to justify the rest of the girls getting sweatdrops. (One more or less appropriate way to deal with the line could be constructing Minako's line in a way that utilizes two particular forms of the words in question that happen to rhyme - this would've explained the reaction.)
The Shitennou in the original are all named after minerals — Jadeite, Nephrite, Zoisite and Kunzite. The Russian translators apparently only recognized Nephrite, replacing his name with the Russian equivalent — but the rest of them retain their English names, breaking the Theme Naming. This trend continued from there, as most villains are just known by their original names — or, bizarrely, names from dubs in some other language. For example, Petz, Calaveras, Berthier and Koan became Petzite, Calaverite, Berthierite and Kermesite, which are literal English translations of the names of the minerals, and then they just pronounced the English names as is instead of at least further translating them into Russian. Never mind no kid would probably realize what they were supposed to mean.
The Swedish dub gives the first four generals names that, spelling aside, are mostly similar to their origin word ("Jedyte", "Neflite" and "Zoysite")... then they turn around and name Kunzite "Kunta" (the four sisters in R became Petzite, Calver, Bertesite and Kermasite, so it seems they had figured out the theme naming by then... though "Calver" still doesn't entirely fit).
A similar mistake was made with Amazon Trio (AFTER they switched the translators): Fisheye is okay, but Hawk's-Eye and Tiger's-Eye got their names literally translated in a way that completely disregards the mineral Theme Naming, despite there being proper Russian equivalents for the minerals in question.
When Sailor Venus introduces herself to the rest of the Senshi for the first time, one of the girls refers to her as "Sailor Five". While she is technically the fifth team member introduced, "Sailor Five" is likely a misinterpretation of "Sailor V" via Roman numerals... never mind she was constantly called Sailor V up until that scene.
Then there's the infamous SuperS dub, which appears to have been re-translated from the German RTL2 version, by people who have never seen the previous seasons even dubbed, let alone the original. It not only managed to be inconsistent, but sometimes got downright crazy, particularly in early episodes. For starters, Super Sailor Moon's response to getting the Kaleidomoon Scope for the first time was something along the lines of "A rope?.. What for?.."
Another case of a crazy translation happened in episode 144. Tuxedo Mask, whose speeches were always given a somewhat... loose interpretation, ended his introduction by suddenly offering the listeners some "magic powder". Cue fandom jokes about what it could be and whether it could be the reason for such translation quality. Really fits it.
Yet another case was introduced in episode 165, when Nehellenia was explaining the powers of the Golden Crystal. During that sequence, the "energy of children's dreams" somehow became the "energy of the epitomizer". The last word at least sounds to be English but means absolutely nothing in Russian, and it isn't clear where it came from.
There were some horrible inconsistencies in the Tokyopop translation of the manga. Sailor Tin Nyanko became Sailor Teen or Sailor Tein, Ptilol became Petite Roll, and at one point, Haruka and Hotaru were referred to as 'Alex Haruka' and 'Jenny Hotaru'.
The Hungarian dub was likewise fond of terribly bizarre translations. Again, it was re-translated from the French version. One sentence became notably legendary among anime enthusiasts: in one of the episodes when Sailor Moon has just been saved by Tuxedo Mask, the dub has her reciprocating by angrily shouting "Go away, you filthy man!" While the animation, of course, still shows her being all happy.
That's just one of many equally goofy examples. In fact, the translator has openly admitted that his (her?) French was far from good, so for the most part, the dubbing script was really just a bunch of guesswork based on the few words the translator understood.
The german version of Sailor Moon translated the attack "Starlight Honeymoon Therapy Kiss" into "Macht des Lichts, sieg' und heile" ("Power of Light, win and heal!"). (German Wiki Article about the attack mentioning the sentence under the section "Beschwörungsformel": http://www.sailorwikimoon.de/de/Macht_des_Lichts ) The part "sieg' und heile" invokes some unfortunate implications due to similarities to the Nazi Salute.
The Polish overdub of Dragon Ball Z definitely takes the cake here as being translated from the French dub. Examples? Piccolo is "Satan Littleheart" (Szatan Serduszko), Cell is "Protophyte" (Komórczak - it actually sounds less sophisticated in Polish) and Master Roshi is "the Genius Turtle" (Genialny Żółw). We also have Kakarotto as either "Clown" or "Whale" (Kaszalot), Mr. Popo as Mr. Momo (understandable, as "Popo" means something mildly rude in Polish and French), and some really ingenious techniques. Big Bang Attack as "Mega Garlic Cannon" among others. The manga translation has it better (Piccolo is called "Satan Piccolo" and Roshi is addressed either as "the Turtle Hermit" or "Divine Mastah").
Also note that while Piccolo and Roshi's names were present in the French version, Cell was just Cell.
Also, since the french dub had already used Satan as a name for Piccolo (based on his title being great demon king - daimao - and because it probably sounded more threatening than a musical instrument), they were in a bind when a character whose name actually was Satan showed up; so they renamed him Hercule (no 's' at the end in french). You can guess where this is going, making this a very convoluted subversion, despite being just as idiotic.
To be honest, he would've been the third character whose name derives from Satan, seeing how Ox King was called Satanirus for some reason.
Considering that his Japanese name (Gyū-Maō) means something like "Demon King of the Oxen," a name revolving around Satan makes some sense.
The name Kakarotto was problematic in every translation that used the French dubbing as a basis, as it never made it clear that this was Son Goku's real name. Its transliterations ranged from Cachalote ("Sperm whale") in the Portuguese dub to Kasalo (pronounced "Kásáló", meaning the nonsensical "One who does pulp") in the Hungarian dub, and Vegeta seemingly pulls the name out of nowhere, only to never use it again.
"Master Roshi" is itself an English version. The character's name in Japanese is "Muten Roshi", but "Roshi" is actually his title (which means "eldery master"). "Master Roshi" is equivalent to saying "Master Master".
Though it can be argued that "Master Roshi" just sounds better than "Master Muten".
The Italian dub of Dragonball is just as bad. We get three 'Satans': "Al Satan" = The Ox King, "Al Satan" (again, without any kind of logic) = Piccolo Daimao, and the well known and loved Mr. Satan. Muten Roshi is called the "Sea Turtle Genius" (Genio delle Tartarughe di mare). Tenshinan becomes Tensing, Chaotzu becomes Rif (???), Piccolo becomes Junior, and so on. And of course there are some horrible mistakes in the technique names translations - the worst of them all probably being the one which involves Genkidama and Kaioken. Basically, we get to see Goku training with King Kai (in Italian "Kaio") and learning the Genkidama ("Spherical Energy"). Then he goes back to Earth - and when he first uses the Kaioken against Nappa, someone arbitrarily decided that had to be the Genkidama, so they made him scream "Spherical Energy!". Which of course did not make any sense, and was later replaced by the proper Kaioken. The worst example of all, though, has to be Gohan's name - it's stated that Goku named him after his grandfather, but in the italian dub Goku's grandfather is named Son Gon.
To be honest, though, a huge part of the name confusion carried over from the original Dragon Ball dub. In detail: most of the names of characters introduced in Z keep their original name, and techniques either get a straight translated name into Italian ("Final Flash" becoming "Lampo Finale") or keep theirs (Big Bang Attack). On the other hand, characters and attacks that got changed in Dragon Ball kept the "adapted" names.
The Hungarian dub of Dragonball, which was also translated from the French one, had serious consistency issues regarding the name of the Kamehameha. It starts out as "Lifeforce Wave", occasionally becoming "Magical Beam", "Magical Power" and "Great Forces" (yes, in plural). When the character using it DOES shout Kamehameha, the -ha in the end is usually replaced with random shouting. And the worst is when two or more versions are used in the same episode. Also in the Hungarian dub, the Crane Hermit became the Raven Hermit, for no apparent reason. Although in Hungarian, the word for raven sounds more fitting to a villainous old man.
Add to this that the weird name changes (Young Satan, Genius Turtle, and the rest) also made it through. Dragonball GT was dubbed a decade later, this time from Japanese, but half of the characters still retained their crazy French names. Only minor corrections were made, like "renaming" Momo to the original Popo, calling Trunks by his full name (formerly, he was simply called Trunk), and they also got rid of the older dubs' habit of treating Son Goku as if it was a single word. The dialog even worked in some unchanged Japanese names (like Tsufuru instead of Tuffle), which resulted in even more inconsistency. That said, GT's dub also contained genuine translation hiccups. For instance, Kamehameha would often switch back to the older dubs' "Kamehame", and there was some weird inconsistency pertaining to all the "Kai" names — Is it Kibito Kai or Kibito? Kaishin or Kaioshin? King Kai meanwhile retained the name "Kaito" from the old dubs. Further, there was one instance when the Super Star Warrior state (which is what both the old Z and newer GT dubs called Super Saiyan) was mistranslated as "Super Warrior Star".
The Danish dub of the series, while notable (and praticularly awesome, you can tell that Sřren Lampik, the translator read the manga) for being one of the only Anime dubbed into Danish, that is not based of a cut English dub, it has a bit of this as it's, like the Polish/Italian version, based of the French version, witch already had its problems. For example, a lot of the beams are called "Kammehameha", like the Ki beam, Piccolo and Gohan uses, and sometimes a Gallick Gun was called it, even though Vegeta clearly says "Gallick-strĺle" (Gallick Beam) when he first uses it. There is also the Genki Dama. It changes name from "Genki Dama" to "Gendi Kama" when Goku returns to Earth. Speaking of Goku, the whole "Son" family is always called "Son" before their names, for example "Son-Goku", "Son-Gohan"
In the German translation of Dragonball the Kamehameha was first known as "Shockwave of the Old Ancestors". The syllables of the Kamehameha are extended so much in the original that the words "Schock(KA)welle(ME) der(HA) alten(ME) Ahnen(HA)" fit in quite nicely when the attack was used during fights. When it was merely referenced (and thus spoken much faster) it was usually abbreviated to "Schockwelle".
So needless to reiterate, the attack names in many of the French-derivative dubs were just plain screwed-up. Worth mentioning are instances when "Kamehameha" came out as "Kamehame Personality Wave" or "Kamehame *insert pity trashtalk here*", and pretty much every attack was named "Fist of the Sun" note known as Solar Flare in English translations at one point, be it a simple Kamehameha or a Destructo Disk. There were episodes which consistently attached the name to the Neo Tri-Beam attack, and the actual Fist of the Sun technique was renamed to "Sunbeam Beating" or something similar.
Another curiosity of a few French-based localizations: Frieza became Freezer. Okay, that's fair. But then, his father Cold, who has a meaningful ice-based name to begin with, is called Cord.
The English translation of the 2nd movie was rather odd. While the dub pronounced the Big Bad's name as Dr. Willow, the subtitled version calls him Dr. Wheelo. Neither are correct, since the character's name is play on "Uirou", which is a type of Japanese steamed cake from Nagoya. Dr. Uiro's henchmen are named after local Nagoya delicacies (i.e. Dr. Cochin, Kishime, Ebifurya, Misokattsun).
In an example that has nothing to do with dubbing, the first episode of Bartender includes a brief explanation of what the word "bartender" means. They explain that it is derived from the English words "bar" and "tender", meaning "a gentle perch".
Zone of the Enders anime Zone of the Enders: Dolores, i suffers from this in the early episodes of the ADV dub and subs. Translations like "Orbital Flame", "Buffram" and "Norman" were found often. Somewhat forgivable in that, by the end of the series, these translation mistakes were fixed. But they still persist in the opening episodes, so...
The Swedish Dub of Cyborg 009 is filled to the brim with these, but sadly none of them are funny enough.
Air Gear has the "Rez Boa" Dogs. You mean Reservoir Dogs, right? Oh!Great sucks at English.
As an aside, Rez (レズ) in Japanese, if a separate word, is an abbreviation of "lesbian".
Toei's official subs for the Fist of the North Star TV series have quite a few mistakes (the humongous monster-like fighter called "Devil Rebirth" becomes "Devil Rivers") and odd translation choices (every martial art style and technique mentioned in the series is given a translated name instead of keeping their proper original one, yet all honorifics are kept), but it's a passable translation otherwise (if overly basic).
The Discotek sub of The Movie, on the other hand, is just filled with instances where the translator did not double check his translation or simply didn't care. Hokuto Shinken is repeatedly misspelled as "Hokuto Kenshin" (even though the correct spelling is used as well) and many terms used throughout are mistranslated as well (e.g. "denshousha" is translated as "savior" instead of "successor", while "aniue", a formal word for "elder brother" that Jagi uses when he's sucking up to Raoh, becomes "master" instead). Most egregiously, there are several instances where a character is mentioning the names of their technique and the translator, not knowing what the characters were saying, simply replaced it with some made-up embellishment (i.e. Nanto Gokusatsu Ken or "South Star Hell Murder Fist" is translated as "Nanto cannot be harmed").
Discotek explained this as them being forced to use Toei's pre-made subs (not shocking, considering Toei has a history of doing that), and they did rerelease it with corrected subtitles in 2010.
Although not an example of English or bootleg subtitles, the choice of words in the Finnish subtitles of the anime Final Fantasy: Unlimited was quite off rather frequently. A good example is during a pretty serious fight, when a swordsman, according to the subtitles, yells something that roughly translates into 'Have a taste of this sword'. Unfortunately, the phrasing made the request sound completely literal. And yes, the subtitles were official.
There was a Chinese bootleg of InuYasha which called Sesshoumaru "The Killing Pill" and referred to Miroku (a Buddhist monk) as a "rabbi". (Well, if Nuns Are Mikos...)
Perhaps it is set in the same universe as Backstroke ofthe West, where the Presbyterian Church is secretly the Jedi Council.
And inexplicably renamed Kilala "Roger", and had people falling into the malaria...
How about one where Kikyo had her name inexplicably rendered as "Jugen"?
The kanji of "Sesshoumaru" literally means 'killing people pill' or 'murdering pill', especially when read in Chinese. The kanji of 'maru' originally meant 'pill' in Chinese, but after the Japanese started incorporating Chinese characters into their language, 'maru' came to mean 'circle', and was often used to end male names back in the day. As for Kikyo, the kanji for her name can be read in several different ways, and "Jugen" is one of them.
Kouga, in a Chinese bootleg of the Shichinintai arc: "Gewei (Kagome) once was red like flower, now is white like fish belly!"
A bootleg of One Piece from before the series was licensed outside of Japan replaced every single character's name with "Jack".
A different bootleg had a somewhat less-mangled subtitle quirk involving names. Every name was translated into a un-namelike English word that sounded similar. The best of which were "Sanji" translated as "Sunkist" and "Crocodile" translated as "Clock Dell." Usopp became Liar Bu (understandable, being as the uso in his name means lie) and his father Yasopp was rendered as Jesus Bu.
There's also one bootleg sub that renamed Zoro "Susan" and in which Luffy's "Gomu Gomu no Pachinko" attack became "Gum Gum Nintendo".
A bootleg for Sonic X translated Sonic himself as "Sonic Rat" (possibly confusing the Japanese "nezumi" (rat) for "harinezumi" (hedgehog)) for about the first couple of episodes and constantly called Dr. Eggman "Machine King", which arguably sounds pretty cool.
Another bootleg of the Sonic OVA also uses "Machine King", and transcribes Tails' name as "Dillus".
One line in said bootleg has Sonic's yelling "Shut up, Tails!" transcribed as "Dillus, you're too noisy!" While the Japanese word "urusai" (often used to mean "Shut up!") does literally mean "noisy" or "annoying", it doesn't quite have the same meaning as the original line.
A bootleg of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED had quality that varied from episode to episode (in some cases being astonishingly good). The shining moment was when they called Mwu la Flaga, general badass and counterpart to the Char clone, "Florida".
Another bootleg kept changing Nicol's gender from sentence to sentence and misspelling a number of the characters' names in the subtitles.
There's a store in Melbourne that sells anime DVDs that had Japanese subtitles translated to Chinese and then translated to English. They have never, ever correctly spelled a character name, sometimes just giving up and giving them a random English name instead. Hayate, the male love interest of Prétear, started out being called Sarah, then Jingje, then finally Hayate. The same DVDs also translated all the male characters as female but kept all references to female characters as female, except for the main character, who was apparently the only male.
The same thing happened to the characters of Sister Princess in the English subtitles of a grey-market Hong Kong release of the series. None of them were called by their actual names, and the names changed several times during the course of the series.
There was an Ask Dr. Rin! subbing (I think of Chinese origin, because it was using Chinese names for everyone) that had Tokiwa call himself a "Lovable Sex Maniac". Now, ostensibly true as that may be for character description purposes, understanding Japanese, I can definitely say that he was calling himself a "shikigami user" instead, which makes a lot more sense.
In the German dub of Naruto, instead of original Japanese or even English pronounciation, they use German pronounciation, with different accents and letters. Meaning, every letter "s" is now pronounced as "z", every "z" is pronounced as "ts" and every "ch" is pronounced as "sh". Meaning that Sasuke (pronounced sas-kay in English) is pronounced zaZUke (ZU being the accented part). Also, Jiraiya is pronounced Yiraya. "Sensei, Itashi [is using] amaterazu!!!"
However, there are a few some properly pronounced words and names (Sensei, Neji).
Choji's name is probably one of the worst examples, whose name is pronounced as "Shui".
There are also some weird examples. Early, most of the jutsus were translated in German, but later, some of those translated jutsus weren't translated. Also, Chidori is always called with its translation ("Chidori - Tausend Vögel"). Despite that Kyuubi is always tranlated as "Neunschwänziger", the other Bijuus and the term Bijuu are not translated most of time, and Jinchuuriki were translated as "Jinchuu-Kraft". The term "Pain Rikudo" was translated as "Sechs Pfade des Pains", but "Rikudo Sennin" and even the names of the six Pains were not translated.
It got even weirder, when Tobi enumerate the Jinchuurikis with their Bijuus, Roshi's name became suddenly "Yoton" (lava style) which is actually a Ninjutsu element.
There is a bootleg of Xxx Ho Lic in which every time Watanuki's surname appears, it always appears as its literal translation ("April 1").
As mazin sounds like majin (demon god) this may explain why Mazinger is translated as Tall Evil God.
Crabstick. Asia directs the beast king armies of Dr. Hill with its Crabstick.
In an early episode of the Ranma 1/2 manga, there is an elaborate pun on "panda", "pan da" and the sound effect "pan". The English translation turns this into a slightly less elaborate pun on the sound effect "pop" and "I'm Ranma's pop", which got literally translated in the French version to the pun-less "Je suis le pčre de Ranma, pigé?" (in English: "I am Ranma's dad, got it?"). What the...
A hilarious example in the Polish translation has Death Fog renamed to "Dead Frog".
An infamous fansub of Slayers TRY had Lina uttering the line "the barrier to the Out World has fallen because a beautiful sorcerer defeated Pedroso." (She was explaining to Gourry that the barrier to the outer world had fallen because she defeated Phibrizzo.) The same fansub also referred to Zelgadis as being a "cyborg."
Orichalcum also was translated – in the anime, manga, and light novels – as "orihalcon", because that is what it literally sounds like; apparently Neil Nadelman (who handled the anime and is an otherwise good translator) didn't realize that orichalcum is a thing.
The Filipino voice actors of Gundam Wing got the names of the five pilots and some of the secondary characters right, but they fail horribly at the translation with some of the characters, which is understandable since it was broadcasted two years before the English dub came.
Their dub of G Gundam and Gundam X is quite worse in translating the names of characters. And the voice actor of Heero Yuy is the same as Garrod Ran and Chibodee Crocket!
In the first episode of the English dub of Wing, Zechs Merquise declares "No machine gun for him! Shoot him down!", when he should have said something like "no warning shot".
Old example: Dangaioh's subtitles hilariously mistranslated "Psychic Wave" as "Sidekick Wave".
The official English translation of the Lucky Star manga is at times just downright awkward to read. It's a mix of being overly literal and having grammar that would technically be correct but not colloquial at all, as well as using outdated or inappropriate phrases and euphemisms (you rarely hear people say "let's have a blast" these days). The credits suggest it was translated by someone whose first language was Japanese based on the name – who also translated the anime.
Early volumes were translated by Rika Takahashi (a veteran translator who used to work for Geneon USA and graduated from Stanford), and later volumes by William Flanaghan.
The episode summaries on the back of the European releases of Eureka Seven seem to have been written by someone whose primary language is not English. Or they forgot to proofread them. The worst ones:
For episode 11, the summary is "Whilst suffer from headaches, the link between Eureka and the Nirvash seems to be weakening. In the meantime, the Gekko-Go prepares to meet the mysterious thing, the Coralian". Internet translation engine, anyone?
In the case of episode 21 the second sentence reads "Meanwhile aboard the Gekko-Go, Talho tells the crew some shocking revelations, that will shock everyone..."
An apparently bootleg copy of Cowboy Bebop managed to phonetically mistranslate a phrase that was already English - the drug "bloody eye" became "BLDI".
Fridge Brilliance: BLDI could quite reasonably be an acronym for the drug's scientific name, while "Bloody Eye" is a street name derived from the acronym.
A widely-viewed fansub of Azumanga Daioh ran into a problem with the term bonkurazu; it translates literally to "one who has poor skills at bon (a traditional game)" – and more succinctly to "dumbass" or "knucklehead" – with a Western plural "s" on the end for flair. It got transliterated verbatim as "Bonklers", which became so memetic with the fanbase that a number of people got angry when ADV's releases of the anime and manga didn't use the made-up word – the anime uses "knuckleheads" and the manga uses "numbnuts". (One wonders why it wasn't rendered as "bonkers", an existing word.)
There's also a massive issue with an untranslatable pun. An entire sequence is devoted to a joke about Bruce Lee that only makes sense if you realize that Bruce Lee's name, if pronounced with a heavy Japanese accent, sounds like "Blue Three" – when written in katakana, both herald ブルウスリイ (read as buruusu rii/buruu surii). The joke goes from there, with characters wondering what happened to Blue One and Blue Two. However, the joke makes absolutely no sense if you directly translate it to English, which ADV did for the anime (not like they had much of a choice considering the sequence also has visual aides that couldn't be hand-waved as anything else). Granted, one of the characters is Osaka, but Tomo and the others just come off as insane in the clip. The manga got around this by making an equivalent (and frankly much funnier) joke about Jean-Claude van Damme.
The German Digimon dubs changed a few genders. Awkwardness ensued when Renamon became male in Digimon Tamers, considering her final form Sakuyamon is a miko with an obvious female figure, and in Digimon Adventure 02 Hawkmon (who remained male) somehow becomes a female when reverting to Poromon. It should be noted that the English dub has done this on occasion - Lopmon accidentally became female in Tamers, and the Camp Gay LordKnightmon intentionally became the female Crusadermon in Frontier - but those changes actually worked okay, especially Lopmon.
The Spanish dub of Frontier was okay, some voices too feminine and no translation of the text at the end making some of it's meaning to scare go away as Spanish kids can't read japanese. But the dub of Zephyrmon takes the cake, being dubbed by a man with Badass Baritone...
In the Toei version, which was seen on Hulu and Crunchyroll, as one example, some episodes of Adventure 02 used the Japanese "evolve" and the English "Digivolve" in the same episode. As of August 19, 2013, Toei has taken them down.
The Netflix version has it worse. Along with occasional typos such as "What it that?", this version would often get the names completely wrong. For example, it referred to Piccolomon as "Picklemon" for a very long time. In the episode where they finally got it right, Zudomon inexplicably became "Cannomon", even though they had called him Zudomon in previous episodes. Adventure 02 is consistent at least, but it consistently uses several dub terms ("Digivolve" instead of "evolve" and "DNA Digivolve" instead of "Jogress Evolve", for example).
A fansub of episodes 80-132 of Lupin III (Red Jacket) features some hilariously bad subtitles. For starters, Zenigata is frequently referred to as "Old Bro/Brother". "Tottsan", Lupin's nickname for Zenigata, is a cutesy phrase typically translated as "old man" or "Pops" (which is exactly how official subs render it). The subtitles often refer to Zenigata as Keibu, which is technically correct, considering that it's the Japanese word for "Inspector". Guest characters in various episodes are often given really bizarre names. For example, Sherlock Holmes III is referred to as "Fuji the Third", and Joe (Jigen's mentor in the use of firearms) is referred to as "God" or "God of the Underworld". Mount Kilimanjaro is translated as "Go there", and the Louvre is translated as "The art museum" (technically correct, but The Louvre is a little bit more than just "an art museum").
The Castle of Cagliostro received a Streamline Pictures dub that wasn't quite as bad as the above-mentioned Red Jacket fansub. It mixes Blind-Idiot with Macekre and Legal caution (The LeBlanc estate was still affecting translations). One example is for Zenigata introducing himself to the Count, as Inspector Keibu Zenigata. His actual given name is Koichi, and Keibu means "Inspector". But his full name wasn't included on the script, so including Keibu as his name was a choice minimizing the amount of invention.
Bleach has a nice, albeit subtle, example of what might be called "Spangrish." On the third OST, Chad gets a nice little theme song with the Spanish title "Domino del Chad." Direct English translation? Domain of the Chad.
For a show that's set in North America, Argento Soma sure has a lot of this going on.
The Brazilian dub of Digimon Adventure, aside from being completely inconsistent, has one or two instances of plain weird phrasing. For example: in the second episode, Joe is lecturing the other children – "A group of people form a party. Our party has 7 people...". The problem here is that the word used for "party" ("festa") doesn't mean "a group of people", but "festivity". Cue fandom joke.
Initial D 4th Stage out of Malasia has some particularily horrid examples. The subs appear to be translations of the Chinese dubs, which seem to have been censored to aviod giving people ideas. When Itsuki turbocharges his Levin, a couple of car otakus comment that it has "the part" and when Takumi gets snubbed on Akina, he clearly says something (my Japanese isn't that good) about "braking," but the sub just says, "That is not an easy opponent." Names can be as-they-sound-in-Japanese, as-the-kanji-sound-if-read-as-Chinese (Takumi ends up being something like "Liagjang"), or transalated into English (Daiki is often "Big Tree"). Then later in the stage Keisuke damages his own car and the team has to get a "shopping car." My personal favorite is when Daiki brings his car into the garage before the battle because, "I need to check the car baker. Lend me some glue."
The Brazilian dub of Fate/stay night managed to mistranslate "Caster" as "Castor" (Beaver). Seriously.
Early English fansubs of Puella Magi Madoka Magica translates the line which is supposed to be "That violates the laws of cause and effect!" as "That's treason against the wish itself!"
Not that Kyubey saying that would be incorrect, though. The wish is compensation for becoming a puella magi, a witch, and eventually a source of energy for Incubators to harvest; if Madoka makes it thus that witches can't exist, then there would have not been a reason for Incubators to offer the wish.
The Dutch sub of Miyazaki's Howls Moving Castle translates "The Witch of the Waste" as "De Heks van Verspilling", i.e. "The Witch of Wasting", rather than "De Heks van de Woestenij".
Super Atragon: The battleship Ra's Captain Hayate shouts, "ENGAGE!" when issuing "Fire" commands.
He also refers to the main guns' shells as "Missiles" despite the animation clearly showing they're shells.
The Italian dub of Pokémon is filled with translation problems.
For starters, name attacks were different from the game ones until Season 7: Vine Whip was translated as "Stretta con Liane" ("wrap with vines") instead of "Frustata", Water Gun was "Getto d'Acqua" ("Water Stream") rather than "Pistolacqua", Swift, called normally "Comete", got between "Attacco Rapido" (Which actually is the Italian name for Quick Attack, a completely different move), "Velocitŕ" ("Speed") and twice was used "Millestelle" ("Thousand Stars").
Until Season 11, Pikachu's Thunderbolt was called "Superfulmine" rather than "Fulmine".
The first movie got different attack names, so Vine Whip changed in "Stretta con Tralci" ("Root Wrap"), Razor Leaf became "Lame Vegetali" ("Vegetal Blades") and not "Foglielama" and, for the best one, Hyperbeam became the overly long "Attacco con l'Iperlaser" ("Hyperlaser Attack").
In the Italian versions of Pokémon Emerald and in the Anime Season 9, Brandon was named Baldo, yet in Season 12 is named Mariano. In the same way, Riley is translated as Marisio in Diamond, Pearl and Platinum and Fabiolo in Season 12.
And let's not talk about the pronounces. Smoochum got to be called "Smoo-Chum", "Smo-Choom", "Smoo-Choom" and "Smah-Choom". Meowth was pronounced "Me-Oh" for a long time (and also called "Meo" in the credits), then in Season 12 became "Meow".
This is an issue with the English dub, too. It obviously uses the (usually expertly done) name localizations from the games, but doesn't always understand why the game localized it the way it did, and what the pun is supposed to be, thus screwing up the pronunciation. Thus, the tiny rock Pokemon that resembles a bonsai tree in a flowerpot, named "Usohachi" (from "uso" (=fake) and "hachi" (=flowerpot)) in the original, got cleverly localized to "Bonsly" in the games (from "bonsai", "sly" and "lie")... and the dub goes ahead and pronounces it "Bon-slee".
The Latin American Spanish dub of Pokémon, since season 10. Though mistakes and inconsistences were always made, they usually were ignored due to nostalgia and the generally good quality of the rest of the work. But then bad dub stroke and translationg mistakes and inconsitenses became much more evident (so big I wouldn't encourage listing every single one of them) and many people were turned off by the series. The change of dub company for season 13 seemed to brighten up things a bit, although the translator is using Nintendo of Europe's names for cities and attacks making the new dub something really odd to watch (name conventions between Latin America and Spain are vastly different when it comes to this, since Latin American dub translates directly from the English dub, and Spanish dub translates according to the Spanish games from Europe).
The brazilian dub of Pokémon translated String Shot as "Tiro de Estilingue", which means Sling Shot.
Somewhat justified because of who used said technique in the debuting episodes of the anime: Caterpie, whose antennae is shaped like a pink slingshot.
Crunchyroll's English subtitles for Saki not only left some of the Mahjong lingo in Japanese, but also frequently translated terms into their Chinese word origins and then romanized it via pinyin (which would otherwise be correct, had the Japanese not been left in as well). Sometimes a line would have English, Japanese romaji, and Chinese pinyin all in the same sentence. For example: "all simples pinfu mixed triple chow".
When talking about Momo, Kaori says that she once thought Momo was a "ghost member" of the mahjong club (a term for a member who joins a school club but rarely, if ever, shows up) only to find out that Momo was always in the room at the same time, but due to her Invisibility, Kaori couldn't see her. The Crunchyroll subs have Kaori thinking Momo was "a member of the occult club".
Tenchi Muyo! features an egregious example of bad translation when Kagato is finally killed by Tenchi he says 'I see, Tenchi can't be copied' which makes absolutely no sense and should have been easily caught by any number of people. The line should have been 'I see, regeneration is not possible'. Considering this is an especially important moment because it's how Kagato is defeated it's especially jarring.
Ganta: Is there only bad stuff in reality? (Are there only bad things in the world?)
The original Finnish translation of Digimon Adventure by Agapio Racing Team was just as bad as their dubbing. It appears that the translators had no idea about the context when translating the dialogue - whenever a word could be translated in two ways, they picked the wrong one. Especially hilarious when the word is dropping.
Shaman King's Brazilian dub is usually agreed to have a great cast trying their best to make a completely off script work. Lots of terms are either bizarrely translated (how does one go from "Chuuka Zanmai" [Great Chinese Slash] to "Golden Tower in Action"?) or swapped around to impossible levels. For the latter, episode 13 ("Over Soul"), the one that established a lot of the show's more prominent terminologies, is a perfect example. First "Silva" got his name confused with one of his spirits, so he became "Silver Wing" (the actual Silver Wing goes unnamed). "Furyoku" (something akin to "shamanic power") was translated as "Occult/Hidden Strength", and, after that episode, just vaguely referred to as "energy". "Over Soul" and "Great Spirit" got confused, so "Over Soul" became "Great Spirit" while the actual "Great Spirit" became "Good Spirit". Some episodes would forget these changes and refer to things by their old names, the end result being a well-acted but completely crazy translation.
The Brazilian dub of Mew Mew Power, as the name suggests, was based on the 4Kids version; that would mean the translation work was easy, right? Yeah, no. There are a lot of glaring English-to-Portuguese mistakes there, many bordering on nonsense. For example, a small scene of trash-talking between Zoey (Ichigo) and Tarb (Tart) includes the lines "I've brought my flying sweater!" (originally, "I've brought my fly-swatter". And no, it doesn't make any more sense in context) and "How about a little nap?" (originally, "How about a catnip?"). Also, the song "Supernatural" was translated, leaving the word as-is, which wouldn't be a problem if the meaning wasn't completely different ("Supernatural" in Portuguese is along the lines of "totally natural". The correct translation would be "Sobrenatural").
In D.Gray-Man, we see the tombstone of Allen Walker's adopted father and it has the following written on it: "It is evil that to the thing which, fortunately, there be that preferably it is buried here afriend and dose it and uncovers acorpse to the person when it is sraied, and cannot touch this stone, and move our bone."
Kämpfer is commonly written as "Kampfer" in the internet, but that is just wrong. With proper pronunciation it should be written as "Kaempfer". (Ä=Ae)
Magic Knight Rayearth: The title was erroneously translated as "Magic Knights of Rayearth" in Brazil, giving the false impression that "Rayearth" is the name of the world the story takes place in. It's not.
The English translation of the second part of Count Cain, titled Godchild, actually gets the title wrong! When, towards the end of the story, the significance of the title is finally explained, it's clear from the context that it ought to be translated as Grandchild. Elsewhere in the manga, the translation is quite poor, with odd decisions such as pocket watches being referred to in dialogue as "clocks".