Lita has by far the most talent
in the show.
"Contrary to the common opinion, the average American adaptation of a French play fails not because it deodorizes the original (and so perverts the original and makes it a thing ridiculous), but because it actually transforms the French play into a more immoral document than it was in its original form. True, this process is not intentional, but the result is the same."
—George Jean Nathan
Whether we like it or not (and most of us don't), all viewers should be familiar with bowdlerization
, especially when it comes to translating and localizing foreign shows (mostly anime from Japan). Thanks to America's attitude over cartoons being only for kids and adult kids
in the cases of South Park
, [adult swim]
, and FOX's animation line-up (both the Saturday night line-up and the Sunday night one), anything in anime deemed too mature for the new, younger target Demographics
has to be cut and covered up, especially any sexual Subtext
(including Ho Yay
and Les Yay
), Double Entendres
, and anything concerning violence, grievous bodily harm, or death
So why is it that so many adaptations seem to contain more blatant Subtext
than the original?
Well, there are several reasons:
- By accident: The dubbers just did a bad job and did not adequately cover up the original intent of the material but changed and warped enough circumstances to make it all the weirder—for instance, creating Incest Subtext by trying to turn lovers into close relatives or changing a perverted character's sexually-charged lines, but doing nothing (or next to nothing) to cover his or her actions (sometimes writing them off as something else in a truly piss-poor fashion that makes it funnier than what was originally intended). At the very least, they unintentionally add new Unusual Euphemisms to the vocabulary of the fanbase.
- Refuge in Audacity: Just because the original line may be too risque doesn't mean it has to be toned down.
And they say Viewers Are Morons
. Speaking of which
, do not confuse this with Dubtitle
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Anime and Manga
- The trope is Older Than They Think, actually: it was already used by the Italian dub of the classic shounen from The Seventies Ashita no Joe. In one of the last scenes, Joe speaks to his Love Interest Youko and tells her to keep his boxing gloves for him, which becomes his Famous Last Words; in the original Japanese this is a rather straightforward request with romantic undertones being rather subtle, but the Italian dubbers make it a downright Dying Declaration of Love.
Joe [Japanese original]: "Youko, take these gloves and keep them for me... I hope you'll keep them for me."
Joe [Italian dub]: "Youko... take the gloves and keep them for me... I hope you'll keep them as a proof of my love for you..."
- The North American dub of Sailor Moon is notorious for:
- Naruto: In an early episode, Naruto is sizing Sasuke up, sitting on Sasuke's desk and staring straight into his eyes. (Metaphorical) bolts of lightning fly from one's eyes to the other. In the original anime, Sakura and the other girls tell Naruto to sit down; Naruto loses balance and accidentally kisses Sasuke. In the aired version of the dubbed anime, they cut away at the moment of the actual tripping over and kissing, which makes it look less like an embarrassing accident and more like teen experimentation (though it was oddly seen again in a montage and one opening). Amusingly, the author said the whole reason he did this was to use the joke "just so fans would have it out of the way".
- And let us not forget, "I'm gonna screw YOU up, Naruto!"
- It should be mentioned that in the dub, the "Kissing" sound was left in tact while they just showed an extended reaction scene from everyone else. They also left in the reaction scene from Naruto afterwards.
- Not to mention that flashbacks of the scene kept the scene completely in tact.
- The honorific used by Deidara when addressing his partner-in-crime Sasori got translated to English in Shippuden as "Sasori, my man" (and in some cases, "My man Sasori") and he uses this term at darn-near every opportunity. To older audiences, this line is dripping with bromance, which is probably a reason why it became a meme in the fandom.
- And there was another instance in episode 53 of the first anime where Jiraiya was training Naruto (who was just wearing his boxers) and while Naruto was concentrating on his chakra energy Jiraiya stares at him for a bit before saying, "You're quite sexy when you get naked." Even better in the english dub where Jiraiya says almost seductively to Naruto: "Amazing! You know...you have quite a tight sexy little body."
- Digimon Adventure 02: The Kaiser and Daisuke had enough Foe Yay, but the Emperor tells Davis how "seeing you squirm is so delicious" and calls him "pretty boy."
- Kari refusing to help the Scubamon defeat their evil master makes her look like kind of a bitch, even if they were being forceful about it. In the original version, they were instead trying to bring Kari to their master so he could mate with her.
- There's also a case in Digimon Frontier, where Izumi/Fairymon has an Ass Kicks You attack. Presumably, the dubbers thought the move was a tad risque, so in Zoe/Kazemon never called that attack. She used it, she just never called it. (Well, officially. She did taunt her opponent the first time with "How 'bout a little 'love tap'?") It made it look like the human girl came up with the idea to thrust her butt at the enemy, as opposed to being just part of her Mon alter-ego's Special Attack list. (Incidentally, smacking things with her butt never accomplished much - one time she even hurt herself trying. And yet she kept doing it on occasion.)
- Let's not forget how in the first season the dub said TK and Matt were half-brothers in like the third episode, probably an assumption made by the dubbers because the two had different last names. So perhaps Matt's parents split up and TK was the child of Matt's mother second marriage? Eh, no. We later see in a flashback TK and Matt's parents going their separate ways when TK was 4 and Matt was 7. In other words, thanks to the dubbers' mistake, it was now made to look like TK and Matt's mother cheated on Mr. Ishida and TK was a product of that affair that Mr. Ishida didn't learn of until later.
- In one earlier episode, Izzy, in the dub only, mentions that his laptop died at night while playing trigonometry trivia. Seeing as this sounds like an intelligent-sounding excuse, one can only wonder what a teenage boy just getting into high school and probably going through puberty would be doing on his laptop at night.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Sho worships Judai like a brother and affectionately calls him aniki. But Syrus declares, "Jaden's my best friend! He's my hero! He's the hot fudge on the sundae that is my life!" Who writes this stuff?!
- The Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds dub somehow makes Yusei's first duel with Sherry sound even more like a metaphor for sex.
- The original last line of the first episode was Yusei saying, "Look out Jack Atlus, I'm coming." When it was met with riotous laughter at an early preview, it was quickly changed before the air date.
- Original Yu-Gi-Oh! has its own lines. "Florida has the best beaches; I think I forgot to pack my bathing suit."
- Pokémon: Maddie Blaustein apparently played Meowth's feelings toward Giovanni as Ho Yay; rather reasonable considering the Imagine Spots from Hoenn onwards.
- 4Kids also threw in a heapin' helpin' of previously non-existant "hints" that Ash and Misty were hot for each other until Misty left the main cast.
- And a couple after she left too, Movie 6's dub-added line about Ash missing her being the most notable.
- Though contrary to what some claim, not all of it was added by 4Kids; some scenes would be obvious even if you watched them with your TV muted.
- In reality, not much was added, maybe two or three hints. In fact, a lot of people who Ship Misty and Ash disregard the dub-added hints as canon, and detest things like "Misty's Song" (basically, Misty singing about how much she loves Ash).
- Hell, while 4Kids removed any overt references to sexuality, they inserted a hell of a lot of innuendo that wasn't there in the Japanese version. People who have seen both versions say the American version is slightly better written because of the creativity of the Parental Bonus moments.
- Harley was a flamboyant Camp Gay character in the original Japanese, but the 4kids and PUSA dubs take that Up to Eleven. However, this was most likely a deliberate case of Getting Crap Past the Radar.
- In a episode 18 a dirty old man gets turned into a dirty old man who may or may not be sexually abusing his grandchildren. When he sees Misty (in a bikini) his original Japanese line is something to the effect of "Come back in about eight years and we'll have some fun". In the dub, his body language (right down to the blush and lewd grin) stay the same, but the line becomes "You look like my granddaughter!".
- Downplayed during the beauty contest; Misty's catwalk is accompanied by her whining about how degrading the whole experience is (most likely to cater to the Moral Guardians), but since earlier in the episode she was actually enthusiastic about the idea, it sounds as though this litany of complaints is token and Misty secretly likes the attention. In the original Japanese, she was a Proud Beauty the whole time.
- In "The Kangaskhan Kid" Tommy's father asks him if he remembers him, holding his shirt open. In the original he was asking him if he remembers how his mother used to breastfeed him.
- James of Team Rocket. Not quite as obvious as with Harley, but with lines like "It's times like this that make me want to go straight" it's hard not to draw conclusions. (Not to mention the infamous Flaming Moltres episode.)
- "I think that costume came right out of his closet..."
- In the Swedish dub, voice actor Andreas Nilsson starts James off as sounding fairly normal, tenor voice, but nothing out of the ordinary. Come 13 seasons later, his voice is now quite high pitched, and really sounds like a stereotypical gay male of the flamboyant kind would sound. And yes, still the same voice actor.
- In the English dub of YuYu Hakusho when Itsuki explains Sensui's backstory he says that he had been stalking Sensui to get closer to him. There is no such reference in the Japanese version, nor the manga.
- While the relationship between Genkai and Younger Toguro is left relatively ambiguous in the original Japanese version and the manga, the writers at FUNimation played up the 'what-could-have-been' between them fairly well in their final conversation, to the point of implying they were together 50 years prior.
- Minto from Tokyo Mew Mew was already Zakuro's biggest fangirl, but 4Kids was expected to censor out every scene of Ship Tease between the two of them. Instead, they amped it up, turning it into a gag, and bizarrely even changed her romantically imagining a bishonen dancer to imaging Zakuro. "Nooo! My precious Renee!" The English version was canceled before the episode where Minto confesses her love, however it may be viewed, which leaves one to wonder what they'd have done then.
- Sorcerer Hunters. In the original anime, Gateau flirts with Marron a bit. In the ADV dub, well...
Gateau: So, Marron, if we ever wanna, now would be the chance.
Marron: Let's make sure they don't kill him first, then we'll see.
Gateau: Prick tease.
- Mobile Suit Gundam Wing's Latin-American dub takes the Ho Yay Ship Tease between Trowa and Quatre and makes it canon romantic love from Quatre's side. In the "Birth of Queen Relena" episode, Quatre wonders why is he sad upon leaving the amnesiac Trowa behind "despite really loving him", and in his duel with Dorothy, as he tries to make her more open about her ideas he says "You can't shut off your own feelings! Trowa taught me that. And that's why I'm in love with him."
- When Milliardo's team is told to destroy the Wing Gundam the following occurs:
Milliardo: "Have you really destroyed the Gundam 01?"
Scientist: "No, but we did blow up all the Tallgeese's spareparts."
Scientist: "We've learned a lot from studying the destroyed Gundam 01."
Milliardo: "OK. What have you learned?"
"It's completely destroyed."
- The two examples above have caused some fans to not trust any Gundam Scientists at all. The best minds of OZ and Zeon are not all that great.
- In Ghost Hunt, there is a case involving a game of hide-and-seek. However, one of the children is mute, so he hits a stick against a nearby object to show that he's ready. In the original, Mai makes a comment about how he's hiding in the woods and that he's hitting trees with the stick so that they can find him. In the dub she says, "He's just out there in the woods, beating his stick all day." Yeah.
- The Saban and later FUNimation Dragon Ball Z dubs tended to make Frieza gay, at least very camp. The most obvious one was the scene where he has the Dragonballs and says that having the balls makes him feel like caressing them. Fortunately, it was "fixed" in FUNimation's redub of those episodes, though you can't deny the scene isn't nearly as entertaining.
- In addition, the dub makes the Ginyu Force seem more gay than they originally were. One example of this is in the dub, Captain Ginyu is sitting in front of the Dragon Balls and says "What lovely balls!" Recoome mentions at one point that he loves soap operas. Neither of these was "fixed" in any redubbing.
- This also occasionally happened in the dub for Dragon Ball. It's hard to tell how the double entendres came about though, because there's no way Pilaf's line "I can't rule the world with one ball" wasn't intentional.
- The Polish dub of Dragon Ball featured some good examples. One being the scene with Yamcha taking a peek at Bulma taking a shower (seen in full nude). The dub suggested Yamcha was scared of SHAMPOO instead of feminine attributes.
- The Blue Water dub (an English dub showed in English-speaking countries other than the US, Australia, and New Zealand) of Dragon Ball had this gem from the same scene:
Yamcha: Not dragon balls...definitely not dragon balls.
- Polish Dragon Ball dub again, this time with an episode featuring Toriyama's Arale character. She hands a pink, grinning poop-on-a-stick to General Blue, much to his disgust, however the dubbed villain utters something like "Oh no, I hate strawberry ice-cream!"
- Speaking of Hitler, he comes Back from the Dead in one of the movies. While they only call him "The Dictator", and his insignia is just an X, one would expect the dub to downplay how much he's obviously Hitler, but they did the opposite. In the original, when he catches a glimpse of the blonde, ubermensch Super Saiyans, "The Dictator" calls them a bunch of poseurs. In the American dub, "The Dictator" actually likes them and seriously considers making them part of his Army.
- And of course, there's Vegeta's death scene in the Frieza Saga. In the dub, while explaining Frieza's history with the Saiyans, he says that he was forced to serve Frieza under the threat of killing his father and subsequently led astray by Frieza's influence. As he buries Vegeta, Goku talks about how he pities Vegeta after learning what he had been through, rather than expressing his newfound respect for his Saiyan heritage. In short, the dub choose to detail how Frieza affected one individual rather than the Saiyans as a whole.
- Super Buu (with Gotenks and Piccolo absorbed)'s fight with Gohan, in the original, Super Buu was merely bragging about his new power and Gohan being overwhelmed by this power. The Dub adds twisted, ironic cruelty by essentially turning the trash talk into guilt inducing words based on the fact he's absorbed Piccolo and Goten essentially forcing him breaking to down not only physically, but mentally due to the "disappointment of his brother and master for letting them down". This makes the fight even more tragic and Buu even more of a monster than he already was
- Not satisfied with Dr. Gero and Cell's initial goal of Take Over the World being evil enough for American Tv, they decided to up the ante and changed it to killing off all life on the planet.
- Although Neon Genesis Evangelion had its fair share of Ho Yay in the Kaworu episode, the Brazilian dub made it way heavier by implying that they even slept together in a more physical sense. Of course, taking in consideration that half the dubbers are Genre Savvy, and the other half just love to play with this kind of situation...
- The first English dub voice of Kaworu had a lisp, though it's unclear whether this was simply the actor's voice or meant as a gay stereotype.
- The Cardcaptor Sakura Macekre removed all they could about Shaoran's infatuation with Yukito, an older sixteen-year-old boy. Unfortunately, Shaoran's presence in a significant number of scenes is based entirely on this crush, and its removal gives the incorrect though later prescient implication that Shaoran is, for all his bluster, crushing on Sakura.
- In Generator Gawl, somehow, with nothing said outright, the English dub manages to convey the impression that Koji and Ryo are married, with Gawl as their Keet boytoy/son.
- The Ikki Tousen manga is translated in America as "Battle Vixens", and is quite liberal with adding a lot of dub text. People swear much more than the Japanese version, and lots of references to American culture are used. Fans of the series find these changes hilarious, while detractors of the series hate the changes that add a fair amount of juvenile humor to what could be a deadly serious story.
- Crayon Shin Chan: Justified in that it was made into a Gag Dub in America and that it aired on [adult swim].
- The Negima! manga, not exactly known for its subtlety in the first place, had even more innuendo inserted into the English adaptation of the first volume for no readily apparent reason.
- Axis Powers Hetalia features a lot of Ho Yay and just-plain morally questionable lines in the English dub, where France refers to America and England strangling each other as "releasing sexual tensions," Germany asks Italy if they should kiss now that they're friends (with Italy replying, "Nope. Unless you want to."), and Japan's response to Italy commenting on allegedly shrinking this "thing" during their "getting acquainted" hot spring soak. In the Japanese version, he says, "You now know my secret. I guess I have no choice." The American version: "Japanese people grow-a, not show-a."
- Battle of the Planets is best known for being a Cut-and-Paste Translation of Science Ninja Team Gatchaman. However, while it was heavily edited to remove violence and other undesirable aspects, the scriptwriters for the adaptation noted the Ship Tease between Ken and Jun in the original and decided to magnify it to suggest that "Mark" did return the affections of "Princess" and that the two were more of an Official Couple. Meanwhile, the American-original animated segments with the much ridiculed 7-Zark-7 and his love interest Susan contained plenty parental bonuses and innuendo, such as Zark mentioning Susan's measurements and him becoming flustered and aroused at the sound of her very voice.
- While the episode was toned down heavily when it came to the death of a character (turning her into an "evil enemy robot" rather than a woman that had been converted into a cyborg), "Race Against Disaster" had Lucy behaving much more flirtatiously than the original, one scene having her even regretfully stating "I shouldn't have told you how I feel". As cheesy as the editing to the ending was, it also comes off unfortunate in that Lucy really wanted to be a human and feel love. In the original, Lucy was simply a former racing partner of Joe's with some Belligerent Sexual Tension, who didn't even get to confess what Galactor did to her before her skin melted off in front of him (while Lucy outright tells Jason "I am a robot").
- The Latin-American Spanish dub of Magic Knight Rayearth changes Eagle Vision from male to female, probably to avert the Ho Yay with Lantis. Thing is, they accidentally created Les Yay between girl!Eagle and Hikaru. Oops?
- Episode 48 of Cyborg009 had its script very heavily rewritten for the English dub to start (changes which carried over to any other countries that based their dubs off of Sony's version). Where this trope comes in happens to be at the end of a very iconic sequence: in the original Japanese dialogue, 009 has found out that he and 002 are about to die via burning up in the atmosphere. While the entire dialogue was rewritten, the last few lines diverged heavily, from 002 asking 009 "Where do you want to fall?" to him saying "I know. Me too. You don't have to say it.", which many fans felt Ho Yay implications from.
- Pick any Western with Archie Fire Lame Deer in it. Any. The Lakota is hilarious.
- Yu-Gi-Oh!: Interestingly when you compare the original OCG artwork to the censored TCG artwork of Aquamirror Cycle, the OCG artwork shows Gishki Emilia in pain but having survived the forced ritual summoning events of "Aquamirror Illusion", while the TCG artwork seems to show that she's dead from the neutral expression on her face.
- The German version of Resident Evil 4 cuts several scenes down to fit the country's exacting violence standards. One scene shows Ashley cornered by monsters. In the original, they close in on her and then attack, knocking her down. In the German version, the camera just fades out as they close in on her, staring menacingly at her scantily clad form. Of course, this led to many excitable gamers jumping to the most obvious conclusion.
- In the English dub of Metal Gear Solid, Naomi was played by Jennifer Hale; in the dub of Metal Gear Solid 2, Emma Emmerich was played by the same voice actress. This is all perfectly fine until Metal Gear Solid 4 where Hal Emmerich and Naomi sleep together, adding in a suggestion of Loving a Shadow-style Brother-Sister Incest, made even worse by the fact that Hal had already canonically slept with his stepmother.
- Not to mention the necessary change of Sunny's way of addressing Otacon ('Uncle Hal' instead of 'Nii-san') made it look more like Snake and Otacon were a male-male couple who'd adopted a child rather than adoptive older brothers, which boosted the Ho Yay to catastrophic levels.
- Debatable as to whether this was the intent. The English voice actors for both Snake and Otacon have both said things to the effect of 'dunno what the original intent was, but we've been playing them as a couple'.
- The online RPG Phantasy Star Universe seems to have someone in the translation department playing some games. On several occasions, lines are written in such a way as to make characters look foolish, however on two occasions in particular, things just get weird. For instance: "So these machines train these girls to be maidens? How does that work?" - "I'll leave that to your imagination.", and the direct translation of Commander Curtz attempt to be more 'human' by addressing a young female character as 'Lumia-chan', turned it into a rather more creepy 'Lumia dear', further worsened by Lumia's worried reaction.
- The localization of Snatcher censored out a scene of naked dead robot breasts, and removed some borderline loli fanservice by the time-honored practice of aging the girl up from fourteen to eighteen, and redrawing her to look older. However, they did rebel, once - in a scene where the ex-loli was wearing a towel, the redraw gave her visible nipples.
- The localizations of the Rockman X games have occasional...odd translation choices. Notable instances include Zero yelling "I'll do you first!" to an opponent, and X telling Zero that "We will join hands...and never let anyone sever us again!".
- A case where this is more serious can be found in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. The American version removes Cid's alcohol problem, changing him from drunkenly oblivious to "crying in the gutters." The scene still makes sense since Cid's alcoholism was brought on by his inability to get over his wife's death, but it makes his boss look like a real asshole in the English version for yelling at a grieving man for crying.
- Dragon Power made only a weak effort to cover up its origins as a Dragon Ball Licensed Game. Players familiar with Dragon Ball (which wasn't released in the U.S. until later) can still recognize, for instance, the Turtle Hermit as Master Roshi. In this version, the Hermit insists that Nora (i.e. Bulma) give him her "sandwich," which looks suspiciously like a pair of panties flipped upside down. So, is that what he calls it?
- The scene in which Pokey gets punished by his dad in Earthbound. In the Japanese version, he gets spanked, with several slaps heard off-screen. In the English version, the physical abuse was "toned down"; we hear one loud smack followed by a squealing sound, suggesting that he was given a black eye. Sure, a hard slap to the face or a black eye is ''much'' better than a sore butt.
- In the Japanese, French, and German versions of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening:
- The mermaid's missing item is a bikini top, but the American release changed it to a necklace. So, she was topless the whole time now.
- Also, the hippo who tells you to go away was actually a nude model posing in a painting.
- In Persona 4 (and other entries in the series), the translators kept the Japanese Honorifics. However, they still changed how some characters address each-other. (In English, Yosuke calls Yukiko "Yukiko-san," while he calls her "Amagi-san" in Japanese.) While this causes enough changes in how some relationships can be perceived, it really comes through in Persona 4: Arena for those who are more savvy on how suffixes (and lack thereof) work. In Kanji's alternate ending, he requests that Naoto address him differently. In Japanese, Naoto addressed him as "Tatsumi-kun" and was the only one to still call him by his surname, so Kanji asked Naoto call him by his first name (as "Kanji-kun") instead. In English, Naoto always addresses Kanji as "Kanji-kun," so the only direction they had to go was to drop the suffix entirely. Usually, only family, really close friends or lovers address each-other without suffixes. So what was originally meant to be a friendship upgrade got changed to what could easily be mistaken for a confession.... which was accepted.
- Of course, this only adds another layer of confusion, as Kanji says Naoto's the only one who is formal enough to use an honorific with him, which makes one question his relationship with everyone else on the team.
- A translation error in the original release of the Mother3 fan translation essentially took one of Abbey's lines from after Abbot explains where her head injury came from ("There never used to be any creatures like that before that were so hard to describe. These things were all fly-y, mousey, buggy, and bitey.") and added some Domestic Abuse subtext ("There was no bizarre creature. It didn’t fly. It wasn’t mousey. It wasn’t buggy. It didn’t bite me.") that wasn't in the original script.
- Fire Emblem Awakening's DLC was censored for the American release; a shot of a female character (the local Hot Witch Tharja) trying on a swimsuit with her butt pointed at the camera had the butt partially covered with a curtain. "Partially" is the key word here; many have pointed out that they find the censored image more suggestive, since with the bikini bottom covered up it draws more attention to the part of Tharja's butt that you can see, and makes her look like she's either not wearing anything at all down there or getting ready to remove what little clothing she's wearing.