Dub Text

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/talentedlita.jpg
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, 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.


Examples

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     Anime and Manga 
  • The original North American dub of Sailor Moon is notorious for:
    • Re-popularizing the Unusual Euphemism of "talent" for "breast size". Arguing over who should play the lead role in their production of "Snow White," Makoto says she should be chosen because of her large boobs. The DiC dub has her claim instead to be "the most talented," but doesn't edit the gesture that makes it abundantly clear what Lita (as Makoto is named in the original dub) actually means - nor does it remove the focus on her breasts, the sound effect, or Rei/Raye's reaction shot when Lita repeats her claim a few moments later.
      • The Mexican dub made a similar euphemism, but replaced talent with "experience." However, when she repeats the claim, it was changed to "Having a nice body."
      • In the German version, Makoto says that she should get the role because she is "...a real woman, as you can see," which is arguably not an improvement over the original (just like the English version).
    • Making Mimete's game of Twister a little too much like sex. Not helping is the fact that she's thinking about going after a cute male marathon runner, her leg being in the air, bobbing suggestively as if she's in the throes of gymnastic passion, or the voice actress making Mimete's moans more sexual in the English dub than in in the original Japanese version. Considering that Sailor Moon S aired on Cartoon Network (home of a lot of animated programming for kids that take Getting Crap Past the Radar to places that Nickelodeon and The Disney Channel can't/won't), this probably isn't so much a Dub Text as it is business as usual.
      • Nephrite's reaction upon seeing Sailor Moon transform for the first time:
      Nephrite: I watched while you changed. It was fascinating.
      • The DiC version kept in "I watched while you changed," but made it the last part of the sentence. The first part in the American dub was something to the extent of "So Sailor Moon is really named Serena."
    • The scene in the S season where Usagi/Serena accidentally got drunk at a party and started chattering with the exchange students was changed to her drinking "too much juice" in the dub, but as with the Twister scene, the voice acting made her seem more drunk than in the original.
      • Why does one get the feeling that the voice actors were actively trying to subvert the Bowdlerization?
  • Naruto features the imfamous line "I'm gonna screw YOU up, Naruto!"
    • 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:
    • Digimon Adventure: Let's not forget how the dub said TK and Matt were half-brothers in 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.
    • 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 make Kari their bride to produce offspring for them, making her objection all the more reasonable.
      • 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.
    • In the original Japanese version of Digimon Tamers, all the Digidestined are 10 except for Ryo, who's 14, and Tagalong Kid Suzie, who's 7. In the dub, however, all of the 10-year-olds were aged up to 12 except for Rika, who gains an additional year and becomes 13. Unfortunately, there's an episode where Rika's mother's age is explicitly revealed to be just 28, and the dubbers allowed this line to get through unaltered, dropping the age difference between mother and daughter from the already borderline unacceptable-for-a-kids'-show 18 years to an absolutely scandalous 15.
    • 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.)
    • Episode 11 of Digimon Xros Wars has a scene where Akari, having just broken free of Lillithmon's mind control, swings at her with the Code Crown she was almost about to surrender to the villain. This opens up a small cut along her cheek which bleeds a little, and the fact that she's been caused to bleed causes her to go full Red Eyes, Take Warning and combines her henchmon into a super-powered form. In the dub, not only is the blood removed from where Angie strikes Laylamon with the Code Crown, but the cut is as well. However, no attempts were made to change anything else, as the body language involved makes it quite clear what had originally happened. She still snaps, but there's little reason for it in the dub.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX,the implications of Bastion's infamous night with Taniya are even stronger in the dub. Adding lines about having kids, the honeymoon, "We had passion!", and Bastion screaming throughout the night...well, "dueling all night"...Is That What They're Calling It Now?
  • The Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's 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."
  • In Pokťmon , 4Kids 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.
    • 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 remind me of 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 do this. 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, in the dub, Captain Ginyu is sitting in front of the Dragon Balls and says "What lovely balls!". This was never "fixed".
    • 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.
    • 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
    • In the Freeza arc, Chi-Chi gets into a huge argument in Capsule Corp over her determination to head over to Namek and bring back Gohan, by herself if need be, when other (saner) cast members try in vain to point out to her that Goku's already there and there's a lot of dangerous aliens (not Namekians) around. When Yajirobe arrives to inform the group that Piccolo, and by extension Kami, revived, Chi-Chi panics. And the reason differs from the original to the dub. In the original version, Chi-Chi is worried that Gohan could turn into a delinquent, which is more of a joke that would make sense in Japanese culture. Whereas in the English dub, Chi-Chi (more justifiably) is scared of Piccolo in general and believes that they've lost their marbles if they think that's something to be happy about. Her reaction is heavily implied to be because she, with her own eyes, saw Piccolo nearly kill her husband on the day of her engagement (which was at the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament, but still), which is much more understandable why she wouldn't want Gohan anywhere near him.
  • The Ikki Tousen manga is translated in America as "Battle Vixens", and is quite liberal with adding a lot of dub text, including people swearing much more than the Japanese version. 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].
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!, 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 just-plain morally questionable lines in the English dub, such as when France refers to America and England strangling each other as "releasing sexual tensions" 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 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.

     Film  
  • Pick any Western with Archie Fire Lame Deer in it. Any. The Lakota is hilarious.

     Tabletop Games 

  • 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.

     Video Games  

  • 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 version, 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.
  • 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 fanservice of the 14-year-old Katrina Gibson by aging her up from fourteen to eighteen, redrawing her to look older and removing some of the edgier bits. However, they did rebel, once - in a scene where Katrina 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.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • The J2E translation of Final Fantasy IV has Kain call Rosa "[Cecil's] little whore", making it explicit that he was never in love with Rosa but merely a jealous sexist who couldn't stand the thought that his best friend had her and not him. This makes Kain come off as a much darker character, with other translations treating Kain's fixation on Rosa more sympathetically.
    • Final Fantasy VI:
      • When Terra meets Sabin, it's after a boss fight against a martial artist who attacks with two bear minions. She says she mistook Sabin (because of his size) for one of the bears at first, and he takes it in good stride. The English translation, possibly due to a misunderstanding due to lack of context, has her mistake him for "a bodybuilder straight out of the gym" and Sabin still playfully refers to himself as a "bear" in inverted commas, making it seem like she thinks he looks gay, and he's happily agreeing (pretty wild for 1995).
      • Celes's attempted suicide had to be censored for the English version, and is obfuscated in the English with lines about how jumping off the cliffs would allow a person to 'perk up again'. Since none of the scene's blocking, context or sound design is changed, it ends up going from a trope-standard suicide scene to a scene where the normally serious Celes is making morbid jokes about her desire to die, which gives the impression she's losing her mind and is more realistic and disturbing.
      • Locke's beloved girlfriend Rachel died in an attack, and he used an alchemist to embalm her corpse perfectly, having her lie in state on her grave like royalty. The English version, hamstrung as it was by its serious Never Say "Die" problems, could only let her die if she was brought back to life in the next scene, and so has an alchemist give her 'herbs' that bring her back to life in an ageless, eternal sleep. It reinforces the Romeo and Juliet allusion in a game full of classical theatre references, and seems like a good idea on paper, but ends up turning Locke from a basically sweet guy who just can't move on from his grief, into a misogynistic creep keeping a drugged, Came Back Wrong woman in his basement without the knowledge of her family and friends who all think she's still dead. This also makes it worse when he uses the Phoenix Esper to bring her back to life - in the original, Phoenix is able to bring her back to speak to him one last time, but in the translation, it wakes her from her coma and then she dies for real. Nice one, Locke.
      • Celes is incredulous after being asked to disguise herself as the opera star Maria, but in the original Japanese it's because she thinks that, as a soldier, there's no way she could seduce a handsome ladykiller (with the humour being that she eagerly runs into the dressing room immediately afterwards). In English, she complains she's "a general, not some opera floozy!", which gives the scene - and her whole character development from that point - a sexist vibe not in the original. The original also emphasises that both Celes (and presumably Maria) like the thought of Setzer kidnapping them, and it's only a problem because the Impresario selfishly wants to keep running his show rather than have his diva elope; in the English the Impresario is more sympathetic and the consent implications are lost, so it comes across more that Setzer's a sexual predator who kidnaps women against their will.
      • When faced with an army of Espers in the original, Kefka reacts with cheerful surprise as he can't wait to kill them all. In the English version, he taunts them by saying that he can't wait for them to go against his Magicite army as 'you just might see some familiar faces!'. This turns it from being eager to fight and win, to cruelly taunting bereaved families that he's going to use their own undead family members to kill them.
      • Lakshmi is a sexy Esper whose appearance fascinates Owzer, causing him to commission multiple artists to paint her and never being satisfied with the result. Her costume and special move was toned down in the localisation, but her name was changed to "Starlet", adding a sleazy Casting Couch vibe to Owzer's obsession with getting her picture which wasn't in the original.
    • 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.
  • 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 didnít fly. It wasnít mousey. It wasnít buggy. It didnít 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.
    • Chrom's supports with Sumia infamously added a ton of Stay in the Kitchen subtext that wasn't in the original Japanese. Changing Bento to pies seemed like a good Woolseyism at first, pies make a lot more sense for a Medieval European Fantasy than bento does. Unfortunately, most westerners associate pies with outdated housewife stereotypes, and the localization makes this worse by having their Love Confession center entirely around pies and cooking, when the Japanese version didn't mention food there. Combined with the localization removing most references to Chrom admiring Sumia for her strength in battle (replaced with Sumia going on about how much she loves braiding her Pegasus' hair), and the support comes off in a very different light than it did originally.
  • Fire Emblem Fates has an infamous conversation between Saizo and Beruka. In the original Japanese version, both former assassins introduced themselves with absolutely no mention that would warrant a change. What did the English version do to this harmless introduction? They both say a series of ellipses twice each and... Congrats! They reached Support C level!
  • When Snake rescues Meryl at the end of Metal Gear Solid, Meryl says Ocelot tortured her "and things even worse than that", implying she was sexually abused or raped by him. In the original script, she'd said something more neutral along the lines of "and all kinds of things" which didn't carry the same implication.

     Western Animation  

  • In the latter episodes of the first animated series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Michelangelo's Nunchucks were considered "too violent" by the UK (who also changed the name of the show to Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles as the word "ninja" had connotations of assassinations and UK censors did not want children to think that killing is cool) and in a severe case of Fridge Logic Mike's nunchucks were replaced with a grappling hook. Apparently its way too savage to whack someone with a Nunchuck but impaling them with the hooks of a grappling hook is A-OK. Needless to say Leonardo and Raphael were apparently lucky that nobody noticed on how they use bladed weapons. note 
  • There's an episode of Chowder in which our title-character really has to pee. Many crude but innocent jokes follow. Now, for some reason, when it got dubbed into Hungarian, they translated the "go" part of "go to the toilet" as "elmenni", which means just that (to go [away]). However the correct phrase would have been "kimenni" (to go out), since "elmenni" has another, drastically different meaning in Hungarian: namely, "to come" (yes, the opposite of "go"). The voice actors obviously saw through this blooper, as you can tell by the peculiar way they stress the word.
    Mung: Did you COME?
    Chowder: No.
  • Another example from a Hungarian dub, this time from Regular Show. "Punchies", the punching game that the characters often engage in to settle minor disputes, as well as just plain old punching is consistently translated as "öklözés" — fisting. If viewers happen to miss the part when the characters are shown punching each other, and only hear them talking about fisting, what a good fister Mordecai is and how Rigby doesn't like being fisted... it can lead to confused faces. Or not, given the nature of the show.
  • In the Swedish dub of the Steven Universe episode "Hit the Diamond," quickly nicknamed "the gayest episode ever" by its fans, the one word description of Ruby and Sapphire's behavior as "flirting" was cut. But there was no way to take out their constant steamy looks and romantic body language that runs throughout the whole episode.
  • In Western Animation/Oggy and the Cockroaches episode "The Kitchen Boy", Oggy grates up the cockroaches' bottoms into Olivia's pasta dish. The scene of them angrily marching off with their naked butts visible is cut in some broadcasts, leading viewers to believe that he grated them up completely.


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