One of the best-known but least-recognized Woolseyisms of all time: the title of Ghost in the Shell. The original Japanese name is Kokaku Kidotai which translates literally to "Mobile Armored Riot Police". Not even the most ardent fans argue that the international title is not vastly superior and more fitting. It was Woolseyed by Word of God, no less.
Beast Saga: Ruri-Saizen tends to translate the animal puns into english quite well. Expect to hear stuff like "What the Beast", "What the Shellfish", and "UnBearable".
Tailmon was renamed Gatomon, because Tailmon is a Digimon cat and "gato" is Spanish for "cat".
In the English dub, Chichos, the little Mexican girl who has a crush on Ken in Digimon Adventure 02 became Rosa. "Chichos" means "love handles" in Spanish and also sounds awkwardly close to "chicos", which means "boys" in Spanish. And there's the fact that Rosa is actually a girl's name in Mexico and other places.
Funnily enough, the Spanish dub keeps her name as Chichos.
There were also plenty of good wisecracks in Digimon's dubs that were perfectly in-character and well-timed. For example, pretty much anything Etemon, Myotismon (originally Vamdemon), Puppetmon (originally Pinnochimon), and Piedmon said in the dub just seemed to work for their characters. It certainly helps that Richard Epcar was the voice of Etemon and Myotismon.
A couple more gems: The Digimon Savers dub put one in. When Touma introduces himself and lists some of his achievements, Masaru calls him Tooma, which is a Japanese pun insulting him. No way that would work in English...instead Marcus calls him "Nerdstein"...which is a pun off of his last name, "Norstein". It works!
There was some Lull Destruction in Adventure 02 that was a bit funny; even added a Brick Joke. Early in one episode, the principal says, "Would the person who put the Jelly Donuts in the swimming pool please report to the office?" Then later in the episode, some kids run by Kari and say, "...and then I put the Jelly Donuts in the swimming pool."
Gin Ichimaru of Bleach speaks using the Kyoto dialect, which is polite but indirect. His voice actor in the dub, Doug Erholtz, uses polite language, but with a mocking, facetious tone of voice to indicate the character's duplicitous nature.
Dondochakka, also from the same show, adds "de yansu" (dont'cha know) at the end of his sentences. Since this also cannot be accurately replicated in the dub, they gave him a stereotypical Bronx accent and translated the phrase to "Ya know what I'm talkin' about?"
Calling the Shinigami "soul reapers" was probably one of the highlights of the English dub. Tite Kubo (Bleach's author) himself has said that "soul reaper" is closer to what he intended them to be than "death god", which is the literal translation of shinigami.
Yachiru calling Kenpachi "Kenny" instead of "Ken-chan" is just perfect.
During Yugi's duel with Mai in the original version, Yugi's mind was only focused on dueling Pegasus, causing him to become cocky and not take Mai seriously. In the dub, Yugi is holding back Yami because he's still traumatized by Yami nearly killing Kaiba in the last duel and isn't sure he can trust the spirit. The dub also foreshadows the fate of Pegasus's wife by having him give an internal monologue about it, which his VA Darren Dunstan delivers excellently. In the original version it was a filler conversation between Yugi's friends and Bakura.
In Season 2, Marik wants to kill Dark Yugi and doesn't care about the Millennium Puzzle, while in the dub he wants to take the Millennium Puzzle from him and is only allowed to do so by beating him in a duel, by the laws of Ancient Egypt. This gave a convenient Hand Wave to the Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him? problem Marik has, he can't just kill Dark Yugi/banish him to the Shadow Realm, he has to beat him in a duel first, then he'll kill/banish him. Additionally with the Shadow Realm, Marik's plans to kill Dark Yugi were rather foolish in the original Japanese since Dark Yugi is an ancient spirit inhabiting the Millennium Puzzle, you effectively can't kill him by chopping off his legs or drowning him, you'll just kill his host. In the dub, Marik plans to send Dark Yugi to the Shadow Realm, so 4Kids made his death traps magical in nature and thus they pose a danger to him.
As a side-effect, when Marik had Yami Yugi duel the possessed Joey, 4Kids did not censor the idea that the loser will be dragged into the sea chained to an anchor, or that if Yami Yugi refuses to duel Marik's minion will drop a crate from a crane onto Téa. So by making Marik's death traps magical, the one trap he used where it was obvious the loser would die had more impact — in the dub banishment to the Shadow Realm is a slap on the wrist, death, that's final.
Pegasus' goal in the original is to recreate his wife via holograms, and to do that, he has to defeat Yugi to gain control of Kaibacorp's technology. The dub changes it so that his needing to defeat Yugi is a little more necessary: he wishes to collect his Millennium Puzzle, along with the other Millennium Items, to bring his wife's soul and put her in the hologram. While a little convoluted for what amounts to just asking him for the item, it does work, especially at the end where it's revealed that collecting the seven items does indeed open a portal to the afterlife.
Osaka speaks with, as could be judged, an Osaka dialect. Typically, characters with accents in anime might be given a southern accent in the dub, if it was acknowledged at all. The dub team for AzuDai went out of its way to think about the aspect, deciding that not only was a Texas accent more appropriate for Osaka, but a regional Texas dialect of an area of the state that they felt most accurately reflected a similar lifestyle to Osaka. See Kansai Regional Accent for more on the subject. ADV Films' being based in Houston might also have had something to do with this.
In the Korean dub of Azumanga Daioh, Osaka (named after a major Japanese port city whose population is stereotyped as hicks with a distinct "country" accent) is now named Busan (a major Korean port city whose population is stereotyped as hicks with a distinct "country" accent). She also speaks in the distinct Busan (Kyongsang-do) dialect.
In a late chapter of the manga, Tomo is testing Chiyo with some really bad brainteasers. In comes Osaka, the Cloudcuckoolander, who thinks out of the box and nails every one. As the translation notes mention, these were extremely hard to translate - a few required Woolseyism to work in English. For example, "What bird gets in trouble with the police? / Sagi" (where the answer translates as both "heron" and "fraud") becomes "There are five apples on a table. You take away two. How many have you got? / Two." However, they left one alone that worked in both languages: "A truck carrying pumpkins, eggplants and tomatoes approaches a sharp curve, what drops? / The speed" remains. "If nihongo (the Japanese language) is Japanese, what is eigo (the English language)?" changed. (The answer is "Japanese" - the word eigo is Japanese, as are furansu-go (français), doitsu-go (Deutsch), supein-go (espańol)...
The English dubs took a different route - they kept the same answers, but altered them mostly into puns. It doesn't always work. "What fruit do you eat in the summertime?" In Japanese: Persimmon (kaki) sounds like Summer (kaki). In English, "Persimmon, it's fer swimmin'!" "Who's always busting up cars?" In Japanese, "haisha" is both "dentist" and "smashed car". In English, someone who bangs up a car is a dent-ist. "What kind of bird doesn't get along with police?" In Japanese, as mentioned before, "sagi" is both "Heron" and "fraud". In English, "A rook", referring to both a crow and a card sharp (not to mention its similarity to the word crook). "Who built Osaka Castle?" In Japanese, the carpenter; in English, the mason. The Japanese/English and the truck riddles are unchanged.
Another episode has Osaka pondering the nature of hemorrhoids. In Japanese, she asks whether it's spelled as "ji" or as "chi" with a tenten (which sounds almost exactly like "ji"). In the English manga, she instead asks whether she would look under H (for hemmorhoids) or R (for 'roids) in a dictionary. The anime, however, left the entire conversation untouched.
The anime does leave in some visual aides though, so that the viewers won't be completely confused.
The dub also evidently has Osaka assume the cat to be Bill clinton instead of a former prime minister. Either way... it's an epically-failed spot check as there's no way that cat looks like any politician.
Similar to the Cyrano de Bergerac example, the original dub switched out Kuno's quoting of Japanese poetry for quoting of appropriate Shakespeare.
The Russian translation of the Ranma ˝ manga added the secondary title "Пол Ранмы" (Pol Ranmy), which can mean both "One half of Ranma" and "Ranma's gender".
The noticeably old-looking Lupin III (Red Jacket) was dubbed for the North American market with lots of pop culture references that certainly didn't exist at the time of its writing, much less in the original Japanese script. In addition to the pop culture references, bits of dialogue would frequently be adjusted to fit the Western audience, or sometimes to add a joke to a line that was played straight in the original. Despite this, the dub was faithful to the series, changing little more than the phrasing and delivery of some dialogue. Though it did create a problem when the cultural references in a show clearly set in the '70s were updated to something recent. Sadly (or thankfully depending on your point of view), once the TV deal for Lupin III ended, the dub dropped this convention and later episodes released to DVD are dubbed straight. Probably one of the best bits of new dialogue was when Zenigata had chased Lupin into a subway tunnel at night. When a train came by in the original, he just said there wasn't a train this late, and that there was anyway when it came. The dub changes it to this:
(train can be heard) Zenigata: Nah, must have just nodded off for a sec. Probably one of those sex dreams I've heard about. (train is coming down the tunnel toward him) Zenigata: This symbolism's very disturbing!
It is a great example of a Woolseyism, if you discount the fact that there wasn't much of an option of translating the show to begin with. The translators were given the raw Japanese footage — and no transcripts. So instead of having to work out all the dialog, puns, and cultural references, a whole script was written from scratch that is still considered to be good entertainment. Considering the general irreverent nature of the source material, this actually works.
Rumor has it they weren't even given the audio to go with the raw footage. The reason? Apparently the Japanese company wanted the show to be one giant Woolseyism to make it feel original in each country it goes to. It worked as the North American version in particular is noted by the creators as what they should have tried for in the first place.
It also has "Shinigami-sama" being changed to "Lord Death".
The anime has a good one with the Pronoun Trouble in relation to Crona. The English dub uses male pronouns for Crona, while characters do acknowledge that they don't actually know whether the Dark Magical Person is male or female. So when Medusa is telling Stein and Spirit about her child, and refers to Crona as "it", it just highlights how bad she is. The way the actress delivers the line makes your skin crawl.
Let's start with the name itself; in Japan the series is titled Shin Seiki Evangelion. Other changes included changing shito (messenger) to "Angel" and "Human Complementation Project" to "Human Instrumentality Project". Many of these changes were chosen by the creator.
"Angel" comes from the Greek angelos via the Latin angelus, both meaning "messenger".
Episode #14 has a show on the radio in Shinji's hospital room. The Japanese version is a one-joke stupid pet trick about a counting dog (playing on "wan" being both "bow-wow" and how a Japanese person would pronounce "one"; "what's 325 minus 324?") The talking pup is in the dubbed version, but his vocabulary is a bit larger, since the translation crew adapted an old joke about a talking dog. Of course, since it's Eva, they subvert it by jumping to the punch line without explanation. "Who was the greatest baseball player who ever lived?" "DiMaggio?"
Also from Eva, in the original Japanese version of the Alternate Universe segment at the end of the final episode, Gendo Ikari responds to his wife's questions with a series of disinterested affirmative "Mmm"s. In the English dub, they engage in playful banter instead... which, after the cold-hearted normal Gendo we've seen up to that point, can be either pretty unnerving or absolutely heart-melting.
[the sound of Asuka and Shinji fighting is audible in the background]
Yui Ikari: Asuka's so sweet to come pick him up every morning, and he doesn't appreciate it.
The infamous masturbation scene in End of Evangelion is followed by Shinji saying "I'm scum" in the Japanese version. His line in the dub is quite a bit more poignant, also reflective of his mental condition at this point: "I'm so fucked up."
The other instance of Precision F-Strike in the movie is surprisingly powerful as well: "SO FUCKING WHAT IF I'M NOT YOU?!"
In the Japanese script, Asuka refers to Shinji, Kensuke and Toji collectively as the "stupid trio". What's the English equivalent of that? "The Three Stooges"!
As much as they are mocked, the cadre of accents for the members of SEELE helped make the various members distinct and emphasized the fact that they were a multinational organization. Their accents were eliminated in the Rebuild dub.
The infamous Mind Rape scene in Episode 22 also translates well and is more unnerving because it has more... emotion in the lines.
In Evangelion: 1.0, a particularly egregious example of As You Know involving Ritsuko's explanation of Operation Yashima is turned into a sarcastic Let Me Get This Straight, which is (somewhat) less jarring than the original and plays right into Ritsuko's personality and relationship with Misato.
In episode 1, Ritsuko explains that the possibility of Unit 01 activating with Shinji is 0.000000001%, which has led their team to nickname it "the 0-9 system." Misato then asks if that means it won't work. In the original, Ritsuko replies that it's not a zero percent chance. In the English dub, she tells Misato that "it's '0-9', as in oni, a Japanese devil."note Which becomes something of a Logic Bomb considering that the series is set in Japan...
In the fifth episode of Samurai Champloo, Mugen is looking through an ukiyo-e catalogue and just gives a vague description of its lewd content (one fansub simply translates it as "Oh, oh. They're doing it."), while the dub gives his reaction as "damn, doin' it with a squid", which has the side benefit of further deepening the series' Anachronism Stew, since the painting referenced, Dream of the Fisherman's Wife, wasn't painted until about 200 years later.
The shonen fighting anime was translated into Italian by Enrico Carabelli as "I Cavalieri dello Zodiaco" (Zodiac Knights). Trying to convey for Italian viewers the same sense of mystery and awe that classical mythology, which they are all too familiar with, inspired in the culturally distant Japanese, he cranked up the "epicness" of the dialogues, added quotes from classical Italian poems and Dante's Divine Comedy, and generally raised the stylistic level of all dialogues. Though he also introduced a number of inaccuracies and misinterpretations of the original plot, the dub had exceedingly good reception; and to this day many Italian fans say that they don't actually like Saint Seiya, they like the Cavalieri.
On a similar note, the (really good, voice-acting wise) Latin American Spanish Mexican dub of Saint Seiya used the Italian opening translated into Spanish, and to this day, any Mexican born between 1985 and 1990 insists that the good opening is the one from Caballeros del Zodiaco.
Brazilian dub's Saga's laugh. Even if you don't speak Portuguese, you'll find it memorable. The redubbing did it as good as the original, and put a professional rock band to adapt the original Japanese openings into a nice Metal-driven Portuguese version, instead of the J-rock in the original version. It's claimed to be one of the best versions in the world, because not only includes the Woolseyisms of the Italian and Mexican versions, but adapt their own as well.
And then, there's Saga's "morra, Seiya" (Die, Seiya), which sounds extremely awesome and hammy as wells.
When Chrono Crusade was translated and localized, the staff researched and added 1920s slang to the dialogue. (The setting was America during the Roaring Twenties). To most viewers, it went pretty smoothly.
Unfortunately, the research was a bit too good, and sometimes ending up in the "Have a Gay Old Time" territory. For example, the dub used the word "bimbo" to mean a tough male (as per correct 1920s usage).
It originally relied quite a bit on Japanese popular culture humor and puns that would probably not be understood well in the US. The English dub kept the spirit of the show by removing them and instead using many English puns and culture jokes.
This results in many half-hearted puns coming out of nowhere, completely out of context, and sounding incredibly awkward. Good thing, then, that the show is supposed to be completely random.
Crayon Shin-chan's Funimation dub also had to modify the reference humor so viewers would understand them. To add the icing on the cake, a lot of the dialogue was fit for where it ended up: Adult Swim.
An early episode has Misty crying out "Mushi!" (bug) prompting Ash, in a cow suit, to reply "Ushi?" (cow). The dub has quite a clever workaround, "Maybe it's a Cow-terpie."
The pun and portmanteau-heavy names didn't translate with any degree of significance to non-Japanese ears. In every locale, new names were given to the Mons, with fresh puns - for instance, Hitokage (Japanese for "salamander" — lit. "fire lizard") was rendered into Charmander (char = to burn, mander = from "salamander"), which hinted at the little creature's ability. The names of the humans were changed too - for instance, Kasumi (meaning "mist") was changed to the luckily similar-in-meaning English name Misty. Strangely, Satoshi, an Only One Name, grew a surname in his Woolseyfied variant to fit the length and mouth-flaps - he became Ash (which sounds a little similar to 'Satoshi') Ketchum ('catch 'em' = Gotta Catch 'Em All, a clever tie-in of the series' then catchphrase to the character).
The most recently versions feature Dawn, as in Hikari means light, Dawn means sunrise, giving a beautiful meaning as the original version. Given that Pokémon USA is the American extension of the Pocket Monsters Team, it might be pretty much intentional.
Also, Team Rocket's dialogue, which is probably the most memorable part of the show.
And in the Latin American Spanish dub, where several Team Rocket jokes are re-written with Mexican slang and jokes on Latin American pop culture. It works depending on the dubbing team. Sometimes the Team Rocket trio gets memorable, genuinely funny, or meaningful dialogue, but the TPCI dub often has them spout constant rhymes, alliterations, and terrible puns, to the point of making watching them nearly intolerable.
When the motto changed (for all territories), there was complaining because the original was just that good.
Used in the Pokémon Special Manga where Bill, speaking in Japanese as though being from a different part of Japan, is given a Southern accent in English.
Another impressive Woolseyism in the Pokémon anime occurred in the second movie, Pokémon 2000. The movie involves a Prophecy Twist, with the relevant line in the prophecy being "The water's great guardian will rise to quell the fighting, but alone its song will fail, thus the earth shall turn to ash." The characters eventually realize that "turn to ash" refers not to destruction, but to Ash Ketchum. The Japanese version of the prophecy simply mentions "an exceptional trainer", eliminating the Prophecy Twist entirely.
In the same movie, Lawrence III stated that his collection started with an ancient Mew card. It being the first item in his collection wasn't stated in the original Japanese version itself, but rather in a promotional pamphlet that explained his backstory and gave the name of his airship. As the pamphlet was Japanese-exclusive, they added that tidbit in so that at the very least that part of his backstory is made clear to the audience, especially when said Mew card reappears.
A nonverbal variant also occurred in the English version of Movie 4. The original Japanese version's only hint at Samuel and Professor Oak's connection was during the credits when Tracey stumbles upon Sam's sketchbook in Professor Oak's closet. Although it was a common way to confirm a connection in Japanese media, America's media worked a bit differently, so 4Kids arranged to have the Japanese animators animate additional scenes that would foreshadow Sam and Professor Oak's connection to Western audiences.
In the Polish dub of Pokémon, Team Rocket's Catch Phrase uttered before they become a Twinkle In The Sky is "Zespół R znowu błysnął!" ("Team R shines again!"), making it deliciously ironic.
In "March of the Exeggutor", the inept magician was stated to wanting to go to Broadway to participate magic tricks in the Japanese version. The dub changed it to Las Vegas because Broadway is not a place where magicians would practice parlor tricks (unless he wants a career in stage production musicals...) whereas Las Vegas is more likely for people like him.
A very good one from the Italian dub. In "Hatch Me If You Can!", Jessie and James are disguised as Heidi and Peter from Heidi, Girl of the Alps. So what the dubbers did? They put lines from the Italian opening of that series in the Team Rocket motto. And it worked.
The Latin American Spanish dub of Magic Knight Rayearth replaced the girls'names with culturally appropriate equivalents. Therefore, Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu (light, ocean, and wind, in Japanese) became Lucy (from Lucía, a female name for "light,") Marina ("of the sea,") and either Anaís or Anemone (the first means "chaste" or "pure," reflecting the character's personality, the other is related to her element, wind.) Similarly, Magic Knight Rayearth 2's Nova was renamed Luz (literally "light.") Regrettably for the otherwise excellent localization, several other character names were victims of poor romanization or outright ignorance, such as Alcyone being renamed Alanis.note Albeit it's very probable she was named after the singer Alanis Morrisette, who was very popular in Latin America in that time. Interestingly, "Lafarga" was altered to "Rafaga"...which is correct, as the villains were all named for cars and the Honda Rafaga was the sister car to the Honda Ascot.
In the original anime, the title character finishes many of his sentences with "dattebayo", which means something along the lines of "...you know?" Adding "~ttebayo" to the last verb of a sentence is something children may do when an adult is studiously ignoring them. This was translated into "Believe it!" for the Viz dub, which suits Naruto's character well enough: Like "~ttebayo," it's an attempt to demand attention, and it's annoying. It also conveniently matches the mouth flaps. However, it was dropped after the second arc of the series.
The Brazilian version (based on the American) used something similar to "That's it!" ("Ă‰ isso aĂ!"), sorta like the original one. The Latin American dub used "ˇDe veras!" as the catchphrase. It roughly translates to "really!" (in the "seriously"/"not lying" sense). The mainland Spanish dub had "ˇVaya que sí!", which could be translated as "You betcha!" in English.
Rock Lee never uses contractions in the English dub to match with the fact he uses a very polite speech pattern in the Japanese version. To achieve a similar effect in the Latin American dub, he was given a military pattern of speech with an enthusiastic accent.
When Jiraiya is interrogating two ninja from the Hidden Rain Village, he threatens to turn them into frogs. In Japanese, "turn you into a frog" is "kaeru ni kaeru", so it's a pun using homophones. Jiraiya is then embarrassed when the two ninja don't laugh at his bad joke. In the english dub, he uses the terrible pun of "flog [them] into frogs" for the same effect.
The English adaption of the Korean manhwa Ragnarok gives several places and characters names pulled from Norse mythology, whereas in the original the names kind of brought together about a million different world mythologies; for example, a summoned dragon originally named after the Babylonian ocean god Tiamat was changed to Nidhogg. Of course, this created a different problem because the comic is supposed to tie into Ragnarok Online, which used the original names.
Ruri plays an edutainment game that has her pick out the kanji pronounced "ai." The dub gives her the irresistably obvious pun "the ayes have it."
The approximate doubling of Neon Genesis Evangelion shout-outs, since the two shows were dubbed by the same studio.
If the translator's notes are anything to go by, properly doing justice to Izumi's dialogue was enough to drive a man insane.
The Argentine dub of Serial Experiments Lain replaced the line that Lain tells to the gun-toting junkie from chapter 2, from vaguely prophetic nonsense to pure prophetic awesome. In the Japanese original, she says "No matter where you go, everyone's connected"; in the dub, however, she says "Nobody will escape, not even you, once everyone's connected".
Also, the voice that says the chapters' names was made much more scary and ominous.
The name "Wired" was also translated as "Nexus", which is much more descriptive and fits much better the context.
In Star Blazers, a toast originally made in sake is changed to a toast made in "water, from a favourite spring on Earth". At first it looks like Frothy Mugs of Water, but given the context, the change adds considerable depth and pathos to the scene. This comes up later, at the end of the series, and again, the scene is far more moving than it would have been with simple sake.
In the first episode, Mamoru Kodai refuses to retreat because he can't face the shame of defeat and prefers an honorable death in battle. Alex Wildstar (the dub version) refuses to retreat because he decides Avatar needs cover for the retreat. Essentially changing a Japanese version of Honor Before Reason (that American viewers would not understand) into a Heroic Sacrifice—and thus increasing the poignant effect of Alex's younger brother blaming Avatar for Alex's death.
The title character starts a club called 'Sekai o Ōini Moriageru Tame no Suzumiya Haruhi no Dan' (Haruhi Suzumiya's brigade which will greatly enliven the world), or SOS Brigade. In the English dub, this became the 'Spreading Excitement All Over the World with Haruhi Suzumiya's Brigade, a name which manages to get the same point across while maintaining the silly acronym.
An alternate translation is "Save The World By Overloading It With Fun: Suzumiya Haruhi's Brigade", which was originally made up by the fans but then adopted as official by the translated Light Novels.
Also, Kyon's "Supersize me!" comment about future Mikuru's breasts was not in the original Japanese dialog; it was an ad-lib by the dub's VA. In the actual dialog, he merely said "Huge!" when he saw her chest. Humorously, this line actually made it into the official English dub.
The line was actually translated the same way in a fansub that predates the dub by a few years.
Don't forget the opening credits for "The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina." In the original, Kyon is credited as doing "Other Menial Tasks," but the dub gave him a different title. What's a funnier and sadder name for his position? Chore Boy.
There was a cool Woolseyism in the official Russian dub, namely, the episode zero, which was a parody of low-quality fanmade movies. The original opening song of this episode featured a line of heavily accented Gratuitous English "Come on, let's dance". The Russian dub also featured this line, with Russian accent as heavy as the original Japanese one.
In the first chronological episode, after Kunikida drops his line of Kyon liking weird girls, the original Japanese is Kyon warning Kunikida not to say things to cause misunderstanding. The English dub had Kyon sarcastically telling him to speak louder so everyone can hear him. Fits his Deadpan Snarker attitude well.
In Haruhi-chan, at the end of episode 2, Kyon says "Yasu is the culprit". This is a Shout-Out to Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken (The Case of the Portopia Serial Killer), an old mystery game that is popular in Japan but little known elsewhere. This made some viewers outside of Japan confused. The English dub replaces the line with "The Butler Did It".
Sempai Kohai can often be a difficult concept to convey to Western audiences, especially when the characters explicitly mention such relationships between them, forcing some alternate ways of showing their relationship. For example, in Episode 46 of the Bleach dub, Renji addresses Hisagi as "sir" rather than "sempai", and in Episode 56, Yoruichi refers to herself as Soifon's "mentor".
One of the more bizarre villains in Dokkoida?!?! was Hyacinth, a bondage queen who could make her slave Pierre transform into various space critters via acts of BDSM. In the original Japanese, the joke was that Pierre would henshin (transform) through hentai (BDSM). When being told about this ability, the hero Suzuo gets the two meanings confused. The English dub attempted to retain the joke by calling this ability the Special Morph attack, referring to it as S&M attack for short and allowing Suzuo the same type of mix-up.
Apart from being renamed Oliver and Benji and Superchampions in Spain and Latin America, had every single name changed from Japanese to Western. Although this might look rather odd being everybody from Japan, the names stuck, and to this day, nobody in the Hispanic world knows who are Tsubasa Ohzora, Genzo Wakabayashi nor Kojiro Hyuga, but everybody knows who are Oliver Atton, Benji Price and Steve Hyuga.
Price is actually named Thomas Price in France, and Kojiro is named Mark Landers, both in the original series and the sequel.
Kojiro Hyuga is recognized in Spain as Mark Lenders, not as above.
The re-dubbing made it as Oliver Tsubasa, which sounded pretty badass, too.
This situation was also found in Hong Kong, but a smaller range of characters were renamed. In the three names mentioned above, Hyuga was kept, Genzo Wakabayashi was renamed Lam Yuen-sarm by dropping the kanji of "waka" and pronounce the rest of the name in Cantonese. Tsubasa was a more extreme example: he was called Dari Chi-wai, nobody know how that name came from, and it stuck.
Dai Chi-wai may be named after the actor working for TVB (the TV channel that dubbed the anime) who also belonged to the HK Stars Soccer Team. Also Misaki Taro was changed to Mak Tairoi with only the 'ta' kept, probably in part because one of the Kanji in the surname is pretty much Japanese exclusive.
Same in the Arab world. Everyone knows Captain Majid, few people know it's really called Captain Tsubasa.
Ah, Death Note. A story so intricate that it leaves very little room for changes of any kind... and yet, this little gem somehow snuck in:
Misa: I would never dream of living in a world without Light! L: Yes, that would be dark.
The Pioneer/Geneon dubs for both Tenchi Muyo! and El-Hazard: The Magnificent World both occasionally employed Woolseyism, usually for the improvement of the script. For instance, in the scene where Washuu has Tenchi restrained in her lab with the intent of getting a semen sample, the original Japanese dialogue makes her sound like a bored hooker offering options to her customer ("Should I use my hands, or my chest, or...?"); the English dub dialogue, on the other hand, plays up her whimsy without ever really disguising what she plans to do ("Let's shake the dew off this lily!").
Luffy, on an island with women who have never seen a man before, notices that the women are fascinated by his having testicles after he names them, and the Japanese word for testicles is similar to "golden balls." The English manga uses the euphemism "family jewels," to similar effect (this line is also present in the Funimation subtitles). In another case, while Magellan in the original script talks about Hannyabal going into soliloquy while criticizing him , which contains a pun on the word for poison (Magellan's powers), he complains that Hannyabal has a "venomous tongue" in the English manga.
The French translation of the manga has many ups and downs, but the ups are quite good, such as Emporio Ivankov's kingdom.
The English manga translates Kamabakka Oukoku ("Crossdresser-filled Kingdom") as "Kamabakka Queendom".
In another example, during a Captain Buggy-centeredBreather Episode, Buggy encounters a shrub man named Gaimon, who is basically a short Ambiguously Brown guy who wears a box as clothes. In the original Japanese version, Buggy asks him if he is a "boxed son," a play on the Japanese phrase "boxed daughter," which means a girl who has been sheltered her entire life. The Viz manga translated this as "boxer," with an entirely different setup, and the Funimation dub renders it as "Jack-in-the-box."
In Japanese, Kaku has a lot of verbal tics associated with old people. The English dub has him frequently use more old-fashioned words than the other characters, like "nifty" and address Luffy and Nami as "champ" and "little miss" when he first meets them.
The Italian version of both the anime and the manga changed the name of Emporio Ivankov's people from "Newkama" from "The Transformed"note In Italian "Transformati" rather than the usual "Trasformati". As in "Transformed into Transgenders". And they managed to insert it in the heavily-censored dub. (The manga still did it first.)
There's another pretty good one in the Kirby anime, where the Holy Nightmare Corporation is renamed "NightMare Enterprises" so that it abbreviates to "NME".
A line in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds is only funny in the context of the original, where Yusei is being marked a criminal and he mutters, "Is this supposed to tickle?" Taken in the context of the original, where they used a laser to etch a mark into his skin, well...
The dub, Bowdlerization aside, had its quota of Woolseyisms. The theme naming of Yugi and Jounouchi (Yu + Jou = Yujou, which means "friendship" in Japanese) was retained with Yugi and Joey; the Mei and Kyuu brothers (Meikyuu = Maze) were changed to Para and Dox (Paradox); and so on. Many jokes of the original version, which relied heavily on Japanese puns and cultural references, were changed fittingly for the dub, especially in the first season.
Pegasus's Dub Name Change was also notable. In the Japanese version, Pegasus was his given name, with his full name being Pegasus J. Crawford. The dub more appropriately made Pegasus his surname, and his first name became Maximillion, a fitting name that conveys his wealth and taste. Further cementing it as a Woolseyism, this was one of the few name changes that stuck for the English manga translation.
During the filler season, the dubbing and 4Kids famous Never Say "Die" policies probably had the unintended consequence of making Raphael continue to think Humans Are the Real Monsters. In the original version, Dartz drove the cruise ship he was on with his family into a tidal wave and only he survived, lived on an island for awhile, then after he was rescued, decided Humans Are the Real Monsters for no discernible reason. In the dub, however, Dartz drove the ship into a tidal wave, he was washed onto an island, then came back and his family supposedly forgot about him. Just about anyone would Madden Into Misanthropy if your own family "moved on" and didn't seem to accept you even when you came back after xx years...
Again, in the filler arc, the dub replaces Yami Yugi shouting "MONSTAH CARDO" with Dan Green's glorious poison-tipped snark.
"IT JUST ISN'T YOUR DAY!!!"
There's also Shizuka whose name was translated as "Serenity" in America. Not sure how Honda became "Tristan" and Anzu became "Tea" though...
The dub of the first Project A-Ko movie slipped in several extra jokes which proved to be pretty popular, such as C-Ko's rambling plot summary at the end (in the original Japanese she simply shouted "Yoohoo!" over and over.) The following sequels were all dubbed by another company, who played it pretty straight for better or worse.
Stephen Paul's fan-translation of Pluto, a manga by Naoki Urasawa (of Monster fame) based on a storyline from Astro Boy, gives President Alexander's speeches a repetitive, buzzword-loaded style based on that of George W. Bush. Considering much of the events that drive the plot originated in the Middle East, this is incredibly appropriate.
When Bandai began releasing action figures of the series, they romanized the name of Goku and Vegeta's alien race, Saiya-jin ("person/people of Saiya"), into "Saiyan" on the packaging of the figures. This term would later be used in the English adaptations of the anime and manga.
Unfortunately, in the Brazilian dub they originally just left the Saiyajin of the japanese, adopting the Saiyans only a few arcs later. Why is it bad? Because in Portuguese, it sounded something like "jean skirt", so for a good part of the anime they were called as a feminine wardrobe piece (granted, certain characters are named after womens' garments, but still)... It got a lot better after the renaming to Saiyan, since, although it is the English denotation, it works in Portuguese as there's no fixed rule to denote nationality. German is Alemăo, French is Francés, Spanish is Espanhol, American is Americano, Russian is Russo and Brazilian is Brasileiro, so you can see there's not much of a rule (although the -ă's denotation is somewhat common).
At least they made a nice Woolseyism out of Saiyajin in GT, when Palace/Paris is asked by a possessed Goten about Saiyajins, she mistakes it for, well, a jeans skirt.
Fat Buu also did so in the Funimation dub, in the episode where Goku showcases Super Saiyan forms (debuting SSJ3) he mishears it, asking "Super... Saiyajin?" This may have just been gibberish in the booth, but upon repeated viewings, it sounds far to similar for it not to be a subtle reference for the fans of the Japanese version.
The Latin American Spanish dub, however, didn't seem to decide itself on one or the other at first, and liked to throw around both "Saiyans" and "Saiyajin" ("Saiyan" and "Saiyajines", in their corresponding translated versions) at least once every two episodes. They get better, though, and end up deciding on a spanish-ization of the japanese name ("Saiyajines").
In one episode, Goku went to Hell and encountered Oni wearing shirts with the letters HELL. In the dub, this was Bowdlerised so that the shirts said HFIL which stood for Home For Infinite Losers. HFIL has caught on as an in joke amongst fans.
Which made for quite a funny joke later in the dub. At the beginning of the Otherworld Tournament saga, the Grand Kai asked Goku to take care of some business in H-F-I-L. Goku didn't quite know what he meant and King Kai reminded him about the Home For Infinite Losers and said "He's very fond of acronyms."
The translators of the original Dragon Ball were clearly having fun with the dialogue. Sample line from the shapeshifting pig Oolong as a beach umbrella: "That's me, bacon' in the sun..."
Also, Oolong saying "The world's most comfortable pair of underwear" instead of "The panties of a hot babe". Let's just say...the most comfortable pair of underwear makes it sound even more funny.
The Blue Water dub of the Dragon Ball anime had a good way of doing this bit. Pilaf starts asking for "supreme..." [rule over the earth, ect], then Oolong finishes with "COMFORT, IN A PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!"
Also from Dragon Ball, when Yamcha get's a accidental peek at a naked Bulma while looking for Dragon Balls, he simply mutters "mounds, mounds". The Blue Water dub of the anime had him say "Not Dragon Balls, definitely not Dragon Balls."
Several lines in the Dragon Ball movies were Woolseyisms. For instance, Doore originally didn't say anything when he was almost successful in crushing Gohan's head in the Japanese version, but the dub added in a line where Doore stated that his crushing Gohan's head is what he calls his "Can-Opener Attack". In Super Android 13, probably the movie with the most woolseyisms, The dub added in an exchange between Krillin and Oolong about waiting in line/cutting in line while waiting for a fashion show that ultimately didn't exist that was not said in the original Japanese version. Also, Androids 14 and 15 (as well as the titular form of the main villain) were originally for the most part silent, but the dub gave them a lot more lines, some of which added in hilarity. The store clerk who attempted to stop them in the department store was originally trying to greet them, but was changed to him stopping them in the dub. Logically, this made a lot more sense, considering that the androids also briefly destroyed some TV screens as well as caused collatoral damage down in the town. Broly's "Is that another word for a Coffin" response to Goku's requesting for a handicap was also a woolseyism.
The dub also changes Vegito's description of himself as the "strongest candy in the universe" to "a jawbreaker".
One of the perks of Funimation dubbing Dragon Ball Z multiple times (including the DVD versions and Dragon Ball Kai) is they get lots of practice getting the jokes just right. In their dub of Kai, while waiting on Goku to make it to the fight with Nappa, King Kai remarks "They should call him SLOW-KU!" In an earlier episode, when Goku barely avoids falling off Snake Way (since in Kai the filler episode where he goes to hell is omitted), he says a snarky "Note to self: don't go to hell."
The original Tetsuwan Atomu (Astro Boy) intro was instrumental. When NBC dubbed the show for their English audience, lyrics were added, sung by a children's chorus. The Japanese producers were so impressed, the following season a similar intro was created for Japanese audiences. This started the trend of animes featuring songs in their intros.
In the Japanese version, Kurz Weber is quite foul-mouthed. His English voice actor, Vic Mignogna, prefers not to swear unless absolutely necessary, and asked if he could tone down the dialog as they went. The guys in charge essentially said "As long as it works"; Vic responded by giving Kurz more jokes and witticisms, which do indeed "work" with his fast-talking The Casanova/Handsome Lech personality.
The Rugby episode from Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu. Whole quotes are ripped from Full Metal Jacket (the Japanese version may have come from an adaptation/translation for FMJ but the English dub used the source material)
The original introduction of Anderson in Hellsing TV has Alucard simply call him a pervert. The dub, on the other hand, has him bring in a conflict from the original otherwise absent from this version: "You Catholic!"
The English translation of the Negima! manga has some rough spots, but it compensates by throwing in some truly funny quotes not present in the original (Such as Negi meekly asking for a cookie when wedged between a woman's breasts), giving Eva some more snarky dialogue ["They who have the most guns, kick butt" and "Are you on CRACK!?"], and Makie's "His you-know-what's getting you-know-whatter!").
The dub by FUNimation of Negima!? is chock full of them. Examples include a reference to The Muppet Show regarding a pun on Mana's name (doo doo doodoodoo), Haruna belting out "All By Myself" in episode 19, and Large Ham Chris Sabat as the narrator referencing the song "Hungry Eyes". With all the chupacabra bits it's surprising Red vs. Blue didn't get a Shout-Out.
The teasing nickname "meatball head" as a replacement for "odango atama", which means "dumpling head", because an odango is a specific kind of small round dumpling, about the size of a meatball, and the same size as the balls of hair in the title character's hairstyle. In the West, saying "dumpling" would, of course, call to mind something much bigger and differently shaped.
It is also arguable that the changing of the main character's name was well thought out, still mirroring its original relation to the moon. Her original name, Usagi, means rabbit, referencing to the folklore of a Moon rabbit and possibly to her hairstyle as well. With the dub's Serena, as many are more familiar with, is a play on Selene, a moon deity in Greek mythology, and derives from her alternative name from the original Japanese version. It also introduces a nice bit of Theme Naming with that particular line. Serena was chosen because it comes from "Serenity" - her true mother's name. And Chibi-usa (which essentially means Usagi Jr) was changed to Rini, a shorthand for Serena. So the dub change has the daughter being named after her mother in some way.
Other fans may prefer the English translation of the manga, in which Usagi is renamed Bunny with the nickname "Buns" as both a short form of her name and a reference to her hairstyle. Although this does cause some weirdness with her future daughter also being named Bunny but nicknamed Rini (Serena/Rini in the anime dub and Usagi/Chibiusa in the original Japanese make more sense).
Setsuna Meioh, or Sailor Pluto's, name was changed in another well-thought-out case, going to "Trista". Setsuna can be translated something like "sad/lonely" and Trista comes from the Spanish word for "sad".
Haruka's name is translated to Amara. This name has two meanings - "bitter" and "to love". Haruka/Sailor Uranus is indeed very bitter about her mission but she is still able to love Sailor Neptune.
Even the fans who hate the NA dub seem to agree that they like DiC's music choices. One that specifically stands out is Carry On during the season 1 finale. It's rare to find someone who agrees that the Japanese piece was a better fit. See, Carry On was a song written specificly to fit the animation, and complements it quite well. The Japanese scene just used the Opening, and it was a very poor fit. Similarly, another song from that episode called A New Day tends to be seen in the same light. It was made to compliment the animation and was about the entire cast, while the original song was only about Usagi and Mamoru's love rather than the fact that the cast just entered a new phase of their lives. Ironically, despite both song choices being well liked they're in the dub episode most hated by a majority of the fanbase.
Despite her reason for existing at all, DiC's Zoisite has quite a fan following of people who were just that impressed by Kristen Bishop's performance. Enough that when she was announced as Emerald's voice actress, there was much rejoicing.
"Jupiter Thunderclap Zap" makes a whole lot more sense and is more fitting than "Sparkling Wide Pressure". Particularly since it ties in with mythology a Westerner is likely to be familiar with (the Roman god Jupiter was known for, among other things, hurling thunderbolts).
Her one-off attack in SuperS was called "Super Supreme Thunder" in the original, but renamed "Superior Sparkling Thunder" by Cloverway.
In the original Japanese finale of SuperS, Nehelenia hurls Chibi Moon off the rising remnants Dead Moon Circus, now thousands of meters in the air, down to the city, and before Sailor Moon dives off to save her, she glares at the queen and says the standard "I'll never lose to you" line. In the English dub this is changed to "I still pity you," which was fittingly poignant since many times earlier Nehelenia had flew into a vicious rage at seeing a sympathetic look towards her.
In the episode of Mimete's death, her replacement/murderer Tellu says "goodbye, idiot" before pulling the plug on the dimension warping machine Mimete was using to bolster her power. In the dub, Telulu says "Ta-ta, Mimet", which is a rather poignant callback to how she figured out Mimet was trying to steal her job. Mimet used a voice-altering device to pass herself off as Dr. Tomoe and tell Telulu over the phone that her job was cancelled, signing off with a "ta-ta", which Telulu immediately realized was something the doctor would never say. Telulu was smugly rubbing in Mimet's slip-up before killing her.
In the Latin-American dub of Sailor Moon, Queen Nehelenia uses rather archaic speech patterns without any contractions. It works very well, combined with her voice actress's contralto voice.
Viz's English translation of the Yakitate!! Japan manga does a pretty good job of translating the bad Japanese puns into just-as-corny English ones.
Brazilian dub. Both the old and new dub opted for adding many dated (and boy do I mean dated) puns and expressions to enhance humor (and, sometimes, even drama). It's considered extraordinarely funny or extraordinarily awesome; either way, the fandom really dug it.
The English dub made many similar changes. Among them include when Yusuke first arrives at Genkai's Tournament and sees the crowd of people vying to be her student, Yusuke originally just makes an Aside Glance on how weird everyone is. In the dub, it was changed to the very fitting "I haven't seen so many freaks since that comic book convention." Another was having a greater emphasis on the implied romantic relationship Genkai and Toguro once had, making their scenes together during the Dark Tournament more tragic.
Something similar to the Digimon example above, the woman who Raizen has a child with in feudal Japan speaks in Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe to convey the older language—in the subtitled version only, which is curious, considering the dub's love of this trope.
One that still gets the point across was in the anime. In the anime, there's a flashback where Sensui first met Itsuki and just as he was about to kill him, asked if he had any regrets. In the manga, Itsuki names a minor celebrity who would be performing on a show tomorrow that he wanted to watch, and it touched Sensui because he watches the same show, too. The manga was able to sidestep this by explaining who they were. The anime, however, only mentions that his favourite TV show was on tomorrow - with it being implied that Sensui had been surprised at how human the "Youkai" acted.
There's also the discussion about whether guys their age who asked out Kanata and Yutaka would qualify as lolicons; the dub uses the full "Lolita complex", which works for the most part but results in Soujiro insisting that he "also has a Lolita complex".
One scene involved Hiyori, Yutaka, and Minami getting ready for a game of dodgeball, with Yutaka and Hiyori on Minami's opposing team. The Japanese version had Hiyori screw up terms leading to very Unfortunate Implications before she shutting up. The English version has her use the terms "pound" and "nail" that have connotations that also lead to Unfortunate Implications of Hiyori's... interests.
When asked about how the English dub changed some of the jokes to things more familiar to a western audience, Shinichi Watanabe stated something to the effect of: "I don't care, as long as it still makes people laugh."
ADV gets extra props for not only preserving nearly all the jokes, but adding in new jokes where the joke is in the subtitled version, and its punchline is in the dub and vice-versa, acting as a little bonus for people who take the time to watch in both forms. They even went one better with the dub of Puni-Puni-Poemii!
The manga's English translation include an encyclopedia-like appendix at the end of each volume explaining the translation changes, the meanings and contexts of the original jokes, and why the translators weren't sure these would work for Western audiences. Overlaps with Cultural Translation, as many were pop-culture references or ended up as pop-culture references.
Transformers: Robots In Disguise has plenty, becoming much more popular in the US than its Japanese original, "Car Robots," was in Japan. Much of the cast and several story concepts were given the names of their closest counterparts from G1 and Beast Wars, making them returning beloved characters who speak in established series terminology. A ton of Mythology Gags were worked in as well, and all fitting perfectly - major bonus if you've seen the earlier series, while not the least bit confusing if Robots In Disguise is your first Transformers experience.
An extra one from the Italian dub: the Matrix Blade Omega Prime uses in the last episode is renamed "Space Halberd", the same name that was used for Grendizer's Double Harken, as an awesome reference to old-school mechas.
Transformers Cybertron was the same. Like Car Robots, Transformers: Galaxy Force has a cast of Expies which Cybertron also renames. We welcome back Jetfire, Hot Shot, Red Alert, and others instead of getting characters who look a lot like them, have the same roles as them, and yet totally aren't them. And being liberal with translations of lines makes characters' dialogue a lot more fun to listen to than the blander translations of Armada and Energon (even when they were accurate) yet without ever weakening scenes with forced attempts to make series lighter.
Also, Galaxy Force's insane reliance on Stock Footage as Filler became more bearable with new dialogue. (Optimus once even had time to realize a subordinate's unspoken plan and go over it in detail internally during a nearly-solid-minute Transformation Sequence as he went to Super Mode and then combined with Leobreaker.) There were also some unfitting plot elements that Cybertron makes much smoother.note Galaxy Force had characters able to make damn near anything happen just through Heroic Resolve, a feat known as Burning Justice but Cybertron connected it to the various magical artifacts that were around and being majorly underutilized in the original. Also, you know that sound Primus-related artifacts make, that only humans can hear, making the human sidekicks necessary? Not in Galaxy Force. At all. The Omega Frequency is 100% Cybertron. The beauty of it is how skillfully done it was - even major changes in mechanics never result in any confusion. Magic A Is Magic A even when Magic A has completely different rules from Magic Z in Galaxy Force.
And though making it a direct sequel to Transformers Energon had some less smooth aspects, it also added a lot to some of the characters. In Galaxy Force, "Master Megatron" (no relation to that "Megatron" guy from the unrelated Armada and Energon series!) happens to have design aspects that resemble the Unicron character from said unrelated series (who has nothing to do with to the unnamed dark god in the backstory of Galaxy Force!) and it is never commented on. On the other hand, Cybertron Megatron is the same guy from Armada and Energon... and his new ability to use magic aura willpower powerups is attributed to the "Armor of Unicron." It never fails to jibe with onscreen events - some of the feats Megatron does without explanation in Galaxy Force are so very much like the things Unicron's power was used for in Energon. The result is one Megatron who was used by Unicron in Armada and Energon but turned the tables on the Chaos Bringer, and in Cybertron is using what's left of Unicron.
Also, Starscream's being The Starscream instead of his Noble DemonArmada self may seem like quite an alteration of the character... but Megatron's "you'll always be a loser" speech to a supercharged 'Screamer in Cybertron recalls Armada Starscream's mentioning of lack of respect Megatron gave him after all of his then-genuine devotion... then saying Unicron took precedence over their personal feelings. By Cybertron, he's simply had enough, knows from experience the Autobot way won't work for him so a Heel-Face Turn is out... and Unicron's out of the way now. The gloves come off. In the original, Armada Starscream's pretty much the same in both versions, as is his returning in Energon to live and die a brainwashed pawn, and Cybertron Starscream just wants power. Dub Unicron Trilogy Starscream has all the badassitude of the original... and a hell of a character arc.
One character, Tomoko, has the nasty nickname Toroko, referencing her ditziness and clutziness. This is adapted as "Slomoko" in the translation. The Italian dubbers adapted that as "Tontako", which comes from "tonta" that means dumb or slow-witted.
There were massive variations between the dub and the sub, to such a great an extent that some characters had wholly different personalities and mannerisms depending on the translation.
In Bokurano, the kids agree to name the giant robot "Zearth", a play off the Japanese pronunciation of "The Earth". The official English translation explains the name by instead invoking Xtreme Kool Letterz.
An interesting (and oh so very famous) Woolseyism in the Brazilian version of Card Captor Sakura: "Aiaiai, Yukito!". Explaining - in the original version, Sakura always calls Yukito "Yukito-san". To help with the Lip Locking, the writers made Sakura say the quoted phrase; it doesn't have a direct translation, it's just a dreamy way to refer to him (something like "OMG Yukito!", but not that intense). They even made a joke, later in the series, in which she literally refers to him by that, as if "Aiaiai" was a part of his name. In one way or another the fandom fell in love with it, and it became Sakura's catchphrase in Brazil. In fact, many fans get disappointed when, by watching the subbed version, they see that it has no Japanese equivalent.
The Mexican dub of Inuyasha has a local Japanese joke becoming Shippo calling Inuyasha a "two-legged rat", in allusion to a famous song by Mexican ranchera singer Paquita la del Barrio.
The first couple of episodes of Darker Than Black are full of misleading informationnote Although much of it can be blamed on the fact that a lot of Contractors are lying pricks., some of which gives the impression that Studio BONES changed their mind about how the setting worked halfway in. Thus, the English dub switched several of Jean's lines to be more in line with how events are portrayed in the rest of the series, made some of Hei's behavior a bit clearer, and went the Pragmatic Adaptation route with Mao's incredibly-stupid-but-awesome line about Hei's Badass Longcoat being bulletproof only when he wears it by replacing it with one that was just as awesome and not totally dependent on the Rule of Cool: "Hei doesn't just wear that coat as a fashion statement, you know." * beat* "It's bulletproof." * Curb-Stomp Battle*
The dub has at least one English-exclusive gag per episode. One episodes has a character walk into a room and say "Let's go to that flea market! The one that's like a mini mall!"
Others include: "You can never hope to defeat us, for we are armed with the power of balls!", "I thought I smelled incest", "You really are a yuri girl in a yuri world." and "It's in her god-damned DNA!"
In episode 9, Milly (Cosplaying as a Cat Girl) greets Kallen with "Good morning-meow". The English dub changed this to "Good meowning". Later that same scene Lelouch says that Kallen doesn't need a costume; in the original he says it's because she's already wearing a mask, while in the dub he says she's already catty enough.
Then we also have the infamous "Euphinator" incident near the end of the first season, where Lelouch says the wrong sentence to the wrong person at the wrong time. The English dub makes it so that he still makes the mistake, but changes the actual sentence into something that a person might actually say in that situation. Admittedly, this might qualify or not depending on exactly which translation from the Japanese is used.
In the penultimate episode, Lelouch uses The Tape Knew You Would Say That against his brother Schneizel, which drew complaints for the fact that Schneizel is very intelligent and wouldn't fall for it the way Psychopathic Manchild Mao did. Compared to how the fansubbers initially translated this part, the dub seems to make it a bit more believable by making Lelouch's speech more vague, having him ask more questions, and removing a portion where he anticipates Schneizel's reaction and interrupts in precisely the right moment with precisely the right response.
In "Nunnally Held Hostage", the English dub changed Rivalz's complaint about Suzaku being "clueless" to a complaint about him being "emo". For anyone who's seen countless complaints from anime fans about characters (Suzaku included) being too emo, the English line is hilarious. Particularly because a)Suzaku's English voice actoralso voicesSasuke, one of the Emo Kings of Anime, and b) Suzaku responds to this remark with complete befuddlement, saying only, "Emo?"
In episode 11 after Kamina's death, Simon's speech about how Kamina's death hasn't stopped him and his friends from continuing their fight has a slower, more emotional build-up in the English version than in the Japanese.
Speaking of Kamina, in the original Japanese, his last words are "Farewell... Comrades...", but in the English version, he says "Later... Buddy...". A simple change, but it's obvious which one is the more touching, not to mention fits his personality more.
The first episode of Ouran High School Host Club ended with Haruhi joking that she should start calling herself "ore," the Japanese male equivalent of "me." Since America does not have any gender-specific first person pronouns, the English version ends with her deciding to start using "'dude' and 'bro'" more often.
In Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, Rin uses onii-sama to refer to her brother, the protagonist. Fansubs translated this as "dear brother", which works to humorous effect, as she generally uses the term in not very affectionate contexts (i.e. "did that leave you in despair, dear brother?")
The translation of the Gintama manga, by Viz, some of the jokes (particularly puns) get new translations that fit. At other times, the translations instead explain sayings and puns that are integral to the plot. Of course, since even in the original the main characters had Medium Awareness and No Fourth Wall, the translation will also include a Lampshade Hanging here and there about the original version and how some things just can't translate well or at all (producing new jokes in the process).
The English title is itself an example of a pragmatic translation. The original Japanese title, Hokuto no Ken, literally translates to the "Fist of the Big Dipper", which doesn't exactly carry the same connotation (Hokuto, the Japanese name of the Big Dipper, means the "Northern Ladle"). Since the Big Dipper asterism is often used to locate the North Star in the sky, the title Fist of the North Star is used in its place in order to convey a similar meaning, while maintaining its link with the Big Dipper.
The rival style of Hokuto Shinken is known in Japanese as Nanto Seiken, which is named after after the "Southern Ladle", a Chinese asterism equivalent to the Milk Dipper in the west. Most English adaptations localize its name as the "Sacred Fist of the South Star", contrasting how Hokuto Shinken is known as the "Divine Fist of the North Star" in English translations. However, other translations take it further by localizing its name as the "Sacred Fist of the Southern Cross", after an actual constellation. Its fitting, since the name of Shin's city (the first Nanto Seiken master to appear in the story) is "Southern Cross Town", and the symbol of Nanto Seiken itself is called the "Bloody Cross".
The American translators got a good one in in the first episode. In both cases, there is a memorable scene where Sonic, standing on a Formula One racecar, gets yelled at by the driver to the effect of, "What if some kid tries this?" In the original Japanese, Sonic duly warns any children in the audience not to stand on moving cars. In the American version, he takes the silliness (arguably mixed with real-world Fridge Logic) one step further:
Sonic: Kids, never use Formula One racecars to chase hedgehogs!
In Spain THE example of this trope would be Dash!! Kappei, known there as "Chicho Terremoto". Partly because the translation was made from the Italian adaptation, instead from the original Japanese. The characters all have Spaniard names and they explicitely say they live in Spain. And even though there were clear Japanese customs (like eating using chomp sticks and having Japanese characters written all over the place), the script adaptation was so thorough it was actually believable... and damned straight hilarious. Some of the catch phrases used in the series, like Kappei's/Chicho's trademark "ˇTres puntos, colega!" ("Three points, bro!"), became extremely popular in Spain during the early and mid 90's.
In the anime, when Siegfried makes his appearance, Honoka and Apachai mistake his name for a Coke float. The English dub changes this to them getting him mixed up with Stage Magicians Siegfried and Roy.
Also, at one point Niijima offers Kenichi some advice, leaving with the Vulcan salute. Kenichi, baffled, copies the motion, but doesn't comment on it. In the English dub, he mockingly calls him Dr. Spock.
In one scene in The Legend of Black Heaven, while visiting America Watanabe finds himself accidentally giving the middle finger to a Scary Black Man, not knowing what it means, and gets beaten up while being insulted for being a freaky tourist. In the original, although with Surprisingly Good English, the other man sounds like the first American tourist they found off the street; in the English dub, he is voiced by a Large Ham much more befitting the stereotypical Scary Black Man, and armed with even more Cluster F-Bomb than before. Compare the relatively bland "You want more, huh? Say hi to the people in Jersey for me" to "SAYONARA, fucker! I'm sendin' you back home!"
Even though the song was changed from the Japanese original, the U.S. theme song for Mameshiba keeps in spirit from the original: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngHAHM8pv_0 (It even has a version of the original "One-a-day trivia... la, la, la, la" tagline from the original song at the end.)
The Funimation dub takes its liberties with gags that either don't translate well from Japanese or would otherwise sound fairly awkward if translated word-for-word.
Lucy often shuts herself inside Horologium, a talking clock, who is soundproof from the inside out, requiring Horologium to relay her messages to those outside and ending them with "...is what she says." The dub takes this one step further by having Horologium mention how Lucy says what she does, such as "...she yells furiously" or "...she asks tearfully."
Cancer has this tendency to end his sentences with "-ebi" (which means "shrimp", despite the fact that he's supposed to be a crab), which completely catches Happy off guard when he first expects Cancer to say "-kani" (which means "crab"). In the Funimation dub, Cancer ends all of his sentences with the word "baby" instead, which ruins Happy's image of him (that and the fact that he didn't expect such a badass-looking guy to be some lame hairstyler). The French dub stuck close to Japanese with Cancer finishing all his sentences with "homard" (lobster).
Juvia's Third-Person Person characteristics are dropped virtually in their entirety, since they have a completely different connotation in America (where it usually portrays someone as self-centered and arrogant) than it does in Japan (where it signifies youth and/or immaturity). She also drops the "-sama" she adds to Gray's name in the original Japanese version, instead calling him things like "my love" and "my dear". Somewhat hilariously, Gray takes absolutely no notice of her terms of endearment whatsoever.
One of the characters in Togainu no Chi, Gunji, is unable to tell the difference between cats and dogs. This leads him to calling the Vischio's "dog" (actually a boy who has undergone Body Horror) Tama, a common name for cats in Japan, while calling a stray cat he finds Pochi, a common name for dogs in Japan. The translation changes these to Mittens and Poochie respectively.
The protagonist of Kyo Kara Maoh! is made fun of for his name, Yuri Shibuya, because of an alternate translation of "Yuri" and the fact Shibuya is a district in Tokyo, creating the joke "Shibuya Yuri, Harajuku Furi". (Literally, Shibuya's at an advantage, Harajuku's at a disadvantage) Rather than use a joke that wouldn't make sense without an explanation, the dub simply changes it to "Yuri is short for urine." He still uses Harajuku Furi as an alias, though.
The Mon Colle Knights English Dub contained Lull Destruction. One use of it was actually rather creative and turned one into a Running Gag. During the launch sequence, one of the characters (Gluko) would ask a logical question of some kind and start a debate with Eccentro and Batch. They talk about it for awhile during the launch sequence before Batch and Eccentro get tired and say, "Never mind, Gluko!"
The intro to Chirin No Suzu has a narration explaining the symbolism and moral of the movie, just in case you didn't get it. In the Japanese version it's just quiet (and to foreshadow that this wasn't some cute kids movie).
There is also the detail that Gainax, the Studio that produced the show asked the dubbers to make sure that made the dub as profane as possible, with the goal in the mind that the Japanese could learn more English cursing to use for Japanese.
One of the main protagonists of Part 7 of Jojos Bizarre Adventure is Gyro. In Italian, a person would pronounce that "Ghiro", meaning dormouse. Solution? Write it as J.Lo (Pronounced fairly close to the original "Gyro" in Italian.) The fact that it's also an Araki-style music Shout-Out (to Jennifer Lopez) is just icing on the cake.
It's no doubt that Vision of Escaflowne really wouldn't fit on a Fox Kids timeslot, but some people actually find the dub's theme song to be better than the original. When said about a soundtrack by Yoko Kanno? This is quite impressive.
In Nabari No Ou, a thug mockingly calls Yoite a "shinigami" due to his ability to kill people instantly without touching them. The Yen Press translation changed this to (what else?) "Grim Reaper".
"June Bride": the bride is told that her favourite drink (lemon tea) is for kids, and that it'll "rot her teeth". In addition, her childhood friend used to give her tea from a candy shop his parents ran, which is part of the reason she still drinks it into adulthood. Because kids almost never drink tea in Western countries (even ones that're probably loaded with sweeteners and sugar like the tea is), they changed the drink to "lemon punch". Punch is definitely something kids are more likely to drink in the West, and they're pretty sugary so the point about rotting her teeth still gets across; it's a common phrase parents and dentists use to get kids to not drink sugary drinks.
In one case, a person using Ran as her alibi is surprised that her father is the famous detective Kogoro Mouri.note It's actually highly possible that she didn't know - Ran looks almost nothing like her father. "Mouri" was changed to "Moore" in the English dub. Both aren't uncommon surnames, so viewers can readily accept that she didn't think they were related.
"Billionaire Birthday Blues": Moore sees the first victim with his head in the fountain. In the subtitles, he says "This is no time to be sleeping" but in the dub, wonders if he's feeling alright because, well... if you saw that scene, would you think someone's sleeping?
The Hungarian dub of Slayersrenamed Lina Inverse to Verselő Lina, roughly "Rhyming Lina", and accordingly, her episode recaps and previews, as well as her magic spells are all rendered in verse (Inverse - in verse, get it?), often utilizing very Painful Rhymes. The script also inserts a couple of jokes into scenes where there were none, making up for those that couldn't be (or plainly weren't) translated. Although as the series progressed, a lot of the Woolseyism got toned down, but to keep it from becoming an Inconsistent Dub, the rhyming stayed.
The Hungarian dub of Slayers is a Good Bad Translation. The fans love it to death despite its flaws, and the first three series spawned a more than 70 pages long errata forum. The biggest problems with it stemmed from the translator being clearly clueless about fantasy, the translator changes and never comparing notes. This resulted beginners mistakes like trying to translate things that should be left alone (monster names, character names etc.), but also unbelievable ingenuity in places (for example most spell incantations. At least the Sárkányiga / Dragon Slave one is memetic).
G Gundam: Chibodee Crocket, the American Fighter, has an informal and competitive personality, and often refers to his opponents by their nationality rather than name. In the original, this lead to him saying things like "Hey, Japanese!" to Domon... which has obviousUnfortunate Implications for American audiences. The dub changes it to "Hey, Neo-Japan!" instead.
Steins;Gate makes frequent use of 2chan memes, as several of the characters are frequent posters of the Image Board in question. Most translations - dub, sub, official and unofficial alike - switch these out for more familiar English memes found on 4chan, Reddit and Livejournal.
The English dub of the Virtua Fighter anime changes some of the dialogue to make some jokes work better or makes other bits of dialogue more comedic. It also makes some of the characters like Pai and Jacky more snarky. One notable thing it did was, during the explanation of special moves Once an Episode, the English narrator would exaggerate the last adjective, such as "This technique makes the fighter invincible!" Another example, in one episode where Akira needs to wear a purple suit, he says it makes him look like a pimp. Overall it works and gives the series a bit more flavor that wouldn't get through on a literal translation or subtitles alone.
Ika/Squid Girl has a Verbal Tic in the original Japanese, using de geso (or Squid Tentacles) instead of other copula such as desu. Since English doesn't really have an equivalent, they went with the titular character using marine life puns (You bet your beak, inkvade, and of course, You gotta be squidding me!).
While there were still cuts in the dub of Speed Racer, they did try to keep true to the Japanese dialogue as much as possible.
In the dub, the "Ninjas" were instead referred to as "assassins" - Which is actually correct.
In Robotech, there are several changes to the script that actually make sense no matter where you stand on the debate.
Roy Fokker's name was originally transliterated as "Roy Focker" in the original Japanese Macross. Not only does the Robotech spelling more correctly suggest the homage to the World War II aviator Anthony Fokker (as was the original intention, but it keeps the name from sounding like a Cluster F-Bomb.
Episode #18 has a scene where the three Zentraedi spies are teased by the Bridge Bunnies about having a Minmei doll. In the original, Sammie jokes Rori (Rico) in a friendly manner for being a Lolicon but neverthless thinks he's cute and drags him off to a disco for some fun. In Robotech, Sammie just finds it a little dorky and doesn't use any terms that relate to sexual perversion. In Japan, Lolicon's are considered a little weird in their fetish for young girls, but ultimately harmless. In the American culture, it would not be acceptable for a woman to find a man cute because he likes dolls, especially not in the current Pedo Hunt climate.