These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Acceptable Targets: Asterix encounters people of many different nationalities, their idiosyncracies all good-naturedly spoofed. Except in Asterix and the Goths, in which the Goths are depicted as even more villainous than the Romans, not a single one of them possessing any redeeming qualities. Throwing their entire nation into centuries of war so they can't invade others is seen as a heroic act. This is somewhat understandable considering that the Goths are early Germans and the comic was written not too long after World War II. Later appearances by the Goths (for example in Asterix the Legionary) rectified this.
Asterix in Corsica was ridiculously successful upon its release in France, and for a while it was the best-selling title in the entire history of the series (a title that has since been taken by Asterix at the Olympic Games worldwide, although Asterix in Corsica is still the most successful in the French language). In other countries, it wasn't exactly hated per se, but it was definitely one of the less well-received comics, since most non-French readers don't know enough about Corsica to fully understand the jokes.
Also the reason why Asterix and the Banquet took some time to be translated into English despite being one of the earliest stories in the series (and featuring the origin of Dogmatix), as the publishers felt that non-Francophones would not be able to get all the French regional jokes.
Awesome Art: Even when the plots are lacking, Uderzo's drawings make for good reads. The Art Shift in The Class Act even shows his versatility.
A straight example in the animated Asterix and Cleopatra. "When you're eating well, you're well..." The Dutch version of this film even cut this entire sequence. And you know what? You don't miss it all, nor do you ever have the feeling a part of the story is missing.
Mission Cléopâtre has one where the Relax-o-Vision provides an educational film on crawdads instead of the fight.
Asterix and the Falling Sky may qualify as a Bizarro Episode due to everyone's memories being erased.
The singing bath scene in the animated version of Cleopatra serves no real purpose (except maybe animated Fanservice).
Quite a few scenes in the animated film The Twelve Tasks of Asterix are far more absurd and surreal than the comic strip (a man throwing a spear around the world, a man running faster than the wind, skull tennis, the subway scene while Asterix and Obelix are in the Cave of the Beast, the circus scene...)
In Asterix and the Magic Carpet, the characters have arrows shot at them while flying over the city of Tyre, and nobody ever explains why.note Tyre, in French, is pronounced the same as "tire", meaning "shoot", i.e., shoot arrows.
It's more of a Brick Joke for people who have read an earlier Asterix book, the one where they are looking for petrol in the Middle East. In that one, they are running into several separate ethnic groups (Assyrians, Medes etc.) who invariably greet them with a hail of arrows before apologizing and explaining that they took them for members of another group.
Asterix and The Actress has a very odd segment in which Asterix starts jumping twenty feet in the air, yelling in excitement, swimming out to sea, and being rescued by a dolphin. The context doesn't help much.
Critical Dissonance: The live action movie adaptations' critical reception ranged from well received to trashed. All of the movies were box-office successes but the second movie (Mission Cleopatra) is the only one well received (and none of the others reached its massive success in France), due to its particular kind of humor. The third (The Olympic Games) is considered the worst.
Designated Villain: On paper, the Romans are the villains, The Empire that tries to defeat La Résistance. However, in many stories the Romans are not really trying to do that, they are just at their own business, with the Gauls simply getting in the middle of it.
In fact, the majority of legionaries are nothing more than punchclock villians, poor conscripts suffering from the Empires expansion.
In "Asterix and the Goths", the Romans are worried because the Goths have invaded Galia. Both Goths and Gauls pass the frontier and roam in the forest, and the Romans are completely incapable of doing anything about it.
In "Asterix at the Olympic Games", the Romans simply want to send a champion to the games and get the glory. When the Gauls find out about the games, they send their own champion, under the pretense that they are allowed to go as Romans because Gaul is part of the Roman World (despite the village obviously resisting the occupation).
In "Asterix and the Normans", they saw a fight in the beach between Gauls and Normans, and just tried to return to the fort and avoid any problem. The new "by the rules" legionary had them return there and try to stop the fight... with the expected results.
In fact, the roles are reversed in "Asterix and the Laurel Wreath", where Asterix and Obelix go to Rome and carry out a complex plan to steal Caesar's laurel wreath. The Romans did not do anything, and the Gauls wanted to steal from them. And not for an honorable reason: just for Vitalstatistix to gave a Take That to his brother-in-law. The death sentence on Asterix and Obelix does not count either: Asterix himself pled to be sent immediately to the Circus for punishment of their crime... thinking that Caesar would be there, with his laurel wreath.
Dogmatix was introduced as a visual gag in Asterix and the Banquet, and it was intended that he would not appear again after that book. He proved far more popular than Goscinny and Uderzo anticipated, however, and rapidly ascended to being one of the most important characters in the series.
Obelix, while Asterix's partner, is generally more popular. His lack of mental faculty, combined with his numerous catchphrase, childish behaviors, proneness to misunderstanding things make him a far more memorable character than the relatively bland Asterix. The authors picked up on it quickly, so much that except for the two very first books, Obelix almost always share the spotlight equally with Asterix.
Fanon Discontinuity: Most fans would rather believe Asterix and the Falling Sky never happened. Justified in that the characters all had their memories wiped of the incident. Others prefer to entirely ignore the books written by Uderzo and only read the ones written by Goscinny.
Harsher in Hindsight: The ending of Asterix and Son turns into this when you realize that, assuming the history of the Asterix universe is the same as ours, Brutus will get his revenge by eventually assassinating Julius Caesar, Cleopatra will commit suicide, and baby Caesarion will eventually be the final Pharaoh of Egypt, ultimately ending with Egypt being annexed by Rome and Caesarion (or Ptolemy XV as he will then be known) being executed on the orders of his other adoptive brother, Augustus Caesar.
The animated Asterix and Cleopatra adds several scenes not found in the book which have no real purpose and are sometimes strange, having no relevance later. It stretches the film just to feature-length, at about 70 minutes. In the Dutch version the musical number where Obelix sings about food was cut and it seriously reduces the amount of padding.
The later Uderzo albums are especially bad at this. In Asterix and the Magic Carpet, half the book focuses on the Wacky Wayside Tribes on the magic carpet voyage, which have no relevance to the main plotline other than to stall time.
Tear Jerker: At one point in Asterix in Belgium it starts to rain and does not stop for the rest of the album. It is treated as a joke about the Belgian weather, but in Real Life the beginning of the rain marks the point where Goscinny died.
Note that for Baba (the black pirate lookout), this is justified as being part of the spoof of Le Démon des Caraïbes, since the character he's parodying also speaks like that.
There's also Asterix and the Secret Weapon, where the character who introduces feminism to the Gauls is an unscrupulous Straw Feministwilling to betray her nation, and an all-female Roman army recruited because a Gaul would never hit a lady is defeated when the Gaulish women build a shopping mall. Also, the women of the village are the ones preparing the ending feast — as ascertained in several albums — but are never there for the celebration, being basically reduced to servants.
In Asterix and the Great Crossing, Asterix and Obelix become Mighty Whitey to a group of Native Americans who speak mainly in grunts. The other people from different cultures that they meet are much more competent.
Weird Al Effect: The pirates are a parody of another French-Belgian comic book series, Barbe Rouge, with the same characters reused. This series has become quite obscure nowadays, even in France and Belgium, and owes recognition mainly due to Asterix.
Woolseyism: Essentially, the editors know they have to get top-notch translators for Asterix: it's a famous series, known for its puns and other such gags that need good translators. Plus, Uderzo and Goscinny lent full creative freedom to the translators to make all the changes that were necessary, as long as the comedic intent was maintained.
The much-loved English adaptation of the original French dialogue added new jokes whenever they wouldn't translate well — e.g. the character's names. Due to the extreme levels of wordplay in the French originals, Woolseyism is essentially the only option. The English translators have said that because they could not translate the puns, they compromised by making sure that every page has the same number of jokes as the French original. The English adaptation even changed some drawings if a reference was too difficult for English readers to understand.
It wasn't just the English translation. Nearly all of the translations were extremely well done. See the Italian example above.
In the Spanish versions of the stories, not only are the names mostly unchanged (since Spanish is a Romance language just like French), but the translation is absolutely hilarious and does use many Spanish expressions in place of the French ones. It says something that there are quite a lot of quotes from the books that reached full Memetic Mutation in Spain.
Even moreso in the case of the Catalan version: since Catalan sounds like a mix between Spanish and French, it's probably the most faithful translation, since lots of puns can be translated more or less directly.
And let it be known that the Brazilian Portuguese version is also excellent!
The Italian dub of the movies has the Romans speaking in Rome's dialect.
However, there was also the terribly Macekre'd German "translation" Siggi und Babarras, where the translator substituted the light-hearted humor with heavy-handed politicalAuthor Tracts. Goscinny and Uderzo quickly withdrew his publication rights. Later, a new (and real) German translation was started, with the same high quality of other translations.
The original Dutch translation wasn't very good either. The translators missed a lot of puns and allusions and translated many lines straight. Even the names of the cast were kept identical, instead of inventing new names. Since the late 2000s the entire series has been retranslated in a much better way.