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Dub Personality Change

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This trope occurs when a translation changes a character's characterization compared to their original personality.

This is usually due to Values Dissonance, cultural differences, or marketing reasons. A character's personality might be more acceptable at home than it is in other cultures, so translators soften them up or otherwise edit their dialogue. Othertimes, it's also a case of Character Exaggeration or an attempt at making characters less cute or goofy. Tropes Are Not Bad as, though most people associate this trope with bowdlerization, it can work and sometimes is even preferred by many fans.

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Compare to Adaptation Personality Change, for when adaptations change a character, and Cultural Translation, for when details get changed to fit cultural differences. Can be the result of She's a Man in Japan.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Cardcaptors English dub of Cardcaptor Sakura took several liberties with the characterizations of the cast, largely to make them more palatable to American culture at the time:
    • Sakura was made more tomboyish and plucky, with a greater sense of sarcasm. A lot of her more innocent or vulnerable moments such as scenes of her crying or generally acting like a small child were also cut down to make her more precocious and mature, while in the original she is pretty much The Cutie in-universe.
    • Syaoran's crush on Sakura was heavily trimmed down from Official Couple to mild hints. He held a grudge against Sakura becoming Master of the Cards to improvise against his screen time and awkwardness revolved around this, while in the Japanese edit he had pretty much lost all sense of rivalry towards Sakura by then.
    • Similarly Tomoyo (renamed Madison) had her delusional crush on Sakura written out in favor of her just being a Camera Fiend.
  • Cowboy Bebop: Spike has a pretty different personality in the original Japanese language and similar changes were made with a lot of characters. In the original, Spike was presented much like a typical anime character who uses Obfuscating Stupidity—with a goofy voice and mannerisms much of the time and then a stereotypically gruff and hardboiled voice in action scenes or serious, dramatic moments. In contrast, his English dub voice, Steve Blum, has a gruff-voice, to begin with. He voiced Spike with a more subtle personality and less change in his voice tone/personality between comedic and serious moments, presenting Spike as having an undertone of world-weariness at all times.
  • Shizuka from Doraemon is a notably ladylike girly girl with Yamato Nadeshiko traits in the original version. In the English dub, her personality has been partially rewritten as more tomboyish and athletic (although her kind and sweet nature remains) and her official bio for the USA release even states that she is often seen playing sports.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • For the English dub of Dragon Ball, Goku underwent a case of Adaptational Nice Guy, being a great deal nobler and having his more selfish traits toned down. He's also noticeably smarter than his Japanese counterpart, not above using technical words instead of speaking like a country bumpkin.
    • The Ocean and Funimation dubs of Dragon Ball Z made significant changes to Frieza, turning him into an androgynous brute who talked tough and had a Hair-Trigger Temper. They also gave him a fondness for puns and some rather homoerotic dialogue. The Funi dub of Dragon Ball Kai, however, kept his Japanese characterization as a sophisticated, regal, and superficially polite tyrant who only expressed anger after being severely provoked or in response to things going pear-shaped for him.
  • When GoLion was adapted to the west as Voltron, quite a few characters went through this, but Prince Lotor has the most dramatic change: from total scumbag and Stalker with a Crush to honorable Anti-Villain. This was initially due to censorship—the dubbers knew they’d never get away with some of the stuff Lotor does in the original, but the purely original third season went all the way with it. The later Western adaptation decided to split the difference by fusing the two portrayals, depicting Lotor as a charismatic Manipulative Bastard who’s not good, but definitely better than Zarkon.
  • The English dub of Naruto has been known to harden up some of Sasuke's dialogue and making him seem less affectionate towards his wife Sakura in Boruto (and the Boruto-related games).
  • Pokémon:
    • In the Japanese version, Misty was a Proud Beauty who considered herself the World's Most Beautiful Woman. This element was absent in the 4kids English dub and several other dubs, making her a more humble-seeming character. In fact, the dub made her out to be Hollywood Homely instead. When she reappeared in Alola, the new dubbers (TPCi) kept Misty's comments about her beauty, as did Pokémon Yellow.
    • Gary was a nicer and more respectable character in the Japanese episodes of the original series. He and Ash are friendly rivals (though he does have some bratty aspects nevertheless). The English dub made him more similar to his game counterpart, Blue, by making him meaner and having Ash's friends hate him. This was ultimately reversed by the end of the original series, making Gary into a far more subdued character.
    • In the original version, Meowth is largely a philosophical and rather soft-spoken character, while in the English dub, he has more of a Brooklyn tough-guy demeanor (though far from void of some of the Japanese version's wistful moments). His, Jessie, and James' ditziness is also regularly flanderized in the English dub.
    • The dub downplays Lillie's very soft spoken and formal dialect from the original, making her almost a Genki Girl in some scenes. This also causes her to be a case of Adaptation Personality Change as Lillie is timid in her source games.
  • Sailor Moon: The DIC/Cloverway dub mostly flanderized the characters' personalities, i.e. Serena was even dumber than Usagi, Raye, Amara, and Michelle even meaner than Rei, Haruka, and Michiru, etc., but there were at least two instances where the personality was flat-out changed. It gives the impression the dub writers wanted to make them "more relatable" to your average American viewer.
  • The Italian dub of Sgt. Frog makes Angol Mois less naive than she was in the original version, removing her malapropisms and her "or perhaps should I say..." Verbal Tic. She also refers to Keroro as "Sir Keroro" or "My Prince Charming" rather than "Uncle" (albeit this can be also seen as a translation error since "ouji-sama" can mean both "uncle" and "prince").
  • The 4Kids Entertainment dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX frequently adds and changes the dialogue in order to add more jokes. As a result, many characters become goofier and sometimes have quirks that were never there in the original:
    • Princess Rose, a one-off duelist, is changed from a gentle Princess Classic into a trash-talking Valley Girl. Pretty much all her dialogue is rewritten to include some sort of vain or bitchy remark.
    • Abidos the Third is a stoic, no-nonsense antagonist in the original version. He always suspected that his servants were losing to him on purpose and seeks a real challenge. In the dub he has no idea of his lack of skill and is a bragging Know-Nothing Know-It-All, setting up the Humble Pie he is eventually forced to eat.

    Film — Animation 
  • In The Frog Princess, when the protagonist comes to Baba Yaga's hut and she asks him where he's going, he snaps at her that Sacred Hospitality should come before questions. The English dub instead has him flattering her like a sycophant.
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    Live-Action TV 
  • In the French dub of ALF, the titular character (voiced here by Roger Carel) speaks in a gentler and slower tone that makes him sound more mellow and nicer than how he was in the original American writing.

    Video Games 
  • Paula from EarthBound in the Japanese version was weak-willed and passive. In the English version, she was rewritten to be tougher and more forceful to appeal to Western audiences as well as because the localizer, Marcus Lindblom, disliked the Japanese standards for women. A notable demonstration of this change in personality is the scene where Ness rescues Paula. In the English version, Paula says that if Ness hadn't come, she would have had to bust out herself. In the Japanese version, however, Paula instead said that she was going to cry if he hadn't come. Another change made in the localization that would highlight Paula's change in personality would have been changing her weapon from a Frying Pan of Doom to a blowgun, but this had never come to pass and the frying pan was kept.
  • Final Fantasy VII:
    • In the original Japanese, Cloud's dialogue was riddled with clichés and took a more condescending and mouthy attitude towards AVALACHE during the opening, strengthening the idea that he's an immature poser trying to embody somebody else's personality. See Lost in Translation for more.
    • Aerith's characterization was changed in translations. Despite her cute appearance, Aerith has a somewhat stubborn personality and an informal way of speaking due to her upbringing. This was Lost in Translation which makes her closer to The Ingenue. Her personality from the translations ended up becoming canon due to flanderizing Aerith's sweetness into an Incorruptible Pure Pureness.
  • In Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, the Black Knight was a Noble Demon in the Japanese version, but was made far more sadistic and sinister in the localization, presumably to make the character who killed Ike's father more of a Hate Sink. This caused several problems in the sequel, Radiant Dawn, where he reverted to his original Noble Demon personality. Micaiah and Levail both consider him a Knight in Shining Armor, which clashes with his previous portrayal, and much of the foreshadowing towards his true identity (the honorable General Zelgius) is lost.
  • The English localization of Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn heavily re-wrote most scenes involving the infamous Blood Pact in an attempt to make it less of an Ass Pull. As a result, Micaiah underwent a major personality change. In the Japanese version, she was passive and resigned to her fate, making no attempt to fight against it. In English, she's much more proactive, a Hope Bringer, and actively searches for a way to break the curse. This is especially evident at the end of 3-13 and the beginning of 3-E, where the English version changed what was originally a Despair Event Horizon into a Eureka Moment.
    Jp Micaiah: “There’s no longer anything we can do… There is only one path left for Daein… and that is destruction…”
    En Micaiah: “There is… one person who holds a glimmer of hope for all of us.”
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, the main protagonist Rean underwent a subtle change to his personality. While he typically has a softer side, bordering on a Team Dad to his friends, the Japanese take on the character speaks in a more formal tone to his companions most of the time. Sean Chiplock voices Rean with a subtly warmer tone with slightly snarky dialogue, either directed at his friends or more often his own shortcomings. It's widely seen as an improvement, helping to take the edge off his status as an Escapist Character. The fact that the English PC release contains twice the number of spoken dialogue with newly dubbed scenes also helps.
  • In Splatoon 2, Iida is a very soft-spoken character who calls her partner Hime "sempai". Iida greatly admires Hime and is even a bit of a fangirl towards her. This makes her a Contrasting Sequel Main Character to Marie from Splatoon. The original English translation gave Marina more sass and bite, making her more similar to Marie's dynamic with Callie. She'd often tease and belittle Pearl (however her body language implies she's being more playful than Marie). An update released a few weeks post-release added new dialogue that softened up her character. The translations also subtly changed Marina and Pearl's relationship. In Japan, they're actually on a Last-Name Basis. This, combined with Iida calling Hime "sempai", shows that they're not quite close and aren't equals experience-wise. In translations, they have a very friendly, mutually teasing way of talking to each other that shows they're good friends.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: In the Mega Drive era, Sonic's personality wasn't defined in-game and thus he was marketed differently depending on the region. In Japan, he was laidback and nice while elsewhere he was a Mascot with Attitude. Sonic Adventure is when his Japanese personality began appearing in-series, however Sonic Colors added some sass to Sonic.

    Western Animation 

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