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Dub Personality Change

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Japanese Shadow: Friendly Rivalry
American Shadow: Competition Freak
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.

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.



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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.
  • Mikey (Kudo Taiki), the lead character from Digimon Xros Wars, gets his motivations practically inverted from the get go. In the first episode, he's introduced filling in for a friend on a basketball team, and in the original Japanese it's explained he bounces around from club to club filling in because he hates seeing people disappointed by not being able to play (and it's this want to help people that leads him to meet Shoutmon). The dub flips this around so that rather than joining in because he's a nice guy, he keeps leaving the clubs because none of them are particularly exciting to him, and the meeting with Shoutmon is just reduced to essentially 'follow weird voice'.
  • Sue (Shizuka) from Doraemon is a notably ladylike girly girl with Yamato Nadeshiko traits in the original version. In Viz's 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 Z, Goku was a great deal nobler and had his more selfish traits toned down (though even in the original Japanese version, his selfish traits had already been toned down in comparison to the manga, which creator Akira Toriyama has criticized). He's also noticeably smarter than his Japanese counterpart, not above using technical words instead of speaking like a country bumpkin with traces of a Tohoku Regional Accent. Dragon Ball Super depicts Goku as closer to his original manga characterization, which has led fans who are unfamiliar with the original Japanese version of Goku to accuse Super of making him an Adaptational Jerkass and Adaptational Dumbass.
    • 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 Z 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.
  • The Gag Dub of Ghost Stories does this to virtually everyone. For example, Momoko is changed from a kind-hearted Team Mom to a Fundamentalist Christian who's constantly saying offensive things about things she rejects.
  • 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.
  • For Disney's English dub of Kiki's Delivery Service, Phil Hartman was brought in as the voice of Kiki's black cat Jiji. He was allowed to ad-lib most of his lines, including additional dialogue to fill the silence where the original had none. Jiji's original voice, Rei Sakuma, is childlike and gives him a timid and cautious personality, albeit with the occasional one-liner; Hartman's take on him, owing to his extensive ad-libbing, is a much more sarcastic and sardonic Deadpan Snarker. Even after the 2010 recut of the dub, which removed most of the additional dialogue, the difference in personality between languages is still noticeable.
  • Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, in a similar case to Pokémon, has several differences between its 4Kids-handled English dub and the original Japanese text.
    • The most obvious difference is in King Dedede, who goes from a parody of obstructive and boneheaded Japanese bureaucrats (i.e., Yoshiro Mori) to a parody of obstructive and boneheaded American bureaucrats (i.e., George W. Bush). He gains a southern accent to match, and his crueler lines of dialogue are often toned down into more comedic alternatives, while still retaining the same general idea. One notable trait of Japanese Dedede (shared with his Beleaguered Assistant Escargoon) is his tendency to threaten others with the death penalty if they do not heed him, which the dub changes to more childish insults.
    • Customer Service / N.M.E. Sales Guy is also notably different. In the original, he's a typically polite Japanese businessman, humble to Dedede to the point of condescending, while in English he's turned into a slick-talking used-car saleman type of character who often openly insults Dedede to his face.
  • My Hero Academia has a minor case with Jiro. During the villain attack on the USJ, after hearing that Kaminari can't control his body's electric discharge, Jiro decides to improvise by shoving Kaminari into the attacking villains. Yaoyorozu scolds the two of them for not taking the situation seriously, prompting Jiro to say, "Sorry, thought it was a good idea at the time." In the dub, she instead says, "I'm sorry. Next time I'll ask before saving our butts."
  • 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).
  • One Piece has a few examples in the 4Kids dub.
    • Arlong is a bit more Faux Affably Evil than he is in the original Japanese, with many of his lines delivered in a more cheerful tone of voice, and with him occasionally making jokes.
    • Mr. 3 is canonically an artist, who, while intelligent, is too arrogant for his own good. In the 4Kids dub, he's a comedian who cracks terrible jokes. This change is largely the result of removing the Little Garden arc, and rewriting the scene in which Mr. 3 arrives in Rain Dinners.
  • Persona 5: The Animation: In the original Japanese dub, Ren Amamiya's voice actor delivered most lines with barely any emotion, making Ren come off as The Stoic. In the English dub, Ren's VA injects a bit of dry wit into Ren's lines in more comedic situations, causing him to be more of a Deadpan Snarker.
  • 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. Misty is also more of a tomboy in the English dub, while the Japanese version portrays her as a Tomboy with a Girly Streak.
    • 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, though by that point, he had already gone through major Break the Haughty moments to justify it.
    • 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.
    • The personalities of Misty's older sisters were changed in the English dub. They're made into mean Valley Girls. In Japan, they're more competent and less mean towards Misty.
    • Erika is slightly less polite in the English dub due to Lost in Translation reasons. Keigo is hard to translate into English, so 4kids had her speak more casually. The dub of Pokémon: I Choose You! ends up being Truer to the Text of her Japanese character and her character in the games.
    • The English dub made Jessie even more mean and bossier than she is in the Japanese version. Most of the scenes where James and Meowth show fear for her were added by the dub.
  • Sailor Moon: The DIC/Cloverway dub mostly flanderized the characters' personalities, i.e. Serena was even dumber than Usagi, Raye, Rini, Amara, and Michelle even meaner than Rei, Chibiusa, Haruka, and Michiru, etc. This was averted with Mamoru/Darien; he was that big of a jerk in Japan, although in the original manga, he was a sweetheart so his case was more of an Adaptational Jerkass.
  • 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". The Japanese lines may have been misheard, rather than intentionally changed; compare "ojiisama"/"uncle" vs. "ōjisama"/"prince".
  • The Yu-Gi-Oh! dub frequently played up Seto Kaiba's Jerkassery and refusal to believe in or care about the supernatural, and gave him a lot more sarcastic or bitter quips than he had in the original. To a lesser extent, this also applied to Joey, who is snarkier and more openly Hot-Blooded than the original's Jounouchi.
  • 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.
    • "X", another one-off duelist, is changed from another Pro Duelist ranked higher than Aster Phoenix, to Sartorius's lawyer, full name Howard X. Miller (referring to his preferred strategy). His dialogue is rewritten to include lots of courtroom references and puns.
  • The Legend of Snow White had its English dub completely recast midway through, and some of the dwarfs' personalities noticeably changed with their new voice actors. In particular, the medicinal herb expert Chamomile changed from a Totally Radical hippie into a nerdy scientist.

    Film — Animation 
  • In the French dub of Frozen (2013), the lyrics of "Let it Go" changes "Be the good girl you always have to be" to "Pay attention, the secret will survive," which sounds less like Elsa is mocking her responsibilities and her parents than the original line.
  • 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.
  • The Japanese dub of The Fox and the Hound has Adult Copper portrayed like a dumb country bumpkin with a Simpleton Voice.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Italian dub of The Book Of Masters makes Katya sound much less gentle than in the original. In particular, when the Romantic Runner-Up asks her to marry him, in the original version, she sees he is sincere and says "No" slowly and softly, clearly feeling uncomfortable. In the dub, she snaps "No!" in a pretty callous tone.

    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 
  • EarthBound: Paula, 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.
  • Mog in Final Fantasy VI is a laid-back, friendly, generally Nice Guy in the Japanese script. The game came out in the mid-'90s, however, and Square's American branch was not at all blind to the trends of the era—thus Mog became a slang-spewing, sharp-tongued Mascot with Attitude whose in-game description tries its hardest to paint him as a Totally Radical Kid-Appeal Character. While several other characters in the game saw their personalities or motivations change somewhat due to translation errors (Setzer being the most notorious example), this is the only character change that was clearly intentional and unambiguous in motive. Attitude!Mog didn't catch on due to the relative unpopularity of console RPGs at the time, and the retranslated script used starting with Final Fantasy VI Advance reverts him to his Japanese personality.
  • 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.
  • Final Fantasy XIV:
    • Haurchefant was very much into the Player Character in the Japanese script to the point where he would openly state that he would like to get together with them, regardless of the player's gender. The English script heavily dialed it back and changed Haurchefant to act more like a close best friend to the player.
    • Alisaie, one of the player character's close allies, was made more combative and fiery in English, aided by a more aggressive voice performance. While she still has a temper in Japanese, it tends to be more subdued.
  • 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.”
  • Severa in Fire Emblem Awakening was a textbook Tsundere in the Japanese version, but turned into more of a straight Jerkass and Bratty Teenage Daughter in the English localization. This resulted in her being a lot less popular outside Japan. Her appearance in Fire Emblem Fates as Selena is more in line with her Japanese characterization, making it look like she Took a Level in Kindness in the English version.
  • The English version of Fire Emblem Fates plays up Ryoma, Hinoka and Takumi's Blood Knight tendencies and Fantastic Racism towards Nohrians, to the point of "Nohrian scum!" becoming a meme. This was likely an attempt to address the complaints of Story Branch Favoritism and accusations of Hoshido being a Mary Sue Topia in the Japanese version, by making its major characters more flawed.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses:
    • The English version subtly plays up Ingrid as a tomboy, likely because she shows a preference for combat and riding over more feminine pursuits such as baking and needlework. In the Japanese version, however, her speech patterns are actually extremely feminine, framing her as a more practical, proper, low-maintenance noblewoman, all which stem from her Impoverished Patrician background. Societal differences in femininity is at play, as in Japan, her politeness and seriousness pegs her as feminine by default, whereas tomboyishness is cited as a mark of immaturity.
    • In contrast to the continuous level of playfulness and sarcasm that Claude has in the English version of the game, in Part II of the game in Japanese, Claude's voice not only audibly deepens, but his propensity for jokes are far less present. He comes off as far darker and more broken overall, with his voice even audibly cracking during more poignant moments such as the aftermath of the battle in Enbarr and Rhea revealing her true history.
  • Kirby's Return to Dream Land has a more subtle difference in the way Magolor is written. A major part of Magolor's character in Japanese is his unique style of speech; due to the way his dialogue is written (using katakana instead of hiragana in many places, as well as Gratuitous English catchphrases), he comes across with a distinctly "foreign" dialect, befitting an alien from another dimension. The English localization doesn't attempt to translate this, and instead has his dialogue written fairly generically.
  • 2B's English characterization in NieR: Automata is very noticeably different from her original Japanese. The Japanese 2B is The Stoic through and through except for a number of key moments. English 2B also maintains a detached, aloof personality but there is an undercurrent of cocky arrogance underneath it due to her making sarcastic quips and generally having a "seen it all" attitude. One major example is in the beginning of Route C when she gets infected with a logic virus, after her Pod informs her of this, Japanese 2B says "I understand" in a resigned tone while the English 2B says "You don't say" in a somewhat exasperated manner.
  • Octopath Traveler:
    • Therion is much more quiet and reserved in the Japanese version. The English Therion generally is snarkier, and this is reflected in both the script and voice acting.
    • A minor example, but the final moments of Simeon, the Arc Villain of Primrose's story play out differently in the Japanese version. In the English version, he's a Mad Artist to the end who is fine with either killing or being killed by Primrose because he sees it as a Grand Finale to her tragedy. In the Japanese version, his two battles against Primrose make him realise the full extent of the pain he's caused her, whereupon he asks her to kill him for both their sakes. This indicates that Japanese Simeon does have a conscience, albeit an extremely limited one.
  • 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 Japanese, 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. Sonic Colors, which was handled by a new writing team, added some sass to Sonic.
    • As seen in the trope picture, Team Sonic Racing has a few examples of this. In the Japanese script, Shadow is The Stoic and rarely emotes more than he needs to, while the American script plays up his more aggressive and competitive nature. Similarly, there's a scene where Sonic attempts some Trash Talk towards Silver, but it goes over the latter's head due to being Sarcasm-Blind, none of which is in the original Japanese script, with Sonic & Silver being completely courteous and friendly towards each other.
  • Many Western Pokémon fans lament the Badass Decay of rivals since Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire and long for the return of Jerkass rivals like Blue and Silver. However, even Blue and Silver were less arrogant in the original Japanese versions than their Western depictions, owing to Japanese culture heavily disliking the traits that make Blue and Silver popular Love to Hate rivals in the West.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney
    • Series protagonist Phoenix Wright was intentionally written in the Japanese as The Generic Guy with little in the way of a distinguishable personality for the most part outside of being the Only Sane Man. The localization of the first game would turn him into a major Deadpan Snarker, something which stuck to varying degrees in seperate games.
    • Among the entire cast, Trucy is easily the most jarring between the two languages. In the Japanese, Trucy is characterized by being in the persona of a performer at all times, speaking in a very deliberately childish manner written mostly in hiragana and using her own name as a pronoun, only using kanji when discussing magic tricks or the rare occasions she acts serious. She is also extremely formal at all times, using very professional formalities to Apollo despite frequently teasing him. None of this is present in the English for the most part, where she only speaks slightly whimsically and never changes speaking style, and her name for Apollo is a more generally Affectionate Nickname in "Polly", making her come off as more of a straight Expy of Maya.

    Western Animation 
  • In the English dub of Once Upon A Time... Space, Maestro sounds more like a mumbling old grump than a wise mentor, though hints of both appear in the character either way.
  • Kaeloo:
    • The original (French) dub of the show has Mr. Cat be a super genius who is right about everything; the English dub makes him seem slightly dumber, for some reason.
    • In the English dub, Kaeloo has a Hair-Trigger Temper and is annoyed by everything the people around her do, causing her to angrily snap at them, whereas in the French dub, she's a little more patient.
  • The Simpsons: Bart's rebellious attitude caused complaints in Japan. This caused the Japanese dub to tone down Bart after season two.
  • A rare Western Animation to Japanese dub case, the original series of The Transformers conveyed Shockwave as a rather stoic and dutiful Dragon to Megatron, while in the Japanese edit, he is more of an erratic Grumpy Old Man.
  • Winx Club:
    • Riven's Face–Heel Turn in season 1 was temporary but genuine. In the 4Kids dub it's a product of brainwashing, therefore giving Riven a sort of Adaptational Heroism.
    • Several personalities were changed for the Winx in the 4Kids dub, such as Stella being a hot-headed fashionista, Musa being a Hipster, and Tecna being a smart English whiz. The Winx themselves behaved more like typical teenagers, while the Trix (called the "witches" here) acted like a typical mean girl group.


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