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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.
  • 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 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 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 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.
  • 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. 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, Amara, and Michelle even meaner than Rei, 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 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 French dub of Frozen (2013), The lyrics of "Let it Go" ignore Elsa mocking her responsibilities and parents.
  • 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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    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.
  • 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: Three Houses subtly plays up Ingrid as a tomboy, likely rooted in that she prefers 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 polite 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.
  • 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, however Sonic Colors added some sass to Sonic.

    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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