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Translation Nod

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From English to Japanese and back again.
When a work is translated into multiple languages, it's bound to become a worldwide phenomenon. Some Dub Name Changes and Woolseyisms become so iconic or just sound so cool that even the original creators become aware of them, and reference them in the original version of a later installment. This is sometimes an act of gratitude to acknowledge the importance of the foreign dub for making their creation popular.
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Compare Mythology Gag, where an installment throws in a reference to other (often older) parts of their own franchise; Recursive Import, where an altered version of a product or piece of media meant for consumption in foreign markets winds up being sold in the home country (sometimes alongside its own original version); and Ret-Canon, where an element introduced in an adaptation makes its way into the source material.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Astro Boy: In the 2003 anime, Astro gets his name from a sign that's nearby when he's first activated. The sign is thoughtfully designed to include both "Atom" (his Japanese name) and "Astro" (his English name), one as the first word on the sign and the other as the acronym formed by the initial letters of all the words.
  • Battle Angel Alita: The protagonist is named Gally in the original Japanese publication, but renamed Alita in the American translation. When she is put into a Lotus-Eater Machine that sees her found and named by a different character, the author nods at the translation's way by naming her Alita. The translation, naturally, names her Gally instead.
  • Digimon:
    • Digimon Adventure 02: One of the World Tour episodes features an English-speaking chosen child who refers to himself as a DigiDestined in the original Japanese version; this is an acknowledgment of terminology made up by the English dub.
    • In Digimon Adventure: (2020), Takeru's hat says "TK" on it, as a nod to his nickname in the English dub of the original series.
  • Made in Abyss: One English fan translation comedically translated a sound effect used in a major moment of the Idofront arc as "rumble of scientific triumph". When it came time to adapt that part of the story in the "Dawn of the Deep Soul" movie, the background OST playing during the scene was actually titled "The Rumble of Scientific Triumph".
  • The Pokémon: The Original Series episode "The Purr-fect Hero"note  has "Meowth" written out in huge letters in an Imagine Spot parodying Superman, even in the original Japanese version, where the species is called Nyarth.
  • Space Battleship Yamato was translated into English as Starblazers. In the dub, some soldiers killed in the attack on the Pluto base were referred to as robots. Decades later, the reboot, Space Battleship Yamato 2199 actually has the Gamillons using robotic foot soldiers. Also, merchandise refers to the series as Starblazers alongside Space Battleship Yamato.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Godzilla is known in his native Japan as Gojira, but is arguably better known globally by his Westernized name. This has been referenced in a few different films:
    • In Shin Godzilla, the man who discovers the monster gives it a name in English: Godzilla (supposedly on his native Odo Island, this means God Incarnate.) When transliterated into Japanese characters, it reads as Gojira instead. The other human characters note the irony of this, as this version of the character was first discovered and then covered up by the American government.
    • This is also Played With in both American entries:
      • In Godzilla (1998), The first people who encounter the monster are a Japanese fishing crew, the sole survivor of which is videotaped calling him Gojira. Later on, the American press gets ahold of the footage and mispronounces it on-air as Godzilla, which sticks.
      • In Godzilla (2014), he is likewise originally named Gojira by the Japanese scientist who studies him, but over the course of the film this mutates into Godzilla, and eventually that becomes his 'default' moniker. The Japanese characters continue to refer to him by his original name, however.

    Live Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: In "The Return of Doctor Mysterio", young Grant gives the Doctor the nickname "Doctor Mysterio" since it sounds more like the superheroes Grant is into, which the Doctor (then played by Peter Capaldi) quite likes. This is a nod to the fact that Doctor Who is called Doctor Misterio in Mexico (as the literal translation of the title, "Doctor Quien", would make less sense in Spanish than in English). Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi had encountered this when they visited there in the Doctor Who World Tour and Capaldi, in particular, fell in love with the name, so Moffat decided to use it in an episode title.
  • The heroes' Transformation Trinket in Tokumei Sentai Go Busters announces "It's morphin' time!", and the evil giant robots are called Megazords. Both are references to Super Sentai's English frankenslation, Power Rangers, in which "It's morphin' time" is the standard heroes' transformation cry, and the heroes' combined mechs are designated Megazords.
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    Toys 
  • Transformers: Prior to the release of Michael Bay's live-action Transformers film, in Japan the Autobots were known as Cybertrons, the Decepticons known as Destrons, and Optimus Prime known as Convoy (with the name Convoy used in the same way as "Prime" was in the West with characters like Rodimus Convoy/ Rodimus Prime). After the live-action films, Takara Tomy began using the Western names even in Japan (e.g. in Transformers: Animated, the names Autobots and Decepticons were used instead of Cybertrons and Destrons). However, even before this, there were examples of this occurring on both sides.
    • Some manga (e.g. the pack-in manga for some of the high-end Masterpiece toys) would have examples where a character's alternate names are mentioned. An example is when Convoy was making a report, and his in-universe nameplate during the broadcast included both his Japanese and English names.
    • In Transformers Galaxy Force (brought over to the west as Transformers: Cybertron), Vector Prime is notable for being identified using "Prime" rather than "Convoy" like the other leader characters (e.g. Galaxy Convoy of Cybertron, Live Convoy of Earth, Flame Convoy of Animatros). This was an acknowledgement of how Convoy is the Japanese equivalent of the Prime rank for Autobot leaders.
    • As early as the G1 toyline, while Takara decided to use Cybertrons in place of Autobots there was still a nod to the name when the characters sold as the "Autobot cars" in the US (e.g. Jazz, Prowl, Sunstreaker, Sideswipe among others) were marketed as "the Autobot unit/squad/team" in Japan. This matched the Theme Naming of other units where the hero teams ended with "-bot" (e.g. the Aerialbots were the Airbot unit) while the villains ended with "-tron" (e.g. the Stunticons became the Stuntrons).
    • The Japanese Henkei! Henkei! toyline included a figure of Technobot Strafe redecoed from the Cyclonus from the same line. As the Cyclonus figure came with a Targetmaster partner, it had to be included with Strafe too. The Targetmaster was so introduced as a new character called Rocketbot, which is the same name Strafe was called in the Italian dub of the cartoon.
    • One of the TransTech prose stories from the Collectors Club introduced three characters called Ego, Bricolo and Corvo. Their names are taken respectively from Starscream and Scrapper's French dub names and Skywarp's Italian dub name.
    • The boxes for the Japan-only Transformers Legends toyline feature the character names written both in Japanese and in English. While early on both writings used the Japanese names (for example, the Rattrap figure was marked as "Rattle" in both languages), after a while they began using both names on the boxes when the Japanese name differed (so, for example, the Springer figure is called "Springer" in English but the katakana still say "Sprung").

    Video Games 
  • The ninth mainline Biohazard game is titled Biohazard 7: Resident Evil; Resident Evil is, of course, the name Biohazard goes by outside Japan and Korea. The English version naturally flipped this, becoming Resident Evil VII: Biohazard.
  • Crash Bandicoot: Crash's iconic dance was introduced in a Japanese commercial for the first game before becoming a regular detail in later games.
  • The original Japanese title of Harvest Moon: Back to Nature is Bokujo Monogatari: Harvest Moon, a nod to the series English localized title at the time.
  • Kirby:
  • Kunio-kun:
    • The Japanese version of River City: Knights of Justice names Kunio's fantasy counterpart Cooney Valford. "Cooney" was previously used as a name for Kunio in the localization of Crash 'n' the Boys: Street Challenge, where his full name was given as Jeff "Crash" Cooney.
    • In River City Ransom: Underground, Alex and Ryan's surnames are revealed to respectively be Kun and Samejima, both referencing the names of the characters they were localised from in River City Ransom. The former is part of Kunio's nickname, while the latter is the same surname as Riki's.
    • Japan refers to the River City Girls games as the River City series, which is what the western title for the Kunio-kun series was starting with Natsume's and Arc System Works' translations.
  • Mario Kart Wii: In Japanese, the heavyweights' Flame Runner/Bowser Bike is called the Super Bowser after his English Dub Name Change. He's called "Koopa" in Japanese, which became the name of his species in English.
  • Mega Man:
    • The Japanese title of Mega Man: The Wily Wars, Rockman Mega World, may be a nod to the protagonist's localised name, as well as being a Super Title 64 Advance (it's on the Mega Drive, AKA the Sega Genesis).
    • In a case of What Could Have Been, Mega Man Universe was to be a game within the Mega Man series that would have been called such even in Japan, where the series and character is known as Rockman. Not only that, but it would have had three versions of Mega Man. One referred to as Mega Man, one called Rockman, and one called Bad Box Art Mega Man, referencing the infamous North American box art of the first game.
  • Pokémon:
    • The Japanese logos of Pokémon Sword and Shield resemble the franchise's English logo; the words "Pocket Monsters" (in katakana) are written in a jagged, yellow font with a blue outline.
    • Pokémon Legends: Arceus: The "q" and "Q" on Hisuian Qwilfish and Overqwil's tails, respectively, may be a reference to the former's English name.
  • Sonic Adventure 2: During Dr. Eggman's Do Not Adjust Your Set broadcast, text behind him displays both Eggman and Robotnik, the latter of which is his former English Dub Name Change. In the same game, Robotnik is the surname of Eggman's grandfather and cousin in both Japanese and English.
  • Splatoon 2: In the English translations, Marina's surname is revealed to be Ida, a letter off from her Japanese name Iida, in Octo Expansion. This is flipped from the Japanese version of the DLC, where her surname is revealed to be Marine (a letter off from her English name).
  • The titular villain of Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! got his name from the way Spyro's name is written in stylized katakana (スパイロ) in the Japanese logo.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Capcom partnered with the Takarazuka Revue to create three musicals based on the series. However, they use the English localization in terms of names and setting, despite the show only being for Japanese audiences.
    • In The Great Ace Attorney: Adventures, one of the murders took place in a horse-drawn omnibus. Examining it reveals a sign that states it is called the "Phoenix Wright Omnibus", both in the Japanese and international versions. Phoenix Wright is the dub name of the main series' protagonist.

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In the German dub of the Season 2 episode "The Cutie Pox", in the scene where Apple Bloom speaks in French, the cutie mark is referred to by the same term as in the French dub ("Marque de beauté") rather than the term used in the English (original) version ("Marque de cutie").
  • The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!: The show aired when Princess Peach was still being referred to as Princess Toadstool internationally. The episode "The Trojan Koopa" sees Toadstool grab a Starman and declare, "Princess P. to the rescue!" This is the first known reference to her original name outside of Japan.
  • The We Bare Bears episode "Escandalosos" is about the baby bears forming the eponymous wrestling team in Mexico, which is not only a pun on the Spanish words "escandalosos" (scandalous) and "osos" (bears) but also the title of the show in Latin America.

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