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10 Anime Dubs That Changed Character Personalities

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Whenever an anime character is dubbed, some changes are inevitable. Usually this amounts to changing some references and rephrasing bits of dialogue. However, there are times when a character is essentially rewritten for a new language.

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Thanks to localized scripts and new voice actors, these characters took on a different personality when they arrived in the West. However, that wasn’t a bad thing, as these changes often garnered praise among the fans and even the anime’s creators.

ten Osomatsu-San – Ichimatsu Matsuno has become bolder and more comically nihilistic


Ichimatsu joins the mixer at Osomatsu San

The thing about Osomatsu-san Ichimatsu is that his dark persona is a facade. Although he often says he wishes he and his brothers were dead, the truth is that he actually cares about them and doesn’t mind living. If Jun Fukuyama passed up parts of Ichimatsu’s soft side, Kyle McCarley reinforced his edge for comedic effect.

In Japanese, it was obvious that although Ichimatsu liked to be sarcastic, he made sure to never cross the line. Meanwhile, in English, Ichimatsu had no such pretense and let his words cut as deep as they could. Additionally, thanks to a less restrained English script, Ichimatsu was portrayed as being even edgier and more evil than he already was.

9 Kiki’s Delivery Service – Jiji got sassier and more sarcastic


Jiji finds a cat mug in Kikis' delivery service

When Kiki arrived in the big city of Kiki’s Delivery Service, she brought her faithful cat Jiji. While Kiki’s characterization as a precocious girl was consistent across the Japanese and English dubs, Jiji’s personality differed widely depending on the language spoken. In short, Rei Sakuma portrayed Jiji as cautious and reserved, while Phil Hartman made him outspoken and sarcastic.

Indeed, when Disney acquired the rights to Kiki’s Delivery Service by Studio Ghibli they let Hartman ad-lib as much as he wanted instead of following the original script. Moments of dead air and silence were then filled with Hartman’s sardonic color commentary, which in turn gave Kiki and her cat a very different dynamic from their Japanese originals.


8 Sk8 The Infinity – Adam got more flamboyant and playful


Adam performs the Love Hug in Sk8 The Infinity

In Sk8 Infinity, Ainosuke Shindo may be a respected politician by day, but his true power only manifests in the underground “S” skater’s paradise. At night, Ainosuke becomes the legendary skateboarder Adam, whose menacing presence is perfectly materialized by Takehito Koyasu’s fearsome baritone. Unsurprisingly, Koyasu also voiced Dio in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.

If Adam was formidable in the Sk8 Infinity Japanese dub, it was mischievous in localization. David Wald gave Adam a more playful personality, as seen in the way he flirted with his rivals, while Koyasu just put them down. Wald’s performance gave Adam’s angst a new side, as she emphasized his childish immaturity while Koyasu emphasized his viciousness.


7 Cardcaptor Sakura (2000) – Sakura Kinomoto has grown braver


Sakura sulks at the dinner table in Cardcaptor Sakura

When Sakura card sensor started, Sakura was 10 years old. As such, Sakura’s longtime Japanese voice actress, Sakura Tange, portrayed her in the most feminine and innocent way possible. In contrast, the anime’s first dub (titled Card sensors) rewrote Sakura to be more precocious and tomboyish, while cutting out scenes of her crying or being childish.

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The licensing company Nelvana and the Kids WB network! did this thinking that anime’s biggest audience in 2000 was overwhelmingly male, so they reworked Sakura (voiced by Carly McKillip) into a tough but brave heroine. Cardcaptor Sakura the reissues were more faithful to the text, although they retained Sakura’s new attitude to some degree.


6 Pokémon: The Series — Meowth Has Gone Badass


Meowth comes up with a plan in Pokemon the Series

When Pokemon arriving in America for the first time, many of the characters’ personalities were changed thanks to the new storyline and new actors. Of all the characters, Team Rocket Trio (and in particular Meowth) have arguably changed the most. While Jessie and James were airier than their original versions, Meowth’s smarter side was practically excised in English.

In Japanese, Meowth (voiced by Inuko Inuyama) was the mastermind and resident intellectual of the trio. In English, Meowth (voiced by Matthew Sussman, Maddie Blaustein and Jimmy Zoppi) was an arrogant badass who sounded like he came from the tough streets of Brooklyn. This Meowth was still the smartest member of the trio, but he would rather fight than think.


5 Dragon Ball Z – Goku has become a better and closer father


Goku introduces Gohan to his friends in Dragon Ball Z

Goku is arguably one of the most irresponsible absent fathers ever seen in anime, but Western audiences viewed him as an ambitious father figure. This was probably due to the way Dragon Ball Z The original English dub changed Goku’s personality to make him likable.

In Japanese, Goku (voiced by Masako Nozawa) was an aloof peasant whose only priority was to fight. In English, Goku (voiced by Ian James Corlett, Peter Kelamis and Sean Schemmel) was a loving father and a noble warrior. When the more accurate callousness of Goku’s text was shown in Dragon Ball Super, fans were surprised by its lack of values.


4 Cowboy Bebop – Spike Spiegel has grown more weary and tired of the world


Spike Saves the Day in Cowboy Bebop Knocks on Heaven's Door

cowboy bebop owes much to Western films (particularly Film Noir) and its voice acting acknowledged these influences. Steve Blum gave Spike a harsh voice, making him sound like the sort of fatalistic gunslinger commonly found in seedy underworld. Blum’s performance was instantly iconic, but it couldn’t be more different from her original version.

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When Koichi Yamadera voiced Spike, he cast him as a laid-back sniper with a dark past. Where Blum’s Spike seemed resigned to his inevitable death, Yamadera’s version was too relaxed to care. Interestingly, it has been said that cowboy bebop composer Yoko Kano preferred Blum’s vocals, which she called “sexy”.




3 Space Pirate Captain Harlock (1981) – Everyone became goofy cartoon characters on Saturday mornings


Captain Harlock leads his crew in space pirate Captain Harlock

Captain Harlock, Space Pirate can be a colorful space opera, but it takes itself quite seriously. This was not the case when it arrived in the American video stores, which decided to make a wacky Saturday morning cartoon out of it. However, this was only the case for two of the four episodes localized by Ziv International and sold on VHS tapes.

Episodes 2 and 3 of Captain Harlock, Space Pirate were filled with adlibs and jokes that parodied the anime itself. Tadashi Daiba was now Tommy Hairball and he was a dumb kid who ran into the maniacal Captain Harlock. To this day, no one is quite sure why this happened, although some have speculated that Episodes 2 and 3 were discarded locations for a more kid-friendly localization.


2 Panties and stockings with garter belt – Everyone got dirty and more vulgar


Garterbelt Reprimands Angels in Panties and Garter Stockings

In Japan, swearing in Japanese is frowned upon by censors, while swearing in foreign languages ​​is perfectly acceptable. This double standard was partly the reason why Panties And Stockings With Garter Belt even exists. In short, it was designed so the creators could get away with as much profanity as they wanted by making the anime as “American” as possible.

When Arisa Ogasawara (Panty), Mariya Ise (Stocking) and others dropped English F-bombs, the joke was the curse itself, as they uttered forbidden words on Japanese television. But when Jamie Marchi (Panty), Monica Rial (Stocking) and others did, their obscene dialogue and insults were more thoughtful, making their vulgarity more deliberate and profane.


1 Ghost Stories – Everyone just got dumber and wackier


The gang discovers a clue in the ghost stories

As is now common knowledge, ghost stories bombed so hard in Japan that its producers sold it cheaply to American locators on the condition that they do literally anything to save it. ADV Films took this as the permission they needed to turn the generic paranormal investigation show into a farce – and it became legend.

Under the ADV script, each ghost stories the character was rewritten in self-parodies or new punchlines. For example, if Satsuki (Hilary Haag) was the same determined schoolgirl although much meaner, Momoko (Monica Rial) became a religious fanatic while Kaya (Rob Mungle) became a rude cat. ADV’s work has eclipsed the Japanese dub — so much so that it’s the only one dub fans will pick up.

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