If you grew up watching anime in the early to mid-2000s, then I’m sure that the name 4Kids rings a bell to you. Today I want to go back and reminisce a little bit about some of the most hilarious edits that 4Kids made to some of our favourite series, during anime’s relatively early years over here in the west.
Who was 4Kids?
4Kids Entertainment was an American licensing company that did dubbing for Japanese anime, both films and TV series. 4Kids was responsible for the dubbing of the first 8 seasons of Pokémon, plus a ton of their films — looking back, there was never anything that stood out as bizarre about their version of Pokémon at the time. (Jelly-filled doughnuts? – Ed.) Perhaps it’s because even the Japanese version was still aimed at kids, or my child-mind at the time didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary.
Some of the main series that 4Kids was known for were the previously mentioned Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh! and One Piece — which just so happen to be some of the series that I will be talking about throughout this piece. The reason that 4Kids became so infamous in the west was due to their heavy censoring in all of the series they licensed.
But it wasn’t to last; various contractual breaches meant that Japanese companies terminated their licensing agreements with 4Kids — and that was that.
When I think of 4Kids’ infamous edits, this is the one that comes to me immediately.
Allow me to give you some backstory in case you aren’t aware of who Sanji is. Sanji is a member of the Straw Hat pirates from One Piece, and he is known for a few things: his love of women, passion for cooking, outright refusal to use his hands in combat — as he needs them to cook, so doesn’t ever risk harming them — and smoking.
Zeff — the man who took Sanji in, taught him how to cook, and saved his life — is the reason behind Sanji’s smoking habit — it was something Sanji started doing to appear more mature and grown up in front of him. Now it’s an iconic part of Sanji’s character that I believe would massively take away from him, as nasty a habit as it is.
4Kids didn’t agree though, and instead, they thought giving him a lollipop would be a good replacement and serve the same purpose… In all honesty, I can understand that from the perspective of 4Kids, they didn’t want to have a character who looked cool promoting smoking, but at the same time you risk taking away so much from the character in doing so — Sanji goes from being the badass chef who only fights with his feet, to the “lollipop guy”.
One Piece guns
As you have probably gathered by now, 4Kids was all about making the series they licensed as family-friendly and child-safe as possible. So, what exactly were they thinking when they licensed One Piece? Surely they would have known full well that a series about pirates and the navy would most definitely feature firearms.
I can’t tell you what they were thinking, but I can tell you what 4Kids decided to do in order to combat this — replace the guns with child-friendly options such as water guns, cork guns, and, as featured in the picture above, a spring-loaded hammer gun.
I can see the thought process again from the guys at 4Kids; they don’t want to show guns or characters being held at gunpoint, so instead, they replace the weapon. In the case of the image above, however, Coby (the pink-haired boy) is being threatened by a blunt force weapon that would still cause some damage. An absurd weapon, yes, but still a potentially dangerous one!
This isn’t the only absurd edit that 4Kids did when it came to the guns. There is a scene during Nami’s character-defining arc in which the antagonist, Arlong, points a gun at Nami’s adoptive mother. What did they replace Arlong’s gun with, I hear you ask?
They didn’t replace it. Instead, they removed it completely and simply had Arlong pointing at Nami’s mother. I’m sure you can imagine how much this takes away from the scene. This trend of finger-guns would run across other series as well, such as Yu-Gi-Oh!
Naruto’s ninja lunchbox
Finally, we come to a scene I wasn’t even aware of until recently, but I had to include it not only because it’s completely ridiculous, but this might be the worst offender when it comes to completely taking away from what the scene was trying to get across.
On a mission to the Land of Waves, Naruto and his squad are suddenly attacked by the demon brothers. Naruto freezes up and is completely unable to act, facing the realization that he could be killed — and this is made even worse by the fact that his rival, Sasuke, fearlessly rises to the challenge of fighting these enemies ninjas.
After receiving a poisoned wound to the hand, Naruto suddenly stabs himself in his hand to remove the poison before it’s too late. This bloodletting is an act of determination, but also a message that Naruto will not make the same mistake, nor will he let his team down again.
4Kids decided to truly remove the weight that this scene had for Naruto, as they replaced his kunai with a Doraemon lunchbox, and the blood was masked by him crushing a tomato in his palm — I’m not making this up, I promise. Not only did this take away from the development of Naruto, but it makes the entire scene confusing.
We’re sure there are plenty more hilarious examples out there, so feel free to share some of your favourites down in the comments. Or why not write us a letter for the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page?
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