What? Pikachu Sounds Like a Prostitute, Lynch Pokemon USA!

by Christopher Macdonald, May 1st 2006
Actually, before you get ready to lynch anyone, maybe you should read this right to the end, you might be less inclined to lynch them by then, or perhaps you'll still want to lynch them, as well as lynch someone else. The new Pokemon dub is pretty weak, or at least that's what everyone tells me. I haven't seen it yet, though, and I probably never will. From what I hear, it appears that Pokemon USA and their dubbing studio, TAJ, just didn't put a lot of effort into the show. Obviously no one is expecting Disney-esque level of dubbing here. In fact I'm sure fans would be delightfully surprised if the dub had been up to the usual anime standards of studios like NYAV Post, Phoenix Post Sound, or New Generation Pictures. All fans really expected was something that lived up to the original dub (which isn't setting a very high bar to strive for). Yet somehow, Pokemon USA, a company that only really has one title to worry about, managed to bungle it.

You might be thinking, “Who cares? It's just Pokemon.” But then, you're probably not a Pokemon fan. Think of it this way: how do you feel when you complain about the dubbing of your latest, favorite anime, and someone responds, “So? It's only a cartoon.”

Those of you who are Pokemon fans know that you expect a certain amount of quality from Pokemon. You're not irrational; you know that Pokemon isn't Ghibli, so your expectations are appropriately lower than those of a Ghibli fan. But still, you have certain expectations, and those expectations haven't been met.

To paraphrase a few dozen Pokemon fans, “The general consensus is that all the voices, except maybe Misty, sound horrible and way too old. May was waaaaay too deep and sounds like a prostitute, Ash was just wrong and sounds too much like Luffy from One Piece, Brock sounds more like an old idiot about to jump off a cliff, and Max sounds 5 years older.” Of course, a lot of fans just complained that they sounded “different,” which isn't too bad, but remember, this is a show for children, and sound-alikes would have been a good idea.

Now, as you probably already know, Pokemon USA used new voice actors for this project. So the blame is clearly on Pokemon USA for this mess, right?

Well, like any responsible news source, we asked, or tried to ask Pokemon USA about this. Problem is, they won't comment. They won't tell us why the old voice actors aren't involved in the show. We strive to give both sides of any dispute, but with no comments from Pokemon USA, they're making it very hard to present their side of the story.

Maybe they just don't care, but we still want to give them the benefit of the doubt. Without their side of the story, all we have is the actors' claims that Pokemon USA “decided” not to employ them. The actors themselves never really offered any information as to why Pokemon USA “decided” not to employ them.

Could it be that shiny, new non-compete clause that 4Kids may have put in their contracts? The one that wouldn't let them work on any 4Kids projects that get transferred to other companies? Nah, couldn't be. 4Kids would never do something as underhanded as intentionally sabotaging Pokemon USA's version of Pokemon. What would 4Kids have to gain from such an action? That is, other than the possibility of Pokemon USA conceding defeat and giving the property back to 4Kids, or Pokemon just being reduced to a less competitive state, giving 4Kids' new properties more opportunity in the marketplace.

Whatever the reason, it's still true that Pokemon USA dropped the ball on the new Pokemon dub. What should have received their best efforts barely received any effort at all.

Even if Pokemon USA's dub was somehow sabotaged by another company, fans of the show, those of you who still care enough about it be true “Pokemon fans", should write to Pokemon USA and tell them to clean up their act.

But when certain parties clamor about the injustice being done to the product, keep in mind that they themselves may not be without blame, and that even if they are without blame, they may not be telling the full story.

Want to write Pokemon USA to tell them what you think? Their official contact info for that kind of comment can be found here (note: their address recently changed, check the page I just linked to for the updated address).

But if you spend a bit of time looking, you might find more direct contact info. You might also want to try writing directly to the people named in the credits for the special.

PS: Are you still a Pokemon fan?

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