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 Pokémon 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, Pokémon 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 Pokémon.” But then, you're probably not a Pokémon 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 Pokémon fans know that you expect a certain amount of quality from Pokémon. You're not irrational; you know that Pokémon 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 Pokémon 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, Pokémon USA used new voice actors for this project. So the blame is clearly on Pokémon USA for this mess, right?

Well, like any responsible news source, we asked, or tried to ask Pokémon 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 Pokémon 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 Pokémon USA “decided” not to employ them. The actors themselves never really offered any information as to why Pokémon 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 Pokémon USA's version of Pokémon. What would 4Kids have to gain from such an action? That is, other than the possibility of Pokémon USA conceding defeat and giving the property back to 4Kids, or Pokémon 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 Pokémon USA dropped the ball on the new Pokémon dub. What should have received their best efforts barely received any effort at all.

Even if Pokémon USA's dub was somehow sabotaged by another company, fans of the show, those of you who still care enough about it be true “Pokémon fans", should write to Pokémon 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 Pokémon 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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