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4Kids Entertainment is an American licensing company, responsible for dubbing a variety of different anime series, including Pokémon, One Piece and Yu-Gi-Oh! for English-speaking audiences. They have become infamous on the English-speaking web due to their Americanization of anime.
4Kids was originally founded In 1970 by Mike Germakian, who helped create Thundercats, and Stan Weston, who created G.I. Joe and Captain Action. It was originally called Leisure Concepts Inc. and acted as an independent licensing agency. After handling licenses for Star Wars and The Legend of Zelda, the company was renamed 4Kids Entertainment, Inc in 1995. They began to license popular anime series and bring them to the U.S, with their first major success being the Pokemon anime, based on the Nintendo video game series of the same name, building on the growing craze at the time. Due to the success of Pokemon, 4Kids also moved to provide English dubs of other popular anime series, most notably Yu-Gi-Oh!. On December 21st, 2012, 4Kids was renamed 4Licensing Corporation after declaring bankruptcy in April 2011.
4Kids has an overall negative reputation on the English-speaking web, due to their over-Americanization of the anime series they release. Discussion of whether or not their translations have hurt the integrity of an anime series have appeared online since as early as 2006, with a thread on Japan culture enthusiast forum Crunchyroll discussing distaste for the company resulting in nearly 75 pages of posts in 2008. In 2009, a Yahoo! Answers submission inquired about the reasoning behind the fan hate for the company, with the top answer citing the decision to change the Marines to the Navy in One Piece as one of the reasons fans do not approve of 4Kids.
What If 4Kids Got X?
“What If 4Kids Got X?” refers to a series of video parodies revolving around hypothetical situations in which 4Kids released Americanized dubs for other established anime series. The videos usually depict the series being dumbed down and made more kid-friendly. The first of these videos was uploaded to YouTube in October 2006 (shown below, left), showing what the creator believed would happen to Naruto if 4Kids were to dub it.
4Kids National Anthem
The 4Kids National Anthem (shown below, left) is a video made by the company depicting different anime characters singing the American national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Uploaded as early as 2006, the video was subject to ridicule as viewers did not find it logical for the characters. As of February 2013, there are a handful of reaction videos to the anthem on YouTube, including a mashup video featuring reaction clips of the Nostalgia Critic (shown below, right).
4Kids Hates Rice Balls
4Kids hates Rice Balls is a phrase used in association with Lolcalization to draw attention to the episodes of Pokemon in which rice balls and other traditional Japanese food are edited out and replaced with typically American foods including large sandwiches and doughnuts. Between 2008 and 2009, discussion of this editing appeared on Bulbapedia, The PokeGym and the Anime Crazy forums.