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What if 4Kids got X is a phrase regarding the American film and television company 4Kids Entertainment and their edits of Japanese Animation. The phrase is used in a derogatory sense as to what would happen if 4Kids acquired the rights to an Anime series due to what is seen as excessive editing and/or destruction of the series by 4Kids in order to make the series more marketable to children and preteens. Most instances of the phrase appear on YouTube as hypothetical ideas produced by fans of the series in question. Images also exist showing the differences between the unedited Japanese version of the Anime and the 4Kids edits.
in 1998 4kids acquired the rights to distribute the Pokemon anime in the United States. While this was a commerical success, fans were outraged by the heavy editing of the anime, most notably removing Onigiri, or Japanese Rice Balls, and replacing them with sandwiches or other “Americanized” foods as seen here:
On October 18, 2006. Youtube user SharinganProductions uploaded the following video to show his hypothetical thoughts on what would happen if 4Kids acquired the rights to Naruto, this would be the first instance of the “What if 4Kids got X” meme:
The Editing of Anime
4Kids is not the first company to edit Anime for American Television. Any company that acquires the rights to distribute anime in the U.S. does some editing in order to adhere to the regulations of the Federal Communications Commission. These include editing or replacing alcoholic beverages: such as replacing Sake with Tea, and cigarettes/cigars: these are usualy replaced with lollipops, toothpicks or airbrushed out, that appear in animes. Also, scenes were characters are nude or having sex are edited. For example, in Episode 4 of Tenchi Muyo! known in English as Mihoshi Falls to the Land of Stars There is a hot springs scene about half-way through the episode. in Japan and American DVD Releases, the characters Ryoko and Ayeka are naked, on American Television, the two have bathing suits drawn on.
What draws the ire of Anime fans towards 4Kids is what is seen as OVER-editing of the series. 4Kids commonly goes beyond what is required to meet the FCC’s guidelines and edits the series to be more appealing to younger viewers and to adhere to American cultural norms, such as editing guns and replacing them with water guns or airbrushing them out completely. From the 4Kids Wikipedia entry:
The management of 4Kids Entertainment has stated that it seeks to “localize anime so children in English-speaking countries will understand it…”, judging that localization is necessary in order for these titles to be profitable. For most titles, the editing 4Kids performs falls into a few broad categories – 4Kids may seek to “Americanize” a program by changing character names, dialog, music, food, or stereotypes which would be unfamiliar or even offensive to an American audience, as in the series, Pokémon, where rice balls are changed into American food such as jelly doughnuts or submarine sandwiches. The company also may remove some materially suggestive objects such as cigarettes or guns with lollipops, water guns, crosses, or content deemed too violent or suggestive for American children.
Fans of Anime, however, criticize 4Kids for this exact reason. They feel that 4Kids edits destroy the series with their attempt to “Americanize” the anime. The “What If 4Kids got…” Videos started appearing on YouTube in Mid-2007 as a way to criticize and poke fun at 4Kids excessive edits. Parody to 4Kids edits can be most clearly seen in “If 4Kids got Keroro”:
Comparison to One Piece Original and 4Kids edits:
Comparison to FUNimation
When compared to the FUNimation, a rival distributor, a distinct difference can be seen. For instance, lets compare the names of the Characters from 4Kids’ Yu-Gi-Oh! and FUNimations’ Tenchi Muyo! In 4Kids, almost all of the characters have been given Americanized names. For instance Katsuya Jonouchi is known as Joey Wheeler, Anzu Mazaki is Tea Gardner, and Hiroto Honda is Tristan Taylor. While Yugi Mutou is known as Yugi Muto. one of the only characters not to undergo a name change is Seto Kaiba.
In FUNimations’ Tenchi Muyo, the exact opposite occurs, almost all the characters keep their Japanese names, with the exception being antagonist Dr. Clay, who is known as Dokutā Kurei in Japan. Anime Fans tend to be grateful when FUNimation acquires a license to an Anime as they seem to be more willing to stay truer to the original anime by making only the necessary cuts and edits required by the FCC.
If 4Kids got Death Note:
If 4Kids got Elfin Lied:
On September 22, 2001, MadTV featured a sketch that echos the “What if 4Kids got X”, in this episode, MadTV showcases what would happen if PAX (now known as Ion), a Christian/Family Values network got a hold of the rights to HBOs’ The Sopranos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ig6MNlphMfE (Embedding was disabled on all videos)
The Future of the Phrase
As long as new anime comes to America and 4Kids continues to acquire the licenses for them, the Phrase will continue to be around. Until either 4Kids goes out of business or new anime stops being produced, Fans of anime will continue to hound 4Kids for what they see as excessive and unnecessary edits.