- Dec 18, 2007
- Reaction score
Just going to point out that I've read this explanation before, it came a community rep who didn't even work at 4Kids during the entire time in which they had One Piece, and it's always read as complete passing-the-buck BS to me. One Piece was one of Japan's hottest series (and it still is!), a ton of companies were gunning for it to the point where Funi's reps dug up three separate pilot dubs (one was produced by Funimation, two by completely separate studios), the idea that Toei had to offload it on 4Kids as part of a package deal is absurd.BTW speaking of One Piece, 4Kids never actually wanted to dub that show in the first place, Toei forced them to do it as they refused to license out two of their other anime that 4Kids wanted to dub(Ultimate Muscle and Magical DoReMei)unless they also agreed to do One Piece. The reason Toei did that is because they desperately wanted One Piece to have the same success in America as DBZ did(though funnily enough the at the time shaky reputation of Funimation's in-house dub of DBZ led to them actually turning down Funimation to do the dub of One Piece back in 2003) and they figured it would get even bigger ratings from airing on public TV, so they were willing to do whatever it took for the show to get aired on network TV, approving every single edit 4Kids made to the show(they even were even the ones that asked 4Kids to do an original theme song despite them already having recorded an English version of 'We Are!" which had been shown off at conventions)and not caring about how badly butchered the show wound up in the process.
The timeline doesn't even make sense, 4Kids announced they'd licensed Kinnikuman as early as January 2002, and in 2003 Funimation confirmed they were still actively negotiating for the rights to One Piece. 4Kids also confirmed they were in active negotiation for the rights to Doremi in October 2003, and only announced they'd licensed the show in November 2004. It makes zero sense to assume the three shows were bundled together as part of a package, otherwise 4Kids could have just announced they had all three in 2002, especially since they were going on a licensing spree trying to fill out their Fox Box lineup at the time and OP would have been a much bigger headliner than anything else they had at the time (compared to what, Fighting Foodons?).
I've also never heard the explanation that Toei was put off of Funimation because of their poor DBZ dub, but why would they be? Funimation's DBZ dub was massively successful, and Toei was clearly not concerned about their properties being heavily localized in America (Digimon and Sailor Moon say hi, and also, why would you be upset about how DBZ was handled and then pass off your next biggest series to 4Kids and demand the same overzealous treatment?), they were in it for the money. They saw 4Kids as the company that made Pokemon and Yugioh big in America, and went with them, simple as that. 4Kids might also have been able to offer a better deal than Funimation could.
Not to be uptight about this, I ran One Piece Uncensored back in the day (which I quickly gave up on about 40 episodes in after 4Kids started going slice-and-dice-heavy on the episodes, Dogasu even wrote up a comparison for me once which I never got around to posting, apologies for that) and followed the licensing drama closely. It just always struck me as insanely convenient that right around the time 4Kids was starting to get more involved with the online fandom and rehabilitating their image (this was around the time they started putting up subbed episodes of Yugioh and Sonic X, the only series they had by that point that still had active followings) they had a handy explanation for why they weren't really the bad guys for how they handled One Piece, it was all Toei's fault. And the thing is, One Piece was always a terrible match for their editing/localization policies, but I'm going to blame that on the executives first and foremost who thought they could handle it, these were the same suits who were gunning for InuYasha, Bleach and Naruto at various points, they clearly never stopped to think if they could, they just wanted to cash in on the anime fad as quickly as they could.
Edit: Update after doing more digging. 4Kids actually licensed Kinnikuman in January 2001, or at least announced it. Apparently this was for the original series however ("Ultimate Muscle" is a dub of the second series, Kinnikuman Nisei, which 4Kids seemed to have licensed later). Still doesn't explain the timeline discrepancies and the "OP was bundled with Kinnikuman/Doremi licenses" explanation doesn't pass the smell test for me.