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No, really. Why were aspects of Japan present in the anime deemed problematic?

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So I'm the least picky when it comes to the Dub and still enjoy it a lot (I'd still be happy to regularly consume the original if it ever got the Subbed Toku treatment:)), but yeah the downplaying of Japanese culture really doesn't make sense.

The show isn't some super realistic slice of life story that perfectly captures real life even with the later episodes.

If one can accept:

- The presence of a device that can shrink, convert and store a creature.

- Kids being able to travel the country side and being able to handle creatures (with fantasy/fictional capabilities) that are just as deadly as say a gun.

- Or just any technology that didn't exist in the 90s.

Why is something like say a ball made of rice so much of a deal breaker? If I was ignorant to Japanese culture, I would just assume it's a weird food quirk of the Pokémon world akin to say meat products in The Flintstones are made from dinosaurs instead of mammals or say how gems/diamonds are snacks for dragons (MLP).

But no. It's easy to accept that a device can covert creatures into energy to store them, but riceballs are the most puzzling thing cause, as Linkara puts it, the Kool-Aid Man is red.
 
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4Kids thinks kids are ignorant to other cultures.
Yeah but again prior to playing the games or watching the anime back in 98, how many kids knew what Pokémon, Pokéball, and other fictional aspects of the world's culture was?

If kids can accept say Avatar the Last Airbender having hybrid animal species in their world or say back in the 80s the Gummi Bears bouncing around due to a magical juice, I don't see how unfamiliar aspect of Japan should be rage inducing.
 
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Pokémon fans generally do not like to talk about this, and I always get pushback whenever I bring this up, but the answer is quite simple: racism / xenophobia.

Now why these racist / xenophobic practices originated from -- the group of mostly middle aged white men who run the dub, or the network executives who put it on TV, or the fear of upsetting the ignorant soccer moms who will write in and complain about these "Chinese cartoons," or some combination of all of them-- is up for debate. But whoever you point the finger at, it's very obvious to me that the practice of removing Japanese language / culture from the show is rooted in some very ugly ways of thinking.
 
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Pokémon fans generally do not like to talk about this, and I always get pushback whenever I bring this up, but the answer is quite simple: racism / xenophobia.
Beside what I brought up in the opening of the thread I'm inclined to agree especially cause of a variation on the matter.

Namely how networks like Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon either reject potential titles for having a female lead and still have to be convinced to take that chance (i.e. The Legend of Korra). Yeah because Jem and The Hologram, Powerpuff Girls, Sailor Moon (Dub anyway), The Wild Thornberrys and Kim Possible were total failures:rolleyes: that each bombed after 13 episodes.

Or the folks on top are stuck in the Boys Club mentality of the early 1900s.

But going back to the language thing yeah like you stated here: Japanese Episode 052

Downplaying Japanese elements but giving a character a heavy Italian accent. You should see Suede's video on that episode for a good Take That.

Then even outside anime dubs there's The Last Airbender which avoided usage of the Chinese Caligraphy not with English Text, but generic symbols that you can't read anyway.
 
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4Kids thinks kids are ignorant to other cultures.
I don't think it's fair to blame 4Kids especially since they haven't dubbed the anime for close to 15 years. TPCi removes Japanese text as well so clearly it's not just a 4Kids thing.

Hell even in the days of 4Kids they kept a lot of Japanese culture references in the dubbed episodes like in the summer festival episode and the Fuchsia Gym episode where they left all the ninja and kabuki stuff intact. People love to make it sound like 4Kids did paint edits in every Japanese culture scene, but they let a lot of stuff slide apart from Japanese food references most of the time.
 
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Pokémon fans generally do not like to talk about this, and I always get pushback whenever I bring this up, but the answer is quite simple: racism / xenophobia.

Now why these racist / xenophobic practices originated from -- the group of mostly middle aged white men who run the dub, or the network executives who put it on TV, or the fear of upsetting the ignorant soccer moms who will write in and complain about these "Chinese cartoons," or some combination of all of them-- is up for debate. But whoever you point the finger at, it's very obvious to me that the practice of removing Japanese language / culture from the show is rooted in some very ugly ways of thinking.
I wasn't going to respond because that would prove your 'pushback' comment, but I don't have a choice since I feel like I have to give my take on things. So I'll say it; I disagree with the racism/xenophobia excuse, partially because a lot of people love throwing it around as the default criticism for every instance of Japanese stuff being altered in the dub without allowing for open dialogue.

But the main thing about the racism excuse that grinds my gears is that whenever people turn it around and mention the borderline racist things that the original version of the show included like Jynx primarily - but also the mammy stereotype attire Lenora wore in the Japanese BW episodes or Ash's borderline blackface stunt in the Passimian episode - the same people who blame 4kids for being 'racist' make a dozen different excuses for why blackface isn't a big deal, usually the ever-so-popular 'different cultures' excuse.

Sorry, but I'm not accepting that. If we're going to grill 4kids over alleged racism/xenophobia on their part just because they wanted to localize the show to make it more relevant to American kids, then we should also grill the Japanese producers for allowing hurtful stereotypes of African Americans in the show. I apologize for the whataboutism, but I just hate double standards.
 
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The issue, to me, is pretty clear: ratings are more important to TPCi than maintaining cultural references. The blame lies both on the localization teams as well as those who give them the permission to change the show in first place.

However, western society as a whole is definitely partly to blame here. I think it’s pretty safe to assume that these kinds of censorship are performed in the interest of attracting/appealing to more viewers from western audiences who would otherwise be turned off by cultural references they don’t recognize. I wish I actually knew the true metrics of just how much this truly affects ratings, but if they spent money on doing it, then it probably does even if we wish it didn’t.

References to real-world cultures are inevitable and really should just remain in-tact with no change. The first few regions are, after all, based on Japanese locations. Rice balls in Hoenn should be just as acceptable as baguettes in Kalos.
 
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In my opinion I believe it's mostly to pass Pokemon up as your average American cartoon. For me it doesn't have to be any more complicated than that.

Other anime also fell victim to this practice back in the 90s and 00s, such as Sailor Moon, Shaman King, Digimon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Cardcaptors Sakura, etc etc etc... And not just anime, but cartoons from other countries were also affected, like the animated version of El Chavo, in which the dub changed most of the characters' names and changed the setting from a Mexican city to New York.
 
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Yami-no-Game said:
Hell even in the days of 4Kids they kept a lot of Japanese culture references in the dubbed episodes like in the summer festival episode and the Fuchsia Gym episode where they left all the ninja and kabuki stuff intact
They only kept what they absolutely could not edit around. Back in 1998 4Kids did not have the money / technology / time / influence to replace entire backgrounds and/or reanimate scenes. They wouldn't get that capability for a few more years.

If 4Kids had the ability to transport our heroes from a ninja gym to, say, an elementary school gymnasium then they absolutely would have.

Venomaid said:
But the main thing about the racism excuse that grinds my gears is that whenever people turn it around and mention the borderline racist things that the original version of the show included like Jynx primarily - but also the mammy stereotype attire Lenora wore in the Japanese BW episodes or Ash's borderline blackface stunt in the Passimian episode - the same people who blame 4kids for being 'racist' make a dozen different excuses for why blackface isn't a big deal, usually the ever-so-popular 'different cultures' excuse.
Well I know you're not talking about me because I call out the Japanese version for its problematic shit fairly often. I was one of the first Pokémon fans on the Internet to agree with Carole Weatherford that yes, Jynx looks like a blackface caricature. I made a page to explain why people had a problem with Aloe. And I've defended TPCi decision to skip that one Sun & Moon episode on multiple occasions.

There is zero double standard here.

swiftgallade46 said:
Rice balls in Hoenn should be just as acceptable as baguettes in Kalos.
This, however, is absolutely a double standard.
 
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swiftgallade46 said:
Rice balls in Hoenn should be just as acceptable as baguettes in Kalos.
This, however, is absolutely a double standard.
Just to clarify, are you agreeing with me here? Because my intent was to call-out a double standard with this statement; not to perpetuate one.
 
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I do agree with you, yes.
 
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4Kids' efforts to remove signs of Japanese culture from the dub definitely comes off as racist. I didn't really think of it as such when I was first watching the dub, but it seems much more obvious in retrospect. This was something that they did with all of their dubs. Treating any signs of Japanese culture as something kids wouldn't understand or bend over backwards to have another show like Yu-Gi-Oh! set in America instead of Japan doesn't really give off good implications at least. At best, it's talking down to the audience, expecting kids to not know or care that other cultures outside of America exist and at worst, it's racist, even though there's a good chance that it's probably both instead of an either/or situation.
 
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In my opinion I believe it's mostly to pass Pokémon up as your average American cartoon. For me it doesn't have to be any more complicated than that.

Other anime also fell victim to this practice back in the 90s and 00s, such as Sailor Moon, Shaman King, Digimon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Cardcaptors Sakura, etc etc etc... And not just anime, but cartoons from other countries were also affected, like the animated version of El Chavo, in which the dub changed most of the characters' names and changed the setting from a Mexican city to New York.
I'm also of the view that the decision far more reflects an low collective expectation of western children and fear of their reaction as opposed to a disdain for Japanese culture. Funnily enough, the notorious 'jelly doughnuts' line probably drew more of my attention to the cultural differences; rice is a perfectly normal and commonplace foodstuff, but jelly doughnuts that look like that could only ever originate in a truly exotic land!
 
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What about Asian American kids? They would recognise the food.
 
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I'm also of the view that the decision far more reflects an low collective expectation of western children and fear of their reaction as opposed to a disdain for Japanese culture. Funnily enough, the notorious 'jelly doughnuts' line probably drew more of my attention to the cultural differences; rice is a perfectly normal and commonplace foodstuff, but jelly doughnuts that look like that could only ever originate in a truly exotic land!
It's funny that you mentioned the onigiri becoming donuts in early Kanto because they actually became cookies in my local dub! I have no idea why the hell they thought it was a good idea to translate "donut" to "cookie" (guess we didn't use that word that often back in the late 90's, but we did have a better term even back then).

Well, it's like you said, I was around 5 years old when I first saw that episode and I remember not being fooled by the term.
 
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