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The English dub is being released too slowly to be an effective promotional tool in 2020

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The video games have had simultaneous worldwide releases since Generation 6. Pokémon GO's releases are (now) all the same worldwide as well. The Pokémon Company / Game Freak / etc. figured out that having everyone get the same things at the same time is key to being able to effectivly market the franchise worldwide.

And then you have the TV series. The English dub of the animated series is about four months behind the Japanese version, and while this is a great improvement from the 4Kids days (where there'd be a full year between the two) that's *still* a quarter of a year wait for an official English version. The video games have been in Generation 8 for three months now but the English dub of the TV series is going to be stuck in Gen 7 until about March or so.

It's even worse for the other international versions since they have to wait for the English dub to be completed before they can even get started on theirs. The German dub, for example, seems like it's only on the very first episode of the Alola League and so even if they air one new episode a week they probably won't be able to finish Sun & Moon until June 2020 or so. The first Sword & Shield expansion pass will be out by then.

Mewtwo Strikes Back Evolution, meanwhile, came out in Japan a full 7 months ago. The movie is so old that the tie-in distributon they had in Japan - a Mewtwo you can download to your copy of Let's Go! Pikachu / Let's Go! Eevee - can't really be brought over anymore because we've moved on to a new generation since then. "To celebrate the release of the new movie you can download a Mewtwo to your Pokémon games! No, not those ones, the ones that came out in 2018....OK, yes...we understand...sure, but...but Mewtwo's not in Sword & Shield and..."

The Pokémon Company *must* realize that the delayed release of the TV series abroad is severely handicapping its ability to provide effective cross-media promotion. But even TPCI halving the gap of their dub from four months to two months wouldn't be enough. In the year 2020 an English translation of the TV series needs to be made available day-and-date with Japan.

So what's to be done?

1) A simulsub, which is something that basically every other anime series on the planet has been doing for the last half a decade or so. Crunchyroll already promotes the Japanese version of the show for free so it's not like TPCI would have trouble finding a home for it.

Or

2) A simuldub, which would be trickier to do logistically because most simuldubs are for short 13 or 26 episode series and not for endless marathon series like Pokémon.

Either way, *something* needs to be done because the current way things are being done just isn't working anymore. Does anyone have any other ideas of how to fix this problem?
 
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Satoshi’s Alola league win is a perfect example of this. Was there truly anyone in the west— be they a dub fan, sub fan, hardcore fan, or someone who dropped the series when Kasumi left— who didn’t know of that outcome the day it happened in Japan?
 
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It's definitely weird how old fashioned the anime's western treatment is in that regard. I have a few theories on why but we can't say for sure. Surely TPCI has enough resources for a simulcast sub?

Satoshi’s Alola league win is a perfect example of this. Was there truly anyone in the west— be they a dub fan, sub fan, hardcore fan, or someone who dropped the series when Kasumi left— who didn’t know of that outcome the day it happened in Japan?
The other odd part is how the English marketing handled it. They made allusions to it on twitter right after it happened, but then when the dub reached the league they started trying to play coy during the build up.
 
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Was there truly anyone in the west— be they a dub fan, sub fan, hardcore fan, or someone who dropped the series when Kasumi left— who didn’t know of that outcome the day it happened in Japan?
I'd be dead surprised if there is someone who managed to not know at all considering if you were on social media, you'd need more than just 20 strokes of luck in order to escape the news since everyone was talking about it. BBC, sports news sites, fans, gamers, voice actors (including some from the actual dub itself, well unless you were playing Ash or are the voice director for the show), even freakin CNN of all things.

You name it, they mentioned it.
 
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Pokemon is kinda a rare exception for a Made-for-TV dub, considering Yugioh and Beyblade release about a year after JP airing. Bakugan dub is weird bc its months ahead of JP.

Pokemon dub episodes are recorded 1 month after JP airing. This is bc of the time it takes for TPC Japan to supply, translate, and for JCC to adapt many scripts at once, as well as for Ed Goldfarb to get all the music done.


I'm sure Disney XD is also at play here. They were pretty close behind Japan until they took that awfully long hiatus in May 2019
 
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The other odd part is how the English marketing handled it. They made allusions to it on twitter right after it happened, but then when the dub reached the league they started trying to play coy during the build up.
I still think that the weirdest part about the English marketing was that article on the official website describing all of Ash's defeats and downplaying all of his previous accomplishments. If it wasn't on the official Pokemon website, I honestly would have expected that it was written by a fan who was still really upset over the Kalos League defeat. Trying to hype up the Alola League victory was already an odd choice when everyone already knew about it, but belittling the show's main character in an official article was definitely the strangest route they could have taken.

I think part of the problem with the dub in this case is that they didn't have a sneak peak of the upcoming series. It could be that TPCI didn't think it was necessary to do so this time around when the first two episodes aren't focused on Sword/Shield, but it's still kind of a shame when we've always gotten sneak peaks before and it's a good way to get the audience excited about what's next for Ash. There would still be a gap between the two versions, but letting kids know what they can look forward to after SM still would have been a good idea. Not to mention I'm still curious about the dub names for Gou and Koharu.

As for the Mewtwo movie, I think that might be an issue with Netflix. Either they paid more money to premiere the movie themselves or it was a last minute decision in order for more people across the world to watch it on Pokemon Day. It still messes up with the initial plans for the movie and the Mewtwo distribution event, but it might have been a one time issue.

As for the gap itself, I don't think that the length is necessarily the problem. Four months for a long running series doesn't seem that bad to me, but I always think of how the 4Kids dub was a full year behind whenever this comes up. Even now, Konami Cross Media is about a year and a half behind the Japanese version with their Yu-Gi-Oh! dubs and there's the added bonus of how Vrains, the most recent series, never premiered in the U.S. KCM seemingly isn't trying to shorten that gap either, which really makes it difficult to promote the cards, but they are more willing to put out legal subs for various Yu-Gi-Oh! series. I think that would realistically be the best option for TPCI to do.

A simuldub just wouldn't work. Most simuldubs tend to be for a season instead of long running series. One Piece couldn't really get the simuldub treatment for the same reason. There would be a lot of work involved and I think everyone in the staff would be burned out, especially when I have heard about script writers and voice actors needing to take time off after a season due to the simuldub format. Pokemon doesn't really have a lot of breaks outside of holidays, so that would probably add a lot of crunch time for the dub production staff. Releasing a game worldwide or having updates for Pokemon Go are also more manageable to do by comparison. It still can definitely affect the game developers, but working on a game or an update for one specific date isn't quite on the same level of working on a weekly series.

Considering that they strongly hinted at Ash's Alola League victory and his recent capture of Dragonite on the official Pokemon Twitter account, they might as well make official subs at this point. I don't know how many kids would be interested in watching the series subs, but older fans would at least, they could potentially make a nice bit of money and it would be far cheaper/manageable to do than a simuldub. They can still take the time they need to work on the dub, but still use the subs to help promote new Pokemon and events. Everyone would ideally be happy with that arrangement.
 
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It's 2020. How we don't have a Simultaneous dub is beyond me. The anime serves to sell the games (in the west), however, not having the anime airing while sword and shield being released is completely baffling. Imagine for a moment if sword and shield released in Japan without the anime to coincide with it? The games likely would not have been selling as well as they are.

Admittedly, the whole pokemon dub production screams of incontinency. Between the removal of music, the late releases and the questionable choices regarding Pokemon voices being redubbed has left little enthusiasm towards it. I actually remember back on Bulbagarden and Serebii when the sinnoh anime was airing that the dub was quite popular. It was my preference as well, however, the production has since gone cheaper and you can't expect anyone to re-watch a lower quality version 8 months later. Of course, it is for children. But that argument falls in the toilet when you consider Sun and Moon's ratings are 1/12th of what Sinnoh and Unova's were. So it seems like almost nobody would be the current Audience for the dub.

What tpci needs to do is to stop being cheap regarding the anime and offer a dub (at least within a month of the episodes Japanese airing) and simultaneous sub within hours of its release. They need to remove goldfarb and all music replacements (barring the opening) and they need to find a way to re-energize interest towards the dub in the west. Because at the point, the dub has never been as unpopular as it is now. It's Disney XD ratings have tanked and most pokemon anime fans dismiss it because they have gone out of their way to make the product as unwatchable as possible. The fact that we might not see the pokemon 2019 anime until May is once again baffling.

One last thought. It isn't 2010 anymore. TPCI are making more money then they ever have before. Why are they still persisting with cheapening the dub and making it as unwatchable as possible? There is no reason for this to still be the case.
 
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I still think that the weirdest part about the English marketing was that article on the official website describing all of Ash's defeats and downplaying all of his previous accomplishments. If it wasn't on the official Pokemon website, I honestly would have expected that it was written by a fan who was still really upset over the Kalos League defeat. Trying to hype up the Alola League victory was already an odd choice when everyone already knew about it, but belittling the show's main character in an official article was definitely the strangest route they could have taken.
I chalk the article up to sarcastic and meta writing seeming to be pretty popular in English works nowadays, especially when it's video game or video game adjacent. There was that controversy about Treehouse adding memes to games and, infamously, the English version of Fire Emblem: Fates replacing actual dialogue with nothing but "...".

I think part of the problem with the dub in this case is that they didn't have a sneak peak of the upcoming series. It could be that TPCI didn't think it was necessary to do so this time around when the first two episodes aren't focused on Sword/Shield, but it's still kind of a shame when we've always gotten sneak peaks before and it's a good way to get the audience excited about what's next for Ash. There would still be a gap between the two versions, but letting kids know what they can look forward to after SM still would have been a good idea. Not to mention I'm still curious about the dub names for Gou and Koharu.
This is a little odd and makes me wonder if there's going to be some sort of change--has it been confirmed if the new dub is still going to be on Disney XD?
 
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has it been confirmed if the new dub is still going to be on Disney XD?
Not heard a peep outta Disney XD. I think the dub will most likely go on a short hiatus after they've wrapped Sun & Moon up until they announce it.
 
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TCPI problay already knows about the unoffical fan subs of pokemon 2019 thats out atm and yet they dont really care. I know if TCPI puts out offical subs on crunchyroll. The fan subbing grouo who currently work on it wiill drop it
 
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Pokemon is kinda a rare exception for a Made-for-TV dub, considering Yugioh and Beyblade release about a year after JP airing. Bakugan dub is weird bc its months ahead of JP.

Pokemon dub episodes are recorded 1 month after JP airing. This is bc of the time it takes for TPC Japan to supply, translate, and for JCC to adapt many scripts at once, as well as for Ed Goldfarb to get all the music done.


I'm sure Disney XD is also at play here. They were pretty close behind Japan until they took that awfully long hiatus in May 2019
Bakugan is an odd case because it was originally a failure in Japan but did okay in the west. So the dubs of the following series were released there first.
 
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I taught a 3rd grade class (ages 8-9) for a few months and there were some kids in it talking about "Ash travelling the world with some new guy"- the target audience already knows about the new series, even without the dub's usual sneak preview!

With MSBE's official sub being so successful I really don't see why, in the year 2020, an official sub being released simultaneously (or at least within a day) of the Japanese version. Perhaps TPCI is worried it would mess up dub fans- why start a brand new series when Ash is still battling in the Alola league- but as others have said CNN reported on his win the day it happened in Japan! Surely they could bite the bullet and step into the 21st century.

My ideal for the dub (other than it being made well, that is) is to have a simulcast sub with the actual dub coming out ASAP on streaming services. While I agree that a simuldub wouldn't be reasonable for a show as long-running as Pokemon surely they can pick up the pace a bit. I'm unsure if this would be realistic but would removing the season structure work? It doesn't help to have multi-month breaks in the dub when the Japanese version, as far as I can remember, hasn't taken more than a month off since the Porygon incident. Moving the dub to a streaming service exclusively could help remove some broadcast restrictions too, such as the alleged theory that dub openings have to be around 30 seconds to fit the broadcast timeslot.
 
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From TPC's corporate site, they say that "While linguistic and cultural backgrounds vary greatly among the countries of the world, Pokémon is meticulously localized to ensure its content suits each region" and that they "strive to ensure that people all around the world can enjoy it at the same [time] with such things as simultaneous worldwide release of new game software in nine different languages."

So let's take a quick look at Asia, that mythical land in the east free of TPCI hegemony, where local distributors supposedly have a direct line to TPC:

They're getting M22 this year too.

The only country not in the Netflix deal, South Korea isn't getting M22 until later this year. They're announcing the results of their art contest on Feb. 27 so they're probably not getting it before Netflix. When do they normally get the movies? December/January.​
Of the rest, Taiwan is the only one that consistently gets movies "on time", and in the cinema too. Taiwan got M13 within 20 days of its premiere in Japan and got M18-M21 in November of the same year. They're also one of the few places where the Japanese version of the movies have been screened: both M20 and M21 got subbed/dubbed showings in the cinema.​

They haven't started Pocket Monsters (2019) either.
The Korean and Mandarin dubs have finished Pocket Monsters Sun & Moon. SM146 aired in South Korea on January 14 (2.5 months after Japan) and in Taiwan on February 8 (three months after Japan). These gaps shouldn't particularly impressive because much of BW/XY in the English dub was aired with a smaller gap. South Korea has announced the new series as "Pocket Monsters W", but with no start date as of yet.​
As for the other dubs in the region, the Thai dub is 16 episodes behind the English dub. The Indonesian dub just started SM on September 20. The Cantonese and Vietnamese dubs in Hong Kong and Vietnam only got through SM043 before stopping back in October and July 2018, respectively. Note that the Indonesian and Vietnamese dubs of SM were dubbed from the English dub. Thailand and Vietnam are currently most of the way through a redub of the original series (in "season 4" apparently). These dubs are based on the Japanese version, and they retain the Japanese opening/ending themes.​
Malaysia gets the English dub with Malay subs and are almost done with season 21. Isn't that nice.​

If TPC was interested in licensing the Japanese version of the series for simulsub anywhere, I think that some distributor in South Korea, Taiwan, or Southeast Asia would have already done so. As points of comparison, Boruto is both subbed/dubbed while Yo-Kai Watch has only been dubbed in South Korea/Taiwan, just like in English. Outside of the movies, none of them have been able to do that.

As long as TPC sees the anime as a kids show to promote merchandise, they're not going to license the Japanese version for simulsub--it hasn't been "meticulously localized" and it won't even be shown on local broadcasters to the kids. TPCi can certainly release the dub sooner as evidenced by BW/XY, but even ignoring the whims of Disney XD's scheduling it's not going to get significantly shorter than a two month gap. TPCi obviously makes money from selling the broadcast rights; if TPCi actually wanted to take distribution in-house, they already have their own streaming service in Pokémon TV.
 
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Kids wouldn't like a subbed version at all. Teens and adults maybe could, but I'm sure that some of them would end up complaining because of the quality, the use of English terminology, or just accessibility so some of them would keep up with illegal releases anyway, like it happened with Digimon Tri.

A simuldub is possible and is something I'd like to see too, but there are problems with how Japan and USA produce the anime. In the side of Japan, we have the fact that Pocket Monsters has more varied backgrounds than Sun & Moon and that the number of episodes demanded by TvTokyo has increased since the schedule change, so it's harder to produce than in early 2018, and they would have to take a very long break to accommodate a dub to happen. And of the side of the USA, we have the music replacement, which can't be done in one night (I agree that it'd be better if they used the Japanese music, but every year it's more clear that they don't want to change their policy).

Mewtwo is available in USUM, LGPE and Go, and also is on SWSH's internal code (so it can get an event at any time) so I don't think the movie coming 3 months late is that big of a problem.

Maybe they know about all of this, so that's why both the movies and the show itself are promoting the games less directly, the Snorlax Raid being an odd case.

However, I agree that Disney XD is in complete capacity of cutting the time between the English and the Japanese airings by a month, seeing Ash vs Kukui now feels ridiculous and makes other dubs go slower. They should aim for every season to be finished on December-January so the new one starts on February like in the BW days.
 
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It's 2020. How we don't have a Simultaneous dub is beyond me. The anime serves to sell the games (in the west), however, not having the anime airing while sword and shield being released is completely baffling. Imagine for a moment if sword and shield released in Japan without the anime to coincide with it? The games likely would not have been selling as well as they are.
Not every anime series has a simuldub and I still think that it wouldn't be a viable option for Pokemon. Each series goes on for well over a hundred episodes with little breaks during its run. Most simuldubs are between thirteen and twenty-six episodes. Even series like My Hero Academia have breaks between seasons, so it ideally isn't overwhelming for the dub production crew involved to make the simuldub happen. It would be a lot harder to pull that off with Pokemon.

SinnohBoi said:
Admittedly, the whole pokemon dub production screams of incontinency. Between the removal of music, the late releases and the questionable choices regarding Pokemon voices being redubbed has left little enthusiasm towards it. I actually remember back on Bulbagarden and Serebii when the sinnoh anime was airing that the dub was quite popular. It was my preference as well, however, the production has since gone cheaper and you can't expect anyone to re-watch a lower quality version 8 months later. Of course, it is for children. But that argument falls in the toilet when you consider Sun and Moon's ratings are 1/12th of what Sinnoh and Unova's were. So it seems like almost nobody would be the current Audience for the dub.
To be fair, ratings really mean nothing, especially for a toyetic franchise like Pokemon. I don't think that they matter in general, but TPCI most likely isn't going to care that much if they aren't bringing in huge ratings. Lower ratings for SM doesn't necessarily mean that the current audience doesn't like the dub. There are some key differences here. DP and BW were on Cartoon Network, which is more widely available than Disney XD is. Plus, streaming has become much more common since DP and BW were on the air. Disney XD has the newest episodes available on their On Demand section and their website the same day it premieres on TV. There are a lot more ways to watch Pokemon now than a few years ago, so that could have affected how many kids watch the show live. Ratings are just too outdated to use as solid proof for anything nowadays.

SinnohBoi said:
What tpci needs to do is to stop being cheap regarding the anime and offer a dub (at least within a month of the episodes Japanese airing) and simultaneous sub within hours of its release. They need to remove goldfarb and all music replacements (barring the opening) and they need to find a way to re-energize interest towards the dub in the west. Because at the point, the dub has never been as unpopular as it is now. It's Disney XD ratings have tanked and most pokemon anime fans dismiss it because they have gone out of their way to make the product as unwatchable as possible. The fact that we might not see the pokemon 2019 anime until May is once again baffling.
I don't know if the music would really create more interest in the dub, at least among the target audience. It would be nice if they kept it in, but I don't think that's a big issue with the dub for kids. I don't think that four months is that bad for a gap length, but again, I always think about the current situation with the Yu-Gi-Oh! dubs whenever people complain about that. Four months behind the Japanese version would a much needed improvement and the dub would actually have a chance to promote the newest cards instead of being years behind them. I still think that you're putting way too much stock into ratings.

I chalk the article up to sarcastic and meta writing seeming to be pretty popular in English works nowadays, especially when it's video game or video game adjacent. There was that controversy about Treehouse adding memes to games and, infamously, the English version of Fire Emblem: Fates replacing actual dialogue with nothing but "...".
That's possible, but it was just such a strange move to belittle the main character in such a way. Maybe it's because of how many years I've read people complaining about Ash's League defeats, but it didn't really read as sarcastic to me.

Daren said:
This is a little odd and makes me wonder if there's going to be some sort of change--has it been confirmed if the new dub is still going to be on Disney XD?
Not yet, but that's most likely going to be the case. Disney XD still promotes the new season and if they were going to stop airing the anime after SM wraps up, I think that they wouldn't bother promoting it anymore. Plus, even if there was going to be a move to a new channel or streaming service, I don't think that would affect a potential sneak peak. They still had a sneak peak of SM on Disney XD while Cartoon Network was wrapping up XY. That makes me think that TPCI didn't think that there was enough promotion for Sword/Shield within the first two episodes to dub and air them ahead of time to tie in with the games' release.

I'd personally prefer the dub to stay on Disney XD. I'm not sure if being on a streaming service would really drastically affect their edits. I also just would prefer not to pay for another streaming service and I still like watching new episodes on my TV every Saturday morning. If it had to go to a streaming service, I'd be okay with it as long as the series still had a weekly release instead of releasing a chuck of episodes at a time like Netflix does.
 
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Just to be clear: a simulsub / simuldub wouldn't replace the TPCI dub currently on TV. It would merely be a (much-needed) supplement to help make the animated series a more effective marketing tool in the West.

Pkmndub said:
Pokemon dub episodes are recorded 1 month after JP airing. This is bc of the time it takes for TPC Japan to supply, translate, and for JCC to adapt many scripts at once, as well as for Ed Goldfarb to get all the music done.
But then you have things like the voice actor for Bonnie (I think) tweeting out a picture of her recording an episode of XY that hadn't even aired in Japan yet. And Tom Wayland claims they got the Plasma vs. Rocket two-parter despite the episode being banned nearly a week before it was set to air on TV-Tokyo.

I'm sure Disney XD is also at play here. They were pretty close behind Japan until they took that awfully long hiatus in May 2019
A simulsub (or simuldub) can be at one place while the TV dub is at another. This is the case for basically all the shows on Toonami / Adult Swim right now.

Hidden Mew said:
I don't know how many kids would be interested in watching the series subs, but older fans would at least, they could potentially make a nice bit of money
This is exactly it. The franchise is now old enough for there to be parents who grew up watching Pokémon on Kids' WB! A not-at-all-insignificant portion of the fanbase is now in their 20s / 30s. Simulsubs wouldn't replace the dub that kids enjoy today but they would provide a legal way for fans of all ages to keep up-to-date with the animated series worldwide. Thinking *only* of the 10-year-olds in the audience and ignoring everyone else isn't prudent in the year 2020.

DigiPokeMon said:
TCPI problay already knows about the unoffical fan subs of pokemon 2019 thats out atm and yet they dont really care. I know if TCPI puts out offical subs on crunchyroll. The fan subbing grouo who currently work on it wiill drop it
And that'd be fine. Happens all the time with other series.

kantoskies said:
I'm unsure if this would be realistic but would removing the season structure work?
I think this is a great idea but I'm sure various contracts are still being done by the season. Mr. Goldfarb has like a three season deal right now, doesn't he? Having the show produced with clear divisions between chunks of episodes probably helps make production more manageable.

abcboy said:
So let's take a quick look at Asia, that mythical land in the east free of TPCI hegemony, where local distributors supposedly have a direct line to TPC
While these are all good points, it's not like "the Japanese license holders are completely clueless" is a problem exclusive to Pokémon. FUNimation, for example, is known to have had trouble getting the rights to simulsub Dragon Ball Super from Toei despite Dragon Ball being the biggest anime in the world. It took them about a year to work out a deal before finally being able to provide simulsubs during the Goku Black arc.

TPCI is reponsible for how the franchise does in the U.S., and if the animated version isn't helping them market their versions of games to its full potential then they need to be the ones to approach TPC to work out a deal. It would take work, especially since 4Kids had spent years beating Japan over the head with how their version is unmarketable and unairable in the West. But it's a conversation that needs to be had.
 
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But then you have things like the voice actor for Bonnie (I think) tweeting out a picture of her recording an episode of XY that hadn't even aired in Japan yet. And Tom Wayland claims they got the Plasma vs. Rocket two-parter despite the episode being banned nearly a week before it was set to air on TV-Tokyo.
Except that was 2011-2015. Lisa Ortiz is the voice director now and things could've obviously changed in the way they did production.
They quite literally were working their butts off during the Thanksgiving week trying to finish up the Kukui arc and the last episodes of SM.
We already know each season production starts in November.

Also, It kinda seems you're using this as another chance to throw TPCi under the bus, and not all the companies involved, including Japan.
 
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