Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Big Picture: "Found In Translation"

You asked for "Samurai Pizza Cats?" You GOT "Samurai Pizza Cats."


Phil said...

Bob, is the story about Saban losing access to the original scripts confirmed to be true? I heard that story as a rumor along with another one that the scripts were not given to them on purpose in order to have them do their own version of the story.

In any case, it's laughable because it shows how cheap Saban was that he wouldn't pay a dime to just hire a Japanese translator himself. Even niche home video labels make sure to hire translators.

For those are interested, the U.S. company Discotek has the rights and has announced releases of both the original Japanese version with English subtitles and the Saban version in seperate box sets. No date set as of yet.

Wendy said...

Thanks, Bob. My brother and i watched this back in the day in all its cheesy glory. Nice to know I'm not the only one who remembers. Good work.

Sssonic said...

Could've done without the last-second pot-shot at "Inuyasha", but whatever; I'm working at letting that sort of thing slide, so may as well start trying.

Anyway, this was a pleasant little surprise, given how often you've teased at it in the past. I can still remember watching the show back when it originally aired in syndication, though since it only played at, like, 6:00 in the morning that was difficult to accomplish successfully. XD

I'm sort of surprised you never made a "Voltron" comparison vis a vis the show's success in America versus its relative obscurity in Japan. Remember, Japanese cartoons had only just started to make their way into the mainstream at the time, and part of why SPC was able to stand out was that there were so few shows like it on the air.

@ Phil
Like Bob said, it's kind of hard to determine which of the many stories about why the translation was basically "ad-libbed" is true, or how true each given story is.

Glad to hear "Kyatto Ninden Tyandee!" will be getting a release alongside "Samurai Pizza Cats", too. Always wanted to compare the shows side by side, and while it's true the spoof dub was absolutely to the show's benefit, I always feel like an accurate translation of such works should be available as well. Just ask poor "Ultraman Tiga".

TheDVDGrouch said...

I was indeed one of the people who begged for a SPC episode & its nice to see it lived up to my expectations.

Rory said...

Didn't Saban also at one point try and purchase Marvel completely back in the late 90s . I'm kind of glad that didn't happen TBH, as much as I liked the Fox Kids X-Men and Spider Man Saturday morning cartoons, I hate how Power Rangers is STILL popular enough today to sill me creating new spinoffs. I personally got sick of it after the 2nd "Turbo" movie. Also every time I hear Saban mentioned I have to remind people of this truly bizarre political scandal he was involved in originally reported on the Daily Show: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-april-28-2009/your-government-not-at-work---jane-harman-scandal

Hyrabethian said...

@ Daniel R

You know when they asked George Lucas how he felt about all the complaints made over the prequels and changes made with the original trilogy, he said he took it as a challenge. Back in day George Lucas had to deal with creative rights over his own work studio execs and the director challenging his decisions. With the prequels he had complete freedom to do what he wanted with no questions asked.

Anyways, no ways comparing Mass Effect to Star Wars but the point I'm making is criticism and going against the creators choices sometimes can be a GOOD thing.

Without it we would have had a lizard for Han Solo and a cyborg as Luke....0o

The ending was bad, and made little sense. I've seen Lost episodes end with less WTF moments. It would do it a lot of good if they were to change it. =/

Joe M said...

>>I'm sort of surprised you never made a "Voltron" comparison vis a vis the show's success in America versus its relative obscurity in Japan.

Aside from time constraints, I'd imagine it'd be omitted because Voltron was before this. Back in the 80's with Robotech and the like

Plus, I imagine the myths surrounding Voltron are not nearly as compelling.

Sssonic said...

@ Joe M *nod* True, true. I've just always felt "Voltron" was kind of Exhibit A in Tales of Anime That Hit It Off Far Better in America than in Japan.

Blue Highwind said...

Why you hatin' on Inuyasha, Bob? Dems fightin' words.

Popcorn Dave said...

Wrong comment thread, Hyrabethian?

Anonymous said...

Oh no somebody took a jab at your favorite kids' show! The world is at an end oh woe is you!

Daniel R said...


Don't get me wrong, criticism is definitely a good thing.

The ending deserves to be criticized to HELL and I applaud the Mass Effect fans who are doing just that, criticizing it.

But thats the thing, this isn't just criticism, this is downright demanding Bioware to change THEIR game and sometimes even insinuating that the story "does not belong to them"

I really really REALLY dislike the ending and I think it deserves to be called out as such.
However, I in no way want much less expect Bioware to go back and change the ending to their game to fit my standards.

Not all Mass Effect fans are being completely unreasonable. I'd say the 'indoctrination theory' is actually a pretty neat idea. One that has its place on the web. One thing's discussing or reinterpreting an ending, its another thing entirely to demand the creators 'fix' their ending to fit our standards.

And no, just because they've raised a considerable amount of money for charity does not make them any less wrong. Its good to know that even the dumbest of causes can help others in some way and I'm incredibly glad to be reminded we as gamers can get together and actually do some much needed work for the world.

But its still a dumb cause.

עלינו said...

as i said before - it is a huge cult classic in israel.
as the first generation of cable TV we watched every episode and as I said - the hebew dubbing is wayy beter then the english
an example

Lord Slithor said...

Interesting segment, Bob! It actually confirms what I had always suspected in those early days of translating Anime in that they just made it up as they went along. It explains a lot.

Incidentally, I'm surprised you didn't liken the show to something like the movie "What's Up, Tiger Lily?" which sort of did the same thing (i.e. jettison the dialogue of what was more or less a straight story and turning it into a spoof).

Also incidentally, it always frustrated me that Saban would always buy these shows, then replace footage of the Asian actors with occidental ones in the interest of making it more marketable or whatever. I grew up with shows like the original Ultraman, Johnny Sokko & His Flying Robot, Space Giants and Spectreman, and back then no one had a problem with seeing Asian actors dubbed into english. I saw that on Godzilla and kung-fu movies all the time. So I don't know why kids in the 90's would have had a problem with it either.

Yeah, "TV. IS. WEIRRRRD!!!"

Steven Ulysses Perhero said...

Lord Slithor, I always figured they decided to film a new story around the suited and mecha footage to give them more flexibility to make a show they thought would appeal to American kids.
The five prehistoric warriors were replaced with five "ordinary" teens because kids could identify with them better (How many of the nerdy kids who latched on to Billy do you think Dan would have resonated with, for example?), and the epic struggle between good and evil to obtain the last two dinosaur eggs was replaced with the standard kid's show lessons about friendship and teamwork and environmentalism and blah blah blah my God was that show 90's.

Alternatively, they may have just assumed the tension and drama present in Zyuranger may have been too much for kids. Seriously, watch the first few episodes of Zyuranger and compare the number of times actual danger is faced to the equivalent plots in Power Rangers' first season.

Whatever the reason, I think I prefer Power Rangers' "Let's make our own show around the costume and giant robot footage" approach to straight-up dubs.
I mean, have you seen some of Saban's attempts at legitimate dubs? I can't stand to watch Digimon Adventure in English anymore because of how brutally they fucked it up and dumbed it down.
And don't even get me STARTED on Power Rangers Samurai...

Lord Slithor said...

@ Steven

Sounds like the plot of the original Zyuangers was far more interesting than what we got for Power Rangers, then! I would have much rather watched that show. Then again, I wouldn't have been able to see Amy Jo Johnson doing gymnastics. Rowr!

BTW, is there any way to see the original Zyurangers anywhere - english subtitled of course?

The Karligarchy said...

Clever title for this one. I like it.

Steven Ulysses Perhero said...

Lord Slithor, it's tricky.
See, I watched a decent bit of it in middle school off of YouTube, but it'd be a miracle if those particular subs were still there. Last I'd seen of them they were on MegaVideo, so they're likely impossible to get anymore. It's just as well, I think they were ripped from old VHSes and it shows in the video/audio quality.

Other fansub groups are currently working on it, but as far as I know the one with the most done is only on episode twelve (i.e. not even up to the Dragon Ranger's introductory arc yet) and, the group in particular, I'm not too keen on...
It's mostly me just being a geek and not liking the way they handle the terminology that doesn't have exact English translations, though, so it shouldn't be a problem for more casual viewers.

The good news is, if you're interested in any newer Sentai, you'll have an easy time. The group I almost exclusively use, TV-Nihon, has every series from Dekaranger (SPD) to Goseiger (The Sentai after Shinkenger, Samurai's source for footage and pretty much everything else bar the horrible puns) finished, with Gokaiger (The one where they can turn in to any of the past rangers) only missing the movies and GoBusters (Current series) being in-progress.
They even have Dairanger (The Sentai where half of MMPR S2's monsters and the White Ranger suit came from) completed.

MovieBob said...


The story I've heard a few times - though never from the horse's mouth, so to speak - is that Saban is famously budget-conscious, and what appealed to him so much about Sentai (other than that he was a Godzilla fan as a kid, apparently) was how much of each episode was comprised of re-used footage (transformations, "special-moves," mecha-combining, etc) to begin with; but that on the downside there weren't ENOUGH ZyuRanger episodes in-total to fill the kind of open-ended commitment he wanted to get for a series. Hence the decision to cut the footage up to be even MORE re-usable and shoot new out-of-costume storylines on the cheap so they could make as many episodes as they wanted.

FWIW, while I'd like to see the original Sentai stuff get a stateside release (it'd be EASY MONEY for Saban/Shout!Factory to just release the old masters they already own on DVD now that their doing "Power Rangers" season sets anyway); I have to say that watching through all (so far) of Linkara's MMPR retrospective has changed my mind about the validity of the "Sabanized" shows - however dubious the original reason for the re-editing was, it's clear that a lot of talented and creative people have worked on Power Rangers over the years (TWO DECADES of running-continuity is remarkable for an American kid's show) and at this point I think it's become enough of it's "own thing" to be considered as such.