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15 Times English Anime Dubs Made Drastic Changes to Anime

Updated December 3, 2020 3.9k votes 1.2k voters 115.4k views15 items

List RulesVote up the anime where English dubs made the largest changes to the story.

As anime make their way overseas, they're localized and adapted to fit Western audiences. While there are definitely some amazing English dubbed anime, a fair share of the localization just doesn't match up. Writers and American daytime TV will change an anime to be more palatable for the little types in the Western side of the world, dismantling and ruining the original intent and purpose of the Japanese creators. 

Sure, there are cases where anime dubs change the script for of translation purposes but, regardless, such changes have definitely resulted in some of the best anime series turning into one big joke. What's even more unfortunate is that the English dubs can be changed multiple times, meaning that one agency changes an anime and then a second agency changes it again. This gives viewers a haphazardly sewn and censored version of the animation and voice overs.

You're about to dive headfirst into anime dubs that made big changes and succumbed to the burden of English adaptation to the point where it completely destroyed the original integrity. Vote up the anime that has been changed most drastically by its English localization. 

  • Sailor Moon
    Photo: Toei Animation

    The heavy amount of changes that this poor magical girl anime endured during its original run on US television is pitiful. The lesbian relationship between Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune was changed to a slightly awkward cousin relationship. In addition, not only were entire episodes removed, which tainted the backstories for some characters such as Sailor V, but the entire fifth season was left completely out.

    The fifth season involved the gender-swapping Sailor Starlights and was considered too controversial to be aired as a popular kids show in the '90s.

    • Premiered: 1995
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  • Dragon Ball Z
    Photo: user uploaded image

    Poor Dragon Ball Z endured extreme censorship in America, where the show was marketed toward kids watching daytime TV. Since the original bloody battles, lewd behavior, cursing, and drug and alcohol use were a dangerous concoction for their TV time slot and demographic, these scenes were either edited visually or completely removed, sometimes resulting in entire episodes being replaced.

    Blood was turned green, alcohol was removed to create empty glasses, and cigarettes were completely erased. To make things more palatable for younger audiences, all references to Hell were removed, with one particular scene resulting in new reference to "HFIL," the new "Home for Infinite Losers."

    • Premiered: 1989
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    Yu-Gi-Oh!
    Photo: Toei Animation

    When Yu-Gi-Oh! made its appearance in the West, it was tactfully reconstructed as a card-game anime that was purely meant to be marketing fodder for young children. The original anime, which still included Dual Monsters, was more of a twisted, dark fantasy anime where Yami Yugi viciously murdered some of the opposing players in his "Shadow Games."

    Much like the American horror classic Saw, the participants in these games gambled with their lives. Many players met their horrific ends by being burned alive, falling to their death, or suffering from grotesque visions of body horror while descending into madness. Of course, all of the death sequences were removed in the English adaptation and 4Kids Entertainment replaced these scenes with a fabricated "Shadow Realm" instead.

    • Premiered: 1998

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    One Piece
    Video: YouTube

    When 4Kids got their hands on One Piece, they stripped it of all guns, drugs, and anything that looked like it could be used as a violent weapon. The most notable are the guns and drugs. Guns were replaced with very silly objects such as signs and things like... whatever the hell this is.

    As for the drugs, like Sanji's cigarette, they just put the top of a lollipop on it and called it a day. Hey, if it works, it works.

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