2003 Astro Boy English vs. Japanese Release Dialogue Changes - Wow...

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sgupta
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2003 Astro Boy English vs. Japanese Release Dialogue Changes - Wow...

Postby sgupta » 11 years ago

So this week I watched the 3rd Astro Boy 2003 (first US release, then Japanese subtitled version from the Korean set [see Bad Username's fansub thread for a way to get to see this set [only 23 eps exist] and possibly support/help with the fansub project to get the entire series translated the way it should be]).

Anyways, I need to rant a bit at the English anime translation, which has really managed to shock me...

I still can't get over how much they changed things for the English release... It's really pretty jaw-dropping to watch the episodes back to back - I've never seen stories messed with quite so much before, despite the (in my opinion) excellent English voice cast. (I'd certainly say it's worth supporting the English release as it can be had quite cheaply, and the voice cast really is quite good despite my frustration with the scripting changes - if nothing else, it's incredibly interesting to compare versions, and there are some lines worth hearing).

Aside from the episodes being out of order (confusingly so) on the English set and the video/audio fairly severely being penalized (I notice there are distortions and such in the audio right on the discs...for example near the very end of the English version intro music) [and the Korean set, at least this first disc, is about as perfect video/audio as I can imagine - Japanese set looks to be the same or even better from what Bad Username's posted], it just strikes me as really sad some of the changes they made.

I had read before the edits they made were to make Astro appear more adult in the English release, but taken as a whole, I'm sad to say they ended up doing just the opposite and making the English release far more juvenile. Yes, the scenes they cut are generally things like Astro playing (which is just cute and fun to watch and adds to your sense this is still a little boy, even if he is incredibly powerful), but the dialogue they changed just makes me ask why. They consciously seem to try to remove a lot of the thoughtfulness and nuance - I'm not sure if they were trying to make it more action-packed or what, but it certainly lost a lot without adding anything IMO.

Here's just a few examples just from the 3rd episode about Astro going to space/Mars (obviously spoilers if you've never seen the episode):

1.) They cut a scene with Astro playing with some toys, and Ochanomizu getting ready to leave and changing (offscreen obviously - you just see clothes flying with Yuko blushing a bit and looking the other way on Robita's monitor). Not a huge offense.

2.) Dr. Ochanomizu explains where he's going much differently to Astro. In the English version, he names the moon (Deimos) and says its 40 million miles off. In the Japanese version, he simply explains he's going to space, which is higher than the sky (which ends up being much cuter as Astro has more wonder in his eyes).

3.) They make Astro try to sound more "bad" in the English release when he decides he's going to go along despite Ochanomizu's wishes. He says something along the line "See you soon. [under his breath and cocky] Real soon." whereas in the Japanese translation it's much more innocent than that (something along the lines of "I want to see space too!". This is one of the few exceptions where I actually kind of like both versions, but it does make quite a difference in character tone.

4.) In the English release, when Astro stows along and is discovered, he says he's sorry and the reason was it sounded like there was trouble and he wanted to help. Ochanomizu (O'Shay) immediately switches to he's proud of Astro for that as it proves he's advancing, which seems a lil...eh. In the Japanese version, Astro simply says he was curious, and Ochanomizu instead focuses on the curiosity being a positive trait in his development but that's no reason to disobey, which just sets better and makes more sense.

5.) This was one of the big ones for me. When they're moving down the mineshaft toward the center of Deimos to figure out what's going on, the English release says something frankly idiotic about if they go down any further, they'll be crushed by the pressure (but they must press on despite the danger of course). They then proceed to go to the bottom anyways and completely ignore this for the rest of the epsiode. In the Japanese, translation, however, the conversation is about the strata on the walls being much younger than they should be, and Astro not understanding why tens of thousands of years isn't really old, with Ochanomizu explaining that in terms of the universe, that's still only a moment. This is a scene that actually poses some serious thought, especially for children viewers, and might spark investigation and curiosity and learning - it's a really beautiful scene, and it really bothers me that the team that did the English translation felt they had to change something thought-provoking and genuinely wonder-inspiring to something idiotic just to make things more action-packed.

6.) Another huge one. The antagonist of this episode, Archer, comes off completely and utterly different between the English and Japanese versions. In the English version, he's an unsympathetic character, bent on destroying all disobedient robots. Essentially all his dialogue comes down to "I will destroy any robot that malfunctions! I will destroy them ALL! Muhahahaha" In the Japanese version, however, he's much, much more sympathetic as he comes off as more heroic but misguided! Yes, he wants to destroy the malfunctioning robots, but he's far more nuanced because he sees it spreading to his robots and fears if it continues, it will spread to Earth's robots as well! (This is very slightly alluded to in the English version, but doesn't appear his main motive). While the actions are the same in both versions, you really get much more of a sense of why he's acting the way he is in the Japanese version, and you can see where he's coming from even if you disagree with him. In the scene where he intercepts the team going down the shaft, in the English version he's going back on a deal and going to destroy the robots anyway, whereas the Japanese version, he's actually trying, again in a misguided way, to save the human team going down as he fears things are getting worse and they're putting themselves in too much danger!

7.) The ending dialogue is quite a bit different. The alien in the English version tries to get Astro to come with her and considers it a pity when he won't, whereas in the Japanese version she's far more understanding that he already has a home. In the English version, the symbols at the end are translated (conveniently by O'Shay's neuro-translator as Galaxian) that Astro will lead the way towards peace between man and robot, whereas in the Japanese version, it's much more open ended, with the suggestion that maybe they'll meet the alien again once man and robot can work together to translate the message! Not tied all up in a neat little bow.

There are other changes, and I can honestly say just about every line in the episode (and the others I've watched too) is a little bit different between the two, with many obviously being totally different in content, not just semantics.

One shocker was, in the Japanese version (and maybe this was because it was a subtitle translation - I don't know), they actually occasionally and lightly swear! There were 2 or 3 hell's and a damn in the episode. Nothing terrible (in my opinion at least), but it surprised me.

Another thing the English team does - they apparently feel like the characters need to speak more. A lot of times when Astro's back is turned or he's flying, etc., (same with all the other characters), in the English version there's filler dialogue whereas in the Japanese version there's none. Some of this dialogue is okay or entertaining (for example, Robita makes a somewhat funny joke about why robots might malfunction when loading the car in the English version that's not present in the Japanese version), but sometimes the silence is more effective. For example, there's a scene when Archer has to decide whether to shoot one of his own robots, and in the English version he says something about "I might need Higgins [robot's name] later" before dropping his gun, whereas in the Japanese version, he simply can't do it and drops his gun. Even though it's such a simple change, the latter with no dialogue, for me, is much more emotional and makes him much more human.

The music in both versions is good and worth listening to. It's vastly different (English version has rockish soundtrack whereas Japanese is orchestral), but I really do enjoy both - some scenes I find I like one version better than the other and vice versa; it seems to depend on the scene.

Finally, seeing it in 16:9 aspect ratio and with 5.1 sound is a completely different experience than 4:3 with 2.0 sound, more with this series than a lot of things as the art is just so beautiful and there's so much you don't see with the cuts. It's a shame they cut the English release down like they did (though I suppose in 2003/2004 that was much more acceptable than it would be today, but still).

Just some thoughts - hopefully someone else finds this stuff interesting. =oP
Last edited by sgupta on Wed Dec 30, 2009 3:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Laughing Dragon
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Postby Laughing Dragon » 11 years ago

This makes me so mad. Why do people in show biz think Americans are idiots? If you look at the Japanese and American trailers for Astro Boy the movie, for instance, you see two entirely different sensibilities. The American is more loud and "macho", while the Japanese is more thoughtful and emotional. I'm willing to bet that if the American trailer had been more like the Japanese, the movie would have done better here. But no, ours had to be dumbed down and "manned" up. Jeez. The changes in the anime, scuptga, are even bigger outrages. Deleting the childlike qualities in Astro is essentially to destroy part of his appeal. It's also disrespectful of the Japanese IMO. Seems to me they have a pretty stable society, so why shouldn't we respect their sensibilities when their work is translated over here?

It's absurd. Simply absurd.

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Dragonrider1227
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Postby Dragonrider1227 » 11 years ago

I'm glad I'm not alone here. People seem to look at me funny when I say I don't like this dub for these reasons but it's true. They totally screwed up Astro's character and when you've screwed up that, you've pretty much screwed up the whole show for me. To be honest, I was expecting stuff like changing the screen size, the background music, the opening and credits, and adding more funny lines and making them talk more. It was the change in Astro's character and the dumb downing down of the stories that really upset me and I usually support dubs but this one just really rubbed me the wrong way

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animegirlalways
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Postby animegirlalways » 11 years ago

I strongly agree too. :astro:

I loved the English voices, but didn't care for the scripting at times. I didn't realize how different the English version was either until I watched my import uncut copy (thank you again for the download of the Korean version though, because the subtitles on my Japanese import weren't very good at times). :cool:

I discussed some of these things in my thread about the petition for a domestic uncut release of the 2003 Astro Boy too, but you were more detailed about the differences than I was, so you show more than I did how much they actually changed. :)

There were some really cute sences they cut from the first episode too that showed how childlike and curious he is, especially after first being reborn. They did a good job of making it so that you can't tell they cut scenes in the English version (except the scene of Tobio's death), but the series is so much better with all the missing scenes. :heart:

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Postby Dragonrider1227 » 11 years ago

Yeah. I have to take some of what I've said back. I once said that I thought it was poor voice casting but in reality, it's poor voice directing and poor script writing. The only voice I didn't really care for was Astro's and even his voice actor would've been better with better directing and without a dubbing team that thought they could change him into Naurto

sgupta
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Postby sgupta » 11 years ago

Great comments, all. Yeah, personally I even like the English version of Astro's voice (it does sound a bit older, but that doesn't bother me - I can see how it could some, tho), but it's the script changes that just push it over the edge for me. I expected some differences too, but not this many and not this core to the story! It's almost as if during certain scenes they decided American audiences couldn't handle it and watched the scene without dialogue and came up with a new version of what they might be saying on the fly (which may in fact be what they did for scenes they deemed not suitable for American audiences - I dunno; even if they did that though, they certainly didn't seem to think certain things through).

I could have done this same analysis for the first two episodes - the only reason I chose this one in particular was in my watching pattern (I've been watching one a week), it just hit critical mass this week and I had to vent lol. But yes, animegirlalways is certainly right, they changed a ton from the first two episodes also. One of the more serious in the pilot was, you actually see a flashback of Tobio's traffic accident (just the horn honking and vehicles and a screaming terrified Tobio right after he "sees" Tenma...very brief but intense...and necessary) right before he's crushed atop of by Geo Worm/Magnamite. But again, all the dialogues been changed to make Atom sound "tougher" and lots and lots of dialogue added. Ditto with the second episode about Robot Ball - they especially went crazy adding sports announcer stuff, and Tenma's dialogue is very different for how he's treating Tobio (not terrible either way, but different for sure). Also, the biggest (IMO) removal from this second one is a darling scene where Atom falls asleep in the car while learning about rules and rests his head on Ochanomizu and it's explained his brain needs sleep to process things much like a human (totally omitted from the US version). How Ochanomizu explains things like why robots must protect humans is a lot more nuanced in the English version as well.

I had never watched the Japanese movie trailer but did now and you're absolutely right - it's like watching the trailer for a different movie. I didn't mind the US trailer, but I think it would have been great had they played this trailer over here also. Heck, I don't really see why they couldn't have run a bit of both for different audiences, as there's certainly plenty in the movie (ditto for the 2003 show) for both action fans and fans of more emotional stories. Personally it's the whole I like. (Re the 2003 version, btw, the action scenes...especially flight and such...are some of the best done I've seen as far as sheer sense of speed and intensity).

Oh, and animegirlalways, I did sign your petition, and the fansub project is also extremely promising at this point too. This is going to happen one way or another. ^.^

I don't know. I'm seriously quite concerned about the state of children-friendly programming here in the US. I remember when it used to be pretty great...I remember watching classics like the 80's X-Men and Spider-man and the terrific early 90's Batman and Superman and later on Justice League, which all had heart and nuance as well, but it seems like they're remaking a lot of these series and removing their soul/nuance starting in the 2000's, similar how they're doing to much of what's imported over. It's so strange that the older stuff was so much more mature.

On the other hand, the Japanese, along with other countries (for example, Britain, which has the quite wonderful Sarah Jane Adventures [Doctor Who spinoff aimed at children, whereas Doctor Who itself would be more PG]), seem to treat their children with a level of maturity and sophistication that America seems to be losing. I don't know if it's not giving American kids and parents enough credit or what, but it's really starting to scare me. They just assume, for example, that a light reference to a car accident/death is too much for kids, but death is a part of life, as sad as it is, and it's not a bad thing to introduce the concept in a non-scary fashion like this. I don't get why there's this feeling everything has to be shielded until something *really* terrible happens! Even as an adult (still with a kid's heart mostly I'd hope lol), I find I'm watching more and more foreign television and less and less of the American stuff, and that's pretty disheartening.

Sorry - I'm a ranter I know. =oP

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Dragonrider1227
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Postby Dragonrider1227 » 11 years ago

Exactly. It pretty much shows America's thoughts on children. America has always thought children are stupid and the state of cartoons now just shows that. Also, as time goes on they're spending less time appealing to kids and more time appealing to the parents and it's the parents going on about how the children have to be shielded and spoon-fed everything

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jeffbert
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Postby jeffbert » 11 years ago

I was visiting a friend once, as Christmas was drawing near. She had 2 girls, 8 & 10, the elder of whom questioned how SC could enter their apartment without a chimney. The mother immediately began a long drawn out BS about the rental office giving him master keys, etc. I do not know if this is representative of U. S. moms, but it seems that they cherish their memories of their children as babies.

Perhaps they tend to do things that keep them from the knowledge of good & evil. Such things as flushing away dead goldfish & running to the pet store for replacements before the kids come home from school, are they typical of U.S. moms? I do not know about other countries, though. It would be interesting to see how childhood differs in Japan!

Anyway, a Saturday morning cartoon would need to tiptoe through these issues, while at the same time, appeal to children who likely spend their pretend time imagining they are adults. Just how many child characters have appeal to kids these days? How many kids identify with child rather than adult characters?
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animegirlalways
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Postby animegirlalways » 11 years ago

When it comes to animated series I miss the 80s-90s too, thankfully I have been able to buy some on DVD (i.e., Batman Beyond, Thundercats, Gargoyles, My Little Pony, etc). :cool:

There are only a few shows, animated or not, that currently plays on TV that I like. I have actually been watching my DVDs (movies, series, anime) more these days, because it just seems like there is nothing worth watching on TV. :(

I noticed that when they play older American cartoons, like Tom and Jerry or Looney Toons, they cut those up now too.

An example of this generation of children I found when reading the reviews for one of the original My Little Pony series DVDs on Amazon.com. A mother was complaining about how the copyright in the discription mislead her to believe it was one of the new versions of the series and when her kid watched it, it scared them. I'm sorry, but I think its sad that an episode of the original My Little Pony would scare anyone. I bet the original Care Bears would scare that kid too. :lol:

I wonder what this generation would think of some of my favorite movies when I was a kid and are still among my favorites today, like The Last Unicorn or Flight of Dragons or The Secret of N*I*M*H. :p

Sgupta, I'm glad to hear the 2003 Astro Boy series fansub project is going well and look forward to more episodes, epsicially 20+. :heart: :astro:
Last edited by animegirlalways on Fri Jan 01, 2010 4:17 am, edited 4 times in total.

sgupta
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Postby sgupta » 11 years ago

jeffbert, some interesting thoughts! To me, there's definitely some shielding from all good and evil and most especially truth. But even more disturbing than that to me, if possible, seems to be the trend of teaching *absolute* good and evil without nuance or shades of gray. I tend to think the example of Archer above illustrates that a bit - it seems like the concept of someone with good intentions making the wrong choices or doing the wrong actions is something nobody wants to touch anymore. Villains seem to as of late have to be either completely good or completely evil, and, worse yet IMO, they don't even have to have strong convictions or motives for the reason they're acting the way they do. I remember the early 90's Batman for example (much of which I have on DVD), where all of the villains were carefully thought out with deep motivations for their actions. I've noticed in more recent animated versions, much of that's eroded...

animegirlalways, I find myself watching less and less on TV and switching more to DVD's, etc. also. That My Little Pony story is very interesting and a bit sad - I never saw the series, but it sounds interesting. I do vaguely remember Care Bears and I'm sure it probably would scare some kids. =oP

Also, I don't want to give a false impression of more knowledge/involvement in the fansub project than I have - I'm just really encouraged by the first episode released, and I think even though it may take some time, it'll be fruitful. But all the props go to Bad Username as he's doing all of the real work. =)


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