Lector: Prepare for trouble!
A New York City-based entertainment and licensing company responsible for several U.S. cartoons and dubs.
4Kids rose to prominence in the latter half of The Nineties with their dubs of Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh, which it helped popularize in the U.S. The success helped the company subsequently acquire more anime properties, and it adapted them with varying levels of success—chiefly by applying unusual edits, cuts, and modifications to get them on network TV. These cuts, in addition to inflammatory comments by its higher-ups and its refusal to release uncut DVDs of the adapted series, helped 4Kids garner a fair share of hatred amongst fans of the original versions of these shows.
Its infamy came to a head with the bizarre localization and edit of One Piece, which managed to combine all of the company's worst practices into one show: numerous content edits, horrible voice directing, the replacement of all of the original music, the removal of a large number of episodes (that turned out to be important later on—although they couldn't have known at the time), and widespread changes to the original script and plot even in the unedited parts. All of this solidified fandom hatred of the company, and it remains the darkest mark on its reputation.
On the other side of the quality spectrum is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which combined good storytelling with content not usually seen in Saturday morning cartoons—and which would have never lasted as long as it did anywhere else.
The hatred garnered from their dubs seems to have won out. In the late 2000s, 4Kids' focus shifted away from anime to homegrown properties and acquisitions from other countries, which generally fit the company's creative philosophy much better and have obtained much more faithful treatment. What anime they do still dub has been generally well received—or, at least, has drawn less ire. With Kids WB's decision to leave the network Saturday cartoon market in 2008, 4Kids is also—for better or for worse—the last remnant of what was once an institution. It is a position that they suffer for having.
In April 2011, months after the departure of CEO Alfred R. Kahn, the company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. Keep in mind this isn't a complete bankruptcy, it just allows 4Kids to pay off their debts while still keeping their business. They're still running currently at the moment.
Notable voice actors include:
- Sebastian Arcleus
- Amy Birnbaum
- Maddie Blaustein (deceased)
- Rebecca Honig (also credited as Rebecca Handler)
- Frank Frankson (a.k.a. John Campell/Gregory Abbey)
- Wayne Grayson
- DAN GREEN!
- Jason Griffith (who is also credited under J. Griff and Adam Caroleson)
- Megan Hollingshead
- Bella Hudson
- Tara Jayne (a.k.a. Tara Sands)
- Ted Lewis
- Rachael Lillis
- Lisa Ortiz
- Amy Palant
- Mike Pollock
- Andrew Rannells
- Sam Riegel
- Sean Schemmel
- Michael Sinterniklaas
- Rebecca Soler
- Eric Stuart
- Veronica Taylor
- Marc Thompson
- Kerry Williams
- David Wills
- Oliver Wyman (a.k.a. Pete Zarustica)
- Jimmy Zoppi (a.k.a. James Carter Cathcart or Billy Beach)
Properties that have been acquired and/or produced by 4Kids include:
- Back to The Future: The Animated Series
- Dinosaur King
- Funky Cops
- Futari wa Pretty Cure (license eventually dropped because they couldn't get a TV deal)
- G.I. Joe: Sigma 6
- Go Go Riki
- Huntik Secrets and Seekers (Broadcasting/Marketing only)
- Kamen Rider Dragon Knight (Broadcasting/Marketing only)
- Kirby - Right Back At Ya!
- Mew Mew Power
- Magical Do Re Mi
- One Piece (2004-2007. License revoked by Toei, picked up by FUNimation)
- Pokémon (1998-2006; license currently owned by Pokémon USA, with distribution by Viz Media)
- Shaman King
- Sonic X (proved popular enough in America that new episodes were produced even after the show's cancellation in Japan)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003 series) (rights revoked by Mirage and given to Nickelodeon)
- Ultimate Muscle (did remarkably well, since the goofy voice acting and Hurricane of Puns fit the tone of the show perfectly; 4Kids even paid to have new episodes made)
- Viva Pinata
- Winx Club (until 2010; license was revoked and picked up by Nickelodeon)
- WMAC Masters
- Yu-Gi-Oh (license revoked by TV Tokyo, reinstated by court order, then later sold to Saban.)
In addition, when 4Kids ran the "FoxBox" block, their shows also included (in addition to some of the titles above):
Their properties and dubs provide examples of these tropes
- Alternative Foreign Theme Song: One of the biggest offenders of this trope. All of the anime that 4Kids dubs usually have a different theme song than the Japanese version. They also usually play an instrumental version of the intro song as the ending theme. One of the things that anime fans constantly complain about is the dub song being inferior to the original. Although by themselves, they are kind of catchy.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: After years and years of fans complaining about 4kids dubbing Yu-Gi-Oh and its spinoffs, people weren't too happy about 4kids suddenly losing the rights to the show... since now the latter seasons of 5D's may not be dubbed at all, and the subtitled episodes of GX and 5D's will be pulled down. Fortunately for fans of the 3D movie, A&E Home Video picked up the home video rights shortly after the termination of 4Kids's rights.
- Bloodless Carnage: Thanks to massive censorship, a number of scenes that did have blood and violence would be turned into this after the fact.
- Bowdlerization: Too many to list, but they've backed off from the worst of it in more recent years.
- Censorship Tropes: Try and see how many you can spot on this page.
- Creator Killer: Possibly subverted by Yu-Gi-Oh.
- Cultural Translation: For years, this was so often that the 4Kids cartoon with the most references to Japan and Japanese culture was the one not created there (Ninja Turtles, in case you were wondering). They've finally backed off from this, especially with their new block,
CW4kidsToonzai. In most of their commercials, they claim that it's "where epic anime lives", their first two code words in the new block were anime and kanji, and they started up an online anime viewing site, Toonzaki, that includes such shows as Fist of the North Star and Pretty Cure.
- Cut and Paste Translation: One Piece, undeniably; the others are subject to debate.
- Given quite a hilarious Shout-Out/Take That in this VG Cats comic.
- Poor, poor season 3 of Sonic X...by the way I do hope Shadow finds Molly again some day.
- Darker and Edgier: Surprisingly, the Shaman King dub; many religious references (blatant or otherwise) and incredibly frightening scenes are kept in. Sure, it was comparably lighter than what aired in Japan, but by 4Kids standards, it's one of the darker dubs they've done, and surprisingly one of the only times in 4Kids history where the Moral Guardians got involved because of the last episodes, theirs being even lighter than the ones previously dubbed. Eventually the show, along with TMNT, would be advertised during the primetime hours in hopes to gain adult fans.
- Disneyfication: Particularly the Yu-Gi-Oh dubbing, infamous due to the invisible guns.
- Dub Induced Plot Hole: 4Kids' omission of the Laboon and Little Garden arcs from their One Piece dub caused several inconsistencies later on, and would have become much worse had they controlled the series beyond the Alabasta arc. The various Yu-Gi-Oh series also have a history of these.
- Yu-Gi-Oh 5 Ds has quite a few, which are explained on the show's page.
- Dubtitle: Their Subs/Uncut Dubs of the Yu-Gi-Oh series and others generally use the Japanese script with dub names. This naturally upset the very audience such uncut, "unedited" releases were targeted at.
- Dub Text: Quite a few in the Yu-Gi-Oh GX dub.
- Actually, nearly all their shows have this to some extent. The Pokémon Chronicles side-stories of Pokémon has Ritchie mentioning various Pokémon he does not have in the Japanese version. A lot of Team Rocket's dialogue is rewritten as well, ranging from Breaking the Fourth Wall to Getting Crap Past the Radar to bordering on a Gag Dub.
- Family-Friendly Firearms: Inconsistently applied; some shows have firearms removed completely (Yu-Gi-Oh), others get guns' sound effects altered (Sonic X) but are otherwise intact, and still others have the gun look different while still having them shoot bullets (One Piece, for the most part). A lucky few (Ninja Turtles, Funky Cops) emerge unscathed.
- And some (Pokémon) get entire, plot-important episodes banned because of them.
- Ironically, some rifles would be allowed to appear unedited. Around the Hoenn saga, though, there would be minor edits, such as the sound of guns cocking being muted.
- Back on the Yu-Gi-Oh example: this also resulted in some monsters getting edited (any monster which has a gun is edited to look toy or laser like) Revolver/Barrel Dragon was a PERFECT example of this.
- And some (Pokémon) get entire, plot-important episodes banned because of them.
- Frothy Mugs of Water: Due to censorship, this pops up a lot.
- Gag Dub: Part of the third season of Yu-Gi-Oh GX is like this, done in the style ofYu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series. Team Rocket's dialogue on Pokémon borders on this. The latter is generally considered an improvement over the original.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: In their dub of the Kirby anime, specifically the episode "Un-reality TV", Chief Bookem exclaims (when Kirby appears huge thanks to a combination of Dedede faking a monster attack via film camera and scale model of Cappy Town), "Looks like someone's been feeding Kirby steroids!" In addition in a Chef Kawasaki-centric episode, Escargoon mentions Chef Shitake has a new book, "A Crock of Shitake," in another episode. On the flip side of things, the Shaman King dub slips past homosexual overtones (Ryu's over-the-top "affectionate" behavior towards Lyserg and that one taxi driver), religious symbolism (the X-Laws, though oddly enough crosses are removed), and a surprisingly large amount of on-screen character death and blood during the latter half of the series. Hao/Zeke is also referred to as a devil during one flashback.
- Most famously, 4Kids was responsible for adding such moments in their Pokémon dub, particularly in regards to Team Rocket's dialogue.
- In one episode of Winx Club, Icy said, while locking Bloom in an ice coffin, "I hate to be a total witch about it, but I'm very quickly running out of patience!" Emphasis hers. And the Trix called each other "wi-atch" sometimes.
- Another example from Winx Club, their dub of episode ten ("Magical Reality Check") had Knut saying this line:
Knut: Sorry I'm late, traffic was a witch.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck: One of the most infamous (mis)uses of this trope.
- Hurricane of Puns Incredibly Lame Puns: Mewtamorphosis? Half of all Pokémon episode titles? One Piece probably got the brunt of this. It didn't even start that way at first, but later on, it seemed like every line the characters spoke were nothing but puns.
- Blind Idiot Translation: Speaking of the Pokémon episode titles' puns, Spain translates most of these literally without preserving the (attempt at a) joke, making them go from bad puns to absurd nonsense.
- Inconsistent Dub: Was Gold Roger hanged or decapitated? And how did Nami get sick?
- It goes another way: expect to see one thing edited out in another show...only for the exact thing that was edited out to appear in another show they're dubbing.
- Lighter and Softer: All of their dubs, even their Shaman King dub (which had dark elements, but was still lighter in comparison).
- Lull Destruction: Most of their pre-Dinosaur King dubs.
- Moral Guardians: 4Kids is either absolutely terrified of them or controlled by them.
- Never Say "Die": While 4Kids' will allow characters to die on some of their shows -- Shaman King, Ninja Turtles, and later One Piece episodes—it is much rarer to see the word "death" used to refer to it (although the word may be used in other contexts). An exception occurs, of all places, in an episode of Funky Cops, where the episode revolves around the faked death of an Elvis-like rock star, with the word is used constantly throughout the episode.
- Played with in Kamen Rider Dragon Knight. Defeated Riders are "Vented" (trapped between dimensions), which is treated as a Fate Worse Than Death. Later it turns out that it's supposed to be a good thing, preventing the Riders from being killed; it only became a virtual prison when the Riders' leader, who has the power to bring them back, was incapacitated.
- Averted in Yu-Gi-Oh! episode 13. Tristan says "According to this, I'm dead!"
- There is also the four-episode duel between Yugi and a Marik-controlled Joey in which the loser would be dragged to the bottom of the sea. While the words "die" and "death" remain unspoken, the explicit threat of drowning remains throughout. To compare, most duels in the series have the penalty of death swapped out for eternal banishment to the shadow realm.
- And there is also Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie, where Anubis is known as the Egyptian Lord of the Dead, and towards the films end, tells Yugi and Kaiba that "It is no longer time to duel. Now, it is time to DIE!"
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX dub, when a duelist loses a duel in one of the Duel Monsters Spirit World dimensions, they are "sent to the stars", though there was still a clear implication of death.
- Viva Piñata however seemed to throw the use of the word around randomly, with one episode using the words suicide, death trap, and killed within the space of a minute.
- A good rule of thumb for their dubs: for every mention of death that gets past the censors, there are probably several more getting censored.
- No Pronunciation Guide: Look at The Legend of Thunder Pokémon special; Raikou's name is never pronounced correctly. Applies to a few other of the Mons as well.
- Not So Different/One of Us: One of the dubbed episodes of Yu-Gi-Oh GX had many references to Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series in the dialogue, and 4Kids themselves have said they are fans of it. Unfortunately, that was the only episode they did that in...
- Pragmatic Adaptation: A handful of the changes made by 4Kids were simply typical Saturday morning censorship where anyone trying to air the same shows would have made the same changes. This is why even the episodes of One Piece that Funimation aired edited out Sanji's cigarette, booze, some of the violence, and many of the guns.
- Self-Deprecation: There was a certain Kirby: Right Back At Ya! episode (the one where Dedede makes his own cartoon starring him as the hero) which had Tiff refer to the aforementioned cartoon as "So Bad It's Good". Some fans saw this as 4Kids themselves making a dig at their own dubs and shows.
- Unperson: The Anime News Network refuses to acknowledge 4Kids's involvement with the Yu-Gi-Oh Tenth Anniversary Movie due to a pending lawsuit filed by TV Tokyo and NAS and plays up the involvement of A&E Home Video and Manga Entertainment concerning the English dub.