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File:Cultural-translation 9361.jpg

When a show is redubbed for release in another country, the dubbers often will replace the cultural references with others more easily recognized by the foreign audience.

In the best of cases, Cultural Translation will change obscure cultural references that many viewers would not "get" into related, but more familiar, footnotes without interrupting the flow. In the worst of cases, it can come off as a pandering attempt to edit anything vaguely foreign or potentially offensive out, even when the images make it blatantly clear that the characters aren't, and were never, in [insert home country here]. Willing Suspension of Disbelief gets a hard day from overzealous Cultural Translation in a Foreign Remake.

Compare with Woolseyism, where the changes are generally made for aesthetic reasons, and rather than translating the concept, instead replace the original with something completely different but which fits better with the new target audience.

Dub Name Change is a subtrope.

Examples of Cultural Translation include:


  • In a Multigrain Cheerios commercial that ends with "The box says 'Shut up, Steve'"—the British-accented voices of the two actors are dubbed over into American English for American audiences (both versions are aired in Canada, which is surprising the first time you see whichever you haven't seen before).
    • It can happen the other way around, too. This Just for Men commercial was given the British-English dub treatment. [1]
  • In Australia, American-made advertisements are frequently redubbed with Australian accents.
    • This is quite common in advertising. The same thing happens in Ireland with British ads.
    • The same in Switzerland, where advertisements originally from Germany (and in Standard German) are often redubbed to Alemannic German.

Anime and Manga

  • In My Hero Academia:
    • Tsuyu is a little insistent on people she wants to be friends with to use her given name (followed by -chan). In the official translations, this is changed to her being a little insistent on people she wants to be friends with calling her by the nickname "Tsu".
    • Characters' first and last names are swapped so they are consistent with English conventions. (In japan the surname is first, and the given name is last. In English it's the other way around (unless there is a comma in between)). This change wasn't really necessary (or possible) with Tetsutetsu Tetsutetsu. When only the surname or only the given name is used, that is left basically unchanged (except in the Tsuyu cases above).
  • Done slightly in the Cowboy Bebop dub. When tracking down a hacker, Faye remarks that their target is probably a smelly nerd, rather than using the term Otaku. This was changed back to its original comment in later runs.
  • Probably both the archetypal and ironically least obvious example: In the North American dub of Ranma ½ produced by Viz Video, all of the classical Japanese poetry quoted by Tatewaki Kuno has been skillfully replaced with near-perfect equivalents from Shakespeare. This has been done so meticulously that for many years Fanon held Kuno to be a devotee of the Bard.
    • Another is referring to Shampoo and Cologne's village as "The Village of Chinese Amazons", which aside from being noted for its "female warriors" (literal translation) has very few tropes related to the usual depiction of Greek Amazons.
    • The name of Ryōga's dog, Shirokuro, refers to the dog's fur colors ("shiro" means white and "kuro" means black). Viz's translation of the manga changed the dog's name to Checkers, which sounds similar to Shirokuro, retains the meaning about fur colors, and also sounds like a dog's name. Viz's subtitles translated the name more literally, as Black'n'White.
  • In the various versions of Tenchi Muyo!, Princess Ayeka uses Keigo speech to indicate she is royalty and very refined (at least until she loses her temper). This was rendered in the North American dub by having her speak in British Received Pronunciation.
  • Mexican dubbing of anime and cartoons has been very guilty of this, inserting as many references to Mexican culture as they can have, which often results in borderline Gag Dubs; the more (in)famous examples are Pokémon and The Simpsons. However, the public rarely protest, maybe because of the Mexican dominance in the Latin American pop culture since the 1930s until today, via films and soap operas. Some immortal examples of this: at one point during the Saiyans saga in Dragonball Z, Yamcha says "We'll turn them into guacamole!"; in the Pokémon dub, James sometimes starts speaking in a heavy accent from either Veracruz, Nuevo León, or the Yucatán peninsula; and in one chapter of The Simpsons a reference to Richard Simms was replaced for a more known (for Latin Americans) Lorenzo Lamas, without replacing the visual representation.
    • Inuyasha also had a Japanese gag replaced with Shippo calling Inuyasha a "two-legged rat" in allusion to a song by famous Mexican ranchera singer Paquita la del Barrio.
    • Interestingly, even when suffering from the same Animation Age Ghetto syndrome as the US, Latin American-Spanish dubs in general rarely censor things unless it's too violent or too naughty (and even that is more done by broadcasters),there are cases that the original material made a previous stop in the USA were it was Bowdlerized first and then licensed for Latin America.
    • On the subject of Pokémon, the two recurring Team Rocket members are named "Musashi" and "Kojiro" in the original Japanese, named after the famous samurai. In the English version, their names are "Jessie" and "James", in reference to the American outlaw Jesse James.
    • And the public rarely complains because of the exceedingly high quality of the dub performances, which have often taken mediocre shows and made them stellar through the power of acting alone.
  • Not actually in the dubbing, but in Pokémon whenever the main cast are eating something, in the original Japanese, it's almost always rice balls. In the English 4Kids! dub, it's whatever the dub-techs were hungry for that day. In the Hoenn Saga, large sandwiches became the standard.
    • One of the good things Pokémon USA has done is stop that practice completely. They have even begun calling them rice balls.
    • The episode that introduced Todd Snap in the original dub did properly refer to them as "Rice Balls", however, as it showed Brock making them, umeboshi and all.
  • The English translation of the Battle Royale manga has a lot of English pop culture references, such as references to Pulp Fiction and Natural Born Killers. This has led to much complaint.
  • The English dub of Tsukuyomi Moon Phase replaced the closing trailers' horrid Japanese riddles with horrid English riddles. Apparently there's a law of Conservation of Corny involved in the translation process.
  • The river Sanzu was changed to the Western equivalent, the river Styx, in the dub of Yu Yu Hakusho.
    • Also done for Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx.
    • Similarly, the English manga Yami no Matsuei changes references to Enma-daioh (the ruler of the underworld in Buddhism) to The King of Hades.
  • Geneon's dub of the Lupin III TV series — originally created in the 1970s but dubbed in the 2000s — replaced dated Japanese pop-culture references with American equivalents, which was good, but also used modern references in a show that was obviously not set in the modern day, which was bad. It was still pretty funny though.
    • Similarly, ADV's 2005 dub of 1982's Super Dimension Fortress Macross uses the word "metrosexual" in episode 33.
      • However, one must realize that the show takes place in the years 2009-2012.
  • In The Slayers, Lina Inverse is known as the "Dragon Spooker", where "spooker" is a contrived acronym "Dragon Steps Past Out Of Clear Revulsion". In the original, it's "Dra-mata", meaning "dragon mo mata ide tooru" (even a dragon would step over it), a play on words on the Japanese phrase "neko mo mata ide tooru" (even a cat would step over it), which means a nasty person. The acronym was needed because to finish the play on words, a dragon really does step over Lina.
  • In Azumanga Daioh, Yukari temporarily switches from Language to Math to P.E. on a whim. Soccer is the initial game of choice. When questioned about her knowledge of the rules, she said, according to the sub, "I'm Nakata," probably referring to Hidetoshi. In the dub, however, she instead says, "I'm Mia Hamm," an American soccer player.
    • And in the American translation of the manga by ADV, she's Pele.
    • Also, in the French translation of the manga by Kurokawa (possibly the editor relying the most on Cultural Translation in the French manga market), she's Ronaldo (the Brazilian player, not Cristiano Ronaldo).
    • Another example would be Osaka meeting Chiyo's father. She makes a comment on his face. In the sub, she refers to him having a face similar to Mori Yoshiro, a former Japanese Prime Minister. In the dub, she comments that he looks similar to Bill Clinton, a former President of the United States.
    • In the manga of Azumanga Daioh, however, Osaka is translated to be from New York — Yukari-sensei invites her to say to the class, "Yo, how you doin'?" The other girls also ask her about meatball sandwiches and Mickey D's instead of McDonald's. The phonetic accent works... less perfectly... but otherwise, eh, fuhgeddaboudit!
    • In one strip of the manga, Tomo greeted Yomi by saying "Good Morning Musume!" ADV's translation of the manga changed this to another musical reference: "What's the story, morning glory?!"
  • Although the actual cultural references in Full Metal Panic!! are unchanged, in the English dub of Full Metal Panic!? Fumoffu a passage from Sousuke's Japanese Classics assignment is read in what appears to be Middle English, in order to preserve the effect and explain why Sousuke is having so much trouble understanding the text.
  • In Naruto, the title character uses remarkably impolite forms of address toward most adults outside his closest circle; except for Jiriaya (Ero-sennin, Pervy Sage) most cannot be translated directly. However, this is more than made up for by the somewhat affectionate Tsunade-baachan becoming much ruder when non-idiomatically put into English as "Grandma Tsunade".
    • In Part II, when Sai reads a book that suggests that using honorifics on friends is polite but not helpful to becoming closer, he notices that Sakura never uses any with Naruto (when he had previously used "-san" on her and "-kun" on Naruto), and decides to no longer use honorifics on them. The book in the Viz manga advises against using "mister" or "miss" on friends, which Sai had not been doing before.
  • In Maison Ikkoku episode 73, Godai has locked himself in his room after missing a job interview. Kyōko asks Akemi what he's doing, to which Akemi answers, "Amaterasu-omikami". Viz changed Akemi's reply in the subtitles and the dub script to "He's playing hide-and-seek".
  • In Sailor Moon the famous "Odango-atama" insult, which translates as "dumpling head", was changed to "meatball head" in the dub because odango-style round snack dumplings aren't common in the west, whereas the similarly-sized meatball is. Both objects are roughly the same shape as Usagi/Serena's famous hair "balls".
  • In the Norwegian translation of the Samurai Deeper Kyo manga, Benitora's kansai accent was changed to a Bergen accent, with a note explaining this was a common way of rendering this accent in Norwegian translations. While this was hardly true, not having been done anywhere else but here, it worked so perfectly no one complained.
  • Star Blazers, Frothy Mugs of Water aside, there's also a scene where sushi is referred to in the dub as "chocolate cake".
  • The dub of Tokyo Pig had one of the worst instances of this ever, at the close of the first episode. The lead character's father says of his relationship with the eponymous pig "A boy and a pig. Only in America." In a series that was named Tokyo Pig in the dub version. This was so blatantly stupid that when they Flash Back to the scene in a later episode, they redubbed that line as "Only in Tokyo."
    • Not surprisingly, this dub was supervised by Harvey Weinstein (who is infamous for heavily editing and redubbing Asian material to incomprehensibility).
  • A major clue in one The Kindaichi Case Files story was based on the ability of Japanese computers to switch keyboard inputs between the various Japanese alphabets and Roman (English) letters. The translators altered this clue so that only knowledge of the standard QWERTY keyboard was required.
  • Patricia Martin from Lucky Star uses her lack of Japanese language fluency to unsuccessfully avoid Kagami's criticism (despite speaking near-flawless Japanese up to that point.) In the English Dub, it wouldn't make much sense to say "I can't understand your language, I speak English!" ..When they're all speaking English. This was changed to an annoyingly immature "Lalala~ I can't hear you!" Given the situation, though, the dubbers were placed in a difficult dilemma.
  • In an episode of the Hungarian dub of Soul Eater, Kid is chasing after an assassin called the King Fisher. When Patty opens fire on the assassin, she refers to him as "Ho-ho-horgász" (Fi-fi-fisher), the title of an old Hungarian animated series.
  • In Filipino dubs of anime the Japanese Sibling Terminology for familial relations are quite easily translated, with all of the inherent context intact, since Filipino has direct equivalents. "Ate" for "Onee-san," "Kuya" for "Onii-chan," and so on. Also like the Japanese language, Filipino allows for the usage of said pronouns to refer to unrelated people.
  • Japanese Beetles are said to be irresistibly attracted to fruit, especially watermelons, which is why it's sort of a Running Gag in Medabots that the beetle-themed main robot Medabee goes crazy for them. Most westerners aren't very familiar with this, so his voice actor plays him as a member of another group stereotypically fond of watermelons...
  • These sort of notations appear all over Ouran High School Host Club, because much of the humor that isn't Slapstick revolves around wordplay (which would, of course, otherwise go right over the heads of a non-Japanese-speaking audience.)
  • In Domu: A Child's Dream, one child sings the first Super Sentai theme song to himself. This is changed to "Go, go Power Rangers!". The manga was written in the late seventies but not translated until the nineties, so at least the reference had a reasonable equivalent.
  • Thanks to Jim Terry Productions, SF Saiyuki Starzinger, a sci-fi adaptation of the Chinese fairy tale Journey to the West, becomes Space-keeters...or should we say The Three Musketeers...IN SPACE!!!
  • All over the place in the English dub of Bobobo-Bo Bo-bobo.
  • Chapter 67 of You're Under Arrest featured Strike Man wearing a red-and-white bobble hat variation of his usual mask and a red-and-white cape rather than his usual ones, calling himself "Santa Claus Man", and claiming that he's not Strike Man. When asked why his mask has Strike Man's "S" emblem on it if he's not Strike Man, he answers that it stands for "Santa". This caused a problem for the French translation of the manga, because what Japanese and Americans call "Santa Claus", the French call "Père Noël",[1] which doesn't have an "s". So, the translators changed "Santa Claus Man" to "Super Noël", which is pronounced like "Père Noël" except for the "su" prepended in front.
  • In the dub of Cardcaptor Sakura, Card Captors, they were quite stringent about avoiding any and all references to the series being set in Japan, including the unusually technical reference to Tokyo Tower as just a radio tower.
  • When 4Kids! got Ojamajo Doremi, they left the food in visually...but replaced references to overtly Japanese foods with those which westerners would understand. For example, goodbye takoyaki, hello cookies.
  • Tokyo Mew Mew was changed to Mew Mew Power in the U.S.
  • Comic Party had this happen in the English dub. Yen becomes Dollars, Kimonos become Prada dresses. Oddly, the yen is shown and it is still called dollars.
  • Futari wa Pretty Cure: The dub names takoyaki something else entirely again—donuts. Maybe that has something to do with 4Kids! temporarily taking this series. That or they thought some slightly older kids would start making sophomoric jokes about "octopus balls".
  • One Piece has plenty, such as a rice ball Zoro/Zolo is fed being changed to a cookie (that he somehow swallowed whole, which made a bit more sense with rice).
    • Surprisingly enough for a 4Kids! dub, most of the characters' names are not only left intact, but actually left in Japanese order of family name first, something that even the likes of VIZ or Funimation rarely do.
  • Digimon Adventure has the scene when T.K. and Patamon read a note in Primary Village about rubbing an egg to make it hatch. It's clearly written in hiragana, but instead of translating it or simply cutting the shot and making the characters read it off-screen, they decided to say it's "digicode".
    • It should be noted that there actually is a Digicode, even though it doesn't look anything like hiragana.
    • A similar scene occurred in the Sailor Moon dub: Usagi/Serena's "funny squiggles" handwriting refers to the original Running Gag that Usagi never learns proper Kanji writing, even as an adult.
  • Although almost everyone else in Hellsing has (or at least attempted) a British accent, Alucard spoke with a distinctively American tang. Interviews with the translation director revealed he made this decision because of a theory that people can relate to a protagonist better if he sounds like them.
  • Gigantor ran into a problem when it was Americanized—one episode has the cast traveling to an American ranch from their native Japan. The dubbers changed the location to Australia and gave the American characters Australian accents. But the "Australian aborigines" sure didn't look like aborigines.
  • Crayon Shin-chan characters in the English Gag Dub seem to know more about American pop culture than they know about Japanese pop culture to an extent that you might question whether the show takes place in a Universe where Japan is part of the United States instead of Asia.

Georgie: And that's why Rudy Giuliani should be America's next president.
Shin: Don't we live in Japan?

  • Detective Conan underwent Americanization, but this was specifically at the request of creator Gosho Aoyama, who thought foreign fans would better identify with local characters than Japanese ones. The name change to Case Closed, however, was purely a legal issue. This however still doesn't explain why only the American release had to be changed and all the other releases in over 15 Countries were left completely intact.
  • The Bang Zoom dub of K-On! has changed the currency from yen to dollars.
  • Following in the footsteps of Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z is Stitch!, a Japanese version of Lilo & Stitch: The Series. Most notably, the original's Hawaiian setting is transplanted over to Okinawa, and Lilo is replaced by a new girl named Yuna. (Interesting in that a significant portion of the people who live in Hawai'i are ethnically Japanese.) Extra points go to it for replacing Bleach in its time slot.
  • Early examples of the Dutch Pokémon dub introduced the euro system to the currency world. Mind you this was years before the euro was introduced as currency in the Dutch society, being late 90s and the euro entering the world as currency in 2002.
    • This is true for the German dub as well.
  • The Hebrew dub of the anime Samurai Pizza Cats was on par with, or even better than, the Japanese original.
  • In one episode of Excel Saga, Il Palazzo's speech outlining the current strategy for world domination is peppered with random bits of what may or may not be real Italian and other bits which are English spoken with a heavy fake Italian accent; as the trivia pop-ups point out, this is because in the original Japanese the speech was interspersed with random English and a bad American accent, and they needed to retain the same feel. By and large, though, the series averts the trope; jokes will be translated more or less as they are, and instead you can turn on the aforementioned tooltip feature which will explain why something which is just an insane non-sequitur in English is actually an elaborate joke in Japanese.

Comic Books

  • The Greek "ΚΟΜΙΞ" ("comix") magazine, a publication focusing on quality reprints of classic Disney comics (mainly Duck family stories), uses cultural translation to great effect. Although most accents can't be rendered in Greek, the translators make extensive use of off-beat vocabulary (also appropriately rural or dated where needed), folk tradition or classic, timeless references rather than contemporary/modern pop culture, and straight-up neologisms. Arguably faithful to the spirit of the original stories, the result works extremely well and never causes the reader to stop and think about translation issues.
  • I once had a French digest compiling several issues of various, mostly X-Men-related Marvel comics (which bore the name Titans somewhat ironically) printed in the late-80s or early-90s, in which the names of American superheroes were a wide selection of direct translations, non-translations, and cultural translations. Nightcrawler, for instance, was still "Nightcrawler," but Phoenix became "Phénix" and Wolverine (this was well before the character became a household name) became "Serval."
    • In most of French translations, "Nightcrawler" is "Diablo". The exact translation of "wolverine" is "glouton", but it also means "big eater", not really appropriate for a super-hero. Wolverine retains his original name in most current French-language versions.
    • Although the Teen Titans were published at the same time, the mag that featured it was titled "Les jeunes T." (Young T.), presumably to avoid using a similar title.
    • In the early 80s, the French editor who published the Avengers and the Defenders lost the rights of Marvel comics. He then proceeded to keep the french names of the magazines (Les Vengeurs and Les Defenseurs) where were printed the Legion of Superheroes and Infinity Inc series. French reader were confused, to say the least.
    • In the late 80s and early 90s, DC comics were not edited in France, so the name of the magazine was not a problem anymore.
      • Mind you Titans started in 1976, but the first three issues show no famous Marvel characters, #4 has Doc Savage on the cover, and #5 has the (in)famous Champions of Los Angeles, followed by #6 with the Guardians of the Galaxy. So Titans has certainly been published at the same time as French DC comics, though I cannot say whether Teen Titan stories were included in those comics. Mind you it was the name of the magazine, not of a comic in it. Concerning Wolverine, the French name is rooted in a sort of mistranslation of a Scandinavian word meaning something like "rock cat" and yes, it means glutton. Except for the little fact that Servals are not native to Canada, the name fits a character with retractable claws and that rather feline looking original costume much better than Wolverine.
      • Concerning those names, taking into account the history of comics being aimed at the younger readers, that we are talking here about translated texts and that the translation of codenames seems usually the correct way to go, if part of the intended readers has not been taught English yet and the launch of the new comic series is not supported other media.
      • The main reason why the first three issues had no Marvel characters was because it featured characters from Atlas/Seaboard.
    • In Italy, old traslation of Marvel comics renamed Nightclawers as "Lombrico" (Worm). Note that it's just the most offensive, but hardly the only one. Namor the Sub-Mariner lost his nickname for years, because no traslation was fitting.
  • Asterix In Switzerland featured Asterix and Obelix having their cart repaired by the mascot of French oil company Antar. The English translation replaced him with the Michelin Man, which kept the "mascot" gag as something Brits would recognise, but was totally bizarre in context, as instead of a short Gaulish warrior, Asterix is confronted with a man made out of tires.
  • One Punisher story has Frank describe a gunman as "shoots faster than greased lightning". The French translation used "shoots faster than his own shadow".
  • Early English translations of the Tintin comics tried to rehome the heroes away from their native Belgium. There are references to British currency, and Captain Haddock's mansion (Marlinspike Hall in English, originally Château de Moulinsart in French) is located in the fictional English county of "Marlinshire". The artwork betrays the non-English setting—cars drive on the right-hand side of the road, and police officers are seen wearing the uniforms of the Belgian Gendarmerie.

Films — Animation

  • The Neil Gaiman novel Coraline, in its adaption to film, has been remodeled from an England-based storyline to one based in the United States.
  • In Fantastic Mr. Fox the animal characters are all played by Americans — but the setting is still in the English countryside. Presumably this is a form of Translation Convention for Talking Animals. Interestingly, the human villains are English accented.
  • Disney's Robin Hood has a mix of American and British accents.
  • The Polish dub of the Shrek movies are full of Polish pop-culture references. For example Donkey sings the theme song of a Polish TV drama when Shrek decides to go to the Potion Factory in Shrek 2.
    • The original Hebrew dub of Shrek 2 changes the line "give him the Bob Barker treatment" (i.e. neuter him) to "give him the David D'Or treatment" (an Israeli male singer with a high feminine singing voice). After the singer threatened to sue, the line was changed.
  • The Arabic translation of Disney's Hercules compares Hercules to Antar, the legendary Arab hero.
- On peint son profil sur tout les vases...
—Sur tout les VASES!

It's difficult to get it for a foreigner, but it plays with the differences between Canadian and French pronunciation of the "a" sound.

  • In the Japanese version of Inside Out, green peppers are being fed to Riley, who hates them, while in the Western version, it was broccoli… a favorite among Japanese children.
  • In one Toy Story, Buzz has the American flag behind him during one of his speech, while in the international it’s the planet Earth.

Films — Live-Action

  • The American sub of Kung Fu Hustle replaced an offhand reference to two beautiful lovers Chinese mythology with Paris and Helen of Troy. The sub script is Woolseyed in other areas as well, while the dub is more straightforward, including keeping the reference to Xiaolongnu. The French dub preferred the less subtle Romeo and Juliet.
  • A rare example in which only cultural references were changed. In the European versions of Demolition Man, all references to Taco Bell were re-dubbed as Pizza Hut, due to Taco Bell's relatively small foreign penetration.
  • Let's talk a bit about Russian dubs. The latest example is the 17 Again trailer. Michael says to his friend: "You look like Clay Aiken!". In Russian version of the trailer his line was replaced with "You look like Elton John!". Apparently this is done because most Russian viewers don't watch American Idol and have absolutely no idea who the hell Clay Aiken is, while Elton John is quite famous. But the problem is that this guy does resemble Clay and in fact doesn't look like Elton.
    • The Russian dub of Evolution replaced the song Wayne sings to attract the dragony alien with Alla Pugacheva's song Iceberg. The result was hilarious. (The song is basically a love song addressed to a man, to begin with...) "And you're so cold, like an iceberg in the ocean..."
  • At the end of Ocean's Eleven as Danny is leaving the jail, he tells Rusty "Ted Nugent called. He wants his shirt back." In other versions, the reference is changed to Elton John.
  • Madagascar. In the original, the two apes learn that Tom Wolfe is coming to New York and plan to throw poo on him. In the German translation, he was replaced by — Hillary Clinton, for whatever reason.
  • Monster-in-Law, when Jane Fonda chews out the unnamed pop star for not knowing about "Roe vs Wade". Now abortion was / is a controversial topic in Germany too, but an American character referencing German laws wouldn't have made sense, so in the German translation, she mentions Richard Nixon instead.
  • In the German dub of Full Metal Jacket, the Drill Sergeant Nasty calls Leonard "Private Paula" (to go with the privates = "ladies" theme, one may guess), since Gomer Pyle is almost unknown in Germany.
  • François Truffaut's film version of Fahrenheit 451 is set, surprisingly, in England, whereas the novel is set in the United States. It's never stated, but everyone has British Accents (except the German star actor), the post boxes and houses are very period British, the clothes are as well, and the children in the school (one of the last survivors after The Good Old British Comp was created the previous year) chant "Twice two is four, twice three is six..." Americans generally say "two times two", not "twice", when doing math.
  • In the early 2000s an adaptation of Akira was for a while in the works. An early script review indicated that it was now Manhattan that had been destroyed and rebuilt. However, the setting was kept intact (Japan buys what remained of Manhattan Island after the U.S. took a dive). It's still called "Neo Tokyo", Tetsuo is now Travis and half the characters are now American. The review indicated that the plot itself remained faithful to the manga.
  • The Indian in the Cupboard's movie adaptation did this with a British work, changing the setting from England to New York and making the main characters all American. The American cowboy and Native-American action figures from the book remain American in the film.
  • The American comedy Jungle 2 Jungle starring Tim Allen was a remake of the less slapstick-y French comedy Un Indien dans la ville (which was billed variously as Little Indian, Big City or An Indian in Paris for international release), but the American remake actually eventually found its way back into French theatres under the title Un Indien à New York.
  • Countless kung fu movies get dubbed in English with the main character's name changed to something like "Freddy Chan" or "Ricky Lee". In China, and especially Hong Kong, where many of the films were originally made, it's fairly typical for people to have a western given name for use when talking to western people. For example, Jun-fan "Bruce" Lee.
  • The live-action film version of Street Fighter made the All-American soldier Guile into the protagonist instead of Japanese warrior Ryu, the franchise's usual lead character. Somewhat justified since Guile was one of the few characters in the Street Fighter II series who was motivated by his grudge against the Big Bad M. Bison, whereas Ryu's rivalry was primarily with Sagat at the time. Ironically enough, Jean-Claude Van Damme, the actor who played Guile, couldn't fake a convincing American accent if his life depended on it.
    • The fact that the Big Bad is called "M.Bison" is this trope plain and true.
  • The Hilary Swank film P.S. I Love You is set in New York, with an American heroine. The novel it is based on by Cecilia Ahern, is set in Dublin, with an Irish heroine. The husband remained Irish, though, but was played by Gerard Butler, whose Scottish accent never ceases to perplex.
  • Fever Pitch was originally a autobiography about a fan's obsession with the Arsenal Football Club in England (in fact, Nick Hornby's, who also wrote High Fidelity below). It was adapted into a American movie about a fictional person's obsession with baseball's Boston Red Sox. Conveniently, the word "pitch" applies to both football/soccer and baseball, so the title remained the same. The ending had to be changed at the last minute due to the Sox actually winning the World Series. The ending actually mirrors that of the British-made first film adaptation, in which Arsenal wins the First Division for the first time in 18 years. Unlike the Sox win, the Arsenal win was, at that time, historical fact.
  • The 2007 film The Seeker, based on Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising series of books, stayed in Britain but made the main character and his family Americans.
  • Constantine changes the nationality and location of the UK-set (American-owned) comic Hellblazer to Los Angeles. Since the release of the movie, the comic book character of Constantine has stated that there's another guy with his name and a similar job in the US.
  • The film version of Nick Hornby's novel High Fidelity moves the setting from London to Chicago (and changes the central character's name) while otherwise remaining fairly faithful. The Broadway musical shifts the location to Brooklyn.
  • What makes the American remake of the Japanese film Shall We Dance? rather bizarre is the fact that part of the plot has to do with ballroom dancing being somewhat taboo in Japanese culture, something that doesn't translate into American culture. They dealt with this by making it about the male dance taboo in American (i.e., only gay men dance.) This gets reinforced as all the characters are paired off at the end except J.Lo's, though as she had a relationship with her previous pro partner perhaps that's implied, suggesting that the only reason to ballroom dance is to either find a mate or repair your extant relationship, while the Japanese version was simply about the social taboo around a sport requiring male/female contact.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen added Tom Sawyer as a character. Sawyer's character as a young adult was based on Mark Twain's less well-known novel Tom Sawyer, Detective.
  • Yes Man is Very, Very Loosely Based on a True Story; the book of the same name by and about Danny Wallace, a Dundonian living in London. The film is set in LA and stars Jim Carrey. The film bears almost no resemblance to the original book.
  • The 1963 movie The Great Escape tells the story of a group of Allied prisoners who in 1944 escaped a prison camp in Nazi-controlled Poland. While American prisoners were held in the real camp, none of them were among the escapers—but for the movie version two major characters are Americans (Steve McQueen's Hilts and James Garner's Hendley). Balanced to an extent by James Coburn's Aussie and Charles Bronson's Pole, and the fact that the there appear to be only three Americans in the whole camp.
  • The British film Enigma airbrushes away the Polish cryptanalyst foundation upon which British codebreaking relied.
  • When Godzilla, King of the Monsters was brought to the United States, scenes with an American reporter played by Raymond Burr were added into the film, with dialogue changes and edits used to make it seem like he was interacting with the Japanese cast. Interestingly, this version was later dubbed back into Japanese and shown in Japan under the name Monster King Gojira, and it was a hit, with future kaiju films including reporter characters inspired by Burr. The makers of Godzilla were suspicious of the poor dubbing of the time and thought American audiences wouldn't watch a subtitled version. Plus, they probably felt that more Americans would get the message about atomic weapons if it was in English.
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens was adapted into a film in the early 2000s, changing the location from 19th century England to 20th-century Southern California.
  • The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells is set in Victorian England with the narrator traveling to London. In the 2005 film, the invasion begins in New Jersey and the narrator travels to Boston.
    • The earlier 1953 film adaptation similarly moved the story to southern California, while the famous 1938 radio version by Orson Welles took place in New Jersey.
  • Insomnia is a 2002 remake of a 1997 Norwegian film with substantially altered plot and characters from the harder, more cynical Film Noir original. The constant daylight of the Scandinavian summer was a crucial plot point and symbol in the original; so the American remake was located in Alaska in order to preserve that aspect of the story, while still managing a US location.
  • The Birdcage, a 1996 remake of the French film La Cage aux Folles (the American a direct translation of the original French). Unlike most American remakes of foreign films, it is not set in New York, but rather in Miami, Florida. The contrast between the LGBT-friendly South Beach and highly conservative (and religious) politics more closely reproduces the contrast between the Saint-Tropez nightclub scene and ultraconservative politics of the original.
  • Point of No Return was a relatively faithful remake of Luc Besson's La Femme Nikita. The original featured locations in both France and Italy; while the American version remained entirely within the continental US, albeit moving from Washington D.C. to southern California (a shift arguably as great or greater, both geographically and culturally).
  • Richard Gere has a film based on the legendary loyal dog Hachiko, set in the United States. Hachiko will keep most of his name ("Hachi") and remain an Akita; there's also at least one token Japanese guy (played by Brushogun).
  • One Missed Call, the American remake of the Japanese horror film Chakushin Ari, changes the setting to America. The scene in which a famous TV evangelist tries to exorcise the ghost from an unfortunate victim was based on a similar scene with a Buddhist priest.
  • Dark Water. The Japanese movie was based on a book written by the same author of The Ring. The constant raining (which is a major element of the movie and book) made more sense in the Japanese version, since Japan is a very wet country and it's not strange that more than one heavy rainfall occurs there daily. But in the American version, it takes place on an island in New York. While a lot of rainfall does occur there, it's not enough that it would permeate the entire movie.
  • The second film adaption of Lord of the Flies changes every British reference into an American one.
  • Inverted with Run Fatboy Run! which is actually a Britishized version of Michael Ian Black's original script.
  • The Departed was a Martin Scorsese-directed adaptation of the Chinese mob thriller Infernal Affairs.
  • In the book that The Bridge on the River Kwai is based on, Major Shears is British. In the movie, he was made into an American.
  • The Eye (2008 film) starring Jessica Alba is an American remake of the 2002 Hong Kong film by the same name. The setting is moved to the United States and the characters are given Western-sounding names.
  • Matilda has its setting transferred to the United States, and all the characters are Americans—except the evil headmistress, making her an Evil Brit by default.
  • This may be a borderline case since the cartoon series based on the original book was crammed with ethnically and racially ambiguous characters, but it's quite remarkable how populated the Wachowski Brothers' 2008 big-screen version of Speed Racer is with Occidental actors (mostly American and British) as the characters.
  • The American film, Three Men And A Baby, was based on the French film, Three Men and a Cradle.
  • The French comedy The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe was remade in the US as The Man With One Red Shoe, with the humorous violence made more sadistic, the sexual content turned quite prudish, and the characters more finely defined as heroes and villains.
    • French actor Pierre Richard could well be considered the patron saint of this trope: He starred in The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe mentioned above but also in Le Jouet (The Toy) which was remade as The Toy starting Richard Pryor, and Le Jumeau (The Twin) remade as Two Much starring Antonio Banderas (though both screenplays were based on an American novel called Two Much). With Gérard Depardieu he made Les Compères (Comdads) remade as Fathers' Day with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams, Les Fugitifs (The Fugitives) remade as Three Fugitives with Nick Nolte ans Martin Short and La Chèvre (The Goat) remade as Pure Luck with Danny Glover and Martin Short.
  • An odd case with Straw Dogs and its 2011 remake. The original was directed by Sam Peckinpah and starred Dustin Hoffman, both Americans, but took place in the UK. The remake will take place in the Deep South, swapping the negative portrayals of rural Englishmen for negative portrayals of American rednecks.


  • Most of the Lone Wolf gamebooks were trimmed for US release. The implication was that most of the page trimming was more for purposes of cost-cutting to maximize profit (even if that meant creating an inferior product), not because of cultural editing. Later books in the series suffered from this far worse than earlier ones, because by that point, the series wasn't selling as well.


  • After some deliberation on her blog, one of the Hungarian translators of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels decided to translate the name of the character Susan to Hungarian Zsuzsa. This hasn't met with universal approval among fans, some of whom pointed out that Sto Helit (where Susan is from) was so obviously unlike Hungary that giving her a Hungarian name was jarring. To be fair, the translator really made a heroic effort to get most of the puns translated, and leaving Susan's name alone would have displeased the other half of the fandom.
    • Replacing many of the cultural references in Soul Music with Hungarian ones was a similarly controversial decision.
  • The Spanish language versions of Lee Iacocca's books Iacocca: An Autobiography and Talking Straight also do this, but to retarded levels: All the references about American-style football are replaced as American Rugby (since the translators thought that Spanish-speaking audiences would not know what American-style football is.)
    • Not to mention the translation of those books are the Spanish-language version of Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe, despise the books not being fiction literature and not taking taking place in the Middle Ages or Ancient Times.
  • As it is mentioned on Woolseyism's entry, Polish translation of Honor Harrington cycle replaced Haven's State Sec with the name of the local State Sec from the time when Poland was a Real Life People's Republic of Tyranny.
  • In the Spanish translation of a Captain Underpants book, Cher is replaced with Julio Iglesias.
  • The first Harry Potter book had Americanization in addition to its title change, and despite selling well (to say the least) the publishers bore the criticism they received about it in mind when releasing the later books.
    • Ron still calls his mother 'Mum' however. J. K. Rowling put her foot down for that one, saying in an interview "Mrs Weasley is not a 'mom'".
  • The USA version of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's Good Omens had, on request by an editor in the New York publishing house, an extra 700-word section included near the end assuaging the readers about the fate of the American character Warlock.
    • The original version had Crowley as a fan of the American show Cheers. In the American version, this was changed to another American show, Golden Girls, which is just silly.
      • It seems that was a compromise between the collaborators' different tastes in TV shows. Golden Girls is Terry's.
  • The US edition of Artemis Fowl and the Time Paradox, by the proudly Irish Eoin Colfer, has equally proudly Irish Artemis start referring to his mother as 'Mom' after making an emotional breakthrough. She gains the title 'Mum' in the UK edition, but even that may be a version of this trope, as she's referred to indirectly as the very Irish "Mam" in the first book.
  • In 1991, Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder published a highly successful juvenile novel called Sofies verden (Sophie's World), which has been translated into 54 languages. It contains references to the geography of the Norwegian capital, Norwegian authors, and a Norwegian poem, which is quoted in the text. Most foreign-language editions kept these references and translated the poem as directly as possible, but the U.S. edition substituted American geography and references to English-speaking authors.
  • The English edition of P. J. O'Rourke's Modern Manners turned all the US-specific references into English ones. And rather clumsily at that: "the Democratic Party" became "the Social Democratic Party" (the Labour Party would have been a much better equivalent) while a series of jokes about US regional accents got mapped onto various regions of the UK seemingly at random.

Live-Action TV

  • The German dub of Married... with Children had constant references to a (at that time) popular German actor, to the point where the whole German fandom guessed and still is guessing who the heck was supposed to be referenced in the original version.
  • The German dub of the Golden Girls features this heavily; a lot of the cultural references were changed to either more known celebrities, movies and shows, or rough equivalents from Germany.
  • In the Spanish dub for I Love Lucy, Ricky's long winded Spanish rants obviously provided a problem. In at least one scene shown on TV Land, a rant was translated into English.
    • In the Latin American dub he just talked in a heavy Cuban accent but at least once it was changed in the episode "Cuban Pals" to "Italian Pals"
  • An extreme case happened in Germany with Cheers, which became "Prost Helmut!". Yes, the translation was set in a German bar, and all characters became Germans. Norm was the Helmut from the title, Cliff became Uwe, and so on. Thankfully, this version lasted only 13 episodes, and the entire series received a translation that was true to the original later on.
  • In the German dub of Scrubs this is sometimes done. One example is the time the janitor poses as Dr. Jan Itor. It's dubbed as Dr. Haus Meister (Hausmeister being the German word for janitor and referencing the know show Dr. House (pronounced the same way)).
  • On an episode of a Japanese game show, part of an American contestant's introduction described her as being from the "prefecture" Missouri.
  • Likewise, the Swedish Chef from the Muppets became Danish in their dub.
  • On the Swedish release of Jeff Dunham: Arguing With Myself on DVD, the subtitles had references to Wal-Mart and KFC replaced by references to ICA Maxi and Kronfågel, respectively:

English!Walter: Welcome to Wal-Mart. Get your shit and get out!
Swedish!Walter: Välkommen till ICA Maxi. Köp er skit och dunsta strax-i! (Welcome to ICA Maxi. Buy your shit and beat it soon-i!)
English!Walter: New from the colonel! Chicken and tits!
Swedish!Walter: Nytt från Kronfågel! Kyckling och pattar!

  • The Slovak dub of ALF — where Alf was voiced by actor Stano Dančiak — used this in a surrealy funny, Breaking the Fourth Wall way. Since Alf often referenced various obscure American movie actors while watching films on TV, Dančiak decided to overdub the most obscure references by Alf simply making remarks like "Starring Stano Danciak".
  • The German dub of Buffy the Vampire Slayer had some of that. In the musical episode Yma Sumac became Britney Spears. In the episode in which Xander was split, the "Kill us both!" Star Trek: The Original Series reference was dropped, and they answered "Then there'll be group sex!" instead.
  • A Mad TV sketch spoofed this, with Phil LaMarr as a wrestling agent who helps luchadores get into American wrestling organizations. He spends most of the sketch trying to convince his client that, regardless of how much it speaks of his strength and honor in Spanish, "El Asso Wiper" is not going to be a successful name in the US. The sketch ends with him asking his secretary to send in "Senor Bag-O-Crap".
  • Several Britcoms have successfully undergone Americanization, including Man About the House (turned into Three's Company), Steptoe and Son (Sanford and Son), and most famously Till Death Us Do Part (All in The Family, and in Germany as Ein Herz und eine Seele). More recently, The Office has been as successful on the left side of the pond as the right. An American version of The IT Crowd was dropped after the first viewing. Queer as Folk (UK) was script-recycled into Queer as Folk (US).
  • The British series Men Behaving Badly ran for six series. A US version was created, to mixed reviews, running for 35 episodes. To avoid a naming conflict, the British version was marketed in the US as British Men Behaving Badly.
  • Similarly, many popular reality shows began abroad, such as Survivor (Sweden), Big Brother (The Netherlands), and American Idol (UK again, as Pop Idol). There are now national Idol versions in over fifty countries, from Argentina to Kazakhstan. After some arguments involving Simon Cowell the UK Pop Idol was re-invented as 'X Factor' — interestingly the same shift is now happening in the USA with Simon Cowell jumping ship to the new show. Same thing with other Game Shows such as Junkyard Wars/Scrapyard Challenge.
  • Famed Colombian telenovela Yo Soy Betty, la Fea was remade in the US (and in many other countries) into Ugly Betty.
  • The classic Japanese cooking competition Iron Chef, successfully Americanized to Iron Chef America (featuring Alton Brown's running commentary along with Japanese Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, and former competitor Bobby Flay) which is showing on Food Network.
    • The Food Network seems to get that a lot of people watched the show for the cooking and the dramatic competition, with a dash of camp, rather than the other way around.
    • Iron Chef America is unusual as it's more of a spin-off: the original "chairman" is mentioned, as the new "chairman" is supposedly his nephew. Fuji Television, the network that broadcast the original, helps produce it.
  • When they imported Tales of the Unexpected to the United States, they changed the opening narration, replacing the author with John Houseman.
  • Hope Island was an Americanization of the BBC dramady Ballykissangel. The setting for the American version was a Pacific Northwest resort village, that the male lead was switched from a Catholic priest to a Protestant pastor. Had the show lasted longer than a season (it didn't), that would have changed the main dynamic (the original series' main plot for the first three seasons was a Catholic priest slowly falling in love with an agnostic pub-owner), because Protestant ministers are allowed to marry.
  • Before he became a big-name film director, Lars von Trier made a fantasy/horror TV series in Denmark about a haunted hospital called Riget that was one of the best shows of the genre. A US TV adaptation was made by von Trier in collaboration with Stephen King, Kingdom Hospital.
  • There is an American version of the UK Reality TV genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are. The major difference between the two version is that all the Americans featured have Incredibly inspirational and history-altering ancestors. Whereas the British celebrities take what they're given.
  • Played for laughs on Two and A Half Men. Charlie is hired to write the Theme Tune for the American version of an anime Jake likes, and initially he makes a cheesy song that sounds like an advertising Jingle. Jake agrees to study for a test in exchange for Charlie studying up on the show and writing a better song. When the show finally airs, its theme song is...the same Jingle from before, because as Charlie explains to a mortified Jake, the executives liked it better.
    • Possibly a subversion, as when Charlie put his mind to it, the song he wrote was accurate and powerful to a fan like Jake, thereby throwing all the blame on the executives.
  • Law & Order: UK uses plots taken directly from the original US show, but often changes the endings, and a few plot points, to reflect British sensibilities. Oddly, it often removes ambiguities that exist in the original show, and adds messages, usually Anvilicious ones. Sometimes, due to the fact that very few people own a gun in the UK, any time there is a gun crime in the US version, something else must be substituted, which is usually much less dramatic.
    • There's also a Russian version of SVU.
    • And a French version of CI, an official spin-off of the franchise. Which doesn't stop the original Law & Order: Criminal Intent to also be aired in France dubbed.
  • La Chica de Ayer (Yesterday's Girl), a Spanish remake of Life On Mars.
    • And the upcoming Italian version 29 Settembre (September 29th).
  • A few of Italy's most famous serials, like Un Medico In Famiglia and I Cesaroni are adaptations of Spanish formats (the aforementioned two are based respectively on Medico De Familia and Los Serranos). Italian procedural RIS (an acronym which means Reparto Investigazione Scientifica', Scientific Investigation Department, a Department in the Carabinieri, a branch of Italian police) is based on CSI (though manages the personal aspect better) and was itself redone in France, Spain and Germany.
  • The BBC partly re-dubbed the Icelandic children's program LazyTown, with British voice actors speaking for puppet characters originally voiced by Americans. However, the human characters' American and Icelandic accents were untouched. Additionally, they seem to have left them all alone for LazyTown Entertainment/BBC co-production LazyTown Extra.
  • A few Monty Python's Flying Circus sketches were redone by the German comedy duo of Harald Juhnke and Eddi Arent. The one sketch about the difficult book shop customer gets a justification tacked on—Because the salesman's mother owns the shop and has threatened him that she'll disinherit him and give the shop to his brother if he doesn't manage to sell at least one book — that's the explanation why he puts up with the customer neither being able to pay the book nor to read it. And the famous "Dead Parrot" sketch becomes...brace yourself...upped to eleven (this was probably the intention) with the dead parrot replaced by a plush parrot. And at the end, when the customer points out that the "parrot" he bought is "just a toy", the salesman states philosophically "Aren't we all but God's toys, somehow?", turning around and revealing that he's a wind-up android.
  • Averted in the British Wallander series which is based on the Swedish crime novels written by Henning Mankell. The characters speak English but the series is filmed in Sweden, and it is actually following the books rather well.
  • Korean and Chinese dramas in the Philippines are usually aired with the characters' names changed to Western names like "Jenny" and "Johnny", presumably so that it's easier for the dubbers to pronounce and for the audience to identify the characters. If the title contains the name of a character (e.g. "My Name is Kim Sam Soon"), however, the name of that character is retained. It is jarring, though, to hear one character going by a Korean name while the rest of the characters have Western names.
    • Averted with the Philippine airing of the Korean version of Hana Yori Dango ("Boys Over Flowers"), where the ALL the characters were stuck with their original Korean names.
  • The Aforementioned BeTipul aside from the US version (In Treatment), also got various European versions—Netherlands' In therapie, Romania's In Deriva', Serbia's Na terapiji, and more are rumoured.
  • The German version of Hogan's Heroes added a whole new character (Colonel Klink's housekeeper...and maybe mistress), added different German accents — all of the important Germans have a different one: Klink's is from Saxony, Schultz's is Bavarian, General Burkhalter's is Austrian...the only ones speaking standard German are the Americans. Newkirk, instead of having another English accent, stutters. Also, because certain Nazi phrases are illegal in Germany, they work around that "Heil" thing a lot.

Newspaper Comics

  • One of Gary Larson's 'The Far Side comics was a whale singing into a microphone underwater (Referencing Whale Song). The caption originally read "A Louie, Louie...wowoooo...We gotta go now...", but was changed for the Danish book version into "I'm singing in the rain..." Because that was more of an international hit. In the collection Prehistory of the Far Side, Larson noted that he found the Danish version funnier in retrospect.

Tabletop Games

  • A strange semi-example: Traveller: The New Era is peppered with references to 20th-century pop culture, which caused many people to wonder why people in the 50th-something century were so fixated on pre-spaceflight Earth. Word of God has it that this is supposed to be a Cultural Translation along with rendering 50th-century English as modern English.


  • The Miser features a scene where numerous worthless kitschy objects are listed, including "tapestry hangings representing the loves of Gombaud and Macée"; these were apparently characters from "an old comic pastoral" sometimes depicted on tapestries at that time. The Polish translation of the play (by Tadeusz Boy-Zelenski) replaces this with "...the courtings of Jupiter", which is much less hopelessly obscure.

Video Games

  • In the Japanese version of Final Fantasy VIII, Zell's Trademark Favorite Food that he keeps trying to get from the cafeteria is a particular type of bread. In the English version it's hot dogs, and in French it's pretzels. This causes a minor Dub-Induced Plot Hole in the Dance Party Ending, where Zell is seen stuffing his face with what look like dinner rolls. This is actually the punchline to a Brick Joke — he finally got some of that damn bread! Fortunately, at least, the shape of the rolls resembles hot dog rolls, so American players tended to get the joke.
  • Marie Antoinette supposedly said "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche" meaning "They should eat Brioche". This is normally translated in English for some reason to "Then let then eat cake". In Total War: Warhammer II, a Dilemma comes up where the halflings request help. The option where you (flavor-wise) deny helping them says "Let them eat lots of cake". In the French version it translates to that they should eat lots of brioche. Both English speaking and French speaking players would likely get the same reference despite the literal translation being incorrect.
  • The original Animal Crossing was heavily influenced by Japanese culture. Much had to be replaced to something the Western market can relate to, like a Japanese fireplace being replaced by a barbecue grill, during localization. However, the Japanese team liked the changes so much they released the game as Dōbutsu no Mori e-Plus in Japan as well.
  • In God Hand, the Tension Gauge-increasing power-up item was Curry in the Japanese version. It was decided that curry wasn't a very common dish in the States, and so the American release features pizza instead.
  • Subversion: The NES game Chubby Cherub, a localized version of a Q-taro Famicom title. The title character's sprite and the title screen were the ONLY graphical alterations. This runs contrary to other localized licenced games of the era, when all references to the show it was based on were removed.
  • The two Daiku No Gensan games to arrive in the US before Hammerin' Hero received a particularly half-assed version of the "poorly-done pandering" version, renaming the main character from Genzo to Harry, and a few other minor touches, such as renaming the ramen stands in the first level to different things. (Kuromoku-gumi to Rusty Nailers is justified, as without translation notes, Kuromoku-Gumi is nothing more than gibberish to English speakers). Please note, however, that Harry still dresses unmistakably like a Japanese carpenter, and the enemies who come out of what are now diners and pasta stands still throw what are visibly Japanese noodle bowls.
  • The Cute'Em Up game KiKi KaiKai ~ Nazo no Kuro Manto for the Super Famicom contained many references to Japanese mythology; the two player characters are a Miko and a tanuki, the former's weapons are ofuda and an ōnusa, and the enemies are various types of Obake. The official English version went by the title of Pocky & Rocky instead of attempting to translate the original title, and correspondingly renamed the aforementioned player characters to Pocky and Rocky. (The Theme Naming was not present in their original names, Sayo-chan and Manuke.) The ofuda and ōnusa were referred to as "cards" and "magic stick". Finally, Manuke / Rocky was referred to as a raccoon, rather than a raccoon-dog (the correct English name for tanuki).
    • Could it be a contrived reference to The Beatles' song "Rocky Raccoon"? Also, the obake were called "Gorgonzola Goblins".
  • At the beginning of Grim Fandango there is a clown who can make balloons shaped like Robert Frost. As Robert Frost is not well known in France, the balloon is said to be shaped like Captain Haddock (from Tintin) in the French version. When Manny Calavera examines the balloon he says: "That doesn't look like Captain Haddock at all."
  • EarthBound has the statues shaped like a pencil and an eraser. In the original Japanese version, they are shaped like an octopus and a type of Japanese wooden doll.
  • The English translations of the Ace Attorney games change the setting from Tokyo to an unnamed metropolis in southern California, albeit one which looks a lot like Tokyo.
    • Well, Gumshoe does say outright that he lives in "Compton Castles" in 3-3, which would put it in LA.
  • There are various older Japanese games which, during German translation, received lots of pop-cultural references and in-jokes, often in the form of replacing various NPC's non-relevant statements.
    • The German version of Secret of Mana has many German pop-culture references including an NPC called Heino, a musician often parodied for his look, looking for his sunglasses.
  • Saiyuki World was based on Journey to the West, but most Americans didn't understand that, so it became a generic American Indian theme.
  • Dynamite Headdy did quite a bit in changes also; removing the dialogue which cuts out a lot of the story is one such example.
  • The few Kunio-Kun games that were released internationally have this in some way or another, and are usually considered separate series' overseas:
    • The first game in the series, Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun, was released overseas as Renegade. Kunio was renamed Mr.K and his white school uniform was replaced with a matching brown vest and pants getup obviously inspired by The Warriors. The outdoor train station from the first stage was replaced by an underground subway and all the enemy characters were redrawn as well with the exception of the final gang (although the Yakuza hitmen were oddly enough recolored black).
    • Super Dodge Ball (the American version of Nekketsu Kōkō Dodgeball Bu) had the simplest change in the series. Since the game already had an international theme, the nationality of the main team and their first rivals was simply changed from Japanese to American and the CPU-controlled American team became Japanese. In the NES version, the Russian team, originally the penultimate team, become the final team in the American localization.
    • River City Ransom, the American version of Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari, anglicized the names of every character (with Kunio becoming Alex) and replaced their Japanese high school uniforms with t-shirts and jeans. Oddly enough, the Game Boy Advance remake features an Americanized script with the same anglicized names from the original NES game, but keeps the school uniforms from the Japanese version.
    • Nekketsu Kōkō Dodgeball Bu: Soccer Hen was released overseas as Nintendo World Cup. Originally all the 13 teams in the game were Japanese, but were given different nationalities in the overseas version, with some of the sprites and palettes changed and their stats switched. However, the Famicom version was programmed so that only allowed the player to use one team in Tournament Mode and one of five teams in Vs. Match Mode. The localization staff attempted to compensate for this by allowing the player to change the nationality of the main team in Tournament Mode, which changes the team's overall palette and power shots.
  • A rather peculiar example would be Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan and Elite Beat Agents. When OTO became a surprise hit through imports, the developer decided to make a sequel tailored towards an American audience. Needless to say, it was still really strange for Americans (the basic concept is made even weirder). Unlike most examples, however, fans (including Japanese fans) reacted positively to EBA; enough that the Agents make a cameo appearance in OTO 2.
  • In Kirby 64 The Crystal Shards, one of the health-recovery foods you can find lying around the levels is, in the Japanese version, a large piece of sushi. The American version had it changed to a large sandwich instead.
  • Clock Tower: Ghost Head, all that was done was name changes, like Yuu becoming Alyssa or Shou becoming Bates. The setting, however, while changed from Osaka to San Francisco, looked exactly the same—the first house you explore is very Japanese, the hospital you visit has signs in it written in Japanese, and the whole thing takes place during a endless thunder storm. Storms are normal occurrences for Japan during the summer, but they would be very rare for San Francisco.
  • In the first Trauma Center game, all names were changed to English, and the series was relocated to "Angeles Bay", California. However, just about everything else remains the same.
  • The North American arcade game Bust-A-Move Again is the regional name for Puzzle Bobble 2, but the iconic bubble dragons Bub and Bob have been replaced by hand sprites. The hand sprites were not in any release of the first Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move. Thankfully they kept Bub and Bob in the console/portable releases of PB2/BAM2 due to probable Canon Discontinuity...except the US release of Taito Legends 2. Please read this article for more info.
  • A minor case occurs in Strange Journey. Interviews with the dev team have noted that the setting was originally Tokyo, the traditional setting for the Mega Ten games, but moved to the region neutral Antarctica because of the series's increasing number of western fans.
  • Averted in Pump It Up; nearly every Korean pop song appears in both the Korean and international releases.
  • The Japanese releases of the Giga Wing series use kanji to separate digits in the freaking huge scores that players often get. The non-Japanese versions lack any kind of digit separators (not even commas), making reading scores in those versions a little trickier.
  • The Tokyo Xtreme Racer series (known as Shutokou Battle in Japan) changes all units from metric (the system used in many non-American countries, Japan included) to U.S. units.
  • Police 911: In the Japanese version, you start in Tokyo, then travel to Little Tokyo in Los Angeles. In the US version, it's the other way around, in addition to the stages being in a slightly different order.
  • Tecmo's 1st Captain Tsubasa is translated into Tecmo Cup Soccer Game upon exporting. It features blondes and non-Japaneses who represent a strangely named national team instead of Japan.
  • Most Rhythm Games change the songs' languages to fit the localizations region.
  • House of the Dead: Overkill might just be better than the original series. The original series (at least the first two parts of it) consisted of English VAs literally reading Engrish text, loads of "satanic" and Tarot Motifs, and a lot of zombies in jeans walking shirtless...For dessert, it got its inspiration from horror B-movies. Overkill...makes it even more of a B-movie, except it get inspirations from places where the original series didn't. Namely, the Grindhouse films. The mutants now include a foul-mouthed two-headed beast, an extremely loud girl who holds an uncanny physical resemblance to the ghost from Chakushin Ari (to the extent that Caesar fed his phone to her), bloody nurses and, of course, a cussy prison warden called Clement MOTHERFUCKING Darling. Add a film grain and everything (well, almost everything) Grindhouse had, and you get Overkill. And all this was developed by the British company Headstrong Games.
  • The Japanese version of Police Quest redraws the game to make everyone look like Anime characters.
  • Fan Translations of the Touhou series often run into this problem due to ZUN's (in)famous fascination with obscure elements of Japanese mythology and mind-bending wordplay (Japanese, natch). Cultural translations have occasionally resulted in local Fanon differing between countries, though the internet has been helpful in getting everyone on the same track.
  • Although the arcade version of Contra, and its sequel Super Contra, were released almost unaltered in Europe (the former came out as Gryzor and actually inspired a set of 8-bit computer ports under that title), when it came time to release the NES version in PAL territories, Konami had to alter the character designs of the human characters (both players and some of the enemies) into robots, since Germany in particular had strict censorship laws which forbade the selling of video games that depicted human characters killing each other with machine guns. Thus, the NES Contra became Probotector and all the Contra sequels on home consoles followed suit. This lasted all the way until, ironically enough, Contra: Legacy of War for the PS1, in which all subsequent Contra sequels (at least the ones that came out in Europe), were identical to their American counterparts (aside for the Virtual Console re-releases of the older games).
  • Alex Kidd in Miracle World had rice balls replaced with hamburgers in the version included as a built-in game with some models of the Sega Master System.

Web Comics

  • A strange version almost happened with Least I Could Do. When the comic's creators looked into turning it into a cartoon, Teletoon mandated that the comic had to be changed to remind the viewers[2] that it takes place in Canada; this would have included slapping a hockey jersey on one character, making the only girl an Inuit, and turning the protagonist's Walk and Talk into ice fishing. Creator Ryan Sohmer said no way and began working on his own cartoon while Teletoon produced a knock-off.
    • Why is this strange? LICD is already a Canadian comic; it just focuses on the characters and plot rather than saying "Have I Mentioned I'm Canadian Today?".

Western Animation

  • Early Brazilian redubbing of The Simpsons included several local references so that things would sound more familiar (some of them are infamously remarkable). It seems they stopped by the sixth season.
    • The Italian dubs of The Simpsons and Family Guy normally replace obscure American references with the ones known in all the world. In a Simpsons Season 11 episode they replaced the Dixie Chicks with Spice Girls, and they were onscreen. Everybody would state they didn't look similar.
    • By the way, it seems to be pretty common in Brazilian dubs, especially in Adult Swim cartoons, like Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Sealab 2021
    • More common in dubs placed in Rio de Janeiro studios than in São Paulo studios, but yet, both apply this trope in an awesome fashion, making people consider Brazilian dub one of the best of the world. It's a common denominator even to foreign people who learn Portuguese, or people from other countries that speak this language.
    • Fairly common in Québec, notably The Simpsons. The Québec dub is generally considered to be about as good as the original (if you can get over Homer having a deep, gruff voice), replacing some celebrity appearances with local ones when it fits, and generally making it sound both natural and very close to the original.
  • The English dub of the French series Code Lyoko avoids falling into this trap, mostly by removing all spoken references to the show's setting. The animation itself is unchanged, thus keeping the show pretty firmly in France. This particular example is an interesting case, as the show was dubbed in France by a French company rather than in America.
  • Sit Down, Shut Up is adapted from an Australian live action Sitcom, apparently with the help of the character designer for Codename: Kids Next Door. If it sounds a bit like Summer Heights High The Animated Series it's because both shows share a writer.
  • The American Animated Adaptation of Street Fighter, being a pseudo continuation of the live-action movie, also had Guile as the main character, although later episodes would focus more on the franchise's iconic duo of Ryu and Ken.
  • After years of getting the European French dub of South Park, a Québec French dub was recently made, probably with The Simpsons' success in mind. Except in that case, it turned out inferior to the European French, and seemed like it had ridiculous amounts of gratuitous swearing even compared to the original.
  • The same thing happened to Family Guy, although its quality compared to the European French dub (which was generally disliked in Quebec) is more debatable. American Dad, however, has a similar Quebecois localization that is widely praised.
  • In the Taiwanese dub of South Park, Kyle's family is Buddhist. Other jokes are changed as appropriate: for example, when learning that the Tooth Fairy is fake, Kyle also asks if it's true that Mainland Chinese live "in hot fire and deep water" , as Taiwanese children learn in school. "They're fine." "Ahhhh!!"
  • Uter, the German exchange student from The Simpsons is an exchange student from Switzerland in the German dub.
    • But to be fair, the stereotypes the character is based on are not very German but rather Swiss or Austrian.
  • The Russian dub of Drawn Together had references to Russian commercials and reality shows inserted into it, replacing some of the more obscure references to American culture.
  • The Polish dub of Johnny Bravo replaces Farrah Fawcett (in the episode "Johnny Meets Farrah Fawcett") with Pamela Anderson, since the former was much more obscure in Poland (back when the translation was made in the late nineties) than the latter, and "Johnny Meets Someone You've Never Heard About" is hardly an interesting title.
    • Something similar happened to the episode "Johnny Meets Adam West", which was re-titled to "Johnny Saves Mom", also likely due to West's obscurity in Poland (though in that case only the title was changed, West remained West in the episode itself).
  • One Mexican Spanish-dubbed Family Guy episode had Jenna Jameson referred to in dialogue as Pam Anderson, as well.
  • The following references from Drawn Together have been changed for the show's German dub:
    • In the episode "Spelling Applebee's," references to Tori Spelling are replaced with Rosie O'Donnell and Tim Allen. One reference to Ellen DeGeneres is also replaced with Jodie Foster.
    • In the same dub of the episode "Little Orphan Hero," Bell Biv DeVoe is replaced with Marilyn Monroe.
    • In "Super Nanny," Captain Hero's line "Auf Wiedersehen, Frenchie!" is dubbed over with "Vaya con dios, darling!"
    • Forrest Gump is mentioned in place of Jose "Daddy Long Legs" Martinez in "The Lemon-AIDS Walk."
    • In "Wooldoor Sockbat's Giggle-Wiggle Funny Tickle Non-Traditional Progressive Multicultural Roundtable!," Wooldoor asks Clara, "David oder Copperfield (David or Copperfield)?," in which Clara replies, "Copperfield." In the original, he asks her, "Street or Vegas?," which she gives "Vegas" as an answer.
    • In "Mexican't Buy Me Love," Bell Biv DeVoe is once again replaced, but this time with The Pussycat Dolls.
    • In the original version of "Lost in Parking Space, Part One," when thinking of names beginning with "Captain," Foxxy lists Cap'n Crunch as one of them. While in this dub, she lists Captain Planet instead.
      • In the same episode, Captain Hero refers to his right hand as his Stephen Hawking hand, where he refers to it as his Bob Dole hand in the original. This is due to Dole's obscurity in Germany.
    • In "Lost in Parking Space, Part Two," the reference to Invader Zim is dubbed out, and is instead replaced with SpongeBob SquarePants.
    • Mary Lou Retton is replaced with Britney Spears in "Breakfast Food Killer."
    • Quiznos is referenced in the original "Toot Goes Bollywood." But in this dub of the episode, McDonald's is.
  • The Italian dubbed version of the Drawn Together episode "Freaks & Greeks" has the "Seacrest" in Ling-Ling Hitler bin Laden Seacrest replaced with Obama.
  • In the Hungarian version of "Little Orphan Hero" on Drawn Together, Captain Hero sings Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Under the Bridge," whereas in the original he sings Five for Fighting's "Superman (It's Not Easy)."

Real Life

  • Happens a lot with regional accents: British English, for example, is often rendered as European Spanish in Latin American dubs.
    • The Kansai dialect of Japanese was often dubbed in English as a Brooklyn accent, due to similar stereotypes about the people who speak with them.
    • In French, the Kansai-equivalent is usually the Marseilles accent.
    • Though the convention seems to have changed to a coastal Texan accent, which still often works due to different nuances in the stereotype.
    • People with German accents usually get Bavarian accents in German dubs while British people have English German accents.
      • Unless they are the stiff Prussian kind, in which case they usually get...vaguely Northernish accents.
    • This also happens with Arabic, which tends to provide a wealth of accents within the same country, and where the differences in spoken dialect are so big that people often can't understand each other. Since most Arabs understand Cairene dialect of Egyptian Arabic, this would be translated as the "standard" dialect of the work; if the movie is American (for instance), a "normal" Midwest accent is translated as "regular" Cairene, a redneck would be given an Upper Egyptian accent, an Englishman Lebanese/Syrian or (if villainous) Standard Arabic, a Valley Girl "high class" Cairene or perhaps Lebanese (it's a long story), a New Yawker might be rendered as Port Said, etc.
  1. or "Father Christmas" in English
  2. Read: Beat them over the head with the fact