Anime Talk: Western Bastardization



This weeks Anime Talk I want to discus the Western Habit of taking an Anime series and then severely altering  it but editing out scenes, and or completely changing  the dialog so that the series is no longer anywhere near what the original source material was. One of the biggest offers of this is series known as Robotech. What we know as Robotech was originally three separate and unrelated anime series Super Dimensional Fortress Macross, Super Dimensional Calvary Southern Cross, and  Genesis Climber Mospeada. These three Anime were bought buy the company that made Robotech and were nearly completely rewritten and meshed together. 


There are many other examples of this happening also,  The Original Voltron ( Originally named Beast King GoLion in Japan ) was another series that was heavily rewritten for the original, and The Anime Sailor Moon was edited to turn it from a Teenager and Young Adult show  into a kiddie show on Western tv.  I an an anime fan find this to be a bad thing and the only reason I can think of for it to be happening is that I think that the predominate point of view in western culture  is the cartoons are for kids, that adults wouldn't want to watch them and so they must be edited and changed to remove any of the adult themes and stories. What do you all think about the Bastardization of Anime for the western Market ? Do you think it is a good thing, a Bad Thing, or does it just not matter to you ?

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9 Responses to Anime Talk: Western Bastardization

  1. Harlequin says:

    One reason for me good memories this. In the early 90’s these cartoons i mostly wanted to see me in sky channel is saturday morning ( i weak up really early). Voltron, M.A.S.K., SABER RIDER (FAV FAV FAV), etc, etc. But now i check back and see the original animes absolutly other stories and theme. I personally stop this mode because i don’t want to destroy my childhood memories.
    I think in that era that is not an bad idea, but now in the world of internet is inconceivable to see any anime in this mode.

  2. WillyPete says:

    It’s not “The West” that’s doing this to Anime, just a few TV execs, and the like…
    Do you blame “The West” for cancelling “Star Trek” (Original Series)? Is it “The West” that puts so many bad “Reality TV” shows on the air? Or is it just a few executives, getting paid millions of dollars a year, who can’t be bothered to put in any real time or effort in doing their jobs, and just “go with their gut feelings” on things like this, knowing that there is no one holding them to any kind of standard?

  3. Arioch says:

    Agree with WillyPete.

    In france, Anime were bought by the pound. Really. The guys went to japan, and didn’t buy harlock or Macross, they bought 10kg of anime, whatever it was.

    And it usually went to tv without even being checked: A channel aired 3 consecutive weeks an anime that was about lesbian adventures in high school before some parents caught on and protested.

    All this because of 3 things:
    – Cartoons are for kids, period. We still see that today, to my great dismay.
    – Anime are dumb and cheap cartoons
    – Kids will watch whatever you put in front of them.

    So anything too adult (blood, sex) was censored.

    There was a funny case, though. A channel bought Hokuto No Ken (still, blindly), yet again to show it to kiddies.
    But the dubbing team was shocked by its violence, especially knowing the public it was destined for. They basically said “Ok, we’re gonna dub it, but only if we can say whatever we want”.
    The result was an ovni that cleaves fans in 2. Some love it, some hate it. What they did was put a lot of silly jokes in ken, like “hokuto de cuisine” (Kitchen Knife), and made ennemies quite moronic in their reactions.

  4. Renxin says:

    This is kind of a sticky, subjective one. On the one hand I don’t know if (maybe) there’s some kind of copyright law that makes (or made) it difficult to get Anime in original form, thus leading to the weirdness mentioned above. On the other hand it’s pretty hard to say what’s running through the exec’s/creative team’s mind when handling this sort of thing.

    Some of the alteration may have to do with translating Japanese to the language that the anime will then be marketed in. Some may have to do with cultural subtlties that make perfect sense in Japan but would make no sense at all to Americans. And, of course, there’s always the possibility of “It just seemed like a good idea at the time” syndrome. On the whole I don’t really approve of taking someone else’s story ideas and altering them to the point of no recognition, but then again sometimes cool stuff is the result.

  5. Myro says:

    I got this one early, with Kagaku Ninjatai Gatchaman (Science Ninja Team Gatchaman) which was bastardized into Battle of the Planets. It’s almost shocking how much this one got changed around. On the other hand, it was also my gateway into Anime (I think I was about 5 or 6 when it was on the air around here). So, while the Western Bastardization process is ultimately not a good thing, because of it, I did manage to become exposed to the anime aesthetic, which I found very attractive at the time, and inspired a long-term interest into more authentic anime later on.
    Also, WillyPete nailed this one. TV execs making decisions in a bubble did this, not Western culture.

  6. Darkvatican says:

    I personally liked robotech, and while there are certainly examples of “westernization gone wrong”, that can also be said about “the east.” I will say piggyback on a previous comment I saw, and say that the Internet makes this phenomenon significantly less likely to happen nowadays. American cartoons are often animated in the east now, anyways. Lol

  7. Keric says:

    You know what? I am actually for westernizations and the easternizations! Why, because MORE PEOPLE SEE the modified versions, and as we all know MORE PEOPLE SEE it= MORE PEOPLE will go to the source.
    SO even when the “ernization goes wrong”, it’s still a better marketing plan thin just leave it alone!

  8. Quark says:

    In france, Anime were bought by the pound. Really. The guys went to japan, and didn’t buy harlock or Macross, they bought 10kg of anime, whatever it was.

    I still blame whoever was responsible for Dragon Ball (excluding GT)’s dub. It lead to a string of errors in several non-French dubs.

    But yep, you’re right. The “cartoons are for kids” issue was and still is a bit of a problem. Recently, I had to do an assignment for uni with a couple of partners about reviewing films, and someone reviewed Paranorman wondering why it was so spooky, being cartoons and all, and asked me why I had reviewed Paprika treating it as a regular (as in non-cartoon) film.

    While it can be a good thing for reaching a wider audience, it feels awful when it’s almost done for the sake of it. “Oh, no, a demon!” “Quick, remove its horns!”.

  9. Eagledft says:

    I’d first like to take a moment and agree with the general consensus that we are all greatly annoyed by the “animation is for kids” issue. I often have to tell people that animation is a Format not a Genre. Sadly at this point I feel that Japanese anime has surpasses American animation in recent years in terms of overall quality and that there are very few american shows worth watching.

    Since it was the example cited I thought I would share a bit of info regarding Robotech. Now I will agree that Macross tells a better story overall but Robotech wasn’t horrible. When you get into the expanded world of Robotech with the novels it gets really good. Belle Model Co had bought the rights to models for Macross, Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber. Now in the 80’s when Robotech came out the rule of thumb was that if you wanted to sell toys you made a TV series about them. Through a series of contacts Belle spoke with Carl Macek about the model line that they wanted to call Robotech. Now Carl was familiar with all 3 shows and agreed to help tie the shows together. That is actually how the three separate anime became once series. So in the case of Robotech it wasn’t the TV execs it was the Toy company Execs.

    You can listen to the full interview about how this all happened on Anncast in the episode Macek Training.