History That – 4Kids

So it’s assessment hell for most. Our beloved overlord, is currently facing the perils of exams. Everyone, please give him your strength~ I’m here, running away from reality, to write about the joys of 4Kids. This post was inspired by some remarks made by J.T, a while back.

So what was 4Kids?

4Kids was an American film/television company that specialized production, acquisitions and licensing of children’s entertainment. 4kids focused primarily in the licensing and dubbing of  anime and cartoons into English and grew into a subsidiary of 4Licensing Corporation. 4Kids ran from 1992-2012, went through a variety of name and business changes. It also experienced a massive downturn as it gained infamy and it’s assets were overtaken by other companies. In 2011, it’s parent company 4Licensing Corporation declared bankruptcy in New York and it’s assets were divided up. The reason why 4Kids is an infamous part of Western Anime history is due to it’s practices.

4Kids rose to prominence when it released it’s adaptations of Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh in the 2000s. Even then, the 4kids practices were evident. 4Kids had a habit of trying to make their properties “kid friendly” – they did this through edits, cuts, modifications, localization and the refusal to release videos and dvds of the unmodified cartoons they had the license to.

4Kid’s had a habit of making extremely heavy edits to their franchises in an attempt to make it more kid friendly and acceptable to Network TV. You must remember that classification standards are quite different in Japan and America. What is considered suitable for kids in Japan is completely different in America. So 4Kids tried to rip away everything that made their anime show “unfriendly to kids” such as violence, any mentions of death, weapons and such. This approach was inconsistently applied.  Different franchises received different levels of editing, localization and censorship.

4Kid’s localization practices were the attempt to “Americanize” everything – setting, characters, theme songs.  Not even rice balls could go unmodified, leading to the infamous “jelly doughnuts” of Pokemon.

However, within their localization practices, they included the habit of ignoring the original script and plot in favour of the insertion of puns. Nothing could go away unpunned, regardless of the quality of the pun itself. It got to the point where every sentence said by a character was a pun. The whole thing was a hurricane of puns. Their editing practices were just as inconsistently applied as their censorship. Sometimes they would do minimal edits, just to get rid of the guns, sometimes they would edit so heavily, the series was left with gaping plot holes as entire episodes and story lines were removed. They had a habit of editing material they didn’t have to edit for the sake of editing it. Anime franchises were a shadow of their former selves when shown on network TV.  Yu-gi-oh and One Piece became infamous for the extent that 4Kids badly edited the series.

4Kids wasn’t all too bad though. They hired good voice actors who provided the iconic English voices of many characters. They possessed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Sometimes they did produce a theme song that was actually horrendously catchy. They did produce the iconic versions of the cartoons so many of us watched in childhood – it was just their erratic editing practices that really brought them to infamy.