In October 2005, Yu-Gi-Oh! GX was brought into the fray to replace the void left from the original Yu-Gi-Oh! series as it was ending the same year. However, instead of premiering it on Kids WB or 4Kids TV, 4Kids opted to premiere the show on Cartoon Network (on the programming block, Miguzi, which was basically Toonami if it was less cool and held underwater) for some reason. I’m not complaining, I’m just confused. Not airing it on Kids WB I get a little, but why wouldn’t they want it premiered on 4Kids TV? It would take until September 1, 2007 until it would air in syndication on 4Kids TV.
4Kids hoped GX would breathe new life into the franchise with new characters, new cards and a more casual and fun atmosphere with the new series taking place at a dueling academy. The show did suffer from the typical 4Kidsisms, including story changes, dialogue changes, a lot of visual edits in regards to transitions and splitscreens to make it seem more fast-paced and ‘cool,’ but it wouldn’t really be much more changed than the original Yu-Gi-Oh!.
Unfortunately, in 2008, 4Kids would wind up canceling GX without ever airing (or dubbing?) the final episode of season three or the entirety of season four. This was reportedly due to the fact that Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds had started airing in Japan, 4Kids had already acquired the first season and wanted to focus on releasing that instead.
According to an email response someone got from 4Kids around the time of cancellation;
“Thank you for writing to us about your interest in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. Because a lot of our resources are dedicated to dubbing and airing 5Ds, we will not be dubbing season four of GX for this season.
However, this does not mean that we won’t ever dub it, it just means that it is not on the schedule for the near future.
The 4Kids.tv webmaster”
Basically, how this can be interpreted now is that 4Kids didn’t want to lag behind. Considering their dubbing plate wasn’t really all that full at the time either (see: all the shows they lost at this point) they easily could have dubbed GX alongside 5Ds, but I can bet they just didn’t want to bother.
It was also suggested that, since the new wave of 5Ds-based TCG releases was coming and 5Ds would still be around a year or more before release in the States if they decided to finish GX first, they just decided to bump up 5Ds and save some money by ditching GX on the side of the highway.
Other rumors theorize that 4Kids didn’t like the new direction the show was taking in the final season. The show had gotten notably darker and stood in stark contrast to the much lighter casual show it had started out as. Judai/Jaden himself also suffered from a personality change, making him much more brooding and serious than his trademark happy-go-lucky self was in earlier seasons.
It didn’t help that reception for the final season and the tail end of season three in Japan wasn’t nearly as good as it had been, and it was mostly for that very same tonal shift. Ratings for GX also weren’t as good in the west. They weren’t particularly bad, but they seemed to have paled in comparison to the original show. Either fans of the original didn’t like the new cast/vibe/setting in comparison to the original show, they didn’t like the way 4Kids had presented it, particularly in making Jaden this ‘radical’ main character who shouted out “Get your game on!” whenever he started a duel, the fact that many of Yu-Gi-Oh!‘s original fans had aged out of the target demo and the new generation of the demo wasn’t hooking in much yet or the lingering decline of Yu-Gi-Oh! as a whole was keeping it from finding a large audience.
There’s another rumor that Konami and TV Tokyo pressured 4Kids to dub 5Ds in order to capitalize on the new TCG releases, which makes some sense, but it doesn’t answer the question of why they couldn’t have also dubbed and aired GX at the same time.
Also, according to an email exchange from 4K Media, which was the division of Konami that took control of Yu-Gi-Oh! when 4Kids lost the rights after they went bankrupt (and is not, in fact, basically 4Kids in disguise as some people seem to believe), Konami didn’t have any say in 4Kids dumping GX. They claimed that they didn’t even know why 4Kids stopped dubbing GX.
Really, the only one who would suffer for keeping GX out there is 4Kids because they were the ones who would have to devote time, money and other resources to the show. Konami probably did pressure them to dub 5Ds as soon as possible, but how much pressure, I don’t know, and I sincerely doubt they told them to drop GX since that would just be additional advertising, basically, for Yu-Gi-Oh! as a whole.
Despite 4Kids claiming they might dub the rest of the series some day, they never did. They also retained the international license for several years, so no one else could take over at the time. It’s possible Konami could now dub and release the final episode of season three and all of season four, but I sincerely doubt it. It’d be a lot of work and fuss for something that probably wouldn’t be profitable.
You could argue that they just didn’t want two new Yu-Gi-Oh! shows airing at the same time.
Only they totally had two Yu-Gi-Oh! shows airing at the same time.
As Yu-Gi-Oh GX was airing on Cartoon Network, 4Kids also premiered a brand-new Yu-Gi-Oh! show on 4Kids TV….one that 4Kids had made from scratch.
Yu-Gi-Oh Capsule Monsters was a show commissioned from Studio Gallop by 4Kids based on the game, Capsule Monsters – a game introduced in the original pre-soft-reboot version of the manga and in Season Zero, which never aired in America. Because the last time 4Kids commissioned their own Yu-Gi-Oh! feature just went over so well, Twix said sarcastically.
It’s possible that 4Kids was also basing this off of Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monster Coliseum – a PS2 game that released two years prior. Capsule Monster Coliseum was not a successful game. While the very few reviews I can actually find on the game are somewhat positive, they all cite the high learning curve as a big negative, which is understandable considering it’s a game based on a game where even the writers had no idea how the actual hell it really worked.
I can’t even find any sales information on the title (best I could eek out is that it may have sold 220,000 units in America with 440,000 units overall, but I can’t be certain because the website on which I got this information has no information on the Japanese sales.
Basically, the game wasn’t a success. In fact, many extensive lists on Yu-Gi-Oh! video games frequently forget this title exists. People say the same about Dungeon Dice Monsters, but at least Dungeon Dice Monsters was actually explained and prominently featured in the main anime. I loved the Dungeon Dice Monsters GBA game.
I honestly don’t know why Capsule Monsters was created. It was set near the end of the original series, but considering GX was premiering right as the original series was airing its final handful of episodes, it can’t be that they intended for it to be some bridge between the two. The Lost Media Wiki says it was made to promote the toys that 4Kids had made, but one of the links that they cite as a source, an ICv2 article, claims the exact opposite.
“The game will be drawn from the Season 5 12-episode story arc that will begin airing in the States in January 2006.”
And if that’s true then…why was the show created? Was it really just to try and get a new toy line for a property that was literally about to end off the ground? Were they really desperate to milk the series for content considering Pokemon was out the door and Yu-Gi-Oh! was left holding the bag? I guess they could have eventually launched a GX version, but considering GX was already airing, why not just start there?
It’s such an oddity. Capsule Monsters had little promotion, little fanfare, no official announcement as far as I saw, but still spawned its own tabletop game, which was very much unsuccessful. It was canceled after only releasing two starter sets and one booster pack. I honestly wouldn’t have even known there was a Capsule Monsters game if I hadn’t seen it once or twice in stores when I was a kid. Even the IMDB page for the anime has a pitiful one review to its name.
It really didn’t help that they made the game entirely different from the way it was played in the manga/Season Zero and the video game. The game 4Kids made up was just as confusing as the other versions. The game is so confusing that they felt the need to release two versions – one basic and one advanced.
It was also released oddly. The figure game was leaked in December of 2005 on Talkinsportsweb.com, then episodes of the show were airing early on January 30, 2006, without any announcement, on the Irish children’s channel, RTE. In TV listings, it was just noted as Yu-Gi-Oh!, meaning viewers thought they’d be seeing normal Yu-Gi-Oh!, but got Capsule Monsters instead, all seemingly without the knowledge of 4Kids and completely by accident on RTE’s part. RTE would continue accidentally airing these Capsule Monsters episodes until February 2, 2006 when they would shift back to GX and keep Capsule Monsters under wraps until August (Ireland was typically able to air 4Kids shows a tiny bit earlier than the US.)
Viewers were both confused and confused. Confused because there was absolutely no information on this show anywhere, nor any Japanese source material, but the evidence was right there on a LiveJournal post that it existed. Confused because the show just seemed so weird. It was still Yu-Gi-Oh!, the main cast was front and center, but it was focused on an entirely new game that, for some reason, involved what looked like arm cannons.
To make things even more confusing, the show was not presented as a spin-off. The reason I say this is because it has the exact same theme song as Yu-Gi-Oh!, just with a few different background clips and the words “Capsule Monsters” put underneath the title, as if this was a different arc of the Yu-Gi-Oh! series, not a spin-off. In addition, at the start of each episode, Yami would just say “Previously on Yu-Gi-Oh!” not “Capsule Monsters.”
Some sources claim it’s a spin-off, others claim it’s just a new arc to the original series that aired some time in the middle of the final season. US TV listings at the time said “Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monsters” which implies a different series, because a different arc would still be the same series. It’s incredibly confusing.
To make matters even worse…..this series comes off like a huge Pokemon rip-off. I don’t like to throw around that word much anymore, but, at its core, this was damn near plagiarism. They kept these monsters in ‘capsules,’ they could be released outside of ‘games’ and follow them around like fairly sentient (but non-verbal) animals, or they could use them as modes of transportation. They were also recalled and released with beams of light and frequently just battled other monsters with no gameplay enacted besides things like type advantages and whatnot. It was really watered down to just “Monster has a weakness against (x), so we have to do (x)”
They also didn’t have actual Capsule Monster games against other people. Capsule Monsters is supposed to be a rough off-shoot of chess, which is why one of the original names for the game in the manga was Capumon/Capsule Monsters Chess. The real world game follows roughly the same-ish format. However, in the anime, they were always just battling head to head against other wild monsters. A lot of the time, the ‘game’ came off like, well, Pokemon battles. You just command the monsters to attack and strategize based purely on certain advantages. You also collect them. And by “collect them” I mean, most of the time, they just sorta stumble upon the capsules and get monsters for free….A few times, though, they did get monsters after battling them first. And some of them just followed them for no reason, which doesn’t sound familiar at all, no sirree.
I think that’s the main reason they came up with that ‘arm cannon’ gimmick for the series when it’s not present in any form of the game, either in the video game, manga or Season Zero. If they didn’t have the arm cannon thing, they’d either have to throw the capsules or open them to release the monsters, and I can bet even 4Kids thought that imagery would probably be a bit too on-the-nose.
Oh and one of Joey’s monsters is the Baby Dragon….and he’d blow fire on Joey. Baby Dragon looks a lot like a mini-Charizard. You piece that together.
Also, fun fact, the rough draft version of Pokemon was called Capsule Monsters, and that was in 1989. I’m not sure I believe the original game in the manga was inspired by/ripped off from Pokemon as Capsule Monsters. The Yu-Gi-Oh! manga originally came out in 1996, and the first Pokemon games were released in Japan in 1996, but the game in the manga and Season Zero is so different that I can’t say anything with any degree of certainty. It is definitely weird is all I’ll say, especially when you take the releases of the video games into consideration.
This specific anime version, however, I’m much more comfortable suspecting as a Pokemon rip-off, especially because 4Kids called for it. Since the completed game was leaked in December of 2005 and the announcement of the license agreement ending was in December of 2005, they likely didn’t know quite yet that they’d be losing Pokemon when they commissioned this series, so I won’t say this was some attempt to fill the void. Maybe it was more like general laziness and mooching off of it, like they were trying to fuse Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! and make some sort of super mutant merchandise baby.
There was only one actual game against a real person in the entire series, (even though it was still just a normal battle) and THAT ended up coming off like a rip-off of the duel against Pegasus because one of the main issues in that battle was that Alexander, the main villain, could read Yami’s mind, allowing him to predict his moves and change his game plan accordingly. And Yami responded by confusing him with the Millennium Puzzle because his mind is literally a labyrinth.
One interesting aspect of the series was the fact that the players were able to merge with their monsters and basically partake in battles themselves. And by “players” I mean Yugi 99% of the time. Joey was able to do it once (With Red-Eyes Black Dragon – and it was pretty sick) and everyone else got wings on one occasion, that was about it. This was not only something the main series had done a few times before, but it was also something that felt very much akin to either Digimon Tamers and Biomerging or Digimon Frontier and Spirit Evolution.
The most damning aspect of the show, however, was that it was flatout boring. Most of the monsters in the show were ones we had already seen in the main series, and there were really no fun strategies or, ya know, GAMEPLAY to hook you in. It was just a watered down series of Pokemon battles.
One of the bigger issues some gaming anime have in properly advertising their real-world games is over-fantasizing it. If you can’t even remotely emulate what’s happening in the show in real-life, the real-life game seems very boring by comparison. Yu-Gi-Oh! may involve a lot of fantasy aspects, magic and drama and whatnot, but, at the end of the day, they play the game like everyone else in real life. Capsule Monsters doesn’t do that. They only barely touch upon the actual game in the first episode.
The aspect of Yami becoming a monster himself (or really just him in various suits of armor) was cool, but it would’ve been cooler if everyone else did it regularly. Or, outside of Joey, literally even once. Not to mention the aspect of Capsule Monsters kinda loses something if the main attraction isn’t really the Capsule Monsters but Yami as the Capsule Monsters.
It probably also wasn’t a good move to make the monsters so real but still keep in the aspect of them being able to pretty much die in any battle. I’m not kidding. Their monster companions die near the end – even the tiny cute ones. Imagine Pokemon if you were worried Pikachu would die in any battle.
In addition, the art and animation were clearly either rushed or suffered a case of budget-fever. I’d wager both.
Capsule Monsters aired for 12 episodes, which did contain a full arc, but it’s obvious that 4Kids intended to build something here, otherwise they wouldn’t have tried to launch a whole game on the title. I don’t know if they planned to make a full series themselves or if they hoped Japan would be so hyped on the idea that Konami would run with it and they could just bank off of their stuff. If they really were trying to build something here, why did they do such an awful job promoting this? Did they just give up before they even started?
To be fair, as far as I saw, Capsule Monsters actually didn’t do too bad for itself in ratings. However, it’s pretty clear that it wasn’t generating much word of mouth outside of ‘What the hell is this?’, and just as quickly as it came into fans’ lives, it vanished. They did rerun the show once on Toonzai in 2012, but that was it.
4Kids technically never released the series on DVD either. By that I mean that they released the series on DVD, but only after it had been recut into two movies. The first movie was released on May 23, 2006 while the second was released on September 12, 2006. 4Kids and Konami offered a full free screening of the first movie on Yugioh.com the day before the DVD was released.
Japan would never air this series, presumably because they didn’t want people to think it was canon. As the Lost Media Wiki explained, it’s even questionable if a Japanese version exists. The series is on Studio Gallop’s website, but it’s labeled as Yu-Gi-Oh! ALEX. As far as fans who actually know about it are concerned, they pretty much see the series as being entirely non-canon.
We’re almost rounding the corner into 2007, so we should probably cover the last development of 2006. The next subsidiary 4Kids launched – 4Sight Licensing Solutions. 4Kids had long since been a company aimed squarely at children, but since their scope was narrow and their business was going down, it was time to expand their horizons as much as possible. 4Sight would be geared towards licensing properties for older kids, tweens, teens and adults.
And….uh….eh….kinda? 4Sight licensed a lot of art, for use in apps, calendars, textiles, home décor, stationary etc. For instance, they licensed The Dog and Friends, which was a puppy photography series out of Japan by Artlist inc. that was known for their use of fish-eye lens. They also licensed the artwork of Japanese artist, Hokusai Katsushika, and they got at least three licenses for Pachanga art by Belen Mena. They handled the American Kennel Club license, which 4Kids had handled itself for many years before this, and Crufts, which is the UK version of the AKK basically. They had an agreement with Celestial Imports Ltd, which was largely centered on the Chicaloca brand fashion in Europe.
They got into other media a little. They released a fashion game based on the Chicaloca brand, which was released on mobile platforms and Facebook. It doesn’t seem like this game was very successful because there’s barely any information online about it. Searching for “Chicaloca game 4Sight” only brings up three pages of Google results, most of which are unrelated, and the ones that are related are just announcements for the game’s release.
Less than four months after 4Kids announced they had made a licensing agreement with Microsoft, 4Sight would reach a new multi-year agreement with Microsoft to “work in partnership with Microsoft’s Franchise Development team, exclusively handling all global brand development and merchandising deals for the XBox and XBox 360.” which, as far as I can see, really only amounted to handling the license to Viva Pinata – an XBox 360 game geared more towards kids as opposed to the more teen and adult audience XBox typically catered to, which is….kinda backwards given 4Kids’ intentions with 4Sight.
4Kids—err, excuse me, 4Sight created a cartoon series for the games (4Kids is credited for it practically everywhere), but as for anything else they did with Microsoft or XBox, that remains unclear. Besides mentioning Viva Pinata a few times in official documents and press releases, no other information regarding other Microsoft or XBox properties in relation to 4Kids/4Sight ever came up. They did have some 4Kids show-based games available on the XBox, but that’s not really the same.
As for Viva Pinata, I don’t remember a single lick of either the game or the cartoon, but both seemed to have enjoyed a good degree of success. The cartoon lasted for 91 episodes and three years. That’s pretty darn good. It also has very high ratings on IMDB, even if there are only five reviews.
It’s frustrating that there is such little information on 4Sight available, but I can only surmise that’s because they wound up not doing much with the subsidiary either because they didn’t really know what to do with it or they were afraid to actually enter waters geared towards older audiences. Even when I combed the financial reports for every year, the only mentions of 4Sight were just pointing out that it existed and was owned by 4Kids. I did find a supposedly insanely detailed business report online on 4Sight, but I could only access it if I paid $300, which, ahem…Lol.
4Sight would stay with 4Kids as a subsidiary until the absolute end of the company in 2017.
Also during this year came one of Al Kahn’s most infamous moments where he garnered quite a bit of backlash from the anime and manga fandom. In an ICv2 Graphic Novel Conference, Al Kahn was quoted as saying;
“I think manga is a problem because we’re in a culture that is not a reading culture. Kid’s today don’t read, they read less today. In every survey, we find that they’re watching more television, they’re on the Internet more, and that content, although being king, is very disposable. Because the way content gets put out now, it gets put out free. We’re streaming most of our shows. The reason why we’re streaming them is we want kids to watch them as much as they can, and get vested in the concept and go out and buy products. The products ain’t free. The content is going to be free. And manga in my mind is trying to put a square peg in a round hole in the U.S. It will never be a big deal here, for the kids that are in the computer or the Internet generation, because they’re not going to read. They haven’t read, and they’re not going to start now.”
To say his comments didn’t go over well is an understatement. According to some sources, people booed and hissed at several of his comments. I mean, I don’t really understand how you can go to a Graphic Novel Convention with over 125 panelists – in New York City – and then go on about how kids don’t read and manga is never going to be popular in America and not expect a bad reception, especially in 2006….ya know….when Harry Potter was exploding in popularity.
Reading rates for fun among children fluctuate quite a lot, and data about this specific query was unclear because of the way the studies were conducted and the fact that there were a surprisingly few amount of studies about it. Believe it or not, at least according to data in the decade in which he said this, children read for fun fairly often when they’re young, not as often when they’re teenagers, but then the rates increase again when they become adults. Reading rates among children for recreation did go down steadily as television and video games became more readily available and appealing (in addition to a variety of other factors we won’t explore here – including a noticeable discernment among the sexes.) but it wasn’t a drastic downturn, and upticks happened regularly for a variety of reasons, including reading online.
…..Oh and by the way, this comment would become especially weird in 2009 when 4Kids would become the licensing agent for WordWorld – a former PBS preschool show that promoted *drum roll* LITERACY.
And, of course, Al Kahn just saw this as little more than a money grab.
“WordWorld’s expertise in the creative and educational domains coupled with 4Kids Entertainment’s proven track record in developing entertainment brands is certain to produce exciting results – from a sales and innovation perspective.”
I also find it funny that one of the episodes of Kirby: Right Back at Ya! was shifted around to mooch off of the release of a new Harry Potter BOOK. Like, yeah, kids don’t read, but we also recognize that there’s a massively popular kids’ book series out now that we need to capitalize on.
As we can see now, he was obviously wrong as manga eventually did become incredibly popular in the west, among children as well, even if reading rates continue to fluctuate throughout the years. As recently as 2020, manga sales hit an all-time high.
He was also making these comments right next to many people who worked in the manga industry in America, including people from TokyoPop, Kodansha, and Viz Media. Al never dipped his toes into that world so he just sounded like someone who had no idea what he was talking about acting is if he was an authority on the matter.
It wasn’t just a commentary on how something like manga would never take off in the US – he was flat out saying kids these days were never interested in reading, they aren’t now and they never will be because of digital media, which is not true for a multitude of reasons. Like I said, you can definitely argue that children reading for fun wasn’t as common, but acting as if reading as a whole was dying among children was too outlandish of a claim.
To be completely fair, though, there was some validity in his statements. 2006 was a bad year for manga in Japan. Manga sales had been declining for over a decade at that point, and 2006 was the first year manga sales had dipped below ¥500bil. Print media as a whole was on the decline in Japan, and, basically, manga had just been as affected. Indeed, all commercial print media was down, and, yes, cell phones and digital media were a part of that decline (There were several reasons why both manga and anime were down in Japan at the time – such as two major financial crises for Japan preceding this, low birth rates and even their strict immigration practices.)
Japan was way ahead of us when it came to mobile technology, and they still are. The practice of spending time on your phone instead of reading a book while you’re on the bus or train was increasing. However, manga was available to consume digitally and had been for about three years at that point. It was a ¥9bil industry, and it was growing like wildfire. Consumers loved the low price point, the convenience and the discretion – considering enjoying manga, particularly hentai titles, was embarrassing in public, and reading on a cellphone allowed customers to read in public without having to worry too much about people seeing what they’re reading. The sales for manga this way, I believe, were not reported in the same manner as their print counterparts, so the manga industry was probably doing better than how it looked back then given the purely print numbers.
The fact that Al Kahn didn’t even bring up the concept of digital manga (he even speaks as though it’s not possible for manga to be digitized?) or even digital means of reading as a whole shows that he didn’t know much about what he was talking about, especially since he later comments on how, if you look at people in America, they’re all using MP3 players and cell phones while walking around, but, in Japan, everyone on the subway has a “3000 page manga.” I don’t know if he was exaggerating or being stupid. Most manga have around, I’ll say, between 150-300 pages. A 3000 page manga would be comically large. It is literally two and a half Bibles.
The digital age seemed like such a hindrance to reading in the eyes of older folks, but that wasn’t necessarily the case. The internet boom and the rise of mobile devices made it much easier for kids to learn how to read and gave them more access to different modes of reading – like ebooks, online articles, web comics and even video games.
And just to drive the point home – the American manga industry was doing very well, especially during the start of a major recession. In 2006, manga sales actually grew 22% from $7.5mil to $9.5mil, with sales jumping from $60mil in 2002 to at least $170mil in 2006, and roughly 44% of all graphic novels in bookstores and comic book stores were reported to be manga. Manga sales would see another rise by 10% in 2007. However, this would obviously go down sharply in 2008-2010 due to the worst of the financial crisis hitting as well as lack of big name titles being released and the closure of the Borders bookstore chain among several other factors, until they finally rebounded in 2013. The industry was also growing, albeit, admittedly, slowly. In fact, one of the ways the Japanese manga industry was helping ends meet was through international manga sales, particularly those in the US.
One of the other reasons his comments garnered backlash was because it made off like children were becoming illiterate and we should just….ya know….let them. There’s no profit in promoting reading to kids, so screw it. It really shines a bright light on why 4Kids does everything in their power to remove any and all text, no matter the language, from their shows. They think if they let kids see too many words their profit margins will go down or something. Obviously, basically outright saying “Don’t invest in books, manga or any other reading materials for American kids because kids here don’t read. Instead, let their brains rot and profit off of that.” is a hot take that will certainly not earn you any favors with pretty much damn near anyone in the anime industry, whether State-side or otherwise, considering basically all of them are tightly woven into the manga industry.
Liza Coppola, Vice President of Viz Media, responded by pointing out that Viz had recently partnered with the literacy campaign, Read for America, and stated that, “Manga is a great medium to bring kids back to reading.” Viz had seen a positive response from librarians and children from their manga, and they continue making partnerships for the sake of literacy campaigns to this day. Likewise, in June 2006, Tokyopop also launched a program with the LA Public Library using their manga to promote reading to kids and teens.
As a final note for this year, 4Kids also acquired the licensing rights to Futari wa Pretty Cure. However, they never seemingly recorded a dub for the series at all, presumably because Mew Mew Power hit a brick wall and Magical DoReMi didn’t take off well enough. They announced that they had the license to Precure and never said much about it again. They held onto the rights for about three years until the license was handed over to Ocean Productions so they could finally dub and release the show in English on Canada’s YTV.
All in all, 2006 was….not awful. It was down from 2005 with $71,787,000 in net revenues compared to $80,607,000 in 2005. Yu-Gi-Oh! was still noted as being their biggest contributing factor, though the show’s domestic broadcast returns were down, along with TMNT and Cabbage Patch Kids, despite the latter two recording lower revenue from last year. Revenue from Viva Pinata and Chaotic were noted as giving them a boost in that regard. However, they did end the year in the red with a net loss of $1,006,000 in comparison to 2005 with a net income of $5,069,000. Their stocks did enjoy a significant bump, though – seeing the first rise since 2002-2003.
Next – Part 17: 4Kids TV 2: The Kidsening
Previous – Part 15: The Chaotic Nature of Rumors
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13 thoughts on “An Absurdly Deep Dive into the History of 4Kids | Part 16: Yu-Gi-Oh No! (2005/2006 cont.)”
Kahn’s comment annoys me, but it’s basically the same sentiment that I heard all the time while working at a public library. Older people (60+, probably Khan’s generation) would stroll in with their grandkids and the first thing out of their mouths when they got to the service counter was often, “So when are you going to close this old thing?” referring to the library. Or they would say, “Kids don’t read anymore” as they were standing right next to their little family members who’s arms were heaped with books. Or they would say, “Now that everything can be found on the internet, I bet no one comes in here, right?” ignoring the fact that they were already in the library. And I would always smile and inform them that the public library was actually doing better than ever. With the development of ebooks, libraries could now have huge collections of books without having to build larger library spaces! This freed up money so libraries could offer more programs like story times, book clubs for all ages, read and learn events, and book related crafts. Libraries aren’t just buildings with books inside, they are advocates for literacy of all kinds, and that goes beyond what’s written on paper. It’s surprising how few of those grumpy people were happy to hear that.
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Very well said, and happy to hear how well libraries are doing! When I was a kid, I loved books and comics as well as video games and TV, and it’s so weird to me to see older adults not just scoff at the idea of kids reading but also like….enjoy the idea of kids losing interest in reading. Like I know some of them just want to go off on a ‘my generation is better than yours’ ‘back in my day’ rant, but like your final line stated, it’s like some of them don’t enjoy hearing that reading is alive and well in kids, or, at the very least, that people are reading online/digitally.
I hate to say it, but it’s almost like some people want the new generation to be worse off in areas like that so they can feel superior about their own upbringing. It’s so weird. I never had ebook options when I was a kid, but I find it to be awesome that kids have both those and physical books/libraries to have the widest range of reading materials any child has ever had at their fingertips over the years. Libraries are awesome things, and I hope they continue to enjoy success in the future.
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Me too, and the future of libraries is certainly looking good so far!
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Those comments about manga are delusional and beyond insulting. I haven’t read as many manga series as I did back then during my otaku years, and even I wouldn’t stand for those comments. Part of those statements are hilarious in hindsight with readership increasing and sales getting more prominent even years after the fact. Shoot, you can even buy some manga at Target and Wal-Mart which you couldn’t find back in the 00s which shows how much more acceptable anime/manga is in the mainstream which is bizarre because I was made fun of for liking it even as only a few years ago by some stupid individual whom I won’t name.
I never saw Capsule Monsters before since I cashed in my YGO chips way before then. That is cringe-worthy how they used Pokemon tropes and I’m not surprised that it was a 4Kids brainchild instead of something directly from Gallop or from Kazuki Takahashi himself. Even more bizarre when you bring up how both YGO and Pokemon came out the same year. The Baby Dragon blowing fire on Joey randomly does lean into some Ash’s Charizard-isms, but is it fully a ripoff since most dragons breathe fire anyway? Do you think Nintendo should’ve sued 4Kids for this? Also, what are your personal guidelines for what constitute a ripoff when it comes to characters or stories? I’m just asking questions here.
I didn’t know 4Kids had other side ventures, but I wouldn’t have guessed since I stopped paying attention to what they licensed back then. Keep up the good work. This is one topic I didn’t even know I wanted to read about.
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No, I don’t think there’s anywhere near enough of a 1 to 1 comparison for anything like a lawsuit. They’d have absolutely no case. If Yugi came across a monster called Pookachew that was a small yellow mouse that shot lightning off then maybe there’d be a talk (although maybe that’s so silly of an example that it might constitute being a parody), but this is just 4Kids being lazy and trying to sneakily be like Pokemon because they knew that formula worked very well. I should asterisk that even if something is clearly taking notes from something else and can be called a clone or a rip off doesn’t mean it’s full on stolen nor is a lawsuit called for. Something has to be very, very, very close to something else, like damn near mirrored, for me to think a lawsuit or anything of the sort is appropriate, especially since the game it’s based on is so drastically different as well (even if they barely play the game in the anime).
There are a ton of ‘Pokemon clones’ out there that use similar structures, banking off of things that are popular. Shows like Flint the Time Detective and Dinosaur King both involve traveling around and collecting magical monsters (dinosaurs in the case of the latter) and constantly fighting against a trio of buffoons with one woman leader and two male subordinates. Dinosaur King is a bit worse in that regard, not at all helped by the choice of voice actors in the dub and the fact that the lead character’s dinosaur is yellow and uses lightning, but even that doesn’t have the same full vibe as Pokemon. They’re different characters with different stories, goals and themes. Pokemon doesn’t own the concept of having a bunch of collectible monsters and fighting them.
Digimon got the most shit for being a Pokemon rip-off even though pretty much the only thing they have in common is having a lot of magical monsters who turn into other monsters. Their characters, stories, mechanics etc. all worked very differently and the experiences you get from both don’t match at all.
Even YGO has imitators. For example, people love to blast Duel Masters for being a YGO rip off, but I never got that. The tone of the show (at least in the dub), the characters, story and the way the game worked were largely different from YGO. If anything, the game mechanics more reminiscent of Magic the Gathering, and even then it was still a different game. People just called it a rip-off, again, at least dub-wise, because the name was so similar to the name of the game in the show, Duel Monsters, and because it was a show about a card game.
For a more controversial example, I’ll even throw a show I like, Fairy Tail, under the bus. The manga/anime is heavily criticized for having a few characters that seem ripped from other shows/manga. One of them was one I even caught – a guy with a slicked-back spiky black ponytail and has his power be largely based on shadows – Kageyama. Many people made the obvious connection that this guy seemed a lot like Shikamaru from Naruto. The difference here is that Kageyama was a sadistic, conniving, cowardly, condescending bad guy (Shikamaru was one of the good guys – never even ambiguous – who was also very brave and loyal. His main traits are that he was lazy but also an incredible tactician and absolute genius, neither of which are shown in Kageyama) whose backstory I don’t think is anything like Shikamaru’s. In my eyes, it’s clear that Hiro Mashima had Shikamaru in mind when he made this character, but on the other hand I’m not super upset about it because Kageyama, as a character, was quite a bit different. I don’t get anywhere near the same experience watching him as I do Shikamaru. You can’t say you own a character with a black ponytail or even characters who use shadows as powers. It’s obviously suspicious but not enough to really get angry at.
As a whole, using the same tropes and archetypes does not a rip off make. Even if there’s enough to make you go “Oh this character is just a discount (popular character/character that came first)” I don’t feel like you can just say this or that was flat out stolen unless you can compare all of the specific aspects and get basically the same experience.
For example, you noted that many dragons breathe fire, yes, but when you break it down, this was an orange dragon, western styled, breathing fire on his master as a joke, as I said in the post, which I don’t think is a common enough thing to say it’s not a sendup to Ash and Charizard specifically.
However, that was one moment I was making a suspicious parallel to. Baby Dragon as a whole is not a rip-off of Charizard just as Joey as a character is pretty far removed from Ash. You likely know enough about Joey to understand that side, but Baby Dragon’s shtick is that it turns into a much older and more powerful dragon when combined with Time Wizard, which doesn’t seem reminiscent of Charizard at all. Baby Dragon’s fun-loving and innocent personality is also in pretty firm contrast to Charizard, who loves lazing around and fighting and had a massive attitude problem. 4Kids just likely saw that one of Joey’s most well-known cards was one that looked like a small Charizard and did the thing. At best, they were trying to copy them, at worst they were trying to make a parody/reference joke that didn’t work.
If you want to get vague, the concept of a pet/partner animal attacking their master as a joke also isn’t unique. You can tell that by how much Pokemon rams that joke into the ground with other Pokemon/Trainer partnerships, like how Victreebel eats James or Croagunk poisons Brock or Cacnea pokes James with its needles when it hugs him. But even they didn’t invent that. It’s the fact that the smaller details were too similar that prompted me to point that out in that one scene.
An actual example of purely stealing from something else is from an episode of a show called Instinct, where they legitimately did steal from a show I love called Bones. Procedural dramas tend to have a lot of overlap because there are just so many of them and they typically have tons of episodes, and as someone who used to watch a LOT of them, I know how much many of these shows borrow from each other or just happen upon the same rough plots by coincidence.
For instance, I’ll again throw something I like under the bus, Bones, had an episode where two of their main characters were buried alive and the other characters had to rush to get them out. Another procedural drama, CSI, had a story before them (I think anyway) where a main character was buried alive and the rest of the team had to figure out how to find them and get them out. Both episodes even ended in an explosion. However, all of the beats, the way the story went, the dialogue, all of the details etc. were massively different from each other. In addition, CSI didn’t invent the concept of being buried alive or having a “beat the clock” plotline where you have to save a beloved character. I love both episodes both because they’re similar and because they’re so different.
In the case of Instinct, however, there’s no other way to interpret it other than theft. From the plot to the story to even actual full lines of dialogue and stage notes – even one of the writers for the Instinct episode used to be a producer on Bones. While the entire episode isn’t a 1 to 1 mirror, many scenes are mirrored, again, down to the dialogue and stage notes. There’s a full back to back comparison here. The producers apologized and said it was unintentional, but the similarities are way too close for it to be an accident. As far as I know, it never became a legal issue, probably because the rest of the episode diverged enough for it to not be worth the legal fees, but, interestingly, the Australian version did recut the episode, and it’s highly suspected that the similarities to the Bones episode was part of the reason they did that.
Basically, if there’s absolutely nothing unique or different added to the character/story besides a few surface level things here and there, then it’s purely stolen and probably does deserve legal action, even though winning those things are incredibly difficult.
If something is different but clearly taking notes from something else, the world of (blank) clones and whatnot, then my feelings vary depending on the situation, as explained above. Some things can be (blank) clones while still having plenty of their own merits in terms of characters, ideas and stories. In this case, I felt more comfortable calling Capsule Monsters a rip off, specifically, in the case of the 4Kids anime, not in the case of the game presented in the manga or Season Zero, because Pokemon was 4Kids main baby and they knew the formula worked. The intentions are pretty clearly there. If this was anyone else besides 4Kids (meaning, I guess this would be a different show besides YGO) then I’d probably just chalk it up to being a formula clone. But since this is 4Kids and their umbrella is over both properties at this juncture, and they certainly loved Pokemon, I can’t not make the connection.
I definitely wouldn’t say it’s just flat-out stolen. It’s still clearly Yu-Gi-Oh. It’s just using a Pokemon paint. Like I said, it’s like they wanted to merge the two and see if they could make some weird fusion property. If any episode of Pokemon could be back-to-back mirrored to an episode of Capsule Monsters, we’d definitely have more to duke out, but they don’t go that hard. The story of Capsule Monsters (and the characters of course) vary quite a bit from anything in Pokemon, to my knowledge anyway.
It’s quite possible I’m being unfair to 4Kids here. I think I’ve done a pretty good job at being fair to them and objective throughout this retrospective, but it’s possible I got “4Kids bad” in my peanut butter during this section. I dunno. That was my take on it.
In conclusion to this overly long comment, I try to be more careful in how I’d determine what I call downright lawsuit level stealing, what’s a rip-off but not so close that it’d be considered a 1 to 1 copy, and what’s a simple ‘clone’/just something that meets a lot of very typical criteria in tropes, archetypes and whatnot (IE is basically a coincidence), especially since making those accusations tends to downplay, disrespect or even insult the work of the people who probably put a lot of effort into the pieces of media. I even feel a little bit bad making this accusation towards Capsule Monsters, even if I do believe it, because many people who had no control over what 4Kids wanted injected into this probably put a lot of hours, thought and work into the other aspects of it, and that deserves proper respect. I plan on reviewing the series as a whole in the near future to hopefully give it a more thorough analysis.
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Just realized that the link to the video didn’t work. Here it is https://drive.google.com/file/d/1uF0_KtPs1J-5VMd09BrhbGD00iXuPnZB/view
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I was mainly referring to Capsule Monsters and not the YGO franchise as a whole, so hopefully, that was clear. That Pookachew situation does sound hilarious if it was a parody moment there. It does seem lazy for 4Kids to do all of that in an attempt to cash in on both of their biggest series at the time. The game itself sounds different, but I understand your concerns with collecting the monsters in that spinoff.
Definitely and I remember a bunch of them in the late 90s and early 00s. I haven’t seen Dinosaur King, so I couldn’t tell you anything, but that does sound sketchy with the dub choices. To be fair, the villain trio with a female leader and two male buffoons isn’t new in the world of anime since you can go back to Yatterman with Doronjo and her underlings. Before that, you could make an argument for Cruella De Vil if you want to go outside of Japanese animation. You could throw in other shows like Mon Colle Knights, Monster Rancher, Dragon Drive, and other similar shows in that time period.
I HATED the accusations of Digimon being a Pokemon ripoff even when I was a kid. Yes, Pokemon came first, but Digimon isn’t anything alike besides magical monsters who can evolve, and even then, the Digivolution concept is way different. The only vaguely similar character parallels are Charizard/Graymon and Ninetales/Kyubimon, but the personalities are nothing alike and the latter example is public domain from a Japanese mythology standpoint kind of like Western archetypical characters like the big bad wolf or a princess in a castle.
I only saw one episode of Duel Masters in my life and didn’t pay attention to it. I’m not surprised people called it a ripoff work. The MTG comparisons do make sense since Wizards of the Coast owned the distribution of the game and I think the anime in America. However, the Duel Monsters game in YGO was meant to be a Magic parody, and look what happened since YGO wasn’t originally about the cards at first…
Fairy Tale is something I’ve never seen before which might sound blasphemous to say as someone who has seen anime. I didn’t realize there was a hatedom for that series since I thought it was well-known. The name of the character sounds lazy since Kage literally means Shadow in Japanese. It does seem suspicious with the powers even if this guy is a villain instead of Shikamaru being a good guy. Sometimes I do wonder about characters who get relentlessly bashed for looking too similar to others that are more popular like Kayleigh from Quest for Camelot or Aunt Figg from the first Tom and Jerry movie (okay, the latter movie was garbage) or how Howard the Duck got hit by Disney’s lawyers in the 70s which gave them control to redesign the character in the comics. I know I mentioned that example before to you, so I will resist repeating myself as to why they are so hypocritical in hindsight from a visual standpoint because I can name two examples.
Is that so? I don’t mean to be too prying, but was that quote about “discount characters” a reference to me calling out people that if (obscure character who existed first) came out after (popular character) existed, they would call them a cheap ripoff? I was wondering about that comment even though no one has been able to counter that argument when I tell people that. However, people who do like a character or series accused of ripping something off can downplay similarities, strawman their way to explain why not, or say “well, EVERYBODY rips somebody off!” as a get-out-of-jail-free card. That or they get super defensive and stab the lesser-known thing that existed first without any consequences because it’s not so popular and doesn’t have many fans.
True and I hear the Charizard comparisons. I’m aware of the Baby Dragon character from older YGO episodes including the times the Time Wizard was used. I wouldn’t confuse either version as Charizard anyway from a design or personality standpoint. Either explanation is plausible with how 4Kids handled it. True with partner/pet relationships in those types of shows.
I won’t go into too much detail after seeing the video you sent, so you know my opinions. It’s interesting that you would still defend the shows despite the painfully obvious similarities. I feel like if I liked Instinct, then Bones fans would mercilessly skewer me for liking a ripoff like how an ex-friend gave me crap for liking the band La Dispute for being a “mewithoutYou ripoff” just because both bands use spoken word vocals mixed with experimental rock music. That’s not the worst thing this person has done, but it frustrates me to this day that I couldn’t find an argument to verbally destroy him (although the band Envy did similar things first…) back then. Makes me wonder if he liked Guitar Hero even though the concept stole from Guitar Freaks, but that’s a story for another day. Why is liking things so difficult and how do I have to defend myself most of the time just for saying I like something?
Thanks for explaining your position on the matter though.
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Oh I knew you weren’t talking about YGO and meant just Capsule Monsters. I was just expanding into the characters as a whole to better represent my point.
Yeah, you’re exactly right that the trio of buffoons thing isn’t even new to Pokemon. It’s just what springs to mind because they’re one of the most famous examples of that trope, especially if other aspects of the property also seem to be present. And dang I always get a nostalgia explosion when someone brings up Monster Rancher. I really need to rewatch that lol
As a big Digimon fan, I hated that too. The two franchises as a whole are entirely different from each other, but people just heard (blank)mon, saw monsters and instantly thought it was a Pokemon ripoff. Even if you could say there was inspiration there, and that’s quite possible in some form, they’re so drastically different from each other that it’s ridiculous to call it a ripoff.
It is insane to remember that YGO wasn’t always about the card game. Every time I do my AniManga Clash on the manga and Season Zero it’s almost surreal to not be talking about card games and Egyptian Pharaohs lol (Also, interestingly, YGO had to change the name of Magic cards to Spell cards because Wizards complained to Konami about that detail being too close for comfort.)
Don’t feel bad about not seeing Fairy Tail. Despite its relative popularity, it’s one of those things that most people love to bash and you basically have to act like it’s a guilty pleasure if you like it in public. I don’t think all of the criticisms are entirely fair, but I think that’s probably a beast to tackle another day. I just get confused that most of the complaints are about stuff that is either also in other more popular shows or is confusing “It’s just not as good as bigger shounen shows” comments. Ya know, one of those things that people seem to just think is mediocre when they get down to it, which is a fair assessment, but they still hate on and make fun of it just because, I dunno, people find it fun for some reason?
It’s pretty frustrating. I still enjoy it plenty for what it is. It’s not perfect, not by a long shot, but it’s fun and does some things even better than bigger shounen shows, like giving female characters more depth, screen time and agency and allowing many of the (large cast of) side characters their times to shine.
Characters looking similar is really difficult to deal with because there are so many shows/manga etc and so many characters that there’s bound to be overlap. There was another Fairy Tail character who was compared to some ice-based character from Bleach, and I was like “Ya know what, yeah, that could be more on the nose because it’s short white spiky hair mixed with ice powers. That’s really weird.” But then I backed up and went “Oh yeah, people who have ice powers commonly have white hair (because snow/ice), and he’s a guy so having his hair be short and spiky is very common.”
I’m gonna throw myself under the bus for this one (lol) I had a fanfic WAY back in the day for Avatar the Last Airbender, and my OC was a earthbender who carried around a giant sand gourd, because I loved that from Gaara of Naruto and I always borrowed elements from anime characters I liked because I was a teenage fangirl lol. The character herself didn’t look at all like Gaara, but if that was a real character I made for a real manga/anime, I’d probably have to alter the sand gourd thing because that’s too unique and too iconic for me to think that wouldn’t be pushing a legal boundary. Maybe not because it’s just a single item and not a character, but maybe it might be – just for the sake of argument.
However, if I had also made a (non-Avatar) character who had water powers who used a water skin like Katara sometimes used, I wouldn’t think that, because a water skin is so common and not really specifically/uniquely iconic to any one character.
No, that “discount characters” thing wasn’t a shot at you. I’m sorry if it came off like that. I used that terminology often as well in the past, along with like “Diet (character)” or “Dollar store (show/manga)”
The thing with speculating about if a character or story would be perceived as a cheap ripoff if it came out after the more popular thing is that, as I mentioned back with Team Rocket, people are just going to go down that route anyway because it’s popular and it’s at the forefront of their minds. In this specific circumstance, however, it could also be the very real but also very illogical feeling like something is threatening your position as a fan of something popular and beloved because something similar came out. They don’t want to actually give this “clone” any credit or view/analyze it with an objective lens because they, for some reason, think it devalues their own beloved property, no matter if the lesser known thing is worse, as good or better than the popular property.
However, interestingly, it also works in the opposite extreme because people might devalue something that came after and is similar but became way more popular because they’re so vehemently defending the lesser known thing since they’re a big fan of that thing. And, again, many people in this corner don’t want to give the popular thing enough of a shot and view it with an objective lens because they feel threatened by it. Giving any credit to the more popular thing also gives their fans’ side more power and it’s perceived to give their argument more validity.
The two situations are basically one in the same, it’s the numbers that differentiate them. The fact is that the former situation feels better because you’re in the majority. You’ll likely find plenty of people agreeing with your stance (confirmation bias), backing you up and standing behind you. And if you’re not first in line, you can just follow the crowd. No matter if they’ve actually seen the character that came after or not, no matter if they’ve given that character a chance or not. It’s a united front.
In the case of the latter, the numbers are reversed, which is why you’re technically right in your assessment that fewer people would call the popular thing a cheap rip off of the unpopular thing that came first because, frankly, there are fewer people with knowledge of the unpopular thing to make that claim. And the people who are fans of the obscure thing typically aren’t gearing up for copycats to spring up and take their thunder. Not as much heat gets generated. When the obscure thing comes second, there are way more popular thing people at the ready actively looking for imitators, intentional or not, to point out and shoot down.
When you’re defending something with a smaller fanbase that doesn’t get as much attention, you feel outnumbered and unheard. You feel even more protective of that property because you realize the scales aren’t shifted in its favor – you’re one of few on its side. And that’s, technically, fine. Having a few louder voices for a smaller fanbase helps balance things out.
However, that also tends to get warped into a vehement dislike of the popular thing because it’s popular, especially if you view it as the popular thing is not only stealing ideas or characters etc. from the property itself but also stealing all the glory and credit that the obscure thing deserves. It tends to breed an “us vs. them” mentality, whereas, with the popular thing people, they just tend to make their jokes, act high and mighty and move on (unless they get involved in a fight) because they don’t find it worth it to continue. In a similar manner, those on the more obscure side build their pride in defending the property in these situations as well, but they tend to feel more obligated to actively call out the more popular “rip offs” because of the aforementioned theft of glory and praise as well as the property in question. The circular effect of this situation just makes the matter worse on all sides.
The issue is that, no matter who is spouting off “this is a rip off of that” no matter what came first, very rarely is either side actually right because they tend to be so blinded by their love of their chosen property that they don’t give the other property a valid chance. They frequently can’t because they can’t divorce their reasoning from what they’ve already come to know and love. Many times, probably prompted by “rip off” talk, they go into the other thing expecting to find all sorts of similarities, expecting to feel it’s a rip off and expecting to dislike it in favor of their chosen property.
That’s another reason why I felt a little more comfortable making rip off claims to Capsule Monsters, because the two properties in question are two that I really, truly love and have comparative fanbases. I don’t feel any obligation towards one over the other to affect my judgment there. I also don’t think Capsule Monsters is, in any way, hurting Pokemon by taking a few pages from their playbook.
The issue I find myself dealing with there is any biases involving 4Kids since, as I said, I do tend to find myself slipping on ‘4Kids bad’ness. But since 4Kids owned (the license to) both properties, I don’t even know if that’s a factor. It’s quite possible, as I said in my other comment, but I can’t really know for certain because it’s very difficult for someone to ascertain whether they’re being biased in any way. Unless you have someone who’s a full objective party who doesn’t care either way analyzing how you’re analyzing something, you honestly can’t know 100% because your own objective views….are subjective.
I can say I gave something a fair chance because I watched it all the way through. I read up on it. I said some things that were nice. I gave constructive criticism. But at the end of the day, for all I know, my personal biases sneaked in without my realizing it.
I’m going to throw myself under the bus again (lol) My Analyzing the Criticized series on Sakura Haruno. I went into that trying to be as thorough and objective as possible. I really thought I was giving Sakura a fair shake. I even conceded on certain aspects of her character that I myself had criticized in the past. However, I look back at this and realize I had totally injected personal biases into it. I nitpicked, I kinda picked on Sakura at points, I got a bit overly irritated because of personal experience with the character.
I do feel a bulk of it is objective and a fair analysis, but it’s pretty much tainted entirely by the spots where I think I slipped up. (However, unlike what one recent rude commenter, whose comment I deleted, claimed, I am not and was not a Sakura hater “forcing” everyone else to hate her too.) As a result, I canceled the series and don’t really intend on ever making another one again because I just don’t think I can rein in my own personal feelings enough to not find myself doing that again. But that’s my problem.
The main point of all this is that most people, as a whole, need to be more careful about what they call rip offs. In a perfect world, people would be more open to giving similar things a chance before they use that word or those like it, and they would be more open and accepting when things objectively aren’t rip offs and judge them fairly.
However, we live in a world where we can’t help but let out own biases affect how we see and judge things. It’s just the way most people work. So, chances are, people are going to claim rip offs left and right one way or another no matter what, even though actual, legitimate rip offs, especially damn near stolen or fully stolen works, are much rarer than people think. I think it’s relatively fine to compare characters or shows/movies etc and say this or that is similar and did it better for this reason or that, but just writing off something as a rip off without giving it proper dues or a legitimate chance isn’t right.
I’m also probably going to still fall victim to this in the future because I don’t know exactly how much you can do to stop yourself before it happens. It’s just a matter of realizing when you’re doing it, backing up as much you can and trying your best to be fair and respectful later while acknowledging you made a snap judgment before. It’s a work in progress, but we all just do the best we can with what we have I suppose.
My views on this whole topic have only recently changed for me to see things that way. I remember seeing the Instinct comparison quite a while back and being very angry and appalled, but now I kinda step back and realize that, yeah, it’s a shitty thing they did, but not everyone who worked on Instinct is a culprit (it’s quite possible it was only one person), it most likely wasn’t a mass conspiracy against Bones, and I don’t know anything about Instinct otherwise (People have said the concept is really close to another procedural drama, Castle, which, interestingly, was accused of being a rip off of, drum roll please…Bones! But, again, I’ve never watched Instinct beyond that comparison so I can’t make an assertion there. And even if the plot was based from Castle, I don’t know if I’d be able to claim the show as a whole is a rip off or copy. You can have the same basepoint, but still have different characters, stories, experiences etc. For example, I have watched Castle and while I definitely see where people are coming from in the comparisons to Bones, I think the show is definitely different enough for me to not think it’s really a rip off.)
I realize now how unfair it is to write off things in an instant like that. I believe we can still bring up these issues and effectively call out injustices when they occur, but simply putting the entire work in the crosshairs and setting a fire the instant we spot a possible problem or even similarity isn’t the solution to any situation like this. There are too many cogs in the machine and not enough people giving the slightest bit of thought towards the fact that coincidences exist and people can have similar ideas without ever even seeing or hearing of the “first” work in question.
I’m sorry anyone’s given you shit for anything like that. That sucks. I always try to also make it a point now that, no matter how negatively I talk about what I’m reviewing, that if you like it, that’s great and I’m happy for you, and I don’t think any less of the fans. I think finding true enjoyment in this world is so difficult but much needed, now more than ever, and making fun of an individual for liking something, no matter what it is, is just harmful in more ways than one. Even if I don’t understand at all how someone could like a certain thing or find it legitimately good, I respect that they do have that viewpoint. All the more power to them.
I struggle a lot with finding true enjoyment in things – I have for many years now – and I’d never want to take away someone else’s fun, passion or enjoyment just because it’s not my cup of tea or I just don’t get it. They see something in it that I don’t, and that’s just the way it is. In some really cool circumstances, some people actually take the time to sit others down and calmly explain why that particular thing is enjoyable or good, and, no matter if I wind up understanding or liking the thing itself, I have a better appreciation for it because they shared their side and I listened. My experience with the thing was enriched because a fan managed to shed some light for me. Sadly, those situations are all too rare.
In regards to the Guitar Hero/Guitar Freaks thing, something did arise in litigation for that. Konami, the publisher behind Guitar Freaks and DrumMania, sued Harmonix, creators of Rock Band and Guitar Hero, for infringing on peripherals patented for DrumMania and Guitar Freaks. However, it was revealed that Activision (the publisher of Guitar Hero and Rock Band) actually acquired the licenses for those patents to use in those games, seemingly giving them legal permission to create their own similar type of game series (I only say seemingly because, while a lawyer did go on record saying no one would be stupid enough to list those patents in their product information without owning the licenses because that’s basically blatantly admitting infringement, neither party would publicly explain what type of deal they had.)
The matter was settled and all suits (Harmonix had brought up a countersuit) were dropped. So I don’t really think this was a case of it being stolen so much as being bought and adapted for a different platform.
I don’t know enough about music to make much of a comment on that front, but music is a whole other monster because millions of songs come out every year, most musicians are audiophiles who get inspired by a wide range of artists, songs, genres, albums etc. as they grow into their own as musicians, and there are only so many ways that you can arrange melodies and beats in a pleasing manner without finding some overlap with other artists and songs, intentional or not. I can bet you anything that you can name any band/singer/song in existence and someone would find a way to say they’re a rip off of someone else, warranted or not.
Don’t be bothered by not finding some way to put that guy in his place. I don’t know this person, but I can assume he made his argument based on biases and a desire to feel superior not because they objectively have a solid argument for why that band is a ripoff and feel they’re unjustly getting recognition stolen from someone else. Instead, feel proud that you recognize the legitimate value of that band and their own art and share it with others. And if anyone else comes back with that rip off accusation, just present your own fair argument and hope they’re open to listening and understanding. If not, or, worst case, they try to start a fight, it’s best to just walk away because it’s so hard and typically not worth the emotional exhaustion to try and convince them otherwise. Many people are locked into those kinds of mindsets, and you can only hope they find a way out some day.
Very sorry again for the even bigger text wall lol but I appreciate your comments very much and thank you for the conversation. Thank you for sharing your thoughts 🙂
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Here I go in attempting to reply to this massive text block. Hahaha! Cool. Glad I was clear enough about the distinction to only being about Capsule Monsters.
Thanks! Doronjo was archetypical in hindsight from an anime standpoint despite not being well-known to the West except for maybe Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom, but apparently she was a fan-favorite villain for decades in Japan and several villain factions were patterned from her and her bumbling male underlings. I haven’t seen Monster Rancher in a long time and I haven’t played the game.
I know, right? The accusations about Digimon being a rip-off is so fallacious because there’s barely anything alike. Apologies if I’m repeating myself, but I was more interested in Digimon as a kid and when I stopped watching Pokemon, I kept going with Digimon.
Definitely about YGO, especially with Season Zero. Wow, I didn’t even know that about Wizards confronting Konami, but I can see why now that you explained it.
Okay. I wasn’t aware of the reception of Fairy Tale being crapped on and being seen as shallow. I won’t make fun of anyone who likes it because I haven’t seen it. That sounds cool how they give their heroines a chance and focus on side characters from time to time.
You’re talking about Toshiro Hitsugaya, right? I knew what Bleach character you were talking about, but I had to Google his name since I haven’t seen Bleach in ages. Haha! You do make a good point about most cryokinetics having white hair. So is Elsa a ripoff according to that logic? Please tell me you see the humor in that question even though Frozen did steal from something else (the Sven/Olaf trailer. Long Story).
Shockingly enough, I have never seen an episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender in my life, but I know how part of how the lore works. Don’t feel bad about that. I’ve had some moments when I wanted emulate anime characters I liked when I was a teenager, but I never committed myself to make any fanfic or story then. My fiction writing interest didn’t happen until later.
Thank you. I was being a bit defensive since I’ve used that line a lot when I deal with things associated with IP theft controversies. I get what you’re saying with Team Rocket because if you were to ask anyone including non-anime fans about a villainous trio with a woman and two males who act goofy, they would talk about Jesse, James, and Meowth because of how popular they’ve been for decades now. I can see some fans feeling threatened if there was a character with multiple similarities that predates what they like. Also, it’s hard for me not to think about the more popular character when I see an antecedent and see those similarities. The most visceral example for me was seeing Claw for the first time where my jaw dropped even though those characters aren’t 100% alike, but there were obvious and oddly specific things I and others instantly saw with him and that other villain. In my mind, I was mentally screaming “Disney would sue the crap out of Tezuka Productions if he came out after 1994 and no one will convince me otherwise!”. I’ve also heard the term “expensive ripoff” mainly because of Nostalgia Critic (before he got canceled or when I did which happened earlier) calling Anastasia that in regards to Don Bluth “copying” from Disney. I do feel like the more popular thing gets a pass because of the masses who like it and have enough backup to defend something. Then again, I’ve always been someone who believes that just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s good. It’s no wonder I’ve liked a lot of obscure things and felt the need to defend them in addition to exposing them to others since I didn’t want to be on an island. I didn’t want to be made fun of for what I liked, so if they didn’t know it, then they couldn’t make fun of me. Also, these obscure works have influenced many popular works, but they don’t always get the proper credit. I’m not sure if it’s an after effect of me being bullied at best or legitimately oppressed at worst (like being racially targeted for example) that makes me want to stand up for the underdogs in certain media in addition to focusing on real-life pressing issues. That ticks me off so much when I see fans of the popular thing acting so superior to the obscure thing whether it influenced what they like or not. I’m resisting an obvious example despite namedropping a character earlier. I do my best to research these things to make sure I’m not blindly accusing something of theft or anything. When I do talk about specific things, I am very clear about what they are and I don’t want to lie that everything is 100% identical unless it is the case (which is rare). It gets tough when something becomes cool to hate when the popular thing gets away with worse.
Then again, I don’t remember there being any beef with Pokemon and YGO fans then or now. I certainly watched both when I was a kid. Pokemon certainly wasn’t hurt and only had a resurgence in popularity going back to when Pokemon Go was trendy. Thanks for explaining this about Capsule Monsters and any 4Kids biases when writing this article. I also watch the whole thing before I pass judgment because I’d look like a fool if I didn’t It does annoy me when people don’t when they call something an adaptation or homage when they know nothing about the source material. That will be a topic I want to cover so bad in a way people will not expect, and I’m just going to leave it at that.
I’m sorry to hear that about your Sakura Haruno series and the backlash you got.
Interesting points. I do wonder when it comes to people who see the popular version first and then see the lesser-known obscure work afterwards since I know that’s possible.
Fall victim to what? Me calling something a ripoff when I’m not talking about you or what you like a ripoff? I was a bit confused there. I don’t call everything a ripoff and I do my best to back something up with evidence or logic. I see that you’re mentioning the whole crew instead of just a director, producer(s), or writers involved. Some coincidences happen which I won’t deny. However, I get concerned when I see too many parallels and look at the dates of creation. It reminds me of when I called the villain of Patema Inverted an anime clone of the Disney version of Frollo and I wasn’t the only one who was reminded of that character while watching it.
Yeah, and I feel horrible how I was subtly mistreated by this ex-friend and didn’t realize it at the time. When I called him out, I was treated like the bad guy and he denied all the things he did or said to me. Gaslighting is so damaging and it’s no wonder why I have a bad habit of apologizing too much even if I didn’t do anything wrong. He even called Abel a mwY clone just because one or two of their songs had some similar guitar tones, but their music sounds NOTHING alike! I couldn’t articulate everything then and I wasn’t that confrontational. Part of me wanted to be harsh on series or movies that I considered to be ripoffs as an indirect revenge against him and anyone who gave me crap for what I liked then when I couldn’t find the best argument. That’s why I talk the way I do at times and that’s not counting about history or current events where I don’t mince words with how atrocious something is.
Sorry to hear that you struggle with enjoying things, but still wanting to respect differences of opinions. I do my best to have some discussions whenever I can. I have learned a few things from your posts. Did you feel like you’ve learned things from me or understood where I came from with some of my opinions or other insights whether on here or my blog?
Thanks for the info about the Guitar Freaks/Guitar Hero situation. I did hear about the settlement stuff, but not to that level. Interestingly enough, I played Guitar Freaks which was imported to an arcade I used to go to as a kid. There was also DrumMania and a keyboard game that came out years before Guitar Hero and Rock Band.
That is true about music. It’s one thing to have similar chord progressions which I don’t mind (insert 4 Chord Song here), but some cases get crazy. The Mbube/The Lion Sleeps Tonight case was straight-up theft and even someone with no musical skills can pick up on that and the wimoweh lyric isn’t even real Zulu or any African language. It makes Ice Ice Baby look original by comparison and that shamelessly stole the bassline from Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie! Don’t even get me started on Led Zeppelin’s catalog where they lost multiple lawsuits when they stole from a bunch of blues musicians or other rockers at the time with songs and lyrics.
In hindsight, his argument was fallacious. mwY didn’t invent spoken word music even in a rock context. I could make a joke about The Last Poets doing it first, but that would be a bit shallow even if they are influential (moreso to rap, but my point stands). La Dispute doesn’t sound like them and I like both bands despite not listening to their newer stuff. I haven’t spoken to him in over a decade though.
Hopefully my comments for this giant text wall make sense. Thank you very much! 🙂
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Just as an aside before I write a longer response, because I noticed this while skimming and I wanted to clear this up immediately – When I said “I’ll fall victim to this in the future” I meant I’ll still wind up injecting personal biases when I don’t mean to, even though I’m actively trying not to. When I was saying “you” I meant people in general terms. I probably should learn to change up my terminology when I do that, but I wasn’t talking about anything you were doing. I was talking about people in general and also myself in regards to trying to be better and not make snap judgments about things being perceived as rip offs. That was my bad, I’m sorry, I really have to practice better terminology lol
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Cool. Thanks for clearing that up. To be fair, I hope I never came across that way and I don’t want to abuse the term ripoff.
Also, really sorry I wrote too much in that response lol Thank you very much! 🙂
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Don’t worry about it. I’ve been used to these text-block conversations from time to time. I’ll give you a full response to the other comment when I have some time to do so. That Bones/Instinct video comparison was crazy with the scenes and dialogue. For me, it was like watching that video comparison between K9999 from King of Fighters/Tetsuo Shima from Akira, watching Inception after Paprika (which was the case for me), and a few scenes from an old-school anime I won’t mention. I didn’t realize it got that similar with those shows from 9 years apart from those episodes. WOW!
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