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So, class, what have we learned over the past 24 blog posts and 100 pages besides the fact that I desperately need a life?
All joking aside, this wasn’t really a passion project or anything, more of a long-standing curiosity that I wanted to explore, thought would just take a few days to research and write, not two months (even as all the parts were sitting in my scheduled posts queue for weeks after finishing the entire thing, I still went back and edited them many times), and wound up finding so many rabbit holes that I think I literally am a rabbit now.
However, I am very glad that I decided to write this up because it helped me understand a lot about why 4Kids was the way it was, a lot of their business practices, what was happening behind the scenes, why they truly died, and I even got to do some sleuthing and maybe clear up some rumors. Maybe you even learned something and had some fun. I hope so.
I think a big takeaway here, though, is that 4Kids, at the end of the day, wasn’t this big boogeyman of anime, when you get down to it. They were mostly just….grossly incompetent. I know it seems weird to say that of such a big name as 4Kids, but, they pretty much were. They propped up their business on a few big titles with no plan as to what they would do should those titles be taken away, they lucked out with a few huge licenses, especially Pokemon at the start, they greatly overestimated their skills and knowledge in the industry, and then whined that Japan didn’t consistently come up with more merchandisable cash cows for them to license on a regular basis as if that was in their control.
They disrespected their audience, which earned them ire, they disrespected anime and manga as a whole, which earned them ire, they disrespected their peers in the anime (and manga) industry, which earned them ire, they didn’t bother to do proper research on their own licenses before obtaining them or research into Japan and how their economy and content works despite working with their properties for years, which earned them ire, and they constantly wanted a pat on the back for doing so much for anime while also desperately not wanting their audience to know what they were consuming was anime….which earned them ire.
Even their production of merchandise and marketing, two things you’d think a licensing company that has existed for over four decades and has had several massive properties under its belt would be able to do quite well consistently, wasn’t all that good at times. From not properly advertising certain shows to supposedly not getting a toy deal for Mew Mew Power to their ridiculously spotty and frustrating release schedule for DVD and VHS releases, especially in regards to ‘uncut’ releases, to making a deal with Miramax and Harvey Weinstein for the Pokemon movies to the disaster that was Toonzaki. It’s amazing how they were both very good at marketing and advertising while also making some incredibly baffling and poor business decisions.
Some things were out of their control, of course, especially the financial crisis and the overall death of Saturday morning cartoon blocks, but many aspects of their downfall were their own doing. If you want to look at the Yu-Gi-Oh! lawsuit from a different perspective, the fact that they said they’d do anything to keep the Yu-Gi-Oh! license, including go bankrupt, was a little on the insane side. I get that Yu-Gi-Oh! was their top earner and losing the license would have been the death of them anyway, but it seems very immature and backwards to basically stamp their feet and say they’d rather kill themselves than let someone else do it. Even if they did rightfully win the lawsuit in the end, they didn’t get anything substantial from it, and they had to have known that.
I won’t really hold Chaotic’s situation against 4Kids because that was also largely out of their hands. It was just a financial gamble that failed in a time of economic turmoil. Again, even without the financial crisis at the time, Chaotic likely would have just been a fairly beneficial property to them through the rest of their years. I sincerely doubt revenue from it would have saved them from their eventual fate. They probably would have just sold it back to CUSA or someone else in the bankruptcy auction. Looking back, maybe one of the reasons 4Kids didn’t want to give up the license to CUSA was because they had injected so much of their own money into it that any offer CUSA gave probably didn’t seem like it was worth it, even though, ya know, it doesn’t make them ANY money by latching onto it forever.
I do think they also had a big issue with their all-or-nothing attitude. They were constantly dead set on finding the next huge thing – the things that would rake in insane profits and make them the top of their field – but they were very bad at long-term strategies. Let me be completely fair and clear – I don’t have a mind for business, much of it goes over my head, but even I can tell that they had a big problem with this. Even when they did say this property or another would be a big earner for years, they either dropped them early because they weren’t being massively successful immediately or they would keep the property but give up on it in spirit, so to speak, by just letting the license rot in their hands.
This reflected very well in their aforementioned attitudes towards Japan in which Al Kahn said anime and manga in Japan were dying because they hadn’t had any generation-defining merchandisable hits in over a decade, which was objectively wrong in a lot of ways. If he thinks an entire country is “over” just because their anime and manga sales were down for a bit, even to the point where he gave up on licensing anime for three years as a result, then it’s not surprising that he views his company in the same way.
This was even reflected when they tried to branch out a bit into female-oriented shows. Winx Club did well, but they had it taken from them because the creator didn’t like what they were doing with it. They gave it another go with Mew Mew Power, which also did well, but dropped it halfway through because they couldn’t get a toy deal for it. Magical DoReMi was good, but it wasn’t good enough so they dropped it. And they didn’t even dub Precure because they likely thought ‘Why bother? If there’s one thing we’ve learned here it’s that there’s no money with girl stuff.’ And then there was whatever the hell they were trying to achieve with Capsule Monsters, which comes off like they gave up on that idea almost immediately while also having no real direction on what they wanted it to be in the first place.
I do concede that a large amount of 4Kids’ edits, as with other child-demographic anime dubs at the time, were a result of FCC constraints and regulations, but I’ll only concede so far with that assessment. Yes, certain edits were necessary to meet broadcast standards, but many of their edits, such as their localization efforts, changing entire soundtracks and removal of all things text, were squarely on 4Kids. As far as I know, the FCC has no regulations about changing foreign content to better suit young American audiences. The only entity that really benefits is 4Kids. In their eyes, it made them more marketable and appealing, and the only people getting offended were the pre-existing fans who knew better, and most of those people weren’t in 4Kids’ target demo, so they didn’t care. Also, let’s not overlook the fact that some of their edits were just entirely nonsensical, and many of their content edits were still commonly present in their movies, which are not controlled by the FCC.
Let’s also not forget that many of their practices were a result of just being terribly condescending to their audience. From making things way too obvious through dialogue changes/additions, editing scenes around or even having new animation created to drive certain points home to thinking every single second of a show needed to have music or talking in it to keep kids’ attention to making mistakes in their dubs and not fixing them on purpose just because they didn’t care and then later claiming it was on purpose as a little weird Easter egg thing.
4Kids, as much as it sucks to say, weren’t entirely wrong when it came to those views, either. Looking back as fully grown anime fans, yeah, we see how bungled the dubs were for a variety of reasons, and we feel rightfully disrespected as fans, but, back when we were kids, most of us didn’t care. The fact that 4Kids, by design, made their shows to trick viewers into not thinking they were watching anime (which failed after a while) definitely had a hand there, but I can’t honestly say that my experiences looking back at enjoying these shows is in any way tarnished knowing what I know now because 4Kids, despite their backwards best efforts, helped make me an anime fan, and they wound up being a significant part of the anime boom in the late 90s and early 2000s.
I don’t attribute my being an anime fan to 4Kids because other shows dubbed by other companies, such as Sailor Moon (DiC), Digimon (Saban) and Dragon Ball and DBZ (Ocean/Funimation) and a slue of others certainly helped push me there too, but they were a big part of it. Plus, many of the shows that they dubbed are now available in high definition subbed versions (not all of them, admittedly), the ones that aren’t weren’t made unavailable or obscure because of 4Kids (It’s likely some people only know of a few obscure shows because 4Kids dubbed them once upon a time) and they also helped pioneer anime streaming options with 4Kids.tv, Toonzaki and even their Youtube channel.
4Kids isn’t even really special when it comes to them mangling their properties. As I’ve already covered in my Sub/Dub Comparison series, companies like DiC, Saban and Nelvana were awful in their own rights with similarly awful and confusing changes, but what makes 4Kids special was that they were the best damn manglers who left a trail of shows and movies in their wake. All of those other dubbing companies had rather limited libraries of anime compared to 4Kids. They wanted that kid anime market cornered, and they cornered it as much as they could. They were the kings of mangling, and I say that with legit praise because they were so much better at digital paint and editing magic than any of the aforementioned dubbing companies.
Even on Cartoon Network where they were more lax on that stuff because their anime was geared towards older kids and teens, and adults with Adult Swim, they had to make edits to suit airing. Some famous examples include Naruto and Yu Yu Hakusho. I specifically remember sloppy paint edits on Yu Yu Hakusho where you’d see the digital paint very obviously shaking as it was covering up wounds and middle fingers. And obviously there were awkward edits to replace Yusuke’s swearing. Even on Adult Swim there was some instances of editing for content. I remember Blue Gender had a sex scene hinted at in the next episode preview with a few clips between Marlene and Yuji, and it just wasn’t there in the episode on Adult Swim where it is there in the Japanese version.
This stuff happens. Sometimes, their dubs were just legitimately entertaining because the cast and writers were having a ball with the show. Their music could even be legitimately good. It was a crap shoot with them sometimes.
Speaking of the cast and crew of their shows, I really do want to emphasize that, in my opinion, they were the best parts of 4Kids. I poke fun at some 4Kids actors’ acting abilities and even just their voices sometimes, and I make fun of a lot of writing choices, but as far as I’ve seen the regular 4Kids cast and crews typically had a blast doing what they did and were proud of their work. For many of them, 4Kids productions were their first foray into mainstream voice acting work, and for some of them it was their first venture into voice acting period. They also seem to be good with the fans, happy to talk about their experiences and were understandably upset whenever a project they were working on fell through, especially in the situation with Pokemon where the rug was pulled out from under them from all angles. The main problem in 4Kids’ wheelhouse were almost always the executives, especially, yes, Al Kahn.
That being said…..there’s a reason 4Kids died when many other dubbing or licensing companies went through similar hardships and came out on the other side with their feet on the ground. As I just mentioned, 4Kids was terribly pigeon-holed. They were exclusively, well, for kids. Older kids and even teens and adults may have had a place in their audience, but their demographic was kids.
When you’re dealing with a kid demographic, you have to work in a landscape that is probably the fastest changing landscape in media. Kids grow up super fast. They outgrow Kids WB and move on to Toonami. They outgrow Toonami and move on to Adult Swim. They may not move on to other anime at all. Within a few years you have an entirely new audience of kids you have to impress with things that are new and exciting, and in the world of licensing, especially when you’re primarily licensing imported shows, you’re chained to whatever is being offered/is available in other countries.
It’s true that trying to make certain properties more fitting for newer audiences helps keep properties alive for years, just look at some of the American kids’ properties that have existed for decades without changing a whole lot, but when you’re dealing with licensing other properties that you don’t have a whole lot of creative control over, you need to find different avenues to evolve.
The thing is that they recognized this. Their problems with having few big properties holding them up and focusing on a demographic that practically demands constant change was in nearly every single financial document as concerns about their company, but they very rarely presented anything that would help solve that issue.
They did create 4Sight, which would’ve been a fantastic move to branch out into older audiences and get a more stable income stream, but, as all-or-nothing attitudes go, they pretty much went the ‘nothing’ route with 4Sight. They didn’t make any big moves with it. They barely made any small moves with it. It pretty much just sat in a corner collecting cobwebs for half a decade.
Toonzaki was a weird outlier in this regard because it’s almost like they went too far in the other direction by having a streaming site where a lot of graphic titles were offered alongside uncut 4Kids properties with no parental controls or age confirmation that I could see. This would have been the perfect project for 4Sight, but they didn’t give it to them. It was entirely a 4Kids website.
Localization is an issue too, but not fully. Yes, some references and jokes need to be changed because they just don’t translate well in English, but that usually not the problem. They were worried their audience would be put off by foreign things. Or, for some reason, an American audience would never be able to connect with Japanese characters and settings. But then again, you’ll never know if the localization is what killed it in the States either. It was largely a matter of gambling with pretty much any property 4Kids acquired.
They were also largely stuck on broadcast TV. They had trouble with releasing movies after a point, and their DVD production and sales were incredibly inconsistent and lacking, something that got exponentially worse when they attempted to release uncut DVDs. Other companies also took to TV a lot, but they tended to be better about releasing uncut DVDs. For example, people complained a lot about Naruto’s censored airing on Cartoon Network, but the uncut version was made readily available as the series aired, starting when the series premiered and completing the DVD releases when Naruto ended its run on TV.
By the time 4Kids broke out into streaming, they just handled it badly. Streaming their edited shows on 4Kids.tv? That’s great. Streaming those and some uncut stuff on their Youtube channel? Awesome. Toonzaki, however, was a great idea that was also somehow a massive mess in practice. As I mentioned, it’s just weird to have a 4Kids streaming service that had so many graphic titles with seemingly no parental blocks or age confirmations. If they were comfortable streaming uncut Yu-Gi-Oh! titles on their Youtube channel, why did they feel the need to use that as a tentpole for Toonzaki? Why not just release the episodes on 4Kids.tv, maybe with a warning or something, and keep all non-4Kids stuff on Toonzaki?
Their official promotions, few of them as there were, didn’t push it as the place to get uncut Yu-Gi-Oh! episodes, just anime in general, but literally everywhere online that’s what it was being hyped as because the little information available, again, mostly from Mark Kirk’s interview, was that it was a 4Kids website for their uncut shows for general audiences. When you don’t have any other frame of reference, that’s what people are going to run with.
They also didn’t seem to realize that just being an aggregate site for anime sourced from other websites with only Yu-Gi-Oh! titles being unique wasn’t a good long-term plan. They acted as if they’d host more stuff directly on their website in the future, but they never did. Everything was hosted from Hulu, Crunchyroll, Funimation, Viz or other places for the entirety of its life.
That’s not entirely on them since the landscape for streaming was in its infancy back then, especially when it came to licensed properties, but still. It was a decent idea sitting on a bad execution. And while it came during a time when 4Kids really needed that opportunity to grow, it also came at the worst time because this was just a year before the Yu-Gi-Oh! lawsuit. If they had a longer lifespan, maybe they could have ironed out the kinks with Toonzaki, but I really doubt it.
A part of their downfall was also the death of Saturday morning cartoons. Animated shows were no longer something only available on Saturday mornings, making their inconvenience a bother. Why would I wake up early on a weekend to catch an anime that I can watch anytime streaming? Or get on DVD later? Or catch on syndication on another network? Or why watch those shows when cartoons are constantly on Cartoon Network, Disney Channel and Nickelodeon? Or why watch those cherry-picked kidified anime when I can watch a big variety of less edited shows on Toonami or Adult Swim, or, hell, even blocks like Anime Unleashed on G4 Tech TV?
They were also prisoners of their merchandise. They treated every property as a merchandise machine. Al Kahn and Mark Kirk said it straight out – if they can’t merchandise it, they’re not interested in it. A large portion of their money came from toys and other kids merchandise, which was also evolving at a breakneck speed as Al Kahn pointed out several times. The problem there was evaluating it improperly a good chunk of the time. I don’t really think they allowed a lot of these shows to have enough time to secure an audience before they decided the merchandise wasn’t worth it. They dropped so many shows because of merchandise when they barely had a few episodes to a full season under their belts.
Honestly, the lawsuit really was just the straw that broke the camel’s back. 4Kids was already on the ropes, they were teetering on the edge, and that lawsuit pushed them over and they couldn’t recover. If it wasn’t the lawsuit, it would have been something else very shortly, I guarantee it. It may seem overly pessimistic, but I just didn’t see 4Kids having a significant future anymore. They were consistently going down for years and could barely even glance up a few times. Either they would have died shortly on their own anyway or they would have stumbled into some miracle property that would save them from the Shadow Realm (and Tai Chi Chasers was not going to be it), and even then I can imagine that would only eek out a few more years for them. They just didn’t have the steam to go on.
At the end of the day, when everything is said and done, 4Kids was and still is an icon….an icon of what, is up to you, but it’s still an icon. Let’s be honest, we still have a blast with 4Kids shows just in poking fun at their ridiculousness, and some still enjoy them legitimately. I won’t deny for a second that, even though doing my SDCs of 4Kids shows chips away at my soul sometimes, the shows still commonly wind up being fun either because I’m legitimately enjoying it or I’m just laughing at the 4Kidsisms.
I’m not going to dance on 4Kids’ grave, but I’m also not going to mourn it. 4Kids was, somewhat fittingly, a product of its time. There’s just no way a company like 4Kids could survive today. There are too many sources of good, loyal dubbed anime, and there are plenty of kids anime that are dubbed just fine and made readily available to children because many dubbing companies today will dub a wide range of anime for a nearly endless demographic from kids to adults to every gender and across every genre. And if you don’t like dubs, subtitled anime, official or fansubs, are readily available at thousands of sources.
Maybe we could have seen an entirely different 4Kids over time, but I doubt it. Also, there was a certain charm with shows being on Saturday morning lineups that you really can’t get anymore, and I think 4Kids thrived on that one very specific area that we can’t replicate now. 4Kids cut out a niche for itself and dominated in that one area, and there just wasn’t a place for it once that niche was gone.
It’s an entirely new world for kids, and it’s not a world for 4Kids.
4Kids will always have a special place in my heart for helping me discover some of my favorite shows and helping spark my love of anime. I won’t excuse what they’re guilty of, and I won’t overexaggerate any good they did. I’ll just say “Thank you, 4Kids. As much for dying as for living.”
Al Kahn may have retired from 4Kids back in 2011, but he didn’t retire entirely. Not at all in fact. So that begs the question, where did the big bad Kahn go off to when he ran out of that burning building known as 4Kids?
He went off and founded another licensing company directed at kids.
I promise you I’m not kidding.
But this time he did it with his wife, Jillian Crane, hence the creative name, CraneKahn….
But don’t worry, the front page of the company’s website makes sure to only praise Al.
Al Kahn is currently 75 years old and is still producing content 4 kids………………………………..:D
Really confusing situation on all fronts, to be honest. His speech when he left 4Kids made it seem like he was tired of working in that industry, especially after the financial crisis, and just wanted to retire altogether and yet he immediately jumps on a new company that is strikingly similar to 4Kids.
This company, founded in early 2012, is 100% not in the realm of anime, though some of their titles are imported, and it’s pretty much aimed at toddlers instead of young kids/tweens. Honestly, I have never heard of or seen any of these properties in my life. I mean, I guess it’s understandable because it’s aimed largely at babies and toddlers, but you’d think I’d recognize something even very vaguely in passing.
I joked about this, but this actually might be a bit out of bounds, legally, for him to do considering that, according to this article from ANN, he had a non-compete clause in his contract….Does this not count as competing? I guess, maybe, considering 4Kids became 4Licensing at around the same time, but Al must’ve been working on the creation of this company since either the instant he left 4Kids or before, I’d assume anyway. Either this really doesn’t count as a competing company or *tin foil hat* he really did know that 4Kids was likely heading for its doom soon and knew they wouldn’t/couldn’t do anything to him.
In 2019, it was rebranded to Kidtagious which is a great name to have one year before a worldwide pandemic hits. (Although, being serious, Kidtagious did team up with Viracide Masks in 2021 to help with the sales and production of antiviral masks. And a charity he founded, the First Responders Children’s Foundation, provided assistance to first responders during the pandemic.)
As of this writing, they’re still in business, but they don’t really make much in regards to news. The company has six employees, I guess, and they made $1.2mil in revenue last year, I think.
He’s also a member on the board of directors for several charities such as the Children’s Tumor Foundation, the Stephen Gaynor School for Learning Difficulties and Bette Midler’s New York Restoration Project.
Al Kahn’s reputation in the anime industry remains sullied, but as long as he’s using his skills and money for the sake of producing things kids enjoy and helping others, I can’t really bring myself to hold massive grudges. He’s put his foot in his mouth, he’s said some really shitty and really stupid things, he’s done some shitty and stupid things, and he always has profits on the mind above all else…..he’s objectively not a great person. I was going to say something nice and then I forgot.
Okay, okay, it’s great that he’s giving to and creating charities and doing good with his wealth while also staying far the frick away from anime. I can only hope that he’s not one of those rich people who uses charities as a smokescreen for skeeviness. I’m putting whatever trust I have left that you’re not doing that, Al.
I honestly don’t wish anything bad upon him or his company. Let him be, as far as I’m concerned. I would be interested to know what he thinks of the world of anime and manga nowadays, if he even really knows much about how much it’s grown in the decade since 4Kids fell. I also wonder if he has any regrets or anything about his time at the company. I feel like he probably does, but all of them probably just relate to money.
And that’s the state of things with ol’ Kahn. Anti-climactic, sure, but no news is good news in this case, I suppose.
Part 24: Everything Changes (Conclusion) (Coming Soon)
4Kids had effectively been demolished after they had gone bankrupt. They adopted a new CEO so Michael Goldstein could finally collect himself. The new CEO, who would remain CEO until 2016 was Bruce R. Foster, who, before, was their Executive Vice President and CFO. They retained a few properties, but only seemingly because no one wanted to buy them, or, if they did, they didn’t offer enough money. As far as I could find, they retained the rights to Chaotic, Dinosaur King and Tai Chi Chasers. It’s possible they owned the rights to some other shows still, but it’s difficult to know for certain given the available information.
Still, 4Kids wasn’t giving up. They exited bankruptcy on December 13, 2012 and created 4Licensing Corporation as a new rebranding. They would also restart trading on the OTC Pink Sheets under the new symbol FOUR. They had previously been listed as KIDEQ.PK.
For four years, 4Licensing would live a rather quiet existence, mostly just existing for the sake of holding onto those licenses and getting whatever residual revenues could be obtained from them. They also planned on getting into licensing in the sports industry. As of December 31, 2013, they repaid all of their creditors, but other than that they were just barely managing to stay afloat. They had two entities under their control – 4LC Sports, their new sports division which was formerly 4Kids Ad Sales inc., and 4LC Technology, which was originally 4Kids Technology, Inc. Their main licensed product was the patented isoBLOX protective shock plates, which largely seem to be used for baseball caps and shin guards. I don’t know if this stuff exists anymore. It’s dead on social media, and there’s no way to buy any of it from their main website.
Indeed, this product is really the only thing 4Licensing really even talks about on its final quarterly report ever, which makes sense because it didn’t have the money to produce anything with its media licenses anymore, and, since it sold off most of its assets, it couldn’t receive any real substantial revenue from anything that was already out there. 4Kids Entertainment, Inc. and the previously mentioned 4Sight Licensing still stuck around to act as the entertainment and brand licensing division, but that was just for technical purposes. They really weren’t doing anything.
Can I be real with you, guys? Reading 4Licensing quarterly reports from 2012 onward is one of the most boring things you can imagine. It’s the same thing every quarter. Outside of minute differences in the specific numbers, it never changes. They’re always reporting a lot of losses, a significant amount of spending and very little revenue. According to their stock charts, they were doing their best at 2014, but, again, the quarterly reports were pretty much the same for that year as all others.
On February 29, 2016, Bruce Foster resigned as CEO, Executive Vice President and CFO of 4Licensing due to non-payment of wages. On September 21, 2016, 4Licensing filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy yet again. This time, it seems they recognized it was the end because they did not express any future plans for recovery efforts to shareholders. The bankruptcy plan was confirmed on January 20, 2017 and enacted February 7, 2017. Shortly afterward, 4Licensing would officially shut down all operations.
It was truly the end of an era.
4Kids was officially gone.
But our story still isn’t over. One unanswered question remains.
Part 23: Where in the World is Kahnmen Sandiego? (Coming Soon)
Yes, everyone, we’re finally here. It’s the Yu-Gi-Oh! lawsuit – the thing that finally killed 4Kids…..Kinda.
On March 24, 2011, TV Tokyo and NAS terminated their licensing agreement with 4Kids after an audit reportedly showed that 4Kids was making several millions of dollars in secret on their properties by making agreements with Cartoon Network, Majesco and Funimation and hiding much of the money they got from the “kickbacks.” (It should be noted that none of the mentioned companies are being accused in this lawsuit) TV Tokyo and NAS had a clear-cut 50/50 split for any revenue involving Yu-Gi-Oh!, and their audit allegedly revealed that they weren’t being given their full share as a result of these under the table dealings. 4Kids also reportedly improperly claimed numerous deductions amounting to over approximately $3mil including insurance coverage, the cost of the audit and the cost of dubbing the series, when they had a contract that stated 4Kids would accept the responsibility of all of those costs.
In the lawsuit, TV Tokyo and NAS requested $4,792,460.36 in damages.
According to the abstract of the legal proceedings, the audit occurred sometime in Q1 of 2010. A letter outlining the accused offenses was delivered to 4Kids on June 25, 2010. 4Kids would respond with their own letter disputing the allegations on June 29.
On December 20, ADK sent another letter finalizing the audit’s findings, claiming 4Kids owed them $4,819,000 in total. Again, 4Kids sent a letter back disputing the allegations.
On March 24, 2011, 4Kids received a letter from NAS on behalf of its parent company, ADK, to terminate their agreement from July 1, 2008 to claim the rights to Yu-Gi-Oh!. 4Kids disputed the termination, calling it “wrongful and devoid of any legal basis” because the termination notification did not meet the ten business day notice agreement made in their initial contract. TV Tokyo and ADK didn’t agree and sent another letter asserting that their termination was legal and final. That same day, they’d file a lawsuit for the alleged owed amount.
They had tried to settle this issue outside of court immediately following the audit. TV Tokyo and ADK made an undisclosed offer to settle the matter. 4Kids refused. At the request of ADK and TV Tokyo, 4Kids wired $1mil as a gesture of good faith in order to get negotiations started to settle the matter entirely. In response, TV Tokyo and ADK reps met with 4Kids in the US to work things out, but “4Kids abruptly terminated this meeting without a resolution to any of the outstanding issues.” Less than two weeks later, the lawsuit would be filed.
And Al Kahn would respond by…….
Not being there.
Mysteriously, on January 11, 2011, Al Kahn would retire from his role as chairman and CEO of 4Kids Entertainment one year after the audit and two months before the termination and lawsuit would go down, handing down the reins temporarily to Director Michael Goldstein.
“After almost 25 years, I have reached the point in my career where I want to relinquish my responsibilities at 4Kids. The last several years have been particularly difficult and demanding with the business of 4Kids being buffeted by the financial crisis. After helping steer the company through challenging times, I have decided that it is the right moment for me to retire. I believe that going forward, Michael Goldstein and the team of experienced 4Kids executives will do an excellent job for our clients and for our shareholders.”
Of course Al Kahn had to pat himself on the back for getting them through the financial crisis, when, ya know….they didn’t. They survived it, but they didn’t “steer through (it).”
Poor Michael Goldstein. Kahn just made him conductor of the train a few seconds after they passed a “Bridge Out Ahead” sign. What I find especially funny is that Michael Goldstein was actually older than Al Kahn was at this point – Goldstein was 69 while Kahn was 64. This will only get even funnier once I cover where Al went once he ‘retired’.
I know I can’t prove it, and I know anyone who went through the recession leading any company would probably want to retire, but you can’t tell me this is a coincidence. This is way too close to when all this shit went down for me to believe that Kahn didn’t know a storm was coming and he needed to grab a lifeboat and dip out of there before the situation got even worse for them.
On April 1, 2011, 4Kids made a statement claiming they would do whatever it took to retain Yu-Gi-Oh! and their business, including filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy. Five days later, after an unsuccessful settlement proposal to TV Tokyo and ADK, they would do just that. 4Kids Entertainment and 11 affiliated companies went bankrupt, listing $23,372,000 in assets and $16,526,000 in liabilities, and they would list several creditors to whom they owed money, such as The CW ($1,987,000) ADK ($4,221,626 – I would imagine this is an unrelated debt as it wouldn’t make sense to be the same money being requested from the audit.), the previously mentioned TPC ($4,700,000), and, strangely, figurehead of Chaotic, Bryan Gannon to whom they owed $80,000 for some reason.
In previous reports, they did keep owing Gannon, CUSA and Apex money for expenses involving Chaotic’s productions, so maybe that was due to some leftover outstanding payments, but they don’t note exactly what it was for. From a note in the 2010 annual financial report, it’s also possible they still owed Gannon a little bit of severance pay or some other fees in regards to shutting down TC Digital Games and TC Websites and subsequently laying him off.
The bankruptcy hearings would put the lawsuit on hold until the bankruptcy court allowed them to proceed. The judge also ordered a hold on the Yu-Gi-Oh! termination, meaning 4Kids could still use the license until the lawsuit proceedings restarted and they made a decision about the validity of the termination. This was done as a means to prevent Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL from being sold to any other companies in the meantime, considering 4Kids had already started working on the series and teasing its release and would suffer financially if TV Tokyo and NAS sold it during the litigation.
On June 10, 4Kids filed countersuit against TV Tokyo and ADK for wrongful termination of Yu-Gi-Oh!’s license citing the aforementioned failure to notify them at least ten business days in advance of the termination.
No one really had any faith that 4Kids would win this lawsuit, mostly because a lot of people either just really wanted 4Kids to die as a result of the litigation because of their disdain for the company and its practices or no one believed that they didn’t deal under the table and steal from the Japanese companies because 4Kids bad.
However….4Kids believed in the heart of the cards.
Yes, 4Kids won this lawsuit. On December 29, 2011, the bankruptcy court (to which the suit had been moved as per the agreement of both parties) ruled in favor of 4Kids, agreeing that TV Tokyo and NAS did not give at least ten business days of notice before termination of the contract, so the termination was void and the rights to Yu-Gi-Oh! belonged with 4Kids.
Many people believe that 4Kids purely lucked out and weaseled their way out of punishment for shady business practices on technicality, myself included when I first started writing this article, but it seems that’s not true either. The judge ruled that, in response to the claims that 4Kids owed TV Tokyo and ADK/NAS money as per the audit, the findings were “99% meritless.”
“Even if it were the case that Licensor had properly complied with the formal notice of breach and termination requirements in the 2008 Agreement, the termination was nonetheless ineffective because the notice sent by Licensor was substantively defective. Plaintiffs’ purported basis for termination – 4Kids’ failure to promptly pay the royalty underpayment reflected in the audit – was improper because the amount owed to Plaintiffs, if any, was nowhere near the $4.819 million amount asserted in the termination letter and the purported notices of breach.”
As for that 1% that was given merit, one that 4Kids did not dispute, they only owed $48,000, which was largely offset by the $800,000 credit that they got on March 24, 2011. The court was so firmly in favor of 4Kids, that they criticized the Japanese companies’ mention of “good faith”, claiming that “If anyone is the victim of a breach of trust, it is 4Kids.”
On February 29, 2012, 4Kids, TV Tokyo and ADK/NAS settled 4Kids’ countersuit. TV Tokyo and ADK/NAS would pay $8,000,000 to 4Kids as a result on March 27, 2012. 4Kids would continue to hold the license for three months until they had a bidding war between 4K Acquisition Corp, a subsidiary of Konami, and Kidsco Media Ventures LLC, an affiliate of Saban, for a variety of 4Kids’ assets including the coveted Yu-Gi-Oh! license. On June 26, 2012, Konami won big.
While Kidsco got some of 4Kids’ assets, like broadcast rights to Dragon Ball Z and Kai, under a new agreement with Toei and Funimation, Cubix, Sonic X and the CW block, Toonzai, which Saban would rename to Vortexx, Konami acquired the full rights and assets to Yu-Gi-Oh! and other titles. This basically made 4Kids ‘victory’ in the lawsuit pretty much moot. They were even able to acquire 4Kids’ production materials such as domain names, music, sound recording rights, any production or recording/editing equipment, office supplies, furniture, computers and more from 4Kids’ offices.
Oh and they would also be taking 4Kids’ offices.
As of the acquisition, Konami would create 4K Media, made in place of 4Kids Productions, which would officially shut down on August 14, 2012. According to an interview with Yumi Hoashi, Konami Digital Entertainment Vice President of Card Business, “Some” of the employees from 4Kids Productions would be retained in order to maintain the same branding and “messaging” but it’s unknown how many of their employees they retained.
As a final note to 2011, 4Kids acquired the South Korean/Japanese series, Tai Chi Chasers on March 22, 2010 and released it on September 17, 2011. It was the first new anime 4Kids had dubbed since Dinosaur King in 2008. According to Al Kahn in his conference call for Q4 of 2009,
“4Kids needs to return to its roots as a licensing and merchandising company [that] specializes in bringing wonderful Japanese programming and merchandising to the rest of the world.”
Quite the turnaround from claiming anime and manga were dying and that profitable shows and franchises for the US couldn’t be found in Japan.
4Kids stopped producing it on June 2, 2012 due to the bankruptcy and loss of 4Kids Productions. Tai Chi Chasers was not acquired by any other licensing company, even with so many of their assets being sold off. 4Kids would retain the rights as 4Licensing until 2017 when the rights expired/4Licensing died, but no one to date has picked up the North American or international rights. It’s now only in the hands of Toei and Iconix Entertainment.
At the end of the year, 4Kids had a net revenue of $12,346,000, down from $14,478,000 in 2010. They had a net loss of $17,084,000.
Next – Part 22: Time 4 Change (Coming Soon)
Plot: Zoro and Luffy manage to get away from Buggy with the help of Nami and the mayor of the town, but they’re not out of danger yet. They meet a small dog named Chouchou who seems to be guarding a local pet store fiercely. The mayor tells them that the dog’s owner recently passed away and he’s been feeding Chouchou in his place since his passing, but he won’t leave the store no matter what. When Buggy sends one of his goons, Mohji the Beast Tamer, to defeat Zoro and Luffy, they find that Chouchou’s both bark AND bite, but will that be enough to protect his pet shop?
Entire Show Edit: The recaps are always different and for some reason they are always presented in letterbox form in the dub.
The mention of Zoro being injured is kept the same, but it makes little sense in the dub. In the original, we constantly see blood spraying from Zoro’s wound and the blood stain on his clothes getting bigger. In the dub, there is no visible wound and he looks fine otherwise, so you’re left confused as to why they’re freaking out about an invisible wound.
In the next line, dub!Zoro says he’s fine besides his knee, which I guess we’re supposed to take as having gotten hurt when the Buggy Ball went off, despite having no damage to his pants. They even kinda point this out by having Luffy say his knee looks fine and then Nami saying it sounds awful. Because sounds are much easier to edit than visuals. Also, I guess they’re ignoring that he totally got stabbed earlier? Even if they didn’t show it outright, that’s what was implied.
They omit the part where Luffy introduces Nami to Zoro as their new navigator.
The line being said here, which is Nami asking why they’re so determined even though they’re pirates, is essentially the same, but the delivery loses the focus of the line. In the original, the line is said like Nami’s getting a whole new view on people who are pirates – like some of them have strength and determination to live on and fight for what’s right despite being pirates. In the dub, she’s all “They’re pretty determined, for pirates anyway.” which is really no change from how she’s been acting towards pirates this whole time.
Title Change: Desperate Situation! Beast Tamer Mohji vs. Luffy is changed to The Beast Breaker.
Originally, Luffy wonders if the unmoving dog is dead. Dub!Luffy wonders if he’s real.
They edit out a shot of the dog biting Luffy’s face. We can’t show that either? There’s not even any blood. It’s almost cartoony.
A shot of Luffy’s hand on the ground is edited out.
A shot of Nami talking to Luffy and another shot of Zoro smiling at the two of them is edited out.
After Chouchou eats the key, we get photo overlays of each of them looking in shock at what just happened. Then we see Luffy cartoonishly strangling the dog because he ate the key. This is all edited out.
They edit out:
They cut straight to Chouchou and Luffy staring at each other and then we get to the building.
The Mayor assumes the three are bullying Chouchou. In the dub, he’s telling Chouchou to not attack them.
In the original, The Mayor says that he offered Zoro medical attention, but he refused and said he just needed rest, so he’s sleeping at his house. In the dub, the same message is given, but it’s more like The Mayor thought the best medical attention was a nap instead of getting him a doctor….and I’m not lying, the dialogue says it, “I have the best medical equipment in the world – a bed.” Yeah, that’ll patch up a gaping gut wou—uh broken knee.
They edit out a shot of Nami petting Chouchou despite us seeing her petting him a few seconds later because…petting dogs is bad?……sometimes? They also edit out a shot of Luffy talking.
Urgh, 4Kids, I am amazed at how you have the innate ability to piss me off and impress me somewhat at the same time. Shockingly, the story about Chouchou’s owner dying and him guarding his owner’s store as his precious treasure is left in, but the music ruins it. It’s a very tragic story, 4Kids. The tone you’re looking for is ‘sad.’
They also shorten the scene of stillness and silence that is reflective upon the sad story because we wouldn’t want to have a moment of emotion, would we?
Also edited out:
The Mayor doesn’t speak baby talk to Chouchou originally.
How can Luffy not get out of that cage? I have a hard time believing a cage, especially one with fairly large gaps between the bars, can hold a rubber man. I mean, it may be painful, maybe, but he could easily squeeze through those gaps.
Name change: Mohji the Beast Tamer is changed to Mohji the Beast Breaker…Beast Breaker? That sounds awful. I have no clue why 4Kids sometimes makes things sound worse than they actually are. Sounds like he emotionally and physically tortures animals until they break and obey him.
They shortened the scene of the mayor flailing and running off with Nami.
They edit out a weird falling pane transition along with some dialogue from Mohji and a response from Luffy.
Dub!Nami: “Don’t you think it’s weird that you crashed through all those houses and you don’t have a mark on you?” He crashed through one house, Nami. Singular.
Blood is edited away from when Chouchou is hit and rolls away. Too fast for me to screencap. Plus it leaves the screen quickly, so you can just imagine a blood spray flashing around him in the dubbed version.
I’m actually not entirely bothered by the choice of song for the flashback scenes because, well, 4Kids sucks at sad songs and that’s really all the effort they’ll put into that. My expectations shall lower for you, 4Kids. Though the original song, that music box song….damn man, just damn.
Chouchou’s minor wounds are edited away.
Originally, in the flashback, the pet shop owner tells Chouchou that he’s getting old (though he really had an illness) and he needed to go to the hospital for a while and to watch the shop while he was gone. In the dub, it basically sounds like he’s dying right then and there and leaving the pet shop to Chouchou.
His wounds reappear during a zoom out. It’s like they didn’t digitally paint enough frames so it fades in for a second or two.
Originally, Chouchou gets hit off-screen and we see blood spatter on the pet store sign as Chouchou yelps. In the dub, we just see Chouchou lunge and cut to the next scene.
Original!Mohji shows us his bleeding bite wound, 4Kids shows us a band-aid. Because that tiny band-aid would cover a whole bite wound, right?
Mohji yells out that the lion thing’s name is Richie when Luffy hits him with the Gomu Gomu no Tsuchi. In the dub, Mohji just screams.
I guess 4Kids had to paint away the embers in this next scene because they ‘had’ to paint away the wounds on the dog.
Nami originally wanted to kill Luffy before he started terrorizing people with a crew like Mohji. This is changed to just wanting to stop him. Also, Luffy originally stated that Nami would never be able to kill him. Nami then challenges Luffy to a fight, but Luffy stays silent. All of this scene is silent in the dub.
A still screen made in a hand drawn-style is edited out of the dub.
The sound mixing in the dub is really awful sometimes. The music can be deafening and can make it really hard to hear the dialogue.
Nami smiling at Luffy giving Chouchou the dog treats is edited out.
Mohji’s ‘wounds’ are painted off.
Nami originally points out that the mayor was crying before he ran off. Dub!Nami just says he’s not using his head.
Original!Zoro says that that things are getting pretty interesting and Luffy agrees. In the dub, Luffy responds to what Nami said about using his head by saying he’s using his heart. Zolo then follows it up and says ‘tough choice. Headache or heartache.’ Ha…hah.
I hate Dub!Luffy’s laugh, I really do. He’s always going hoohoohohoy! He has a more clown-ish laugh than damn Buggy.
I really like this little mini-arc, even if it’s very sad. As and animal lover who has never lived without a dog, it breaks my heart. Poor Chouchou.
The enemy here is a severe threat, even if he looks ridiculous, and there’s plenty of tension to be had. Dub-wise, the episode loses a lot of its emotional impact, but I guess 4Kids could’ve done a lot worse.
Next episode, it’s a wounded Zoro vs. an acrobatic sword master named Cabaji, and a battle of devil fruits with Luffy vs. Buggy.
That’s right everyone. It’s time to talk about Yu-Gi-Oh! in 2011.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Bonds Beyond Time.
What? What else Yu-Gi-Oh! related happened in 2011?
In the quarterly conference call for Q4 2009, taking place on March 24, 2010, Al Kahn told investors that they were in the process of dubbing the recently released Yu-Gi-Oh! 3D movie, Bonds Beyond Time. 4Kids made a really big deal out of the release, which was both fitting because it was a 10th anniversary event and because 4Kids was in dire straits and needed money. They showed a 20 minute preview at the San Diego ComicCon in July of 2010, and had Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG demonstrations, appearances by the voice actors, a cosplay contest, and a benefit for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. A new booster pack featuring a selection of nine limited edition cards for the movie would also be available in stores on February 2011.
The full film would have a limited release in Cinedigm 3D theaters on February 26 and 27 2011, a repeat set of viewings would be available on March 5 and 6. Theatergoers would receive a promotional Malefic Red-Eyes Black Dragon card upon ticket purchase. The American version of the release includes over ten minutes of footage recapping events from the three series in order to ensure everyone in the audience is caught up to follow along.
The movie was basically as edited as anything 4Kids would usually release on TV, including editing the cards to once again not show the description, name etc. instead showing the picture, type and attack/defense points like normal – which was incredibly strange because the last Yu-Gi-Oh! movie, the one that was ordered by 4Kids, left the cards alone – and removing instances of text, which, from the Pokemon movie releases, they tended to not do on movies. These edits also included making an entirely new soundtrack, complete with new sound effects, which is another practice people thought 4Kids more or less stopped with the Pokemon movies, but I guess not.
The movie ended with a message saying “”Duelists, thank you for a decade of dueling…and the best is yet to come.””
Need I remind you that this movie was released in March of 2011….
This movie was also ridiculously short at 50 minutes, made to be 60-65 minutes on the American release. Meaning that the preview that was shown at ComicCon was really, not counting the recap, because I doubt they showed that there, nearly half the movie….
Reception for this movie was……uhm…bad. There were some good things to say about it, like how fun it was to see all three main protagonists of the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise to date teaming up with each other, that it was intense and the pacing was good…..That was about it. To be fair, people did praise the English version for including the recap because it helped older fans and non-fans go into the movie without being confused. However, the recap seems to be missing from streaming releases, and in the DVD releases the recap was marked as an extra, not part of the actual movie.
Criticisms for the movie ranged from it being too short overall to the final duel being too short to the original Gen (Yugi) not being given enough focus while the most recent Gen, at the time (Yusei), being given too much focus to the animation being mid quality (not really up to snuff for a feature film) to the plot being way too simple and yet still loaded with plot holes that “even kids will see through.” to the villain being a rip-off of either Anubis or Dartz. Overall, it was written off by many as a movie designed purely to sell cards and less of a true celebration of the franchise’s ten year legacy. At best, it was just simple fun that old fans and newer ones could enjoy, but at worst it was a 50 minute long commercial that even fans would have difficulty wanting to watch more than once.
The movie made $2,017,928 in the Japanese box office (Which would be about ¥268,968,614.16) coming at sixth in the Japanese box office that weekend. When it was released on DVD and Blu-Ray, it was the second most popular title of its genre.
Because of the limited release, box office returns of the movie in the US and the UK never surfaced. Worldwide, it had a box office return of $2.6mil but over $2mil of that is attributed to Japan’s theatrical release, and the other $600,000 was attributed to South Korea, so the actual figures seem incomplete to a certain degree.
To make matters even worse, 4Kids never released the movie on DVD. I don’t know if they were really able to at the time. *thunderclap* However, in the UK, Manga Entertainment, which had the distribution rights there, released the movie in theaters on May 14 and 21 in stereoscopic theaters, and then they released a DVD and Blu-Ray of the movie on May 30, 2011. The Blu-Ray would include the special promotional Malefic Red-Eyes Black Dragon card that wasn’t included in the UK theater release as it was in America, and the Japanese track with English subtitles. It had actually reached number two on Manga Entertainment’s best selling DVDs of the year, but Manga Entertainment pretty much spit at the success of the title claiming on their Twitter “I think [it was] because it was available in Asda and Morrisons, came with a free rare card and was stupidly cheap on [the] shelf.”
It wouldn’t be until 2014 when New Video Group would release the Blu-Ray and DVD in America, including the option to play the Japanese track with subtitles.
Honestly, I really feel like this was another instance of Al being a tiny bit delusional with how successful he thinks a title will be, or maybe, much more sadly, he knew how much Yu-Gi-Oh!’s revenues supported 4Kids and how they would likely be more reliant on the property in the future considering Pokemon was gone (but they were still getting residuals from it) so was TMNT, and Chaotic had fallen on its face. He probably really wanted the movie to be a huge success so he could maybe get a boost in sales and a big boost in interest before ZEXAL was released. At the very least, he was doing his damnedest to convince investors that 4Kids would be doing better this year. Maybe he didn’t really analyze the Japanese returns for the movie well enough or overestimated how successful it would be in America, which I can’t imagine how that’s possible considering how badly the first Yu-Gi-Oh! movie did.
But oh how devastatingly wrong he was either way. The call was a few months before the audit, and I feel like Al must’ve known that the hammer was being bought to put the final nail in the coffin…..And the nail would meet that hammer a mere three weeks after the movie had been released…..
The beginning of 2009 through the end of 2010 is what I like to call 4Kids’ Pre-Death Dead Period. They weren’t licensing anything new because they had adopted a “Screw Japan and Anime” attitude, only premiering Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds (Ironically an anime from Japan…) and continuing Chaotic, barely got the broadcast rights for a couple shows, and just stagnating for the most part. Even 2011 was largely boring barring one semi-major note we’ll get to next time, but they licensed one anime in that year so I didn’t count it. I’m just going to plow through this period to get to the more interesting stuff.
In 2009 the only shows that premiered brand-new on The CW4Kids, besides Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, were acquired shows – Huntik: Secrets and Seekers, and Rollbots – the former of which being another show by Winx Club’s Iginio Straffi, so I’m sure he was thrilled to be associated with 4Kids again. Huntik lasted two seasons, but it seems only season one aired on The CW4Kids, and Rollbots was canceled after one season.
Outside of the previously mentioned shows ending this year, the only other news on the 4Kids front was their continued downward financial spiral. That’s right, everyone. It’s time to have some fun with FINANCIAL REPORT ANALYSIS! 😀
(Small note, the financial reports from here on sometimes have information on past reports that varies from the report that came out that year. The only reason I can give for this is that they likely had to redo their figures after certain revenues or expenses were reported after the fact. The figures are never so different that they really matter, especially the end net losses/income, but I thought I should mention it in case people wonder why there are inconsistencies between some posts on the specific numbers. I typically went by what that year’s report stated when I wrote that specific section, but technically speaking the following year’s report is probably more accurate.)
It was reported by paidContent that 4Kids had “put itself up for sale.” although 4Kids refused to comment on what they wrote off as rumors.
In Q1 of 2009, their revenue was down, $8.9mil, compared to $15mil in Q1 of 2008. They had a slightly less bad net loss of $2mil reported compared to $6.4mil in Q1 of 2008.
In Q2 of 2009, revenue was $4.4mil, down from Q2 of 2008 with $16.5mil. It suffered a net loss of $13.8mil compared to $5.5mil in Q2 of 2008.
In Q3 of 2009, revenue was $7.27mil, compared to $17.8mil in 2008, with a net loss of $5mil compared to about the same with a loss of $5.3mil in Q3 of 2008.
As the recession was ending, 4Kids was starting to pick up, but there was additional and devastating damage. In Q4 of 2009, 4Kids reported $16.1mil in revenue, up from $12.8mil in 2008, partially because they sold the license to TMNT to Nickelodeon at that time for $9.8mil. However, it also had a net loss of $21.3mil.
Overall, for the year, they had a net revenue of $36,783,000 compared to $57,201,000 in 2008. Their costs were down a little bit with $80,298,000 compared to $88,918,000 in 2008. They would experience a net loss of $52,456,000 compared to a loss of $36,819,000 in 2008.
As previously discussed, one of the big factors there was the $20mil worth of charges related to carrying leftover and returned Chaotic merchandise and their film inventory as well as money still owed to CUSA and Apex for their share of the production costs on the cartoon, However, there were other factors in play as well.
According to Al Kahn, one of the most damaging losses that year was when Lehman Brothers went bankrupt. 4Kids had over $50mil in illiquid auction rate securities at Lehman. In the financial report for 2011, it states that they were filing a proof of claim for $31,500,000 plus interest, which would probably be around $50mil as Kahn claimed. In the end, they settled for a mere $489,000, which means they took a hit of around $49,500,000, which, let me check my notes…..was uh….not good.
In lawsuit land, 4Kids was clearing up their issues with Fox and paid them $6,250,000 in settlement money.
Upper Deck also sued Bryan Gannon, the head of Chaotic USA, TC Digital Games and TC Websites. Gannon used to be an executive at Upper Deck, and they were claiming he used confidential information and trade secrets obtained from his time with Upper Deck (specifically the years 2002-2003) for use in the development of the Chaotic game. However, on October 5, 2009, Upper Deck voluntarily dropped the lawsuit without prejudice.
Jumping into 2010,
Q1 revenue was $4.2mil, TCG returns were basically nothing at $7,000. In fact, overall in its final year, TC Digital Games, TC Websites, IE Chaotic would only earn about $274,000 in 2010 before they all ended with $6,489,000 in total losses for the year.
Q2 revenue was down to $2.5mil, attributed to reduced leftover returns from TMNT and decreased returns on Dinosaur King merch, but Yu-Gi-Oh! was slightly up. Television sales via advertising were also down for both Dinosaur King and Chaotic.
On May 28, 2010, 4Kids was officially suspended from the New York Stock Exchange for failing to maintain an average global market capitalization of at least $15mil over a 30 day trading period. 4Kids would move its trading to the OTC Bulletin Board on June 1 under the symbol KIDE.
Q3 revenue was down from 2009 with $2,986,000 from $5,312,000. This was also the last quarter in which Chaotic was a factor as they had shut down TC Digital Games and TC Websites in September 30, 2010 and discontinued all support for the Chaotic game on October 1, 2010. They hoped doing so would save $1mil per quarter. To put their situation into perspective at this point, they were citing their failing performance on the lower returns from Monster Jam, which is a monster truck rally they had licensing rights to for many years, and the American Kennel Club. However, declining numbers across the board were also cited. Basically, all of their old remaining properties were decreasing in popularity while their new properties just weren’t all that popular from the start.
Q4’s revenue was $4.8mil, which was the best of the year, but this was down drastically from $16.2mil from 2009’s Q4. Expenses were down to $7.4mil compared to $21.3 mil in 2009’s Q4.
In the end of the year, 4Kids had $14,478,000 in revenue, primarily attributed to Yu-Gi-Oh! (44% of revenue) and residuals from Pokemon (21%) compared to $34,180,000 in 2009, and they had a net loss of $31,640,000 compared to $52,456,000 in 2009.
Al Kahn was quoted in the Q4 2009 conference call as saying,
“I guess there is really no covering up that this has been a hideous year for 4Kids and for our shareholders and for our employees.”
He put most of the blame pretty squarely on Chaotic, basically saying that, if he knew then what he knows now in regards to Lehman Brothers going under and the recession, he wouldn’t have taken the big financial risk with Chaotic, especially since it was still technically underperforming a little even without those factors in place.
Even though…like….no shit, Dick Tracy. Most people wouldn’t undertake huge financial risks if they knew a massive economic downturn and a significant financial disaster were on the horizon.
The CW4Kids changed their name to Toonzai, inspired by Toonami, on August 14, 2010. In addition, a new anime title finally arrived on the block – Dragon Ball Z Kai, which was a remastered recut version of the original Dragon Ball Z series with much less filler, fixes to animation issues and widescreen format.
While 4Kids did not dub Kai, Funimation did, the CW/4Kids acquired the broadcast rights to DBZKai, which meant they had to make edits to make it suitable for their broadcast, most notably censoring injuries, blood, violence, coarse language, many incredibly confusing edits and, most famously, changing Mr. Popo to an insanely bright blue color because they considered his character design to be racist in the same vein as Jynx from Pokemon IE blackface.
Looking back, it’s almost like they wanted him to look like Genie from Aladdin.
DBZKai did incredibly well in the ratings, beating out both Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL and reruns of the original Yu-Gi-Oh!, only sitting behind Justice League Unlimited. Despite also airing on Nicktoons at the time, Toonzai airings of the show typically consistently beat out Nicktoon’s viewership of the show, and each block claimed it was their highest-rated show. This was a good move for 4Kids, but a little bit too little too late.
They had hoped there would be some sunshine peeking through the clouds with their next big project – a general audience anime streaming site called Toonzaki.
4Kids launched Toonzaki, on September 15, 2010 after being bombarded with a demand for uncut and subbed content. Toonzaki was a means of granting fans their wishes. Despite some uncut and subbed content already being made available on their Youtube channel, and a few DVD releases, there was a decent-ish amount of hype surrounding the launch.
Believe or not, Toonzaki had many more titles than just 4Kids stuff – several of which were actually aimed towards a more mature audience, such as Fullmetal Alchemist, Trigun, Murder Princess, Descendants of Darkness and Gunslinger Girl. Being clear, they did not own the licenses to any of these titles – they just made streaming agreements with other websites.
I saw numerous comments regarding this praising 4Kids for moving in the right direction, and I agree with that, but I also saw just as many if not more state it was, again, too little too late, and I agree with that too. Some even went so far as to call it “cheating”, since most of Toonzaki’s content was hosted on Hulu, Funimation or Crunchyroll (IE all titles except Yu-Gi-Oh! ones), meaning you didn’t necessarily have to watch most of these titles on Toonzaki. Basically, it felt like 4Kids wanted credit for what other people did, again, barring Yu-Gi-Oh! uncut.
The website had other issues in that, since many of their videos were Hulu embedded videos, no one outside of the US could watch many of their shows. In addition, Toonzaki had a lot of difficulties gaining traction. While having an anime aggregate site was a bit convenient, and some even stated the players from the various websites worked better on Toonzaki, for some reason, whatever hype there was died down quite quickly.
This post made on ANN’s forums to discuss Toonzaki before its premiere got zero comments.
Their Facebook page did okay. They were definitely active, but they barely managed to get into double digit likes on their posts most of the time, and they didn’t get that many comments. Remember, this was back in 2010-2011, back when Facebook was basically at its peak.
It’s Twitter account did way worse with only a few retweets on each tweet and, somehow, a grand total of two likes across their entire timeline, and zero comments.
I don’t know where they even advertised this site. The one print ad I found was for, I think, New York Comic Con….and that was it. No commercials whatsoever. No other print ads. No big announcements – hell, no official announcements period. Nothing.
4Kids was so lazy with this that their blog wasn’t even their blog – it was a blog roll of posts from other websites, like Anime News Network and Anime Shinbun, and nearly all of the articles weren’t even about their anime or website.
When you search “Toonzaki” there’s only eight pages of results, and I’d say 75% of them are mostly unrelated.
There was another thing that I didn’t see brought up anywhere else, but it was bugging me, so, uh, here goes….that naming scheme is awful. The name itself is fine, but as Mark Kirk put it in that interview with ANN from 2010, “Toonzai will also have an online component, which is for the kids, and Toonzaki is essentially its older brother.” Toonzai is literally one letter off from Toonzaki. So any little kid who wants to watch the edited kidified version of 4Kids’ shows from Toonzai (which were hosted on 4Kids.tv) might stumble upon Toonzaki, which had stuff like Deadman Wonderland, Monster, and fucking FIST OF THE NORTH STAR. If you think I’m overreacting, I typoed both names into each other several times while writing this part of the article.
As far as I could tell through the Wayback Machine, there were no parental controls or age confirmation for any of these titles, so they were leaving themselves pretty open to complaints from parents. I know this website was for general audiences, and I know 4Kids kept their logo off it, but it was still a 4Kids product. They should have put this under 4Sight and adopted a more different name. I don’t know how they would have worked the branding or advertising, but it doesn’t work the way they had it set up.
To drive that point even further, they eventually added games to the website….Not saying adults don’t play games, I do all the time, but why would you feel the best addition to your general audience anime streaming site that’s supposedly not, in any way, aimed towards kids would be a bunch of Flash games? It’s not only that they added games to the site – the games they had were completely random games that had absolutely nothing to do with anime. It was ridiculously out of place.
Being completely fair, though, Crunchyroll also had a games section for several years at this point, but many of their games were anime-related, and the section also doubled as general discussion of all PC and console games. In fact, the discussion seemed to take up much more space in that section than the mini-games did. Plus, they never catered to a child audience, so it’s not quite as weird or questionable.
Considering Crunchyroll was legal at this point, and other anime companies such as Funimation and Viz were also streaming anime online, there just wasn’t much of a point to Toonzaki except to watch uncut Yu-Gi-Oh! titles, which had already been made available previously on their Youtube channel, for a time anyway.
After 4Kids went bankrupt, Konami/4K Media got the rights to Toonzaki in the property auction. According to this blog post from a user named Ravegrl, the site was quickly neglected after that and experienced a lot of issues such as broken videos, links and images. The biggest issue came on August 2012 when 4K Media took down all Yu-Gi-Oh! videos to transfer them to another server. For some reason, that transfer caused the entire service to be down for three months. The last update was on April 2013.
On July 24, 2014, Toonzaki shut down for good, again with no announcement, with its URL redirecting to Yugioh.com. Apparently, Konami just wanted to focus on putting the Yu-Gi-Oh! episodes on their own website and had no desire to be an aggregate site for other anime, so Toonzaki was booted.
The Facebook page was sporadically kept alive long after Toonzaki shut its doors purely to promote Yu-Gi-Oh! episodes on Yugioh.com, which kinda feels like putting a neon billboard on a corpse. Konami stopped doing this in 2016, however, leaving Toonzaki to finally rest in peace after living such a brief and uneventful life.
As 4Kids metaphorically moved back home to take Kids WB’s spot on the newly branded CW, things were falling apart at Fox. The executives at Fox were upset with 4Kids since they reportedly had not been paying their lease for the time slot for an undisclosed amount of time. Likewise, 4Kids was upset with Fox for not upholding their part of the contract in stating that 4Kids TV would air on at least 90% of Fox’s affiliate channels, which is actually why they owed them lease money. Since they were not being aired on 90% of the channels, 4Kids demanded Fox pay them a refund of their lease money by $13mil. Fox responded claiming they owed them nothing.
Reportedly, the issue here was that a sizable amount of their channels simply did not want to air the block, and Fox could not force them to air it due to a Right of First Refusal clause in their contracts. Most of Fox’s channels opted to air 4Kids TV, usually the ones that had already previously aired Fox Kids, however, enough channels opted out that it wasn’t meeting contractual obligations with 4Kids. The disputes resulted in litigation being brought up by 4Kids, allowing them early dismissal from their contract by one year. On November 10, 2008, 4Kids announced that 4Kids TV would be ending, and on December 27, 2008, 4Kids TV had its last airing.
4Kids would focus all of its energies on The CW4Kids, and Fox would choose to officially end its Saturday morning cartoon block practices entirely due to too much competition in the market. Instead, the block would be replaced by a series of infomercials later titled The Weekend Marketplace.
While it seemed like 4Kids may have been heading for greener pastures, the grass wound up being awfully brown.
Less than two weeks before the last airing of 4Kids TV, December 17, 2008, 4Kids would lay off 15% of their workforce, citing financial struggles in light of the global financial crisis. As previously stated, Q4 was a particularly nasty blow to them, and 4Kids’ stock had been going downward since 2006. 2007 was a building period for Chaotic, and they were banking on 2008 being so good that it would help them reach higher peaks once more, but that obviously didn’t happen. Compared to 2007, 4Kids’ stock values were awful for nearly the entire year, maxing out at $14.31 a share in Q1, with a lowest point of $1.80 a share in Q4 compared to 2007’s max of $20.31 and lowest point of $10.72. Its earnings were up, with $63,669,000 compared to $55,609,000 in 2007, but so were its expenses and losses with $95,386,000 compared to $81,378,000 in 2007. Overall, they had a year end loss of $36,819,000 compared to $23,326,000 in 2007.
Despite this, Al Kahn was confident 2009 would bring them profit once more. However, his confidence would prove to be misplaced. Their licensing practices were still basically halted as a result of Al Kahn developing negative views on anime and Japan at this point. Their only remaining anime titles were Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, which would soon suddenly transition to Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds on September 13, 2008, and Dinosaur King. Any other titles that aired on the block had either already ended their run (Cubix, Sonic X), were ending this year (DoReMi, Kirby, Viva Pinata) or were running out of steam (Kirby’s rights were up in 2009, TMNT would end in 2009, Winx Club would have its license revoked in 2009). Cartoon-wise, they still had Chaotic too, but, well, we know what happened there.
4Kids did have a new Russian show to dub called GoGoRiki, originally titled Smeshariki or Kikoriki which would do alright, garnering two seasons, but 4Kids dropped it after that since it was already in dire financial straits. Mark Kirk stated in the 2010 ANN interview that he didn’t really view Gogoriki as a major failure as one person on Twitter accused, because, as he saw it, the show served the purpose of providing the block’s educational and informative requirements.
In terms of purely broadcast rights, 4Kids grandfathered over a lot of titles from Kids WB such as The Spectacular Spider-Man, The Batman, Magi-Nation and Johnny Test. The only show they acquired that year that didn’t also air on Kids WB was Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight, which wouldn’t officially premiere until 2009, but had a preview aired on December 13, 2008. However, the show was dropped by the time 2009 was over, due to low ratings, opting to air the final episodes on 4Kids.tv.
Considering Yu-Gi-Oh! was one of their last big earners, there was a lot riding on 5Ds (Hehe, motorcycle puns.) For the first time, 5Ds would introduce an entirely new system to the card game and the anime called Synchro Summoning, hoping that this new mechanic would, again, help breathe new life into the franchise. Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds’ dub was not received well. It’s considered the worst Yu-Gi-Oh! dub done by 4Kids, with numerous rewrites, personality changes, several episodes being skipped, subplots being skipped, and heavily editing the Crash Town arc to the point where they omitted the ending of the final duel.
In a serious case of Deja Vu, 5Ds would also be canceled, leaving its final season undubbed and unaired. There were several reasons for this – none of which I can properly verify, except maybe the last one, so fair warning.
The first was that 5Ds’ ratings were not doing so well, and the new cards were also not selling as well. It wasn’t a failure or anything, but it was performing under what they had predicted.
The second reason was that 4Kids was behind in production again, and Konami was pressuring them to dub Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL.
The third was the
We’re not quite around to discussing that in full yet, but, at the time that the fourth season was airing, TV Tokyo and NAS had terminated their deal with 4Kids over Yu-Gi-Oh! and sued them due to “underpayments, wrongful deductions, and unmet obligations.” However, I’m not sure that had a whole lot of bearing on the cancellation. 4Kids seemed like they were already entirely focused on ZEXAL during the lawsuit with no concern over 5Ds or mention of it at all, so I think it’s safe to assume it just suffered the same fate for the same reasons as GX.
Nevertheless, 5Ds ended abruptly and without fanfare. Unlike with GX, fans seem to be grateful for this as they don’t look too kindly on the dub very much, citing the theme songs as being pretty much the only good things to come out of it.
Plot: The level 9 witch exam is almost here, and while Aiko and Hazuki are sure to pass with their extensive training, Doremi’s lack of practice is putting Majorika on edge. She has one more day of practice, but her mother sends her out to watch Pop as she tries to make a trip to grandma’s by herself. Doremi stealthily tries to help her by using magic, but she needs to ensure she saves at least one magic sphere for the exam. Will Doremi be able to pass and get her fairy, or will her lack of practice come back to haunt her?
As normal, the opening little scene is completely removed. It’s just Doremi upset over how she won’t be an ojamajo anymore.
Aiko just says the typical magic words in the first main shot and finishes by calling for tailless taiyaki. In the dub, I honestly tried to hear what she was saying but I couldn’t make out half of it. I think she said “Don’t care if it’s snapper, don’t care if it’s trout, this cake without a tail come on out!” Kinda surprised 4Kids didn’t change that more considering, if I was a kid, I’d have no idea what the hell that was meant to be.
The title on the book is changed to “Magic” and the label is flipped upside down and shifted downwards because books are read from right to left in Japan and they wanted to make it seem like an English book.
Hazuki says her magic words followed up with “A shortcake without the strawberry, appear!” In the dub, she says “Pretty soon I’ll have a fairy, for now I’d like a cake no cherry! Appear!” The dub sounds awkward. “I’d like a cake no cherry”? I get what she’s saying but it just sounds awkward. Why even change this? Strawberry shortcake is something we definitely have in America. As opposed to, oh I don’t know, a fish-shaped cake….
In the shot where Reanne makes the cake appear, the label on the book is back in its original spot….
Oh my god. They accidentally left the shot too wide, so we can see Doremi doesn’t have a bottom half when she’s animated backing up.
Oddly, the dubbed version doesn’t have this error. I don’t know if it’s because they fixed it on the copy 4Kids obtained or if they zoomed in slightly to cover it up.
The dub omits that their level 9 exam is on Sunday, followed by exams 8 and 7. In the dub, she just says the official fairy test is tomorrow.
Doremi points out that ghosts don’t have exams and questions why witches have them. Then her friends sigh in exasperation. In the dub, she just says she hates tests, and Patina tells her, as long as she practices, she’ll be fine, which makes her friends sigh.
Witch World is changed to the Lunaverse.
Majorika laments that she doesn’t much care how Aiko and Hazuki do on the exam, but she doesn’t have a choice in helping Doremi because she’s the one she needs to get her back to normal. In the dub, she mumbles that she could have been queen of the Lunaverse by now, but she has to cater to these three instead.
Doremi kinda mocks Majorika here by saying “That’s right! If your student fails, it will be really embarrassing for you, Majorika!” In the dub, Dorie tells her not to worry because she’ll be fine, considering Patina said the test was easy.
Majorika says failing the level 9 exam is very rare, so Doremi asks if it’s fine if she doesn’t practice then. Majorika then blows up at her because, again, she’s the only one she’s concerned about not doing well. In the dub, Patina says that just because the test is easy doesn’t mean she can risk screwing up. Dorie then asks if she can blow off practice for the day and practice tomorrow since it’s Saturday and she has nothing else to do, which I guess means the date of the test was changed from Sunday to Saturday for some reason. Patina then yells that she can’t practice tomorrow because the test is tomorrow.
The original doesn’t mention anything about the fairies they receive being either level one or a reflection of their inner selves like the dub does.
Aiko wonders what kind of fairy she’ll get. Mirabelle says her fairy will probably be able to kick some butt. Lala says she’s excited to see the new fairies too while Lorelai says Mirabelle’s probably right in her assumption. Doremi says she hopes to teach her fairy how to make magic goods. Dorie says the fairies can help out around the shop.
Majorika says all Doremi thinks about is doing things the easy way. Patina tells them to focus on passing the test before planning anything with their fairies.
A scene is cut of Majorika passing in front of the girls and muttering to herself wondering how the girls can pass like this. Doremi jumps up and says it will be a piece of cake before a test with a grade of 30 pops into frame, shattering her excitement.
Also, the bottom halves of the girls are again cut off as Majorika passes them.
Doremi got a 30 on her math test while Dorie got a D-. Typically, a 30 is most certainly an F. Also, Dorie adds “Well, at least it’s not a D.” which is obviously meant to show how stupid she is.
Doremi says that at least there’s no math on the witch exam, so it should still be easy. Pop interrupts, seeing her grade, and asks “A 30? What’s so easy about that?” In the dub, Dorie is still talking about the grade, and Caitlyn interrupts her to mock her on how she got a D- minus in subtraction and brags that it’s so easy even she can do it.
Pop says she has to remember to not become a bad student like Doremi is. In the dub, Caitlyn demonstrates her math skills by saying “This family minus Dorie equals a cleaner house.”
Doremi thinks about how terrible it is that her own sister has to be so cruel. Then she says her catchphrase of being the unluckiest pretty girl in the world. In the dub, Caitlyn points out Dorie’s mistake from before in claiming a D- is better than a D, then Dorie thinks that she needs to come up with a comeback.
Doremi mutters her magic words in her sleep and says she’s not a poor witch like adult Pop called her in her fantasy. In the dub, Dorie is silent until she flails and wakes up, saying she’s too excited about getting her fairy to sleep.
Pop just kinda randomly wants to go to her grandma’s alone. In the dub, her mother was going to take her and also get a cupcake along the way, but she insisted on going herself.
Pop says Doremi will only get in her way. Doremi responds with “Well, excuse me.” In the dub, Caitlyn says they’ll get lost if Dorie leads the way, and Dorie agrees.
They remove the next part where their mom agrees to let Pop go off alone. A chibi animation appears as their mom tells Pop to get a box of ten daifuku for her grandma (costing 1000 yen), get on the train and get off at the third station and then walk straight to grandma’s house.
The money was originally for the manju (daifuku is a type of manju) and the tickets. In the dub, it’s for the cupcakes.
In the original, their mom asks if Pop wants the “I’m Lost” sign. In the dub, she asks Caitlyn if she wants her to write down grandma’s address to ensure she’ll remember. Kinda prefer the dub…..Is the “I’m Lost” sign a thing? Either in Japan or in general? I’ve never heard that before.
Pop rejects the sign because it’s uncool. Caitlyn rejects the address card because she’s sure she’ll remember.
Doremi comes up with the idea of following Pop on her broom my herself. In the dub, her mom says she wishes she could be a little bird and fly over her shoulder to watch Caitlyn, which gives Dorie the idea.
Pop wonders if she heard Doremi’s voice. Caitlyn asks “What was that annoying sound I just heard?”
Doremi asks when she’ll be able to fly properly. Dorie says “Stupid broom, never flies right!”
Doremi’s magic words for becoming Aiko are changed in the dub to “When I wave my wand and cast a spell, turn me into Mirabelle!”
Pop thanks Airemi for putting up with her incompetent sister. In the dub, she says she wasn’t aware Dorie had real friends, then she asks Dorabelle how much she pays her.
Pop says she doesn’t have time to chat and apologizes for her rudeness before heading off. In the dub, she tells Dorabelle that she’s a very good person for putting up with Dorie since she knows how annoying she can be. Then she excuses herself and leaves.
Dorabelle is angry that she wasted a magic sphere on Pop. Airemi is upset she has to waste her whole day following Caitlyn.
Dorie says Caitlyn’s running errands, but that’s not what she’s doing. She’s going to visit her grandma. Just because she has to pick up some sweets on the way there doesn’t mean she’s running errands.
Doremi says that her transformation into Aiko was so impressive that the exam will be easy for her. Aiko then slyly asks for her to lay off transforming into her, which….maybe this is just my garbage memory, but when did Doremi ever transform into Aiko? I know she’s transformed into Hazuki, but I don’t recall her doing it with Aiko.
Dorie says that transforming into Mirabelle backfired on her. Mirabelle then says Dorie probably thought she’d be able to pass the fairy exam if she transformed into Mirabelle.
Doremi apologizes for turning into Aiko. Aiko then criticizes her kansai dialect. Dorie says she wasn’t transforming into Mirabelle to pass the fairy exam, and Mirabelle says that’s good because there’s only room for one (Mirabelle).
When Aiko reminds her to practice, Doremi thinks “Just like a Naniwa girl’s personality. She always remembers.” Whatever the heck she means by that. In the dub, Mirabelle basically says the same thing but Dorie thinks, “Oh man! When am I gonna find time for that?!”
Some text on posts and graffiti on the walls is removed.
Text on the poster on the pole is removed.
Pop says that there’s no manju shop around where she is before running off. Caitlyn says she must have taken a wrong turn somewhere and she’ll retrace her steps.
They remove a shot of Pop with a big question mark over her head. I don’t know why. They’ve been keeping nearly all of these kinds of cartoonish expression marks before now.
Gonna give my typical “If you see a sign, it’s been digitally painted to be blank” notification here. They’re the in the city now. Signs are everywhere.
Doremi’s spell for the sign is changed to “I don’t want my sister to be lost all day, make a sign and show her the way!”
Since this is a special sign, I’ll note it. The giant sign Doremi conjures says “This way. Manju shop” In the dub, it’s painted over to say “This way. Bakery.” Honestly floored that they didn’t change the picture of the manju to cupcakes.
Pop originally calls the guy she asks for directions a “pretty boy.” In the dub, she just calls him “sir.”
Okay, it’s nice that this guy is giving her directions, but it’s kinda creepy for him to let her ride on his neck like that…..
The next bit of Doremi’s inner monologue was almost kept the same. Doremi thinks following Pop would be much easier if she were a cat or a dog, but after seeing Pop get excited about the manju she decides that doesn’t want to waste anymore magic spheres on her. In the dub, Dorie thinks the same thing about the cat and dog, but she adds that she could also turn into a bug and land on her arm. But then she rejects that idea since Caitlyn would probably freak out and squish her. When Caitlyn says she’s going to buy the chocolate cupcakes like grandma likes, Dorie thinks to herself that grandma likes the coconut ones, not chocolate.
I guess these don’t count as signs. The little price markers are changed to USD.
Interesting how the digital paint goes outside of the frame. Also, the prices are off. The original price of the manju was 1200 yen, which, at least by today’s conversion rates, is around $8.50. In the dub, it’s $3.50. Gotta say, $3.50 for a box of ten “cupcakes” is actually really good, especially fresh from a bakery.
Pop says the manju are supposed to be 1000 yen. In the dub, she says they’re supposed to be $3.00. The cashier only says that the prices went up this month. In the dub, she adds that the price was increased due to a strike at the chocolate factory.
Pop thinks to herself that, if she gets the manju, she won’t have enough money left for the train. In the dub, Dorie’s got inner monologue running over this shot, chastising her for buying the wrong cupcakes and pointing out that she won’t have enough money. Her mom in both versions is kinda irresponsible for not giving her more than enough money for her trip. I know she’s a little kid who might be tempted to spend all the money, but it’s better to at least give her a few bucks more to ensure she’ll definitely have enough for everything. Funnily enough, Doremi/Dorie mirrors my thoughts on this as she internally chides her mother for not giving her more than enough money.
Doremi’s spell to give part of her allowance to Pop is changed to “As if this day couldn’t get any worse, I never thought I’d say these words, but put my money in Caitlyn’s purse!”
The money in Pop’s purse is changed to American currency.
Pop tells the cashier that her skin is white as the daifuku and her cheeks look like sakuramochi (which are pink). In the dub, Caitlyn asks the cashier what the secret is to her beautiful skin tone because it’s as smooth as silk, and her hair glimmerings like dew on a fine summer’s morning.
Oh….so it’s just one cupcake for $3.50……In that case, what rip off. Also, now that I think of it, they didn’t paint the daifuku into cupcakes either. How strange.
Doremi questions why Pop’s haggling. In the dub, she questions why Caitlyn didn’t look in the purse. She did, though. If you count once and know you don’t have enough money, why would you bother looking again? You didn’t give her a reason to re-check.
Hazuki’s spell to make the square/cube hamburger is changed to “I just made a cookie shaped like a pear, now let’s see a hamburger shaped like a square!”
Aiko’s spell to summon a crescent rice omelet is changed to “At this rate, I’ll never mess up! Let’s have an omelet with some ketchup!”
The montage of following Pop is accompanied by rather dull jazzy oboe (?) music as Doremi narrates a bit about how much it sucks to follow her. In the dub, we get a poppy vocal song called “Now That I Can Fly” which I think was prompted purely because we see Dorie flying on her broom a bit better in one of the shots. I believe this song is kinda foreshadowing the very obvious future reveal that Dorie has actually been practicing her magic this entire time without realizing.
I know I said I wouldn’t note signs anymore, but the sign for the train station is hilarious. It’s painted to just say “TRAIN” in the biggest font they could manage.
Doremi blames Pop’s need to use the restroom on the ice cream she ate….which….why? She clearly has to pee……does eating an ice cream cone make you want to pee? I guess I never thought of it like that. It is a food, but it’s also just frozen liquid, basically. I’ve never eaten a lot of ice cream and had a deep urge to pee. Is this a thing? In the dub, she doesn’t mention this.
It’s kinda weird how 4Kids has been wary of even acknowledging the existence of bathrooms or needing to go pee several times in other shows, but they’re cool with showing Pop peeing her pants. I mean, you don’t see anything, but it’s very obviously implied.
How is Doremi down to her last magic sphere? She had a full wand of them earlier and has only done three spells so far. In the dub, Dorie even points this out by saying she’s used six spell drops already.
Speaking of which, they were given a small sack of magic spheres. I sincerely doubt it was just seven or so each.
Okay, okay, okay. What Doremi/Dorie’s doing is very nice, I’m not discounting how nice it is….but I really feel I have to point how insanely weird it is to have a scene where Doremi creates a “Wash your panties for free” machine out in the middle of the public park. And it’s just a giant washing machine, too. So Pop/Caitlyn had to remove her underwear OUTSIDE and stand waiting outside without underwear for several moments.
What’s even more shocking is the fact that 4Kids KEPT THIS IN. They even fully translated the sign!
By the way, are panties and pee and stuff okay to discuss as long as it’s in reference to a little kid? Because that’s kinda weird.
Granted, they did remove the shot of the underwear being thrown into the machine, because I just guess that part’s just too raunchy (You don’t see Pop taking them off) but everything else is kept.
There’s even a part where they dry the panties by holding up up high above the machine and blow fans on them. Because, yes, let’s put those toddler’s panties right up on display for everyone.
There’s a vocal song played over this that isn’t included in the dub.
When Pop runs off after getting her clean underwear, Doremi says behind her back “Good luck, Pop!” In the dub, Caitlyn says to herself “Now no one will ever know!” and Dorie says behind her back, “Well, almost nobody.” Also, yes, it’s definitely a secret what with your panties being flown in the middle of a park like a flag.
Also, will that underwear washing station go away after a while or does Doremi have to make it go away? Her transformation wore off after a few minutes, but does the same apply to objects being created/summoned? Because that would be really, really, really weird if it stayed there.
They remove Doremi shifting from being happy at her mom’s acknowledgment of a job well done to her being internally devastated about the exam.
Majorika is just mad Doremi didn’t keep a magic sphere. In the dub, Patina adds “So you weren’t even practicing!?” Uh, yes, she was. She used all the spell drops, which means she was inadvertently practicing…
4Kids brings the subtraction thing back by having Dorie say “I know how to subtract.” when asked if she’s sure she has no more spell drops left. So you’re saying you don’t possess the ability to just feel in the bag if there was any left?
Doremi says she’s the luckiest pretty girl. In the dub, she says if she had known she had another spell drop, she likely would have wasted it….You would? But you thought your last one was your last one, and you mulled over using it for Caitlyn because you knew it would cost you the exam.
Doremi says the exam will be a piece of cake now that she has a magic spheres. Dorie says she knew being bad at subtraction would come in handy one day.
The dub adds Dorie saying the door to the Lunaverse is actually the door to the patio.
Aiko says the test area looks like a booth. In the dub, she says it looks like a hot dog stand.
Name Change: The examiners names are Mota and Motamota, the latter of which being named since Motamota means “slow” or “inefficient.” In the dub, they’re Drona and Rona,
Despite the name change and the lack of any sort of alteration to make Motamota’s name mean anything similar in English (Drona probably comes closest as it sounds like “droning” like “droning on.” but not Rona), Aiko’s next line is mostly kept intact. She says “She’s definitely slow.” while Mirabelle says “So, we’ve got slow and slower here.” Being honest, I was kinda shocked they not only kept this line, but made it worse. Drona has only said “Hello’”so far, so it seems weird to call her “slow,” but, overall, it’ quite offensive to say such a thing in the first place. I know it was probably deemed less offensive in 2005, but still.
Mota says they should get started. Motamota says she’s so excited. In the dub, Drona sounds like she says “Let the tasting begin.” which I think is meant to be “testing” but considering the test in question, I could be wrong. Rona’s line in kept.
Doremi complains about the lack of tension since the examiners are so blasé about it. In the dub, Dorie says she hopes there aren’t many rules.
Believe it not, there originally wasn’t any text on the examiners’ book, so 4Kids actually isn’t responsible for the cover being blank. Go figure.
Aiko’s test was originally to make cubical takoyaki. In the dub, it’s to make square hot crab cakes.
These are crab cakes?
Aiko’s spell is changed to “I’m gonna show that I got what it takes! Make a plate of square shaped crab cakes!”
Hazuki’s test was to make a three layered pudding. In the dub, it’s to make a triple chocolate cream souffle.
Hazuki’s spell is changed to “I hope I pass this test today, with a triple chocolate French souffle!”
Doremi’s test is to make milk, anmitsu and coffee. Anmitsu is a dessert dish made of cubes of jelly. In the dub, her test is to make hot milk, jelly and taffy.
It does seem pretty unfair to give Aiko and Hazuki relatively normal foods and then throw some weird shit at Doremi/Dorie.
Doremi’s spell is changed to “I’m going to be a witchling forever! Make a hot milk taffy plate, whatever!” Yeah, those are the words of a true girl who is taking this test seriously….”Whatever.”
The reason Doremi’s spell failed and made a steak was because, instead of indicating exactly what she wanted before saying ‘Appear!’ like she normally does, she muttered “The most delicious food…” a few times before doing her spell and just saying “Appear!” which made a steak appear since that’s her favorite food. In the dub, she did indicate partially what she wanted, but it made a steak because she performed the spell while hungry.
Believe it or not, the fairies, Mimi and Rere, are entirely retained, from their names to the fact that they repeat their names over and over like Pokemon.
Doremi sulks in both jealousy because Hazuki and Aiko passed and got fairies and in sadness because she didn’t pass. The camera then pans up to show the moon as the episode ends.
In the dub, she mutters that she wonders if she can have the steak she made….because…I guess she doesn’t give a crap that she failed? Also, instead of panning up to the moon, they circle transition in on Dorie’s face.
And that’s episode seven. Yup, she just fails her exam. I was actually surprised that she flunked because I thought the lesson would be that she was practicing all day without realizing it, she was using her magic for good reason, she was even getting better at flying, and then she’d be able to implement her practice in her test and get a new appreciation for actually studying….but nope. I also thought maybe they’d let her squeak by because she seemingly sacrificed her one chance at taking the exam to help Pop, but, again…nope.
I guess the lesson is that you may be able to improve skills in your everyday life, but if you don’t take your studies seriously and actually make an effort at practicing or studying then you won’t get very far. That’s actually an extremely good lesson. Doremi shouldn’t be punished for choosing to take care of her sister instead of going to practice, but the fact of the matter is if she had been practicing the entire time, like Hazuki and Aiko, she’d be fine. Instead she blew off practice, thought the exam would be incredibly easy and got cocky about her chances.
In Dorie’s case, she was even worse. First of all, claiming it was more beneficial to be bad at subtraction? Not a good message, Dorie. Second, what was that pathetic spell? It would be one thing if she just messed up because she had the wrong thing in mind, like Doremi, but “Hot milk taffy plate whatever”? She was even setting up the “Whatever” on purpose because she started with “Forever.” I’ll make up a spell for you. “Hopefully this dish will fill your belly! Make me hot milk, taffy and some jelly!”
I also don’t approve of the very ending in the dub where she’s wondering if she should ask for the steak. It really makes it seem like her attempted sacrifice for Caitlyn earlier wasn’t much of a sacrifice if she fails the test and is just like “Eh, I’m hungry….”
Mimi and Rere are pretty cute fairies, and I guess the dub wasn’t wrong in their assessment that their fairies would be reflections of themselves. Rere even has big glasses. That begs the question, is Lala meant to be a reflection of Majorika too? What does that imply? Also, do fairies grow up and eventually become like Lala in that they can speak fluently and become more human-like?
Overall, even though Pop/Caitlyn is really annoying sometimes, I did actually like this episode quite a bit. Even if she was forced to do it, Doremi/Dorie took pretty good care of her sister and even seemingly sacrificed her chance at becoming a witch and getting a fairy all to ensure her sister was okay. That was pretty sweet.
I also liked that Doremi failed the exam. I wouldn’t have objected very much to her passing, but her attitude and behavior before indicated that she didn’t really deserve to pass. If anything, passing her would reinforce her belief that this stuff is easy and she doesn’t need to study to succeed with it. As the next episode preview shows, she will have another chance at taking the test, but she’ll need to actively put in the effort this time.
…..Of course, there’s no tension now because the next episode preview entirely spoiled that she would pass the exam. They didn’t say it, but they showed Doremi’s fairy full out, and she’d only get a fairy if she passed….Why do next episode previews insist on spoiling everything?
Next episode, WILL DOREMI PASS HER MAKEUP EXAM?! I DON’T KNOW! IT’S A BIG MYSTERY! D:
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