Pokemon Episode 65 Analysis: Showdown at the Po-Ke Corral

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CotD(s): None

Plot: Ash is back in Pallet to prepare for the Indigo League conference. He, Misty and Brock visit Professor Oak to get more information on the tournament. When they arrive, they’re met with Gary, who is visiting his grandpa. Oak explains that the Indigo League tournament will be taking place in two months at the Indigo Plateau, and over 200 Trainers are set to partake in the event.

Ash and Gary learn that the other two Pallet Trainers who started their journeys at the same time as them quit some time ago. The two of them are now Pallet Town’s best Trainers. Ash and Gary both butt heads about their progress with Gary gloating that he’s captured many more Pokemon and has much better training regimens and battle strategies than Ash.

As Oak shows them around his research facility, which houses every single Pokemon, Ash, Gary and any other Pallet Trainer has caught and isn’t currently in their party, and tells them all about Pokemon, Gary and Ash come to a slightly better understanding of each other. They’re about to have a friendly practice battle when Team Rocket shows up, demanding Pikachu and all of the other Pokemon on the premises. As Ash and Gary prepare to battle them, Ash’s herd of Tauros bursts through the fence and plows through Team Rocket, sending them blasting off.

Gary takes his leave, promising Ash that they’ll have their match in the Pokemon League tournament. Meanwhile, Oak hands Ash, Misty and Brock some wood and tools to fix the fence Ash’s Tauros destroyed.

Ash has two months of prep time until he will partake in the Indigo League tournament. Will that be enough?

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– There’s more confusion with the ownership of Mr. Mime as this episode proves that Mimey only listens to Delia not Ash.

– They misspell “Corral” as “Corrall.” in the title card.

– Mewtwo escapes from Giovanni in this episode, which helps establish a timeline a little bit with the movie, but not entirely.

That being said, having that scene in this episode was pointless. They show Mewtwo flying off, Jessie, James and Meowth meet with Giovanni who tells them nothing else but to do their jobs, and then they all leave the site of the destroyed HQ. Even taking the movie into consideration, what does this scene add to either?

– The rudeness to Ash from the previous episode continues in this episode when Mr. Mime wakes Ash up by vacuuming his face, Misty just tells him now he can go another week without taking a bath, then Professor Oak is shown being happier to see a Togepi than seeing Ash again.

– The fact that the other two Pallet Trainers quit before even getting to the Pokemon League just makes me even more curious about them. They were keeping pace with Gary throughout like half of Kanto and seemingly were nearly as skilled as he was. What happened to make them both quit? Saying “They just didn’t have the skill.” doesn’t explain much or make much sense. How can you start your journey demolishing Gym Leader after Gym Leader and then skew off into “I guess I suck now.”?

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– I do appreciate Ash saying maybe the Pokemon deserve more credit for his Gym Badge accomplishments than he does.

– Okay, pause for a second. Mewtwo just escaped. Oak says it’s two months until the Indigo League conference. Let’s say the tournament goes on for….a week? And then Ash gets on a new journey like a couple weeks later? So around three months from now is when it will seem to make sense that the movie takes place? Am I close? Sorry, it’s just bugging me.

– How the hell is Gary’s Krabby that buff and seemingly high level without Gary evolving it?

– Ya know, I really hate how much of a point Gary has. And I apologize for jumping ahead a bit in this tangent, but I feel this is an appropriate time to go over this. Ash doesn’t switch out his roster pretty much ever (hell, he barely switches it up from just Pikachu and the starters. RIP Pidgeotto), and it does cause his Pokemon to stagnate. It also causes him to stagnate because, if you never train with anything besides one roster, an incomplete one even, it makes adapting so much more difficult when you do decide to switch it up.

Gary constantly switching out his roster to level up all of his Pokemon evenly, catching a lot of Pokemon and constantly training allows him to be incredibly versatile and greatly increases his knowledge and skills in battle. If anything, this should have been one of the bigger hiccups in Ash’s performance in the Pokemon League. It would have proven Gary right and showed Ash the error of his ways in his lackadaisical training style. But no. Instead, Muk will perform perfectly well in its bout, and Krabby will do so well it somehow ends up evolving.

“But Twix” says the strawman I’m making up again, “Ash probably trained those Pokemon a little bit in the two months he had until the Pokemon League.” That would be smart, wouldn’t it? Eating some crow and deciding that he should train Muk, at least one of his Tauros and Krabby in case he needs them for the Pokemon League….

That would be very smart.

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So of course Ash doesn’t do it.

There are several episodes between now and the Indigo League competition – eight to be precise – and not a one of them includes Ash training any of his B-squad. Hardly any of it includes Ash training at all. He spends much of this downtime dicking around in random filler episodes. He’s gonna find out how Slowpoke evolve. He’s going to be in a movie. He’s going to go surfing. There’s going to be a really weird episode involving giant ancient Pokemon. Only one of them is even kinda centered on training, and most of that episode is just Ash and Brock simping after Bruno while he makes them do random exercises. Then the episode ends with a lesson that they’ve learned about fifty times over by now.

Just to prove that Ash didn’t train them off-screen, when Ash uses Krabby during the tournament, Misty points out that Ash has never used Krabby before. If Krabby was trained, then that would imply that Ash has been using Krabby in practice battles.

The fact that Ash makes it further in the tournament than Gary does kinda throw a negative moral in kids’ faces that you can screw off, ignore valuable advice and hope for the best, and somehow you’ll beat out people who have worked harder, studied more and have more experience. I know that the Charizard incident conveys the exact opposite message, and trust me we will cross that bridge with a goddamn tank when we get to it, but the fact that he skates by like this without putting in the work is one of the many reasons Ash annoys me so.

Gary may be somewhat irritating with how he treats Ash, but it’s very clear that he works hard, cares about all of his Pokemon deeply and studies a lot. He’s also proven he can be a fully respectable guy as long as he’s not stroking his ego. I actually believe Gary should’ve been the one to beat Ash in the Pokemon League. Not only would that have scratched the itch to see these two battle after teasing it for so long, but it would definitely knock Ash down even more of a peg than it did when losing to Richie. You can still have Gary lose immediately after so it humbles him a bit more too and makes him realize he needs to do some soul searching and reevaluation, but having him come in lower than Ash in the tournament just comes off so badly, if you ask me.

Oh, and Ash doesn’t even bring Krabby or Muk with him to the tournament, despite having an open spot on his team. He has to have Oak send them to him when he’s already at the Plateau. It’s no wonder it takes him 25 years to finally fully win a league tournament.

– Admittedly, though, it is kinda weird that Gary starts schooling Ash on Pokemon Type matchups for Gym Leader matches. It was totally out of the blue since no mention of Types or Gyms, outside of collecting Badges, was brought up. Ash definitely does have an issue with typing his matchups effectively, but Gary has no way of knowing this.

– When Brock asks what Gary would use against his Rock Type Gym, he says he’d use a Water Type with a Grass Type for backup. I find it weird that this exchange is even happening. Gary having a Boulder Badge implies that he battled and defeated Brock (and bear in mind that Gary made it to the Pewter City Gym before Ash, so Flint wasn’t manning the Gym as he is now) Brock should be saying something like “Yeah, when he battled me, he completely wiped me out with his Water and Grass Types.” or something.

Gary asks what Ash would use, and Misty says he’d use Pikachu. I want to half-defend and half-condemn Ash here. Misty is referencing the match Ash had with Brock in which he did use Pikachu as his main attacker, but he didn’t really have much of a choice. His roster at that point was a Bug/Flying Type, a Normal/Flying Type and an Electric Type – none of which having an advantage on Rock/Ground Types. Granted, out of all of these, Electric is the worst Type because it should be completely ineffective against most Rock Types since they’re usually dual-type Ground as well, as Geodude and Onix are, but they hardly ever remember that little caveat when Messiahchu’s in the mix.

If Ash were to battle Brock now, I’m……75% certain he’d choose a Pokemon besides Pikachu now that he has more variety. A good chunk of that 25% that was lost was because the “(Aim for) the horn!” incident is still fresh in my mind.

– Gary: “Hah! Everybody knows you shouldn’t use an Electric Pokemon against a Rock Type.” Hah! Everybody knows that’s only good advice if the Rock Type is also dual-type Ground. Rock Type on its own is neither strong nor weak against Electric.

Also, pot, meet kettle. In Battle for the Badge, Gary purposefully used an Arcanine, a Fire Type, against a Kingler, a Water Type.

– Hahah, when did Oak pickpocket Gary and Ash for their Pokedexes? He just suddenly scans them out of nowhere.

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– I’m gonna disagree with Gary on his “capture first, ask questions later” policy in regards to the Pokedex. I actually think Ash’s approach is better. You may think you know everything about a Pokemon, but the information the Pokedex offers could be invaluable to both capturing and raising it. Considering Oak made the damn thing, it’s almost like Gary is so arrogant that he’s saying he knows more than Oak half the time. Even if he doesn’t whip out his Pokedex whenever he sees a Pokemon, why wouldn’t he use it after the fact to research it more after capture?

Also, this more or less proves that the anime doesn’t keep the game’s goal of filling out the Pokedex.

– Oak: “Let’s Poke-round in my laboratory!” Never say that again.

– Well, womp womp, let’s talk about Ash’s Tauros…..or not. The dub doesn’t bother explaining how and why Ash caught 30 Tauros at the Safari Zone so………*shrug* I guess I already said my piece about it in the episode analysis for the Legend of Miniryu/Dratini, so no point going over it again here. Would’ve been nice if 4Kids even made the effort to cover up the big gaping hole here, though.

– I find it weird that they make off like Gary doesn’t make friends with his Pokemon. He loves his Pokemon and is obviously friends with them. We’ll see in a second that he’s very affectionate towards his Doduo.

– While Oak’s views on Pokemon and how much he cares for them has always been really heartwarming and sweet…..I don’t really buy that he cares for all of those Pokemon by himself. As they said, he seems to have thousands of Pokemon in his care, even if Ash and Gary combined have about 232-ish. I assume some of these Pokemon belong to the other two Pallet Trainers and any other Trainers Pallet has had in the recent past. Still, I really think he has to have employees helping him. I know them staying in Pokeballs a good chunk of the time helps, but he lets them out every day.

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– I think it’s insanely interesting that Oak was talking about variations among Pokemon of the same species. This was quite a ways off from any variant, even shinies, but it’s cool to think he may have been foreshadowing that.

– Ash, for god’s sake. Put the Pokedex away. You’ve seen a Dodu–…..Wait, has Ash seen a Doduo? He’s seen Dodrio like three times, and it’s been in the background a lot. *Googles* Wow, he actually hasn’t! This is the debut of Doduo in the anime……Huh…….My apologies. Carry on.

– That Geodude blushing when Jessie grabbed its hand was adorable.

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– Alright, so, in the end, you kinda can’t ignore the Tauros issue because the one conflict of this episode is resolved by Ash’s Tauros. Having Oak be like “Oh but you did save my research center, Ash. All of those Tauros are yours.” has absolutely no meaning whatsoever if we don’t even know where these things came from or why he has them. To a viewer who has never seen The Legend of Miniryu/Dratini, it’s going to come off like Oak is giving credit for the efforts of some completely random Pokemon to Ash.

Even if we did know…the ending message in that exchange is kinda weird. Ash is trying to give credit to the Pokemon for saving them from Team Rocket, and Oak is trying to give Ash the credit because, if he didn’t catch the Tauros and leave them all there with him, they wouldn’t have been there to save them. But also….they didn’t need the Tauros to save them. Ash beats Team Rocket by himself all the time, and he had Gary about to help him here, so victory was a certainty. The Tauros plowing through and blasting Team Rocket off, seemingly on total accident (they didn’t run to Ash or anything. They ran off immediately afterward.) really only served to beat them a little faster.

Also, it’s pretty sad that Ash didn’t recognize any of his Tauros until Oak pointed it out. And none of the Tauros recognized Ash either. I guess that means he’s never seen them since he caught them. At least Krabby and Muk show up on video calls with Oak sometimes.

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This episode was necessary in regards to being a buffer between all of the Badge episodes and getting ready for the Pokemon League, and it was nice seeing Gary again and getting caught up on their statuses at the end of their Kanto journey, but there’s really not much to talk about in this episode. Most of what I did discuss here was regarding future events in the Indigo League with some parts involving the movie.

As you can tell from my incredibly short synopsis, nothing much actually happened. It wasn’t even really building up to anything in the future with Gary because, as we’ll see later, Gary and Ash never get to have their match in the Pokemon League. They wind up having a battle back in Pallet after the tournament is over.

That’s not to say it’s a bad episode, it’s not, and it’s kinda quaint to have a slow and comfortable episode back home before we get into the nitty gritty of the Pokemon League tournament, but it’s just kinda void of much to actually talk about.

Speaking of the nitty gritty of the Pokemon League tournament, get ready! Because next time we’re going to start……wading through several episodes of filler before we actually get to the tournament.

It’s such a shame that they didn’t bother actually making a cool little mini-training arc for Ash. If you weren’t going to dedicate these next EIGHT EPISODES to actually showing Ash buckling down and training for the Indigo League, why even bother having this gap here? Either skip ahead the two months and use these episodes to make the main tournament longer, which, as we’ll see, was desperately needed, or use the episodes for something worthwhile to his training….Anyway, next time we learn how a Slowpoke evolves into a Slowbro using a Shellder – something that honestly doesn’t make much sense even when explained.


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Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monsters | Episode 1: Getting Played Review

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Plot: Yugi and Téa are getting into a new game called Capsule Monsters – a spin-off (?) board game of Duel Monsters. Joey wins an all-expense paid trip to India and invites all of his friends to come along, but their plane suddenly crashes on a remote island. While everyone is okay, they’re stuck until help arrives. The group decides to explore the island while they wait, and they quickly stumble upon an unconscious man named Alex Brisbane. According to him, he was exploring a strange Egyptian-esque pyramid on the island with Yugi’s grandpa when he suddenly went missing.

Yugi and the others follow Alex into the pyramid to Solomon’s last location only to see a massive empty room with a strange map covering the floor. As he walks onto it, Joey vanishes in a flash of light. Realizing Yugi’s grandpa likely vanished the same way, Yugi, Téa and Tristan step on the map as well, following Joey and Solomon to find them and bring them home. Little do they realize that they’ve actually become trapped in the world of Capsule Monsters, and they’ll need to play the game in order to leave.

Breakdown: Ever since I did my 4Kids retrospective, I’ve wanted to completely review Capsule Monsters. I won’t be able to do an SDC on it since a Japanese version either doesn’t exist or simply isn’t available, so I thought I’d just do a simple episode-by-episode review on this…spin-off?….Season? Arc? I dunno. Whatever 4Kids intended for this to be.

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The first episode starts with Yugi having a nightmare about Yami, who is clad in gold armor for some reason, fighting a giant shadow creature, who winds up consuming him. Yugi jolts out of bed and reveals that this is a recurring nightmare. He then notices the Puzzle glowing and acting strangely.

Yugi heads out, but then remembers that his grandpa is still gone after suddenly leaving for a ‘secret’ week-long trip. He should have been home that morning, but there’s been no sign of him. Does he not have a phone or anything?

After the theme song, we get such a dramatic reveal of Joey that I really thought this was indeed meant to be a spin-off moment. There’s no reason whatsoever to reveal him so dramatically when nothing is going on. However, no one else gets such a dramatic reveal so I dunno.

Joey partakes in a street contest for a prize of some sort.

Back at school, Téa and Yugi are playing Capsule Monsters, and Téa, being the mostly stereotypical girl character she is, doesn’t bother learning how to play and only wants to play cute monsters like Happy Lover. She duels the same way, basically, but at least she roughly knows how Duel Monsters works and gives a crap about it.

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Téa: “I suppose that means your soldier guy is going to fight my flying guy?” Soldier gu—That’s Celtic Guardian. You know Celtic Guardian. You’ve seen that monster tons of times.

Tristan shows up followed soon after by a super excited Joey who explains that he won three tickets for a special trip for all of them…..All four of them. I guess it’s possible that he was showing off the tickets he was offering to the others and withholding his, but why would he do that?

As they walk along, Téa thinks to herself that she has a bad feeling about their trip because whenever they go places terrible and usually supernatural things tend to happen. Well, I mean….yeah, she has a point.

She’s snapped out of her concerns by the voice of Yami, and they oddly note his sudden appearance with a chime like “Oh who cares about all those supernatural threats that tend to follow us? I have my hunky pharaoh now!”

It’s only here, right before they’re about to get on the plane, that we learn this is a six-day trip to India. Before, all he said was they were “tickets to paradise” and literally all the tickets showed were vague images of fields with stone walls with a statue in the foreground.

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As they’re flying, the plane starts shaking violently and the first thing Tristan says in response to this is;

“Hey! You messed up my photo, man!”

Either he has nerves of steel, or he’s an idiot.

Their engines fail, and the plane crashes into the water below. We cut to the group, sans the pilots, on shore. Joey complains he lost all of his stuff, but uh…..how? He has a backpack, and it looks like you can still access the plane no problem. Go back and get it? I guess it’s possible that it’s all waterlogged, but if that’s the case then how were all of their backpacks left dry? Why do they even have backpacks? It sounded they were planning on a vacation not a backpacking trip.

Téa says that the pilot, who is never shown again, sent out a distress signal, but it could be hours before they’re rescued. Joey and Tristan immediately decide to leave and wander in the unknown wilderness so their trip won’t be wasted. You guys are going on a six day trip. They said it would take a few hours to get rescued. I’m sure they’d still take you to your destination. Just stay still. But of course they don’t, and I guess it’s made okay because they point out how stupid they’re being.

They stumble upon a man in black robes passed out on the ground. They give him some water and help him out when Yugi notices a black bandanna fall out of his pocket that looks identical to his grandpa’s.

Shocked, the man, Dr. Alex Brisbane, reveals that he was on an expedition with Yugi’s grandpa in the area, but he went missing….I just realized Yugi flippantly went on a six-day trip to India right after he became suspicious because his grandpa hadn’t returned home yet. He DOES have an off-screen mom, and he had to have gone home and packed. Didn’t he learn any more about grandpa’s trip or anything during that time? Was the trip literally immediately after Joey won the tickets?

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As they travel with Alex to help find Solomon, Yami tells Yugi that this all seems way too suspicious. They randomly win a trip, they randomly crash, they just so happen to stumble upon the last person to see Solomon before he went missing right in the area they ‘randomly’ crashed in – it’s all too weird. Very good point, Yami. Although it’s so obvious that you really wonder why no one else has gotten suspicious before now. I mean, yeah, weird things do tend to happen to them……I was going to continue, but then I started listing all of the weird things that happen to them in my head, and realized this is probably one of the easier things to accept.

They reach a pyramid, and Alex explains that they were exploring and analyzing this weird Egyptian pyramid that somehow is in India (I assume they’re in India) when Solomon went missing. According to him, this pyramid is the tomb of Alexander the Great who was briefly crowned a pharaoh in Egypt, which is why he supposedly has a pyramid, but the mystery is why the pyramid is in the middle of the jungle instead of in Egypt.

Alexander the Great was indeed a pharaoh, and the Egyptians even named Alexandria after him and hailed him as a god after he died. However, he was mummified and buried in a tomb in Alexandria. No one knows where exactly in Alexandria the tomb is as of now, but they’re fairly certain it’s in Alexandria because several people who claimed to have visited the pyramid in the past stated it was in Alexandria.

There was a recent report in 2021 claiming the tomb had been found in Siwa, Egypt, but it hasn’t been verified, and there hasn’t been any updates on that report as of this writing.

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Anyway, is anyone going to ask why two professional archaeologists went in the middle of nowhere to investigate an incredibly fascinating out-of-place pyramid that they’re theorizing is the resting place of one of the most famous historical figures ever whose tomb is so mysterious that people have referred to it as the ‘Holy grail’ of archaeological discoveries, should it be found, and went to this place entirely alone and without proper emergency equipment or communication with emergency services?

No? Okay. Moving on.

Actually, while I’m at it, why did none of them go back to the plane and notify the pilots who have radios and stuff? Yugi’s grandpa is missing and possibly hurt or worse. Can someone please make an intelligent decision?

As they wander the halls of the pyramid, Joey accidentally sets off a spike trap that nearly kills him, and Alex, whose name totally isn’t suspicious, by the way, just ignore that, remembers to mention that there are deadly traps around every corner in this place. To avoid them, they have to hang from ledges 50 feet above more spikes and scoot across the chasm as well as crawl in tunnels.

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Téa is only now getting suspicious, but not of anything I’ve mentioned. She gets suspicious because Alex seems to know an awful lot about a pyramid he’s only been in once before. Yes, the one thing that’s not all that suspicious is the thing she gets suspicious about.

They reach a fork in the path – one leading up and one leading down. Alex explains that he and Solomon, being the incredibly dumb people we’ve already established them as being, decided to split up at this point. Alex would explore upstairs while Solomon explored downstairs. It’s stupid enough to split up in an unexplored tomb in the middle of the jungle, but they already knew at this point that the place was covered in lethal traps. Why the hell did they split up?

Alex eventually reached a sealed door, so he went back, but Solomon wasn’t there. He took the path down and reached a dead end where only Solomon’s bandanna lay on the floor.

They’re all adamant that Solomon has to be there somewhere, so they all head downstairs. They reach a massive room with a giant map on the floor – a detail Alex omitted from his story. They all believe, for some reason, that the room is so big that Solomon probably got lost in it, so they head off to find him……*lip smack*….The room isn’t THAT big, guys. Is it big? Yes? Is it so big someone would get lost in it? No. There are no walls, and you can clearly see the other side of the room. It’s about as big as a hockey rink. Even if, for some reason and somehow, Solomon did get lost in this room, you’d be able to see him and vice versa.

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Joey rushes off to find him, but the instant his feet hit the map on the floor, it glows and Joey is sucked into it. Yugi, Téa and Tristan run off to investigate what happened, only slightly weirded out by the fact that their friend just vanished in a magical floor. Again, though, given their lives at the moment, it’s understandable that this doesn’t surprise them much. They realize that there’s an odd pattern to the map. It’s a mixture of multiple environments such as mountains, jungles and deserts. Yugi thinks that it looks familiar somehow. Alex mentions that this tomb is also said to house some sort of game. Yugi believes that it now makes perfect sense why his grandpa would come on this trip – he loves games. I think him just being an archaeologist would justify him being here, but okay.

Yugi proclaims that he’s going to enter the floor map and find his grandpa and Joey. Téa and Tristan offer to go as well, but Yugi tries to convince them not to go.

Yugi: “Thanks a lot. But I’ve been leading you guys into danger week after week for way too long.” Haha, it’s funny because Yu-Gi-Oh! used to air weekly.

Also, it’s not really your place to act like this is purely your responsibility anymore, Yugi. Joey’s lost too. Besides, if anything, it’s your grandpa’s fault. He’s a very bad archaeologist.

When they jump into the map, they wind up back in the forest, but now they have weird contraptions on their arms and belts that look like they’re meant to hold things.

They also notice strange stone pods around them, and Yugi tells Yami that he thinks something might be inside.

Before Yugi can investigate further, they’re suddenly attacked by three monsters.

Yugi: “I recognize those things!” Yeah, you should. They’re Gokibore, some of the most common monsters in Duel Mons– “They’re from the Capsule Monsters board game!”

Uh, well…yes, that is accurate, I guess. They are in that game too.

*Kamakiriman appears* “That looks familiar too!”

Yeah, it’s a very basic insect card from Duel Monsters. You know, that game you incessantly play every single day of your life?

….Uhm…anyway, Téa and Tristan wind up getting separated from Yugi. They’re being chased by the Gokibore while Yugi gets chased by Kamakiriman. Téa and Tristan manage to escape the Gokibore by sliding into a very small cave that leads down a deep hole and lands them onto a beach. Behind them, they see that a Happy Lover and Thunder Kid have followed them, but they’re posing no threat. If anything, they seem very friendly to them. Téa recognizes Happy Lover from the Capsule Monsters game. I’ll accept this because, as far as I remember, despite Tea having a fairy themed deck, I’ve never seen her use or witness the use of a Happy Lover card.

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Briefly back with Joey, who somehow got to the top of a cliff, he’s suddenly taken away by a giant crow-like monster I can’t really identify because I can’t see it very well.

Back with Yugi, he escapes the Kamakiriman by diving into the water, but it follows him when he reaches shore. Just as he’s about to be attacked, Yami shifts into action and jumps away, accidentally touching one of the weird pods. In response, it glows and reveals Celtic Guardian, who leaps into action against Kamakiriman.

Yami: “Why does this all seem so familiar?” Because it’s Celtic Guardian. He’s been in your Duel Monsters deck for age–

*flashback to Yugi and Téa playing Capsule Monsters*

Uh…..are you guys okay? You all collectively seem to have Duel Monsters amnesia. I mean, I get that he touched the capsule which summoned Celtic Guardian, but that is the only factor that would lead back to the board game. You can’t even argue for the map being strictly Capsule Monsters related because that’s just bumming off of Field Spells from Duel Monsters, particular in season one where Duelist Kingdom pre-made their field spells based off of the environment.

Also, I’d like to point out that this is the exact same shot they used earlier (the one I used as the header image), but the one they used in the flashback has an animation error where the capsule to the far right is on the wrong layer, so it looks like it’s floating beside the desk.

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Once Celtic Guardian defeats Kamakiriman, he speaks to Yami, which is trippy as hell, and tells him that, for the duration of the game, he shall protect his new master, Yami/Yugi. In a glow of light, he’s sucked into the device on Yami’s arm, which then ejects a capsule just like the ones from the Capsule Monsters board game. This would have been a much more appropriate time to make that connection. Like, have them think this is all Duel Monsters related like normal but then when they see the capsule that’s when they say “No….this is….Capsule Monsters!” But, hey, I’m not the director.

With his new Capsule in hand, Yami proclaims that they’ve found themselves in the world of Capsule Monsters. Just to really drive it home that it’s Capsule Monsters, when they do a big zoom out, they overlay grid lines and Celtic Guard to make the area look like a game board.

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And that was the first episode of Capsule Monsters…….it was bad.

The animation and art are noticeably jankier than the regular series is, and that’s already not that good. I kept getting distracted by how cheap it all looks. The story, which, again, is something you’d typically give leeway to anyway because it’s Yu-Gi-Oh!, is somehow even sloppier than the writing tends to be. No one is acting or thinking the way I’d think they would be or should be.

Téa is nervous about the trip before they even go, and for no other reason besides terrible shit just seems to follow them, but then she sees absolutely none of the major red flags raised by Alex. The one she does see is barely a red flag. Like “Hm, this archaeologist certainly does know a lot about this place he was researching and has explored before.”

Everyone has Duel Monsters amnesia, which, given how much of their lives revolve around that game, even if half of them don’t really play it, is really, really weird to the point where it’s kinda unsettling. It would be one thing if this was an entirely different game from the ground up. I wouldn’t be as preoccupied wondering why they’re not thinking of Duel Monsters. However, as far as I’ve seen, it’s just Duel Monsters in pods with a weird crystal involved.

In the manga, they had entirely different monsters than the Duel Monsters game so it felt more unique. This just feels like it’s piggy backing off of Duel Monsters.

What’s even worse is that they explain almost nothing about this new game besides you have to play strong monsters and you need to capture your opponent’s symbol thingy, if that ever comes into play. That is a pretty big sin for a gaming anime to commit. You can’t just throw your audience into this completely blind. They don’t even show them playing a full game. They just show Téa gushing about her cute monster while Yugi passively explains two facts about the game.

The only real hook I see from this series is that they have ‘real’ monsters in a ‘real’ environment, but that’s something they’ve already done before several times. Specifically, this feels awfully reminiscent of the Legendary Heroes and the Virtual World (Noah’s) arc. Hell, anytime they have a Shadow Game the monsters are technically real.

But let’s see how the story unfolds further next time.


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Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) | Chaotic

Plot: The trading card game, Chaotic, is sweeping the world by storm. Tom and his best friend, Kaz, love the game and play with their other friends all the time. When Tom gets a mysterious code for Chaotic, Kaz tells him it’s a special password in order to enter the REAL world of Chaotic. Tom doesn’t believe him until he finally gives in and inputs the code into his scanner. Turns out, Kaz was right. Tom is instantly transported to a virtual world where Chaotic players gather to have ‘real’ Chaotic battles, with themselves as the creatures. In his first game, Tom chooses his favorite creature, Maxxor, and faces off against his opponent, who takes the form of a Takinom. Tom can certainly win his fair share of card games, but can he find a way to win when he’s playing for real?

Breakdown: I have been aware of Chaotic for a while, but never gave it a chance in the past. When I wrote about the whole huge mess with 4Kids and Chaotic in my retrospective blog post series, I became very curious about the series and game. Since the TCG hasn’t been re-released yet as far as I know, nor has the online version of the game, and I’m not particularly interested in buying the old cards, especially since they seem expensive, I decided to just watch the cartoon series.

The series is entirely available on Peacock (And Tubi) for free, so that was lucky.

As for the first episode…..it’s one of the messiest first episodes I’ve seen for a show in recent memory.

I came out of it not only not understanding how the hell to play Chaotic even a little bit (they never once play a full or even half game in the entire first episode, and we only see a few cards) but I’m also entirely confused as to what even happened to Tom when he entered Chaotic, what the ‘real’ world of Chaotic even is, and they had the gall to end the episode by circling around to the literal cliffhanger that was at the start of the episode in a flashback and barely continuing it at all before putting a ‘To Be Continued’ on the screen and ending it.

I get that this is a two-parter, but at least do something more substantial with your part one to help the audience understand what the hell is going on or make things interesting.

To summarize, the episode starts with a fire-wielding harpy-esque character named Takinom, chasing after and attacking a muscly green dude named Maxxor through a frozen tundra. He’s cornered on a cliffside, our main character, Tom, explains in narration that he is actually Maxxor, Takinom blows fire on him and then the theme song starts. After the theme song, we flash back to how he got in that situation.

Tom is a new-ish/not new (?) player to Chaotic, which is a TCG that has an online version of the game where you can enter codes to obtain digital copies of your real cards, just like the TCG and online game 4Kids and CUSA acquired and adapted for the US. Tom is playing Chaotic with some random guy after school in the cafeteria, which….why wouldn’t you do that literally anywhere else? Unless it’s a legitimate after-school activity, most schools don’t allow you to just hang out in the school for any reason, let alone to play trading card games. There are so many kids there just hanging out in cafeteria – it’s like no one went home.

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It’s not just that they’re there when they shouldn’t be, it’s also weird because what kid wants to just hang out at school after hours, unless, again, you were part of an after-school activity? Usually any kid would want to be anywhere else BUT school – their house, a friend’s house, a local hangout, a rec center, a park, a basketball court, etc. That looks like a really nice school in a nice area. I can’t imagine aren’t options.

But whatever, they montage this game in about 20 seconds so you really have no clue what’s going on. They attack each other, Tom says something about sending his opposing monster to Nauthilax, his enemy’s energy is depleted, and that’s it. That is the first, and, no I’m not kidding, only time we see this game played in the entire episode. I never thought I’d say this, but, Bakugan, you have been surpassed in awful game explanations. I at least had some minor degree of understanding how Bakugan worked a little when I saw the first episode, and at least they showed a full game. Not Chaotic. Who cares about properly explaining that game this cartoon was literally created to help advertise?

After he wins, he gets a message over the game. It automatically opens, and a password pops up on his screen that makes his best friend, Kaz, super excited because he knows that’s a special invitation to the real world of Chaotic where he can play for real. Why he got this for just beating some rando at school, I have no idea. Kaz has been a part of the real Chaotic for a while and excitedly told Tom stories about it, but Tom never believed him. Considering Kaz is yelling all of this information in a crowded cafeteria and has told Tom about it a lot, I’d guess it’s not a secret. But also, like….no one seems to know about it? Even rumors? There are a lot of people in Chaotic when they get there – how is this not more common? I know that would be a really difficult thing to believe without proof, but there would be chatter about it.

Then again, maybe they wouldn’t, because apparently these kids are all 15 years old. I was about to criticize this further, but then I remembered all of the characters in Yu-Gi-Oh! are in the their mid to late teens….

Anyway, Tom blows him off until Kaz calls him in a panic in the middle of the night. He tells him he has to input the code into his scanner before midnight otherwise the offer to join the real Chaotic will end. Why exactly isn’t this information given in the message that contains the password? What if you need to wait to input the code? What if you don’t have access to your scanner for a few days? What if you don’t personally know someone who has already been to Chaotic? What if you don’t want to input the code at all because it’s some random code on a blank message from no one?

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Also, if you’re wondering what the scanner is for, apparently, later in the show, they can scan real creatures to get information on them I think – like a Pokedex. It also kinda works as a smartphone in that it’s also a camera, can be used for video chat, has a music player and a flashlight. As for the purpose of the scanner in their real lives in regards to the game, I have no idea. Chaotic cards have codes on them that are manually input into the online game to create digital copies of your cards – they’re not scanned. I have to wonder if 4Kids originally planned to make the real life cards scannable, including creating a real scanner kids would have to use to scan the cards, but then realized that was too expensive or impractical or something so they opted to keep the code system instead but forgot that made the scanner concept nonsensical in the TV series.

The scanners really have no real world purposes for the game, so why do they even exist? Why do any of these players buy them? Kaz tells him to input the code into his scanner, but also the scanner doesn’t have a keyboard, not even a virtual one, it just has a d-pad like thing, so I can’t imagine it’s for the purpose of inputting codes. Since the game is played online, you can probably just input the codes on your laptop.

Tom gives in, and, when he inputs the code, it at first seems like it didn’t work. His screen flashes, goes black and the scanner won’t turn back on. He then throws the scanner out the window into the garbage can on the sidewalk like a douchebag. Yeah, I imagine that scanner was expensive, you little shit. And I bet anything your parents paid for it. Don’t try to troubleshoot it, don’t see if you can get it fixed, just chuck it out the window into the garbage. Don’t tell me Dan has competition for one of the most obnoxious gaming show protagonists too….

Anyway, that’s not what happened….but it also is? In narration, Tom says that’s what happened, but he didn’t realize that there was more. We then cut to the ‘more’ in question. When Tom hit the button, he actually did go to Chaotic…..only not really? The best I can guess is that a duplicate of himself was sent to Chaotic – one that his real-world self is not aware of? How? Why? Dunno. They don’t explain anything.

When he gets there, it’s not any better. They basically just tell him “Hi Tom! Let’s get you to your first match!” without explaining where he is, what happened to him, how he got there, what the hell’s going on, why he’s being forced into a Chaotic match minutes after he got there and everyone knows he’s new, nothing.

Luckily, Kaz does help him a bit with setup through his scanner, but other than explaining how the interface works and giving him a hint about his opponent, he doesn’t explain anything else. Which you’d think he would because there’s that whole thing about him becoming the Chaotic creature and getting into a ‘real’ battle with another Chaotic creature would be something you should discuss a bit.

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When he is turned into Maxxor and his opponent into Takinom, he obviously has no clue what’s going on, what to do, how to utilize any of the game mechanics or anything – he just does what anyone would do in his situation and runs away. Kaz and a bunch of other players are watching the match from the lobby, and Kaz just acts horribly embarrassed for him and facepalms at the fact that he’s not playing properly, which, of course he’s not, no one’s telling him anything.

The end of the episode, like I said, is just barely a continuation of the first scene. Tom/Maxxor is cornered on a cliff by Takinom, who attacks him with fire. The continuation is that the fire causes Tom to fall off the cliff. We get a “To be continued” as Tom is falling and that’s it. They haven’t established any stakes here. This Tom isn’t real, right? His real self is still in his room, right? I can’t imagine him dying (or even getting hurt) in the game is akin to dying in real life because then narrator!Tom wouldn’t have been able to act as if the stuff about real Chaotic was something he learned about later. In addition, if this is a real Chaotic game, then I’d imagine him ‘dying’ at this point would just result in his creature dying and then moving on.

What even happens if he loses the game? I can’t imagine they bar him from Chaotic or anything. I don’t get it. What is on the line here? I doubt even kids would find tension in this.

It’s just so baffling. 4Kids – the kings of overexplaining every single thing – made a show where they just don’t explain anything out the gate.

I didn’t even touch upon the fact that the art and animation are awful. I know that they switch studios after season one from Bardel Entertainment to Dong Woo Animation and the art and animation get better for seasons two and three (Looking ahead though….not that much better. Definitely much better art, but the animation is still pretty rough.), but wow, this is just bad. It reminds me so much of the art and animation from those old eSurance commercials with that Erin lady. Old Flash animation leaves a lot to be desired as is, but this is not good.

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Overall, I’m kinda torn. If I had just watched this without doing all that research on Chaotic beforehand, I’d most likely drop it, but the fanbase seems to genuinely enjoy the show as much as the game. Bryan Gannon, head of Chaotic USA, said he planned on continuing the show, not rebooting it, which means there must be something to the story worth keeping, I’d assume.

I’ll probably wind up finishing this series just casually, maybe throwing out a review here or there, maybe for full seasons, but this, as a first episode, just failed so badly that I feel like I can’t really suggest it. There are several more card game or gaming related shows out there that I’d recommend way above Chaotic. I guess I’ll just leave this as an undecided and make firmer opinions down the line.

Verdict:

Continue Uncertain


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An Absurdly Deep Dive Into the History of 4Kids | Table of Contents

Part 1 – 4Kids as a 4Baby (1970-1997)

Part 2 – Pokemon, I License You! (1998-1999)

Part 3 – 4Kids 2000 (2000)

Part 4 – Entering Unown Territory (2001)

Part 5 – I Summon Yu-Gi-Oh! In Attack Mode! (2001 cont.)

Part 6 – 4Kids 4Ever (2002)

Part 7 – A Fox in a Box and a 4Kids with a Block (2002 cont.)

Part 8 – Miramax Killed the Movie Theater Star (2003)

Part 9 – Be Careful What You Wish For (2004)

Part 10 – One Piece in Pieces (2004 cont.)

Part 11 – Playing Their Cards Wrong (2004 cont.)

Part 12 – Out of the Box (2005)

Part 13 – Pikachu’s Goodbye (2005 cont.)

Part 14 – (The Time Has Come) (2006)

Part 15 – The Chaotic Nature of Rumors (2005/2006 cont.)

Part 16 – Yu-Gi-Oh No! (2005/2006 cont.)

Part 17 – 4Kids TV 2: The Kidsening (2007)

Part 18 – 4Kids is No Longer Foxy (2008)

Part 19 – 4Kids’ Pre-Death Dead Period (2009-2010)

Part 20 – Get Your Game Revved Up! (2011)

Part 21 – It’s Time to S-S-S-S-S-S-S-S-SUE! (2011-2012)

Part 22 – Time 4 Change (2012-2017 | Closure)

Part 23 – Where in the World is Kahnmen Sandiego? (2012-Present)

Part 24 – Everything Changes (Conclusion)


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An Absurdly Deep Dive into the History of 4Kids | Part 24: Everything Changes (Conclusion)

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.”

Part 23: Where in the World is Kahnmen Sandiego?


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An Absurdly Deep Dive into the History of 4Kids | Part 23: Where in the World is Kahnmen Sandiego? (2012-Present)

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)

Part 22: Time for Change 


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An Absurdly Deep Dive into the History of 4Kids | Part 22: Time 4 Change (2012-2017 | Closure)

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?

Part 21: It’s Time to S-S-S-S-S-S-S-SUE!


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An Absurdly Deep Dive into the History of 4Kids | Part 21: It’s Time to S-S-S-S-S-S-SUE! (2011-2012)

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.

According to the judge in the lawsuit,

“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

Previous – Part 20: It’s Time to Get Your Game Revved Up!


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One Piece (4Kids) | Episode 6: Desperate Situation! Beast Tamer Mohji vs. Luffy Sub/Dub Comparison

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.

Subbed: 

Dubbed:

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 Cards:

Subbed:

vlcsnap-2022-09-05-14h34m35s282

Dubbed:

vlcsnap-2022-09-05-14h34m37s929

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:

  • A shot of Luffy holding the dog
  • Zoro asking who The Mayor is.
  • The Mayor explaining who he is.
  • The Mayor seeing the wound that Zoro has (the one that apparently it doesn’t exist in the dub)
  • A shot of the ‘closed’ sign on the side of the building.

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:

  • Chouchou returning the dog bowl to The Mayor and going back to sit down.
  • Luffy sitting back with his face covered by his hat and looking up into the sky.
  • The ground shaking.
  • An extended shot of Luffy laying back.

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.

Subbed:

Dubbed:

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?

Subbed:

Dubbed:

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.

Subbed:

Dubbed:

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.

Subbed:

Dubbed:

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.

….Previous Episode


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An Absurdly Deep Dive into the History of 4Kids | Part 20: It’s Time to Get Your Game Revved Up! (2011)

That’s right everyone. It’s time to talk about Yu-Gi-Oh! in 2011.

It’s…..

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…..

Next – Part 21: It’s Time to S-S-S-S-S-S-SUE!

Previous – Part 19: 4Kids Pre-Death Dead Period


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