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So, class, what have we learned over the past 24 blog posts and 100 pages besides the fact that I desperately need a life?
All joking aside, this wasn’t really a passion project or anything, more of a long-standing curiosity that I wanted to explore, thought would just take a few days to research and write, not two months (even as all the parts were sitting in my scheduled posts queue for weeks after finishing the entire thing, I still went back and edited them many times), and wound up finding so many rabbit holes that I think I literally am a rabbit now.
However, I am very glad that I decided to write this up because it helped me understand a lot about why 4Kids was the way it was, a lot of their business practices, what was happening behind the scenes, why they truly died, and I even got to do some sleuthing and maybe clear up some rumors. Maybe you even learned something and had some fun. I hope so.
I think a big takeaway here, though, is that 4Kids, at the end of the day, wasn’t this big boogeyman of anime, when you get down to it. They were mostly just….grossly incompetent. I know it seems weird to say that of such a big name as 4Kids, but, they pretty much were. They propped up their business on a few big titles with no plan as to what they would do should those titles be taken away, they lucked out with a few huge licenses, especially Pokemon at the start, they greatly overestimated their skills and knowledge in the industry, and then whined that Japan didn’t consistently come up with more merchandisable cash cows for them to license on a regular basis as if that was in their control.
They disrespected their audience, which earned them ire, they disrespected anime and manga as a whole, which earned them ire, they disrespected their peers in the anime (and manga) industry, which earned them ire, they didn’t bother to do proper research on their own licenses before obtaining them or research into Japan and how their economy and content works despite working with their properties for years, which earned them ire, and they constantly wanted a pat on the back for doing so much for anime while also desperately not wanting their audience to know what they were consuming was anime….which earned them ire.
Even their production of merchandise and marketing, two things you’d think a licensing company that has existed for over four decades and has had several massive properties under its belt would be able to do quite well consistently, wasn’t all that good at times. From not properly advertising certain shows to supposedly not getting a toy deal for Mew Mew Power to their ridiculously spotty and frustrating release schedule for DVD and VHS releases, especially in regards to ‘uncut’ releases, to making a deal with Miramax and Harvey Weinstein for the Pokemon movies to the disaster that was Toonzaki. It’s amazing how they were both very good at marketing and advertising while also making some incredibly baffling and poor business decisions.
Some things were out of their control, of course, especially the financial crisis and the overall death of Saturday morning cartoon blocks, but many aspects of their downfall were their own doing. If you want to look at the Yu-Gi-Oh! lawsuit from a different perspective, the fact that they said they’d do anything to keep the Yu-Gi-Oh! license, including go bankrupt, was a little on the insane side. I get that Yu-Gi-Oh! was their top earner and losing the license would have been the death of them anyway, but it seems very immature and backwards to basically stamp their feet and say they’d rather kill themselves than let someone else do it. Even if they did rightfully win the lawsuit in the end, they didn’t get anything substantial from it, and they had to have known that.
I won’t really hold Chaotic’s situation against 4Kids because that was also largely out of their hands. It was just a financial gamble that failed in a time of economic turmoil. Again, even without the financial crisis at the time, Chaotic likely would have just been a fairly beneficial property to them through the rest of their years. I sincerely doubt revenue from it would have saved them from their eventual fate. They probably would have just sold it back to CUSA or someone else in the bankruptcy auction. Looking back, maybe one of the reasons 4Kids didn’t want to give up the license to CUSA was because they had injected so much of their own money into it that any offer CUSA gave probably didn’t seem like it was worth it, even though, ya know, it doesn’t make them ANY money by latching onto it forever.
I do think they also had a big issue with their all-or-nothing attitude. They were constantly dead set on finding the next huge thing – the things that would rake in insane profits and make them the top of their field – but they were very bad at long-term strategies. Let me be completely fair and clear – I don’t have a mind for business, much of it goes over my head, but even I can tell that they had a big problem with this. Even when they did say this property or another would be a big earner for years, they either dropped them early because they weren’t being massively successful immediately or they would keep the property but give up on it in spirit, so to speak, by just letting the license rot in their hands.
This reflected very well in their aforementioned attitudes towards Japan in which Al Kahn said anime and manga in Japan were dying because they hadn’t had any generation-defining merchandisable hits in over a decade, which was objectively wrong in a lot of ways. If he thinks an entire country is “over” just because their anime and manga sales were down for a bit, even to the point where he gave up on licensing anime for three years as a result, then it’s not surprising that he views his company in the same way.
This was even reflected when they tried to branch out a bit into female-oriented shows. Winx Club did well, but they had it taken from them because the creator didn’t like what they were doing with it. They gave it another go with Mew Mew Power, which also did well, but dropped it halfway through because they couldn’t get a toy deal for it. Magical DoReMi was good, but it wasn’t good enough so they dropped it. And they didn’t even dub Precure because they likely thought ‘Why bother? If there’s one thing we’ve learned here it’s that there’s no money with girl stuff.’ And then there was whatever the hell they were trying to achieve with Capsule Monsters, which comes off like they gave up on that idea almost immediately while also having no real direction on what they wanted it to be in the first place.
I do concede that a large amount of 4Kids’ edits, as with other child-demographic anime dubs at the time, were a result of FCC constraints and regulations, but I’ll only concede so far with that assessment. Yes, certain edits were necessary to meet broadcast standards, but many of their edits, such as their localization efforts, changing entire soundtracks and removal of all things text, were squarely on 4Kids. As far as I know, the FCC has no regulations about changing foreign content to better suit young American audiences. The only entity that really benefits is 4Kids. In their eyes, it made them more marketable and appealing, and the only people getting offended were the pre-existing fans who knew better, and most of those people weren’t in 4Kids’ target demo, so they didn’t care. Also, let’s not overlook the fact that some of their edits were just entirely nonsensical, and many of their content edits were still commonly present in their movies, which are not controlled by the FCC.
Let’s also not forget that many of their practices were a result of just being terribly condescending to their audience. From making things way too obvious through dialogue changes/additions, editing scenes around or even having new animation created to drive certain points home to thinking every single second of a show needed to have music or talking in it to keep kids’ attention to making mistakes in their dubs and not fixing them on purpose just because they didn’t care and then later claiming it was on purpose as a little weird Easter egg thing.
4Kids, as much as it sucks to say, weren’t entirely wrong when it came to those views, either. Looking back as fully grown anime fans, yeah, we see how bungled the dubs were for a variety of reasons, and we feel rightfully disrespected as fans, but, back when we were kids, most of us didn’t care. The fact that 4Kids, by design, made their shows to trick viewers into not thinking they were watching anime (which failed after a while) definitely had a hand there, but I can’t honestly say that my experiences looking back at enjoying these shows is in any way tarnished knowing what I know now because 4Kids, despite their backwards best efforts, helped make me an anime fan, and they wound up being a significant part of the anime boom in the late 90s and early 2000s.
I don’t attribute my being an anime fan to 4Kids because other shows dubbed by other companies, such as Sailor Moon (DiC), Digimon (Saban) and Dragon Ball and DBZ (Ocean/Funimation) and a slue of others certainly helped push me there too, but they were a big part of it. Plus, many of the shows that they dubbed are now available in high definition subbed versions (not all of them, admittedly), the ones that aren’t weren’t made unavailable or obscure because of 4Kids (It’s likely some people only know of a few obscure shows because 4Kids dubbed them once upon a time) and they also helped pioneer anime streaming options with 4Kids.tv, Toonzaki and even their Youtube channel.
4Kids isn’t even really special when it comes to them mangling their properties. As I’ve already covered in my Sub/Dub Comparison series, companies like DiC, Saban and Nelvana were awful in their own rights with similarly awful and confusing changes, but what makes 4Kids special was that they were the best damn manglers who left a trail of shows and movies in their wake. All of those other dubbing companies had rather limited libraries of anime compared to 4Kids. They wanted that kid anime market cornered, and they cornered it as much as they could. They were the kings of mangling, and I say that with legit praise because they were so much better at digital paint and editing magic than any of the aforementioned dubbing companies.
Even on Cartoon Network where they were more lax on that stuff because their anime was geared towards older kids and teens, and adults with Adult Swim, they had to make edits to suit airing. Some famous examples include Naruto and Yu Yu Hakusho. I specifically remember sloppy paint edits on Yu Yu Hakusho where you’d see the digital paint very obviously shaking as it was covering up wounds and middle fingers. And obviously there were awkward edits to replace Yusuke’s swearing. Even on Adult Swim there was some instances of editing for content. I remember Blue Gender had a sex scene hinted at in the next episode preview with a few clips between Marlene and Yuji, and it just wasn’t there in the episode on Adult Swim where it is there in the Japanese version.
This stuff happens. Sometimes, their dubs were just legitimately entertaining because the cast and writers were having a ball with the show. Their music could even be legitimately good. It was a crap shoot with them sometimes.
Speaking of the cast and crew of their shows, I really do want to emphasize that, in my opinion, they were the best parts of 4Kids. I poke fun at some 4Kids actors’ acting abilities and even just their voices sometimes, and I make fun of a lot of writing choices, but as far as I’ve seen the regular 4Kids cast and crews typically had a blast doing what they did and were proud of their work. For many of them, 4Kids productions were their first foray into mainstream voice acting work, and for some of them it was their first venture into voice acting period. They also seem to be good with the fans, happy to talk about their experiences and were understandably upset whenever a project they were working on fell through, especially in the situation with Pokemon where the rug was pulled out from under them from all angles. The main problem in 4Kids’ wheelhouse were almost always the executives, especially, yes, Al Kahn.
That being said…..there’s a reason 4Kids died when many other dubbing or licensing companies went through similar hardships and came out on the other side with their feet on the ground. As I just mentioned, 4Kids was terribly pigeon-holed. They were exclusively, well, for kids. Older kids and even teens and adults may have had a place in their audience, but their demographic was kids.
When you’re dealing with a kid demographic, you have to work in a landscape that is probably the fastest changing landscape in media. Kids grow up super fast. They outgrow Kids WB and move on to Toonami. They outgrow Toonami and move on to Adult Swim. They may not move on to other anime at all. Within a few years you have an entirely new audience of kids you have to impress with things that are new and exciting, and in the world of licensing, especially when you’re primarily licensing imported shows, you’re chained to whatever is being offered/is available in other countries.
It’s true that trying to make certain properties more fitting for newer audiences helps keep properties alive for years, just look at some of the American kids’ properties that have existed for decades without changing a whole lot, but when you’re dealing with licensing other properties that you don’t have a whole lot of creative control over, you need to find different avenues to evolve.
The thing is that they recognized this. Their problems with having few big properties holding them up and focusing on a demographic that practically demands constant change was in nearly every single financial document as concerns about their company, but they very rarely presented anything that would help solve that issue.
They did create 4Sight, which would’ve been a fantastic move to branch out into older audiences and get a more stable income stream, but, as all-or-nothing attitudes go, they pretty much went the ‘nothing’ route with 4Sight. They didn’t make any big moves with it. They barely made any small moves with it. It pretty much just sat in a corner collecting cobwebs for half a decade.
Toonzaki was a weird outlier in this regard because it’s almost like they went too far in the other direction by having a streaming site where a lot of graphic titles were offered alongside uncut 4Kids properties with no parental controls or age confirmation that I could see. This would have been the perfect project for 4Sight, but they didn’t give it to them. It was entirely a 4Kids website.
Localization is an issue too, but not fully. Yes, some references and jokes need to be changed because they just don’t translate well in English, but that usually not the problem. They were worried their audience would be put off by foreign things. Or, for some reason, an American audience would never be able to connect with Japanese characters and settings. But then again, you’ll never know if the localization is what killed it in the States either. It was largely a matter of gambling with pretty much any property 4Kids acquired.
They were also largely stuck on broadcast TV. They had trouble with releasing movies after a point, and their DVD production and sales were incredibly inconsistent and lacking, something that got exponentially worse when they attempted to release uncut DVDs. Other companies also took to TV a lot, but they tended to be better about releasing uncut DVDs. For example, people complained a lot about Naruto’s censored airing on Cartoon Network, but the uncut version was made readily available as the series aired, starting when the series premiered and completing the DVD releases when Naruto ended its run on TV.
By the time 4Kids broke out into streaming, they just handled it badly. Streaming their edited shows on 4Kids.tv? That’s great. Streaming those and some uncut stuff on their Youtube channel? Awesome. Toonzaki, however, was a great idea that was also somehow a massive mess in practice. As I mentioned, it’s just weird to have a 4Kids streaming service that had so many graphic titles with seemingly no parental blocks or age confirmations. If they were comfortable streaming uncut Yu-Gi-Oh! titles on their Youtube channel, why did they feel the need to use that as a tentpole for Toonzaki? Why not just release the episodes on 4Kids.tv, maybe with a warning or something, and keep all non-4Kids stuff on Toonzaki?
Their official promotions, few of them as there were, didn’t push it as the place to get uncut Yu-Gi-Oh! episodes, just anime in general, but literally everywhere online that’s what it was being hyped as because the little information available, again, mostly from Mark Kirk’s interview, was that it was a 4Kids website for their uncut shows for general audiences. When you don’t have any other frame of reference, that’s what people are going to run with.
They also didn’t seem to realize that just being an aggregate site for anime sourced from other websites with only Yu-Gi-Oh! titles being unique wasn’t a good long-term plan. They acted as if they’d host more stuff directly on their website in the future, but they never did. Everything was hosted from Hulu, Crunchyroll, Funimation, Viz or other places for the entirety of its life.
That’s not entirely on them since the landscape for streaming was in its infancy back then, especially when it came to licensed properties, but still. It was a decent idea sitting on a bad execution. And while it came during a time when 4Kids really needed that opportunity to grow, it also came at the worst time because this was just a year before the Yu-Gi-Oh! lawsuit. If they had a longer lifespan, maybe they could have ironed out the kinks with Toonzaki, but I really doubt it.
A part of their downfall was also the death of Saturday morning cartoons. Animated shows were no longer something only available on Saturday mornings, making their inconvenience a bother. Why would I wake up early on a weekend to catch an anime that I can watch anytime streaming? Or get on DVD later? Or catch on syndication on another network? Or why watch those shows when cartoons are constantly on Cartoon Network, Disney Channel and Nickelodeon? Or why watch those cherry-picked kidified anime when I can watch a big variety of less edited shows on Toonami or Adult Swim, or, hell, even blocks like Anime Unleashed on G4 Tech TV?
They were also prisoners of their merchandise. They treated every property as a merchandise machine. Al Kahn and Mark Kirk said it straight out – if they can’t merchandise it, they’re not interested in it. A large portion of their money came from toys and other kids merchandise, which was also evolving at a breakneck speed as Al Kahn pointed out several times. The problem there was evaluating it improperly a good chunk of the time. I don’t really think they allowed a lot of these shows to have enough time to secure an audience before they decided the merchandise wasn’t worth it. They dropped so many shows because of merchandise when they barely had a few episodes to a full season under their belts.
Honestly, the lawsuit really was just the straw that broke the camel’s back. 4Kids was already on the ropes, they were teetering on the edge, and that lawsuit pushed them over and they couldn’t recover. If it wasn’t the lawsuit, it would have been something else very shortly, I guarantee it. It may seem overly pessimistic, but I just didn’t see 4Kids having a significant future anymore. They were consistently going down for years and could barely even glance up a few times. Either they would have died shortly on their own anyway or they would have stumbled into some miracle property that would save them from the Shadow Realm (and Tai Chi Chasers was not going to be it), and even then I can imagine that would only eek out a few more years for them. They just didn’t have the steam to go on.
At the end of the day, when everything is said and done, 4Kids was and still is an icon….an icon of what, is up to you, but it’s still an icon. Let’s be honest, we still have a blast with 4Kids shows just in poking fun at their ridiculousness, and some still enjoy them legitimately. I won’t deny for a second that, even though doing my SDCs of 4Kids shows chips away at my soul sometimes, the shows still commonly wind up being fun either because I’m legitimately enjoying it or I’m just laughing at the 4Kidsisms.
I’m not going to dance on 4Kids’ grave, but I’m also not going to mourn it. 4Kids was, somewhat fittingly, a product of its time. There’s just no way a company like 4Kids could survive today. There are too many sources of good, loyal dubbed anime, and there are plenty of kids anime that are dubbed just fine and made readily available to children because many dubbing companies today will dub a wide range of anime for a nearly endless demographic from kids to adults to every gender and across every genre. And if you don’t like dubs, subtitled anime, official or fansubs, are readily available at thousands of sources.
Maybe we could have seen an entirely different 4Kids over time, but I doubt it. Also, there was a certain charm with shows being on Saturday morning lineups that you really can’t get anymore, and I think 4Kids thrived on that one very specific area that we can’t replicate now. 4Kids cut out a niche for itself and dominated in that one area, and there just wasn’t a place for it once that niche was gone.
It’s an entirely new world for kids, and it’s not a world for 4Kids.
4Kids will always have a special place in my heart for helping me discover some of my favorite shows and helping spark my love of anime. I won’t excuse what they’re guilty of, and I won’t overexaggerate any good they did. I’ll just say “Thank you, 4Kids. As much for dying as for living.”
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Plot: Jadeite teams up with one of Beryl’s most trusted subordinates, a demon named Thetis, to steal energy from lovers on a lovers’ cruise ship. Rei wins a ticket on the boat and invites Ami to both spite Usagi and to find them both boyfriends. Usagi sneaks her way onto the ship disguised as a photographer to get in on the fun, but when they discover Jadeite’s trap they’ll have to defeat Thetis and save the lovers on the ship.
Title Change: I Want a Boyfriend – The Luxury Cruise Ship is a Trap is changed to Cruise Blues…I just want to note that there are four episodes in this season that DiC named (Something) Blues….Truly masters of creativity…
The dub puts the footage of Serena attacking over the edited plasma ball thing Beryl has. In the original, it’s just a circle.
The editing’s weird as a result because I guess they had to transition to the original footage due to the glow of the tiara.
In the original, Thetis, the demon of the week, seems to be above Jadeite and working directly under Queen Beryl. In the dub, Jadeite acts like Thetis is a lowly demon who has failed him once before.
The original commercial for the cruise is narrated by a woman instead of a man, and the commercial is much longer than it is in the dub though the same clips remain…
I guess they edited this part out because there’s a big closeup of the cruise’s advertisement that takes up all of the screen and has Japanese on it. Umino explains how nice the cruise ship is and says it would be great to fall in love on the ship as we transition to him imagining himself with Usagi on the boat with her suddenly elbowing him in the fantasy (which was hilarious).
Also, in the dub, Melvin just says he can tell the girls how the ship was made.
Also, they omit that the ship has a capacity of 666…..which is kinda weird. I get that that’s considered an ‘evil’ number but it’s moreso a devil/Satan thing. I don’t think Beryl has anything to do with Satan…..right?
Umino doesn’t mention how he got the tickets whereas Melvin says he got them by entering a computer contest on the internet. A shot of the advertisement is edited out, I guess because there’s Japanese too close up. Umino says he gave the tickets to the lady next door because he didn’t want to do anything delinquent and shows the hours of departure for the cruise being 18:00-22:00 (6:00pm to 10:00pm) They also remove this explanation (they could’ve just said the hours but whatever) and said his parents wouldn’t let him go because he gets sea sick.
They also edit out a shot of Naru and Usagi as Naru says that Umino has a weird sense of ethics.
Umino says there’s a raffle in the shopping district for tickets. Melvin says there’s a raffle at the newsstand downtown.
This shot is edited out.
A shot of the advertisement for the cruise is removed.
Instead, both of these shots are replaced with a view of Tokyo Tower………Yeah, replace a shot of Japan with a Japanese landmark. Makes sense.
In the original, the consolation prize was tissues (I guess to be funny…or a jackass.) In the dub, since they’re blocks of white, they say the consolation prize is soap, which can also be jackassy when you think about it……But why? Why change that? Why? Are tissues bad? Next time you have a runny nose, blow it into SOAP. It’ll be gross, but at least your nose will smell nice.
Rei says they don’t have times for things like the cruise because of their responsibilities as Senshi. In the dub, Raye asks who Serena would bring because she has no boyfriend. Serena says she could bring a friend, and Raye asks if she’s talking about herself because why would she want to be stuck on a cruise with a brat like her? Yeesh. Who spit in her sacred fire?
Isn’t it cheating that Rei uses her priestess powers to win the contest?…..Actually, scratch the question, it flat out is. And you could make the argument that she’s just focusing hard and praying that she wins, but the gold marble comes out GLOWING so yeah, cheater cheater pumpkin eater. What’s funny is the dub actually points this out in a dialogue change.
Originally Usagi said Rei’s a big hypocrite for going through all that to win the cruise when she just said they don’t have time for it. In the dub, Serena says Raye’s a big cheat for using her powers to win and she should’ve been disqualified because of it. To be honest, though, while I agree, even if you called her out on it, who would really disqualify her? We know she really has powers, but you’d sound ridiculous trying to make that claim to others.
“I demand she be disqualified!”
“She used her supernatural priestess powers to will the gold marble from the machine!”
Usagi keeps harping on the suspicion that Rei has no boyfriend. Rei lies and says she has one or two. In the dub, Serena asks if she’ll take Grandpa, and Raye says she might invite Tuxedo Mask.
Usagi doesn’t call Ami a traitor for going with Rei like Serena does. Ami/Amy doesn’t even know what Rei/Raye’s talking about yet, how can she be a traitor?
Rei says she’s hoping to get Tuxedo mask for a boyfriend as she talks to Ami. In the dub, Raye just says she’s sure there will be lots of fun people there.
……I’m confused. This cruise keeps getting advertised as a great getaway for couples, yet they’re acting like this would be a great place to meet a boyfriend….unless Rei and Usagi have no qualms against dating a committed man, which would be dickish.
I’m surprised they didn’t edit out the close shot of a waiter pouring wine. I can bet many of these people are old enough to drink, but that’s still a scene with alcohol.
I love how Rei actually says that she knew this was a cruise for lovers but she didn’t think they’d be the only ones without dates. Even if there were SOME other people who went alone or with people who aren’t romantically involved with them, what are the odds that they would 1) be their age and 2) be someone they’d want to date?
Going on a lovers cruise on the off chance for some dating action is pretty pathetic when you think about it. I’m not saying going on a cruise by yourself or with friends is pathetic, but going on a cruise specifically meant for lovers to find boy/girlfriends is just weird. There are many better ways of finding a romantic partner.
I don’t even know how they got up the courage to do that. I’d be embarrassed out of my skull and depressed to be on a lovers cruise surrounded by couples by myself desperate for a date. This just seems like a poorly thought out excuse to get the girls on the boat.
You know what could’ve fixed that whole thing? Advertise it as a romantic cruise instead of a cruise for couples. There. You’ll not only get more people interested, you’ll also make more sense in the story.
Luna asks where they are, and Usagi responds that they’re in the engine room. Luna says that’s impossible because engines, especially for ships, are never this quiet. Usagi says the boat might be stopped, but Luna points out that the ship is moving at full speed. Usagi then says they probably have some state of the art engine that is super quiet and to stop worrying. In the dub, it’s just unimportant bickering, but Serena does claim that Luna should pretend to be her super important photography assistant.
What kind of disguise is that anyway? A camerawoman/photographer to get onto a lovers cruise? Wouldn’t a deckhand or waitress be a better disguise?
Luna originally senses a great evil aura while in the box. In the dub, she’s complaining about being in the box.
Jadeite thinks to himself that Usagi seems familiar. In the dub, he wonders why he’s being so nice to her. Well, I’d assume it’s to keep up appearances for your disguise but whatever.
Rei’s original idea was that since, for some reason, it’s inevitable that some of these couples will break up on the ship, they should keep an eye out for recently broken up guys and snatch them up. Ami then thinks she should’ve just stayed at home and studied.
That’s pretty mean and stupid of Rei to say, by the way. Wanting to benefit from someone else’s misfortune and wanting to be a rebound girl is bad enough, but why is it inevitable that one of these couples will break up on the trip?
First of all, it’s just a few hours long. If you’re so close to breakup that you’d break it off in a few hours, why did you even get on a romantic cruise ship for lovers anyway? Second of all, why is it inevitable at all? Is it totally unreasonable to believe that all of these lovers would stay together for a few hours? On a romantic trip?
In the dub, Raye says her great idea is to flirt with some of the male crew members, take pictures with them and show them to Serena to make her feel bad. Amy then says she wishes they’d stop feuding. I have to say, it’s a bit annoying to me as well, and Raye hasn’t even been around that long yet.
Jadeite in disguise tells Usagi that he wishes he could announce where she is to her staff over the intercom but he doesn’t want to ruin the romantic mood of the passengers. In the dub, he says he really has to go back to his captain’s quarters, but he invites her to dinner at the captain’s table.
As Ami and Rei get cornered by Slime Tokens—I mean Thetis’ goons who can regenerate, Ami says that they can’t transform in front of Jadeite and Thetis because then they’ll know who they are (but saying “we can’t transform” out loud is basically proof that you are Sailor Scouts. Just saying.) In the dub, Amy just says they need to stick together.
Thetis in the original says, despite the girls imposing on their lovers cruise, they still got plenty of energy for Queen Beryl, and Jadeite agrees. In the dub, Jadeite asks if there’s a faster way to get rid of the girls. Thetis responds that they can’t do that without using the energy they gathered. Jadeite then says they should wait.
When Usagi shows up and makes her regular speech, she berates Jadeite and Thetis for only stealing the energies of lovers and ignoring the girls without boyfriends while pointing to Rei which makes her pissed off. (Dunno why. Not like Usagi has a boyfriend either. Pot, Kettle.) In the dub, Serena just talks about her same shtick of righting wrongs etc. However, she still points to Raye and Raye still gives her a pissed off look so I dunno what she’s on about.
Originally, Rei says she wants to pay Usagi back for humiliating her while a tiny picture of Chibi Jadeite and Chibi Thetis pop up by Rei’s face. In the dub, Raye just says they need to help Sailor Moon beat Thetis and Jadeite and there’s no real purpose for the little chibi picture.
Jadeite is originally pulled from where he was on board the ship by Queen Beryl since she was getting fed up with him. Jadeite tries to blame the whole thing on Thetis by saying it was her idea, which it was, but she’ll hear nothing of it and goes off to decide his punishment. In the dub, it’s like Jadeite left of his own accord and was reporting in with Beryl. Jadeite blames his failure on the Sailor Scouts, and the rest of the scene plays out the same.
Rei and Usagi don’t fight over Tuxedo Mask in the ending fight–….Wow, Tuxedo Mask wasn’t even in this episode. I just now noticed. Hm. Anyway, they originally squabble about how the other can’t get a boyfriend and blah blah.
Here’s something a little surprising. Today’s Sailor Says is about getting out of abusive relationships. Gee, that’s a bit of a jump there. I know Usagi was enamored with disguised Jadeite for a bit there, but wow. Good message, but not something you’d really expect on a Sailor Says PSA.
Next up is apparently our last battle with Jadeite, and he seems to be on the front lines for a change. Will this really be the end of our heroines?
Al Kahn may have retired from 4Kids back in 2011, but he didn’t retire entirely. Not at all in fact. So that begs the question, where did the big bad Kahn go off to when he ran out of that burning building known as 4Kids?
He went off and founded another licensing company directed at kids.
I promise you I’m not kidding.
But this time he did it with his wife, Jillian Crane, hence the creative name, CraneKahn….
But don’t worry, the front page of the company’s website makes sure to only praise Al.
Al Kahn is currently 75 years old and is still producing content 4 kids………………………………..:D
Really confusing situation on all fronts, to be honest. His speech when he left 4Kids made it seem like he was tired of working in that industry, especially after the financial crisis, and just wanted to retire altogether and yet he immediately jumps on a new company that is strikingly similar to 4Kids.
This company, founded in early 2012, is 100% not in the realm of anime, though some of their titles are imported, and it’s pretty much aimed at toddlers instead of young kids/tweens. Honestly, I have never heard of or seen any of these properties in my life. I mean, I guess it’s understandable because it’s aimed largely at babies and toddlers, but you’d think I’d recognize something even very vaguely in passing.
I joked about this, but this actually might be a bit out of bounds, legally, for him to do considering that, according to this article from ANN, he had a non-compete clause in his contract….Does this not count as competing? I guess, maybe, considering 4Kids became 4Licensing at around the same time, but Al must’ve been working on the creation of this company since either the instant he left 4Kids or before, I’d assume anyway. Either this really doesn’t count as a competing company or *tin foil hat* he really did know that 4Kids was likely heading for its doom soon and knew they wouldn’t/couldn’t do anything to him.
In 2019, it was rebranded to Kidtagious which is a great name to have one year before a worldwide pandemic hits. (Although, being serious, Kidtagious did team up with Viracide Masks in 2021 to help with the sales and production of antiviral masks. And a charity he founded, the First Responders Children’s Foundation, provided assistance to first responders during the pandemic.)
As of this writing, they’re still in business, but they don’t really make much in regards to news. The company has six employees, I guess, and they made $1.2mil in revenue last year, I think.
He’s also a member on the board of directors for several charities such as the Children’s Tumor Foundation, the Stephen Gaynor School for Learning Difficulties and Bette Midler’s New York Restoration Project.
Al Kahn’s reputation in the anime industry remains sullied, but as long as he’s using his skills and money for the sake of producing things kids enjoy and helping others, I can’t really bring myself to hold massive grudges. He’s put his foot in his mouth, he’s said some really shitty and really stupid things, he’s done some shitty and stupid things, and he always has profits on the mind above all else…..he’s objectively not a great person. I was going to say something nice and then I forgot.
Okay, okay, it’s great that he’s giving to and creating charities and doing good with his wealth while also staying far the frick away from anime. I can only hope that he’s not one of those rich people who uses charities as a smokescreen for skeeviness. I’m putting whatever trust I have left that you’re not doing that, Al.
I honestly don’t wish anything bad upon him or his company. Let him be, as far as I’m concerned. I would be interested to know what he thinks of the world of anime and manga nowadays, if he even really knows much about how much it’s grown in the decade since 4Kids fell. I also wonder if he has any regrets or anything about his time at the company. I feel like he probably does, but all of them probably just relate to money.
And that’s the state of things with ol’ Kahn. Anti-climactic, sure, but no news is good news in this case, I suppose.
Part 24: Everything Changes (Conclusion) (Coming Soon)
Plot: Genshi heads to the Edo period to find Elekin, an electricity-based Space-Time Monster, and Hiraga Gennai, a brilliant scientist who is currently experimenting with Elekin’s powers to make a giant mech. TP Lady aims to take the mech and Elekin for herself to get rid of Genshi once and for all.
Title Change: Elekin’s Super Robot Showdown is changed to Elekin.
Putera is explaining Elekin’s powers in the original. In the dub, Old Timer is narrating about where they’re going and who they’re seeing. Oddly, despite this change, they remove a scene with Toki G watching the kids go through the time stream and cheering on Genshi. This is shifted this to after they emerge from the time stream.
They, for some reason, change the name of our historical figure of the day. They call him Ichiban Hiraga but he’s actually called Hiraga Gennai. I thought maybe they were referencing a nickname or his birth name or something, but no. He was born as Shiraishi Kunitomo, and he did go by various pen names, but as far as I could tell none of them were Ichiban Hiraga.
The only reason I can think of for why this change happened is because Saban dubbed another anime that had a character named after Hiraga Gennai. In Digimon, there’s a character named Gennai, and both series were dubbed at basically the same time. This might also be the reason why Sora is changed to Sarah here, but the character, Sora, in Digimon keeps her name in the dub. Don’t know why Digimon got dibs on the original names or why that would matter, but that’s the only reason I can think of.
Ichiban, by the way, actually means “number one” or “first” which may or may not be a poke at the seeming change they make to his character.
The dub claims he ‘stumbled upon’ electricity, which, uh. No. First, that frames it like he discovered electricity, which couldn’t be less true. He just created an elekiter, which was a device used to generate and store static electricity. Secondly, saying he stumbled upon it kinda gives off the vibe that he hadn’t been studying it or working with it or, ya know, knew what it was. Whether he really invented the elekiter is a bit up for debate. The elekiter was originally a Dutch creation he acquired that utilized a Leyden jar, but it didn’t work. He was able to make it work, however. He presented the working device in exhibitions.
Oddly, Saban actually gets the time period entirely wrong this time. They usually get it even more precise than the original, but here, they’re centuries off. In the original, they’re going to the Edo period in Japan, which started in 1603. However, I’m to assume we’re somewhere in the range of 1749-ish because Hiraga Gennai was born in 1729 and he’s an adult here, so let’s just say he’s around 20. The dub claims they’re going to 12th century Japan, which is 1100-1200…..
For some reason, after Pterry says they’re going to 12th century Japan, Old Timer butts in again to say “Oh, much to learn about electricity, yes.” Uhm…why did you say that?
When they finally get around to showing the scene with Toki G, they change the dialogue. Genshi originally says he’s excited about meeting Elekin, and Toki G cheers him on and reminds us that he has to collect all of the Space-Time Monsters. Then he randomly falls. Flint asks what an Elekin is, and, as normal, he asks if it’s something to eat. Did they go out without Flint being briefed? Old Timer explains that Elekin is a Time Shifter and he’s not something to eat. Then he rambles on about how Flint only thinks about his stomach before he randomly falls over.
Name Plate removed.
Sora and Tokio apologize for the crash and say it was their fault. In the dub, Sarah asks what’s going on, and Tony asks where the giant robot came from.
Also, they make Getalong say “New friends! Meet new friends!” which is kinda weird to say at a time like this, but is especially awkward considering Love-Love/Getalong has a concerned expression right now, so it doesn’t match.
Dub!Elekin talks in third person for some reason.
So, the next exchange is pretty much kept the same, but all of the bits and pieces are out of order. In the original, Gennai explains who he is before stating he knows the kids are from the future and asking them to help repair his robot. In the dub, he asks them to help repair his robot, then explains who he is then suggests they’re from the future. Also, they add in that he “invented” electricity, which, again, isn’t true. We really have to stop saying anyone invented electricity, because electricity is natural so no one invented it. Mentions of working with or manipulating electricity go as far back as 600 BC.
For the record, Hiraga Gennai was so much more than an inventor and builder. He was a writer, painter, pharmacologist, physician, ronin, herbalist, he worked in mining and pottery, and he was quite a notable gay figure at the time, writing a lot about homosexual life, guides on male prostitutes and several works highlighting gay sex.
Not downplaying his work as an inventor and scientist, but I’m just saying it’s worth mentioning……Well, okay, the sex stuff probably isn’t appropriate for this show, but everything else yeah.
Gennai asks what kind of response it is to say they’re too busy to help him repair his Gennai mech when they’re the ones who wrecked it in the first place. They have no response. In the dub, he asks how time travelers are too busy to help when, logically, they have all the time in the world. Then he asks if this is what has become of manners in the future.
In the original, Gennai specifically says he’s going to get them some treats where red beans pour out if you squeeze them. In the dub, he just offers them snacks. I feel like maybe he should be calling them manju because they were created way back in 1341, so they had to have been known as manju long before this point.
Tokio explains that the treats in question were actually steamed buns (manju) In the dub, Hiraga says his cook is off-duty so he made them something with fish eggs….
Genshi just enjoys the manju, and Sora says he was right since red beans do pour from them if you squeeze them. In the dub, Flint asks for ketchup. Sarah explains that it’s caviar, and you don’t put ketchup on caviar, but Flint says he does.
The original explains that Gennai is primarily a pharmacologist. The dub doesn’t mention this.
Putera knows exactly what the elekiter is (although she refers to it as just an electrostatic generator). Pterry says it’s “some rudimentary electronic device.”
Genshi starts cranking the elekiter because he’s curious. In the dub, since Pterry doesn’t know what it does, Flint wonders if it makes food, because of course he does, so he starts cranking the machine.
Sora and Tokio express actual concern for Genshi as he gets electrocuted. Sarah and Tony just yell “Stop clowning around!”
Going in the polar opposite direction 4Kids goes, the original makes a “shocking” pun while Flint just says “Ooh does it ever not make food.”
Sora asks Genshi if he’s okay, and Tokio tells him to be more careful. Sarah just tells Flint to behave himself when he’s a guest in someone’s home. Tony doesn’t have a line.
In the original, TP Lady says “If I fail again…” before trailing off into her fantasy. In the dub, she says “I’ll make him pay attention to me!”
The fantasy sequence is of the Masked Man leaving TP Lady because she keeps failing him. In the dub, it’s so weird, because it’s almost like they’re completely ignoring what’s happening on screen. The Masked Man has his back turned and is walking away from Petra while Petra is on the ground crying and reaching out. The Masked Man (Or I guess he’s supposed to be The Dark Lord?) says “Tell me, Petra Fina, what does the Dark Lord love above all else?” and she responds “Control, manipulation and power!” It just doesn’t match what we’re seeing.
The sequence of TP Lady hitting Dyna in the head over and over is shortened. She originally told him to hurry and catch Elekin. Dyna responded asking why he’s the only one getting hit. They didn’t remove the hitting entirely, just shortened the scene of it. So hitting is fine but don’t do it too long?
This next change is 100% pointless and dumb. In the original, TP Lady dresses up in elegant Japanese clothing, and Dyna and Mite introduce her as the successor to the late general, Lord Tokugawa Ieharu. In the dub, Saban, for some reason, has Dino and Mite introduce her as a nameless princess of Saskatchewan…..Ya know….in Canada. What the hell is this, Saban? What are you doing? Why wouldn’t you just says she’s some vague Japanese princess, if you didn’t want to bring up Tokugawa Ieharu for some reason? Are you just trying to make these three seem even stupider than they actually are? I don’t get it.
TP Lady just asks Ammon and Elekin to kneel before her. In the dub, she requests for them to come closer. Also, they reverse and repeat the shot of her opening her eyes when her face is cloaked in shadow, so it can look like she then closed her eyes for some reason.
I don’t think Ammon knows this is TP Lady, Dyna and Mite in the original, but she definitely seems to know it in the dub.
Kyoichiro is entirely focused on Sora when the kids approach and babbles on about their unexpected meeting of fate when he’s all dreamy and sparkly. In the dub, he’s focused on Flint, acting as if he’s running to him to beg for help with the case.
The animation in this shot is awful. Since everyone’s just far enough away for all of the details to be off, Putera’s eyes bounce all over when he talks, and Kyoichiro loses his nose whenever his mouth moves.
The introduction to the newly changed mech is much less impacting in the dub. In the original, they have loud music cues and a pretty cool techno-ish track to go along with it. In the dub, they lazily put in the quietest of single drum beats with each new shot of the robot, and then the music that follows is simple boring bland background music, like the kind you’d hear in casual conversation, not seeing a massive missile-laden robot….
TP Lady names her modified version of the Gennai, The Great Gennai, which is weird. I’d think she’d name it after herself, but whatever. In the dub, it doesn’t get a new name. Petra just says of course she’d be the one to take complete control with a giant robot.
I’m getting so confused with this. Elekin’s power doesn’t seem to actually be controlling or creating giant robots, like the preview implied. It’s literally just a walking elekiter. You need to crank him and everything. Why does TP Lady need him to power this robot? She has tons of robots and mechanical devices that run on electricity that comes from some unknown future-device source.
If his power really is just creating electricity, and this is a time period where Gennai already made the elekiter….why does Elekin have any impact on what he creates? Even if it is a matter of Elekin being able to generate more electricity than his elekiter, he shouldn’t have instantly made the jump from ‘box that generates static’ to ‘giant mech.’ This is especially weird in the case of the dub, because Ichiban specifically said he wanted this thing to help people…..How does this help people? It’s just a giant mech.
Gennai tells Elekin to stop. In the dub, he tells Petra that she can’t use the mech (or Elekin maybe?) for evil.
They repeat a shot of Elekin after showing the gears turning.
They add a shot of Ichiban talking to have him say “This is grotesque” after Elekin powers up the attack.
This actually seems so backwards. Like “Oh no, TP Lady, the person who usually has high-tech robots and all sorts of gadgets to help her with her plans is now using, GASP……a low-tech wooden mech that she needs to CRANK to power and uses ROPES to control……Dear god….help us all….”
I love how it takes Kyoichiro and Ammon an insanely long time to notice the giant mech attacking the town about 250 feet to their left.
The original doesn’t mention anything about TP Lady putting this moment in her book. I didn’t even know she was writing a book.
Also, I thought for sure Genshi was going to smack the mech with Ototan. Why did he try hopping into the cockpit?
They repeat and reverse the segment of TP Lady mocking and laughing at Genshi after we see the track coming towards Genshi.
Sora and Tokio just yell in concern for Genshi. Sarah and Tony point out how impressive Flint is being before we even see him getting back up to stop the mech.
TP Lady yells “Why is he so strong!?” In the dub, he tells Mite to keep cranking Elekin.
Sora and Tokio ask if the mech has any weak spots. Gennai says that any machine made by the great genius, Gennai, has no weak spots. In the dub, they ask if Ichiban can make anything to fight “the evil power” just once. Ichiban refuses, saying he doesn’t stoop to the hurly burly of politics. He builds machines to help the human race.
If you ask me, both versions are obnoxious. The first version is better, but it still has Gennai coming off like a total egotistical prick. Instead of actually trying to come up with a solution to this problem, he just gloats about how perfect his machine is. And, dude, it can’t be that perfect if it was so badly damaged just by falling over after trying to avoid Ridon. As far as I know, the more humorous side of this character definitely tracks with Gennai in real life, but I haven’t been able to find anything implying that he was a braggart who got blinded by his self-righteousness or ego.
The dubbed version just seems flatout wrong on all accounts. You can’t state that your devices are tools of good for the betterment of humanity and then go on about how you don’t want to create a device that fights evil. That makes no sense. And what the hell does that have to do with politics? Being fair, Gennai was the type of guy who liked to distance himself from politics, but, as I just asked, what does making a device to beat an evil person’s robot have to do with politics?
And while we’re it, again, how does your giant mech help people!?
In the original, Putera asks why Gennai is gloating about that. In the dub, he says “If the universe is destroyed, who will see them?” which comes off like Ichiban only wants to help so his devices will get attention….
In the original, Gennai yells to Genshi that the one weak spot of the mech is Elekin. Since he’s powering the machine, removing him will stop it. In the dub, he just yells out to Petra that, as the mech’s creator, he protests against the use of the machine in such a way and demands they stop……I thought this guy was supposed to be smart.
Genshi tells Gennai that he understands. Flint tells Ichiban “Keep yellin’! I think it’s workin’!” Wha…what’s working? Him yelling at them? What are they doing different?
So Sora falls and just….doesn’t even try to kinda get up. She just accepts her missile-y fate…..What a protagonist.
Sora just says “Narukami” after he saves her. In the dub, Sarah says “Now I really feel silly.” Yeah, well….you should.
Kyoichiro asks if Sora’s alright. Merlock tells Sarah that she shouldn’t feel silly because it was a scary situation that scared him too…..Uh huh…
Kyoichiro says that, with her looking at him like that, he wouldn’t be cool if he refused her request. In the dub, he says that he can tell by the look in her eyes how much Flint means to her and that, in the spirit of friendship, he’ll help her.
Kyoichiro gives a speech to Genshi about how he’ll teach him the real way to fight. Genshi responds with “Kyoichiro, I’m counting on you!” In the dub, he gives a dramatic speech to…no one about how his enemies will tremble at his feet and blah blah. Flint then yells “STOP TALKIN’ AND DO SOMETHING, WILL YA!?” Way to make Flint obnoxious, Saban.
They again reverse and replay TP Lady talking after Flint’s line, for some reason.
Kyoichiro doesn’t have a line as he pole vaults over the missiles. He just goes “Aieeeeeeeeeeeeee!” Then he yells “Genshi, now!” In the dub, he says “A little grace under pressure….NOT WHILE MERLOCK’S AROUND!” Were you, uh, meant to be responding to someone in that second part of your line? Because, otherwise, it sounds like there will be no grace under pressure while you’re around….
Name Plate removed.
Name Change: Warukin is changed to Elekin-con.
So….Elekin’s bad transformation is mostly just a bigger version of himself with a different face on screen and plug hands? How boring.
Sora says “Hang in there, Ammon.” Sarah says “She’ll be okay. She’s in shock.” Get it?! Because she was electrocuted! HAHA!
As usual, Love-Love can’t talk, but Saban has Getalong say “All because of that robot!” No, it’s because of Elekin. The robot didn’t shock Bindi – Elekin did….
The original doesn’t mention anything about ballast….Why is Ichiban acting like this is a ship?
Kyoichiro tells Sora to take care of Ammon for him, and Sora agrees. In the dub, Merlock says Ichiban’s crazy because the robot can’t move on its own. Sarah then also chimes in asking if he doesn’t understand that the mech doesn’t have any energy. Yeah, apparently both versions are writing Gennai to be a dumbass now….
They somehow make him even more of a dumbass in the dub because they repeat shots of him pulling ropes and the robot not responding while he yells “Forward!….Backward!…..Any-ward!” before he realizes the mech doesn’t have power….In the original, he only pulls the rope once before realizing.
They remove the shot of the kids reacting to Gennai’s blunder and replace it with an earlier and much less funny non-reaction shot where they just blink in response, complete with a blink sound effect.
They also add in the slightly earlier shot of Sora yelling out as a means to getting Sarah to yell up to Elekin to remember that they’re his friends.
They remove the shot of Gennai, Kyoichiro and Genshi getting electrocuted before we cut to the lab.
The dub has Pterry mention that Flint’s in suspended animation, which….no? He’s not in suspended animation at all…What was that line? Were they trying to make some meta joke that didn’t land?
They remove the shot of Redman getting electrocuted.
Sora tells Redman that the giant robot is on their side (after they attacked it and got electrocuted, thinking it was the enemy) Tokio then tells them to look closely and see that Genshi and Ototan are inside it. In the dub, Sarah tells them not to give up, and Tony tells Sarah that they probably don’t have any juice left after that.
The dub includes a split-second group shot of the Cardians right before they transform…for… some reason.
I can’t not mention this anymore – Ichiban here is voiced by Tom Fahn, who voiced Agumon in Digimon. I just had to mention this because he’s very obviously just doing his Agumon voice with no change whatsoever. It is very distracting.
Gennai tells Elekin that he’s really a good guy and asks him to change back. Ichiban tells Elekin that he believes his powers can be “applied and conducted” whatever the hell he means by the latter, for the good of everyone.
They add in a flashier shot of Petra flailing her whip around because I guess her torment of Elekin has to look better?
Also, TP Lady just asks what Warukin is doing. In the dub, Saban writes this insanely stupid line that I can’t believe made it to the final cut.
Petra: “The secret of electrical power comes with me!” The SECRET of ELECTRICAL POWER?! YOU’RE FROM THE GODDAMN FUTURE. You have a cat-themed spaceship that also turns into a mech. You have a mind-control stamp. YOU CAN TIME TRAVEL. What secrets of electrical power do you think this thing has? Go find a tesla coil or something. You’ll get the same experience. What is wrong with you?
Genshi tells Gennai that they need to run. Flint tells Ichiban to go get the box with the wires in it because Elekin’s gonna need it. Apparently he’s psychic now.
The reason he needed the elekiter was Elekin….fell down….and the elekiter’s power was used to…I dunno, revive him? Whatever.
Kyoichiro says he may have loaned Genshi his strength this time, but he shouldn’t rely on him being there all the time. Merlock says he liked teaming up with Flint and he’ll be sure to appreciate his friendship from now on.
Ya know, I’ll just say it…Kyoichiro didn’t do anything in this episode. He’s being praised for nothing. Yeah, sure, he saved Sora, but Sora was only in danger because she was an idiot. Then later he ‘helps’ Genshi by…..dodging missiles and telling him to attack the mech…?? Then he helps again by pull ropes to help power the mech, which, knowing how powerful and fast Genshi is, he surely could have done himself. It’s clear this episode was meant to be a sort of bonding time for them, or at least a means of showing that Kyoichiro was useful, but we know he’s useful, and they didn’t do a good enough job showing the teamwork side of that equation.
Ammon apologizes for knocking Kyoichiro off the tower. Bindi asks what he did that for, as if he fell off the tower on purpose….
Gennai asks if his words are remembered in the future. The kids assure him that they are and that he’s actually famous in the future. Gennai says Super Redman was pretty impressive. Then he asks Elekin and Redman if they’d like to combine and make a Super Great Gennai mech. This makes Elekin and the Red Redman excited before they excuse themselves to leave.
In the dub, Ichiban wishes there was some way he could visit them in the future. Tony says maybe he’ll invent something that will help him do that. Ichiban then says he might be barking up the wrong tree with the electricity stuff because then he’d have to invent an electric can opener which would mean he’d have to invent the tin can….*sigh*….*rubs temples* Somehow that makes Elekin and the Red Cardian start making random noises that sound like “bike bike bike”…I dunno.
Tokio bids farewell, and Genshi says he really liked the treats with the sweet red beans in them. In the dub, Tony says they make that noise when they want to say “Thanks” and Flint says he really liked the raw fish eggs.
The dub continues to piss me off. In the original, there’s no narration over the memory erasure scene. In the dub, Old Timer says there’s no benefit to Ichiban remembering this, and the electricity stuff should be left to Benjamin Franklin, Count Volta, whom I seriously doubt most kids learned about in school, and “The others.” But the elekiter exists. He’s already a note in the history of electric power. Why are you acting as if it would be a bad thing for him to continue working with electricity?
After Ichiban wonders what he’s doing they again reverse and repeat the shot to return his face back to a drowsy expression for some reason.
Genshi just says Gennai was an interesting person. Flint says he needed a bottle of ketchup.
Tokio says there are a lot of strange characters among scientists, then he asks Wing if he’s right, seemingly nudging at the Wright brothers? How were they weird? In the dub, Tony asks why Goodman would need or want to come along and meet other people like Ichiban when he has the Time Shifters as company. Yes, why would you want to meet an incredibly interesting historical figure when you can just sit around with a bunch of Time Shifters who generally don’t have much in the way of meaningful conversation and just want to play most of the time?
They remove the last two shots of Elekin electrocuting everyone.
This episode is just terrible. They portrayed Gennai as an egotistical idiot. Elekin is a lazily designed Space-Time Monster whose sole power is to electrocute things – and it can only generate electricity in its base form if someone cranks it. Like I said, I really thought that it had the power to turn things into robots or giant mechs, but nope. It just generates electricity.
Its role in the story made no sense. I don’t understand how Elekin’s presence prompted Gennai to make a mech nor how such a thing was even made possible. I also don’t understand what gave him the idea or WHY he’d do such a thing. They never explain any of this. Getting access to more electricity is not a logical explanation for any of this by a long shot. By the way, did they somehow dispose of the mech when they left? Because I’m pretty sure that would raise all sorts of questions if it was left in the past.
The elekiter was basically just glossed over and used as a defibrillator to revive Elekin, who simply fell down. It wasn’t like he died.
Kyoichiro’s role in this episode was mostly pointless, as I discussed, and Ammon was mostly just an annoyance again.
TP Lady’s plan was underwhelming. When I thought Elekin had something to do with creating robots, I thought they might apply Elekin to their spaceship mech and make it a much more powerful robot, but nope. Just a wooden mech powered by a crank and operated by ropes. The fact that Genshi was actually nearly losing against this thing was pathetic. He’s taken on so many bigger and more powerful things. This should have been toothpicks in seconds. Warukin was a much bigger threat, but even that was pathetically felled by literally falling…..
They honestly couldn’t get me invested at all in a giant robot battle. Do you understand how easy it is for robots to amuse me? I adore robots. Tiny ones? Adorable. Human-sized ones? Cool. Giant ones? Awesome! Robot battles? Awesome-er! Giant robot battles!? You have my heart! You have to fail pretty hard at robots for me to not be interested in a giant robot battle.
About the only good thing about this episode was seeing Super Redman again. And they didn’t even beat Warukin. TP Lady defeated them all herself by wrapping her whip on a missile and accidentally exploding it, knocking down the mech, knocking down Warukin and sending them blasting off.
The dub was one the worst I’ve ever seen in this series. Not only did they change the historical figure to a nonexistent person for some reason beyond my scope of understanding (if it really is the Digimon thing, that couldn’t be dumber.) which means it’s drained of any educational value, but they also made him an even bigger idiot than he was before and even implied that he was so stupid that he shouldn’t be working with electricity anymore and should just leave that stuff up to other scientists. They even got the time period wrong.
They added in that bunk about him wanting to make the robot for the better of humanity without even explaining why it would help or what it even does besides be a giant robot. They also cut out pretty much any even slight moment between “Ichiban” and Elekin.
Not to mention that ridiculously stupid line about Petra wanting the secret to electric power.
They repeated and reversed more shots in this episode than any other, I believe, and I can’t find any reason for it.
Even the ending was made very abrupt and almost dark because it cuts immediately as they’re being electrocuted without the zoom out to make it even slightly humorous.
What a wasted opportunity of an episode.
Maybe we’ll have more fun next time. Let’s see what we got.
Next time, we meet the Space-Time Monster Musclun in ancient Greece. Musclun has the power to give people huge muscles…Hm….Takes place at the Olympics. Pretty interesting. Let’s check the Fandom page. *click* Mmmhm….Mmmhm……Mmmmmmm……Oh…goodie, we have to talk about blackface AND grossly inappropriate depictions of young girls….Fun…fun….
4Kids had effectively been demolished after they had gone bankrupt. They adopted a new CEO so Michael Goldstein could finally collect himself. The new CEO, who would remain CEO until 2016 was Bruce R. Foster, who, before, was their Executive Vice President and CFO. They retained a few properties, but only seemingly because no one wanted to buy them, or, if they did, they didn’t offer enough money. As far as I could find, they retained the rights to Chaotic, Dinosaur King and Tai Chi Chasers. It’s possible they owned the rights to some other shows still, but it’s difficult to know for certain given the available information.
Still, 4Kids wasn’t giving up. They exited bankruptcy on December 13, 2012 and created 4Licensing Corporation as a new rebranding. They would also restart trading on the OTC Pink Sheets under the new symbol FOUR. They had previously been listed as KIDEQ.PK.
For four years, 4Licensing would live a rather quiet existence, mostly just existing for the sake of holding onto those licenses and getting whatever residual revenues could be obtained from them. They also planned on getting into licensing in the sports industry. As of December 31, 2013, they repaid all of their creditors, but other than that they were just barely managing to stay afloat. They had two entities under their control – 4LC Sports, their new sports division which was formerly 4Kids Ad Sales inc., and 4LC Technology, which was originally 4Kids Technology, Inc. Their main licensed product was the patented isoBLOX protective shock plates, which largely seem to be used for baseball caps and shin guards. I don’t know if this stuff exists anymore. It’s dead on social media, and there’s no way to buy any of it from their main website.
Indeed, this product is really the only thing 4Licensing really even talks about on its final quarterly report ever, which makes sense because it didn’t have the money to produce anything with its media licenses anymore, and, since it sold off most of its assets, it couldn’t receive any real substantial revenue from anything that was already out there. 4Kids Entertainment, Inc. and the previously mentioned 4Sight Licensing still stuck around to act as the entertainment and brand licensing division, but that was just for technical purposes. They really weren’t doing anything.
Can I be real with you, guys? Reading 4Licensing quarterly reports from 2012 onward is one of the most boring things you can imagine. It’s the same thing every quarter. Outside of minute differences in the specific numbers, it never changes. They’re always reporting a lot of losses, a significant amount of spending and very little revenue. According to their stock charts, they were doing their best at 2014, but, again, the quarterly reports were pretty much the same for that year as all others.
On February 29, 2016, Bruce Foster resigned as CEO, Executive Vice President and CFO of 4Licensing due to non-payment of wages. On September 21, 2016, 4Licensing filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy yet again. This time, it seems they recognized it was the end because they did not express any future plans for recovery efforts to shareholders. The bankruptcy plan was confirmed on January 20, 2017 and enacted February 7, 2017. Shortly afterward, 4Licensing would officially shut down all operations.
It was truly the end of an era.
4Kids was officially gone.
But our story still isn’t over. One unanswered question remains.
Part 23: Where in the World is Kahnmen Sandiego? (Coming Soon)
Plot: Zoro and Luffy manage to get away from Buggy with the help of Nami and the mayor of the town, but they’re not out of danger yet. They meet a small dog named Chouchou who seems to be guarding a local pet store fiercely. The mayor tells them that the dog’s owner recently passed away and he’s been feeding Chouchou in his place since his passing, but he won’t leave the store no matter what. When Buggy sends one of his goons, Mohji the Beast Tamer, to defeat Zoro and Luffy, they find that Chouchou’s both bark AND bite, but will that be enough to protect his pet shop?
Entire Show Edit: The recaps are always different and for some reason they are always presented in letterbox form in the dub.
The mention of Zoro being injured is kept the same, but it makes little sense in the dub. In the original, we constantly see blood spraying from Zoro’s wound and the blood stain on his clothes getting bigger. In the dub, there is no visible wound and he looks fine otherwise, so you’re left confused as to why they’re freaking out about an invisible wound.
In the next line, dub!Zoro says he’s fine besides his knee, which I guess we’re supposed to take as having gotten hurt when the Buggy Ball went off, despite having no damage to his pants. They even kinda point this out by having Luffy say his knee looks fine and then Nami saying it sounds awful. Because sounds are much easier to edit than visuals. Also, I guess they’re ignoring that he totally got stabbed earlier? Even if they didn’t show it outright, that’s what was implied.
They omit the part where Luffy introduces Nami to Zoro as their new navigator.
The line being said here, which is Nami asking why they’re so determined even though they’re pirates, is essentially the same, but the delivery loses the focus of the line. In the original, the line is said like Nami’s getting a whole new view on people who are pirates – like some of them have strength and determination to live on and fight for what’s right despite being pirates. In the dub, she’s all “They’re pretty determined, for pirates anyway.” which is really no change from how she’s been acting towards pirates this whole time.
Title Change: Desperate Situation! Beast Tamer Mohji vs. Luffy is changed to The Beast Breaker.
Originally, Luffy wonders if the unmoving dog is dead. Dub!Luffy wonders if he’s real.
They edit out a shot of the dog biting Luffy’s face. We can’t show that either? There’s not even any blood. It’s almost cartoony.
A shot of Luffy’s hand on the ground is edited out.
A shot of Nami talking to Luffy and another shot of Zoro smiling at the two of them is edited out.
After Chouchou eats the key, we get photo overlays of each of them looking in shock at what just happened. Then we see Luffy cartoonishly strangling the dog because he ate the key. This is all edited out.
They edit out:
They cut straight to Chouchou and Luffy staring at each other and then we get to the building.
The Mayor assumes the three are bullying Chouchou. In the dub, he’s telling Chouchou to not attack them.
In the original, The Mayor says that he offered Zoro medical attention, but he refused and said he just needed rest, so he’s sleeping at his house. In the dub, the same message is given, but it’s more like The Mayor thought the best medical attention was a nap instead of getting him a doctor….and I’m not lying, the dialogue says it, “I have the best medical equipment in the world – a bed.” Yeah, that’ll patch up a gaping gut wou—uh broken knee.
They edit out a shot of Nami petting Chouchou despite us seeing her petting him a few seconds later because…petting dogs is bad?……sometimes? They also edit out a shot of Luffy talking.
Urgh, 4Kids, I am amazed at how you have the innate ability to piss me off and impress me somewhat at the same time. Shockingly, the story about Chouchou’s owner dying and him guarding his owner’s store as his precious treasure is left in, but the music ruins it. It’s a very tragic story, 4Kids. The tone you’re looking for is ‘sad.’
They also shorten the scene of stillness and silence that is reflective upon the sad story because we wouldn’t want to have a moment of emotion, would we?
Also edited out:
The Mayor doesn’t speak baby talk to Chouchou originally.
How can Luffy not get out of that cage? I have a hard time believing a cage, especially one with fairly large gaps between the bars, can hold a rubber man. I mean, it may be painful, maybe, but he could easily squeeze through those gaps.
Name change: Mohji the Beast Tamer is changed to Mohji the Beast Breaker…Beast Breaker? That sounds awful. I have no clue why 4Kids sometimes makes things sound worse than they actually are. Sounds like he emotionally and physically tortures animals until they break and obey him.
They shortened the scene of the mayor flailing and running off with Nami.
They edit out a weird falling pane transition along with some dialogue from Mohji and a response from Luffy.
Dub!Nami: “Don’t you think it’s weird that you crashed through all those houses and you don’t have a mark on you?” He crashed through one house, Nami. Singular.
Blood is edited away from when Chouchou is hit and rolls away. Too fast for me to screencap. Plus it leaves the screen quickly, so you can just imagine a blood spray flashing around him in the dubbed version.
I’m actually not entirely bothered by the choice of song for the flashback scenes because, well, 4Kids sucks at sad songs and that’s really all the effort they’ll put into that. My expectations shall lower for you, 4Kids. Though the original song, that music box song….damn man, just damn.
Chouchou’s minor wounds are edited away.
Originally, in the flashback, the pet shop owner tells Chouchou that he’s getting old (though he really had an illness) and he needed to go to the hospital for a while and to watch the shop while he was gone. In the dub, it basically sounds like he’s dying right then and there and leaving the pet shop to Chouchou.
His wounds reappear during a zoom out. It’s like they didn’t digitally paint enough frames so it fades in for a second or two.
Originally, Chouchou gets hit off-screen and we see blood spatter on the pet store sign as Chouchou yelps. In the dub, we just see Chouchou lunge and cut to the next scene.
Original!Mohji shows us his bleeding bite wound, 4Kids shows us a band-aid. Because that tiny band-aid would cover a whole bite wound, right?
Mohji yells out that the lion thing’s name is Richie when Luffy hits him with the Gomu Gomu no Tsuchi. In the dub, Mohji just screams.
I guess 4Kids had to paint away the embers in this next scene because they ‘had’ to paint away the wounds on the dog.
Nami originally wanted to kill Luffy before he started terrorizing people with a crew like Mohji. This is changed to just wanting to stop him. Also, Luffy originally stated that Nami would never be able to kill him. Nami then challenges Luffy to a fight, but Luffy stays silent. All of this scene is silent in the dub.
A still screen made in a hand drawn-style is edited out of the dub.
The sound mixing in the dub is really awful sometimes. The music can be deafening and can make it really hard to hear the dialogue.
Nami smiling at Luffy giving Chouchou the dog treats is edited out.
Mohji’s ‘wounds’ are painted off.
Nami originally points out that the mayor was crying before he ran off. Dub!Nami just says he’s not using his head.
Original!Zoro says that that things are getting pretty interesting and Luffy agrees. In the dub, Luffy responds to what Nami said about using his head by saying he’s using his heart. Zolo then follows it up and says ‘tough choice. Headache or heartache.’ Ha…hah.
I hate Dub!Luffy’s laugh, I really do. He’s always going hoohoohohoy! He has a more clown-ish laugh than damn Buggy.
I really like this little mini-arc, even if it’s very sad. As and animal lover who has never lived without a dog, it breaks my heart. Poor Chouchou.
The enemy here is a severe threat, even if he looks ridiculous, and there’s plenty of tension to be had. Dub-wise, the episode loses a lot of its emotional impact, but I guess 4Kids could’ve done a lot worse.
Next episode, it’s a wounded Zoro vs. an acrobatic sword master named Cabaji, and a battle of devil fruits with Luffy vs. Buggy.
That’s right everyone. It’s time to talk about Yu-Gi-Oh! in 2011.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Bonds Beyond Time.
What? What else Yu-Gi-Oh! related happened in 2011?
In the quarterly conference call for Q4 2009, taking place on March 24, 2010, Al Kahn told investors that they were in the process of dubbing the recently released Yu-Gi-Oh! 3D movie, Bonds Beyond Time. 4Kids made a really big deal out of the release, which was both fitting because it was a 10th anniversary event and because 4Kids was in dire straits and needed money. They showed a 20 minute preview at the San Diego ComicCon in July of 2010, and had Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG demonstrations, appearances by the voice actors, a cosplay contest, and a benefit for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. A new booster pack featuring a selection of nine limited edition cards for the movie would also be available in stores on February 2011.
The full film would have a limited release in Cinedigm 3D theaters on February 26 and 27 2011, a repeat set of viewings would be available on March 5 and 6. Theatergoers would receive a promotional Malefic Red-Eyes Black Dragon card upon ticket purchase. The American version of the release includes over ten minutes of footage recapping events from the three series in order to ensure everyone in the audience is caught up to follow along.
The movie was basically as edited as anything 4Kids would usually release on TV, including editing the cards to once again not show the description, name etc. instead showing the picture, type and attack/defense points like normal – which was incredibly strange because the last Yu-Gi-Oh! movie, the one that was ordered by 4Kids, left the cards alone – and removing instances of text, which, from the Pokemon movie releases, they tended to not do on movies. These edits also included making an entirely new soundtrack, complete with new sound effects, which is another practice people thought 4Kids more or less stopped with the Pokemon movies, but I guess not.
The movie ended with a message saying “”Duelists, thank you for a decade of dueling…and the best is yet to come.””
Need I remind you that this movie was released in March of 2011….
This movie was also ridiculously short at 50 minutes, made to be 60-65 minutes on the American release. Meaning that the preview that was shown at ComicCon was really, not counting the recap, because I doubt they showed that there, nearly half the movie….
Reception for this movie was……uhm…bad. There were some good things to say about it, like how fun it was to see all three main protagonists of the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise to date teaming up with each other, that it was intense and the pacing was good…..That was about it. To be fair, people did praise the English version for including the recap because it helped older fans and non-fans go into the movie without being confused. However, the recap seems to be missing from streaming releases, and in the DVD releases the recap was marked as an extra, not part of the actual movie.
Criticisms for the movie ranged from it being too short overall to the final duel being too short to the original Gen (Yugi) not being given enough focus while the most recent Gen, at the time (Yusei), being given too much focus to the animation being mid quality (not really up to snuff for a feature film) to the plot being way too simple and yet still loaded with plot holes that “even kids will see through.” to the villain being a rip-off of either Anubis or Dartz. Overall, it was written off by many as a movie designed purely to sell cards and less of a true celebration of the franchise’s ten year legacy. At best, it was just simple fun that old fans and newer ones could enjoy, but at worst it was a 50 minute long commercial that even fans would have difficulty wanting to watch more than once.
The movie made $2,017,928 in the Japanese box office (Which would be about ¥268,968,614.16) coming at sixth in the Japanese box office that weekend. When it was released on DVD and Blu-Ray, it was the second most popular title of its genre.
Because of the limited release, box office returns of the movie in the US and the UK never surfaced. Worldwide, it had a box office return of $2.6mil but over $2mil of that is attributed to Japan’s theatrical release, and the other $600,000 was attributed to South Korea, so the actual figures seem incomplete to a certain degree.
To make matters even worse, 4Kids never released the movie on DVD. I don’t know if they were really able to at the time. *thunderclap* However, in the UK, Manga Entertainment, which had the distribution rights there, released the movie in theaters on May 14 and 21 in stereoscopic theaters, and then they released a DVD and Blu-Ray of the movie on May 30, 2011. The Blu-Ray would include the special promotional Malefic Red-Eyes Black Dragon card that wasn’t included in the UK theater release as it was in America, and the Japanese track with English subtitles. It had actually reached number two on Manga Entertainment’s best selling DVDs of the year, but Manga Entertainment pretty much spit at the success of the title claiming on their Twitter “I think [it was] because it was available in Asda and Morrisons, came with a free rare card and was stupidly cheap on [the] shelf.”
It wouldn’t be until 2014 when New Video Group would release the Blu-Ray and DVD in America, including the option to play the Japanese track with subtitles.
Honestly, I really feel like this was another instance of Al being a tiny bit delusional with how successful he thinks a title will be, or maybe, much more sadly, he knew how much Yu-Gi-Oh!’s revenues supported 4Kids and how they would likely be more reliant on the property in the future considering Pokemon was gone (but they were still getting residuals from it) so was TMNT, and Chaotic had fallen on its face. He probably really wanted the movie to be a huge success so he could maybe get a boost in sales and a big boost in interest before ZEXAL was released. At the very least, he was doing his damnedest to convince investors that 4Kids would be doing better this year. Maybe he didn’t really analyze the Japanese returns for the movie well enough or overestimated how successful it would be in America, which I can’t imagine how that’s possible considering how badly the first Yu-Gi-Oh! movie did.
But oh how devastatingly wrong he was either way. The call was a few months before the audit, and I feel like Al must’ve known that the hammer was being bought to put the final nail in the coffin…..And the nail would meet that hammer a mere three weeks after the movie had been released…..
The beginning of 2009 through the end of 2010 is what I like to call 4Kids’ Pre-Death Dead Period. They weren’t licensing anything new because they had adopted a “Screw Japan and Anime” attitude, only premiering Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds (Ironically an anime from Japan…) and continuing Chaotic, barely got the broadcast rights for a couple shows, and just stagnating for the most part. Even 2011 was largely boring barring one semi-major note we’ll get to next time, but they licensed one anime in that year so I didn’t count it. I’m just going to plow through this period to get to the more interesting stuff.
In 2009 the only shows that premiered brand-new on The CW4Kids, besides Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, were acquired shows – Huntik: Secrets and Seekers, and Rollbots – the former of which being another show by Winx Club’s Iginio Straffi, so I’m sure he was thrilled to be associated with 4Kids again. Huntik lasted two seasons, but it seems only season one aired on The CW4Kids, and Rollbots was canceled after one season.
Outside of the previously mentioned shows ending this year, the only other news on the 4Kids front was their continued downward financial spiral. That’s right, everyone. It’s time to have some fun with FINANCIAL REPORT ANALYSIS! 😀
(Small note, the financial reports from here on sometimes have information on past reports that varies from the report that came out that year. The only reason I can give for this is that they likely had to redo their figures after certain revenues or expenses were reported after the fact. The figures are never so different that they really matter, especially the end net losses/income, but I thought I should mention it in case people wonder why there are inconsistencies between some posts on the specific numbers. I typically went by what that year’s report stated when I wrote that specific section, but technically speaking the following year’s report is probably more accurate.)
It was reported by paidContent that 4Kids had “put itself up for sale.” although 4Kids refused to comment on what they wrote off as rumors.
In Q1 of 2009, their revenue was down, $8.9mil, compared to $15mil in Q1 of 2008. They had a slightly less bad net loss of $2mil reported compared to $6.4mil in Q1 of 2008.
In Q2 of 2009, revenue was $4.4mil, down from Q2 of 2008 with $16.5mil. It suffered a net loss of $13.8mil compared to $5.5mil in Q2 of 2008.
In Q3 of 2009, revenue was $7.27mil, compared to $17.8mil in 2008, with a net loss of $5mil compared to about the same with a loss of $5.3mil in Q3 of 2008.
As the recession was ending, 4Kids was starting to pick up, but there was additional and devastating damage. In Q4 of 2009, 4Kids reported $16.1mil in revenue, up from $12.8mil in 2008, partially because they sold the license to TMNT to Nickelodeon at that time for $9.8mil. However, it also had a net loss of $21.3mil.
Overall, for the year, they had a net revenue of $36,783,000 compared to $57,201,000 in 2008. Their costs were down a little bit with $80,298,000 compared to $88,918,000 in 2008. They would experience a net loss of $52,456,000 compared to a loss of $36,819,000 in 2008.
As previously discussed, one of the big factors there was the $20mil worth of charges related to carrying leftover and returned Chaotic merchandise and their film inventory as well as money still owed to CUSA and Apex for their share of the production costs on the cartoon, However, there were other factors in play as well.
According to Al Kahn, one of the most damaging losses that year was when Lehman Brothers went bankrupt. 4Kids had over $50mil in illiquid auction rate securities at Lehman. In the financial report for 2011, it states that they were filing a proof of claim for $31,500,000 plus interest, which would probably be around $50mil as Kahn claimed. In the end, they settled for a mere $489,000, which means they took a hit of around $49,500,000, which, let me check my notes…..was uh….not good.
In lawsuit land, 4Kids was clearing up their issues with Fox and paid them $6,250,000 in settlement money.
Upper Deck also sued Bryan Gannon, the head of Chaotic USA, TC Digital Games and TC Websites. Gannon used to be an executive at Upper Deck, and they were claiming he used confidential information and trade secrets obtained from his time with Upper Deck (specifically the years 2002-2003) for use in the development of the Chaotic game. However, on October 5, 2009, Upper Deck voluntarily dropped the lawsuit without prejudice.
Jumping into 2010,
Q1 revenue was $4.2mil, TCG returns were basically nothing at $7,000. In fact, overall in its final year, TC Digital Games, TC Websites, IE Chaotic would only earn about $274,000 in 2010 before they all ended with $6,489,000 in total losses for the year.
Q2 revenue was down to $2.5mil, attributed to reduced leftover returns from TMNT and decreased returns on Dinosaur King merch, but Yu-Gi-Oh! was slightly up. Television sales via advertising were also down for both Dinosaur King and Chaotic.
On May 28, 2010, 4Kids was officially suspended from the New York Stock Exchange for failing to maintain an average global market capitalization of at least $15mil over a 30 day trading period. 4Kids would move its trading to the OTC Bulletin Board on June 1 under the symbol KIDE.
Q3 revenue was down from 2009 with $2,986,000 from $5,312,000. This was also the last quarter in which Chaotic was a factor as they had shut down TC Digital Games and TC Websites in September 30, 2010 and discontinued all support for the Chaotic game on October 1, 2010. They hoped doing so would save $1mil per quarter. To put their situation into perspective at this point, they were citing their failing performance on the lower returns from Monster Jam, which is a monster truck rally they had licensing rights to for many years, and the American Kennel Club. However, declining numbers across the board were also cited. Basically, all of their old remaining properties were decreasing in popularity while their new properties just weren’t all that popular from the start.
Q4’s revenue was $4.8mil, which was the best of the year, but this was down drastically from $16.2mil from 2009’s Q4. Expenses were down to $7.4mil compared to $21.3 mil in 2009’s Q4.
In the end of the year, 4Kids had $14,478,000 in revenue, primarily attributed to Yu-Gi-Oh! (44% of revenue) and residuals from Pokemon (21%) compared to $34,180,000 in 2009, and they had a net loss of $31,640,000 compared to $52,456,000 in 2009.
Al Kahn was quoted in the Q4 2009 conference call as saying,
“I guess there is really no covering up that this has been a hideous year for 4Kids and for our shareholders and for our employees.”
He put most of the blame pretty squarely on Chaotic, basically saying that, if he knew then what he knows now in regards to Lehman Brothers going under and the recession, he wouldn’t have taken the big financial risk with Chaotic, especially since it was still technically underperforming a little even without those factors in place.
Even though…like….no shit, Dick Tracy. Most people wouldn’t undertake huge financial risks if they knew a massive economic downturn and a significant financial disaster were on the horizon.
The CW4Kids changed their name to Toonzai, inspired by Toonami, on August 14, 2010. In addition, a new anime title finally arrived on the block – Dragon Ball Z Kai, which was a remastered recut version of the original Dragon Ball Z series with much less filler, fixes to animation issues and widescreen format.
While 4Kids did not dub Kai, Funimation did, the CW/4Kids acquired the broadcast rights to DBZKai, which meant they had to make edits to make it suitable for their broadcast, most notably censoring injuries, blood, violence, coarse language, many incredibly confusing edits and, most famously, changing Mr. Popo to an insanely bright blue color because they considered his character design to be racist in the same vein as Jynx from Pokemon IE blackface.
Looking back, it’s almost like they wanted him to look like Genie from Aladdin.
DBZKai did incredibly well in the ratings, beating out both Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL and reruns of the original Yu-Gi-Oh!, only sitting behind Justice League Unlimited. Despite also airing on Nicktoons at the time, Toonzai airings of the show typically consistently beat out Nicktoon’s viewership of the show, and each block claimed it was their highest-rated show. This was a good move for 4Kids, but a little bit too little too late.
They had hoped there would be some sunshine peeking through the clouds with their next big project – a general audience anime streaming site called Toonzaki.
4Kids launched Toonzaki, on September 15, 2010 after being bombarded with a demand for uncut and subbed content. Toonzaki was a means of granting fans their wishes. Despite some uncut and subbed content already being made available on their Youtube channel, and a few DVD releases, there was a decent-ish amount of hype surrounding the launch.
Believe or not, Toonzaki had many more titles than just 4Kids stuff – several of which were actually aimed towards a more mature audience, such as Fullmetal Alchemist, Trigun, Murder Princess, Descendants of Darkness and Gunslinger Girl. Being clear, they did not own the licenses to any of these titles – they just made streaming agreements with other websites.
I saw numerous comments regarding this praising 4Kids for moving in the right direction, and I agree with that, but I also saw just as many if not more state it was, again, too little too late, and I agree with that too. Some even went so far as to call it “cheating”, since most of Toonzaki’s content was hosted on Hulu, Funimation or Crunchyroll (IE all titles except Yu-Gi-Oh! ones), meaning you didn’t necessarily have to watch most of these titles on Toonzaki. Basically, it felt like 4Kids wanted credit for what other people did, again, barring Yu-Gi-Oh! uncut.
The website had other issues in that, since many of their videos were Hulu embedded videos, no one outside of the US could watch many of their shows. In addition, Toonzaki had a lot of difficulties gaining traction. While having an anime aggregate site was a bit convenient, and some even stated the players from the various websites worked better on Toonzaki, for some reason, whatever hype there was died down quite quickly.
This post made on ANN’s forums to discuss Toonzaki before its premiere got zero comments.
Their Facebook page did okay. They were definitely active, but they barely managed to get into double digit likes on their posts most of the time, and they didn’t get that many comments. Remember, this was back in 2010-2011, back when Facebook was basically at its peak.
It’s Twitter account did way worse with only a few retweets on each tweet and, somehow, a grand total of two likes across their entire timeline, and zero comments.
I don’t know where they even advertised this site. The one print ad I found was for, I think, New York Comic Con….and that was it. No commercials whatsoever. No other print ads. No big announcements – hell, no official announcements period. Nothing.
4Kids was so lazy with this that their blog wasn’t even their blog – it was a blog roll of posts from other websites, like Anime News Network and Anime Shinbun, and nearly all of the articles weren’t even about their anime or website.
When you search “Toonzaki” there’s only eight pages of results, and I’d say 75% of them are mostly unrelated.
There was another thing that I didn’t see brought up anywhere else, but it was bugging me, so, uh, here goes….that naming scheme is awful. The name itself is fine, but as Mark Kirk put it in that interview with ANN from 2010, “Toonzai will also have an online component, which is for the kids, and Toonzaki is essentially its older brother.” Toonzai is literally one letter off from Toonzaki. So any little kid who wants to watch the edited kidified version of 4Kids’ shows from Toonzai (which were hosted on 4Kids.tv) might stumble upon Toonzaki, which had stuff like Deadman Wonderland, Monster, and fucking FIST OF THE NORTH STAR. If you think I’m overreacting, I typoed both names into each other several times while writing this part of the article.
As far as I could tell through the Wayback Machine, there were no parental controls or age confirmation for any of these titles, so they were leaving themselves pretty open to complaints from parents. I know this website was for general audiences, and I know 4Kids kept their logo off it, but it was still a 4Kids product. They should have put this under 4Sight and adopted a more different name. I don’t know how they would have worked the branding or advertising, but it doesn’t work the way they had it set up.
To drive that point even further, they eventually added games to the website….Not saying adults don’t play games, I do all the time, but why would you feel the best addition to your general audience anime streaming site that’s supposedly not, in any way, aimed towards kids would be a bunch of Flash games? It’s not only that they added games to the site – the games they had were completely random games that had absolutely nothing to do with anime. It was ridiculously out of place.
Being completely fair, though, Crunchyroll also had a games section for several years at this point, but many of their games were anime-related, and the section also doubled as general discussion of all PC and console games. In fact, the discussion seemed to take up much more space in that section than the mini-games did. Plus, they never catered to a child audience, so it’s not quite as weird or questionable.
Considering Crunchyroll was legal at this point, and other anime companies such as Funimation and Viz were also streaming anime online, there just wasn’t much of a point to Toonzaki except to watch uncut Yu-Gi-Oh! titles, which had already been made available previously on their Youtube channel, for a time anyway.
After 4Kids went bankrupt, Konami/4K Media got the rights to Toonzaki in the property auction. According to this blog post from a user named Ravegrl, the site was quickly neglected after that and experienced a lot of issues such as broken videos, links and images. The biggest issue came on August 2012 when 4K Media took down all Yu-Gi-Oh! videos to transfer them to another server. For some reason, that transfer caused the entire service to be down for three months. The last update was on April 2013.
On July 24, 2014, Toonzaki shut down for good, again with no announcement, with its URL redirecting to Yugioh.com. Apparently, Konami just wanted to focus on putting the Yu-Gi-Oh! episodes on their own website and had no desire to be an aggregate site for other anime, so Toonzaki was booted.
The Facebook page was sporadically kept alive long after Toonzaki shut its doors purely to promote Yu-Gi-Oh! episodes on Yugioh.com, which kinda feels like putting a neon billboard on a corpse. Konami stopped doing this in 2016, however, leaving Toonzaki to finally rest in peace after living such a brief and uneventful life.
As 4Kids metaphorically moved back home to take Kids WB’s spot on the newly branded CW, things were falling apart at Fox. The executives at Fox were upset with 4Kids since they reportedly had not been paying their lease for the time slot for an undisclosed amount of time. Likewise, 4Kids was upset with Fox for not upholding their part of the contract in stating that 4Kids TV would air on at least 90% of Fox’s affiliate channels, which is actually why they owed them lease money. Since they were not being aired on 90% of the channels, 4Kids demanded Fox pay them a refund of their lease money by $13mil. Fox responded claiming they owed them nothing.
Reportedly, the issue here was that a sizable amount of their channels simply did not want to air the block, and Fox could not force them to air it due to a Right of First Refusal clause in their contracts. Most of Fox’s channels opted to air 4Kids TV, usually the ones that had already previously aired Fox Kids, however, enough channels opted out that it wasn’t meeting contractual obligations with 4Kids. The disputes resulted in litigation being brought up by 4Kids, allowing them early dismissal from their contract by one year. On November 10, 2008, 4Kids announced that 4Kids TV would be ending, and on December 27, 2008, 4Kids TV had its last airing.
4Kids would focus all of its energies on The CW4Kids, and Fox would choose to officially end its Saturday morning cartoon block practices entirely due to too much competition in the market. Instead, the block would be replaced by a series of infomercials later titled The Weekend Marketplace.
While it seemed like 4Kids may have been heading for greener pastures, the grass wound up being awfully brown.
Less than two weeks before the last airing of 4Kids TV, December 17, 2008, 4Kids would lay off 15% of their workforce, citing financial struggles in light of the global financial crisis. As previously stated, Q4 was a particularly nasty blow to them, and 4Kids’ stock had been going downward since 2006. 2007 was a building period for Chaotic, and they were banking on 2008 being so good that it would help them reach higher peaks once more, but that obviously didn’t happen. Compared to 2007, 4Kids’ stock values were awful for nearly the entire year, maxing out at $14.31 a share in Q1, with a lowest point of $1.80 a share in Q4 compared to 2007’s max of $20.31 and lowest point of $10.72. Its earnings were up, with $63,669,000 compared to $55,609,000 in 2007, but so were its expenses and losses with $95,386,000 compared to $81,378,000 in 2007. Overall, they had a year end loss of $36,819,000 compared to $23,326,000 in 2007.
Despite this, Al Kahn was confident 2009 would bring them profit once more. However, his confidence would prove to be misplaced. Their licensing practices were still basically halted as a result of Al Kahn developing negative views on anime and Japan at this point. Their only remaining anime titles were Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, which would soon suddenly transition to Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds on September 13, 2008, and Dinosaur King. Any other titles that aired on the block had either already ended their run (Cubix, Sonic X), were ending this year (DoReMi, Kirby, Viva Pinata) or were running out of steam (Kirby’s rights were up in 2009, TMNT would end in 2009, Winx Club would have its license revoked in 2009). Cartoon-wise, they still had Chaotic too, but, well, we know what happened there.
4Kids did have a new Russian show to dub called GoGoRiki, originally titled Smeshariki or Kikoriki which would do alright, garnering two seasons, but 4Kids dropped it after that since it was already in dire financial straits. Mark Kirk stated in the 2010 ANN interview that he didn’t really view Gogoriki as a major failure as one person on Twitter accused, because, as he saw it, the show served the purpose of providing the block’s educational and informative requirements.
In terms of purely broadcast rights, 4Kids grandfathered over a lot of titles from Kids WB such as The Spectacular Spider-Man, The Batman, Magi-Nation and Johnny Test. The only show they acquired that year that didn’t also air on Kids WB was Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight, which wouldn’t officially premiere until 2009, but had a preview aired on December 13, 2008. However, the show was dropped by the time 2009 was over, due to low ratings, opting to air the final episodes on 4Kids.tv.
Considering Yu-Gi-Oh! was one of their last big earners, there was a lot riding on 5Ds (Hehe, motorcycle puns.) For the first time, 5Ds would introduce an entirely new system to the card game and the anime called Synchro Summoning, hoping that this new mechanic would, again, help breathe new life into the franchise. Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds’ dub was not received well. It’s considered the worst Yu-Gi-Oh! dub done by 4Kids, with numerous rewrites, personality changes, several episodes being skipped, subplots being skipped, and heavily editing the Crash Town arc to the point where they omitted the ending of the final duel.
In a serious case of Deja Vu, 5Ds would also be canceled, leaving its final season undubbed and unaired. There were several reasons for this – none of which I can properly verify, except maybe the last one, so fair warning.
The first was that 5Ds’ ratings were not doing so well, and the new cards were also not selling as well. It wasn’t a failure or anything, but it was performing under what they had predicted.
The second reason was that 4Kids was behind in production again, and Konami was pressuring them to dub Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL.
The third was the
We’re not quite around to discussing that in full yet, but, at the time that the fourth season was airing, TV Tokyo and NAS had terminated their deal with 4Kids over Yu-Gi-Oh! and sued them due to “underpayments, wrongful deductions, and unmet obligations.” However, I’m not sure that had a whole lot of bearing on the cancellation. 4Kids seemed like they were already entirely focused on ZEXAL during the lawsuit with no concern over 5Ds or mention of it at all, so I think it’s safe to assume it just suffered the same fate for the same reasons as GX.
Nevertheless, 5Ds ended abruptly and without fanfare. Unlike with GX, fans seem to be grateful for this as they don’t look too kindly on the dub very much, citing the theme songs as being pretty much the only good things to come out of it.
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