Some English dubs of anime go a bit further than necessary when translating the script.
The anime community will most likely always be split down the middle in the debate of "dubs versus subs," as everyone has their preferences. While some prefer to watch their anime closer to its original format with subtitles, there are plenty of great dubs out there that capture the original dialogue and localize it for the English-speaking audience.
That being said, some English dubs go a bit further than necessary when translating the script. For better or worse, this can range from editing out lines of dialogue that Western culture would be less likely to understand, censoring certain things for younger viewers, or going so far off course that the dub is a completely different anime from its source.
Prison School is already an out-there concept as it is, with its five main characters who are arrested by the student council and are forced to serve time in the academy's prison block. That premise alone already prepares viewers for the bizarre things these characters will go through and sets up a suspension of disbelief, but somehow the English dub managed to catch many off-guard.
In a scene from Prison School where Shingo and Anzu are at the arcade, a reference to the infamous "Gamergate" controversy is thrown into the mix. On top of being an off-color joke, this also came off as an unnecessary change from the original dialogue since the scene wasn't even close to that same subject.
Filled with action and adventure, Digimon is fondly remembered as an early anime for many, especially the original Digimon Adventure story and characters. Many Digimon fans noticed all the little differences between the Japanese version and the localized English version because they stood out.
The Saban dub of Digimon is remembered by many for its excessive amount jokes that were shoehorned into the dialogue, which could at times end up being wildly out of place. This dub persisted through Adventure, Adventure 02, and even Tamers, though the forced humor slowly petered out as it went along.
Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid sees the life of Kobayashi and the people around her have their lives change after the dragon, Tohru, and her many friends take up residence in the human world. It's a slice-of-life anime with heart-warming characters and cute humor. Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid occasionally touches on some mature subjects, though the English dub has a moment that delves into political commentary.
In the twelfth episode of the first season of Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Lucoa changes her outfit to tone down the exposure, which in the dub version leads to a joke about "patriarchal demands." This moment, in particular, became infamous as many didn't think it fit with the rest of the anime's humor or characters on top of it just coming out of nowhere.
While the original story of Yu-Gi-Oh! could be pretty dark, that tone was cranked down a bit by the time it became all about Duel Monsters. That being said, there were still plenty of things that 4Kids Entertainment thought were too much for young audiences and censored as they were localizing the anime for the US.
4Kids' Yu-Gi-Oh! created new lines for characters to sidestep certain subjects like death (replaced with being sent to "The Shadow Realm") as well as some weirdly out-of-place humor and some edited dialogue that was seemingly changed for no reason and ended up making no sense in context. This trend would continue after the original series, too, with both GX and 5D's.
Featuring a platoon of incompetent alien invaders, Sgt. Frog isn't exactly the most serious anime. Following the many failed attempts of Keroro and company to take over Earth, this series already has a lot of humor on its own to go off of, but the English dub tried stepping it up a bit regardless.
As such, Sgt. Frog's dub has a habit of changing the original script quite frequently and injects it with as many jokes as they can cram in and tons of pop culture references, which can come off as a bit jarring at times.
4Kids was infamous for how it localized and censored certain anime titles in order to make them more child-friendly, but none probably got it worse than One Piece. Given the level of violence as well as mature themes and humor that the franchise is known for having, 4Kids had to edit a lot of the anime to keep those things hidden.
On top of things like rifles, cigarettes, and blood being censored, new lines of dialogue were also added to One Piece to recontextualize certain scenes or just to explain the awkward edits, such as Nami's fake execution of Usopp and the "iceberg" that replaced Laboon.
With its two leads locked in a never-ending battle of wits to see who can get the other to confess their feelings first, Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War is both wildly out-there and hilarious in both its subbed and dubbed versions. That being said, its English dub ends up adding a few lines to the script here and there that make it feel even more over-the-top than the original.
Unlike certain other examples, the added dialogue actually ends up enhancing the comedy of Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War, rather than getting in its way. The added dialogue is bolstered by the cast's stellar delivery, especially the narrator. Despite this, none of these changes feel too forced or disrupt the anime's more serious and dramatic moments.
There were many attempts to capitalize on the trading card game anime craze Yu-Gi-Oh! popularized, though few of them ever got close to outshining it. In its original format, Duel Masters wasn't really much more than the standard Yu-Gi-Oh! clone and all the trappings that came with it. Its English dub, however, pretty much threw out the rule book and did something completely different.
The English dub of Duel Masters is a wacky and ridiculous fourth-wall-breaking comedy that's both a parody of itself and anime clichés. While it only just barely still resembles its card game focus, there was an effort to make this dub stand out from similar anime.
While Samurai Pizza Cats may still share a lot with its source material of Kyatto Ninden Teyandee, they aren't exactly the same anime. The Saban dub of Samurai Pizza Cats takes advantage of its out-there setting that mixes feudal Japan with both modern and futuristic technology with anthropomorphic animals and runs rampant with zany humor.
On top of plenty of puns — a lot of them pizza-related — and fourth-wall breaks, Samurai Pizza Cats leans into its humor with reckless abandon and became something of a cult classic.
Ghost Stories was a supernatural horror anime involving a bunch of kids who would come into contact with various spooky and otherworldly forces. However, it lacked scares as well as memorable stories and characters. ADV saw an opportunity when they got the rights to the anime and basically turned it into something completely different.
ADV's Ghost Stories dub is an "anything goes" kind of comedy that turns its source material inside out and reimagines it with as many mature — sometimes offensive — and fourth-wall-breaking jokes as possible to hilarious results. With how unapologetically crude and in-your-face this cult classic anime was, there may never be another English dub quite like Ghost Stories'.
Ethan Supovitz is a long time fan of comics, anime, and video games, which inspired him to write about them. Formerly, he was a writer for The Source, a comic book/superhero news site that was owned by the website Superherostuff. Currently, Ethan is an Anime List Writer for Valnet Inc. over at Comic Book Resources. He considers himself a «well-rounded nerd» who has an interest in many different kinds of media. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org