4Kids Entertainment was an American company which was responsible for the production of the English-language version of the Pokémon anime from 1998 until 2005 (effectively seasons 1 through 8). They also handle English production for a number of other anime series as well as creating original series. Among anime fans the company is notorious for its heavy editing of series such as One Piece and Yu-Gi-Oh; however Pokémon is actually among its most faithful adaptations. The company also handled licensing for not only Pokémon, but many Nintendo products until they let the licensing agreement expire in 2006.
Starting with the TV special The Mastermind of Mirage Pokémon and continuing through season 9 onward, Pokémon USA (now known as The Pokémon Company International), would be handling the English-language version of the Pokémon anime. Beginning in May 2008, 4Kids took control of the Kids' WB! block. The block is now known as The CW 4Kids. 4Kids announced that in order to retain control of TheCW4Kids, 4KidsTV will move online instead of being on FOX affiliates as of January 1, 2009.
On May 19, 2010, the New York Stock Exchange announced that 4Kids would be delisted from its listings.
In April, 2011, 4Kids filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.
A common complaint from fans was centered around 4Kids' tendency to edit some parts of the anime programming to make it more appropriate for the American audience it hopes it will achieve. There are a variety of types of edits, which can be broken down into these categories:
- Cultural changes - Scenes relating to Japanese culture were often edited to be more accessible to American audiences. One example of this is the renaming of onigiri, which has been called a variety of things, from donuts to popcorn balls.
- Dialog edit - Sometimes a character's lines are edited so as to change the meaning. For example, in The Legend of Thunder!, dub Attila is Hun's new partner, whereas they had known each other for years in the original.
- Puns - Occasionally, a pun is made in the original that is lost in translation. More commonly, however, puns are put in where they were not before, such as in Electric Shock Showdown where Meowth pun-ishes Jessie and James. Puns were used as well in the episode titles, a practice which The Pokémon Company International decided to continue until the start of the Best Wishes series.
- Music edit - In the Indigo League and Orange Islands seasons (and some of the movies), 4Kids kept most of the original Japanese music in the dub and added their own pieces to fill moments of silence in the series. All original music was kept beginning with movie 4, though the title screen music was changed for movies 4 and 5. Then, from the Johto League season to the Battle Frontier season (including Pokémon Chronicles), 4Kids replaced most of the Japanese music with their own music.
- Paint edit - Usually this is when Japanese text is removed, but it can be used for other things such as physically turning an onigiri into a sandwich in Judgment Day!.
- Cut - Sometimes a scene is removed completely. This is sometimes done for time constraints. Often, however, it is done as censorship, such as in James' breast scene in Beauty and the Beach or in the case of 'excessive' violence.
- Scene Switch - Occasionally, scenes are moved around, For example, several attacks are performed out of order in The Evolutionary War!.
- Motto - Team Rocket's motto usually changes slightly in each episode in the dub, yet in most cases it is exactly the same in the original.
- Opening/Ending - 4Kids create their own openings, using their own music. While the original has its own unique ending, the dub just has a shorter version of the opening along the left side of the screen.
- Who's That Pokémon? - Often, the Pokémon, layout, and presentation are different in the original. Although this feature stopped in Japan at the end of the Johto saga, it continued through Pokémon: Advanced in the dub. For Pokémon: Advanced Challenge, this was replaced by Trainer's Choice.
- Pokérap/Pikachu's Jukebox/Pokémon Karaokémon - These music video segments which were shown in the early seasons of the dub were not present in the original.
- Official Site
- Anime News Network article announcing the moving of dub production from 4Kids to Pokémon USA.
- Wikipedia article