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 (seasons 1 through 8). They were also in charge of English productions for a number of other anime series, as well as creating original series from 1997 to 2013. Among anime fans, the company was notorious for its heavy editing of Japanese versions of series such as One Piece and Yu-Gi-Oh. However, Pokémon is among its most faithful adaptations. The company also handled licensing for many other Nintendo products and properties, including F-Zero and Kirby, until the licensing agreement expired in 2005.
4Kids was in charge of dubbing the Pokémon anime for English language audiences for the first eight seasons. Despite their massive contributions to the anime and the Pokémon franchise as a whole, there have been many critics. Some fans felt that some important information, facts, or emotions expressed in the original version were lost in translation. Frequent move errors, type matchup errors, and most infamously, poor quality in the Pokémon Trainer's Choice segments have led fans to believe 4Kids had very little knowledge or interest in the Pokémon franchise.
While they were the producer of the dub, 4Kids did not start dubbing the series at their own studio until 2003, where they took it from TAJ Productions. Their first dubbed episode in-house was Address Unown!.
Starting with the TV special The Mastermind of Mirage Pokémon and continuing from season 9 onward, Pokémon USA (now known as The Pokémon Company International) maintained the English language version of the Pokémon anime. Beginning in May 2008, 4Kids took control of the Kids' WB! block. The block was relabeled as The CW4Kids. 4Kids announced that, in order to retain control of The CW4Kids, 4KidsTV would move online instead of airing through FOX affiliates as of January 1, 2009. This block was later replaced with Toonzai, which was also owned by 4Kids. In 2012, 4Kids also ended the Toonzai block. Saban Brands then created the block called Vortexx, claiming Toonzai's previous timeslot. This block was cancelled in 2014. As of 2015, many 4Kids television dubs no longer air on American television, with the exception of the early seasons of Pokémon and the Pokémon movies that they dubbed.
On June 1, 2010, the New York Stock Exchange delisted 4Kids from their listings.
TV Tokyo and Nihon Ad Systems sued 4Kids Entertainment on March 24, 2011 due to "underpayments, wrongful deductions, and unmet obligations" concerning the Yu-Gi-Oh franchise. TV Tokyo and Nihon claimed that 4Kids' collaboration with Funimation Entertainment violated their original contract and enabled 4Kids to hide income amassed from home video production. They sought $4,792,460.36 USD in damages as a result.  In the midst of the lawsuit, 4Kids filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection on April 6, 2011. The lawsuit was settled on February 29, 2012, with 4Kids retaining rights to the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise after a judge ruled that TV Tokyo and NAS had improperly terminated their agreement with 4Kids.
In June of 2012, Saban Brands purchased the rights to several of 4Kids' anime properties, including Dragon Ball Z, Sonic X, Cubix, and the Toonzai block. Rights to the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise were sold to Konami, who also acquired 4Kids Productions and reincorporated it as 4K Media.
On December 5, 2012, 4Kids Entertainment announced that it had ended a dispute over the so-called Pokémon agreement with The Pokémon Company International, under which TPCi would get a $1 million general, unsecured claim against the debtor.
On December 13, 2012, 4Kids announced that they exited their bankruptcy and would be reworking the structure of their company.
On December 21, 2012, 4Kids was reincorporated as 4Licensing Corporation and no longer licensed anime.
On September 21, 2016, 4Kids filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This bankruptcy plan has been in effect as of February 7, 2017.
In-house voice directors
Common complaints from fans concern 4Kids' tendency to edit some parts of the anime programming to make it more appropriate for the American audience, primarily children and pre-teenagers. These edits can be broken down into several 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 have been called a variety of things from donuts to popcorn balls.
- Dialog edits: Sometimes a character's lines were edited so as to change the meaning. For example, in The Legend of Thunder!'s dub, Attila is Hun's new partner, whereas they had known each other for years in the original.
- Puns: Occasionally, puns made were lost in translation. Frequently, puns would be inserted instead where they were not before, such as in Electric Shock Showdown, where Meowth pun-ishes Jessie and James. Puns were also used in the episode titles, a practice which The Pokémon Company International decided to continue.
- Music edits: In the first three 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. All original music was kept from the fourth movie onward, excluding openings and endings and the title screen music for the fourth and fifth movies. From seasons four to eight (including Pokémon Chronicles), 4Kids replaced most of the Japanese music with their own music.
- Paint edits: Paint edits were usually made to remove Japanese text, but they were also done for things such as turning an onigiri into a sandwich in Judgment Day!.
- Cuts: Some scenes were removed completely, sometimes due to time constraints. Often, however, they were removed in the name of censorship, such as with James's breast scene in Beauty and the Beach or in cases of 'excessive' violence.
- Scene switches: Occasionally, scenes were moved around. For example, several attacks are performed out of order in The Evolutionary War!.
- Motto: Team Rocket's motto usually changed slightly in each episode in the dub, yet, in most cases, it stayed exactly the same in the original.
- Openings/endings: 4Kids created their own openings using their own music. While the original had its own unique ending, the dub would either simply run a shorter version of the opening along the left side of the screen or use an instrumental version of the opening song for the ending.
- Who's That Pokémon?: Often, the Pokémon, layout, and presentation were different in the original. During the first season, the Pokémon were usually the same as in the Japanese version. In the second and third seasons, the segment mostly had a Pokémon starring in the following episode. From seasons four to six, the Pokémon were completely random. 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 shown in the early seasons of the dub were not present in the original.
Logo used on Pokémon: The First Movie, with "Productions" replaced by "Entertainment".
- 4Kids Entertainment official site (defunct)
- 4Licensing Corporation official site
- Anime News Network article announcing the moving of dub production from 4Kids to Pokémon USA.
- Wikipedia article