4Kids Entertainment

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4Kids Entertainment
2nd 4kids logo.png
The company's former logo
Founded April 28, 1970
Defunct February 7, 2017
Headquarters New York, New York, USA
Type Public
Industry Licensing, Television

United States: 4licensingcorp.com (archived)

4Kids Entertainment was an American company that specialized in licensing and producing English-language versions of anime and other non-English media. They were the exclusive licensing agent for merchandise, TV, and home video rights for Pokémon outside of Asia from 1998[1] to 2005.[2] They were the main producers of English-language Pokémon anime content during that period, and a number of dubs in other languages have been based around their work. The rights 4Kids once had are now held by The Pokémon Company International.

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.


4Kids and Nintendo of America had been business partners since 1987, when the company was known as Leisure Concepts.[3] 4Kids licensed the Pokémon anime after a February 1997 trip to ShoPro's offices,[4] and their plans to dub it in English were revealed shortly after the "Pokémon Shock" incident.[1] The anime was announced at NATPE 1998[5] and production started the following May at TAJ Productions. The anime premiered on September 7 in syndication, with an order of 52 episodes.[6] Shortly after this, 4Kids sub-licensed the anime to parties in other parts of the world like Canada, Latin America, and Europe.[7][8][9] At the same time, 4Kids served as a licensing agent for Pokémon merchandise on behalf of Nintendo of America.[10]

Prior agreements 4Kids had with Nintendo were replaced with two new ones in October 2001; one was with the newly-formed Pokémon USA and gave 4Kids the same Pokémon rights they always had,[11] while the other was with Nintendo of America and gave 4Kids some exclusive licensing rights for other Nintendo properties (like F-Zero and Kirby) outside of Japan.[12] Additionally, 4Kids continued to outsource Pokémon dubbing projects to TAJ until 2003, when they took it in-house (their first dubbed episode in-house was Address Unown!).

By the time their deal with Pokémon USA expired in 2005,[2] 4Kids' English Pokémon anime productions included the first 8 seasons of the TV show, the first 8 movies, a few specials and games, several English theme songs, the Pokérap, songs that appeared in Pikachu's Jukebox and Pokémon Karaokémon, and the 2.B.A. Master album. Pokémon USA (now known as The Pokémon Company International) took over 4Kids' Pokémon-related roles after the expiration; their first anime productions were the TV special The Mastermind of Mirage Pokémon and season 9 of the show.

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.

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 as a whole.


In May 2008, Kids' WB! was replaced with The CW4Kids (later known as Toonzai), a block ran entirely by 4Kids. On March 24, 2011, TV Tokyo and Nihon Ad Systems sued 4Kids Entertainment due to "underpayments, wrongful deductions, and unmet obligations" concerning the Yu-Gi-Oh franchise. TV Tokyo and NAS 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.[13] 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.[14]

In June 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. Toonzai was replaced by the Saban-run Vortexx, and it lasted until 2014. 4Kids reincorporated as 4Licensing Corporation in December 2012, and continued to exist until a Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan of theirs went into effect on February 7, 2017.

In-house dubbing projects

In-house voice directors

Typical edits

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.

External links


Save Our Voice ActorsThe Mastermind of Mirage Pokémon
Maddie BlausteinEric StuartVeronica Taylor
Pokémon USA/TPCi4Kids EntertainmentSupport Our Cast And Crew

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