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TokyoTreat Japanese Snacks BlogPokemon Jelly Donuts: 5 Hilarious Localized Anime Food Fails

Pokemon Jelly Donuts: 5 Hilarious Localized Anime Food Fails

By Alana
September 03, 2021

When anime was first introduced in the US, TV networks tried to adapt it to a Western audience, sometimes failing spectacularly. In part, these changes were due to the US networks’ overly restrictive regulations on children’s TV shows. But some of these changes were simply ridiculous. 

It’s one thing to get rid of guns, but it’s another to transform them into spring-loaded hammers. Fortunately, now that we have Funimation’s uncensored anime dubs, we can look back at these 10 localization fails and laugh.

The Infamous Pokemon Jelly Donuts

Two plain rice balls with black seaweed wrapped around them on a wooden tray on a table

Image via Shutterstock

This is the dub that launched a thousand memes. The English version of the Pokemon episode Primape Goes Bananas introduced us to the cute fighting-type Pokemon Primeape and an iconic localization meme. In this episode, as Brock holds a tray of rice balls, he happily declares: ​​"These donuts are great. Jelly filled are my favorite."

When 4Kids decided to refer to rice balls, or Japanese onigiri, as donuts, they thought they were adapting the show to a US audience. Instead, they confused an entire generation, leaving them wondering why white triangles with black squares were being called donuts. Fortunately the dub was fixed in more recent versions, clearing up the confusion. And now the generation who was kept ignorant of onigiri is eager to try the delicious Japanese snack.

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Pokemon Pizza Pizzaz

In the second episode of the Pokemon anime, Pokemon Emergency, you can spot a pot of boiling ramen next to Professor Oak. In the Japanese version, at the end of the scene, the professor ends his call after his ramen is overcooked. However, in the English dub, Professor Oak says that his pizza has arrived, with no mention of the noodles cooking on screen.

4Kids may have thought that a Western audience wouldn’t know about ramen. But their decision is a little odd, considering that instant ramen had been available in the states since the 1970s. We’re lucky the English version of Naruto didn’t change Uzumaki Naruto’s favorite food from ramen to pizza too!

When One Piece Lost the Plot

A wall of One Piece characters' wanted posters on a wall in a One Piece cafe.

Image via Shutterstock

When 4Kids tried to adapt One Piece to American TV, they were faced with the challenge of turning a show full of epic bloody battles with actual stakes (like tragic character deaths) into a Tom and Jerry-esque cartoon. They eliminated all the pirates’ guns, replacing them with water pistols, finger guns, or, once, a ridiculous spring-loaded hammer. They also avoided mentioning character deaths, including deaths that took place in the past, like that of Belle-mère, Nami’s adoptive mother.

Most unforgivable of all though was the omission of entire arcs, including the Reverse Mountain Arc, Warship Island Arc, Goat Island Arc, and the Little Garden Arc. This resulted in a cascade of changes, as 4Kids then had to rewrite even more plot points just to cover up the plot holes caused by leaving out these arcs.

The Home For Infinite Losers

Dragon Ball Z also had many edits, including reducing the amount of violence in a show centered around fighting. One of the most amusing, however, was the adaptation of Goku’s trip to the underworld. After Goku falls off the Snake Way, he ends up in Hell.

There, he must defeat two ogres (Japanese oni) before he can escape. In the Japanese version of the show, the ogres have “HELL” written in caps on their shirts, just in case you forget.

 However, in both the Ocean Group and Nicktoons versions of Dragon Ball Z, the word “HELL” is digitally altered to read “HFIL”. The editing team also decided that HFIL should be an acronym for “Home For Infinite Losers”, one of the silliest names in Dragon Ball Z history, which is saying a lot for a show where many of the characters are named after vegetables. 

This absolutely ridiculous name makes it impossible to take Goku’s trip to the afterlife seriously. In the same vein of avoiding religious references, the character “Mr. Satan” is changed to “Hercule” in the show’s English version.

A Dragon Ball Z figure of Goku in a shop with a background of lights.

Image via Shutterstock

Sailor Moon’s Flirtatious Cousins 

In the Japanese version of Sailor Moon (in both the anime and the manga), Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus have a flirtatious lesbian relationship. This was a huge step forward for the portrayal of LGTBQ relationships in the media. 

Unfortunately, DiC Entertainment’s US dub of the anime decided to explain away the two Sailor Scouts’ close relationship by calling them cousins instead. However, they kept in scenes full of longing stares, hand-holding, and flirtatious conversations, giving the relationship between two “cousins” very strange undertones.

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Author avatar
Alana

Alana is a freelance writer living in Tokyo. Her hobbies include watching anime, eating Japanese sweets, and learning about yōkai, creatures from Japanese folklore. She even runs a site about Japanese folklore called Yokai Street. You can also find her on Twitter @marie_kitsunebi or on LinkedIn.

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