There have been a few different English renditions of the popular Anime One piece. But two that are the most talked about are the 4kids and Funimation dubs. Which one is better isn’t really a matter of debate for me. I think Funimation has done and is doing a much better job. There are quite a few differences between the 4kids and Funimation Dub. I believe the Funimation Dub honors the Toei Japan Original because of the censorship in the episodes, the translated lines used from Japanese to English, and the overall togetherness of the show as a whole.
The Censorship between these two compared to the original are like comparing Identical twins to fraternal twins. Starting off with 4Kids, while it took a bit of digging, I did notice a few differences that I never noticed as a child. I noticed that 4Kids made quite a few edits, more often than not the edits were not needed. This show is one of the more graphic shows that 4Kids acquired and as such had to be edited to fit the “demographic” that they were aiming for. Because of that the edits I came across were very noticeable when looking back. 4Kids not only edited out blood and severe bruising where is should be apparent; they changed the weapons used or what the character was holding when doing a certain action. In episodes where the give background on the Straw Hat Pirates there is more than a few graphic scenes that were “written out” such as Nami’s adoptive mother being shot in the head (4Kids Vs Funimation: Arlong Kills Bellemere Dub Comparison #89), the death of Zoro’s childhood friend Kuina who had fallen down a flight of stairs, and Usopp losing his mother to illness.While others like the loss of a limb from Shanks, to protect Luffy from being eaten by a sea monster, or by Zeff, sacrificing his leg as food for himself and giving all the food he saved to Sanji as they were standed at sea were left in, they kept those in but edited out all the blood. Going back to the Death of characters, they never mentioned it in the show but made some situations, like Kuina’s, worse by claiming she slipped into a coma after being brutally assaulted (4Kids Entertainment). They did edit one of the main seven characters, Sanji the Cook, “iconic” trait. When Sanji is introduced in the 4Kids version he is seen with a lollipop in his mouth, but later on in one of the combat scenes he has a lit cigarette (4Kids Announces Fox Box Schedule). Having done a compare and contrast of 4kids and Funimation it is seen that Sanji does smoke in the original Japanese and Funimation versions(4kids Vs Funimation: Sanji and Kuroobi Talk Smack Dub Comparison #109). A few other edits were minor and done to make the show appear less offensive. Changing of a characters “race” or name. The edits done to these characters were minor when you are not paying attention to them in particular. However, they will have become much harder to hide later on if they kept the rights to the series or watch the Funimation/Toei Versions. As far as Funimation’s censorship goes they didn’t edit out too much when they got the rights to the title in June 2007. With the new title in hand they went through a cast change for all the characters. They did however keep they name changes and edits in the TV aired episodes on Toonami to keep to the 4kids “Casual viewers”. However, after being cancelled from the Toonami block in America back in 2009 it was added back into the mix and started at the beginning. When Funimation had picked up the rights to One Piece they had a very strict deadline to meet after 4kids left the picture in September 2009. While they adhered to the edits and name changes they have since changed back to the original content with the release of Uncut Versions of the TV series.
Much like any foreign film it needed to under go some kind of translation.With five other shows under their belt 4kids also acquired One Piece. Aside from the visual edits, the translation from Japanese to English wasn’t an easy road since they wanted the show to be “child-friendly”. More than a dozen jokes about the characters’ quirks where either written out in scenes or just lost in translation and replaced. A few characters had minor name changes to keep confusion to other works to a minimum, like Zoro was changed to Zolo. On the other hand, other characters’ names were changed to something completely different. For example, there is a character named Miss Merry Christmas was changed to Miss Groundhog’s Day and had her “Iconic” tree-shaped tie changed from green to purple(4Kids Entertainment). Other translations were the removal of all kanji and even some English words that showed up on screen, either to be replaced like, Marine to Navy, or just erased altogether. Other translations “issue” was renaming of techniques or attack moves used that were not in English, were changed to something completely different, mistranslated or just changed to something more American like Onigiri (Rice ball) to Chocolate chip cookie. For example, Sanji’s attacks are French cooking terms but got changed to food-based puns(4Kids Entertainment). After picking up the rights Funimation not only re-translated the Japanese dialogue but they also kept to the jokes and names as best they could so long as it wasn’t a play on the Japanese language itself (i.e. Onigiri means Rice ball, but Zoro has an attack named Oni Giri). To avoid that they often changed the food to the American translation and kept the attack moves the same. In the uncut version of the show Funimation shows the original content of the show without the missing signage in the show as well as adhering to the “heart” of the Toei script, leaving very little to be missed either in content or translation.
When watching a show not many think about it but how well the show comes across as a whole is crucial. Are there any plot holes? Does anything contradict a previous episode? As far as the wholeness that 4kids has; I have to say that after re-watching the series from the uncut Funimation version and the Original Toei version, the show they displayed is full of plotholes that would have been exposed later on or caused vital characters to be either missed or be crudely added in with next to no explanation with the character’s background. They tried to keep up with the popularity of characters or just skipped crucial episodes that play a role later on in the series, although given the time they had for the title it was hard to determine where the author was going with the story, they still cut out crucial information. In the original and Funimation versions of the show, Nami gets bitten by a prehistoric bug after her and the crew travel to the Prehistoric island of Little Garden and falls ill and is treated in the next arc, where the sixth member is introduced, by Dr. Kureha. However, in the 4kids version she would get sick from “Grand Line Fever” only to get contradict it by letting Dr. Kureha ask her if she had been walking around on a prehistoric island (4Kids Entertainment).
The story plot holes aside, the voice direction given was either half hearted or just misinterpreted as characters in certain serious scenes would either “miss” the mood or be completely. Couple that with badly translated or edited lines and you have a bad scene in a show. The Soundtrack for the show was American made and would often play music that fit poorly with the serious scenes. This generally happened a lot as 4kids would tone down the more serious and emotionally intense scenes. (4Kids Entertainment.) In a few other mediums, 4kids failed in continuity of their story they fabricated, though it is irrelevant to this topic. For 4kids to get or be this sloppy, with what Japan considers to be a “treasured” title, seems disrespectful to the author. Far be it for me to accused them of such. They did what they thought was best and had something to show the kids after picking up the title. I feel like Funimation is much more grounded to the original story. True while they released episodes where 4kids left off, leaving myself and others confused with the cast change more than confused, they did a better job of conveying the emotions and characters (Voice Compare: One Piece). Not only did they pick up where 4kids left off as I have mentioned before they also backtracked and recorded the original 143 episodes, including the 104 episodes 4kids did. They filled in the Plot holes created by 4kids, delved into greater detail of the Straw Hat Pirates’ tragic pasts, and kept the original Soundtracks (to the point of doing English covers of the opening and ending credits).
All in all, I give 4kids credit for what they made and don’t blame them for doing the edits they made but Funimation did a much better job of adhering to the original Japanese version.