Sorry, 4K Media is Not Producing a New Yu-Gi-Oh! English Redub

April 2, 2016 at 6:30 am | Posted in Duel Monsters, Other Stuff, Yu-Gi-Oh! | 5 Comments
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April 1 has come and gone, yet there is still one Yu-Gi-Oh! prank that is making the rounds, fooling many while bearing the names of Kazuki Takahashi, NAS, TV Tokyo, and Konami. Have you seen it? It’s a video containing an all-new English dub of episode 1 of Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters. The video is very well made and the hoax and the reactions have been very entertaining. Many Yu-Gi-Oh! fans are still smitten by the episode and touting it as a legitimate product, but April Fools’ Day is over everywhere now so the truth ought to be revealed. I won’t be posting the episode here because it contains too much copyrighted content for me to be able to protect myself with a fair use defense, but interested viewers can find it easily using Google.

The episode, purportedly produced to celebrate Yu-Gi-Oh!’s 20th anniversary, is garnering a lot of attention because of its faithfulness to the original Japanese version and the quality of its production. Its dialogue is very loyal to that of the original and the writing flows very well, unlike 4Kids Entertainment’s short-lived “Yu-Gi-Oh! Uncut” DVD line from 2004. It also contains all of the original Japanese music. And while the mixing isn’t perfect, it’s done well enough that many viewers are insisting that it’s the real McCoy.

Except it’s not. To the fervent Yu-Gi-Oh! anime fans out there who want so hard to believe that something like this could be in the works, I sympathize with you. It is obvious that mounds of care and effort went into producing the video. And to the viewers who still refuse to believe that this is an elaborate hoax, I’m sorry to have to burst your bubble but it’s just not right to insist that this video is something that it is not, even more so because it bears the names of the Yu-Gi-Oh! owners.

While longtime followers of the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime and franchise can quickly spot the signs of a fake product, such a task might be challenging to the casual fan. This post will highlight a few ways to identify the video as a fan-made production, not a genuine product from 4K Media.

Let’s begin by looking at the copyright notices watermarked on the video.

Screenshot from the Yu-Gi-Oh! April Fools English dub hoax video

Japanese licensors are notoriously demanding when it comes to getting the details of the copyright information correct. In this regard, the video’s creators make three glaring errors.

The first is that the middle copyright notice — © 2016 NAS  TV TOKYO — is not supposed to be there. No such line appears in the English-language production of the original Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters anime. The Japanese licensors NAS and TV Tokyo are first named in the copyright notice for the production of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX and continue to appear in series subsequent to that one. But they don’t appear for the first series. Why not? Who knows. Ask them. For the sake of clarity, the copyright notices that appear in each of the five Yu-Gi-Oh! anime series are as follows:

Yu-Gi-Oh!
© 1996 Kazuki Takahashi

Yu-Gi-Oh! GX
© 1996 Kazuki Takahashi
© 2004 NAS · TV TOKYO

Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s
© 1996 Kazuki Takahashi
© 2008 NAS · TV TOKYO

Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL
© 1996 Kazuki Takahashi
© 2011 NAS · TV TOKYO

Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V
© 1996 Kazuki Takahashi
© 2014 NAS · TV TOKYO

But let’s assume for a moment that that middle copyright notice is supposed to be there. Let’s assume that the licensors decided they want that 2016 line in there because this dub is a new production being created this year. That sounds very reasonable. But this leads to a second error. Even if that were the case, that middle copyright line is still incorrect because it is missing an interpunct (middle dot), which is present in the copyright lines for all of the Yu-Gi-Oh! spin-off anime. Yes, this seemingly small detail matters to the Japanese licensors and you would be surprised what a big deal such a mistake is. (Listen to Anime News Network’s ANNCast episode 249 to hear a short discussion about the topic of making errors in copyright notices.)

The third error is that the third copyright notice — © 2016 Konami Digital Entertainment — does not belong there. Such a line is not present in any of the other anime series. Not only that, Konami Digital Entertainment (KDE) doesn’t even own the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime production rights; 4K Media does. While KDE and 4K Media are indeed both companies owned by the Konami parent company, the two are separate entities that own and manage separate aspects of the Yu-Gi-Oh! property. KDE handles the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game and video games, not the anime. Thus, the third copyright line is completely out of place there.

Next, let’s turn our attention to the contents of the video itself. The episode begins by displaying the Yu-Gi-Oh! 20th anniversary logo created in Japan. This logo appears in Yu-Gi-Oh! anime broadcasts in Japan.

Japanese Yu-Gi-Oh! 20th anniversary logo from the Yu-Gi-Oh! April Fools English dub hoax video

The intention of the logo seems to be to inform the viewer that this new dub is being produced to celebrate the franchise’s 20th anniversary. However, this does not make sense in the context of the English production because the English-language debut of Yu-Gi-Oh! came in 2001, which makes 2016 the English-language franchise’s 15th anniversary. And indeed, in all of 4K Media’s press materials released this year thus far, the company has noted that the anime is celebrating its 15th anniversary, not its 20th. 4K Media has not used the Japanese 20th anniversary logo at all. So, it does not make sense for that logo to appear in this episode.

Furthermore, take note of the frame of the video, which has been cut in a very unusual way. Namely, the black bars that appear to the left and right of the picture are gone. However, the picture itself still has a 4:3 aspect ratio, which means that some of the top and bottom of the picture have also been cropped out in order to maintain the aspect ratio. This results in a slightly zoomed-in picture that needs to then be upsampled to display at its proper resolution. Alternatively, if the top and bottom are not cropped, the picture must be horizontally stretched to maintain the aspect ratio. Either way, this is an objectionable editing decision and is not normally done. The video frame is unaltered in all Yu-Gi-Oh! TV broadcasts, VOD streams, digital downloads, and home video products. (The only exception I am aware of is in Cinedigm’s ugly Yu-Gi-Oh! GX DVDs.) Thus, it is reasonable to conclude that the black bars are present in the Japanese master tape and that the editors of this video went out of their way to make this alteration.

One has to wonder why, if this were a legitimate product, the editors would bother cropping the video like this in the first place because the video is presented as being at some intermediate stage of editing. At this point in time, the appearance of the outer edges of the video frame shouldn’t really matter anyway. So why bother doing this extra work?

Last, and most tellingly, the music and effects (M&Es) in the episode do not match those present in the Japanese version. The sound effects in particular are noticeably different, though they come pretty close to mimicking those in the Japanese version. If this were an authentic production, it would simply use the M&E tracks found in the Japanese master; there would be no reason to recreate these. But since the video’s creators do not have access to such materials, they needed to develop their own M&Es.

“But 4Kids recreated all of the M&Es for its English dub,” you might say. That is true. However, those were developed intentionally so that company could have M&Es that it owned in their entirety and that it could thus use to earn royalties when it sold its version to producers and distributors in other territories. Doing all of that is unnecessary when making an English-language dub that directly mirrors the Japanese version. Just look at how 4Kids handled the episodes in its “Yu-Gi-Oh! Uncut” DVDs; it used the Japanese M&Es.

This April Fools’ Day video is clearly a labor of love and I can only imagine how many hours its creators must have spent producing and mixing the audio. But let’s not pretend that it’s something that it’s not. It is a fun, sophisticated, and elaborate fan-made English dub of an anime beloved by millions around the world. It is not the next big thing from 4K Media. Hopefully the video’s creators make a statement about it soon. Some of those voices sound awfully familiar…

So what do you think? If 4K Media brought in a whole new cast and crew and produced an English redub that was loyal to the Japanese version like this one, would you support it?

5 Comments »

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  1. Just curious, what voices do you pick out? A lot of people are saying Shadyvox.

  2. Jonouchi does sound like ShadyVox, doesn’t he? Yugi sounds like Kirbopher and Kaiba sounds like Ben Diskin to me. I’m guessing that some of the people who worked on TOME also worked on this. They certainly have the acting and editing talent to make something that looks this good.

  3. “interested viewers can find it easily using Google”

    False. It has now vanished. This needs to be preserved for all eternity!

  4. But ShadyVox wants to do nothing yugioh related. also Anzu sounds like Tea from 4kids.

  5. @Victor Soto Soto Well, it was available at the time this post was published. RIP, the hoax was amusing while it lasted.
     
    @Axel extractor Maybe it’s not him then. I don’t follow ShadyVox closely so I’m not aware of what he has and hasn’t said about Yu-Gi-Oh!. I’m only going by what I’ve heard of him in TOME, Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Abridged, and other projects. He’s also a very talented audio engineer so I wouldn’t put it past him to act and edit at such a high level. Good guess about Anzu sounding like 4Kids’ Tea. Those two sound a little different to me personally though.


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