If you ask a person from the UK if they liked Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the 90s, they’ll probably get surprised and let you know that they didn’t have ninja turtles, but they all loved hero turtles. And a person from Israel would be really surprised by meatballs falling from the sky, because they know it as falafel.
The thing is, cartoons are changed so that different viewers from all over the world can understand the plot. This process is called localization. As a rule, it really helps people to better understand the main idea, but sometimes, the changes are just illogical. Bright Side was really interested to know how our favorite cartoons were localized in different countries. Don’t miss the bonus that explains the reason Japanese animation designers always draw the fifth finger on all their cartoon characters.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
The name of this cartoon about a weird scientist was translated almost the same all around the world — using the word meatballs. But in Israel, the meatballs turned into falafel: Cloudy with a Chance of Falafel. Do you think it was just an attempt to add a national delicacy?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
For a long period of time, in the UK, our favorite cartoon about ninja turtles was known as Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. In the 1980s, British children were so inspired by the ninja culture that they started making nunchucks with their own 2 hands and took up martial arts classes. The government decided to stop “this surge of violence” and banned both the word “ninja” and their weapons.
So each scene where Michelangelo used nunchucks was cut out and later he used a rope instead. By the way, surprisingly, everyone was fine with Raphael’s daggers and Leonardo’s swords.
In 2005, the creators of The Simpsons tried to release their cartoon in the Middle East. They gave the family the Arabic last name Al-Shamshoon, and Homer, Marge, and Bart turned into Omar, Mona, and Badr, and their hometown Springfield was called Rabeea. What’s more, they had to remove Moe’s Tavern, Homer’s favorite beer, pork, and any references to Christianity.
Without all these features, the Simpsons just weren’t the Simpsons anymore and they weren’t interesting for people either, so the project was stopped.
Cowboy Pecos Bill used to smoke a lot like some other early Disney cartoon characters. Later, as the USA started worrying about what children were taught, the creators had to make the cowboy quit smoking.
The changes in scenes where Pecos Bill just holds a cigarette in his mouth are unnoticeable, but the digital edits make for some confusing hand movements when Bill is actually holding it or throwing it away.
In Russia, this unusual cartoon about a brother and a sister studying different paranormal phenomena was deemed appropriate for children over 12 years, which is why all the violent scenes were deleted and the language was also “smoothed over.”
Surprisingly, underwear was also banned. For example, the moment when the character lies down on the bra of a girl he likes was removed. When the girl says something to him about it, he just jumps up and acts frightened.
This famous anime about a robot cat was about to be released in the USA. But, the creators were concerned that Americans wouldn’t understand some of the Japanese aspects of life and decided to make some tweaks. So, they replaced Japanese yen with dollars, forks and spoons replaced chopsticks, and characters ate American food instead of Japanese food. But there are also some unexplainable changes: in the American version, they decided to “take away” a girl’s doll and a boy cries, but has no tears.
In the American version, all scenes where guns are pointed at children were banned: in Japan, weapons are prohibited, but the USA has some really sad and unique statistics when it comes to gun violence. Japanese food and drinks were replaced with American ones, and the character named Lenora “got rid” of her apron to avoid having the cartoon appear racist, since the apron on a woman with dark skin is associated with a time of racial segregation.
Everyone who has seen this cartoon knows that Garfield is a lasagna fan. In Lithuania, to enable people to “feel” the character better, lasagna was called kugelis, a traditional Lithuanian potato dish. Maybe these dishes look similar, but we bet it’s not that easy to make a cat love potatoes!
In Germany, Otto Waalkes does the voice over for the loopy and neurotic sloth, Sid. Otto is a popular German comedian, singer, and parodist whose goal was to make Sid funny for German people. During dubbing, he used some specific German singing styles like yodeling.
Popular in the 90s, anime character Sailor Moon was strictly censored in the West. They cut out all the violent and nude scenes, re-drew the characters, changed their name and gender, and discarded anything that could be boring or unclear for a western viewer. The thing is, in Japan, this and other anime series are produced for teenagers, while in Europe and the USA — they’re shown to younger children.
Even innocent cartoons like Peppa Pig are censored. For example, in Australia, they had to remove a whole episode where Peppa meets a spider and they become friends. The thing is, Australia is a country where there are 836 types of spiders. Some of them are venomous and really dangerous. In this case, it was decided the episode was a bad example of a friendship.
Bonus: Most cartoons in Japan
Animation designers from all over the world draw cartoon characters with 4 fingers on each hand: they save their time, while the characters look pretty natural. But Japan is an exception to the rule.
Historically, in Japan, people with 4 fingers belonged to a group of workers (for example, butchers) who do dangerous work, and could easily lose one of their fingers. “Four-fingered” is like an offensive nickname. It’s the reason the Japanese always draw one more finger on all their characters.
Which fact is the most surprising? Do you know of any other censored cartoons?