By David Cabrera
#56: Anime Fanworks Based on The American Version – The “Abridged” Genre
I've talked before about how Japanese anime-- especially the kids' stuff-- is often cut, changed and censored before it's brought before American kids. Cultural differences and all that. Millions of kids naturally grew up with that version of the thing. American kids remember Voltron and not Go-Lion. Sailor Moon isn't Usagi but Serena, and so on. There is an interesting byproduct of this: fans, looking back, have gone and parodized these local versions of their favorite series. Let's talk about Yu-Gi-Oh Abridged.
(Though we'd love to take credit for him, the creator is British, not American.)
The long-running online video series (http://bit.ly/M6MqEO) is based on the fan-loathed 4Kids' adaptation of Yu-Gi-Oh, which was a nationwide craze after Pokemon fever started to die down and continues to run today. This is a very ambitious fan work: the idea of “Abridged” is a parody dub of the entire series, cut down significantly for time constraints. Every episode is reduced to ten minutes or less with an opening song that runs for five seconds. Characters have their changed American names, Jounouchi is Joey, Hiroto Honda is Tristan Taylor, and so on. The gags are frequently meta and rather dark in nature, mocking the dub, the characters, 4kids' treatment, the complete absurdity of the average Yu-Gi-Oh plot, and indeed the entire business of “children's card games” itself.
The first gag is our old friend Joey saying “Sorry, Yoog, doin' this Brooklyn accent makes it hard for me to concentrate on card games!” His accent in that show really was ridiculous. New Yorkers don't push it that hard. But then so was Tristan's voice. And Pegasus', but you couldn't fault anybody for that...
Anyway, The Abridged Series is kind of mean to Yu-Gi-Oh, but that comes from a place of deep love. Certainly you've had that kind of feeling.
From the Yu-Gi-Oh dub, a whole internet community sprung forth. Of course there's a wiki, (http://bit.ly/MuPJrI) on which a hundred of fans' similar projects are listed. The best is likely Team Four Star's “Dragon Ball Z Abridged,” a loving and frequently hysterical tribute to the English dub of that shonen classic.
Furthermore, in another full cultural cycle, Yu-Gi-Oh Abridged actually made it to the Japanese internet, in the original English with subtitles courtesy of a Japanese viewer. The following link takes you to the tag on Nico. (http://bit.ly/MuLM69) This especially amuses me as an English-speaking fan, because as we've mentioned on this column, English-speaking fans have been doing this with Japanese anime series since they could first record video. It is always nice to see otaku creativity feeding into itself worldwide.