Japanese PoDW review

The first of the two PoDW VHS Yahoo! Japan auctions I won arrived last week (wooo!), so when I was at my parents’ house this weekend, I hooked up our VCR and checked it out. (I love how this was express-mailed and arrived in a matter of days, but the box of stuff that I shipped when I was visiting Japan in mid-March hasn’t arrived yet.) I’m mailing back and forth with the seller of the five individual episode videos, but he’s not being too flexible with my sorry-I-don’t-live-in-Japan-so-please-have-pity-on-me plea, in terms of shipping and payment; I’m concerned I may just have to give those up. Oh, well–at least I have this!

The video I received was the one I thought was “The Saga Begins” (the 90-minute edited movie version of episodes 1-5), when in fact it was the full-length Dark Water miniseries dubbed in Japanese. Sweet! It’s on a VHS, and in fair quality, but I will totally have it converted to DVD to rip clips from it. If people are interested in creating fansubs, I can help with the translations, though I’ve never done video editing myself before.

(And I will be converting my VHS copies of the English Dark Water miniseries to DVD, too. I think there’s a healthy amount of interest in what the show originally was over here. I only just realized that our local Indian grocery offers that service!)

It was surreal–it’s been quite a while since I last watched the episodes, so while I knew what would happen, I was focusing on listening for the dialogue, and it was almost like new all over again. It was a lot of fun!

Click the link below to read the full review (yes, I took notes, shut up–all about minor changes and Japanese cultural/linguistic notes).


Opening and closing themes: I’m really confused as to what it was I found online, because these opening and closing sequences were identical to the English version. They did tack extra Japanese credits on the end of each episode, but I fast-forwarded and didn’t listen for any music.

Voice actors: kind of standard anime-esque fare. Ren’s had a high-pitched voice to make him sound younger (and, to my gaikokujin ears, kind of like a little punk, similar to my impression of Japanese-dubbed Frodo Baggins, heh). Ioz’s sounded gruff to make him sound older. Tula’s was…annoying, to me; Jodi Benson, the American VA, had a smooth quality to her voice that I thought fit Tula’s character well, but the Japanese VA’s voice made her sound much older, and she cracked that horribly annoying “Ohhh-ho-ho-ho!” anime laugh a few times. Bloth sounds even gruffer than Ioz, but his VA didn’t have the same chilly timbre that Brock Peters gave Bloth in the English version. Niddler’s was closer to Roddy McDowall than Frank Welker (an actual adult male voice, but a little high), though he was more of a wise-cracking character in this version.

Niddler: he doesn’t squawk! They extended his dialogue to cover those moments (usually just exclamations).

Person/place names: the same, just said Japanese-style, though the pronunciation of a few names changed; “Ioz” is “ee-oz” and “Primus” is “Pree-mus.” However, I don’t know if they goofed or if I wasn’t listening correctly, but I think Jenna said “Galbedar” instead of (the abbey of) “Galdebar” initially. And “Andorus” (which I have a vested interest in ;P) is pronounced with the emphasis on “An” instead of “dor.”

Mer curses: nope! No “Noy Jitat” and “Chongo-longo” at all, but they use Japanese ones like “chikushou.” I’d suspected this, since, based on my experience with watching other English-to-Japanese translations, they tend to spell everything out and not throw in any strange new vernacular terms like that, so as not to confuse the viewers, and that happened a few times in this dub. I do wonder if that’s strictly a cultural trait, or something that holds true for dubs in other languages.

Dialogue: a direct translation. There were some necessary changes needed for lines or situations that required slight tweaks, or where slang or cultural differences necessitated a change.
For example, there’s that scene in ep. 2 where Ioz is using that long pole to recover that golden plate that’s floating by–he curses in the English version, but in the Japanese, he grunts, “Mottainai!” (best not to waste…funnier for people who’ve lived there and are familiar with the pervasiveness of the statement in the culture, but still amusing nonetheless) Tula uses “mottainai” again in the next episode just before she kicks down Jargis’s door in Pandawa.
Another thing they did really well was the grunting. That sounds really weird, but they do grunt a lot in anime, and not quite as much in western shows–there were a few very awkwardly voiced moments in the original that were handled far more gracefully in this version.
And something amusing: after Tula gives Bloth the Compass and leaves with her 85 gold pieces, Bloth turns to the camera and says, in Japanese, “That kind of woman is my type.” (Ore no taipu da.)

Species: Atani, monkeybirds, all named the same.
Though one thing that was weird: in episode 2, right after leaving the Atani palace (before they see the Atani pursuing them), Ren has a line in English that’s something like, “We have a week’s food and supplies, a map out of this maze, and a jump on Bloth.” Remember that Niddler’s holding the map. In Japanese, Ren says something about the week’s food and supplies and then how “this animal has a useful map,” actually referring to Niddler as “kono doubutsu” (this animal). I’m guessing that was a cultural translation.

Crowd scenes: so you know that scene in The Quest where Bloth’s pirates are running down the stairs into Alomar’s lair to attack, and they’re…eerily silent? In the English-language Dark Water episode, they’d actually been shouting this one repeating track of, “Over there!” “That’s him!” “Get him!” and stuff, which was cheesy and didn’t work well, so they just removed it without providing a replacement when they made edits for the PoDW release. However, in the Japanese version, there was a proper track of Japanese men yelling as they ran down the stairs, and it worked really well.
And during the scene on Bloth’s deck, when Ren leaps out of the Constrictus pit and Bloth orders all the pirates to get him, there’s a repeating background crowd track where people are shouting stuff, including one guy going, “Don’t let him get awaaaay!” They kept that for the Japanese version! It was a funny juxtaposition, Bloth’s crew yelling in English and then Konk shoving everyone aside and yelling, “Move! Make way!” in Japanese as he charges towards Ren.

Name/referential changes: the first time we hear the Dark Water referred to, they call it “ankoku no umi” or “dark ocean,” but then later call it dark water.
When Ren and Niddler have left Pandawa and see the Maelstrom looming above them, Ren shouts, “Bloth’s ship!” (Burosu no fune da!) instead of “The Maelstrom.”
Once the ship crashes and they’re covered in borka-paste, Niddler first refers to it as “abura” (oil), and it’s only in the next episode that Bloth comments on the smell of borka-paste and uses the name.
The kramadorm, the slave hold on the Maelstrom, is referred to by the brigmaster as “jigoku” (hell)–like, “Laugh all you want, but I’m sending you to hell!”

5 Responses to “Japanese PoDW review

  • Glad you’re still updating the site!

    This is awesome news that PoDW was released in Japan! Would you happen to know if it was released on Laserdisc?

    I just recently got the American released “Saga Begins” Laserdisc (which is of wonderful quality), and if it has been released on this format in Japan (hopefully w/bilingual soundtracks) I’ll definitely go through the rigors of trying to track that down!!!

  • Thank you! To be honest, I’m not sure. The first I heard of any Japanese releases at all was these VHS auctions. I’ll probably be keeping an eye on Yahoo! Japan Auctions from now on (though the rigors of payment and shipping are kind of stressful), so if I see anything I’ll certainly post about it here.

  • Pretty cool, had no idea they made one for Japan!

  • Ha~? Sugee.

    Chotto hen da ga, tottemo kakko-yosasou n’da wa. NIHONGO NO VERSION WO MITAI.

  • Aa, kanji ya kana ga taipu dekinai ne.

    Hen ja nai yo. Hontou ni omoshirokatta! Atarashiku ya chigau koto wo mitara, chotto odoroiteita ne. Zehi dejitaru ba-jon (version) wo tsukutte, upload suru yotei desu.

    (Translation: Ah, I guess we can’t type kanji/kana here.

    It’s not weird at all. The Japanese version was really interesting! I will admit that I was surprised by the “new” and different things. I totally intend to create and upload a digital version.)

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