There are many, many, many things that are only associated with Japan that are incredibly popular, for good reason and they need to be shared with the world. But there are some things, of which we completely missed the point.
One of the first things that come to mind when thinking of Japan, sushi. Words cannot describe just how badly we managed to screw up this. In Japan, sushi including, beef, chicken, vegetables, prawn, cheese, anything teriyaki and anything tempura, is considered a bit weird or wacky. The main thing you will find is raw fish. The idea of sushi is western eyes is great up to the point of eating raw fish, which is what basically sushi is!
“How did we screw up Doraemon” you may ask? We don’t know him! I beleive it’s a crime to keep something as good as him from the world! Most people in Western countries have never heard of him, he’s one of the biggest Asian icons of all time, he’s been named the only cartoon character as one of Asia’s heroes, he was at the forefront of manga! And I still get confused looks when talking about him. For some reason when deciding on something to pick up and give to the rest of the world, Hello Kitty was picked.
This is another classic example of American remake for the sake of money. Just to give you an idea let me show you a couple of videos.
1998 American Remake
Even though they seem pretty similar in their own ways, the 1998 remake was hit with a ton of negative reviews from poor acting, bad research and the actual fact that Godzilla was a pretty bad monster in the remake, he was taken out by a couple of missiles but in the original he was basically invincible to everything.
This is another cringe-worthy mistake that us English speakers make, we ruin Japanese words forever. If you have been studying Japanese for a bit you start to notice that you get annoyed when people mispronounce Japanese words and if you try to correct them you end up looking weird. Some words like these are
Karate is pronounced “Kerati”
Karaoke is pronounced “Kehriokey”
Manga is pronounced “Mehnga”
Anime is pronounced “Ehnimey”
Sake is pronounced “Saki”
Samuari is pronounced “Sehmoorai”
And this list goes on and on. I know that we also mispronounce other foreign words and obviously other languages mispronounce English, but this is just a pet hate of mine.
What’s one of the main things that we watch anime for? Fighting, vulgarity and Japanese culture, and what do we do before broadcasting anime? Get rid of all of it! Most of this editing is done in America because of much harder censorship laws or in an attempt to make the anime more friendly to the local viewer.
Animes before broadcast in the US will have removed blood, death, guns, destruction and even speech about those topics.
Obviously there are obscene anime’s out there that are entitled for a specific audiences, but before broadcasting vulgarity that even isn’t there. Normally airbrushing or adding clothing to characters that are already pretty G rated. The idea of homosexuality is also completely removed even if the original has no signs of intimate moments between same sex characters, they usually do this by making the characters siblings or cousins, to explain their close relationship.
We make anime more appealing to Western audiences by removing Japanese culture and substituting American culture. This normally doesn’t affect the plot in anyway, they normally change the currency or food, but I’d rather learn a little bit about Japan while watching my anime on TV.
You can keep reading and find more specific examples on censorship in this wikipedia entry that’s eye-opening to the all the changes we have made to the great anime that come to our shores.
If you know of any more Japanese things we screwed up please leave it as a comment, I’d love to hear some more.