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matt0044

Lapis Lunaris
Apr 3, 2012
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#1
I know how that thread title sounds but hear me out for a few seconds.

A lot has been made of Viz Media’s dub of the Sailor Moon Anime, specifically the adaptation made in the nineties. Be it how it compares to the dub produced by DiC Entertainment (the first two seasons), Cloverway (the third and fourth seasons) or the original Japanese version altogether. A particular point of contention is how the dialogue is adapted in the new dub many "too" accurately. Many claim that it’s “faithful to a fault” compared to how DiC scripted their dub less as an obvious translation. However, any fan of Sailor Moon can tell that Viz Media did allow for wiggle room in their adaptation.








Yes, even Viz Media had it out for Mamoru’s abysmal fashion sense. Careful, Studiopolis. Your Saban is showing.

However, none of these liberties went any further than how certain lines were written compared to the subtitles translated from the Japanese version and fitting them with the onscreen lip flaps. Even the subs weren’t exactly word-for-word compared to more direct translations for better or for worse. So imagine the surprise many found when Episode 96 of Sailor Moon S had some significant alterations applied to the story on the whole through their various tweaks to various lines. The episode itself isn’t exactly fan-favorite as it shows Makoto showing affection for Haruka much to the Senshi’s disapproval.

It came off as more than a little homophobic for our heroines, even for an Anime in the nineties. Hell, this was a season that introduced two new Sailor Senshi in a same-sex relationship that was never really shown as bad. Cloverway’s dub even rewrote them as just cousins… without removing much of the on-screen intimacy between them. I’m sure that didn’t confuse any youngsters watching it on Toonami in any shape or form.

Viz Media’s dub team at Studiopolis could’ve easily left the script mostly well enough alone as they had with every other episode prior but an effort was actually made to rewrite a lot of the lines that came across as homophobic. One example would be how Usagi reacts to Makoto’s obvious crush on Haruka. The original Japanese version had Usagi outright tell her friend that she can’t love Haruka romantically as a girl before Makoto tries to deny it hastily, the two laughing off the idea of such a relationship. This is more than a little strange considering Usagi’s been well acquainted with Haruka and Michiru by this point.

The Viz dub rewrite Usagi’s dialogue as her somewhat teasing Makoto for obviously crushing on Haruka in a “I see how it is.” Rather than discouraging the idea, it’s mostly Usagi being more like that one nosy friend and seeing how Makoto’s getting all red in the face like with a lot of boys but with a girl here. Later, Usagi takes this up with the other girls at Hikawa Shrine. This time in the Viz dub, they are more surprised that Makoto is showing an interest in girls but not outright disapproval. Minako even ponders if Makoto’s changed her sexual orientation. They don’t see it abnormal for their friend to be, erm, a tad curious.

When they contact their friend, they’re more concerned that she’ll be a third wheel with Haruka already with Michiru rather than telling her to look for a boy outright. Again, they don’t insinuate that Makoto possibly liking girls is bad. The final scene also teases Rei and Minako have some feeling for their friend in this dub. All in all, the story overall is hardly given an overhaul like how DiC treated their dub's adaptation. However, these select line alterations clearly paint a different picture than the original did and I've found other fans voice their approval. A fascinating phenomenon given how these sorts of changes are often received.

Part of the stigma against English Dubs often involves how the script deviates from the original presented in the subtitles. Whether big or small, these changes can feel arrogant in a way to a number of fans who began with the original. Though hardly the case, it can feel as if the dub’s production staff "knows what would be better" for the Anime’s overall story. However, with how far LGBTQ+ rights have come, this episode of Sailor Moon would feel a bit distasteful in today's social climate. In addition, many feel that it's sort of out of place in a season that otherwise didn't portrayed same-sex relationships in a bad light. The script writers didn't have to but a conscious effort was made to update the dialogue.

Of course, while I applaud the change, it does raise the question as to what constitutes as the dub "improving" over the original. That has been a slippery slope since the medium of Anime was brought overseas with little care about the care put into it aside from how it could sell. The dialogue would be altered into an entirely different story altogether often. Even today, fans are sensitive to any dub changes that show up on their radar as The Cartoon Cipher (an excellent Youtube Channel that do video essays on English dubs in a fascinating presentation) details in this half-hour video:


This is likely going to incite a lot of passionate debates as I hope it will but it's one that we should allow ourselves to discuss. Please be respectful of each other's viewpoints even if you just do not agree with them full stop. Thank you.
 

julayla

Luna Nova
Feb 9, 2018
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#3
That's kinda true. But then there are times when the Viz Dub changes things that make it worse to some people. Like the whole Japanese/American language barrier episode changed to regular/proper English. It kinda doesn't work, if you know what I mean
 

matt0044

Lapis Lunaris
Apr 3, 2012
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#4
That's kinda true. But then there are times when the Viz Dub changes things that make it worse to some people. Like the whole Japanese/American language barrier episode changed to regular/proper English. It kinda doesn't work, if you know what I mean
Actually, they made it work by just... doing away with it entirely with that episode. They tweaked it so Usagi was more concerned about seeming like a lady rather than her language. I assume they didn't want to spend too much time on using another language unlike with Cloverway's Canadian dub staff.
 
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#5
Actually, they made it work by just... doing away with it entirely with that episode. They tweaked it so Usagi was more concerned about seeming like a lady rather than her language. I assume they didn't want to spend too much time on using another language unlike with Cloverway's Canadian dub staff.
It doesn’t work at all. By changing the Japanese/English language conflict to English/French conflict the Cloverway/Optimum dub retained the intent, the Viz dub did not and it was a mess.
 

matt0044

Lapis Lunaris
Apr 3, 2012
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#6
It doesn’t work at all. By changing the Japanese/English language conflict to English/French conflict the Cloverway/Optimum dub retained the intent, the Viz dub did not and it was a mess.
A mess... how exactly? Honestly, I was surprised that they worked around it as well as they did. Changing Usagi struggling with English with trying to sound refined in a high class party does preserve the intent of her making a total fool of herself.

If anything, the spirit of it was accurately adapted even if the dialogue was tweaked here and there.
 
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Likes: ChibiBoi
Apr 15, 2011
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#7
A mess... how exactly? Honestly, I was surprised that they worked around it as well as they did. Changing Usagi struggling with English with trying to sound refined in a high class party does preserve the intent of her making a total fool of herself.
It just doesn't convey the same situation that was present in the Japanese version and the CWi adaption. And for a company that went out of it's way to proclaim faithfulness to the original material, this stuck out like a sore thumb.

It's probably one of the few episodes I would say CWi did a better job with than Viz. Too much was changed for me to consider it the superior adaption.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to recall a situation later on in the series where something similar happened and Viz opted to use two different languages as intended instead of just fancy English. I can't remember what, just that the moment I saw it, I drew the conclusion that Viz learned their lesson from that other episode's mess. I want to say it was in the first half of StarS.
 
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matt0044

Lapis Lunaris
Apr 3, 2012
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#8
It just doesn't convey the same situation that was present in the Japanese version and the CWi adaption. And for a company that went out of it's way to proclaim faithfulness to the original material, this stuck out like a sore thumb.
"Faithfulness" can mean a lot of things, especially when it comes fitting things for a new medium like a book-to-screen adaptation or an translation from one language to another. Certain aspects might require more alterations than others when needed or it comes across as... weird. The process is far more an art than a science with many ways of conveying the spirit in varying degrees of adaptive writing.

While retaining the language barrier element would've worked for the Viz dub, it does succeed in writing a script that rather draws attention to how the original was far different. Usagi finds herself out of her depth in trying to mingle with the upper crust and not come off as a total ditz. In the original, it involved a language barrier while Viz's script has it involve how she conducts herself as a party guest.

In a sense, it's not terribly far off so much as a different approach from how CWi handled it. First time viewers could watch the new dub and not feel like anything is out of place, something else that an adaptation should strive for. It's not too dissimilar to how Psycho Pass's dub handled this scene in the movie:

 
Likes: ChibiBoi

JMac52

Luna Nova
Apr 18, 2019
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#9
A lot of it is a matter of opinion IMO, but I definitely feel like many dubs improve on the source material. A little bit obscure, but I would say Baccano’s dub was much better than the sub.
 
Apr 15, 2011
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#11
I think a dub can elevate the original material for the audience it's created for but Viz's Sailor Moon dub is not one of those shows.
I agree. While I have no problem with inserts of comedy for lines that are non-noteworthy in the original, like Usagi's constant jabs at Mamoru's fashion sense, I don't think it's necessary to change around entire story beats for no reason.

By removing the language barrier element, something that was present in both the Japanese version as well as the CWi adaption, it caused me to focus more on the change than allowing myself to be immersed. Viz's change wasn't an "awful" decision and technically didn't interfere too much with how the episode played out, it just stood out to me.

And you gotta remember, a good portion of the audience coming in to watch this dub have more than likely seen it subbed, dubbed, or both before Viz's version. And hardcore fans especially take note of these kinds of changes.

Does removing the language barrier make Viz's dub bad? Definitely not! But I'm certainly not using this change as a reason why I like the dub when I'm telling my friends. And even if it was a miniscule change in the grand scheme of the series, fans such as myself found it bizarre. And even if some fans didn't mind the change, I doubt there would have been a single fan who would've complained if Viz left language barrier intact.
 
Jul 6, 2018
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#12
A modern dub as a meaning of translation should not alter plot points, characters and storylines, changing genders etc. As dub it can though make things work better in the target language, which is pretty different to improvement over the original. First most of us cannot be sure how accurate a subtitle translation is to the original script. And sometimes subtitles are just very lazily done and the translation is unpolished.
 

matt0044

Lapis Lunaris
Apr 3, 2012
2,390
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#13
I agree. While I have no problem with inserts of comedy for lines that are non-noteworthy in the original, like Usagi's constant jabs at Mamoru's fashion sense, I don't think it's necessary to change around entire story beats for no reason.
To me, those changes in the Viz dub at least seem more reasonable compared to what DiC alone would often employed and still conveyed the spirit of that scene. They take difference routes, no denying that, but I feel they end up in the same destinations.

Though what about the example I provided in the original post? I mean, I've seen many claim that this change was a step in the right direction from those aware of what the original provided in Episode 96.
 
Jul 6, 2018
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#14
Keep in mind that when DiC/Optimum dubbed the show they had to follow strict regulations to make the show air on TV. In 90s and early 2000s things were a lot different and they had to change stuff in irder to make money and get the dub broadcast.
Nowadays VIZ have no such regulations. This is a show that is a product of its time and it is not educational material. I see no reason for them altering the script just to address some sensitivities. A unch of episodes from Buffy, Friends etc. has homophobic, sexist jokes, fat shaming etc, but they are not cut or altered as they are product of their time. Why should an almost 30 years old anime should be treated differently?
 

matt0044

Lapis Lunaris
Apr 3, 2012
2,390
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#15
Keep in mind that when DiC/Optimum dubbed the show they had to follow strict regulations to make the show air on TV. In 90s and early 2000s things were a lot different and they had to change stuff in irder to make money and get the dub broadcast.
Nowadays VIZ have no such regulations. This is a show that is a product of its time and it is not educational material. I see no reason for them altering the script just to address some sensitivities. A unch of episodes from Buffy, Friends etc. has homophobic, sexist jokes, fat shaming etc, but they are not cut or altered as they are product of their time. Why should an almost 30 years old anime should be treated differently?
Well, for one, DiC and Cloverway downplayed anything LGBTQ+ in their dubs considerably and hardly tried to combat anything "homophobic" when they just erased it altogether. Viz actually played up the LGBTQ+ content in a way with a few but significant line rewrites.

For another, "a product of its time" may be an explanation and not really an excuse for poor framing of examples of potential prejudices. By proxy, Buffy isn't an Anime getting a new dub in place of its older localization but a life action show with its dialogue and visuals set in stone.
 
Jul 6, 2018
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#16
Well, for one, DiC and Cloverway downplayed anything LGBTQ+ in their dubs considerably and hardly tried to combat anything "homophobic" when they just erased it altogether. Viz actually played up the LGBTQ+ content in a way with a few but significant line rewrites.

For another, "a product of its time" may be an explanation and not really an excuse for poor framing of examples of potential prejudices. By proxy, Buffy isn't an Anime getting a new dub in place of its older localization but a life action show with its dialogue and visuals set in stone.
New dub doesn't mean new show. The show was done in the 90s, the show is clearly old, the show has a script. A modern dub with a selling point of veing faithful should follow it. Anime is a Japanese product. It has jokes about fat people even today. This is different colture. If somebody is that offended by such stuff should probably stick to mediums that are up to their standarts. I am not advocating for Dic in any way, but they had to follow some broadcast standarts. Viz dub is of course more faitful and consistent, given the fact it is new dub. I think the whole idea behind the topic is should a dub try to fix the original material and not yet another old versus new dub scenario.
There are some rare exception with anime taking place in the US for example. It is normal the English dub to feel more natural in such case. Baccano is a good example for that. Another cases are anime like Ouran where a lot of jokes should be adapted in order to work in another language. It doesn't mean the show is less fun in Japanese and the dub improved on the source itself. It simply provided better suited translation than the subtitled version. Subtitles have a lot of limitations, they are cheap and sometimes done with a lot less care. Unpolished, bad or awkward translation doesn't mean the script in the native language has these particular issues.
 
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matt0044

Lapis Lunaris
Apr 3, 2012
2,390
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#17
New dub doesn't mean new show. The show was done in the 90s, the show is clearly old, the show has a script. A modern dub with a selling point of veing faithful should follow it. Anime is a Japanese product. It has jokes about fat people even today. This is different colture. If somebody is that offended by such stuff should probably stick to mediums that are up to their standarts. I am not advocating for Dic in any way, but they had to follow some broadcast standarts. Viz dub is of course more faitful and consistent, given the fact it is new dub. I think the whole idea behind the topic is should a dub try to fix the original material and not yet another old versus new dub scenario.
There are some rare exception with anime taking place in the US for example. It is normal the English dub to feel more natural in such case. Baccano is a good example for that. Another cases are anime like Ouran where a lot of jokes should be adapted in order to work in another language. It doesn't mean the show is less fun in Japanese and the dub improved on the source itself. It simply provided better suited translation than the subtitled version. Subtitles have a lot of limitations, they are cheap and sometimes done with a lot less care. Unpolished, bad or awkward translation doesn't mean the script in the native language has these particular issues.
On one hand, I'm reminded of that disclaimer Warner Bros made in regards to the old Looney Toons cartoons that would feature very... unflattering depictions of certain minorities and claiming that changing them would be like acting like these didn't exist.

On the other hand, the case with Sailor Moon's 96th episode doesn't exactly feel like the same. To keep it simple, Usagi's remark to Makoto on how she can't love girls outright doesn't feel terribly in keeping with her character. She's a ditz and a bit ignorant but seems like she'd more likely find Makoto's interest in Haruka curious at best. It feels less like an expression of the writer's intent and more like an storytelling error if we're being generous.
 
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#18
On one hand, I'm reminded of that disclaimer Warner Bros made in regards to the old Looney Toons cartoons that would feature very... unflattering depictions of certain minorities and claiming that changing them would be like acting like these didn't exist.

On the other hand, the case with Sailor Moon's 96th episode doesn't exactly feel like the same. To 6keep it simple, Usagi's remark to Makoto on how she can't love girls outright doesn't feel terribly in keeping with her character. She's a ditz and a bit ignorant but seems like she'd more likely find Makoto's interest in Haruka curious at best. It feels less like an expression of the writer's intent and more like an storytelling error if we're being generous.
It is open to interpretation. Keep in mind Makoto has been boy crazy all the time. Every boy she sees she falls in love it. Having such a friend suddenly crashing on a girl could be odd for simpleton like Usagi. She was right though and it wasn't love in the classic way. We cannot pretend that people in the 90s were supportive and open-minded like today. It is part of our history as society. We don't expect of movies from the 60s to be feminist and treat sexes equally? In many cases Sailor Moon original 90s had these remarked made by characters that were nasty and terrible people. Usagi certainly has her flaws and it was more clueless and confusion rather than homophobic. Viz decided to work through it and it is their decision, but it is still compromising the intend of a faithful dub to santize stuff. It is not a big deal, it is a cgange to make the show more with the times. But still I find such stuff unneeded. It is not a brainer the show is old. It has a certain age restriction as well. Usagi is not exactly a role model in her everyday life either.
 

matt0044

Lapis Lunaris
Apr 3, 2012
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#19
In many cases Sailor Moon original 90s had these remarked made by characters that were nasty and terrible people. Usagi certainly has her flaws and it was more clueless and confusion rather than homophobic.
Well, bear in mind, that this is the season that features both Haruka and Michiru as lovers of the same gender in a positive light even if they have a sort of "Anti-Hero" status in relation to the Inner Senshi. Hell, Yuri is often considered Kunihiko Ikuhara's bread and butter with how he followed up Sailor Moon with Utena.

Maybe the 90s weren't the best place for this sort of representation in the media but I can't say that it's above criticism or that people can't feel like some aspects could've easily been handled with a bit more tact.

Viz decided to work through it and it is their decision, but it is still compromising the intend of a faithful dub to santize stuff.
"Sanitize" is barely the word I would use here. Usagi's still nosy about her friend suddenly developing an interest in a girl but the dialogue is written in a way that doesn't come off the wrong way. Hell, it's not like the episode proper shows it as a flaw she has to overcome in the end so much as a joke.

"Sanitize" is the word I'd use for Cloverway's "Cousin" stunt. Hell, their dub of this episode denied the idea of Makoto falling in love with Haruka full stop and pass it off as "friendship."[/QUOTE][/QUOTE]
 

MementoNepenthe

Aurorae Lunares
Mar 8, 2012
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#20
"A work is never finished . . . but abandoned." - Paul Valéry

The purpose of translation is to make a work originally created in one language accessible to people who understand a different one. Ideally, a translation should represent the text of the original as closely as possible, avoiding arbitrary creative changes on the part of the translator that may obscure or misrepresent the intention of the original creator(s). (In other words, a good translation should not put words into the original author's mouth.) Sometimes changes must be made to compensate for linguistic differences (a character's name may be too difficult to pronounce or may have some unfortunate meaning in another language; a story might involve word play that would lose its significance if translated literally; there may be something that simply does not translate and a new means of conveying the intended information will have to be found.)

When it comes to subtitles, there really isn't much room for debate in my opinion: they should translate the spoken dialog (and any on-screen text) as accurately as possible. This involves both technical understanding of the spoken dialog and the creative artistry needed to phrase things as naturally and briefly as possible, so there won't always be a "right answer," but certainly completely made-up dialog or changing characters' names is a no-no.

When it comes to dubbing, however, more than just translation is involved. There are music and sound effects* and voice performances to consider. It's not just the work of one or two translators and an editor; it's an entire production of its own. A team of actors, directors, producers, editors, translators, writers, musicians, etc. working in tandem, assuming the creative duties on a work that has been abandoned by the team that started it. (*A dub using the music and sound effects from the original work notwithstanding.)

Every dub is an adaptation as much as it is a translation. The extent of the creative liberties taken varies from dub to dub. There are extremes at both ends of the spectrum, but there's a case to be made in defense of dubs that are entirely faithful to the original work, and a case to be made in defense of dubs that are more liberal in their approach.

In a perfect world, all shows and movies would get both kinds of dubs, but realistically and practically speaking, a faithful dub would be preferable, as for those people who are unable to watch something with subtitles, a faithful dub is the best way for them to be able to experience the original work.

Of course, a looser dub can provide an experience that is just as (or sometimes more so) enjoyable for all viewers. A faithful dub can and should be as enjoyable to watch as the original, but a looser dub has the potential to fix any problems or weaknesses that exist in the original that can be addressed in the audio. (Visual issues can also be addressed/corrected with editing, but that may result in a dual-audio release being impossible.)

With respect to the original DiC dub of Sailor Moon: Obviously I am a huge fan. I find it enormously charming and enjoyable. It's not a perfect dub by any means. It clearly would have benefited from more time, more money, and more experienced writers and directors. But with very few exceptions, the cast was well chosen and effective, and mostly gave good performances. The music was beautiful and fun, if a little repetitive and occasionally misused. (Though I would argue there were times when the original score was misused or too eclectic or dated-sounding.) As far as the changes made are concerned, while it would have been nice for them to have kept all the original character names, I'd rather have new names than endure actors mangle the Japanese ones, and for the most part the new names were well-chosen. (I think "Neflyte" and "Zoycite" were odd, unnecessary tweaks, but they're small potatoes.) I think the adapted terminology was all pretty much perfect (e.g. "meatball head" is infinitely superior to "bun/dumpling head," "Crescent Moon Wand" to "Moon Stick," "Moon Tiara Magic" to "Moon Tiara Action," etc). Minor plot changes were generally harmless (e.g. Darien's being a former male model) or brought the show closer to the manga (e.g. making all the Scouts princesses of their respective planets). Visual edits (e.g. removing body lines, upskirt shots, etc.) were generally a godsend, eliminating all the gross, out-of-place male gaze elements from a series that is meant to be all about female empowerment. (Had the anime aired in its original form in North America back in the day, I really don't think it would be as warmly regarded by feminists as it is.) Other changes, like downplaying the destiny/past lives aspect of Serena and Darien's relationship, were also an improvement. There were some continuity issues, but even the original has continuity issues. There was some corny dialog, but the original has corny dialog too. The dub may have had to straight-wash its queer characters, but, as I've said before, I honestly find that preferable to enduring offensive stereotypes and a bunch of queer-phobic dialog from characters who are supposed to be heroic. At least the dub generally avoided being hetero-normative (e.g. in "Promises Fulfilled" they speak of making promise bracelets for the person you like, rather than for the boy you like). The dub also largely avoided the fat-phobia and generally unhealthy morals of the exercise episode.

DiC was obviously never interested in producing a faithful dub; they wanted to present Sailor Moon as a Saturday morning cartoon, and I think they succeeded. Viz, on the other hand, is trying to have it both ways, and are failing in the process. They've made touting their dub as "Sailor Moon: Uncut and Unedited for the First Time Ever!!!!!!!!!!" a huge part of their marketing. For the most part, yes, their dub seems to be fairly faithful to their subs. (I won't comment on the voice acting and sound mixing here; I've made my thoughts on that subject quite well-known already.) But then they add in anachronistic insults to Mamoru's fashion sense, a joke they've really run into the ground. They've added dated meme jokes ("I heard her IQ is....OVER 9000!"). They, too, tried to correct the problematic aspects of the exercise episode, and have tried to rewrite dialog that was originally homophobic, which is commendable...but then they themselves had Usagi uncharacteristically tell the Cardian in the first episode of R she looked like a drag queen, thus using an identity largely associated with the queer community as an insult. They've had Usagi uncharacteristically swear at other times as well, and I'm sure there are other instances of characters saying something out-of-character. There have even been some minor character name changes (both outright changes and simply changes to pronunciation). You can't call your dub faithful when you've made that many changes. And if you're going to make that many changes, why not make more so that show comes across less awkwardly? The Viz dub is just too wishy-washy and forgettable.

Now, as to the question of how problematic aspects in a nearly 30 year old series should be handled by a dub? My preference is to looser dubs who can simply rewrite episodes/scenes to eliminate those aspects altogether. But for a dub that's truly meant to be faithful? Throw up a disclaimer screen at the start of the episode.