Most anime fans will agree that dubs can be pretty bad. With goofy voices that don’t fit the characters and many lines lost in translation, they often pale in comparison to the original Japanese. Some of the worst offenders are the early dubs, containing tons of censorship and strange name changes that many still don’t understand.
Though these dub names are usually very cringeworthy, some actually aren’t so bad. There are a few cases where the dubbers took special care in choosing names that honor the original material. Sometimes these dub names become even more iconic than the original. Either way, they prove that even the corniest dubs have something good about them.
10 Tai Kamiya Is A Reasonable Name Change (Digimon: Digital Monsters)
When Digimon Adventure released its English dub, known in the first season as Digimon: Digital Monsters, most of the changes made to the series made sense. That includes the names of some of the Digimon and the Digidestined. Some of their names barely changed at all, such as the name of protagonist Taichi Yagami.
While his surname changed completely, the dubbers merely shortened his name from Taichi to Tai. All in all, it’s a subtle change that fits the character well and is still memorable to this day.
9 Kimba Is An Iconic Classic Everyone Knows (Kimba The White Lion)
At this point, even those who don’t watch anime know who Kimba is. Kimba the White Lion is a classic English dub of the series Jungle Emperor. While his original name might be Leo, most only know him as Kimba. While the change may seem unnecessary, Kimba is a fitting name for the adorable lion hero.
Decades later, many have forgotten that Kimba’s real name is Leo. Kimba the White Lion has such a nice ring to it that it’s no wonder the name is now globally famous.
8 Speed Racer Is A Household Name (Speed Racer)
Everyone has heard of the classic series Speed Racer. Before many fans even knew what anime was, their parents were long-time fans of the show. What some don’t realize, however, is that this oldie cartoon is actually a classic anime, originally known as Mach GoGoGo.
In the original Japanese, Speed’s name is Go Mifune, inspired by the Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune. Though his original name fits him just as well, there is just something so perfect about the name Speed Racer for everyone’s favorite racing hero. The name has stuck since the dub’s beginning, become truer canon even than the original.
7 Kiyo Is A Simple, Shortened Version Of Kiyomaro (Zatch Bell!)
The series Zatch Bell! is often forgotten by anime fans, as it came and went so quickly without ever reaching its conclusion. However, many still remember and love the series. Like many English dubs of the time, it saw its fair share of censorship and name changes, one name, in particular, being that of the main protagonist, Kiyomaro Takamine.
However, the change is very minor, his name merely shortening to Kiyo instead. While it is yet another change that seems unneeded, it’s a forgivable change and actually sounds kind of nice.
6 The Ham-Hams’ Names Are Still Cute And Fitting (Hamtaro)
Hamtaro has to be one of the cutest and most innocent anime series around. No one can resist Hamtaro and his adorable friends, and everyone has a favorite ham-ham. What few fans know, however, is that the names of the ham-hams differ from Japanese to English. For example, the hamster most fans know as Oxnard is originally named Koshi-kun. Meanwhile, the leading female Bijou is known as Ribon-chan.
Despite the changes, many of the ham-hams’ names retain a similar meaning to their original Japanese names, showing that the dubbers took great care in giving each a fitting English name.
5 Jaden Yuki Is A Good Compromise (Yu-Gi-Oh GX)
Throughout its run, the Yu-Gi-Oh franchise featured the adventures of Yugi Muto and his friends. Yu-Gi-Oh GX was the very first series of the franchise to follow a brand-new protagonist named Jaden Yuki in the English dub. This was the first time the protagonist’s name was of the many to change, although few could complain.
Dubbers merely changed his name from Judai to Jaden, keeping on the surname Yuki. Though Americanized, Jaden has a very similar feel to his original name, a fair compromise for the dub. Similar to the early dub names of the original series, Jaden Yuki caught on pretty well and is the name most fans recognize him by.
4 Jimmy Kudo Has A Very Nice Ring To It (Cased Closed)
When the famed series Detective Conan made its way outside of Japan, it became known as Case Closed for the English dub. Nearly all the characters got English names as well, including the series protagonist, Shinichi Kudo. Though his alias Conan Edogawa stayed the same, he became known from then on as Jimmy Kudo.
While many of the dub names are vastly different from the original, many can’t help but enjoy their charming corniness, Jimmy’s name included. There’s just something about the name Jimmy Kudo that rolls off the tongue in a satisfying way. Fans must like the name, as people still refer to him as Jimmy even years after the dub ceased.
3 Ash Ketchum Is One Of The Most Famous Dub Names Out There (Pokémon)
Pokémon is one of the best-known anime series in history. Whether they play the games or not, everyone has heard of it. Likewise, everyone knows exactly who Ash Ketchum is. His name is one of the most recognizable anime names of all time. Most anime fans know, though, Ash isn’t his original name.
In Japan, he is named Satoshi, after the creator of Pokémon himself, Satoshi Tajiri. Despite the significance of Ash’s Japanese name, everyone around the world knows him best as Ash Ketchum, a name many think of when they hear the term “Pokémon Master.”
2 Serena Tsukino Is A More Thoughtful Name Than People Think (Sailor Moon)
The original 90s dub of Sailor Moon is infamous for its many changes to the source material, especially when it comes to its name changes. While there are some questionable names, such as Molly and Melvin, the name chosen for Usagi has a bit more thought put into it. The name Serena was chosen for her as a nod to her past life name, Princess Serenity.
Serena is also a reference to Selene, the Greek Goddess of the Moon. Though many fans complain about the name change, they have to admit the dubbers did a pretty good job choosing a fitting name for the pretty guardian.
1 Joey Wheeler Is A Name That Everyone Loves (Yu-Gi-Oh)
In the early years of Yu-Gi-Oh, fans objected to the English dub names chosen for the series characters. Hardcore fans refused to call any of them by their English names, determined to keep the original material well-known. Well, years later, most fans have embraced these silly, cheesy names, and almost every character is referred to by their dub name now. That especially goes for Joey Wheeler, who arguably has the coolest name out of every character in the series.
Not only does his name honor his original, Jonouchi Katsuya, but it’s also just an all-around fun name to say and is very fitting of the character’s personality. Like many other famous dub names, Joey Wheeler has become a name everyone knows, whether they’re a fan or not.
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