Is This Robot Really Supposed to Tickle Girls?

Fergzilla sent in a question about a series I’ve only vaguely heard of, yet the question turned out to be unexpected!

Recently, I have gotten myself into the Medabots (Medarot in Japan) franchise, and it’s pretty cool. I have been watching the dubbed anime and playing the only localized RPG games in the series, simply titled “Medabots: Metabee/Rokusho Version” (“Medarot 2 Core: Kabuto/Kuwagata Version” in Japan). Speaking of, I have a bit of a question regarding that game.

Very early on in the game (and I mean very early), there were a few NPCs that talked about a person using a Medabot to “tickle little girls”, and that stuck out as pretty weird to me. At first, I thought that came off as “bad deviantART fanfiction material” to me, but then some people I spoke to suggested that it might be an act of localization censorship to hide something more “…THAT…” that was in the Japanese version.

What was the original Japanese Medarot 2 Core’s version of Medabots’ “tickling little girls”?

Fergzilla also included screenshots of the English scene in question (thanks!):

So, what does this line say in the Japanese release, and is it any different from the English translation? Luckily, the line in question happens pretty early in the game, so I was able to find it without much trouble. Let’s take a look!

Japanese Release (basic translation)English Release
But never mind that. Have you heard? There’s a crazy rumor going around that someone in this town is using a medarot to lift up girls’ skirts.But more importantly, there is a rumor going around that some weirdo is using a medabot to tickle girls.

It’s immediately clear that things were changed – the robot wasn’t a tickle-bot in the original script at all!

There are actually two aspects to this localization change to consider:

  • Lifting girls’ skirts is sort of a stereotypical schoolyard “custom” in Japanese entertainment. I don’t think we really have the same thing here in the West, or at least in America, but I’d say tickling is a decently close equivalent.
  • The fact that it’s not as common here probably would’ve made it seem creepier and less family-friendly to Western audiences. The localizers likely picked up on this fact and changed the line, either on their own or as part of company policy.

So there you are! The robot wasn’t a tickling robot in the original Japanese game, but it also wasn’t as risqué as some might suggest!

I’m curious though – I didn’t play much further than this particular scene, so I don’t know if this change also required any graphical edits or further revisions in later scenes. If anyone knows, let me know in the comments!

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34 comments

  1. So basically, flipping skirts is just some childish prank a 9-year-old might pull? Interesting. That would certainly explain a lot of anime that i’ve seen.

    Reply
    1. Yeah, that’s exactly it. I think it’s pretty common in real-life Japan too, probably because it’s in entertainment so much, which creates a weird cycle that strengthens the behavior. I wonder what kind of similar cycles we have…

      Reply
      1. Hey Clyde, I was watching a Youtube let’s play of Tomato Adventure (a game made by AlphaDream) and I always wondered “What are they saying?” since I can’t read Japanese. But I only asked myself this on a few parts on the game. One of the times, is the conversations when King Abra is getting energy from Patharan. The second time, is when you fight the boss of Balsami Dome. I was wondering if you could translated those cutscenes. (Also I really want to know what the heck made Patharan cry, when King Arba needed Sad Energy…)

        Reply
  2. Skirt-flipping is more socially acceptable in Japan, yes. It was not really that taboo in the US until the 90s or so, actually. Certainly not encouraged, but the punishment for doing that sort of thing was pretty slap-on-the-wrist for a long time.

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    1. Really? I guess I was never aware because I didn’t go to a whole lot of schools with skirts. But I do somehow get the feeling that it wouldn’t have been a huge deal back then. It seems like we were way more carefree and lenient back then, I wonder at what point things changed. Or maybe that’s just how things seem with each new generation 😛

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      1. I’m not sure that ‘lenient’ is really ‘carefree’, but more of moving the ‘care’ around. I would think that generally, whoever is doing whatever you’re being lenient about is more carefree, and whoever it’s being done to is less carefree.

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  3. I’ve once read a Cracked Magazine issue around the time frame of the first Harry Potter movie (2000-2002, I believe), and one section was dedicated to a series of silent Harry Potter parody comics, one of which started off with a depiction of the scene where Hermione levitated a feather, with the rest of the comic taking place after the class, where a jealous Ron uses his wand to flip Hermione’s robes in the same manner. The subject of skirt-flipping reminded me of that comic. I recall buying only three issues of Cracked: one which contained video game parodies (around the time of the N64’s launch, with the cover depicting Mario jumping out of TV screen and stomping on the magazine’s mascot), one with parodies of the original Star Wars trilogy (released around The Phantom Menace’s timeframe), and one where Hank Hill from King of the Hill and Homer Simpson from The Simpsons fight each other with a giant pencil eraser and a gaint pair of scissors (Kenny and Stan from South Park were also there, with Kenny getting sliced by the scissors). I think that last one is most likely to have those Harry Potter comics.

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    1. Lol, I rarely read the magazine, either, but I had both that video game issue and Simpsons issue that you described. I wish I never sold those years ago.

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  4. As for edits required, a bit further the main character is conned into crossdressing to act as bait (The game has a running gag of making the protagonist crossdress with excuses ranging from “saved from river and dressed in rescuer’s clothes” to “magic trick gone wrong” and one of the post-game extras is even the ability to change his overworld sprite to all the dresses he wore during the story). This is of course just played off as him being bait

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  5. We never had anything like that here, but pulling boys’ pants down in public to reveal their underwear was a reasonably common thing that was just considered “relatively mean”. I have a feeling a kid doing something like that today would lead to an awkward parent-teacher conference about sexual harassment and personal space and all kind of other crap neither of the kids involved had interpreted the action as.

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  6. Oh, thank you so much for answering. I was uneasy about sending you another email, but in the end it paid off.

    Yeah, starting to become a Medabots fan here. Shame that the majority the entries of the series has never left Japan, and that the dub that America got was censored (but hey, at least we got all episodes, and even by English-dubbed kids anime standards the dub was quite decent, if a little “wonky” at times and it sometimes borders on “gag dub” in some areas (not always a bad thing, but the opposite is true as well. Medabots’ dub hits both points)). I heard that Medarot 8 was recently released in Japan for the 3DS, and it doesn’t seem like it will be localized any time soon just like most other Medarot/Medabots games.

    But hey, at least I can find solace in that there’s a community in a place called “Rising Beetle”, a Medabots-themed fanbase. There, there are people who are putting in the effort in fan-translating the first Medarot game for the Game Boy, a game Americans never got (we only ever officially got a remake of the second one along with two spinoffs game-wise, for the record). They’re also trying their hand on the first manga adaptation, too (by the way, Rising Beetle were the same “some people I spoke to” that I referred to in my letter. I spoke to them in an IRC chat, and they are pretty nice people to have a conversation with). Just thought I’d give them a shout-out.

    Oh and, yeah, I know, some of you might boo at the fact that I mentioned that I “have been watching the dubbed anime”. I understand. However, if there was a complete sub (and there isn’t yet), I’d get to watching that in a heartbeat instead (or at least make that top priority, or watch them side by side). In the meantime, though, I’ll have to make do. I do distinctly have foggy memories of watching the dub on Fox Family, though (along with some crazy caveman show, but that part is best saved for another time and place).

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    1. A lot of anime from that time are strangely lacking in subs. My guess is that it’s because most people in the US (and maybe elsewhere) were still on dial-up around the time Medabots came up. Going by Wikipedia, 3% of the US had broadband in 2000. Downloading anime just wasn’t practical, so fansubbing probably hadn’t taken off yet. Having no other options at all, kids growing up on anime at that time got used to dubs, and so there wasn’t enough interest to sub most of those older series.

      Just a guess though. I might be totally off on that. I know that subs are available for Digimon and Cardcaptor Sakura, even through NetFlix, so I guess there must be significant demand for them with the more popular series.

      It’s cool that there’s such a dedicated community for Medabots, though. I wish Monster Rancher had the same thing.

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      1. Hmmm…that would be somewhat understandable back in 2003… but then again, Sonic X was released at around the same time as Medabots’ US dub (the Japanese version was released approx 4 years prior), and there definitely was demand for uncensored subs (either official or not) even then. But then again, we do have to take into consideration that Sonic the Hedgehog was significantly more popular at the time and that there probably was more hatred and spite for 4Kids than there ever was for Nelvana’s dubbing department (or at least people considered Nelvana the “lesser of two evils”, even despite the “Cardcaptors” disaster).

        Buuut, this is 2015 now. Pretty much all the Japanese episodes have been released on DVD in Japan (even the oft-hated Medabots Spirits/Medarot Damashii series, but hey, there has to be at least a few fans of that season). People who have the money can presumably import them to their homes and rip the video files out and begin subbing. I don’t think there’s even a need for that since there’s already raw video files available if you know where to look (not linking, sorry). Don’t see the excuse now, is there some sort of curse that prevents certain Medabots material from being fully translated or something?

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        1. What you’re forgetting is that Medabots is old now. It’s been nearly a decade and a half since it aired on Fox Kids. The demand for subbed anime has changed over the years, but that’s mostly focused on anime that were airing at the time as that change was occurring or are airing now. It doesn’t really matter that the Medabots DVDs are out. Availability isn’t the problem, it’s interest.

          It’s not about making excuses. Ideally, every anime ever would be available subbed in all languages, and all of the subs available would be great. But realistically, the anime that are most likely to be translated are the ones that are in demand. Companies don’t want to translate things that they don’t think will make them money. Fans don’t want to translate things that they don’t think people will watch, since their hard work will go to waste. Most of the people watching an old series will be coming back to it due to nostalgia, and that often means that they’ll want the dubbed series that they actually watched instead of the subbed series that they didn’t.

          Basically, you can’t just take it for granted that there will be a translated for every ten-year-old series like there is for anime that is coming out now and people want to keep up with. And if you really want to see the truth of that, try looking for anime from the ’70s, before anime began breaking into American markets at all.

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          1. Hmmm, I do kind of see your point. And I suppose that your “demand for anime subs” insight applies to the general fan community pretty much most of the time. Your points are for the most part legitimate. However, that is not to say that the demand for subbed Medabots is nonexistent. There was an attempt to sub the anime by someone, but that person just disappeared for seemingly no reason after finishing the first two episodes. And I did witness a person on /v/ expressing interest in subbing the whole anime in a Medabots thread, but eh, I’m not going to put my hopes up on some random nameless 4chan anon until something of substance comes out of it, but at the very least it shows that he or she’s even interested in making subs exist. I’m sure some others has expressed some form of want for subbed Medabots as well. (Also you can argue that most of the subbing of fairly recent anime has been 90% taken over by companies and websites like Crunchyroll licensing anime and releasing near-accurate subs day-one, day-after-the-Japanese-broadcast, or a short while after the Japan release, including but not limited to Umaru-chan, Monster Musume, Gintama, Yuki Yuna, Nozaki-kun, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Attack on Titan, etc.)

            And like I said before, it’s no secret that the Medabots English dub is very censored “for the sake of the kiddies’ safety” and has an obviously highly altered script that is filled with more in-your-face jokes, puns, slang, and “hip” voice acting *cough Metabee’s English voice* that obviously can’t exist in a Japanese-written script (it did keep most of the general gist of the story intact, but still), just like most dubbed children’s anime shows at the time. And I heard that the American changes carried over to most dubbed versions in other languages too, possibly with even more changes added on or scenes cut by individual dubbers (one exception being the Italian dub that kept the “Medarot” name and preserved most everything intact both script and scene-wise. At least that’s what I heard from an Italy-native Medabots fan-artist). Most of those changes aren’t *inherently* bad per se (exceptions being entire scenes cut either for extra commercial time or because “think of the children”) although sometimes they can be awkward and cringey, but it’d be pretty interesting to actually witness what changed between “original version A” and “dubbed version B” and to see the “true original version like originally intended”. In fact, this is one of the many reasons why I visit this very site, only for video game differences rather than (inherently) anime. Japan-to-West localization is a topic that is highly interesting to me, and I actually kind of want to be in this field sometime.

            And while your “demand for recent/popular anime subbed” points are for the most part accurate, there are quite a few weird exceptions to that rule. Remember that I brought up “foggy memories” of “a crazy caveman show” that aired on Fox Family at one point? Well, that “crazy caveman show” is a 1998 show called Flint the Time Detective, dubbed in 2000. You’d be pretty hard-pressed to find anyone in the world that remembers it at all, and you’d be even be lucky if anyone JUST remembers that “it’s about this caveman kid with the hammer for a dad, that’s all I know”. It wasn’t too popular. Not even any of the owners try to bring it up. Well, apparently, some people have taken it upon them to unofficially sub the whole original Japanese 39-episode series. The whole thing, in an actually competent way. Some people actually bothered to buy all the Japanese VHS releases of the series, convert them digitally, and add subtitle text to all the episodes. For something that won’t be paid too much heed at all, to be offered for free. And this wasn’t a long time ago, either, the subs were actually “this decade”-recent (I believe the final subbed episode was released last year) Even I cannot believe that this actually happened. Oh, and by the way, the discrepancies between the original script and Saban’s official translation of the series are so many that it’s almost like looking at two different shows with the only similarity being the general plot (what did you expect from Saban, anyway?), and this is ONLY talking about the dialogue.

            So sorry for this tl;dr post. Just let me know what you think.

            Reply
            1. I don’t think there’s a huge disagreement between us. Sometimes there is an old anime with little demand that gets full subs, but those are the exceptions that prove the rule. There are a lot of series that don’t get anything. There are also a lot of series where translation starts, but ultimately dies off long before they’re complete.

              Again, you just can’t assume that there’s going to be a translator for every old series. There might be one, but it’s not guaranteed. You need someone who is interested in the series, knows both languages, knows how to edit the subtitles into the videos or knows someone else who can, and has the time and motivation to do the work. The larger the active fanbase for a series is, the most likely it is that someone within it has all of those things, and so it’s more likely that it gets translated. The larger the active fanbase for a series is, the more support the translator receives, and so they’re more likely to be motivated to finish. By “active fanbase”, I mean the people who are still thinking about the series right now, not the people who watched it back when it aired and have more or less forgotten about it.

              Oh, and let’s not forget that there’s competition between series. All of the time that a translator spends working on one series is time that they don’t spend working on another. They might choose not to do something that they think is interesting so that they can do something else.

              It’s been a while since I last saw any, but the state of tokusatsu fansubs were a pretty obvious display of how newer material is more often translated. Starting with around Kamen Rider Faiz, there were a bunch of groups that cropped up and built up a fanbase who keeps up with the newest series. So everything that’s come out since then gets translated. But translated series from before that are rare. Not nonexistent, but rare, especially considering that there were a truckload of tokusatsu series and even multiple genres from the ’60s through to the ’80s.

              Metal Hero in particular is considered to be one of the big three franchises along with Super Sentai and Kamen Rider, but there aren’t any complete series available at all. And yet I pop onto Amazon Japan, and I can a number of the series on DVD. And the series isn’t totally unknown in the West, since we got that franchise through the Power Rangers treatment (VR Troopers & Big Bad Beetleborgs).

              To bring it back to Medabots. The height of the series’ popularity was in the early 2000s, back when it was still airing. At the time, the Internet for most people was too slow for downloading subbed anime to be practical. There hasn’t really been a steady flow of Medabots merchandise outside of Japan since then, so the series isn’t an evergreen like Dragonball Z. Most Medabots fans from back then aren’t thinking about the series right now. They may not even watch the series anymore. Now that the situation has changed and it would be relatively easy to make and distribute a Medabot fansub, there just isn’t nearly as much demand for it as there is for more current anime.

              Though, again, that’s just my thinking. Maybe I’m wrong.

              Reply
              1. Your comments are very fair and valid. The only things I have left to say is that “you just never know when something good might happen until it happens”. Medabots still does have a sizable fanbase even in the West today, not like some of them ever moved on from it completely (points to Rising Beetle again, their campaigns for recent game localizations, and their game and manga fan translations), in fact some of the fans are actually relatively new who began to like it long after the show(‘s US dub) has passed on. Granted, a lot of anime fanbases are much larger than Medabots’, I can admit, but by no means is the current (Western) Medabots fanbase too small. Plus you still do see new fanart come up frequently even on the West-oriented deviantART (some of the work from there is…a *questionable* mixed bag, to say the least, but there’s no denying that it at least shows they care for the things they like). That Italian artist I mentioned earlier? Her fancomic is actually spanning over 300+ full-color pages (and counting) and she’s putting in the effort to make it actually look good and professional-ish on par with a commercial graphic novel release. Plus you do still see some Medabots threads occasionally pop up on /v/ and /m/ as well with plenty of posters (I know, I know, 4chan isn’t exactly the best place in the world, but there still are Medabots fans that hang there and talk). There are lots more examples I can think up, but I don’t want this to turn into a huge wordswordswords tl;dr-fest (I’ve already been pushing it with my previous replies, don’t want to repeat things again)

                So yeah, it is true that some people have long moved on from Medabots after watching it and/or playing the games as kids (and the same is true for any piece of media that ever existed that anyone ever liked, really), but the opposite is also correct as well. And I do agree that in the current state we’re in, we shouldn’t really have high expectations when it comes to hoping for Medabots subs, but like I said before, “you just never know until it happens”, and the chances are a little higher than zero. I’m not hoping for an “instant magic miracle” or anything like that due to those conditions. But with all that I said, I close my statements.

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                1. And what do you know, Medabots subs are actually being made shortly after this conversation happened. I think there are two different teams working on it.

                  I doubt that this conversation had any influence towards the decision, but whaddya know?

                  Reply
                  1. OK, so after speaking with the Rising Beetle IRC chat (which had a subber of Medarot at hand), medasubs of Tumblr seems to be the better translation, despite claiming to be based on an earlier Portuguese-language fansub (and translations of translations sometimes lose things, but luckily there’s at least one or two Japanese speakers on board with cleaning the sub script so that there’s as little lost in translation as possible). A person on the chat who knows a lot of Japanese to be near-fluent confirmed so.

                    The subs that appear on kissanime (presumably the ones from the aforementioned “person from /v/” from an earlier reply), the ones that are different from medasubs, on the other hand, are very rushed and kind of sloppy. Some lines will be obviously inaccurate and sometimes uses very heavy swears (even when there are none in the script) despite the fact that Medarot is and always will be a kids show even in Japan. To give one example, “しまった (shimatta)” is translated as “damn it!” when, depending on the tone, “oops!” or “oh no!” would have been more fitting (and this isn’t me being sensitive over slight swears either, “shimatta” is one of those vague Japanese words that has several translations based on tone, and there are times where “damn” actually would have fit the translation). This is only the tip of the iceberg, though.

  7. I think the reason the whole skirt-flipping thing was considered creeper material back then was because you’d always see the girl’s underwear/panties and that sort of thing just didn’t fly in the U.S., especially if someone thought it was okay for underage boys to see underage girls’ undergarments. It also brings to mind that pulling down a boy’s pants was okay to do back then because “boys don’t cry”, but doing it to a girl was “wrong” because “you don’t want to make girls cry” (gender pandering nonsense). It’s one of those child friendly things the U.S. spat out so much in those times that they had to whitewash all such things out of media.

    Think about the DiC dub of Sailor Moon, which cut out one of the earliest episodes because Umino/Melvin flipped the teacher’s skirt and we got to see her underwear (with a smiley face on the back for some reason). Of course Haruna is an older woman, but that still didn’t make it okay to show on T.V. (I mean, would you actually be ballsy enough to flip your teacher’s skirt if she wore one?)

    Of course, we can always just credit it to the fact that Japan can be really weird at times, and they simply have an eerie obsession with ladies’ undies or little girls naked in the tub (I’m looking at you, Doraemon). XD

    Reply
  8. Jihadi_John (ISIS)

    Lol Wtf? Japan is disgusting and weird. Dang Japs and their SILLY fiddling. DEVIANT ART AND THE FANDOM $UCKZ @ZZ.

    Reply
  9. This is unrelated to the matter at hand, but I’d like to ask you about Shadow the Hedgehog in his eponymous game; in English, he speaks rather colloquially (often and infamously cursing). But in Japanese, he seems to speak in an archaic way. Could you please confirm? Here’s a video with the English subtitles and Japanese audio for reference.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZRIRsG5Mio

    Reply
    1. I wouldn’t say it’s fully “archaic”, but he does use a common “calm, skilled, powerful warrior” style of speaking found in entertainment that sometimes overlaps with old samurai-style talk (his use of the first-person おのれ, etc.) I’m not familiar with the character but if he swears and uses slang in English that’s a pretty big jump from the Japanese, at least from what I’ve seen here by skimming through it.

      EDIT: Just skimmed it a little more, in the “damn planet” part he just calls it ugly/hideous, but since it’s said with disgust “damn” fits the bill too. I’m surprised to see it got in there though.

      Reply
      1. There’s one line in particular I’d like to ask you about, a memetic line: ‘This is like taking candy from a baby, which is fine by me.’ Here’s a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Br7krZAa-T0 (at abouy 7:28). The line I can tell has nothing to do with babies in Japanese, but I can’t really tell much else. What’s he saying?

        There’s another memetic line, ‘Where’s that damn fourth Chaos Emerald’, but I can tell that just says the unremarkable 四つ目のカオスエメラルドはどこにあるというのだ in Japanese.

        Reply
        1. I had to trawl Nico to find an LP with Japanese subs as well as dialogue but eventually I got a video which allowed me to get the text version down (and as a result, have a better chance of hearing correctly when combining such knowledge with a dictionary):

          Shadow: *gazes upon an Emerald held in a glass case on Sonic’s rocket*
          「フン、つくづく小愚かな奴らだ。[hn. tsukudzuku orokana yatsura da]
          「この僕の前にカオスエメラルドをさらけ出すとはな。。。 [kono boku no mae ni chaos emerald wo sarakedasu to wa na]」
          *punches the glass case and retrieves the Emerald, smiles like a small child who just won a toy from a crane game*

          As far as I’m aware this just means

          “Hmph, you guys are complete idiots.
          Just leaving out this Emerald in front of me…”

          Reply

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