Saturday, January 20, 2007

Anuncio de periódico a partir hace de 20 años de la semana-Autobot cars

KMart 23 September 1984
Although my mom and dad are native spanish speakers and I grew up on the border (El Paso, Texas), there was a strong emphasis on english in our house growing up. It was very important that my sister and I be fluent with english speaking and writing. So strong was the english I dare say I grew up a bit ashamed of my mexican heritage. But I didn't let that stop me from watching cartoons on spanish television channels, which often had a wider variety than what the english stations had.

In terms of english television when I grew up there were only three main networks plus the local UHF channel that ran syndicated cartoons. Then you had a buttload of spanish television on the upper UHF channels. What kind of sucked was that when the Transformers cartoon first aired, no english television stations carried it. It was only on spanish television that I was able to get that show. Consequently my first memories of the voices of the characters are very different from what the average english speaking kid in the US grew up with. To this day I can do a spot on impression of spanish Optimus Prime. That came in useful during this past Botcon when I got to demonstrate what he sounded like to some japanese friends.

I was very aware that the Transformers were a United States centric property and the proper canon was the english media. Although I was watching the show in spanish I still felt like my cartoon experience wasn't as 'real' as that of people who got the cartoon in english. I felt like the spanish dubs were a substandard way of experiencing the fantasy. So although I was missing out on the 'real' english cartoons I kept up with the comics and those became my primary source of 'authentic' Transformer entertainment. I should have just been happy to be experiencing the cartoon at all.

Campbell Supply 30 October 1984The Transformers cartoon was already well past the second season when Family Home Entertainment released VHS tapes of the first season TF episodes. I think they started popping up in stores in late 1985. All that was available at the local Winn's store was SOS Dinobots, Roll For It, and Transport to Oblivion. I was so happy to finally have the chance to see the cartoon in english. I watched my F.H.E. tape of SOS Dinobots like five billion times although I had already seen it several times in spanish dub repeats.

My dad would take me to Juarez, Mexico to get my haircut as a little boy. After the haircut we'd go to the little mexican retail stores and it was there that numerous times I'd see the IGA licensed Transformers. To me they were little better than knockoffs because of their spanish packaging and numerous coloring errors. What stuck out in my mind especially strong were how Prowl's doors said 'Policia' instead of 'Police' as they did on the Hasbro version and how bizarrely colored some of the minibots were. To some collectors mexican TFs are highly sought after nowadays, so do I regret shunning them because I was so US centric as a kid? Not really. Considering how badly I treated my toys it's probably for the best that I never owned (which in my case means "destroyed") some rare mexican variant TF. But I do remember them and my negative attitude towards non-english versions of toys at the time.

Hardware Hank 30 October 1984

Nowadays, outside of Japan Transformers aren't packaged with text that's exclusively in the language of the country that they're marketed in. It's all either multilingual packaging or plain english. So it did kind of suck to me when I was in Germany or Turkey or wherever else in Europe and I couldn't get souvenier TFs with totally foreign language packaging like I could when I was a kid. So much for second chances. I noticed that all Turkey gets in regards to native language packaging is an occasional lame sticker on the box written in Turkish that says the toy has sound effects. Maybe this is why Transformers aren't as popular with kids in non-english speaking countries. I know the selection of TFs in the average US WalMart or UK Toys R Us is always light years beyond what stores have in other countries (with the exception of Japan, of course). Maybe Japan, the US and the UK all have wider selections (and possibly larger fanbases?) because Transformers are packaged in the dominant language of those countries.


Smurfwreck said...

It's weird, though I haven't come across that in toys yet (I'm so untraveled, it's pathetic), I do feel like I watch inferior anime because I only typically watch the english dub instead of watching with subtitles. For some shows, like Robotech it really bugs me, but others not so much (like Cowboy Bebop which I prefer because of the coolass voice acting.)

Evil King Macrocranios said...

I don't think it's pathetic to have stability in your life and be able to visit with old friends and family whenever you want.

Robotech to me is probably the best example of an english dub being worth listening to, if only because it's an alternate story totally different from the original animation. Now with stuff like Initial D or Saiyuki I feel your pain. Those two english dubs are particularly cringe inducing. They make me ashamed that I know english and am part of the english speaking world. I want to apologize to any japanese who is learning english and uses those dubs as examples of how english speaking people communicate with each other.


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Evil King Macrocranios was voted king by the evil peoples of the Kingdom of Macrocrania. They listen to Iron Maiden all day and try to take pictures of ghosts with their webcams.