Help Bring Back the Original Main Voice Actors and Re-Dub Pokémon from Seasons 9 & Onward!
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Twelve years ago, the Pokémon Anime's English dub underwent a sudden switch of the voice actors, and most of the crew when Pokémon USA (Now known as "The Pokémon Company International") decided not to renew the contract with now defunct 4Kids Entertainment. Therefore they took the rights for the dubbing of the series away from 4Kids, thereby cutting costs on the production, after the completion of the Advanced Battle Series and the eighth movie by 4Kids. The TPCi dub change started with The Mastermind Of Mirage Pokémon. TPCi have been dubbing the show with lower budget, less experienced voice actors. First with TAJ Productions, and now DuArt Film & Video, who are currently running the English dub into a vastly degraded and inferior quality production. James Carter Cathcart and Kayzie Rogers are the only two original voice actors that stayed with the English dub. At the time, the former is the reason behind the poor script writing/dialogue these days. Rodger Parsons (also known as Ken Gates), the previous narrator of the first six seasons up until the twentieth episode of the Advanced Series of the 4Kids dub; but was the only one of the original main cast to reprise his role as Narrator.
Sadly, a majority of the 4Kids main voice actors were not given a chance to return at the time whatsoever to the dub, and the only ones who did were the prior three, which in itself was strange to find out, and very questionable. Unlike the previous cast and staff, who very much cared about the quality of the series and its fans, this current cast and staff do not seem to do so at all. As of 2018, the current dub of the show has had four different voice directors. The first was Armen Mazlumian of TAJ from 2006-2008, who according to fans on Serebii Forums like "The Great Butler," had the voice actors only do one take and that was it. The second was Tom Wayland from 2008-2015 (notably a former 4Kids voice actor for Mew Mew Power and One Piece, but not for their work on Pokémon), who started his work with the switch from TAJ to DuArt, and was fired last year, due to being accused of rape at Anime Boston in April 2015.
Tom essentially told the voice actors to do whatever they liked, with only a nudge in the direction he wanted: Tom Wayland's "Direction". The third was Theresa Buchheister, who was recently also let go for reasons unknown. Unfortunately, she also had the voice actors do only one take.
Recently, DuArt decided for their fourth voice director to be none other than a 4Kids voice actress TPCi let back onto the show, named Lisa Ortiz: Lisa Ortiz as DuArt's 4th VO Director. She is, like Tom Wayland before, not directing the current TPCi cast well and is casting herself everywhere to boot. In the end, sadly nothing has changed after all this time with the vocal direction, unfortunately.
All four voice directors made no difference to the voice quality of the series, and the English dub has become almost unbearable to watch or even to listen to by now, as you can tell. While some of 4Kids' voice actors from the previous eight seasons have returned to Pokemon as of Pokemon DP: Battle Dimension, and both Rachael Lillis (Original Jessie and Misty) and Stuart Zagnit (Professor Oak) did return to dub Maylene in the Battle Dimension series and Cedric Juniper in the Black & White Dub, respectively, none of the original main voice actors have been allowed to reprise their original roles they established during the first 8 years of the Series run.
Clearly, we suspect corruption as well as double standards here, on the part of TPCi/DuArt. By this logic, Veronica and the others, whom they refused to allow back into the series, could've done so if even given the chance, as well as all actors/actresses being able to reprise their roles if TPCi should see fit. To add insult to injury, they've used Los Angeles based casts for other productions not related to the main Series, but TPCi refuse to bring back the people who made "Pokémon" famous in the first place in English.
And in the case of those who did return, a majority of even those voice-over artists were not allowed to voice their original characters. This was stated by Stuart Zagnit himself, who asked to return and voice Oak, and was told "no" by DuArt when he asked to do so. Furthermore and as alluded to previously, three of the former main cast members, Veronica Taylor, Eric Stuart, and Amy Birnbaum were never approached to return. In addition, there were many others like Brian Maillard, Andrew Rannells, Michael Haigney, Kathy Borland, Andi Whaley, and many other 4Kids actors or crew that were not approached by TPCi. To put it simply, only a select few of 4Kids' actors were approached to do so, clearly indicating DuArt Film & Video has some questionable internal politics as to who they let return, and who they do not.
As of the current Pokémon The Series: Sun and Moon- Ultra Adventures dub, the Pokémon English dub has decreased in quality both dramatically and exponentially under TPCi/DuArt's tenure. Here's one take on why this is:
To make things worse, less of the Japanese background music is being kept than ever before under TPCi. Even 4Kids never replaced this much of it. To add insult to injury, the dub's opening themes are shorter than ever ("Under the Alolan Moon" being only 28 seconds long, in particular), whereas 4Kids had minute long opening themes in comparison. On top of all of this, the vocal deliveries as well as voice acting of the main characters is extremely poor and dull: there has been little to no effort put into their work since they started out, and even now, there's still almost no emotion in their performances. They sound as if they're merely reading lines off a script, or shouting all their lines: in other words, they're not acting well as the characters. It's unbearable, and compared to the old, original 4Kids dub, it's just very bad. The current TPCi/DuArt dub has no real emotion or enjoyment in it whatsoever, and feels like a toddler's show nowadays. While it is agreeable the anime is targeted for younger audiences/kids, this still makes it inexcusable for the current crew to be consistently unable to attempt legitimate effort into the show in such a poor manner. Even Disney movies like Toy Story and Finding Nemo had effort and passion put into it and they were movies for all ages; children to adults. Do we really want TPCi/DuArt to make kids believe this is the best dub they can do? We sure don't.
The Pokémon Company International have also recently released DVD sets of the Original 4Kids Series' dub and Movies, albeit edited badly, with TPCi even removing Jynx from many of 4Kids' dubbed episodes. Furthermore, TPCi deleted scenes and episodes from the sets, and even made typing errors on the DVD credits of 4Kids' dub of the first Pokemon Movie. This just shows proof of their unprofessional attitude, and it seems TPCi themselves are still a bit antagonistic toward their predecessors, 4Kids dub and crew in disregard: see user "akaun6899" and his posts on the matter in the following link- TPCi Bitter Over 4Kids.
It gets worse, though. TPCi's actors as well as actresses themselves are quite antagonistic towards some of the Anime fandom, when receiving even the slightest bit of criticism of their voice over performances, acting very unprofessional in response to it.
For example, James Carter Cathcart, the current English voice actor for James, Meowth, Professor Oak, and Butch, has even stated online under the pseudonym "old guard truthseeker" on Serebii as well as Bulbagarden forums, that he thinks his voice as James is better than Eric Stuart's and Ted Lewis' vocalization, for those curious: James Carter Cathcart Says He's The Best James, and in general, James Carter Cathcart Lies to Fans.
Meanwhile, Michele Knotz, who is the current English voice actress of Jessie, Misty, and May, also doesn't like people referring to Rachel Lillis' Jessie vocalization or Veronica Taylor's May vocalization as superior or even prefer them over her. Michele Knotz can clearly been seen throwing a fit in the YouTube comments section of the following video due to this, also contradicting Tom Wayland's direct description above of his direction, to shift the blame to him, when it was her own accord to do what she liked- see the comments section of Michele Knotz Throwing a Fit- CuteMimi25's Video.
Furthermore, the current voice of Ash and Delia, named Sarah Natochenny, did once label critics of her performances as merely, "Haters gonna hate" in an interview with Dennis Daniel: Sarah Natochenny Puts Down Fans. She has now had more time as Ash then his original VA did, but sadly has not improved vocally or emotionally at portraying him. Having said that, Sarah Natochenny is a great voice actress, and is amazing in all her other voice work. Sadly, she just lacks voicing or emoting the current Ash Ketchum the same way her predecessor has, making him sound like a teenage girl, or gruff woman, who smokes frequently. If you watch Battle Frontier to Sun & Moon and compare her voice with Veronica Taylor's in Johto or Hoenn, you will see the large difference.
Finally, Bill Rogers, who is the current voice of Brock, has also on record lied as "NewBrock" on Serebii and Bulbagarden Forums claiming the 4Kids' crew couldn't work on the dub due to contracts, yet in an interview with AnimeAmerica podcast in 2014, he admitted he did not know that the 4Kids' crew at the time was forced out by force by TPCi, basically meaning Bill Rogers lied to fans about the switch: Bill Rogers Admits He Lied. He once again denied his involvement in another interview in 2015, stating he thought the 4Kids VA's left of their own accord- yet, his actions on Serebii proved he was lying.
Recently, another TPCi voice actor by the name of Daman Mills, who Michele Knotz often refers to her as her "bestie" also went after a fan who merely said that she "didn't care for [Michele's] acting." See the following as an indication of this statement being true: Daman Mills Puts Down Fan. Mills having very minor roles in the show now, due to Michele putting in "A good word" for him. Daman Mills berated and insulted a fan, because she didn't like Knotz's portrayal of the character of Jessie in Team Rocket. It was wrong and inadequate of him to go out of his way to belittle someone, for a comment made with an opinion stated. It is the same kind of action we're dealing with in the Star Wars fandom where Lucasfilm attacks fans over any criticism they give.
Clearly, with a crew as unprofessional as the current one working on the dub, it shows how poorly handled the Pokemon Anime is nowadays in English by TPCi at present. Try looking for any sign of the first eight seasons on TV, and you will only find Battle Frontier to Sun & Moon re-runs as provided by CITV UK, and Disney XD in the USA. Ask yourself this, folks: Do you really want your kids watching a downgraded and awful version of a wonderful show and series you loved since childhood? One of our group members' little brother, as an example, has seen both shows, and enjoys the first eight seasons of the dub much more. Tons of kids out there who were fortunate to see the 4Kids Series, also prefer the old cast to the new one (see Youtube Video, "Kids React to Pokemon").
When it first started airing, the English Dub of Pokemon quickly became a worldwide phenomenon. It had many CD albums, soundtracks, tons of TV and movie merchandise related to the series and movies. The movie trailers and commercials were wonderful, the insert songs were nice to listen to, the background music wasn't as badly composed as it is now and a lot of the Japanese music was kept in the dub, unlike present days. Every episode of the Original Series and Advanced Generation before the dub change was enjoyable, heartbreaking, funny, and very emotional- that influenced a lot of us as children. People would actually want to watch the show every chance they could! Movies were promoted heavily in movie theaters and they even had popular bands and singers such as M2M and Billy Crawford contributing music towards the soundtracks.
As of Pokemon USA/The Pokémon Company International's takeover, there has not been any sort of proper CD album or Japanese OST soundtrack released, with additional features. The Series is not even close to as popular as it once was at this stage, and has gone from the defunct, yet fairly popular Kids WB channel in the States, to being stuck as an evening show on Disney XD, with opening themes that last half a minute to less than half a minute, due to TPCi's apathy and laziness for it. The script writing/dialogue is also dumbed down at times, and uninspired- changing the characters we know and love completely, via Team Rocket rhyming unnecessarily all the time or abusing alliteration, such as with dialogue like, "Pilfering us up a bunch of Primo Pokemon" or "Slick, that should do the trick." Additionally, Ash continuously uses slang like, "a'course," "kay," "ya see," "ya know," in addition to "so psyched," while Brock is reduced to rhyming when flirting with women saying, "Like limpid pools on a babbling brook, let me draw closer so I can have a good look. Because when it comes to the beauty of Officer Jenny, I always get good and shook." Others also suffered, such as May having suggestive dialogue like, "That was so rough," or "I've never seen Ash work it so hard," Max having poorly written dialogue like "I guess trainers who use fightin' type Polka-mon sure know how ta fight," "Wow, you talk great," as well as Bonnie being given poor dialogue like, "Wowie," "Wow, wow, wow," "Try, try," and "Coochy coo." The difference is very notable, and rather large, when you compare the two English dubs in script writing/dialogue alone.
TPCi has also done a lot of OST music replacing that are not from the Japanese version. Some of the music TPCi has replaced has various music filling it that doesn't fit right in the situation, or even at certain moments. Whereas 4Kids chose wisely what music to play at right moments and kept more of the Japanese OST, TPCi composes and use their own music way too frequently, which sounds awkward, horrible and inappropriate at any given moment. On top of that, there have been various deleted scenes from some episodes that are only in the Japanese version, to boot. Some are key points to the plot, while some aren't, but many have been key points to the plot of each episode. Decisions made by TPCi so far have been incoherent, really.
Since TPCi took over the dub, and especially from the XY Series onward, it has been incredibly difficult to enjoy watching Pokémon in English again. The 20th anniversary of Pokemon came, and it's passed the tenth year that The Pokémon Company International have been dubbing the series, as poorly as ever to boot. The original voice cast have again expressed their desire to reprise the roles and even to this day, still provide vocal demonstrations and messages from their characters at conventions for all the fans who grew up watching the show and new fans as well. We really need your signatures, THOUSANDS! As many as we can get! The Pokémon Company International ignore letters, tweets, or any other form of contact due to high volume of requests by fans. But if we can get enough signatures, we can make them listen and take notice of how much the dub means to the fans who still love and care about the show as much as Veronica Taylor loved her role as Ash Ketchum.
Furthermore, Veronica Taylor has hinted at many times that she would reprise the role of "Ash" if she was given the chance.
Here and in many other interviews, Veronica has proven that she still has a fond spot in her heart for Pokémon and that she would reprise her role if she were allowed. Eric Stuart, Rachel Lillis, Tara Sands and Stuart Zagnit are among cast members who also said they would like to reprise their roles.
In case anybody is wondering what we intend to do with the petition, we wish to fix everything that was ruined since the change. While we understand certain people wish to remain neutral and not take sides, this solution is a more of a compromise. We do not wish to terminate the current voices of Pokémon by replacing them. By obtaining thousands of signatures, we would like to have the old cast re-dub seasons 9 all the way to the current season the show is on with the current cast. But that's not all; we would like the dialogue to be re-written, we would like most of the Japanese soundtrack to be used that TPCi has replaced and as well keep every scene that TPCi has deleted from the show. If possible, everything can be put in a format of a DVD in case budget cuts are still a concern. What's more, it is cheaper to voice work in your own house rather than in a studio. Any kind of negotiation is possible if we keep an open mind on many possibilities.
Before you say "Give it up," or, "It happened, nothing will change," ask yourselves this; How would you feel if the same thing happened to Mickey Mouse, Spongebob Squarepants, The Simpsons, Family Guy or Futurama? How would your kids or you as adult fans of your favorite cartoon show that brings you joy inside react if your favorite lead voice actor were replaced the same way with 'sound-alikes,' changed the music and had awful dialogue re-written that changed their character entirely?
How would you react if this happened to, "My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic", which is such a popular show? How would your kids react to see their show drastically change like that? The music replaced with awful tones, songs no longer in any episodes, no more CD's, no more movies released in theaters, the main voices and every pony they loved, changed and sounding nothing like before just to cut budget and save money? How would you feel about that: how would your kids react?
Don't just think about the adults who used to love the show. Think about the kids, the children who would rather see the Original Series on Netflix due to more experience, effort and caring voice acting and music, instead of watching a cheap version by a company who doesn't care for their fans and only care about the money with emotionless acting and bad music replacement on Cartoon Network. Why have "sound-alikes," when you can have the real voices who made the series popular return.
The choice is yours. We have goals, we have projects and we care. Sign this petition, not for just for SOVA, but for the kids of the new generation who love cartoons. If we get enough signatures we can make a difference. If you wish to learn more about how we plan to achieve our goals, please join our facebook group 'Save Our Voice Actors,' and learn how you can help. The more help we have, the more signatures we can obtain. We are not a hate group. We are just Pokémon fans like everyone else and who really care about having a better dub like those from Funimation and Viz Media. Please help spread our campaign to reach enough signatures and show the company that we care and we want the originals back. It's not just any anime or cartoon. This is Pokémon; Like Mickey Mouse and Looney Tunes, Pokémon was our childhood. And while the character Ash Ketchum showed us what it means to strive for our dreams, it was Veronica Taylor who gave character to the character and made us believe in his sincere charisma, the same way Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny was portrayed as by their respective voice actors. Help us strive for our goal. Help us save our voice actors. Thank you.
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