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Uncovering Your Family’s Story: A Guide to Family History Genealogy

Family history genealogy is a fascinating way to learn more about your family’s past. It can be a rewarding journey of discovery, uncovering stories and facts that you never knew before. Whether you’re just starting out or have been researching for years, this guide will help you get the most out of your family history research.

Getting Started

The first step in researching your family history is to gather as much information as possible from living relatives. Ask questions about their parents, grandparents, and other ancestors. Write down the names, dates, and places they mention. This information will be invaluable when you start searching for records.

Next, create a family tree. Start with yourself and work backward in time, adding each generation as you go. This will help you keep track of the information you’ve gathered and identify any gaps in your knowledge.

Searching for Records

Once you’ve collected all the information you can from living relatives, it’s time to start searching for records. There are many online databases that can help with this process, such as Ancestry.com or FamilySearch.org. These sites allow you to search for birth, marriage, death, census, military service, immigration and other records related to your ancestors.

Another great resource is local libraries and archives. Many libraries have collections of historical documents that can provide valuable insight into your family’s past. You may also want to contact local genealogical societies or historical societies in the area where your ancestors lived to see if they have any records or resources that can help with your research.

Preserving Your Findings

Once you’ve uncovered some interesting facts about your family’s past, it’s important to preserve them for future generations. Consider creating a family website or blog where you can share stories and photos with relatives near and far. You could also create a scrapbook or photo album with pictures of ancestors and copies of important documents like birth certificates and marriage licenses. Finally, consider writing down stories from living relatives so they don’t get lost over time.

Family history genealogy can be an incredibly rewarding experience that helps bring the past alive in new ways. With some patience and dedication, you can uncover fascinating stories about your ancestors that will be treasured by generations to come.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.


ghost stories dub history

The Weird and Misunderstood History of the English Ghost Stories Dub

Ghost Stories Anime Dub

Translation, localization, and dubbing are arguably some of the toughest jobs in the anime industry. Anime has a long history of puns and double entendre that only work in the original Japanese, so translators need to either rewrite the dialogue or add explanatory notes for the viewer’s benefit. Other times, an anime might have extra text like chalkboard writing or street signs, which begs the question of how much could (or should) be translated. Dubbing also poses its own set of problems, since the translated script and voice actors need to fit new dialogue into the existing mouth movements and try to match the timing. Of course, no matter what a company decides on, it won’t please everybody, and some series, like Komi Can’t Communicate from last fall, seemed almost tailor-made for controversy due to its abundance of on-screen text. However the translation and localization process goes, though, it’s generally assumed that the adaptation should strive to be as faithful to the original as possible.

The folks over at ADV Films who did the 2005 English dub of Ghost Stories clearly did not get that memo.

In an era when shows like South Park and Family Guy were pushing the boundaries of political incorrectness in animation, one team of dubbers decided to take a relatively harmless anime about ghost-hunting preteens and turn it into a raunchy comedy brimming with pop-culture references and pitch-black humor. It may be too distasteful for some viewers, and some of the humor is definitely outdated, but the fact that people are still watching it, talking about it, and even posting reaction videos to it nearly 20 years later is a testament to its longevity. The story of how a popular children’s book series turned into one of the most infamous anime adaptations of all time, however, is almost as bizarre as the actual ghost stories the series was based on.

Ghost Stories originated as an anthology of children’s novels by Toru Tsunemitsu that ran throughout the 1990s. Tsunemitsu drew inspiration for the books while working as a middle school teacher, where he would regularly hear his students gossiping about urban legends and rumors. The initial 1990 publication, School Ghost Stories , was successful enough to spawn nine follow-up volumes, a live-action television adaptation, several films, and finally, an anime series. Loosely based on the books and films, the anime version follows Satsuki and her friends as they deal with various ghosts haunting their middle school. The anime ran for twenty episodes and two specials from the Fall of 2000 to the Spring of 2001. What happened after the anime finished airing, though, has become an urban legend of its own.

Ghost Stories Anime Dub

Today, the popular consensus is that the Ghost Stories anime flopped so badly in Japan that the studio, Pierrot, was desperate to release it overseas to recoup their losses, but as it turns out, this might not have been the case at all. The series actually had a successful initial run , even outperforming shows like Pokemon and Doraemon at times, and it acquired a devoted fanbase that still looks back on it favorably. It also received dubbed adaptations in several other countries, and Animax produced its own English dub for distribution in Singapore. Soon afterward, though, Animax turned Ghost Stories over to ADV Films in 2005 for a North American English release, and this moment seems to be the origin of a lot of the confusion. For some reason, the staff and voice actors at ADV Films came to believe that the original script was so bad it wasn’t worth saving, and that a rewrite was desperately needed in order to make the show saleable to audiences.

It’s difficult to know if ADV’s decision resulted from some misunderstanding between Animax and ADV, or if the ADV localizers simply disliked the original series. Another possibility is that Steven Foster, the dialogue director for ADV at the time, was simply going about his usual business. When localizing an anime, Foster had a reputation for making significant changes to storylines and dialogue when he didn’t like the original source material. He apparently did this so often that fans even came up with the term “ fosterize ” just to have a specific word to describe it. Foster, for his part, has stated in a recent interview that the attorney for ADV who negotiated the licensing deal was the one who originally told him the Japanese companies “weren’t really happy with [Ghost Stories],” and that Foster was allowed to do “anything [he] could do to make money.” It also might not have helped that Animax seems to have placed almost no specific restrictions on how much ADV Films could alter the content of the original show. Instead, they gave ADV only a few vague stipulations to follow when producing their adaptation: don’t change the characters’ names, don’t change the way the ghosts are defeated, and don’t change the basic plot of each episode.

An attorney and a dialogue director’s misunderstanding over the show’s failure. Only a handful of loose guidelines for ADV to adhere to when translating and localizing it. Steven Foster’s own “fosterizing” tendencies. This might have been all that was necessary for ADV Films to conclude that Ghost Stories was inherently flawed and that they had free rein to do whatever they thought was necessary to “improve” it.

Whatever the case may be, in the ensuing years, the people who worked on the ADV dub spread some version of this jumbled history around. Greg Ayres, who voiced Leo, recounted in 2007 that the original anime was “a turd of a show,” and that “[the Japanese distributors] told ADV, ‘look, this didn’t do well on TV, you may have to work with this show a little bit.’” Similarly, Monica Rial, who voiced Momoko, stated at Anime USA 2011 that Ghost Stories “did not do very well in Japan,” and that Animax told them, “We don’t care what you do, we just need to recoup some of the money we lost on this show. Have fun!” Over the last decade or so, some variation of this messy narrative has become the standard, with no shortage of blog posts , reviews , and YouTube commentators recounting it. And although some critics have recently debunked the myth of Ghost Stories’ initial failure, even they can’t definitively explain why so many people at ADV Films concluded the show was a complete bust before they even began working on it.

Ghost Stories Anime Dub

Like any good urban legend, we may never learn the whole truth of why ADV decided to overhaul Ghost Stories’ original script so thoroughly, but in some ways, it doesn’t even matter. Once Foster and the voice actors got it in their heads that they could “have fun,” they proceeded to create one of the most bizarre, unconventional, and hilarious official anime dubs in the history of the industry. Foster himself, along with translator Lucan Duran, received credit for the new English script, but the voice actors did so much ad-libbing that they were given writing credits as well. According to Monica Rial, the first person to record on any given day would set the tone for everyone else to play off of , and eventually, it became a game of one-upmanship to see who could be the funniest person in the booth. No one seemed too concerned about crossing the line, either. As Greg Ayres put it , “We tried to have a joke for everybody.”

The fact that Vic Mignogna insisted on being credited as “Obi Frostips” for his bit role in a single episode says a lot about the script ADV Films ultimately came up with. For starters, the backstories and personalities of several characters are completely changed. Satsuki’s friend Momoko, for instance, is transformed into a born-again Christian who tries to convert everybody, while her teacher Mr. Sakata becomes a sex-obsessed pervert with a reputation for spying on the girls’ locker room. Meanwhile, the dialogue is consistently and unabashedly offensive, with frequent jokes about abortion, domestic abuse, mental disability, bestiality, and other sensitive topics. Not all of it has aged well, and some of the more dated pop-culture references will likely go over younger viewers’ heads, but there are also some clever fourth-wall jokes that poke fun at the anime tropes, animation mistakes, and stereotypical plots of the original show. With such a grab-bag of different styles and tones, the humor of Ghost Stories is bound to be hit-or-miss for some people, but on the flip side, it does mean that many different audiences can get some laughs from it, especially if you’re into offensive comedy.

Ghost Stories Anime Dub

From the moment it was released, ADV’s unconventional dub of Ghost Stories has been one of the most polarizing adaptations the anime industry has ever seen—it was booed at its Otakon 2005 premiere , only to rebound just one year later and beat out Fullmetal Alchemist to win Anime Insider’s 2006 “Dub of the Year” award. At the heart of many criticisms of the dub is the issue of whether or not a divergent or parody adaptation of an existing work somehow disrespects the original. But to claim that the ADV dub is problematic because it fails to faithfully adapt the source material is perhaps, in this case, the wrong approach. Because it adds so much original content and reinvents the characters and dialogue so frequently, ADV’s Ghost Stories can be considered an almost entirely new show, rather than a simple localization or alternate-language version of the same series. In many ways, it more closely resembles parody genres like spoofs, overdubs, and “abridged” series, with some even crediting it as a forerunner of the 2010s anime abridging craze . Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that ADV’s take on Ghost Stories was a singularly unique and special event. Unless a Japanese company somehow allows a dubbing studio to produce an officially-licensed abridged series, we may never see anything like it ever again.

You can watch the ADV Films’ English dub of Ghost Stories on Retrocrush , Crunchyroll , and Amazon Prime . © KODANSHA / FUJI TV / Aniplex Inc. / PIERROT

ghost stories dub history

A professional music historian by day, Matt Lyons has been an anime lover for almost 30 years. He is active in several Discord anime communities, an avid con-goer, and the host of the comedy show "Anime FAILS!" at American anime conventions. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram.

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  • Studio Pierrot
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Ghost Stories

  • View history
  • 1 Dubbing History
  • 2.1.1 Episodic Characters
  • 2.1.2 Additional Voices
  • 2.2 Animax Dub
  • 4 Video Releases
  • 5 External Links

Dubbing History [ ]

Ghost Stories was picked up for dubbing by ADV Studios in 2005. According to voice actor Greg Ayres , they were told to "do whatever it took to sell the show." The only condition was that the basic story and names of major characters and ghosts had to remain intact, but everything else was fair game. To that end, director Steven Foster reworked the show into a pure Gag Dub by throwing out nearly all of the original script. When the voice actors were called in to record scenes, whoever got there first would set the tone and subject for the scene, which meant the other cast members had to follow in those footsteps. This approach produced a dub full of random characterization, fourth-wall-breaking jokes, political and cultural references.

An alternative dub was previously produced by the anime television network Animax , which stayed true to the original, retaining all of the original Japanese plot, character and dialog details, broadcasting the series uncensored and unedited within its respective networks across the world, including Southeast Asia and the Indian Subcontinent.

ADV Dub [ ]

Episodic characters [ ], additional voices [ ], animax dub [ ].

  • Greg Ayres expressed regret that the Mel Gibson Jew rant had happened just a few weeks after production wrapped, as he would have loved to have incorporated it into the final episode.

Video Releases [ ]

External links [ ].

  • Ghost Stories at the Internet Movie Database
  • Ghost Stories (anime) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia
  • 1 One Piece
  • 2 Pokémon Horizons: The Series
  • 3 Master Detective Archives: Rain Code

ghost stories dub history

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The Story Behind 'Ghost Stories:' The Funniest (And Most Offensive) Anime Dub Ever Made

Hannah Collins

Ghost Stories  is a 20 episode long anime that was created in 2000, and that adapts Tōru Tsunemitsu's books of the same name. The premise is simple: a group of preteens (and their evil cat sidekick) investigate and fight ghosts in their town, with the help of a book left by the protagonist's dead mother.

After the anime turned out to be a complete flop on Japanese TV, Animax approached ADV Films to create the Ghost Stories  English dub. When the contract was made, Animax did not expect the series to fare much better with the American market. The company was under huge financial pressure, so the dubbing team was given a unique amount of creative freedom. The first English dub of  Ghost Stories  has since become a cult classic, as an obscure, sub-par anime series for kids became a hilarious, self-aware, and highly offensive fan favorite. 

ADV Films Was Told To 'Do Whatever' They Wanted To Make The Show A Hit

ADV Films Was Told To 'Do Whatever' They Wanted To Make The Show A Hit

Feeling the financial strain from the anime's failure in Japan, Animax had very few rules for ADV Films when it came time to dub  Ghost Stories:

"1. Do not change the names of any character, including the ghosts.  2. Do not change the way any ghost is killed as it is based on Asian ghost legends.  3. Do not change the meaning of the episode." 

Additionally, the Japanese company included a desperate plea: "4. Do whatever else you want to make the show successful." Animax had no idea what they'd signed themselves up for.

The Dubbing Team Gave The Characters New, Politically Incorrect Personalities

The Dubbing Team Gave The Characters New, Politically Incorrect Personalities

Working under the "do whatever you want" remit, the ADV team threw out the original, more faithfully adapted script, and imbued the  Ghost Stories  characters with comedic personalities.

Satsuki — the 10-year-old protagonist — drops F-bombs, and frets over the size of her bra cups. Her best friend Momoko is an Evangelical Christian fanatic, her love interest Hajime is super arrogant and has a lewd sense of humor, and her little brother Keichiiro has a learning disability. When he becomes hysterical, no one but his sister can understand what he's saying. 

This all leads to some very (semi-deliberate) offensive gags relating to each character's adaptational changes. Everyone makes fun of Momoko's hypocritical beliefs, Leo, the Jewish character, is regularly the victim of antisemitic jabs, and Keichiiro is described in horrifically ableist terms. 

It's Arguably The First Ever 'Abridged' Anime Series

It's Arguably The First Ever 'Abridged' Anime Series

The  Ghost Stories  dub is one of the most famous " gag dubs " in anime history, but some also argue that it might qualify as the first "abridged" anime series, due to its self-parodic nature. The series predates LittleKuriboh's Abridged Yu-Gi-Oh! series by a year and TeamFourStar's DragonBall Z Abridged   by three years.

However, whether an official dub of a show can truly count as "abridged" (despite being a parody of itself) is debatable. 

A Lot Of The Gags Were Ad-Libbed

A Lot Of The Gags Were Ad-Libbed

Voice actor Greg Ayers (who voices Leo in  Ghost Stories ) confirmed the improvisational nature of the show at a Q&A in 2007. Apparently, the tone for a scene was set by whichever actor got to the studio first, and the others would just follow their lead.

The scenarios were based on vaguely general notes about what was supposed to be happening in the scene, and there was little fully-scripted dialog. 

The Voice Actors Really Rip Into The Poor Animation Quality

The Voice Actors Really Rip Into The Poor Animation Quality

As part of the dub's "anything goes" comedic approach, everything became a target for ridicule, including the anime's low production value. In the seventh episode, the voice actors use a plot point involving a "soul-stealing mirror" to poke fun at the how frequently the characters go  off-model :  

"Satsuki: 'What's going on? What happened to my leg?'  Kayako: 'And your father thinks it's always cute to cross his eyes in pictures — SEE!? Look, he did it there!' Satsuki: 'Oh, damn anime! Look what's happened to my eyes!'"

The Dub Has A Long-Running Gag About Christian Slater's Career

The Dub Has A Long-Running Gag About Christian Slater's Career

The pop culture references come thick and fast in the  Ghost Stories  dub. One of the funniest (though completely out of context) is an ongoing joke about the unfortunate turn that Christian Slater's acting career took (at the time). Voice actor Greg Ayres brings up the star's fall from grace at every opportunity.

In episode eight, he throws in "Christian Slater's acting career" when naming people who could easily board a boat bound for the underworld. Considering Leo (Ayres's character) is characterized as being an aspiring child actor in the dub, this obsession could possibly be described as being in character.

The Voice Actors Openly Mock Anime Cliches In The Show

The Voice Actors Openly Mock Anime Cliches In The Show

Ghost Stories  didn't exactly reinvent the anime wheel, and the show engages in many of the medium's well-worn tropes. For the ADV dubbing team, this was just more fuel to fan the comedy flames. 

Despite being only 10 years old, Satsuki is the victim of many " panty shots ." It happens to her so often that she opts to wear gym shorts for the sports festival in the fifth episode to avoid being exposed. While these are mainly played off for laughs, they make for an uncomfortable viewing all the same.

The dubbing team made sure to draw viewers' attention to Satsuki's age as much as possible, and   made everyone even more distressed by having her repeatedly fret over her inadequate cup size. 

There Are Frequent Fourth Wall Breaks

There Are Frequent Fourth Wall Breaks

The dubbed iterations of the  Ghost Stories  gang are well aware of what medium they're in, and they not afraid to let the viewer know that. Characters will frequently break the fourth wall, such as in this exchange from episode five: 

"Leo: 'I mean, have you heard about the sports festival?' Hajime: 'Yes, the sports festival... That's what this whole episode is about.'"

Later in the episode, Leo makes reference to the pitfalls of dubbing a show, saying, "Oh-my-god-oh-my-god-what-the-hell-is-happening-here-these-are-the-fastest-lip-flaps-I've-ever-had-to-sync!"

To ensure they offend equally, the voice actors also turn on each other. In the third episode, Satsuki and Momoko namedrop and insult Greg Ayres and Chris Patton, the English voice actors for Leo and Hajime.

Anime Fans Hated The Show When It First Came Out

Anime Fans Hated The Show When It First Came Out

Though it's hard to believe now, the  Ghost Stories  gag dub was largely snubbed by anime fans when it was released in the mid-'00s. Despite the original, Japanese version being poorly received and poorly made, ADV Films's tongue-in-cheek approach wasn't appreciated either.

However, like any true cult classic, audiences have to grown to love the dub over time. Not only has the self-depricating and NSFW humor aged well over time (even if some of the pop culture references haven't), its technical achievements in matching the dubbed audio to the characters' lip movements are  considered to be far superior to the original Japanese version, and better than most others of the era.

The Inappropriate End Credits Song Is From The Original Japanese Series

The Inappropriate End Credits Song Is From The Original Japanese Series

"I miss you, I miss you, I need you, I need you... SEXY SEXY! " Isn't this anime supposed to be aimed at young kids? While much of  Ghost Stories's  inappropriate nature was added when the show was dubbed for English-speaking audiences, the weirdly inappropriate end credits song was created for the original, Japanese version of the show. 

The Show Is One Of A Kind

The Show Is One Of A Kind

For this anime " gag dub " to be born, a lot of specific circumstances were required. The original Japanese language version had to flop in Japan, to the extent that Animax was desperate enough to give ADV Films total creative freedom.

It was a perfect storm that produced a unique series that will likely never be replicated.  

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Ghost Stories: 10 Things You Didn't Know About The Anime's English Dub

The Ghost Stories dub has become a cult classic thanks to its hilariously satirical tone. Here's what fans might not know about its creation.

The combination of anime and comedy is a match that had been made in heaven a long time ago. Almost  every mainstream anime series featuring hilarity in some form or the other. However, some shows truly go above and beyond when it comes to delivering a comedic masterpiece. The anime series  Ghost Stories  is a great example.

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People who watched this series in Japanese will definitely be confused by the satirical tone of the English dub, which is simply bizarre in every sense of the word. The entire script changed, making the show feel more like an Abridged series. The background of this show's infamous English dub is the stuff of legends, with the following pieces of trivia being particularly notable.

10 The Anime Was A Massive Failure In Japan

Ghost Stories might be a cult classic in the West, but that's solely due to the eccentric nature of its dub. The story seems fairly unremarkable on first viewing. Most of the Japanese audience apparently echoed this sentiment, as the series bombed.

Ghost Stories was a massive failure in Japan. In fact, it's quite remarkable that this series managed to secure a dub at all after its lackadaisical performance. In fact, the Japanese airing was so unsuccessful that...

9 Animax Gave Almost Full Creative Freedom To ADV Films

ADV Films — the studio behind the dubs for popular shows like Neon Genesis Evangelion and Elfen Lied — dubbed the failure that was Ghost Stories . Animax was so displeased by the performance of Ghost Stories in Japan that when they gave these rights, they placed almost no creative restrictions when it came to the dub.

They only had two guidelines when producing the dub.  The names of the characters should remain the same , and the manner in which ghosts are defeated shouldn't be tampered with. Aside from that, everything was fair game.

8 Animax Pleaded With ADV Films For The Series' Success

Animax was quite desperate to turn Ghost Stories into a hit in the West. It clarified this fact quite clearly with ADV Films when the latter gained the rights to the dub.

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Aside from the two guidelines mentioned above, Animax also mentioned a third point. They wanted ADV Films to do everything in their power to turn Ghost Stories into something entertaining. The cast was more than enthused at this point, but the real turning point of this dub is detailed in the next entry.

7 Steven Foster Lit The Fire That Led To This Legendary Dub

The director of the dub, Steven Foster, was incredibly happy to hear about the nature of Ghost Stories ' localization. Since his studio pretty much had free reign over the script, he decided to create something unique.

This eventually led him to direct one of the most unusual dubs of all time. For one thing, voice actors had a great deal of freedom when deciding on their own lines. Speaking of which...

6 The First Voice Actor To Arrive Got Improvisation Rights

With Foster's vision, the stage was set for  Ghost   Stories  to have a tongue-in-cheek manner of dubbing. In this vein, ADV Films had a rather unique manner of approaching how it went about the dubbing for each given episode.

The tone of the script for each episode was decided by the first voice actor to come to the studio on that day. The other actors would then brainstorm on the script and how it would incorporate this tone into the episode.

5 Almost All The Dialogue Is Ad-Libbed

Given how Ghost Stories didn't have a set script, it goes without saying that a lot of the dialogue in the series is ad-libbed. This is a huge part of what gives the series its unique flavor.

Almost every scene in every episode involves the voice actors exaggerating their personas. They bounce hilarious lines off each other in a bid to make the most meta, side-splittingly hilarious content possible in an anime dub.

4 It's Arguably The Progenitor Of Abridged Anime Series

In the modern anime landscape, the term "abridged" is mainly used in reference to TFS. They popularized this term with their hilarious and legendary Dragon Ball Z Abridged series , which is easily one of the most popular fan-made interpretations of Dragon Ball Z 's story.

However, what most people may not realize is that the concept of an abridged anime series existed long before the golden years of TFS. In fact,  Ghost Stories was the first attempt at attempting a hilarious spin on a serious anime story. This makes the dubbed version of this show a landmark achievement in the industry.

3 Audiences Hated The Dub When It Came Out

Of course, not all was sunshine and roses for the Ghost Stories dub when it came out. Most reactionary takes at the time vilified the show for featuring an odd dub that didn't remain faithful to the source material at all.

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It took a while for Ghost Stories to finally find its audience. However, it became a cult classic in the process, and a treat for any fan that wanted to watch a genuinely hilarious anime.

2 Animax Made A More Faithful Dub Later On

Animax did end up giving the go-ahead on a dub that would absolutely butcher the source material. However, they later decided that perhaps a certain group of people would have actually wanted to watch a faithful adaptation of this series .

A few years after the first dub, Animax greenlit a dub that would seriously interpret the events of Ghost Stories.  This dub is now so rare that finding a copy of these episodes can prove to be quite a royal pain.

1 Wanting To Incorporate The Infamous Mel Gibson Rant

The Ghost Stories dub was notorious for referencing various events of the time. It turned into an ode to American pop culture in 2004-05. However, people who watch this show will notice that one hilarious moment from this time period doesn't appear in the show: the infamous Mel Gibson rant.

Greg Ayres — the voice of a Jewish character in ADV Films' interpretation of the show — regretted the fact that the Mel Gibson rant happened after production was wrapped up for the dub. Otherwise, this rant would have been a major part of the show's humor.

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The Most Offensive Anime Dub Ever Has to Be Heard to Be Believed

Ghost Stories failed in Japan only to became larger than ever after it was dubbed in America. Why? Because it was so (deliberately) offensive.

Anime dubs are usually criticized if they're unfaithful. Though certain artistic license must be taken due to localization concerns (and to match timing of lip-flaps), hardcore fans have been known to find fault with minute changes -- even if the line remains accurate to the spirit of the original. Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid and Zombieland Saga both encountered controversy years ago for either localizing some lines or more accurately translating material, thus making it different to how fans of the previous version remembered. It seems there's no universally correct way to localize anime scripts.

Except, in one very memorable case in 2000, when one studio tossed out the entire script of an anime and re-wrote it into one of the greatest gag dubs of all time. Before Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series or Dragon Ball Z Abridged popularized gag dubs of beloved anime, a not-so-popular anime received its own parody dub and, in the process, became something of a cult classic. Considering the self-referencing and level of offensiveness in its humor, it would be easy to assume it is a fan-made work, as the other aforementioned series are. Shockingly, though, the English-language Ghost Stories dub is an official release . How on Earth does something like this get made?

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Ghost Stories Was Originally Aimed at Children

Ghost Stories , also known as Gakkou no Kaidan, is an adaptation of the books of the same name, written by Toru Tsunemitsu. The intention was to produce a series aimed at younger children that introduced them to classic Japanese folklore in a new way. Keep in mind, at this time Japanese horror was a big deal . Ringu , Ju-On and Audition were hitting screens, so kids would've been hearing about these popular adult scary movies they weren't allowed to watch. In theory, Ghost Stories may have sounded like an easy hit to capitalize on the trend.

Unfortunately, this was not the case. No one watched Ghost Stories and the show became a financial failure. The studio Animax, which at this time was looking to put content on its North American television station and produce content that could turn this dud into gold, attempted to dub the anime , creating a faithful script and dub that, ultimately, was tossed out. Animax then turned to dub studio ADV Films.

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ADV Attempted to Dub an Acceptable Version of Ghost Stories

ADV is a household name among older anime fans, having produced successful dubs for Neon Genesis Evangelion , Excel Saga and Azumanga Daioh . Even at the time, ADV had attracted controversy for changing elements of the dub to make it more acceptable for an English-speaking audience. A great example of this would be how, in Evangelion , Tiffany Grant's portrayal of Asuka replaced tons of her lines with German . This led to a lot of controversy among fans, some of whom felt that disloyalty to the original script hurt the overall product, while others argued that it actually added and enriched Asuka's character.

Regardless, as one of the then-biggest names in anime, ADV Films was a natural pick to dub Ghost Stories . However, it was given a particularly interesting -- and possibly unique -- deal. Animax would let ADV do almost anything it wanted, so long as it made sure this show was a hit. The only three conditions were: don't change the character names (including the ghosts); don't change the way the ghosts are slain (a reference to Japanese folklore) and, finally, don't change the core meaning of each episode. Beyond that, ADV had free rein to do whatever it wanted. And it took a mile from that inch.

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Even the Studio's Voice Actors Contributed to the Script

The ADR script for Ghost Stories is written by its ADR Director, Steven Foster, its translator, Lucan Duran, and all the dub actors cast in the role (which included Greg Ayres, Monica Rial, Chris Patton, among many others). The actors added their own suggestions to what their characters would say or what running gags would be recited throughout the series. The writing process was decided with the following tactic: whoever showed up to the recording studio first for a given episode would make stuff up, and everyone who came in later had to build upon the tone and jokes established in the first place. Yes, really -- that's how this official dub was written.

In addition, the actors found many workarounds to the three rules they were given. Greg Ayres, at a convention Q&A , said of Animax's terms: "We could not change how that person was killed, so if it was killed by rubbing two sticks together and chanting a phrase, that's how we had to kill it. That being said, we could change the magical phrase."

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While they couldn't change the core of each episode, they could make any raunchy and inappropriate joke possible. And that's how a children's anime quickly turned into an R-Rated, raunchy love letter to bad taste. The good-natured children from the original story were replaced by a vulgar, swearing teenager; a child with a severe learning disability; a hypocritical, Jesus-obsessed evangelist ; a constant victim of antisemitism and an arrogant brat who, quite frankly, is possibly the least maladjusted of the whole cast.

With every writer coming up with their own thoughts about what jokes to make, the writers' room got meta. On top of inappropriate humor, the writer-actor coalition started making pop culture jokes, poking fun at then-noteworthy celebrities (Christian Slater, for some reason known only to Greg Ayres, is a particular target), anime clichés and tropes , as well as the frankly poor animation and character models in the series itself. The fact that these writers came up with these gags is of itself not remarkable. What is remarkable is that Animax, the studio licensing out a children's show to this studio, would sign off on whatever they were sent. If anything, they actually liked the changes.

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The Humor in the Ghost Stories Anime Dub Is Subjective

Today, people regularly upload clips from Ghost Stories as montages of the greatest, most outrageous anime dubs ever. It's often hailed as the forebear to the Abridging craze that ran wild over YouTube . But, tell that to the people who hated it upon release. Ghost Stories was not originally received with unanimous acclaim. Purists hated the changes and deviations, viewing it as overtly disrespectful to Japanese culture. Many others just thought it disrespectful to human decency and morality, which only proved that the jokes -- intentionally written to be as offensive as possible -- were working.

In retrospect, Ghost Stories ' humor is still highly subjective. Some might not appreciate the offensive humor, but for anime fans, it was a big deal. Yes, the pop culture jokes have aged poorly -- as topical humor often does -- but this really was one of the first real big productions to make fun of inconsistent animation, awkward tropes, and, of course, how anime itself sometimes doesn't make any sense. Rather than be mean spirited about it, the show reveled in it. It celebrated every silly anime thing out there. And Animax got just what they wanted -- a total flop turned into gold.

ghost stories dub history

The Iconic, and Troubling, Legacy of the ‘Ghost Stories’ English Dub

English dubs for anime series usually get a bad rep. Oftentimes, they are criticized for being overdramatic or untrue to the character. While some of these criticisms are warranted, the majority are not. It isn’t necessarily the voice actors’ fault, but rather the instructions that they are given for what they are supposed to do and how they are supposed to portray the character they are dubbing.

However, what if a voice actor was not given any rules? What if they were told to essentially create an entirely different story than the one originally told?

That is the infamous question that the English dub for the 2000 anime Ghost Stories asks. The original series is a standard Japanese kid-friendly horror show; two siblings and their friends, plus a mysterious talking cat, team up to hunt ghosts around their neighborhood and school. If that sounds familiar at all to you, you are not alone. The original anime was considered a flop on Fuji TV, where it ran from October 2000 to March 2001. It brought in low ratings and even lower reviews, criticizing the show for being, well, pretty much every other pseudo-horror anime at the time.

The story from this point over is well known to anime fans. The original creators of Ghost Stories, the animation studio Pierrot and the distribution company Aniplex, sold the rights to the English dub to the now-defunct A.D. Vision. Also known as “ADV Films” by anime fans, this was the studio that was responsible for dubbing and distributing well-known animes such as Neon Genesis Evangelion and Elfen Lied . Aniplex, along with original Ghost Stories director Noriyuki Abe, had just four simple requests for A.D. Vision:

  • Don’t change any names of the characters, including the featured ghosts
  • Don’t change the cause of death for the ghosts
  • Don’t change the basic episode meaning
  • Do whatever it takes to make the show successful

These were extremely important to follow as many of the ghosts shown in the series follow the basic structures of traditional Japanese spirits, such as the Yurei or the Onryo. Changing the meaning or cause of death for these spirits for English audiences would be considered disrespectful. A.D. Vision adhered to all of these rules and released their dub of Ghost Stories in 2005. What followed is arguably one of the most well-known English dubs ever created.

The English dub for Ghost Stories varied extremely from the original. What was originally straightforward, although poorly-developed ghost adventure series turned into a self-parodying onslaught of early 2000s humor and references. Almost all of the characters, especially the main character Satsuki, became foul-mouthed and inappropriate, despite them originally being in the sixth grade. On the other end, the character of Momoko turned into an Evangelical Christian for the dub, constantly berating her friends for not wanting to become Born Agains. The ghosts and how they represent the culture surrounding Japanese spirits remained the same but were just as crude as the main group of middle school-aged children.

ghost stories dub history

As previously stated, the jokes and largely-improvised dialogue of the show ended up being extremely dated, as they aim more for offensive and shock than anything else. The r-word is thrown around on an episodic basis, particularly aimed at Satsuki’s little brother Keiichiro. There are also a fair number of jokes aimed at Asian and Black people, oftentimes utilizing racist stereotypes as the punchline. What makes this particularly damning was the fact that all of the roles in the dub were portrayed by white people. Offense was the only way A.D. Vision and its dubbers found a way to sell the mediocre anime about ghost hunting kids, and to a certain extent, it worked.

ghost stories dub history

It took a while for the dub to find its cult following, however, as it was originally panned as the worst English dub of all time. Over time, it has developed the exact opposite reputation; in a sea of seemingly similarly acted English voice dubs, Ghost Stories stood out for all the right and wrong reasons.

The question is, could a dub such as Ghost Stories exist again today? It is difficult to say. While the concept of changing an anime’s story through dubbing is still a practice that happens today (albeit in less official forms), a significant portion of the answer relies on what exactly that dub is like. Shocking humor does not have to rely on racist or ableist stereotypes, as many comedies have proven over the fifteen years that the iconic dub was released. Western shows such as BoJack Horseman and even other animes such as Beastars are able to make humor out of dark and disturbing concepts. 

However, the dub has a loyal fanbase that maintains that its poorly-aged and offensive jokes are the best part of the show. They are usually found in YouTube comments of funny moment compilations talking about how the show would be “canceled” if it were made today, even if it was purposefully made to be offensive. That does not cancel out the fact that a large portion of jokes in the dub was more than offensive; they used disenfranchised people as punchlines and nothing more.

In theory, Ghost Stories could still exist today, wherein a failed anime could get a second life as a parody of itself. However, it cannot fall into the same dated and offensive trap that its predecessor fell in. 

The author thanks Rebecca Wei Hsieh @generalasian for edits to this piece

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I am a freelance writer, editor, and journalist. View all posts by Erin M. Brady

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Bloody Disgusting!

The Tale of ‘Ghost Stories’ and its Hilariously Offensive Dub Track

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In 2000, animation studios Pierrot and Aniplex created a TV anime series called Ghost Stories ( Gakkou no Kaidan ), which was directed by Noriyuki Abe and loosely based on a book series by Toru Tsunemitsu. The story is rather basic: A young girl moves to a new town, befriends some of the local students, and then finds out that pretty much the entire town has ghosts roaming throughout. Yes, there are more details to connect all the dots but that’s the gist of it.

Anyways, the anime pretty much failed miserably, which is why there was only one season that featured 20 episodes. According to TVTropes.org , Pierrot sold the rights to the show in a desperate attempt to avoid bankruptcy back in 2005. When ADV asked what conditions there were for the series, supposedly they only got these three rules:

1. The overall story should be intact. 2. It had to be lip synced correctly. 3. No names could be changed. [ Source ]

ADV took this as an opportunity to create something wildly different and, in my personal opinion, absolutely fantastic. It was something that I don’t think anyone anticipated, nor could they have. What they did was turn the story into one gigantic running gag line, making things up as they went along. Rather than follow the story perfectly, they kept the overall concepts but then radically changed the characters and their lines simply because they thought it’d be funny. Hell, there are even rumors that the first person in the office on any given day was the person who got to call the shots!

I have to warn you that some of the jokes are not “politically correct”, so keep that firmly in mind if you watch the below compilation. There’s a great description of what happened from voice actor Monica Rial that you can watch on YouTube where she even states that they wanted to be, “… equal opportunity offenders “.

Also, you can watch the first episode of Ghost Stories over at Crunchy Roll .

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Managing editor/music guy/social media fella of Bloody-Disgusting

ghost stories dub history

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“Tonight we have special news for you: we closed all the exits. You can’t escape,” Claudio Simonetti deadpanned in his Italian accent to the enthusiastic crowd at the Somerville Theatre in Somerville, Massachusetts on October 3. Clad in something like a ringmaster jacket over a Deadpool T-shirt, a smile beamed across the maestro’s face.

The audience erupted into laughter chased by cheers, as they knew they were about to experience something special: the 1985 cult classic Demons on the big screen with a live score performed by Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin , a modern tribute to the prolific Italian prog-rock composers Goblin fronted by the founding keyboardist.

Produced by Italian master of horror Dario Argento — for whom Goblin had previously composed several scores — Demons is directed by Lamberto Bava from a script written by Bava, Argento, Dardano Sacchetti ( The Beyond ), and Franco Ferrini ( Phenomena ). The plot finds attendees at a mysterious horror film screening trapped in a theater with ravenous, slime-spewing demons.

ghost stories dub history

An 88-minute distillation of 1980s flamboyance, Demons is a perfect entry point into Italian horror for western audiences. It’s relentlessly paced with gnarly special effects, a colorful ensemble, and an outrageous finale that includes a motorcycle, a samurai sword, and a helicopter crash. Of course, Simonetti’s score is also a contributing factor to its efficacy.

Hearing Simonetti and his bandmates — guitarist Daniele Amador , bassist Cecilia Nappo , and drummer Federico Maragoni — accompany the film live added to the high-octane experience. While the live Suspiria score they toured last year was tweaked with a more modern sound, Demons remained largely faithful to Simonetti’s original score, albeit with a fuller sound from transposing the electronics to real instruments.

Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin also played along to some of the heavy metal songs featured on the soundtrack. They extracted Biff Byford’s vocals to accompany them on their rendition of Saxon’s “Everybody Up,” and they replaced Accept’s “Fast as a Shark” with a cover of Iron Maiden’s “Flash of the Blade” featuring Bruce Dickinson’s vocals; a curious substitution, but it sounded good and the song appears in Argento’s Phenomena , so it fit the theme.

ghost stories dub history

The live score alone was worth the price of admission, but the group followed it up with a 75-minute set of classic Goblin and Simonetti material along with some surprises. They opened with a few deep cuts — themes from Cut and Run and The Card Player as well as Goblin non-soundtrack song “E suono rock” — before launching into three tracks from Dawn of the Dead in tribute to George A. Romero.

In the middle of the set, Simonetti introduced special arrangements of songs from two of his favorite horror movies: Halloween and The Exorcist . The band put their spin on John Carpenter’s iconic theme, which seamlessly flowed into Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” while clips from the respective films play on the screen behind them.

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Simonetti informed me that, unlike Suspiria, Dawn of the Dead , and Deep Red , there are no plans to re-record the Demons score. That means the only way to get the full-band experience is by attending the tour , so don’t miss Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin turning cities into tombs across the country.

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