Sunday, April 24, 2016

Gajetto Keibu! The Japanese Dub of Inspector Gadget

"Does anyone have any Japanese-dubbed clips from Inspector Gadget?" You may be surpriced, but talking with and observing fellow Gadget fans online over the years, I've seen this request pop up more than a little often. I find it a bit strange just how strong the interest is, considering that Inspector Gadget was not produced in Japanese language like DiC's earlier series Ulysses 31 and The Mysterious Cities of Gold. But this obviously holds a special fascination for many fans... so today, I'm gonna share the one and only Japanese-dubbed clip I've ever been able to hunt down. Click play to hear Penny and Gadget discuss ladder safety in Japanese...



As you might notice, this is the safety tip from the season 2 episode "Gadget and Old Lace". The original English version can be seen here. Notably, it's followed by a version of the season 2 outro where all written credits have been omitted (!). Makes you wonder – was it really that controversial to show English-language credits for a cartoon on Japanese television? Or did the broadcaster intend to translate the credits, but didn't get around to it? Or both? (Then again, both the outro song and Dr Claw's spoken line is in English, so it's still extremely obvious that this is not a Japanese series.)

Funny thing, by the way: in the comments to one of my old YouTube videos, I actually said almost four years ago to OriginalAkivara that the existence of a Japanese dub "would be news to me". I had apparently completely forgotten about this little clip, which I later rediscovered in my file collection. The clip was originally uploaded to YouTube around six to seven years ago by the user ohitea5963, under the title "ガジェット警部 エンディング" (literally translated: "Inspector Gadget ED"). It has also been up since September 28, 2009 on nicovideo.jp. I first assumed this was the source for ohitea5963's YouTube upload, but since the video description there says "YouTube import", it appears the opposite is the case.

And here's another funny thing. Remember how – before Season 2 was released to DVD – the only place for most of us non-US Gadget fans to watch the second-season episodes was an old torrent with a mixture of TV and VHS rips? Well, a few of the VHS-ripped Season 2 episodes in that torrent were missing their safety tips – and that included "Gadget and Old Lace". So when I first found this Japanese clip on YouTube way back in '09, I had to check a French DVD rip of "Old Lace" on Dailymotion to confirm that this was indeed the safety tip for that particular episode. All I knew was that the scene was nowhere to be found in the English-language AVIs floating around.

Consider that for a moment. During that brief period in time, the safety tip from the Inspector Gadget episode "Gadget and Old Lace" was MORE easily available to watch in Japanese language than in English. Doesn't get much more absurd than that.

So why exactly is the Japanese dub interesting? Again, I'm not really sure. The Japanese dub has nothing to do with the original production of the Inspector Gadget series. Gadget was an outsourced production, with the characters' lipsync animated to the pre-recorded, English-language voices. Furthermore, from what little I've been able to find out, the show was only dubbed to Japanese many years after the actual production took place. I hate to use Wikipedia as a source, but the Japanese Wiki page for Inspector Gadget – "ガジェット警部", a.k.a. "Gajetto Keibu", as the series is apparently titled in Japanese – is one of the few sources of info I've been able to find at all. So here's what it has to say on the broadcast in Japan:

日本ではNHK衛星第2テレビジョンの衛星アニメ劇場の枠で、1990年8月15日から9月14日の間にまず26話が放送され、1994年4月7日から1996年3月21日からの再放送で残りの話数も加えて放送され全65話。

In English, with the "help" of Google Translate:

In satellite animation theater of frame of the NHK satellite second television in Japan, broadcast the first 26 episodes between August 15 and September 14, 1990. From April 7, 1994 to March 21, 1996, all 65 episodes are broadcast, and in addition, also the rest of the story the number of re-broadcast from. 

BOY, is that grammar awful. I'd VERY much appreciate a better translation here, if any of my readers knows Japanese. But the point should be clear: Provided that the Japanese Wikipedia is correct, Inspector Gadget did not air in Japan before 1990. (Additionally, if you use Google Translate on this 2006 forum thread, you'll see Japanese commenters wax nostalgically about the time when Gadget aired on the NHK channel.)

Wikipedia also lists the following Japanese voice actors. Perhaps these are the voices we hear for Gadget and Penny in the above video:

Inspector Gadget: Tesshō Genda (玄田哲章)
Penny: Yumi Takada (高田由美)
Chief Quimby: Masato Tsujimura (辻村真人)
Dr Claw: One-Ozeki (小関一)

ANYWAY. Considering Inspector Gadget's close production links to Japan – and the many anime connections to be found in its animation – I guess I can understand, to an extent, the longings of some fans to watch the show in Japanese. Many Inspector Gadget episodes FEEL so much like anime visually that I can sorta relate to the desire to also hear the characters speak with Japanese voices. Sorta. If this is your cup of tea, I sincerely hope you enjoyed it!

I'll end with a li'l snapshot from Maroin Eluasti and Nordine Zemrak's DiC history book, "Les séries de notre enfance": a sales brochure used to market the series in Japan. A small caption in the book reads, "Plaquette pour la vente de la série aux chaînes japonaises", which means, "Brochure for the sale of the series to Japanese TV". So perhaps this was used to sell "Gajetto Keibu" to the NHK satellite channel...?

20 comments:

  1. My life is complete now! ;_; I even was scared that Gadget's voice would sound silly but I was wrong, his voice is way more beautiful as Link's voice from Twilight Princess!

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Mesterious! :D You don't know how happy I am to see a japanese version of the series.

    I'm actually learning japanese language but I'm not still a pro about it since I only started on January of this year, every Tuesday, and I only learnt the basics, so I'm afraid I can't help with the translation yet. :(

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    1. And thank you for that comment, Ana! I couldn't ask for better feedback than that! :D I'm really glad you enjoyed the clip. :)

      To me, Gadget's voice is surpricingly "normal", compared to the original English and even the Norwegian-dubbed version I grew up with; but it's not a bad voice for him either. It's especially fun for me to hear him say, "Go, Gajetto Leg!" ;)

      Re:translation -- It's fine, I just asked in case anybody should know, especially since I personally REALLY don't know Japanese. It seems like the anonymous commenter below does, though. :)

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    2. You're welcome! :D

      Yes, his voice is "normal" and that's why I like it, it makes him less more dumber than he is. Not saying that I didn't like Don Adams voice but I always wondered how he would sound if he had a more "normal" attitude. :) Yes, that part was indeed fun! :D

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    3. That's very true, Gadget does sound smarter here than he actually is! ;) I guess in a way that's what surpriced me so much. :P

      By the by... if you could choose one full episode to watch in Japanese, which one would it be? For me the answer would no doubt be this.

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    4. Yeah, I understand XD

      I wouldn't mind the entire series being dubbed in Japanese since most artist behind it were Japanese. :P But I would go to the one you mention too. :)

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    5. The specific reason I thought of "The Japanese Connection" was that I'm curious how (if at all) the dubbers would translate the Japanese accents on characters like Waruda-san and Atsuko; and for that matter, how they might react to all the Japanese clichés thrown into that episode. :P

      Personally I don't feel a craving to watch ALL the episodes in Japanese (I'm fine with the original English and, for nostalgia, the Norwegian dub); but I too would like to see a little more, regardless of what episode. One thing I'm still wondering about is Chief Quimby and Doctor Claw's Japanese voices.

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    6. Yes, that would be interesting to see.

      I understand. I'm also fine with the original English too and also with the French and Portuguese versions. Yes, I also would like to know how they would sound with their Japanese voices.

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    7. Ah, so you speak French too? :)

      I think for me, one of the reasons I don't feel like watching many episodes in Japanese is simply that I don't speak the language. Once the novelty factor wears off, I would basically need English fansubs to get much out of it. (That's probably different for you, considering that you're learning Japanese. :) But of course, it would still be cool if the Japanese-dubbed Gadget episodes were more easily available for those who ARE interested.

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    8. Well, I learnt French, but it's not a language that I speak more often. ^^; However I got the 3 DVD Boxes from French. :)

      Yes, I know what you mean.

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  2. Thank you for this! I'm one of those that had always wondered what the Japanese "Inspector Gadget dub" sounded like and now I know.:) The translation you got from Google has all the right information in it; it's just presented in a very jumbled way. According to Wikipedia, "Inspector Gadget" first aired in Japan on NHK's Satellite Channel 2 in 1990 (in a segment called "Satellite Anime Theatre"), but only the first 26 episodes were shown. However, starting in 1994 the show was rebroadcast and this time all 65 episodes were shown. I guess this means that the second season of "Inspector Gadget" never aired in Japan.

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    1. You're very welcome -- I'm glad I could help clear up this little mystery for you. :)

      And thank you for the translation! It says about what I expected regarding the episode numbers etc., but it's really good to get it confirmed by someone who can actually read the language. :)

      "However, starting in 1994 the show was rebroadcast and this time all 65 episodes were shown. I guess this means that the second season of "Inspector Gadget" never aired in Japan."

      One thing regarding this: I interpreted that part about "65 episodes" much the same as your improved translation. But that information actually can't be correct if we follow the American episode chronology -- because the Japanese clip I have posted is specifically from a Season 2 episode (number 85, "Gadget and Old Lace"). Could it be that the Japanese Wikipedia is wrong about this detail, and that it should have said "all 86 episodes" rather than "65"?

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  3. Of course by this time, DiC actually opened their own animation house in Japan, so they could do it themselves without having to rely on outside companies (not unlike Disney having studios in Japan and Australia in the 90s, or Hanna-Barbera also having studios in Australia and the Philippines.) But the Japanese studio also apparently did post-production as well, judging by the Japanese names listed for the editing crew, the videotape the show was edited on resembling the kind many '80s animes were often edited on, and the anime-esque sound effects (while the first season, edited in Canada, used Nelvana's custom sound FX for the gadgets, the Gadgetmobile, Penny's computer book, etc., along with familiar stock Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros. effects)
    Then again, DiC's Japanese studio also worked on their 1985 "Care Bears" episodes, the second season of "Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats," and perhaps some others I forgot. (The second season of "Heathcliff" was also very anime-esque too!)

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    1. Wileyk, there's one thing I feel the need to clarify here, since I've seen you mention many times that Season 2 was "edited on video tape": the American video masters for Season 2 of Inspector Gadget actually don't say anything about the original picture quality of these episodes. The series (both seasons) was shot on film, as was the norm for hand-drawn animated shows back in the pre-digital age; and most likely edited on film too. But the episodes were afterwards transferred to video tapes to use for television broadcast, and herein lies the problem: the crappy video tapes DiC used for their 1985 American NTSC broadcast masters are many generations away from the original quality.

      Evidence for this can be found by comparing the Season 2 NTSC masters to the French PAL masters, which were clearly transferred from the film reels in much higher quality. The PAL masters look better in virtually every way: much sharper image, no frameblending, better colors (though the colors on the official French DVD edition were modified somewhat, not for the better in my opinion; but that's another story). And with a few exceptions – mostly some cut commercial break fades in a few episodes – the PAL masters have the exact same editing as the NTSC masters too. So obviously, the American and French video masters come from the same primary source (i.e. the same film reels).

      To illustrate the huge differences in picture quality, here are a couple screenshot comparisons of the French and American DVDs. Click the links to see them...

      The Great Wambini's Séance:
      French IDP Home Video DVD edition, 2005
      U.S. Cinedigm DVD edition, 2013

      Ghost Catchers:
      French IDP Home Video DVD edition, 2005
      U.S. Cinedigm DVD edition, 2013

      Not every single French season 2 episode looks quite this good... but even for the lesser-looking episodes, the difference between the PAL and NTSC video masters is VERY noticeable.

      It's interesting, though, if what you say about the video tape/80s anime is correct. Maybe it IS a sign that the NTSC broadcast masters for Season 2 were put together in Japan. And perhaps the film footage was edited there too -- both crew members listed in the season 2 credits under "Edited by" are certainly Japanese.

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    2. It's kinda funny that the French IDP Home Video DVD edition, 2005 (which are the ones that I have) have more quality than the U.S. Cinedigm DVD edition, 2013.

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    3. It's interesting, though, if what you say about the video tape/80s anime is correct. Maybe it IS a sign that the NTSC broadcast masters for Season 2 were put together in Japan. And perhaps the film footage was edited there too -- both crew members listed in the season 2 credits under "Edited by" are certainly Japanese.

      It wouldn't surprise me if DiC thought it would be cheaper to, instead of sending back 35mm negatives/prints back west, to simply get a video post-production studio in Tokyo to put it out on video for them instead. They probably thought they could save a little that way (both time and money). This was also apparent in the second season of Heathcliff as well as the first season of Dennis the Menace.

      This sort of thing was very evident in a lot of Japanese cartoons that were getting home video releases in Japan during the 80's, but their masters often appeared much the same way as DiC's cartoons looked during 1986. One example I could cite is Urusei Yatsura, from this first episode through two different versions...
      ORIGINAL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeT7ygnSQck
      RESTORED: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-0cmLCnyM8

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    4. Thanks for your comment, Chris. Considering how cheap DiC were getting OVERALL by the time Gadget's second season was produced, it wouldn't surprice me in the slightest either.

      It is interesting though that the French PAL masters (as demonstrated above) were clearly transferred in much higher quality -- and perhaps not in Japan? Believe it or not, Season 2 of Gadget didn't actually air in France until the fall of 1987 – as you can see in this detailed French episode guide – so it might be the second-season PAL masters were done considerably later than the NTSC masters.

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    5. Thanks for your comment, Chris. Considering how cheap DiC were getting OVERALL by the time Gadget's second season was produced, it wouldn't surprice me in the slightest either.

      At least it wasn't the cheapness DiC ended up a few years down the road (Hammerman being the nadir of that).

      It is interesting though that the French PAL masters (as demonstrated above) were clearly transferred in much higher quality -- and perhaps not in Japan?

      I suppose Season One of Gadget was handled on film back in France originally unlike the videotape masters used in the US, if that may account for how those were transferred, probably much later past the 80's.

      Believe it or not, Season 2 of Gadget didn't actually air in France until the fall of 1987 – as you can see in this detailed French episode guide – so it might be the second-season PAL masters were done considerably later than the NTSC masters.

      Could be, if DiC's US outfit was doing this on their own before everyone else.

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    6. "I suppose Season One of Gadget was handled on film back in France originally unlike the videotape masters used in the US, if that may account for how those were transferred, probably much later past the 80's."

      I don't think that's it. Make no mistake -- the French PAL masters were all transferred in the 80s. I just mentioned the above to point out the huge difference in picture quality between the American and French Season 2 masters. For Season 1, the difference is not actually so big; and I would hazard to say that some of the Season 1 episodes look sharper in their U.S. NTSC prints than in their French PAL prints.

      "Could be, if DiC's US outfit was doing this on their own before everyone else."

      Actually, they weren't really. Season One of Inspector Gadget premiered in France around the same time as in the United States -- in the fall of 1983. In other words, the French PAL masters for Season One was put together virtually simultaneously with the NTSC masters (even though the original production language was English, and the episodes were dubbed to French after being animated). It was only Season 2 that for some reason didn't get its French broadcast until two years after the U.S.

      Anyway: As far I can tell, both the NTSC and PAL video masters were transferred directly from the film reels, which is interesting because it means two sets of distincly unique, original 80s video masters exist for the Inspector Gadget series.

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    7. Well, I do remember when it was often joked that DiC stood for "Do It Cheap," which mainly applies to their 1990s output, but it does also certainly apply to the second seasons of Gadget, Heathcliff, etc. The first season had a bigger budget, and I even recall the pilot had a higher budget than an average first-season episode would. I recall reading somewhere the pilot was shot on 35mm film, while the other first season episodes were shot on 16mm film.

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    8. Yep, Do It Cheaply is definitely an apt nickname for DiC after their first few years in the United States. ;) Regarding their 90s and 2000s output, though, nothing for me quite tops the lesser-known variant: Done In China.

      "I recall reading somewhere the pilot was shot on 35mm film, while the other first season episodes were shot on 16mm film."

      I've seen you mention that many times before, but I've always wondered where you got it from. Just looking at the video quality of the 1983 NTSC masters (or for that matter, the PAL masters), I see nothing to suggest that the average Season 1 episode looks lower-quality in sharpness etc. than the pilot. I wouldn't be surpriced if all the episodes were shot on the same type of film -- possibly 35mm, though I don't have documentation for that. But do you remember where you read that about the film? Was it just a fan speculating, or something else?

      It's probably correct that the pilot had a higher budget than an "average" first-season episode. But that's really very common in television production... the pilot episode is *often* given a higher budget, more attention to detail, a more lenient production schedule etc. And when it comes to Gadget, I think the best-animated Season 1 episodes can hold their own against the pilot (which I also think has some serious problems in the script department).

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