Dub edits: Where Are the Vikings Anyway?

The Viking boat

Ash and friends are desperately trying to reach New Island in the storm, but come to the conclusion that using their Pokémon is out of the question. Just then, Jessie and James disguised as vikings row up in a boat (with Meowth disguised as the figurehead), and offer them a lift.

This scene is bizarre to start with, because, why did Team Rocket disguise themselves as vikings? Do vikings even exist in the Pokémon World? We're are already starting with something weird here. But then 4Kids got their hands on it...

In Japanese, Jessie offers the twerps a ride, though it might not be free.

In the 4Kids dub, she instead says this (while doing some bizarre unidentifiable "foreign" accent):

  1. Jessie

    You vant to cross, maybe? Ve take you, ya? Ve Vikings are used to big vaves. Ve get you to New Island faster than you can say Fahrvergnügen.

Mewtwo Strikes Back

The word Fahrvergnügen is a German neologism meaning "driving enjoyment" created as part of a Volkswagen ad campaign in the United States from 1990. It has nothing to do with vikings. 4Kids inserted it because... it's not English? Do they not understand that Germany is not part of Scandinavia? Or were they just being racist? Why did they feel the need to reference a car commercial that was already dated, and would become completely forgotten in about five minutes? Did they get paid by Volkswagen? Or rather, did they get sued by Volkswagen for this? It's also not funny.

Afterwards, when everyone is aboard, in Japanese, Brock and Ash discuss how lucky they are that they happened upon a ship. 4Kids changed their dialogue to this:

  1. Brock

    I didn't know vikings still existed.

  2. Ash

    They mostly live in Minnesota!

Mewtwo Strikes Back
The Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings

What the heck was 4Kids thinking here? To understand this joke, you need to be familiar with American football, and know that the NFL team for Minnesota is called the Vikings. How many ten-year-olds in the audience are going to get this joke? I know that I at the time didn't get it, even being in the United States and knowing some things about football through osmosis. I originally assumed that the descendants of the vikings must live in Minnesota (actually, that's not even wrong. The team is named the Minnesota Vikings in honor of the Scandinavian heritage of Minnesota's population). It wasn't until later that I realized the football connection.

If 4Kids put this joke in for the parents, how many of them are going to get it? It's not like every parent in the United States is that familiar with football. And even if someone gets this joke, is it even funny? Was it worth breaking the fourth wall for this?

And did 4Kids consider what happens when this movie is brought outside of the United States, where there's even less hope of someone knowing about American football?

They mostly live in...
They mostly live in...

Ali Rıza tells me that the Turkish dub translated this so that Brock says, "I didn't know Vikings still existed!" and Ash answers "They probably live in America." Which I guess is just the localizers directly translating the line and maybe letting a bit of their own incredulity shine through.

The Italian localizers apparently couldn't leave something so absurd in the script. Rosy tells me they changed Ash's line so that he answers "Maybe these are the last ones". Which is not a joke, and not particularly interesting, but at least it's not untrue.

The real hilarious thing about this part is what happened in the dubs of places where Vikings actually once existed. The Danish dub has Ash answer, "They are mostly touring in Sweden." The Swedish dub has Ash answer, "They mostly hang out in Norway." I don't have information about the Norwegian dub, but I hope it says, "They are mostly over in Denmark".

Meanwhile, the Polish dub has Ash answer, "They mostly live in Scandinavia". Thanks, Poland. I love your deadpan humor.

By the way, want to know what really happened to the Vikings? They simply stopped raiding and thereby no longer fit the job description - "Viking" means "pirate" or "raider". So the descendants of those who were once the Vikings now mostly live in Scandinavia, and probably America, and Jessie and James on their little boat are maybe the last Vikings. :P