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? This is already something weird. 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? 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

The joke here is that, in American football, the NFL team for Minnesota is called the Vikings. The Minnesota Vikings. Vikings mostly live in Minnesota.

What the heck was 4Kids thinking here? How many people did they expect to get this joke? It requires being familiar with American football and specifically knowing the name of the team from Minnesota. Presumably this was a joke intended for the parents in the audience, but even so, it's not like every adult in the US is going to be that knowledgeable about the NFL.

When I saw this movie as a kid, I definitely didn't get the joke, even though I lived in the United States and knew some things about football through osmosis. Without catching the football reference, I originally assumed Ash was trying to say that the descendants of the Vikings now live in Minnesota. While that surely wasn't what 4Kids was going for, it turns out that actually, that is factually true. This is why the football team even has that name - they are the Minnesota Vikings in honor of the Scandinavian heritage of Minnesota's population. It wasn't until much later that I realized Ash was referring to the football team.

But 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 trivia 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 reasonable.

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".

Apparently the Finnish dub has Ash answer, "They still live in Sipoo". Sipoo is a municipality in Finland that was originally a Viking settlement. The population of Sipoo was once almost entirely Swedish-speaking, although over time, more Finnish-speakers have moved there from other parts of Finland. The town became officially bilingual in 1953, and currently the Finnish-speakers are the majority (at 60% of the population as of 2008). But 39% of the population are Swedish-speakers, so the Vikings still live there, too.

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, specifically in Minnesota, and Jessie and James on their little boat are maybe the last Vikings. :P