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Sailor Moon: Moon Tiara Vaporize!

Luna: Serena, weren't you supposed to say "Moon Tiara Magic"?

Sailor Moon: Yeah, but apparently American children are too stupid to notice.

When a dub uses inconsistent naming or story telling in translation. Usually done either because of poor translation, tricky romanization or because of Executive Meddling. Unlike Dub Induced Plot Hole, this doesn't include changes in a Cut and Paste Translation that later don't make sense because of either cultural/language differences or new developments in the plot. This just changes the exact same thing over and over because the localization team can't seem to decide. There may not even be anything wrong with the last name they came up with.

This often happens in anime where characters practice calling their attacks, as many anime dubs feature a character who has tons of attacks in its source given all the same name in the dub, or where a single attack gets renamed Once an Episode.

Inconsistent fansubs exist, but are much rarer; while it may have been a problem when hardsubbing (making the subtitles an actual, permanent part of the video) was the norm, the growth of softsubbing (which entails using subtitles that can be freely turned off in the manner of a DVD's) has made it a simple matter to correct and re-release an episode to keep terminology consistent.

Examples of Inconsistent Dub include:


Anime and Manga

  • The onigiri in the Pokémon anime. Sometimes they're donuts, sometimes they're cookies, you never know. In one episode they actually called them rice balls, presumably because said episode actually showed them being made, so it's even harder to pretend they're something else. Until 4Kids dropped the Pokémon license, they painted over them in later episodes so they looked like subs or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, even in an episode where a plot point involved a rice ball rolling away. Ever see a sandwich roll down a hill? How about vertically? And then jumping several inches?
    • The "rolling down the hill" incident was the final episode of season 7, and it was also the first case of visually editing the onigiri. Before that the onigiri were left alone visually, but they were called sandwiches/cookies/donuts/popcorn balls/eclairs/etc. 4Kids continued this bizarre visual editing though season 8 until they lost the show (after which they've been left alone and consistently been called rice balls by TPCI).
    • In the original Japanese, Brock's parents were both deadbeats who abandoned the family. In the dub, only Brock's father was a deadbeat, and it's said his mother passed away (in a rare reversal of Never Say "Die"). In the episode, it was not a problem since Brock's mother did not appear. However, in an episode that aired five years later (eight in America), Brock's mother suddenly makes an appearance. The previous notion of her having passed away was completely ignored.
    • The Brazilian dub is particularly egregious. They almost never seem to keep the attack names the same, even getting to the point of mixing them up.
    • The same happens in the Mexican dub. Attack names switch back and forth between literal translations of the English names to the names used in the [European] Spanish games. It is worse with cities, which change from literal translations to made up names to European Spanish names to unaltered English names. Not to mention that Pokémon pronunciations change from one episode to another, and even during the same episode, Pokémon names are pronounced differently depending on the character.
    • The Norwegian dub of Pokémon started out by translating all terms and attacks from English into Norwegian. While the recurring terms were generally translated consistently, attack names that popped up every 20 episodes or so were all over the place, and words that have no direct parallel in Norwegian, like "Gym" and "badge" tended to jump between equally correct translations constantly. By season 9 they started keeping most terms in English, and aside from this sounding relatively dorky in the first place (with mispronunciations being common), the translators often had trouble differing between actual Pokémon terms (like "Flying Pokémon") and just generic descriptions (like "bird Pokémon" and "forest Pokémon"), keeping them all in English. Other times, they'd translate obvious game terms, like the names of the Battle Frontier facilities, while leaving terms like "nurse" in English.
    • The Spanish dub did a Tropes Are Not Bad version of this, where most moves kept their game names, but "Counter" was correctly translated as "counter attack", not "something that counts". Now if they only explained why "Swift" became "Star Swift"...
  • In Pokémon Special, nobody can seem to remember their Pokemon's nicknames for the first three arcs. Also, the translators can't seem to decide whether or not (EN)Blue's sister is named May or Daisy.
  • Mew Lettuce from Tokyo Mew Mew has one attack, Reborn Lettuce Rush. Mew Bridget from 4Kids' Mew Mew Power has about five, and they all look the same and do the same thing.
    • Don't forget that 4Kids made Pudding/Kiki a homeless girl in her first appearance, but when we actually DO see her house, they changed it to "We THOUGHT you were a homeless girl!" proving that 4Kids did NOT watch ahead, but still changed important plot points anyway!
      • The Portuguese dub is anything but consistent. After episode 26, suddenly, all the voices changed, and the character names changed, all the attack names changed, etc to match the Japanese version more closely than the first half of the series (which was based off the 4Kids dub). The French, Hebrew, and Serbian dubs also continued past the point where 4Kids left off. They were mostly consistent on that regard, but the Serbian dub had other problems, such as the characters' attack names changing almost every episode!
      • The Tokyopop translation of the English manga is also bad with this. Ichigo's age changed from 11 to 12 to 13, and back to 11. Her attack name also changed from "Sutoro Bell Bell" to the more accurate "Ribbon Strawberry Check" after the first volume. Kimera animals were also called "Chimera animals" in the first volume.
  • Same with... well, just about everyone in the Sailor Moon S dub. Both attacks and transformation sequences never really stayed the same. Similarly, "Messiah" and "Holy Grail" had to be censored, but they never decided what to change them to.
    • Quite possibly the worst offender is the Silver Crystal (Maboroshi no Ginzuishou). It's given a variety of different names in the anime dub, such as the Imperium Silver Crystal, Silver Moon Crystal, just plain Silver Crystal, or some variety of those three.
    • The Dark Kingdom got renamed to Negaverse in the dub, despite it already being in English... Okay, fine. But then, things get complicated when Queen Beryl starts mentioning the Negaforce (originally Queen Metaria, an evil energy being from the Sun). Of course, those two are never consistent, so you have the villains referring to the Negaforce when they should be talking about the Negaverse and vice versa. Viewers could be forgiven for not knowing they're supposed to be separate things.
    • While we're on the subject of Sailor Moon, the By the Power of Greyskull and Calling Your Attacks phrases in the Russian dub are a complete mess. First, the fourth and fifth seasons were dubbed by a different team, which scrapped almost all previous established translations. And even in the first three, they were often translated inconsistently. More weirdness arises when you notice that all five transformation spells used by Usagi, after going through some translation variations, were set to exactly the same phrase. Talk about logic.
      • Pales in comparison to the Brazilian version. While later seasons were slightly (but only slightly) more consistent, Sailor Moon R was a total mess (done by a different studio than the first season) to the point that brazilian fans still make fun of it to this day. Pretty much every single attack name had at least two variants, though mainly the "Moon Princess Halation" attack which had a different name per episode. A favorite was "By the Powers of the Moon Princess' Tiara!". Because her tiara has everything to do with the attack.
      • In the first season, the term "Sailor Senshi" was usually translated as "Sailor Guerreiras" (Sailor Warriors). After the Uncancelling and studio swap, suddenly they were... "the Sailor Moons" (which made the In the Name of the Moon speech ridiculously Narmy, since Sailor Moon said her name three times [1]). After 70% of the R season it was changed to sometimes-Sailor and sometimes-Sailor Guerreiras, and so it stayed for all subsequent seasons.
      • While almost every attack in the English dub version of Sailor Moon would have more than one name for a single attack. Sailor Moon's primary attack in the second season Moon Princess Halation is an interesting case. Starting in its first appearance until dub episode 65 it was called Moon Princess Elimination. For the remainder of the R season it was called Moon Scepter Activation (it should be noted that there was a 3 year break before the last 17 episodes of R were dubbed). For the R movie it was Moon Princess Elimination and for its only appearance in the S season it was back to its original dub name.
      • Even the manga has it's moments, most noticeably a page in the Dream Arc. The Outer Senshi kept their names - Haruka, Michiru, Setsuna and Hotaru. While Haruka is playing with Hotaru, she calls her Jenny. This happens only on that one page and never happens again
    • The French manga is terrible for this. Attack names are translated differently almost every time (or not translated as the case may be -- sometimes they're left in their original English form), and on a couple of occasions, even the characters' names are inconsistent. (Eg, Setsuna, who is called Severine in French, is once referred to as "Setusna".)
  • In the English dub of Rurouni Kenshin, the actors inconsistently pronounce the Japanese names of characters and techniques.
  • In the English dub of Naruto, after his battle with Neji, he says that he couldn't graduate because he couldn't master the shadow clone jutsu. What he was supposed to say was just 'clone jutsu', the shadow clone jutsu is a forbidden technique not taught to academy students.
    • When ANBU was first mentioned in the Swedish release, it was called Lönn Spec, short for Specialstyrkan för Lönnmordsteknik (The special force for assassination technique). In all subsequent mentions, it was changed to Hemliga falangen, The secret phalanx.
    • In the uncut English dub, Rock Lee takes a bottle of sake believing it to be his medicine, yet Guy and Tsunade call it "elixer" a couple times before correctly referring to it as sake. They called it "elixer" because the T.V. broadcast couldn't mention alcohol, so the mistake was most likely not caught before the episode was released.
  • The word "tanuki" seems to present a particular problem to translators. Sometimes it's a straight romanization ("tanuki"), and other times it's spelled "tanooki". Often they say "raccoon", even though they're completely different animals. Tanuki and tanooki are both acceptable romanizations of that word. In Pom Poko, they were called badgers/raccoons, and there are notable exceptions in Inuyasha and the English manga for Yu Yu Hakusho where they actually use the English name for the animal, raccoon-dog. The English dub of Kodomo no Omocha averts this by simply using the word "tanuki".
  • Cannon chips in Mega Man NT Warrior wavered between "Cannon" or "Laser Blast". They had a continuity for about three instances on whether the chip was used in "summon" mode or "weapon" mode, but that scarcely excuses it, especially when they neatly broke that. Oh, and "High Cannon" and "Mega Cannon" are called fairly consistently. I think there was even a combo sequence involving "Laser Blast, High Cannon, Mega Cannon" that sounded incredibly stupid. They did that with the names of the characters too, with powers and character names diverging incredibly from the English translation of the very game series it's based on, leading to many characters having two completely different English names.
    • The English dub of Ryuusei no RockMan was no better. Misora Hibiki became Sonia Strumm in the game and Sonia Sky in the anime dub. Harp was Lyra in the game but still combined with Sonia to become Harp Note, yet the dub changed the name to Lyra Note. Then there was a random moment where MegaMan called his attack as "Rock Buster."
    • The 2nd game uses "Gospel" (After Bass's Evil Counterpart for Rush) for the villains and doesn't change it in the English version (where the original "Gospel" is known as "Treble" in the main series). The fact that their logo is a giant G and "Treble" not being a good name for an evil organization is believed to be behind this.
  • The Digimon dubs quite a problem with this, with the names and attacks of characters alternating between the ones used in the show in Japan and the ones used in the merchandise (or previous show appearances) in America. Digimon Adventure 02 is terrible about the same characters - not different Digimon of the same type, but the very same characters - using different names for the same attack. (Bonus points if the name was used for a different attack last time we heard it.) Since Digimon is big on Calling Your Attacks, to the point where it's often speculated that a Digimon cannot use an attack without saying it, it's very glaring when yesterday's Flaming Fist is today's Fire Rocket.
    • Different attacks would also be called the same thing a lot as well. WarGreymon's Terra Force is the giant fireball throw, Great Tornado is his spinning drill attack, Mega Claw is his hack-and-slash technique. The dub called ALL of those attacks Terra Force at some point or another, except when it called Great Tornado Mega Claw.
      • ...which was most of the time. Great Tornado was never given its merchandise name, so when his Evil Twin, BlackWarGreymon, showed up, his Black Tornado attack was no longer named after the attack it was the Evil Counterpart of.
    • In later dubbed series, this occurs ridiculously often between the dub of the television show and the US merchandise - for example, Dynasmon is referred to as Dunasmon in the card game, while Crusadermon retains his original name of LordKnightmon. As of Digimon Frontier, it's clear that Bandai of America simply stopped caring - of all the Digimon introduced in Frontier, absolutely none of them are listed as having the same attacks in the merchandise as they do in the anime, or in the Japanese media for that matter! Then there are the name inconsistencies - aside from the aforementioned Dynasmon and Crusadermon, Bandai also makes mistakes about "Lanamon"[2], "Sephirothmon"[3], "Velgrmon"[4] and most annoyingly of all, "Kerpymon"[5]. The kicker here? According to Adventure dub director Jeff Nimoy, Bandai actually gave the dubbers what names to use for things, at least in the Adventure days, so either they stopped caring and doing that... or they were deliberately fucking with the dubbers by changing names after giving them.
    • In Tamers and Frontier, the show writers seemed to be much freer to go their own way with terminology. Characters often get new names and attacks, or retain their Japanese ones, when The Merch was totally different. This is often seen as a good thing, though - the folks who'd made the trading cards had no idea what the animators would go on to make the attacks do when brought to television. Once things were left to the writers, we saw the end of the oddities that came from using the Bandai names sight unseen in season one, such as attacks that could not possibly have been named with the eventual onscreen actions in mind (Twin Fang = Saber Leomon firing his hair.) and seemingly meaningless names that were actually Engrish for straightforward ones (Kurisarimon = Chrysalimon.) or even keeping the Japanese ones where the Bandai merch ones were lackuster or just different.
    • Ironically, in Japanese episode 33 Blitzmon says "Lightning Topper" when using "Golden Thunder."
    • Meanwhile, in Digimon Data Squad, Falcomon's dub-Ultimate form, given the name Crowmon in the show, is inconsistent with the name it had been given in previous games: Yatagaramon. In addition, the aforementioned Crusadermon was - allegedly at the behest of Toei Animation - renamed LoadKnightmon - not Lord, Load. However, they're actually letting him be a guy this time.
    • Data Squad also switched some of the Royal Knights' attack names to the Japanese ones, instead of ones established in previous American series; for example, what was Gallantmon's "Shield of the Just" in Digimon Tamers became "Final Elysium" in Data Squad. But at least they didn't suddenly start calling him Dukemon - something that would not have been out of character for that season.
      • A full list would take all day. In Data Squad, it's like nobody had watched the previous series. Monster-of-the-week Digimon are almost guaranteed to use the Bandai of America names and attacks in defiance of the long-established terms - often with Mons who were much more than monsters of the week in series past. By this point, Digimon who have appeared in most series and had their names and attacks kept consistent are very few and far between; Agumon is the only one which immediately comes to mind, and as the one in Savers is a different subspecies it would actually have had an excuse to have different attack names!
    • The Brazilian dub has all the aforementioned flaws but is much worse. The dubbers can't decide if they keep the japanese names or the Bandai of America ones. One scene of Digimon Adventure 02 is particularly egregious:

 Kari: "He is coming back!"

T.K: "As Myotismon? Or Venom Myotismon?"

Malo Myotismon: "None of that. I am Belial Vamdemon!"

Digimon Analyser: "Malo Myotismon, the final form of Myotismon (...)"

  • Transformers Armada referred to the giant battleship Decepticon as both Tidal Wave and Shockwave, depending on the episode. That show had more than its share of dub errors, though.
    • Energon couldn't even bother to keep things consistent between lines of dialogue, let alone from episode to episode. In addition, for multiple episodes, no one could decide which Autobot was Cliffjumper or Downshift. It boggles the mind, really: production was rushed, and the translation that was incomplete, true, but an incomplete translation explains only times when a line didn't match the Super Link original. Here, there were times when the lines made no sense whatsoever as a response to what had just been said, or directly defied what we were witnessing onscreen at the same time.
    • Energon takes it Up to Eleven, but that doesn't mean Armada is guilty only of reverting T Idal Wave to his Japanese name once or twice. Megatron's partner Mini-con is named Leader-1, in homage to the main good guy from Challenge of the Go Bots. However, the name Leader-1 would be applied to almost any Mini-con at least once. Also, many a Mini-con reverted to the Japanese name (Swindle gets called Grid once, etc.) Rush-job applies here, too, though that's usually not enoguh to get the shows forgiven: Transformers Robots in Disguise was also rushed to the States... and is a splendid example of how Woolseyism is done best, becoming more popular in US than the original ever was in Japan. You have to find a highly dedicated weeaboo to insist on the Japanese names in RID.
    • This mostly fell by the wayside by the time Cybertron rolled around, chalking this up to Screwed by the Network. However, Cybertron had a few inconsistencies with Energon due to not originally being a sequel, which makes this particular example straddle the line between this trope and Too Long; Didn't Dub. There is, however, a straight-up example in Crosswise, who was called Smokescreen in the first few episodes he was in, though this was fixed for later broadcasts of said episodes. (He was going to be a new Smokescreen, you see, but once they decided Cybertron would be a sequel to Armada and Energon... well, Armada Smokescreen looks nothing like Crosswise, acts nothing like Crosswise, and existed too much to have actually been frozen in Arctic ice for millennia prior to Professor Suzuki discovering him in Cybertron, which is Crosswise's origin.)
    • In a subtitle example, one fansub group making Transformers Headmasters English subtitles at first used the Japanese names for characters and factions. About halfway through, they switched to the American names.
    • The Hungarian dubbing of Armada and Cybertron topped the faults of the English version by making absolutely sure that at least one character in each Armada episode would deliver a line in another character's voice, and confused the Mini-Con names even further (for instance, Sparkplug didn't get a name for 10+ episodes). Cybertron (dubbed years priorly and by completely different people) also kept changing its voices around a lot, and handled the infamous Override gender-switch by having the character be male at first, then suddenly changing "him" into a female with no explanation.
  • The English dub of Cardcaptor Sakura suffered from this due to its fragmented episode run on Kids WB. Any cards that came from episodes not shown were explained through flashbacks that often portrayed the capture as happening differently from the actual episode. When the rest of the episodes were shown in other Anglophone countries, the flashbacks ended up making it look like Sakura was bad at remembering things.
  • There were a few times in Yu-Gi-Oh! where it took a while for them to figure out how to translate card names. Celtic Guardian's first appearance referred to it as "Elf Swordsman" (which is its original name), and Harpie Lady was referred to as "Harpie's Lady" a few times early on.
    • In the Italian translation of the manga, Celtic Guardian is randomly called "The Elf Warrior", "Elf Knight" or "Elvish Knight", and Harpie Lady became "Happy Lady".
    • Not forgetting that "Monster Reborn" was called "Reborn the Monster" for a large portion of the first series.
      • Lampshaded in The Abridged Series in which one episode Yami refers to the card as "Reborn the Monster", and both times a message is seen on screen showing "Monster Reborn".
    • Again in the Italian version of the manga, In the first panel Ghost Kotsuzuka is named, the named is translated as "The funerary ashes ghost". In every other panel, is just Ghost Kotsuzuka.
    • The Mexican Dub was considered one of the best dubs, but had the bad luck of changing Dub Studios and directors (fortunately, the main voice cast didn't change). Despite of eventually correcting Reborn the Monster to Monster Reborn, the Mexican dub keep naming the card the same way ("Renace el Monstruo") for quite a time. Then, for some reason, they started to call the card "Ressurrection of the Monster". Also, they used to name Obelisk the Tormentor using a literal translation (which, in this case, was okay), Obelisco el Atormentador, but the second time the card was named, it was called "Obelisk el Atormentador" for no reason. After a bit of time, they named the translated card "El atormentador Obelisk". Not to mention the Dark Magician Girl, who at first was called "Maga Oscura", which was okay, but after some studio change, they started calling her "La dama del Mago Oscuro" (which can be translated as "Lady of the Dark Magician", and the way it sounds implies they are a couple). Probably the translators were Shippers.
  • The English translation of the Azumanga Daioh manga has quite a few cases of this. Perhaps the most notable example is that the subject Yukari-sensei teaches is initially changed to Spanish, but later on is kept as the original English (probably as the translators realized that the substitution would ruin some gags later on).
    • The English dub of the show has it just as bad. Yukari becomes a "language" teacher. One of the foreigners becomes Spanish, while the one who sets up the Blah Blah Blah joke imitates the Engrish of the Japanese version. All other instances of Engrish are mutated into generally easy French and Spanish phrases, with at least one instance where the characters just add an "-o" to the ends of normal English words (though this was obviously intended to get by on the Rule of Funny). It only actually really ruins one gag, though.
  • Almost every manga Tokyo Pop has ever translated, ever. This goes double for Sailor Moon.
    • Their anniversary re-release of Magic Knight Rayearth actually fixed the issues with this it used to have, and also repaired some things that were omitted or intentionally mistranslated in the original release. Said release was already one of the best from the period when they were still called "MiXX Comix", which isn't saying much.
  • ADV's English dubs of the two Zone of the Enders anime (the OVA "Idolo" and the TV series "Dolores, i") are a consistency freak's nightmare. Pretty much every instance of name-dropping from the three video games is horribly butchered: the organization BAHRAM is called Bufram, villain Nohman is addressed as Norman, the events of the first game are said to have happened on a colony called Antiria instead of Antillia...there's even one brutally egregious case of "Orbital Flame" instead of "Orbital Frame" in the first episode (though later episodes do not repeat this mistake). On the upside, the English voicework apart from these annoying inconsistencies is excellent; at the very least it's leaps and bounds beyond the borderline Blind Idiot Translation made by Konami for the two Play Station 2 titles...
  • The Death Note English dub at first varied between leaving the word Shinigami untranslated and translating it as 'god of death'. They eventually went with the former. This was probably intentional, so it would be clear what the word shinigami meant.
    • The same thing is done in the manga. The words 'gods of death' are also used in a message from Kira to L while written in English in the manga. The word 'shinigami' could not have been used in that context.
  • The half of the episodes of GaoGaiGar that were dubbed were very inconsistent about a lot of pronunciations. For instance the the last syllable in the titular mecha is sometimes pronounced "gar" and other times it's "ger". Sometimes it seems to vary by character.
  • The Bleach dub can't seem to make up its mind whether the little girl modsoul is named Linin, Rinin, Rilin, Lilin, or something else entirely. Officially, it's "Lirin", but the voice actors seem to make a point of pronouncing it ambiguously, making it sound almost like "Ririn".
  • The dub of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has a minor, but still incredibly bizarre case where the name in the dialogue for a certain contradicts the subtitles that were show half a second earlier. The mecha that was transformed at the end of the 25 episode was called "Super Galactic" by the translation of the Boss Subtitles, but then all the people called it "Super Galaxy".
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha suffers from this, with Fate's familiar being named either Alf, Arf, or Aruf depending on the disc. Although the season one dub consistently calls Nanoha's weapon the Raging Heart, the subs start with Raging and then switch it out for Raising, which was also used for the A's dub.
    • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, the Belkan intelligent device Graf Eisen has the abilities "Panzer Schild" (armor shield) and "Panzer Hindernis" (armor obstacle), and the intelligent device Laevatein has the ability "Panzer Geist" (armor spirit). Geneon's subtitles translate "panzer" as "tank" for Graf Eisen's abilities, but translate it as "armor" for Laevatein's ability. The fact that there aren't any tanks in this show, and that these are all defensive abilities, might suggest that it should be "armor" (or "armored"; the correct adjective forms would be "gepanzert", "gepanzertes", and "gepanzert", respectively).
  • It's not an inconsistent dub (in fact there isn't a dub at all), but there's contradiction among the subtitles, the eye catches, and various other things at two whether Gunbuster (both the machine and the series itself) is supposed to be two words (Gun Buster), one regular word (Gunbuster), or a CamelCase word (GunBuster).
  • The Ranma ½ manga by Viz ran into this during the "Aging Mushrooms" (called "Mushrooms of Time" in the English version) storyline. After consuming one of the titular items, which make you as old as the mushroom is long (in centimeters,) Ryouga turns into a little 6 year-old kid. Later on, he's fed a 3cm mushroom and becomes a three year-old, and he gets back at Ranma with the "Explosive Pulverization" technique (the Bakusai Tenketsu, which Viz itself had always translated as "Breaking Point") and he gains a three year-old's lisp. Even worse, when he eats a 10cm mushroom, he keeps the lisp even though he didn't have one when he was six.
    • The Hiryuushoutenha ("Flying Dragon Ascend-to-Heaven Blast") gets a new translation every time it's called out.
  • The Mahou Sensei Negima manga had some problems with this, especially in the first few volumes. They're fairly minor for the most part but there are two gratuitous instances: Chamo is variously referred (by the same characters) as an ermine, rat, weasel, or ferret, before they finally confirmed him as an ermine. Then there was the early incident where Negi's father was referred to as the "Southern Master" for a volume before the translators realized that it makes no sense and switched to the correct "Thousand Master". Fortunately, more recent editions of that volume fixed it.
    • Don't forget Takamichi's note for Negi on Evangeline. It's supposed to read "talk to me if she becomes a problem," since she's an evil vampire with a personal vendetta against Negi, specifically. The official English translation is "Ask her advice if you're in trouble," making it seem as though Takamichi was trying to get Negi killed.
    • Chachamaru's surname was said to be "Rakuso" at first, then "Karakuri" later on.
    • They really couldn't decide on what Nodoka's nickname was either: the early volumes used "Library Girl" or "Librarian" before switching over to the more literal "Bookstore".
    • Fortunately, the more recent Omnibus editions of the early volumes fix all of these problems, due to being re-translated by the same people doing the current translations.
  • The Dark Horse translation of School Zone can't seem to decide whether it should be Yokai, Youkai, or Monster. In the summaries of previous volumes and character bios, they even manage to render it as Yosuke -- apparently confusing Nanka Youkai with Nanka Yosuke, the person it's possessing. There is also a character who's named Yoshiko in the first volume, and Miko in the later volumes.
  • The Shaman King Brazilian dub suffered from this in spades; the only attack that got a consistent renaming was Ren's Chuuka Zanmai ("Golden Tower in Action" in the dub), every other had a different name per episode. For example, Yoh's trademark attack (Shinkuu Budda Giri) was called Budda Slash, Budda Attack, Amida Style Attack, Amida Attack, Shinkuu Budda Giri, and "Haaaryyyaaahhhgggh!".
  • Fullmetal Alchemist has a joke of sorts wherein characters generally believe that May Chang's pet miniature panda is some kind of cat. Some of the English dub episodes had it be correctly identified as a panda, whereas a later episode used the cat confusion.
    • I'm still not sure whether the place should be called Ishval or Ishbal, and I seem to remember them trying to stick an R in there somewhere once. See the series' Spell My Name with an "S" entry for further giggles.
    • Some number of episodes into the dub of Brotherhood, the characters abruptly start referring to the Gate (as it had been called not only up to that point in the show, but throughout the entire 2003 anime series) as "the Portal" for no adequately explained reason.
    • While the Australian translation is generally quite good with consistency and manages to translate most names correctly, it can't decide whether the name of the lizard chimera working under Greed is Bido or Pete. Also Xerxes was called Lebis the first time it was mentioned but was changed appropriately in every subsequent mention. The American version is supposed to be much worse but I can't vouch for it.
    • Also in the Australian version, the Briggs mountains were called the "Bux" mountains when first mentioned. They also got Julio Comanche's (The Silver Alchemist) first name wrong, calling him Joliot.
  • The One Piece manga was affected by the 4Kids dub starting up, changing Zoro's name to Zolo. Considering there was also copyright problems with Zorro, it probably would've had to happen eventually, and it's been that way since, making this a relatively minor example.
  • The Hungarian dub of Dragonball Z had trouble with the name of the Kamehameha, going through at least six different names, including "Lifeforce Wave", "Highest Power", "Magical Force", "Magic Ray", "Personality Beam" and the simple "Lightning", and switching back and forth between them, sometimes within the same episode. Since Hungarian dubs are usually pretty good compared to most, it's possible that this was a quirk carried over from the French dub.
    • It probably was, since the Spanish dub is also based on the French one and also has that issue ("Cameame Waves"? "Vital Wave"? "Infinite Light"?). The opposite also happened, with "Vital Wave" (The "normal" name for the Kamehameha) also being used for the Kikouhou, the Taiyou-ken, the Kaioh-ken, several unnamed ki attacks, and more. The Taiyou-ken (Solar Fist) also went by several names, such as "Solar Beam", "Solar Fist" (Gasp!), "Photoelectric Waves" (Said by Goku, go figure) and the crowner, "Final Flash". By Cell. One episode BEFORE Vegeta used the real Final Flash. Not even the titular McGuffins are safe, being "magical balls" (Most things are simply "magical X" on this dub for some reason) but sometimes becoming "crystal balls" or even "dragon balls". There's also calling Saiyans "Space Warriors" and Super Saiyans "Super Warriors", but then using "Super Warriors" for vanilla Saiyans in some movies, and actually calling them "Saiyans" (In English) on early GT. Even the manga fell to this one, calling them "Saiyajins" in Gratuitous Japanese at first, and by extension "Super Saiyajin" later on... until the Androids arc, where they used "Super Warriors" like the anime. Sometimes. To the point of using both terms on the same page. The manga also called the Genki Dama "fireball" on its first appearance and "Energy Ball" everywhere else. And that's not even getting to current video games being translated from the USA versions resulting in even more name changes for minor characters.
    • The Mexican dub had also its own share of inconcistencies: First, in early episodes, both Pilaf and Shen Long had no name (they were referred to as "The Emperor" and "The Dragon God", respectively), until the Red Ribbon saga when their names were finally said. Uupa on his first appeareance was called Nube (lit. "Cloud") and was a girl; by the next episode he was aptly renamed Uupa and got a gender change. Later, in the Z series, Dr. Gero was strangely called Dr. Maki and after a few episodes he reverted to his Japanese name. But maybe the worst offender is planet Namek, which during the Saiyan and Freezer sagas was named "Planeta Namekusei" ("Planet Planet Namek", in a weird case of Gratuitous Japanese). After the arc had ended the planet got renamed as Planeta Nameku. Also, secondary characters changed voices every now and then.
    • In the English version of Dragonball Z, Piccolo went by the pseudonym "Ma Junior" at the World Martial Arts Tournament, with his reasoning that it was what he used last time he entered the tournament. In the Dragon Ball dub, he went by the name "Junior" (No "Ma") instead. Also, in the edited version of Dragonball Z Kai he uses the "Special Beam Cannon" on Raditz, only for it to be the "Makankosappo" in the next episode's flashback. This was averted in the uncut dub in that case, however was later invoked when Goku uses the "Solar Flare" and Krillin does the "Taiyou-ken".
    • Let's not forget the infamous dub error where Raditz was said to be faster than the speed of light, yet much later on Goku's instant transmission was described as allowing him to move at the speed of light. (Both of these are inaccurate FYI, as in the original Piccolo just said that Raditz was amazingly fast and Instant Transmission, like its name implies, is actually instant).
  • The Slayers: Super-Explosive Demon Story manga, as translated by Central Park Media, has some inconsistencies in how names are spelled:
    • The silver beasts are initially called "Zanafer", then later called "Xanasphar". (Most other versions of Slayers spell it "Zanaffar".)
    • The city with the Flagoon tree is initially called "Sylarg", then later called "Sairaag". (Most other versions of Slayers spell it "Sairaag".)
    • The priestess from that city is called both "Sylphiel" and "Sylfeer", seemingly at random. There was even one page that had both spellings used on it. (Most other versions of Slayers spell it "Sylphiel".)
  • The Latin American dub of Saint Seiya, despite its otherwise excellent quality, has this problem with the techniques of a few characters. For example: Shaina's technique was called "Thunder Claw" in the original japanese, while in the aformentioned dub she would go around shouting "A mí cobra!!" and/or "El poder de la cobra!!" (lit. "To me, cobra!" and "The power of the cobra!") as a direct reference to the visuals accompanying the technique. Particulary egregious is the case of Shiryu who had the same technique with four different names.
    • In the Asgard Saga, Hilda's castle Valhalla was pronounced waruhara in the Japanese version. Ergo, the dub would call it either Waruhala, Warukaya, Varukaya, and once, but only once, Valhalla.
  • Eureka Seven has a couple of minor inconsistencies. For a large part of the series, the name of the Scub Coral aliens is translated as "the Coralian" (in the plural), before it's switched over to "the Coralians." Also, Dewey's flagship is called the Galaxy on at least one occasion, but is later kept untranslated as the Ginga.
  • The English dub of FLCL seems incapable of making up its mind as to whether or not to use honorifics. One scene they'll be all over the place, the next, nada.
  • The first volume of the Rave Master manga names Haru's Morph Weapon sword by its Japanese name, "The Ten Commandments." After that however, it's always referred to as the "Ten Powers" instead.

Comic Books

  • The Icelandic translations of Disney comics, while keeping the names of major characters consistent, regularly change the names of all minor characters who only pop up here and there, the different translators seemingly not bothering to check if this character's name has been translated before. This happens now and then in Swedish editions too.
    • When The Carl Barks Collection were published in Sweden, exisiting translations were used wherever possible, but the editors did go back and make sure that things like Scrooge's money bin and Number one dime had consistent names throughout.
  • The Hebrew translations of the Tintin series are inconsistent both within and between albums as to what Captain Haddock is called. This applies to both his title -- which bounces between the anglicism "Kepten" and Hebrew translation Rav haḤovel -- and his name, which is usually a straight translation of the word for the haddock fish (Ḥamor haYam -- literally "sea donkey"), but is sometimes written phonetically as "Hadok".

Film

  • Star Wars is a major sufferer of this in several languages, partly due to its age and changes in countries' dubbing practices during the franchise's lifespan.
    • In both the French and Italian versions of the original Star Wars movies, most characters and vehicles received a Dub Name Change. However, in translations of the prequels and later Expanded Universe material, most of these changes were reverted.
      • In the case of French, Darth Vader is a unique case; both France and Canada share one dub of the original movies, made in France, in which Vader's name (the only "Darth" character at that point) is changed to "Dark Vador". Although later translations in France kept this change and carried it over to new characters ("Dark Maul", etc.), the French-Canadian versions of the new movies, series and packaging blurbs on merchandise not only kept "Darth", but also used Vader's original English name. This actually happens a lot in French Canada when new entries to old movies and TV series are dubbed. Before the 1990's, most French translations were done in France. Nowadays, most of them get a local dub in Quebec; series that got early instalments dubbed in France can have later ones dubbed in Quebec (Indiana Jones, The Lion King and Family Guy come to mind).
      • For the Italian versions, there was actually a poll to determine whether Darth Vader (known as "Dart Fener" in Italian) would use his original name in the Revenge of the Sith dub. "Fener" won with 55% of the votes, although "Darth Vader", for some reason, is still used in most Italian merchandise blurbs. (Not to mention the fact that other Sith Lords would use "Darth" rather than "Dart" as a title.)
    • The German Star Wars franchise has some serious problems with consistency. Sometimes english titles like captain and lieutenant are swapped with the german versions, sometimes not. Sometimes Poggle the Lesser is Poggle der Geringere, sometimes not (even within some episodes in The Clone Wars). Sometimes Tarkin is a Grand Moff, but sometimes it gets woolseyisted to Mufti (made up word by a translator). Even the comics, full of a staff of promoted fanboys it is not safe to say if the Home One is Heimat Eins or not. Jango is called with english pronounceiation everywhere except for The Clone Wars where it is Ijangoh.
    • Same for the Hungarian translations. Nobody is sure whether the Millenium Falcon's name should be left in English, or if the dubs (there are several) of the Original Trilogy are correct by naming it "Ezeréves Sólyom" ("Thousand Year-Old Falcon"). Light sabers also get to be referred to as "Laser swords" a lot, and although the dubbing studio made an effort to keep the voices and name translations of the Prequels and the cartoon shows consistent, they still switched them around needlessly. The dub of The Clone Wars, for instance translated the clone nicknames at first, then decided to go with their English names, only Rex is voiced by the "standard" clone voice actor from the movies, and the voices of secondary characters also keep changing depending on the episode.
  • Some gag dubs of Dmitry Puchkov (AKA Goblin) are this way. For example, in the dub of the first The Lord of the Rings film, Gimli is named Gimler (referring to Heinrich Himmler), but in the second and third films' Gag Dubs, he is named Givi, a stereotypical Georgian name. Also done in the Gag Dub of The Matrix, where Matvey (Morpheus) claims to be travelling aboard an armored train (called KV-1, even though it's a tank) in the vicinity of Berlin, although later he claims to be aboard a submarine.
    • In case of Gimli's name, it was a retcon. He was given a Georgian accent, and dwarves in general became the Fantasy Counterpart Culture of the Caucasian republics (much as elves became the counterpart of the Baltic states), so a Georgian name made more sense for him than the name of a Nazi officer. His name was also changed to Givi in the Re Cut version of Fellowship.
  • In Spain, Doc Brown's "1.21 jiggawatts" mispronunciation was kept as "Gigovatios" on the first film, but the third one used the correct "gigavatios". Inversely, the first move calls the Flux Capacitor "Condensador de Fluzo", with "fluzo" being a made-up word. Third movie properly translates it as "flujo", but Popcultural Osmosis only uses "fluzo", probably because it's more associated to the film.
  • The Hungarian dubs of the Saw movies shift back and borth between using "Kirakós" (Jigsaw) or "Fűrész" (Saw) for the killer. The Hungarian words for jigsaw and saw have no relations, so it comes out of nowhere when the Jigsaw killer is called "Fűrész" (Saw).

Literature

  • The Swedish translation of the Discworld books, while generally excellently flowing and providing good localization of English-specific puns and jokes, does have some annoying inconsistencies: for example, the translation of "the Dungeon Dimensions" alternates between Källardimensionerna ("the Basement Dimensions"), which keeps the meaning while losing the alliteration, and Demondimensionerna ("the Demon Dimensions"), which sounds awesome but loses the important point that the Things in the Dungeon Dimensions are nothing as rational and anthropomorphic as demons. However, the worst is probably the translation of "sourcerer", which is translated in three equally bad ways: urmagiker ("source-magician", keeping the meaning but losing the pun); häcksmästare ("hedge-ician", creating a bad pun that has nothing to do with the meaning... not that "sourcerer" is that awesome a pun), and finally, in the sourcerer-centric book Sourcery, svartkonstnär ("warlock"), which is neither funny nor descriptive of what a sourcerer does.
    • The Finnish translation for the Dungeon Dimensions varied for awhile between "Tietymättömät tyrmät" ("Unknown/Endless Dungeons") and "Umpi-ulottuvuudet" ("Sealed/Closed Dimensions), finally settling for the latter. The Finnish translation of Mort also went against every other translation's conventions, by for example translating trolls as "jätit" (giants/ogres), even though there's a perfectly good direct equivalent "peikko", which is used in every other Discworld book, and wizards as "taikurit" ("magicians"), even though that term is more commonly used of stage-magicians than the real deal, especially in a fantasy setting.
  • The Harry Potter books started out changing "jumper" to "sweater", but quit at some point, creating a strange ambiguity. For all one knew, Lupin actually was intended to be wearing a child's dress, because surely if they meant a warm, woolen pullover which is worn by all sorts of people, they'd say so, as per usual.
    • The American editions of the first couple books saw fit to change Dumbledore's fondness for sherbet lemons into a fondness for lemon drops. So in the American edition of the second book, the password to Dumbledore's office becomes "lemon drop". However, "sherbet lemon" was left intact in the fourth book, causing Harry to "remember" the password to Dumbledore's office being "sherbet lemon" despite the fact that that only happened in the British version of the second book.
  • An entire book has been written about problems in the Italian translation of Harry Potter. Some infamous examples of Inconsistent Dub:
    • In Philosopher's Stone, Terry Boot mantains his original name, in Order of the Phoenix he becomes "Terry Steeval" (an anglicized version of "stivale", i.e. "boot" in Italian)
    • In Fantastic Beasts, the Thestral is called "Testro", in Order of the Phoenix it's called just Thestral.
    • Goblins are usually translated to "folletti", but sometimes they are called "goblins", in English.
    • But the best is a name which is translated inconsistently within the same book. In Order of the Phoenix, the Crumple-Horned Snorkacks are called "Snorticoli Cornuti" in a chapter, and then "Ricciocorni Schiattosi" in a later chapter.
    • In the Swedish translations of book 1-4, Neville grandmother is translated to be his "mormor" (maternal grandmother). From book 5 and onward, after Neville's heritage is revealed, it is changed to "farmor" (paternal grandmother). The translator commented on this in an interview.
  • In different Italian translations of the Dune saga, the Golden Path is translated sometimes to "Sentiero Dorato" and sometimes to "Via Aurea".
    • Turkish ones too, sometimes retaining the original English terms and sometimes translating them with no apparent consistency or pattern.
  • Italian translations of Tolkien's works suffer the same problem. Examples: orcs are "orchi" in The Hobbit, "orchetti" in The Lord of the Rings; Bilbo's sword, Sting, is "Pungiglione" in The Hobbit, "Pungolo" in The Lord of the Rings.
    • It's a matter of setting things right. The english "orc" is very similar to the italian "orco" ("ogre"), but they indicates different creatures. In the The Hobbit translation they used the false relative "orc = orco", while in The Lord of the Rings they used the right meaning.
    • The same can be said for the Hungarian translations. This lead to so much confusion, in fact, that for The Hobbit, they released a revised translation, integrating the terms popularized by The Lord of the Rings books. Then, when the LOTR books received a revision of their own, Hobbit saw its fourth and (hopefully) final re-translation. See here for a comprehensive list of name variations[6], and here for a less in-depth list, which also includes the English terms.
  • In The Bible, there is an observance known in the Hebrew text as "Pesach" and the English as "Passover". In the Greek, it's called "pascha", an obvious derivative of the Hebrew word. One time, however, for no apparent reason, "pascha" was translated "Easter" in the King James Version. You don't find this term anywhere else in The Bible, and it doesn't tell you when, why, or how to observe it, or even to observe it, even if "Easter" was meant, which seems unlikely.
    • Christian Bible translations are notorious for retconning Christian ideas into (someone else's) holy book that simply does not jive with them, be it through deliberately insincere translations, translations from Greek ambiguity that completely ignore the original Hebrew, or anachronisms such as the above. The King James translation of 1 Maccabees (which, for the record, does not form part of the Jewish Biblical canon, but the original Hebrew version has been preserved) casually mentions Jesus in the line of Old Testament Israelite leadership. (Of course this is meant to be Joshua).
  • The infamous Swedish translation of The Lord of the Rings by Åke Ohlmarks couldn't make up its mind whether one place was named Isengard, Isendor or Isendal. The river Entwash was first named "Slamma flod" ("Muddy River"), then "Bukteån" ("Bendy Stream") before finally becoming "Ente älv" ("Ent River").

Live Action TV

  • The Russian dub of Stargate SG-1 alternates between three different renderings of the name "Daniel", among other things.
  • For a couple of episodes, the Hungarian dub of Myth Busters kept referring to Buster both by his original English name (which is normally used in the dub) and "Tulok" ("Bullock"). Even the narrator was surprised about it, as you could tell by his voice. However, it is a dub that has the voice cast alternate from episode to episode...
  • The first season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers gave some of the weapons and vehicles on the show more than one name. For example, the Dragonzord Fighting Mode (the Dragonzord/Sabretooth Tiger/Triceratops/Mastondon Zord combination) is also referred as the Mega Dragonzord (not to be confused with a different Dino Megazord/Dragonzord combination) and the Dragonzord Battle Mode.
  • The European Spanish dub of Friends renders Joey's "How you doin?" catchphrase a different thing everytime it shows up, which kills the point of a catchphrase on the first place. The same happened with Steve Urkel's "Did I do that?".
  • The Hungarian dub of Star Trek: Voyager's 7th season was an example, but thankfully a second dub rectified the problem. It was handed over to a Romanian dubbing studio called Zone, notorious for its very cheap and lazy dubs. It was not only inconsistent with the dubbing of the rest of the show (new voices for everyone, new name variations, new expressions), but also with itself. It was so bad, in fact, that the TV station issued a public apology to the fans and re-dubbed the entire thing with the original cast some time later.

Video Games

  • The Phantasy Star series may as well be the most extreme example of this trope.
    • Alyssa was localized as Alis, then Alisa
    • Lutz was translated as Noah, but was then changed back to Lutz
      • This one has spawned so many arguments in the fandom, it's not even funny. What it basically comes down to is that in the Japanese version of the first game, Lutz is your friend, and in the second game, he comes out of cryo-sleep to aid Alisa's descendant, Eusis, in the same quest, a thousand years later. In the English version of the first game, Noah joins you on your quest, and then a thousand years later, some naked guy named Lutz gets himself out of cold storage to dump some exposition on Rolf and company. In the fourth game, in both versions, Lutz is a legendary godlike figure worshipped by the Espers, but players of the English version are likely to wonder what the hell happened to Noah and how did Lutz get this kind of publicity if he spends all his time in a box waiting for heroes to show up.
    • Lutz/Noah's master's name changes even over the course of a single game.
    • Dark Falz/Dark Force
      • Still better than Dark Phallus, which is apparently the romanization the original development team had in mind.
  • Minor example from Final Fantasy VI: a scholar early in the game tells you how people who used magic were called Mage Knights. By the time you actually meet their descendants later, they're called Mage Warriors. Later retranslations fixed this.
  • In Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun, the Good Guys had the "Firestorm Defense", which used a "Firestorm Generator" and "Firestorm Walls". In the French localization, it becomes the "ANTI-Firestorm defense", but is *still* powered by a "Firestorm Generator".
  • Extremely common in various long-running RPG video game series, where item, spell or monster names that are the same in Japanese are localized differently in different games.
    • Final Fantasy: The spell Esuna has appeared as Heal and Esna. Holy has appeared as Fade, White, Pearl and Holy. Potions have also been Cure (Potion) and Tonic. Are they Golden Needles or Soft Potions? Remember when Thundara was called Lit2? And who can forget Cactuar/Cactrot/Sabotender, and Coeurl/Cuahl?
      • In the series' defense, the item, spell, and monster names are consistent within a given game. Since none of the games are actually in continuity with each other, this is a borderline case, if that.
      • Also, the reason "Thundara" was "Lit2" has more to do with character limits in the early games than inconsistency. Final Fantasy I only allowed four characters per name, whereas Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy VI allowed five and six, respectively. The Holy situation is also related to Nintendo's former draconian policies involving any sort of religious content. In all these cases, the localization team had to work with the resources (and within the limits) they were given, and it was only until the Play Station era that they could be consistent with the Japanese naming schemes. In fact, it's only Final Fantasy VII which is the truly inconsistent installment, since it was translated by Sony.
    • In Spain, Dragon Knights (AKA "Dragoons") seem to change name depending of the game: "Dragon Knight" on Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and its sequel, "Dragontino" ("Draconesque", and no, it wasn't "Dragonesque Knight, that would make too much sense) on III and V, and "Draconius" on IV (The FF translator loves Gratuitous Latin). Curaja can't keep its own name consistent either; the previous spells are always "Cura", "Cura+", and "Cura++", but in IV it's "Cura+++", in I "Cura++2" And the crowner, III changes the entire system to be "Cura, Omnicura, Cura+, Omnicura+" for the hell of it. Thanks for making this simple, Square. Thanks. And we won't even get on how VII had completely different translations from later games, though that might be forgiven since VII was a Blind Idiot Translation from the English version and the others are translated from the Japanese versions.
    • Even in English, the translation of "Dragon Knight" was inconsistent for a while, being translated directly in Final Fantasy IX and translated as "Lancer" in Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy V (Playstation versions of both). Pretty much every other game refers to them as "Dragoons", despite the word "dragoon" meaning something very different in English normally (and you can blame Final Fantasy IV for that one, being the first game in the series to have the class and be translated into English... sorta.)
    • Breath of Fire: The first game was translated by Square, the later ones (sometimes very poorly) by Capcom. The goddess Tyr became Myria in her second appearance (the latter is actually correct); recurring character Deis was sometimes called Bleu (Originating with the Square release of the original, and kept as an Artifact for the Capcom translation of Breath of Fire 2); and Winlan/Windia/Wyndia was supposedly the same place in each game. Gobi/Maniro/Manillo is another case -- all Capcom can be accused of is poor romanization, and yet again it was Square who was the root problem, picking a name out of thin air rather than using the original Japanese name; most cases of Inconsistent Dubbing in Breath of Fire can be traced back to this, actually -- although some of these were necessitated by technical limitations, there's actually no particularly good reason to change Deis to Bleu.
      • A few more that are legitimately Capcom's fault: Baba/Bunyan, Great Tree/Yggdrasil.
    • Unusually averted in Chrono Cross, where Luminaire and the Flea/Slash/Ozzie trio, for instance, were translated the same as in Chrono Trigger.
      • This becomes even odder when a character shows up in Chrono Cross with the Japanese name of Slash, making the translators change his name to Nikki in order to accommodate the returning purposefully-mistranslated Slash from Chrono Trigger.
    • The final boss of Dragon Quest IV was originally called Necrosaro, but was renamed Pizarro for some of the Dragon Quest Monsters games, and is going by Psaro in the latest DQM and DQ 4 remake.
      • And, unlike some cases of this, none of these actually match the original Japanese name; "Death Pisaro" is just plain too long for English versions, even if they want to be faithful.
      • The guy actually goes by multiple names, complicating it further. In the original, he is Pisaro, who becomes Death Pisaro when he decides to exterminate humanity. The first localization has him as Saro/Necrosaro, while the most recent one calls him Psaro/Psaro the Manslayer. He loses the upgraded name when he joins your party.
  • The English translation of Dynasty Warriors consistently uses the traditional East Asian name format of Family Name first, then Given Name. Samurai Warriors instead consistently used the Given Name, Family Name format more common in the West. Since they each used it consistently, this wasn't too much of a problem... until Warriors Orochi, where you now get characters who are inconsistently named using one format or the other, depending on the source game.
  • A bizarre example between Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Smash Bros. Dojo, which apparently have their own separate translation teams. For one, the game pluralizes the recurring enemies in the Subspace Emissary as "Primids", while the site perfers just "Primid" (made even more jarring when the Trophy Stand update had a screenshot of the Big Primid trophy that includes the game's pluralization). Additionally, the game level "Outside the Ancient Ruins" is referred to on the site as "Outer Ancient Ruins" in the Secret Element List update, and the Mysteries of The Subspace Emissary update calls what is named the "Island of the Ancients" in the game the "Isle of Ancients". To be fair, however, the site did correct some of its own errors later on, as at one point, Samurai Goroh and the Wario Bike and Drill Rush attacks are called Samurai Goro, the Wario Chopper and the Triple Dash.
    • The Italian site also has Ike's Aether being named "Twilight". (Well, it is pretty sparkly...)
  • A minor inconsistency in Super Mario Bros 3: the items "Kuribo's Shoe" and "Jugem's Cloud" are obviously named after the enemies otherwise translated into English as Goomba and Lakitu.
    • This was averted in later ports of the game. Kuribo's Shoe has since been renamed "Goomba's Shoe". However, a reference to the item in Super Paper Mario (in the form of of the name of one of 100 Samurai-like characters that can be fought, each one referencing something from the series' past) used the translation "Shoe of Kuribo".
    • Same thing for Birdo in Super Mario Bros 2. The English manual describes Birdo as a guy wanting to be a girl, but this of course was lost in translation. Nintendo kept Birdo as a female for quite a while until a few recent years where they describe Birdo's profile as vaguely being either gender.
    • Also, the manual for SMB 2 switches the names of Birdo and Ostro.
  • Suikoden Tierkreis. Dear god, Suikoden Tierkreis. If you're lucky, the name will just be spelled one way and pronounced another. If you're not, the pronunciation will also vary depending on the character speaking. Two examples that spring immediately to mind are Shairah/Shailah, and Kureyah/Claire.
  • The Tales (series) has been getting better about standardizing the translations of certain techs that have been passed from main character to main character since Tales of Phantasia, but we're still at the point where we need a guide to list the various English names of some shared techs. Or even the same tech on the same character as a result of remakes and cameos. At least they've generally settled on what we're calling tokugi, ougi and hi-ougi.
    • The most common inconsistency comes in the incantation for the lightning arte Indignation. Whereas the Japanese version retains the incantation across games due to nostalgia, the fact that the various English localisations are rarely produced by the same team means that the incantation is inevitably translated differently each time.
    • The Spanish translation of Tales of Symphonia changed the names of many skills, enemies and even some characters (Such as the dwarves), but Tales of Symphonia Dawn of the New World used the English terms. In most cases, this was a good thing, since some names were too imaginative and clashed with the rest of the game. On a negative example (Still on Dawn), Arc Words "Courage is the magic that turns dreams into reality" was translated literally for 75% of the game, but suddenly changed to "With courage and galantry, any dream can be made true" (Which is not quite the same, mind you) right before the battle against Brute, then kept this way until the Final Boss, where they go back to the first translation.
  • The remake of the original Wild ARMs game, Wild ARMs: Alter Code F, despite being developed eight years after the original, still infamously had a poor translation. Perhaps the best example of this is Cecilia's middle name; she is referred to, at various points throughout the game, as Cecilia Lynne Adlehyde, Cecilia Raynne Adlehyde, and Cecilia Lynn Adlehyde. It's very jarring.
    • More jarring example: Alhazad's gender, which is referred to both as "she" and "fellow". Why is this jarring? Because, not only is Alhazad referred to as a male in both the original's translation and the Japanese version of the remake, but he also constantly makes creepy advances towards a certain female even in his first appearance, which should have been a huge tip-off on his gender from the start.
  • The Legendary Starfy refers to Shurikit as both a "he" and a "she" at different points in the game. Officially, she's a girl.
  • Capcom seems to like being inconsistent about terms in Mega Man Battle Network and its sequel, Mega Man Star Force. The most notable ones are the By the Power of Greyskull quotes: in the first Battle Network game, the sentence was "Jack In! MegaMan.EXE, Transmit!". In later games, it became "Jack In! Mega Man, Execute!". Star Force followed too - in the first game, the quote was "EM Change, Geo Stelar, ON THE AIR!". By the third game, it became "Transcode! Mega Man!".
    • Doesn't help the fact that the first quote became "Jack In! Mega Man, Power Up" in the anime version.
    • Also, are those viruses Mettools or Mettaurs?
      • They're Mettaurs. They're only Mettools if they're not cyberific. I guess.
    • At least the Transcode thing was justified: Between the second and third game, Satella Police created Wizards (EM Beings and robots at the same time) and had projects running to register all EM Wave Change people (Like Megaman, Harp Note etc). Thus, to EM Wave Change now, Subaru had to use the name he registered. Or something like that. It's a little vague.
  • Atlus is usually good about this, but flubbed a scene in Endless Frontier: Super Robot Taisen OG Saga that mentions a character from a previous game. That character, a woman named Lemon, gets translated as Raymond. It doesn't help that Atlus wasn't sure at first which continuity the game was meant to tie into, if any.
    • The same game also has a character using a weapon called "Goshiki Zankanto", which is a Shout-Out to another character's Reishiki/Sanshiki Zankanto. The previous games had translated them as Type 0/Type 3 Colossal Blade, but since Kaguya's dimension is Wutai, they left everything in Japanese.
  • Despite an otherwise wonderful translation, Monster Hunter Tri can't seem to decide whether the little leech-esque monsters should be called "Gigi" or "Giggi."
  • The Fighting Mania arcade game based on Fist of the North Star can't decide between using "South Star" or "South Dipper" as the English name for Nanto. While technically "South Dipper" is the correct choice, since Nanto is a Chinese asterism equivalent to Sagittarius and not a single star, "South Star" is more consistent with the way Hokuto is always translated as the "North Star" in the franchise itself.
  • In the Resident Evil series the Progenitor Virus (shiso uirusu) is also referred as the Mother Virus and the Founder Virus.
    • The Supervisor unit from Resident Evil 3 is referred as the "Monitor" unit in Umbrella Chronicles and as the "Observers" in the English version of Resident Evil Archives.
  • In the Pokémon games, the key item that allows you to find hidden items has been inconsistently translated. In Japan, it's always been known as "Dowsing Machine." From Generation I to III, it was known in America as "Itemfinder," but ever since Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, it's been translated as "Dowsing Machine." In fact, in HeartGold and SoulSilver, it's called "Dowsing MCHN."
    • When the franchise first debuted in Quebec, the local French translation was inconsistent to begin with. The games were in English only, Quebec-translated French material such as the anime and books used the English names for Pokémon and characters, and France-translated material such as the TCG cards, manga and CD-ROM software used the French names (from France). However, around the Master Quest season, the Canadian French dub of the anime was cancelled. A few years later, the European French versions of Pokémon HeartGold And SoulSilver were released in Quebec due to agreements with the local language cops, again using the French names. All games released since have been getting the same deal, effectively "de-canonizing" the English names in Quebec. Contrast with the Star Wars example above, which started out with France's translations and phased them out in favor of a Quebec translation with the original names.

Western Animation

  • A Western example of this sort of thing happens in Ralph Bakshi's animated version of The Lord of the Rings. The voice actors refer to the character of Saruman as "Aruman" half of the time. This was an originally an intentional change, to make sure the character wouldn't be confused with Sauron, but they flipped between names at random. Also, in spite of Tolkien's detailed notes concerning the pronunciations of certain character names, in the book itself, many of the voice actors pronounced them differently -- and in different ways depending on the actor.
  • The character Motor Ed of Kim Possible has the Verbal Tic of peppering his sentences with the word "seriously". When translated into Swedish, "seriously" can become two words, both with practically the same meaning: "seriöst" and "allvarligt". For some unknown reason, the dubbers went with having one of the two Motor Ed-centered episodes translating "seriously" to "seriöst" and the other translating "seriously" to "allvarligt".
  • Trying to follow the Brazilian Avatar dub is a little harder than it should be thanks to this trope.
    • The most poignant inconsistency is the translation of the term "bender". Since there is not a precise equivalent of the term "bender" (which has one or two extra meanings in English) in portuguese, the dubbers opted for "dobra" (folding), which sounds as weird as it would be in English when referring to elements. While the term was midly popular, it was gradually changed to "dominador" (manipulator), which doesn't carry the exact same meaning, but definitely makes more sense.
    • As far as pronounciations go, the dub really can't make up it's mind. Iroh will be pronounced interchangeably as "Eye-roh" and "Ee-roh"; Mai will be either "May" or "My-ee"; Suki will be either, well, "Suki" or "Su-KEE"; Ty Lee will be either "Tye Lee" or "Tee Lee" etc. It's surprising to see how Aang kept his English pronounciation consistent.
    • The minor character Pipsqueak got his nickname translated ("Tampinha") sometimes, and other times kept as is.
  • In the first season of the Norwegian dub of Winx Club the witch/fairy Mirta was called "Mista", but in season 2 they started referring to her as Mirta.
    • This also happened in Singapore English dub in the episode where Mirta was introduced. It was fixed afterwards.
  • Far too many Hungarian dubs to list. Most of the time, it's the result of switching dubbing studios or translators, although one has to wonder why the voice actors don't point out the inconsistency.
    • One of the more interesting and recent cases is that of Fairly Oddparents. Originally, there were two dubs produced for two networks (Nick and KidsCo). When the Disney Channel started airing the show, they sort of "blended" the casts of the two dubs together. Timmy retained his Nick voice, some second-rate characters got new voices that matched the originals better, but mostly everyone else sounds like in the KC dubbing.
      • It appears the stations made an effort to bring consistency into the dub(s) -- for the new episodes, Nickelodeon ditched their dubbing studio (Labor) and brought over the Disney cast (hired by studio SDI), along with the name translation that the SDI dub used. There still remains some inconsistency, though: despite being voiced by the same actress in both the original Labor and SDI dubs, Wanda's voice is much higher-pitched in the new Nick dub (weird), and while the original SDI KidsCo and Disney dubbings didn't bother translating the songs (not even in subtitles), the Nick version does dub even the singing scenes.
    • X-Men cartoons in Hungarian. Hoo-boy... First, the original dub of the '90s animated show that aired on Fox Kids disregarded the comic book name translations, angering many fans (for example, Wolverine became Wolf, Storm became Cyclone, etc.). Then, X-Men: Evolution followed on Cartoon Network, with a fantastic dub, but kept the Fox Kids names, and season 4 didn't get dubbed. The X-Men live action movies followed suit, and thus the new names became widespread, so that now the general public recognizes "Wolf" as the character's basic name. Sometime later, the un-aired episodes of the '90s series receive a wholly new dub, and didn't bother with translating names, but only kept a handful of the original voice actors. Finally, to everyone's surprise, a different channel demanded Evolution's dub be finished, after a long wait that lasted for about half a decade. Unfortunately, even though all of the original actors were still accessible, only a select few characters kept their voices, they got some names wrong at certain points, and a few of the old voices returned in different roles. The final episode also contained a quite noticeable goof-up; namely, Jean's voice completely changed for just one scene.
    • Whether it was scripted or not (would be unusual if it was, though), the Hungarian voice actor of Cartman pointed out the sudden name change of Big Gay Al in one episode. They ran with it.
  • Italian dub of Fairly Oddparents is filled with this. Crimson Chin got to be named Crimson il Mentone at first, then C-Man, then Crimson Mentone. His enemy Bronzed Knee became initially Ginocchiera di Bronzo, then Ginocchio di Bronzo and finally Rotula di Bronzo. Remy Buxaplenty's name got pronounced in two different ways ("Ray-mi Bucks-a-plenty" the first time, "Ray-mee Books-a-plenty" in every other instance)
  • The first episodes of American Dad in Spain translated Snot's nickname, but after 10 episodes or so they kept in on English for no reason.
  • The Mexican dub of Phineas and Ferb translated OWCA- Organization Without a Cool Acronym, accurately as OSBA- Organización Sin un Buen Acrónimo for the Summer Belongs to You special. Later mentions, where the accronym's meaning isn't mentioned, it is just OWCA. At first it can be considered a good thing when OWCA's logo appears, (saying 'OSBA' when a sign clearly says OWCA can be a bit confusing), but it's still jarring, since in the nineties Disney used to edit signs on their movies and cartoons to fit the language it was done for, an action which with current technology is even easier.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic was first localized in Hungary on promo DVDs. When they started airing the show on television, a completely new dub got produced, using mostly different voice actors and translations (though there is some overlapping). Fans are still arguing over which one is better/worse, as not all of the changes seemed to have been actual improvements.
  • The Hungarian Family Guy dub, which apart from the problems listed below is one of the best dubs currently running on TV, has an annoying habit of changing around the voices of many second or third tier characters, only keeping the more prominent voices consistent. What's also strange is that although they often manage to get the original voice actors of various Cameo guests from different shows (including actors you rarely hear on TV nowadays), they often fail to do the same for in-universe characters from The Cleveland Show or American Dad, whenever they have a Crossover. An explanation for this might be the fact that AD's dub is handled by a different studio, and the people dubbing FG simply don't recognize its characters, and so don't check whether they already have actors attached to them or not.
  • In the German dub of Recess the Diggers start out as twin brothers, then become identical best friends, and switch back to being twin brothers. In the original version, they were only best friends who happened to look identical (Rule of Funny).
    • In the first few airings of the German dub, and in a translation of one of the Disney Adventures comics for the show, Gus was named Paul. The dubbers recognized their mistake and redubbed those moments with his correct name.
  • Season 1 of the Polish dub of Codename: Kids Next Door had the 5 characters called by nicknames (something that was scrapped from the English version after the previews, but persisted here) rather than their real names, however it starts to use the real names from Season 2 onwards perhaps due to them being more and more relevant to the story.

Overlapping

  • Transformers in Hungarian is screwed beyond comprehension, just from the sheer amount of different people and studios its comics, cartoons and movies have gone through, without the slightest trace of cooperation having taken place between them.
    • For years, the only TF media available were the Marvel comics, which introduced classic name translations that the fans grew to be familiar with (although some, like Wheeljack, Blaster or Powerglide did switch their names around a bit).
    • The G1 cartoon never got dubbed, only the movie, twice. Neither used the Marvel names, and neither bothered to keep any of the voices consistent, as they changed literally from scene to scene. A studio called Masterfilm created the second dub, and would in later years return to ruin a number of other TF media, much to the dismay of the fan-base.
    • Then, Transformers Energon rolled around, and also made up new names for the characters (most infamously "Optimus, the First" and "Robotika" in place of Decepticon).
    • By the time of Transformers Cybertron, fans had gotten into contact with the translator and persuaded him to change some names to their original Marvel counterparts, but this only happened to a select few characters. And even those that had their Marvel names reinstalled got to be called by their Energon names at times. Oh, and Landmine received a new name for just the intro, which differed from both his Energon name and the one the actual Cybertron series used. Yes, the dub was dreadful, and besides the name screw-ups, it kept changing the voices (even the genders) around far too much for comfort.
    • The Ultimate Battle special, released on a DVD that they gave away with the toys. It's the same: Only some of the original Marvel names were used, the rest were a confusing mishmash of Energon names or completely new ones. Yet even within the confounds of this twenty-minute special, they couldn't manage to keep the names and voices consistent. Although a number of the original voice actors from the Energon and Cybertron shows returned, they did so in other roles, like Kicker's actor suddenly voicing Ironhide, and Thunderbolt's actress playing every female character, including her own... but only for one line. Afterwards, she spoke in a male's voice. The dub was made by Masterfilm.
    • "Bayformers" is another example. Although the dubbing was still very low-quality, border-lining incomprehensible at times, it finally used the Marvel names! (Save for a couple of instances when they accidentally left in English terms.) A more serious inconsistency kicked in when the man voicing Optimus Prime, renowned Hungarian voice actor Tibor Kirstóf, got sick and died around the release of ROTF. For the record, he was the second Hungarian Optimus Prime voice actor to have passed away (the other being the equally famed Lajos Kránitz from the first dub of the '86 movie).
    • Titan Magazines released a series of comics based on the Transformers movie franchise, and when these were imported to the country, they got the cheapest translation job imaginable. Inconsistent terminology, name changes, the dialog not making any sense... yeah, the works.
    • Transformers Animated just very nearly avoided inconsistent dubs. Yes, the show itself never got dubbed, but the single toy commercial that aired on TV and the McDonald's promo couldn't decide whether to use Marvel names or go with the dreaded Energon translation.
    • Then, Transformers Armada, Masterfilm's latest attempt to ruin Hungarian TF media forever. The dub was made completely independently from its sequels, Energon and Cybertron, thus had a wholly different voice cast. And despite the live-action movies having made the Marvel names household terms, Armada's dub still opted to start from scratch, and continued to give new names for each of its characters. What more, this dub has a lot more mix-ups than in the English dubbing, and even the characters themselves don't know whose voice they should be speaking in at times.
    • Transformers Prime's dub is a step in the right direction, but it again falls flat. On a positive note, for the first time in the dub of a TF animated series, they refer to the Decepticon faction by its original Hungarian Marvel name, and a chunk of the terminology introduced in the movie dubs, heck, even some of the voices (for the first time ever) have also remained intact after the medium-shift. However every other name is left in English. This could be justified: perhaps they thought toys would sell better if kids learned the names that are on the packagings -- same thing happened to My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, whose dub is full of English terms, whereas the dubs of the earlier shows translated the names.

      Problem is, with the two languages being so different, the pronunciations are very clunky. Had the higher-ups not intervened to keep the translator from using the now-famous Hungarian names, this might well have been the first aversion... were it not for the sorry fact that even within the cartoon's own boundaries, inconsistency reared its head in the form of sound editing bloopers regarding Soundwave's synthesized audio snippets and other miscellaneous effects, as well as the varying translations of Ratchet's Catch Phrase. It also appears that the translator didn't do the research on some less prominent movie trilogy names and terms, and so left a few in English and made up new translations for others -- most noticeably, the character known as the "Fallen" went from being called "Bukott" to "Ördög" (Devil). Allegedly this can be traced back to an older name-list that a fan put out for an eventual translator to use.
  • A rather harmless, but interesting example: There is no consistent way to pronounce Donald Duck in Germany. Early dubs and the first hosts of the TV show Disney Club pronounced Donald's first name like a german name (you can listen to this pronounciation here). Sometime in the mid-90s, the dubs of the cartoons and Quack Pack changed it to the english pronounciation, maybe to sound more modern. Some of the new hosts of Disney Club changed also to the english pronouciation, but others would keep saying "Donald" the german way. Since the time of Mickey Mouse Works, the dubbers switch all the time between the german and the english prononciation. Well, at least not during the same episode, but some shows say it this way, other cartoons and ads the other. And some fans even insist on pronouncing "Duck" like if it were a German word. But these fans are a Vocal Minority. *phew*

Notes

  1. "I'm a Sailor Moon! Who fights for love and justice! I'm Sailor Moon! Sailor Moon will punish you in the name of the moon"
  2. Ranamon in the dub anime and Japanese material
  3. Sakkakumon in the dub anime, Sefirotmon in Japanese material
  4. Velgemon in the dub anime, Velgmon in Japanese material
  5. Cherubimon literally everywhere else, and for good reason; this name is unfortunately as old as 02
  6. 1st column: Original Hobbit translations; 2nd column: Original LOTR translations; 3rd column: first revised edition; 4th column: finalized name changes
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