There were surely some children who spent the Pokémon craze telling all of their classmates that Monster Rancher was better than Pokémon OR Digimon. After all, the Monster Rancher games let you create beasts using CDs, and the Monster Rancher cartoon was perhaps just a little more interesting than Pokémon. After all, the monsters in question talked and bickered and behaved like actual characters instead of subservient stuffed animals. A young Monster Rancher fan might recount all of this to the kids at school, but that fan would probably be mocked as mercilessly as the child who spent the 1980s with Go-Bots instead of Transformers.
That poor kid's arguments weren't helped by the Monster Rancher intro. Compared to the cornball catchiness of the Pokémon theme, Monster Rancher starts with a limp description by history's most bored rapper, possibly the result of producers trying to emulate that hip-hop music the kids liked without alienating overprotective suburban parents. Monster Rancher fans could point out the intro's flashes of decent animation, but that didn't help much when everyone was already playing Pokémon.
Crusher Joe is often neglected. Based on a series of novels by Haruka Takachiho, the Crusher Joe film and direct-to-video flicks were fun slices of space opera in the 1980s, but they're obscure nowadays. Even among fans of Japan's bubble-decade animation, Joe's overshadowed by Takachiho's sillier, more destructive creation, The Dirty Pair. It didn't help that Crusher Joe never caught on in North America, where it was simply renamed Crushers for its limited distribution.
And what's a title like Crushers without an appropriate theme song? After about 45 seconds of noodling, the rock outfit known as Bullets (remember them?) breaks into a totally radical riff about Joe and his fellow Crushers. They attack, zap, crack, roll 'em, rock 'em, and apparently put on some sort of show if you rub them the wrong way.
Goldwing isn't anime in the made-in-Japan sense, as it's a Korean production. But it really, really wants to be anime. Specifically, it wants to be lazy giant-robot anime from the 1970s, albeit with an even lower budget. So we'd feel bad if we excluded it just because of its origins.
Harmony Gold, the same company that adapted Robotech, brought Goldwing to American audiences in the early 1980s. The journey gave Goldwing an amazingly wooden dub and a truly memorable opening number. It's a brassy, upbeat tune that's apparently about Goldwing, though only about one-third of the lyrics are clearly decipherable. It's also set to a repetitious montage of the movie's stiff animation, inviting you to count how many times you see that missile explode in a jerky, elliptical puff. Oddly enough, Goldwing recently saw a Blu-Ray release in Korea, and it features both the American version and a heavily degraded print of the original.
2) The Unreleased Sailor Moon Pilot
Certain fans of Sailor Moon can rattle off long lists of grievous ways the Japanese series was altered for the sake of American television, but they're overreacting, as anime fans are wont to do. Sailor Moon's American treatment was a largely mundane case of editing out violence, nudity, and other things U.S. children's programming couldn't tolerate. The American opening of Sailor Moon is similarly inoffensive, apart from that weird line about "winning love" (who talks like that?). Besides, there's a much weirder American version of Sailor Moon out there.
Not long after Sailor Moon aired in Japan, Bandai and Renaissance Atlantic whipped up a new pitch for the franchise. Instead of translating the original cartoon, they reimagined Sailor Moon as a mixture of live-action footage and new animation. The resulting pilot episode wasn't leaked to the public, but some brave soul unveiled this clip of a music video promo, including what's apparently the show's opening theme.
Yes, Sailor Moon became some strange hybrid of space-surfing She-Ra and those Babysitters' Club books. While it has good intentions in "diversifying" the cast (to borrow TV executive lingo), the results are a preposterous cavalcade of every insipid cliché that dominated girls' cartoons in the 1990s. And the song suits this new creation all too well.
1) One Piece
At a glance, One Piece looks like a rollicking pirate-adventure show, a lighthearted and suitable for children. That was the mistake 4Kids entertainment made when licensing it back in 2004. Pokémon had done well for 4Kids, and the company hoped for a similar breakthrough hit with One Piece, a similarly massive kids hit in Japan.
The only problem? One Piece is a bit darker than its cheerful characters suggest. It's certainly a goofy series, but it also features violent battles, gunplay, blood, and all of the grim skullduggery a pirate story should have. This wouldn't fly on American airwaves. One Piece needed to be softened up and brought in line with the other totally in-your-face shows on the Fox Kids block. So 4Kids did this.
And there it is. Kids got to know One Piece through an insulting bit of verse about how Luffy (that's Monkey D. Luffy!) is gonna be king, and there's an L-A-D-Y who's not shy, and One Piece is, in fact, the name of the treasure in the Grand Line. This soon became the most notorious anime-opening rewrite in history, and to this day all true One Piece fans will fly into seizures if you so much as say "YAH-YO" around them.