Yo-Kai Watch replaces English voice cast
The English dub of the Yo-Kai Watch anime first premiered on Disney XD in the United States on October 5, 2015. The adaptation was produced for Dentsu Entertainment USA (later, Level-5 abby) with a Los Angeles based voice cast starring the likes of Johnny Yong Bosch, Joey D’Auria and Alicyn Packard. The same crew stuck around for season 2, the first movie and the video games. Their voices have since been heard in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, but unfortunately, it seems this is the end of the line.
Multiple voice actors attached to the show have come out and said they won’t be involved with the English dub’s upcoming third season. Joey D’Auria, the voice of Whisper and Robonyan, stated everyone had been recast in a cost cutting move. While the first season of the series was produced outside of an acting union (hence the pseudonyms in the credits), the second season and the movie were recorded under SAG-AFTRA rates. This is an expense most English anime productions can’t afford to take on.
This might be one of the more pronounced effects of Yo-Kai Watch’s “mixed results” in merchandise sales in North America. Speaking to Inside Licensing, Level-5 abby SVP for Marketing and Licensing Simon Waldron said the company would need to look at “starting things on a smaller scale” after expanding too quickly. “We need to be happy with smaller steps and re-platform ourselves to keep it going with like-minded partners.”
An alternate English language dub has also existed. Produced in Hong Kong, this version is visually uncut and features little to no localized dialogue. Featuring the voices of Catherine Fu, Sarah Hauser and Michael Pizzuto, this dub premiered on June 27, 2015 on Toonami Asia and has later aired on Cartoon Network Asia and OKTO. The dub is ongoing, with production on the second Yo-Kai Watch feature film currently underway.
Some fans have speculated that Level-5 abby might try to sell the Asian dub to western markets, but I personally don’t see it happening. That version features a very literal script translation which would conflict with the previously established localized names. For starters, the Asian dub retains the lead’s Japanese name, Keita, where as the U.S. dub renamed him to Nathan. Additionally, when the Asian dub was mistakenly uploaded to Netflix in the west, fan reaction was mixed at best.
Understandably, Yo-Kai Watch fans been disappointed by the announcement. A completely new cast after 76 episodes, a movie and multiple games is going to be tough for ears to get used to. The second season wrapped production back in April before its Disney XD season finale on June 3, 2017. This promo for the Yo-Kai Watch 2: Psychic Specters video game might be one of the last projects the original cast were involved with.