Alternative Foreign Theme Song

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

When a dubbing company wants to market a television show, film, or video game from another country, they'll do the usual stuff like translation and localization. But they've got one problem with it: they don't think its theme song will be suitable to the tastes of foreign viewers. So what do they do about this? Instead of dubbing the original song, they'll replace it with a newly written, completely different theme song, of course! Maybe they believe the new song will make the show more popular with their foreign audience, or maybe the original theme song is licensed by a singer and they can't use the music. The tune of the new theme song will most likely bring out a very different mood. This can qualify for both the opening and ending theme.

This is common for English dubs of anime series geared towards children, especially if the show is airing on a television network, but it happens outside of North America as well; the practice of having completely different music is arguably even more common in Japan, where there is an entire industry based around creating Anime Theme Songs.

This is also an aversion of The Song Remains the Same, where the original song is kept and left in its initial language. If the song keeps the same melody of the original, but has radically different lyrics, then it goes under What Song Was This Again?

Do not confuse this trope with Foreign Language Theme, where the original theme is written in another language, or Replaced the Theme Tune, where the show replaces its own theme song with another one.

Examples of Alternative Foreign Theme Song include:


  • When 4Kids dubbed One Piece they replaced the "We Are" opening with a rap about the plot, characters, and basically being a pirate.
    • The German version of One Piece also has a theme song different from the Japanese version. It can be found here.
  • For the US version of Tokyo Mew Mew, 4Kids! Entertainment used a pop song called "Team Up" which was about working together and falling in love.
  • The American version of Sonic X used "Gotta Go Fast" as opposed to "Sonic Drive".
    • There is also an Italian opening and one for the UK version.
    • The Brazilian version used a generic opening tune which keeps on saying "Sonic X". A translated "Gotta Go Fast" was used for the credits instead.
  • Disney has done this with some of their Studio Ghibli releases, such as Ponyo and The Secret World of Arrietty. For most of the others, they simply dub the existing theme.[1]
    • For the case of Ponyo and Arietty, a dubbed version of the original song used in the credits is played for a few minutes, (For Arietty, there was an English version of "Arietty's Song" along with a French and Japanese version when the movie came out in Japan) then the new theme song plays for the rest of the credits.
  • Every season of Pokémon receives a different theme song in their English dubs, all of them different from the Japanese versions.
  • The Japanese version of Kirby: Right Back at Ya! is a cute little marching theme. The American version is an over-the-top jazz song.
  • All of the anime that 4Kids! Entertainment dubs usually have a different theme song than the Japanese version. They also usually play an instrumental version of the intro song instead of the ending theme
  • Every Digimon English dub has used entirely new theme songs. The dubs of Digimon Adventure through Digimon Tamers used an action-packed rap song with minor alterations, while Digimon Frontier received an epic chant and Digimon Savers received a rock song. With the exception of the Savers one, all the dub themes feel very thematically different from the Japanese counterparts, which generally all fell into the category of upbeat rock songs. This generally extended to the licensed video games as well, which tended to use versions of the Japanese anime themes which were accordingly changed in translation.
  • Inverted with Eden of the East—the Japanese broadcast used "Falling Down" by Britpop band Oasis as the theme, but FUNimation replaced it with a Japanese song in North America due to rights issues (namely, that there was no way they'd be able to afford having the song appear more than once; frankly they were lucky to get to use it once).
  • The Japanese theme song of Mon Colle Knights is much different than the English. Compare the majestic Japanese theme to the orchestral, action-sounding English theme song.
  • The Samurai Pizza Cats Japanese theme song also differs greatly from the English version.
  • The English version of Hamtaro uses two opening songs different from the Japanese version. However, it does use the tune of the first Japanese ending theme.
  • While not necessarily anime, it was animated in Japan: Transformers Animated used a different opening/ending theme than the American version.
  • During the Dark Age Of Anime In France, most shows got a French opening, many of which (but not all) are now considered So Bad It's Good. French singer Bernard Minet is now more remembered for this than for any independent song.
  • The German version of Sailor Moon had a different OP.
    • So did the French version. Unfortunately, it sounds like a jingle from a radio ad.
    • The Dutch version was based on the German version, airing a week or so later.
  • The original English dub of Dragonball Z done by The Ocean Group had "Rock the Dragon".
  • The Spanish version of Saint Seiya changed Pegasus Fantasy for a little So Bad It's Good new song.
  • The first opening theme for the English dub of Naruto was this, but afterwards, all the theme songs were the original Japanese ones.
    • While most dub song switches are met with hatred, this one seems to be a bit of genius as the original probably wasn't catchy enough to market the show to a new audience. This bit of genius is seen again when instead of airing the third opening, they just reused the second one while switching out some animation frames.
  • Pretty Cure's YTV dub has this. "Together we are Pretty Cuuureeee...."
  • One of the most well-known Magical Girl anime in the world, Cardcaptor Sakura, has not just one foreign language alternate opening theme, but three of them:
  • Speaking of Korea, Shugo Chara has many of these.
  • Basically any anime that is dubbed in Italy will have this.
  • When Tonde Buurin was dubbed by Saban under the name Super Pig, they replaced the original theme song with this.
  • The Fox Kids version of Vision of Escaflowne has a different opening.
  • Dragon Ball/Dragon Ball Z has this Arabic theme.
  • The Dragon Quest anime has this Arabic theme.
  • An instrumental theme of 'Naruto has been made into an Arabic opening, with added lyrics.
  • One Piece has an Arabic opening.
  • Detective Conan has an Arabic opening.
  • Igano Kabamaru has an Arabic opening.


Live Action TV

Video Games

Western Animation

  1. Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle are some of the only Ghibli films released by Disney that leaves the ending theme completely untouched.