Sakura Kinomoto – The girl of a thousand voices

I was disappointed early on to find that Vietnam is not a big anime consumer. A few simplistic children’s anime are popular, and there is even an awesome manga cafe in District 5 in Saigon that I know with wall to wall manga translated in Vietnamese. But it seemed none of the anime for adults ever made it here.

I often wondered why this was because Vietnamese people love cute things, but I initially wrote it off as maybe the country saw it as “kid’s stuff”. It wasn’t until a few years later that I was talking to a friend and he explained “No, it’s because of the government. They do not like anime that has too many girls, sex or violence. That is why Dragonball Z was not widely shown here. It was considered too violent”. “Ahhhhh”, I thought to myself. “The government do not like fan service or extreme violence. They want to keep the evil hentai Nippon influence out of Vietnam”.

But there are some that made it big here. The biggest ? Doraemon. Doraemon is so huge here and every kid grew up watching it. Guys, girls, men and women can be seen wearing Doraemon t-shirts. My wife sleeps in a very cute Doraemon night dress. I wondered what filled the gap for children slightly older. One time I met a girl who confessed to loving anime and I asked which one she watched the most. To my pleasant surprise it was something I didn’t expect. It was Inuyasha, which apparently received a very warm reception in Vietnam and ran on TV here for many years.

This morning, laying in bed at around 6 am snuggling, I looked at my dimmed computer screen where I had been downloading OP and ED songs from Card Captor Sakura the previous day. At low volume I slipped on “Honey”, the second ending theme because it’s a beautiful, relaxed and slow song and quite a gentle song to wake up to (I once had it as my alarm clock tone for this reason).

I asked my wife “Have you ever seen this ?” She shook her head. “Oh”, I thought. “Maybe it wasn’t shown in Vietnam”. Though I couldn’t imagine why since other than a little implied homosexuality, it’s a very family friendly anime. I searched on YouTube to see if there was ever a Vietnamese subbed version aired locally and to my pleasure I found that it had actually been completely dubbed (and not too horribly either I might add, unlike the godawful hacked-to-bits English version) in Vietnamese. Locally it is called “Thủ Lĩnh Thẻ Bài” which as best I can translate means “Last card leader”.

I put on an episode and Yi peeked over my body curiously and eventually put her head on my chest and watched it with mild interest, giggling over Kero’s outbursts. I guess she just managed to miss that one when it aired on HTV3. I chuckled as I explained the relationship between the characters; how Sakura loved Li but was always aggressive towards him and he was always stand-offish to her, while Tomoyo secretly loved Sakura and would make her wear so many beautiful dresses and then film her during battle.

It was nice to see this anime managed to make it in Vietnam, because I think every kid, especially every girl should have grown up watching Card Captor Sakura in the mornings. It would just make them that little bit more sweet and caring than if they just grew up with Doraemon and Dragonball. I also liked that while they had dubbed the anime, they had not messed with the soundtrack and had left the beautiful original Japanese opening and ending themes intact, which is more than I could say for the disgusting and facepalm-inducing English versions of the songs that Americans and Australians had to suffer though.

There were some amazingly beautiful Vietnamese fan-dubbed versions of the opening and ending themes however. My favourite opening song from the series that I used to sing along to incessantly and which is one of the Japanese songs I can sing best is OP 2, known as Tobira wo Akate. To my delight, there is an absolutely magical Vietnamese version of this song. While it does not have the intense power of the original in Nihongo, it’s one of the few foreign versions of a Japanese song where I can’t say “Oh that is so unfaithful to the original”. The Vietnamese version of Tobira wo Akate is actually adorable and the girl singing it has the perfect voice for it and somehow manages to make the Tieng Viet (a language usually a little awkward to sing sweetly in) really work beautifully. I mean, it does lack that awesome chorus where they sing “Daisuki na Daisuki na”, “Chiisana Chiisana Chiisana” and my personal favourite “Daijoubu Daijoubu Daijoubu kiseke datte” (Which I always sing as “kiss a kitty” for laughs because that’s what it sounds like) that I cannot help but sing along to, but from the first moment I heard it I still thought “That’s really beautiful”. It’s really catchy too. Honestly, I could totally see myself singing that at karaoke with a little practice and a copy of the Vietnamese lyrics.

So this is a toast to Sakura Kinomoto, the girl of a thousand voices and one of the most popular children’s anime around the world after Pokemon, Doraemon and some of that other less interesting garbage. I think I want to go back to bed and watch some Card Captors videos now. After all, it’s that time of the morning and I’ve been doing it for close to the last twenty years ! :D

Here’s the adorable Vietnamese version of Tobira wo Akate. Enjoy !

This entry was posted in Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *