Literally! See, there’s localization, and then, there’s localization.

Earlier this year, the anime feature Detective Conan: Sunflowers of Inferno hit Japanese movie theaters. The movie centers around a Van Gogh painting that was believed to have been destroyed during a U.S. bombing raid during the Second World War. (You can read the full plot here.)


The movie was released in South Korea this past summer, and it was changed considerably. The biggest change was, basically, erasing almost all references to Japan, including it as the movie’s setting.

[Image via NariNari]

This is a Japanese language newspaper.

[Image via GamerSky]

Which, as GamerSky shows, became a Korean language newspaper.

As Focus Asia (via ANN) noted, Japanese money became Korean money.

[Image via Jung Culture]

This is Japanese yen.

[Image Focus Asia]

This is not.

[Image via GamerSky]

It’s Korean won.

Click here to view this embed.

[GIF via Animen]

As you can see, this is actually kind of amazing, because it’s so complex.

But these weren’t the only changes. Landmark Japanese locations, like Haneda Airport, became Korean locations, such as Inchon Airport.

Shinjuku’s famous Kabukicho sign in Tokyo was changed, too.

[Photo: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock]

Here is the actual sign.

[Image via NariNari]

But...this is a famous Tokyo in South Korea.

When Japan was shown on a map, it was actually listed as “South Korea.” This was all done to thoroughly localize the setting as Korea.

The most egregious change of all, though, has to be this:

[Image via NariNari]

Japan is actually covered with the word “Korea.”

[Image via GamerSky]

I guess the movie’s makers did a calculation and thought these changes were necessary for the Conan movie to be successful in South Korea. More recently, similar calculations were done when Doraemon was shown in the U.S. Characters are seen holding dollars and not yen. But here, some of the changes seem overdone and can take you out of the movie.


You might think, well, these changes were done because of the tensions between South Korea and Japan. South Korea isn’t alone in this regard, because relations between China and Japan haven’t been so great, either.

Last week, Detective Conan: Sunflowers of Inferno opened in mainland China. So, you’d think the movie would get edited for China like it did for South Korea. You’d think. But, according to website NariNari, it was not altered.

For the Chinese version, only the language was changed for the dub and the subtitled versions. The rest of the movie, including Japanese setting, Japanese language, and Japanese money were left as is.

[Image: Salad Blog]

The same was also true when the movie was released in Taiwan earlier this year. The above image which shows “Japan” on the map is apparently from the Taiwanese release.

According to NariNari, people online in China were relieved that the Conan movie wasn’t over localized to the point of distraction. As seen on Focus Asia (via ANN), people online in China felt that changes like these fundamentally altered the work. Don’t you agree?

Top photo: Conan

To contact the author of this post, write to or find him on Twitter@Brian_Ashcraft.

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