Abridged Series

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See also: fandub, parody, crackfic
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An Abridged Series is a common term used for a form of parody fandub of a popular work, most commonly Japanese anime, though some western cartoons or popular animated web series have received abridged series. An abridged series typically takes a popular work and reduces its length, sometimes abridging several episodes into a short ten minute abridged episode which is typically published on YouTube. Though, some abridged series will have longer length episodes and the most important element of an abridged series is the parody aspect of it and its cracky humor.

The first example of an abridged series would be LittleKuriboh’s Yu-Gi-Oh Abridged series which would go on to inspire numerous other creators to begin abridging other shows. This would lead to essentially the creation of an entire new genre in fandom.

The humor in an abridged series comes from its parody nature as it often makes fun of the original work through hyperbole and exaggeration, as well as lampshading elements of the original work. It is common for an abridged series to poke fun at the original’s works writing, characterization, and/or premise. The infamous Yu-Gi-Oh! Abridged series highlighted the ridiculousness of the world of Yu-Gi-Oh! through its frequent usage of the phrase “children’s card game.” An abridged series humor is often mature in nature, frequently containing humor regarding sexuality as well as an excessive usage of vulgar language. The abridged series of the children’s show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is an example of an abridged work not being appropriate for the original work’s target audience.

History

While Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged Series is widely credited as the first abridged series, it was not the first dub of a show that took significant liberties when dubbing for humorous purposes. An example of a more official version of a parody dub would be ADV Film's dubbing of Ghost Stories in 2005. They changed the dialogue entirely and turned the show into a dark comedy aimed at adults, while the original was a supernatural anime for children. There also were various fan-made gag dubs all across the internet, such as Evangelion: ReDeath, a re-dubbing of Neon Genesis Evangelion made in 2000 by Studio Sokodei that shortened the 26-episode mecha anime into a half-hour long comedy.

However, while the concept of parody fandubs was nothing new, it was only when LittleKuriboh published his abridged series in 2006 that the concept made a major splash in fandom. LittleKuriboh’s humorous take on the original material made his parody series massively popular and inspired other creators who, with Kuriboh’s blessing, would use the “abridged Series” label to create a variety of other parody fandubs, which would eventually lead to the emergence of the genre as a whole.

Team Four Star became a very prominent Abridge creation team, most notably for Dragon Ball Z Abridged.

Legality Issues

Under U.S. copyright law, parody is protected under fair use, and the typical Abridged Series very clearly falls under the bounds of parody, due to the generally humorous tone and frequent commentary on and critique of aspects of many abridged series. However, abridged series have been frequently targeted by companies and publishers, which has led to them being removed from YouTube for breaking copyright guidelines. Whether or not an abridged series will be allowed to flourish very much depends on the companies ability to tolerate it, leaving Abridged Series in a legal gray area.

One example of the general hostility that some creators have towards abridged series can be seen with Dragon Ball Z Abridged, where the creators ultimately cited continued legal opposition from Toei and difficulty keeping their content online due to copyright strikes to be the reason why they did not proceed with a Season 4.

Notable Abridged Series

Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged Series: began in 2006, the first to use "Abridged" in its title and in many ways considered an early founder/consolidator of this specific genre of parody.

Dragon Ball Z Abridged (Team Four Star): ran 2008-2020

Code MENT: Parody of Code Geass and originator of the "I'm at Soup" meme. [1]

Sword Art Online Abridged: The anime Sword Art Online is both massively controversial and popular in the animanga fandom, considered by some to be a good anime, while reviled by others for its bad writing, lack of character development, and failure to deliver on its interesting premise. It became a widely popular and successful anime despite its criticism and as a result it spawned its own abridged series created by Something Witty Entertainment. The abridged series has been praised by both SAO’s fans and its detractors, the latter group claiming that the abridged series improved on the original through its stellar writing, likable characters with good development, and genuinely emotional plot. The Abridged Series is a genre often considered little more than crack, solely consisting of cheap humor, but the fandom reaction to this series show that the abridged series is a genre capable of using its strengths to create a unique experience greater than its original.[2]

My Little Pony: Friendship is Witchcraft: The latest reboot of the My Little Pony franchise, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic created by Lauren Faust, ended up becoming massively popular among an older audience of fans dubbed bronies. As such, it was fitting that an abridged series of the show would be created. This series is notable in how it screws with the formula of typical abridged series. Most other abridged series simply retell the story of the original show in an abridged and humorous way, however, this abridged series would recut and edit scenes from the original in order to develop entirely new episodes--the show even went so far as to create original music.

50% OFF by Octopimp: based on Free!, this abridged series was notable for generating memes and TikTok audios.[3]

My Hero Academia: Abridged by Something Witty Entertainment -- not to be confused with My Hero Academia ABRIDGED by JoyRide Entertainment

Bleach (S) Abridged by Project Mouthwash -- Based on Bleach, and notable for creating enough original music to have a soundtrack playlist,[4] as well as for playing around with the "abridged" format--for example, filming live action segments as part of a "How I Met Your Mother" parody within certain episodes[5].

Meta and Further Reading

References