As the name doesn't suggest, Agapio Racing Team Oy (formely Agapio Nordic) is a Finnish company that dubs children's programs. (In Finland, only children's movies and TV programs are dubbed.)

Agapio has been known for their bad dubs that are... well... either hilarious or just infuriatingly bad. Often hilarious.

I don't follow most of the children's animation, but I did see the infamous first few episodes of Digimon (luckily Nelonen realized Agapio's dubs suck and gave the job to Tuotantotalo Werne). This stuff was absolutely horrible. My own guess was that they were up at 7 o'clock in the morning, dubbing the show live, and the voice actors - hired from the street - got waked up without coffee. The actors just seemed to be completely uninterested of the outcome. Bad translations, too. ("A strange creature. Is it red?") The parts where they're screaming or laughing are particularly memorable for the lack of feeling...

Some of the absolutely horrible song translations have got some cult following in Finland. People seem to "like" the opening theme of Flipper & Lopaka.

There's a site about Agapio's worst moments in <http://www.tekniikka.turkuamk.fi/~jfinnber/agapio/english.html> ...

In early 2002, Agapio changed their name once again. The company formerly known as Agapio Racing Team Oy (formerly Nordic Agapio Oy)is now Mobile-TV Oy. This change, of course, has done nothing to improve the quality of the dubbing.

Talk about polishing a turd.

The Finnish Agapio Racing Team is quite possibly the only translation company in history that has incited a popular movement against itself. Unlike several other European countries, Finland doesn't do much dubbing. The language is too small for it to be cost-effective, quite unlike the culturally dominant ones, and not that special anyway. TV shows and movies are only dubbed when the target audience can't be expected to be able to read subtitles fast enough*. Unfortunately, this all too often leads to the attitude "Just throw something together, it's for kids anyway." ART takes this line of thought to its logical extreme.

Agapio Racing Team's work is horrible. It's atrocious. It's an insult to all who hear it, from the simply mediocre moments to the aural equivalents of a rotting buffalo's diarrhea dump in your ear. It's found on over a dozen cartoons, including Alvin and the Chipmunks and My Little Pony, at least one of which retained it on the DVD release. Voice actors** make eight-year-old kids sound like bored young men reading lines from paper in a monotone. Either they make no attempt to get the names to sound right ör tey träi it wit exzedziw tseel. They get the pronunciations of fully unambiguous words wrong. They speak onomatopoeias out loud. A character kicks a cow: The cow says, translated, "kooh." The group's works are, for all intents and purposes, unique - they have long since passed the point where everything fits together (or, in this case, falls apart) beyond reproductibility.

In ART's defense, they appear to leave events coherent if hamfisted. Then again, Shakespeare this ain't, and pictures might well do most of the work. To offset that surprising strength, there's the singing. At best it's on-key and actually bearable. At worst it'll pin you down, stun you like a rabbit in a taser factory and leave you reeling, trying to comprehend what kind of alien illogic could have spawned this.

ART's moment of glory and the beginning of its end came in 2001, when Digimon arrived in Finland. It was a rather prominent title and one of the first true anime to land in the Japaneseness-deprived country, so it gathered some out-of-demographic attention. Since nothing about this makes sense anyway, Agapio Racing Team was given the dub and outdid itself. As my then ten-year-old neighbor observed: "It didn't have a plot. It had things happening after each other." This time around, enough people pointed out to the station that it was punching itself, and Digimon was handed over to someone competent after only 26 episodes. Unfortunately the famed Karaoke episode found its songs untranslated.

Nowadays Mobile-Tv Inc.***, formerly known as Agapio Racing Team, formerly known as Nordic Agapio somewhere around the way but nobody cared, appears to be finally silent. It has made no prominent appearances after Digimon and television companies are marginally more careful. ART dubs enjoy minor cult classic status due to the horrified admiration of the "so bad it's good" crowd, including some international appeal. The translation and the more subtle nuances may splat into the language barrier, but it takes no mastery of our bizarre tongue to know that screaming should not be done by saying "Aa. Aaa." repeatedly.

Just be warned that this is out of the league of Plan 9 from Outer Space and well into The Eye of Argon territory. You can be entertained, but won't shake the feeling that you're seeing something that should never have been made. Prolonged use may cause temporary damage.

References and links:
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