When I was a kid, I used to watch Japanese anime that were dubbed in English or Mandarin because the original versions were not broadcast on the local TV channels. Most of the time, the theme songs of these anime remained in Japanese, and I had fun singing along to the catchy tunes even though I had absolutely no idea what the lyrics meant. However, it isn’t entirely uncommon for international versions of anime series to have theme songs localized to the audience’s native language and tastes for music.

Recently, a clip of the Arabic version of the popular anime series, Arupusu no Shojo Haiji (Heidi, Girl of the Alps) has been making waves among Japanese netizens due to its localized opening song, which was starkly different from the Japanese original. Videos after the jump!

Arupusu no Shojo Haiji was broadcast in Japan in 1974 and ran for 52 episodes over a year. The series was based on the children’s novel, Heidi’s Years of Wandering and Learning, written by Swiss author Johanna Spyri, and was created by a production team including now world-famous Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata from Studio Ghibli, Yoshiyuki Tomino (creator of the Gundam series), Yoichi Kotabe (illustrator for the Super Mario series and animation supervisor for Pokémon movies), and Toyoo Ashida (director for Fist of the North Star) – in their early years of film-making.

The anime was a big hit in Japan, and was subsequently dubbed in multiple languages as it gained international popularity. Back in Japan, the playful, energetic Heidi still appears in TV commercials even today. Needless to say, the opening song of the series is well-known among citizens of all ages throughout the country. The Japanese opening stayed true to the story’s setting with plenty of yodeling, since Heidi does of course live in the Swiss Alps.

But the Arabic version… we’ll just leave it to your ears for this one.

▼ Japanese original

▼ Arabic version

We know that international versions can be different, we just didn’t expect it to be SO different! Japanese Twitter users, remembering the Japanese original fondly, commented:

I have no idea where Heidi is from anymore.
The difference in culture is interesting.
It’s so deep.
What the… What is this?
It’s really funny if you listen to it while anticipating the OP we’re familiar with.
I can’t stop laughing LOL

I really can’t tell which country this story is set in (laughs)

The difference in culture is indeed interesting, but it’s even more interesting that an anime series of a Japanese-looking little girl living on the Swiss Alps can be well-received among people all over the world with such drastic cultural differences. It just goes to show that a good story knows no cultural boundaries!

And since we’re at it, here’s the opening song in all the other languages. Enjoy!

Source: Pouch (Japanese)
Reference: Wikipedia
Image: YouTube