It's Over 9000!
"It's Over 9000!", also known as simply "Over 9000!", is an internet meme that became popular since 2006, involving a change made for English localizations of an episode of the Dragon Ball Z anime television series titled "The Return of Goku", which originally aired on April 19, 1997.
The phrase refers to an alteration of the original line spoken in Japanese by the Saiyan character Vegeta, voiced in English by actor Brian Drummond, in the 21st episode of the Ocean Productions English dub. In the original Japanese and English-translated mangas as well as the original Japanese anime series, the power level of series protagonist Son Goku is actually read as "over 8000!" (8000以上だ…!, Hassen ijō da…!)." The phrase is typically used as an innumerable quantifier to describe a large quantity of something. Variations of the phrase are also employed as a form of trolling.
Origins and analysisEdit
In the Dragon Ball franchise, a Power Level or Battle Power (戦闘力, Sentō-ryoku) is a recurring concept which denotes the combat strength of a warrior. In the English-dub of the episode, Goku returns to the Earth after intense training in the Other World to confront Vegeta and his aide Nappa. As Goku powers up in rage after learning they had killed his ally Piccolo right before his arrival, Vegeta senses an explosive increase in his power level through his scouter device. In response to Nappa's query about Goku's power level, Vegeta yells: "It's over nine thousand!", crushing his scouter.
In most versions of the scene dubbed in other languages, Vegeta actually says "It's over 8000!". This has occurred several other times where power levels are given more as estimates than accurate figures. For instance, Gohan's retaliation against Nappa is given as "over 2,800", and Frieza's power level is given as "over one million!". Subsequent releases and dubs have used one of the two numbers.
Opinion differs as to whether the switch from "8,000" to "9,000" came about purely by error, or whether the change was made intentionally. Craig Elvy from Screenrant claimed that this phrase is actually a mistranslation from the original Japanese anime. He noted that the Daizenshuu 7 book quoted the dubbing team as saying that speaking "9000" in English was a better fit for Vegeta's animated mouth movements; on the other hand, Elvy made the assertion that Dragon Ball Z's Ocean dub "was notorious for making translation errors (such as Goku believing Vegeta killed Grandpa Gohan) which can't be explained away so easily". When Dragon Ball Z was re-dubbed by Funimation with Christopher Sabat as the voice of Vegeta, the mistranslation was retained, and has featured in most English re-dubs and video games ever since. In non-English speaking territories, the 8000 version is predominantly used.
An edited video clip of the scene from the episode was originally uploaded by YouTuber Kajetokun on October 17, 2006 as an inside joke for his friends, making fun of how Drummond phrased the English line to fit Vegeta’s on-screen mouth movements, which were animated to fit the original Japanese line. He was surprised when he discovered that the video had attracted 20,000 views the following day. The video was later linked to the front page of the VG Cats website, where it attracted a further 200,000 views. The popularity of the meme quickly spread, inspiring a series of remix videos on YouTube, various image macros and demotivational posters on 4chan, as well as parody sites dedicated to the phrase. The meme's notoriety reached its initial peak in 2007, when 4chan moderators implemented a word filter that would turn any mentions of the number 7 into "over 9000". The most viewed video clip uploaded on YouTube which references the phrase has received over 15 million views to date; various parodies and spoofs of the clip received a large number of views on YouTube and Vine as well.
The "It's over 9000!" phrase has attained recognition to the point that it has become one of internet culture's favorite phrases according to Elvy. Google searches for the "Over 9000" DBZ reference have on average surpassed searches for HAL 9000 from Stanley Kubrick's seminal 1968 science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The absence of the "It's Over 9000" phrase in the 2020 game Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot was considered conspicuous by Paul Tamburro of GameRevolution, who argued that the meme is iconic and immensely popular to warrant its inclusion or reference, even if the phrase itself may have originated as a mistranslation.
In February and May 2007, the meme is referenced in the web series Super Mario Bros. Z, with Drummond's voice clip being used to represent the speech of the Red Axem Ranger X in "Brawl on a Vanishing Island", and referenced by Goombella in "Secret of the Pipe Maze". In September 2008, an anonymous troll left a message on the official message board of American journalist and businesswoman Oprah Winfrey's talk show, in which he claimed to represent an organized network of over 9,000 paedophiles. Winfrey took the bait and read the post before her audience in an episode of the show. A video clip of Winfrey's message to her audience was promptly uploaded to YouTube, however it was quickly removed due to a copyright claim by Harpo, Inc. In spite of that, numerous remix videos featuring Winfrey's mention of "9000 penises" continued to surface on YouTube.
In addition to being referenced in discussions of English language Dragon Ball media, the "It's Over 9000!" meme has also influenced various topic discussions and fictional works unrelated to the Dragon Ball series. Examples include coverage of the PlayStation 3 demo for Final Fantasy XIII by Gamezone, and an easter egg in the 2020 game Doom Eternal. American professional wrestler Xavier Woods disclosed in a 2013 interview that he always have the phrase printed on his wrestling attire. For her appearance at WrestleMania 31, American professional athlete Ronda Rousey wore a tank top which referenced the phrase.
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- Craig Elvy (June 27, 2019). "It's Over 9000: Dragon Ball Z's Most Famous Line Is A Mistranslation". ScreenRant. Retrieved March 21, 2020.
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- Greg Burke (June 29, 2018). "Razer Panthera Arcade Fighting Stick Review: It's Over 9000!". Shacknews. Retrieved September 19, 2020.
- "Final Fantasy XIII Demo: It's Over 9000, er, 90 Minutes". Gamezone. May 4, 2012. Retrieved September 19, 2020.
- Joel Franey (March 19, 2020). "Doom Eternal: All the Best Easter Eggs and References". US Gamer. Retrieved September 19, 2020.
- Byron Saxton (September 26, 2013). "Xavier Woods: NXT's most captivating man". WWE. Archived from the original on September 5, 2010. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
- Mark Serrels (March 29, 2015). "Ronda Rousey Just Killed Wrestlemania Wearing A Dragon Ball Z Shirt". Kotaku. Retrieved September 19, 2020.