I’m not one for fancy names, so this should be self explanatory. I’m going to start posting from time to time about some English dubs I actually enjoy of anime and some JRPGs . I know a lot of anime fans, especially of the /a/ variety, like to hate on anything English due to being insufferable weeaboos. That’s fine, but it paints a really inaccurate depiction of a lot of stuff that’s available in English and can be, aside from shitty, a lot of less bad things. Before I go any further, this isn’t about sub vs dub, it’s just about dubs that I think are worth checking out. Anyway, there’s four main types they can fall into (aside the shitty ones);
1. On par with the Japanese audio.
-Pretty basic, there are a lot of dubs out there that are just as good as the Japanese audio. The biggest issue really is in the fact that people watch the Japanese version first and are so used to it they automatically hate the dub and don’t give it a chance to grow on them at all, and the other is people who simply hate dubs. This was me a lot of the time (the former part) and even upon giving some dubs a chance, I’d just quit on them immediately because they didn’t feel right right away…the thing is, why would it? You have to consider the fact that for most people, trying a dub is after having watched it in Japanese already. You’re not new to it, you expect what you already got, a dub delivers something different. But this is the same effect that happens to a lot of people from manga to anime (with japanese audio).
Just look at MGX, while a lot of people love Urabe’s voice, a lot of people also entirely hated it (me) because it simply doesn’t fit the character as far as we see. And guess what – almost everyone who LOVED her voice were people who had never touched the manga and didn’t even know about it, they simply saw a new show coming out. Most of those who hated it had read the manga and it didn’t fit. That’s, again, just a ‘most’ not everyone either way, so don’t complain that you were the opposite or something. Point is, it’s not just a matter of opinion, it’s a huge matter of your experience with the material prior and what you’re used to or expecting.
2. Slightly below the quality of the Japanese audio but not bad either, just not as good.
-Also pretty simple, this would blanket over a shit ton of dubbed anime. Even haters can admit there’s a few ones that aren’t HORRID but aren’t good either, which is a bit more exaggerated but is along the same, don’t really need to get into it too much.
3. Different from the Japanese audio, but fits perfectly with the cast and show – making it not superior or worse, but it’s own new experience in a good way.
-This does, admittedly, include a handful of dubs even I consider on a technical level to be bad but had so much charm or personality to them that I loved them anyway. However, most of them will likely not be ‘bad but great for x or y reason’ and usually just a mix of 1 and being unique. Basically, this covers things that maintain a good quality dub while also having their own unique personality or charm to them. These are kind of rare thanks to the way dubbing is done. In truth, most dubs are so sub-par or bad because of the ADR director, this is also apparent but less obvious in Japan. Basically, you don’t get to voice act – you get to voice do-what-you’re-told-by-the-director and nothing else is acceptable. And almost all these guys running the show are retarded. This is why you end up with emotionless droning or a feeling of lines being forced. It’s not the voice actor being shit (most of the time), it’s usually the director forcing them to be shit to fit what he wants. And almost always “what he wants” is to mimic the Japanese audio as much as possible – instead of doing his job, which is to ADAPT it into English not to try and sound like the Japanese version. The biggest problem here is that instead of encouraging the VA to become the character and make them their own – they are forced to try and copy someone else doing that. Of course it comes out bad. Along these same lines is another problem – typecasting. Japan has this same issue with directors, just look at say…Rie Kugimiya. How many roles that don’t sound like her generic tsundere loli have you heard? At most, 4 or 5, because that’s all they’ve let her do in her fucking career that ISN’T that role. Even if she tries not to, they don’t allow it, because it’s not what the director wants.
4. And most rarely – actually superior to the Japanese dub.
This is a rare case where basically all these happen simultaneously and create a great outcome;
-The localization is done extremely well – very important.
-The voice cast is allowed to ACTUALLY ACT and the director doesn’t ruin this, and they are encouraged to become their roles instead of try and copy the Japanese audio. This is a big one.
-The voice cast is actually picked well to fit the characters, rather than picked because of “they usually play the lead” or other typecasting
-It’s not as often an option, so it’s more like an aside (this doesn’t have to happen and rarely does even in Japan), but also picking people with an age closer to their character can help a lot too. But, both in JP and EN audio, it’s really rare so it’s not necessary at all. Hell, all I can really think up off the top of my head is Ichigo Mashimaro, which the entire cast (aside Nobue) was done by canadian girls in their mid teens (14~15). And they did an amazing job because they also became their roles, as the director probably didn’t want to look bad for yelling at little kids to sound different. wwww
Of course, this is my blog, and this is a subjective matter, so it all comes down to my personal opinion, disagreeing is totally fine but please try to refrain from pointless comments just saying it’s shitty because it’s a dub. Anyway, I’ll basically go over anything I think deserves a mention for whatever (positive) reason in terms of it’s English Dub. Mostly I’ll try to focus on, out of the above list, dubs that fit into 1, 3, and 4. I think ones that fit into 2 are pretty common and not worth really getting into, there might be a couple I’ll bring up but for the most part I intend on sticking mostly with the other three.
Anyway, that’s just mostly info on how I see dubs and the industry around them I suppose, so next time will be the first real entry into this line of posts. Whenever I bother writing it.
More often than not, I just prefer the Japanese audio. Because A: I like the overall style and aesthetic of it better, probably because it has roots in the style used in their stage plays. And B: Because I’m one of those insufferable weeaboos.
Is it a bad thing if, after reading the title “[Good dubs]”, I instantly thought of a certain psycho played by Christian Bale?
I knew it’d come up eventually because it’s exactly what I thought after I posted it…but then I figured I’d just leave it for shits and giggles.
You know, I’ve never understood how some folks can be so against dubs, especially when there are some really good ones out there like you mentioned. I mean, I’m personally not a huge fan of most Japanese audio simply because I’d rather be watching than reading subtitles, but I’ve certainly liked my share of Japanese voice work. The whole thing just seems close-minded to me.
It’s pretty much exactly that – close minded elitist crap. The more you talk to those who simply REFUSE to accept listening to an English dub (or at least refuse to admit any are less than “OH GOD THIS IS DESTROYING MY EARS” within a few minutes) are all very elitist about anime and games in general for the most part. It feels like a situation where, though I forgot to mention it in the post itself, another group of people who hate dubs (and probably the largest) simply do so to feel ‘above’ those who like the English tracks. I’m not sure why, but these kinds of cliques formed in anime fandom.
I mean some of these people even refuse to play localized JRPGs if they don’t have both audio tracks so they can “get away from the horrible dub” and unlike anime which they can just watch subbed, they end up missing out on the entire game because of it. And you know, that’s also part of it – most of these close minded types won’t even give dubs a chance before marking them off as awful and so stay close minded while also spreading that same mindset to everyone they can.
I’ve actually seen the same in regards to things like genres, a lot of people simply refuse to even try something that goes against their usual grain. It’s like they are afraid of possibly liking something they’ve hated on for so long. It’s not just annoying for other people, it’s kind of sad in the end for them too because they end up missing out on a lot of things they may very well enjoy a damn lot – all just to save face or feel special.
Yeah, exactly. I mean, I understand the criticisms of many English dubs — sometimes the quality just sucks, sometimes the same people keep popping up all over the place (hello, Johnny Yong Bosch and Yuri Lowenthal!). There’s gripes. But to just dismiss an entire series, game or whole genre based on some kind of ingrained hatred seems ridiculous.
You might have touched on it at the very end — I think some folks are afraid to find a dub that they like, because it would go against the very idea that they’ve railed against for years.