Posts Tagged ‘ English Dub ’

Anime Argument Pointlessness: Dub vs. Sub

Hello friends, I’m back again with another entry and this time it will be me kind of venting at the world in general. The Anime community has long since been divided on a number of useless and pointless topics like Fanservice, Is Avatar an Anime and the always popular My Favorite Show is better than Your Favorite Show. But one topic, besides Anime vs Manga is always at the tip of everyone’s tongue so to speak and that is Subtitles vs Alternate Language tracks on Anime.

Of all the topics anime fans find to argue about I find this one to be the most idiotic, needless and idiotically needless topic of them all. WHY?! Why do YOU, random person reading this blog, give five flying flaming fucks about what language I watch my anime in? WHY?! WHY DOES IT MATTER?! WHY DO PEOPLE GET SO FUCKING UPTIGHT ABOUT THIS ONE ISSUE?! Well, I’m going to attempt to answer that in this post. Besides my Shonen posts, this will probably be my most opinionated entry on this blog and if I offend you I WANT you to leave nasty comments! I want you to flame me for my opinions this time because frankly it just proves how unbelievably STUPID our fandom is! Let us now begin.

Personally I don’t really know or care what the first anime to be dubbed in English was. I’ll assume it was probably Astro Boy or Speed Racer, as these are two of the oldest anime series that English speakers can remember watching. Personally the first anime series I ever watched was Pokemon or Pocket Monsters if you want to get on my ass about the original title as well. From there I was exposed to Yu-gi-ohDragonBall, DragonBall Z, YuYu Hakusho and Ruroni Kenshin. Not long after that the Fox Box caught my eye and I became interested in Fighting Foodons, Ultimate Muscle, One Piece (yes the 4kids version), Sonic X  and Shaman King. Some time after that I got interested in all the other anime that was being shown during the 90’s and 2000’s and I watched ALL of it…IN ENGLISH! What else would I be watching it in? I was in like Elementary and Middle School so of course I watched my anime in English.

This is actually a part of the argument. English Dubs exist for THE SOLE PURPOSE of exposing us to Japanese animation and then as we get older and discover that it’s from Japan we’re meant to make the jump from English to Japanese. This is something that both sides can partially agree on, English Dubs expose us to anime and make us crave more. But where is the dividing line and what does each side argue. Frankly both sides argue bullshit points with little merit and in the end it all comes down to personal opinion.

On the Sub side of things, Anime is an art. Yes, we’ve come so far as to put Anime like Naruto, Cardcaptor Sakura and Kiki’s Delivery Service in the same category as the Mona Lisa. My what progress we’ve made! No, in all seriousness Animation itself is an art form and the entire world seems to know this by now. Disney has produced some truly beautiful pieces such as this lovely little feminist nightmare!

Beautiful, isn’t it? If I may go on a bit of a tangent, which I can seeing as how the blog is mine, I love this movie. Of all the Disney movies, Cinderella is truly the best looking of the older animated classics with it’s humble little moral of “wait around and take your shit like a bitch and one day you’ll be rewarded” and runs with it all the way, but I’ll do a blog on this movie at a later date. Back on track, as stated before, animation is an art form and we know it. And that’s what get’s people’s panties in a bind about dubbed anime. They see it in the same way as someone would see painting a Hitler-stache on the Mona Lisa; it’s disgraceful and shameful and it looses the great artistic quality it once had. This is despite the fact that nowadays, subtitles come with the anime you buy and hell it’s not like we’re changing the visuals at all are we? Well, not any more unless it’s being watered down for little kids which will be another point for me to clarify in a little bit. Fact of the matter is that in the minds of the sub purists, they believe that since anime, which is translated by JAPAN as cartoon or animation in general, is Japanese it is intended to be taken in as such in it’s original language. I’ll say that this is somewhat true. After all, Japan does produce their programs with their own culture and what not already in mind. Us stupid Westerners aren’t the target demographic at all! Disney and the cartoons made in AMERICA are targeted towards ENGLISH speakers, ANIME AND JAPANESE ANIMATION ARE MADE FOR JAPANESE PEOPLE! Clearly it’s not made for us at all anyways so why should I even bother with writing any more of this? Because I can!

The next point that the Sub people like to bring up is that as I alluded to in the last couple of sentences, there’s a cultural thing involved with Japanese Cartoons as I’ll refer to them now. Japanese Cartoons are made with the intent that Japanese people will be watching them with their own culture and societal beliefs and practices ingrained in the product they’re pumping out. For this I’ll use an example of a Japanese Cartoon Movie, and two Japanese Cartoon series!

The saddest of the Stuio Ghibli movies, Grave of the Fireflies, is NOT something made with an American audience in mind. This was something made FOR Japan, more specifically the young people of Japan at the time this movie came out. Telling the story of a brother and sister that die due to the decisions of the brother, Grave of the Fireflies takes place in the latter days of WWII. It’s the greatest movie you NEVER want to see again simply due to how depressing it is but that isn’t the point of the movie. The movie is often seen in the eyes of non-Japanese people as an anti-war film and it’s not. Isao Takahata, the films director has expressly stated that it’s not an anti-war film but more of a message to the young people of Japan who were being extremely disrespectful to their elders at the time. The two siblings die and are meant to make the audience feel sympathy for their parents and grandparents who had endured what was arguably the darkest point in Japanese history. I saw this movie once in English and then I was advised to watch it again in Japanese which I refuse to do. I cried enough during the English dub, I don’t want to repeat the experience. And the reason I use this film as opposed o Miazaki’s Spirited Away is because that’s the film that EVERYONE AND THEIR MOTHER uses to illustrate Japanese culture in an animated format. It’s very Japanese, we know it, we get it moving on to the other examples of cultural differences.

This Japanese Cartoon is called Detective Conan and is basically Japan’s take on Sherlock Holmes in modern day Japan. Young Shinichi Kudo is a high school detective who gets turned into a small child and helps his girlfriend’s idiot father solve cases in his small state in hopes of turning back to normal. As easy of a concept as this is to just dub straight into English, FUNimation hit a few…snags in their attempt. First of all due to that other series, Conan the Barbarian, FUNimation was forced to rename the series Case Closed. In addition to this ALL the character names and locations were made into American ones and in the end they just dropped the series all together. What’s more this is actually kind of a tricky series to dub due TO CULTURAL DIFFERENCES! This is a mystery series and murder is it’s favorite mystery of all so dying messages pop up fairly often and are ALMOST ALWAYS IN JAPANESE. For those who don’t know, Japanese is a MUCH more complex language than English due to the thousands of meanings a single word or character can have. This was FUNimation’s biggest hurdle to jump and this was further complicated as half the time we didn’t know if we were in Japan or America of somewhere in between! Thank you FUNimation, for not giving the sub purists something else to bitch about. In all honesty though, the dubbed vocal cast isn’t bad at all, it’s TOP NOTCH! And even the English Manga uses the American names of the characters but the setting is definitely Japan.

This next series is one that I’m fairly positive will NEVER get an English dub simply due to HOW Japanese it is!

Urusei Yatsura, created by the one and only Rumiko Takahashi tells the story of the world’s biggest pervert Ataru Moroboshi who ends up engaged to an Oni princess named Lum after a game of tag in which the fate of the Earth was at stake. This series is DROWNING in Japanese culture and frankly, ONLY subtitles can get across the multiple puns and jokes this series contains. It’s a great series and all the movies are dubbed in English but the show itself as well as the manga remain largely untouched by America. Once again, this is a culture thing and watching it in Japanese shows and illustrates the culture being portrayed. So in a way, the Sub purists actually kind of know what they’re talking about. An English dub can’t always get across the differences between our culture and Japan’s. For some series, yes it’s much better and much more advisable to stick to the original language track because you’re getting the full product as intended and with all the cultural notes and whatnot left intact and explained. I’ve seen fansubs that clearly get Japanese culture across to me and I thank them for that. And this also brings up my next point which Sub purists just LOVE to remind us of. BAD ENGLISH DUBS!

Cardcaptors deserves an award for being the epitome of bad English dubs. Then again you can’t really blame Nelvana for the this. Unfortunately Cardcaptor Sakura had really too much in it that America doesn’t want in it’s children’s programming and this once again is a cultural thing. The premise of the show is perfect for America. Sakura Kinomoto finds a magic book and releases the 52 Clow Cards into the world and must now become the Cardcaptor and regain them. Sounds like a more childish version of InuYasha minus the demons and the jewel shards if you ask me. At face value it’s PERFECT for America. But then you get into the content and…you get CLAMP. See CLAMP LOVES love. Like, they love it more than DISNEY! And in CLAMP’s eyes True Love transcends ALL, including those pesky little obstacles known as age and gender. Let me see if I can map out all the romances in this. Sakura loves her big brother’s best friend Yukito, but he has a thing for Touya, the big brother. Li Shaoran, Sakura’s rival also has a crush on Yukito but he starts to develop feelings for Sakura and he also has a fiancee in the form of his cousin Meiling who loves him to death. Then you’ve got Sakura’s best friend Tomoyo and she’s in love with Sakura and they’re second cousins. Furthermore, Sakura’s classmate Rika loves their twenty something year old teacher and in the manga it’s implied to be reciprocal. And then there’s Tomoyo’s mother who loved Sakura’s mother Nadeshiko and the two girls were cousins and while she was still in high school Nadeshiko fell in love with her teacher and married him. This man was Sakura’s father. So…yeah, you can already tell what ended up happening when this was dubbed. But Nelvana went an extra mile. In addition to a shitty dub cast, they actually had the balls to start the series at episode 8 when Shaoran is introduced in order to make the show appeal to both girls and boys. Add to that that they changed all the names, as you do, and aired the episodes out of order, you can tell WHY this should get an award for the worst dub in the history of ever and frankly I’m surprised that this doesn’t get brought up when arguing Sub vs Dub in the first place. The point is that when anime is dubbed into English with the intent to air on television it’s often made FAR too acceptable for American audiences than what’s really necessary. The original spirit of an anime is often lost when it’s being made “child friendly” in America and frankly that’s just because we’re too damn sensitive over here. Violence and what not isn’t good for our children so we must spoon feed them lies and fantasies about how the world is a happy sunshiny place! Japan doesn’t do that. The dub that is often brought up is the 4Kids dub of One Piece and as bad as it is, I like the vocal cast MUCH BETTER than FUNimation’s…creation. It’s also a series I watch exclusively in Japanese so I’m throwing you people a bone here.

Now what else is often brought up on the sub side of things? Hmm…well there’s the people that like to bitch about who has the better performance between the English and Japanese versions. People on this side of the argument say that it’s an insult for some American to be voicing a Japanese character and how their performance pales in comparison to the original actor. And then there’s the point that most of them will jump down throats to get, I knew there was something I was forgetting. Watching Japanese Cartoons in ANY LANGUAGE BESIDES JAPANESE WITH SUBTITLES OR SOMETIMES JUST BESIDES JAPANESE IS LAZY!…Do you people hear yourselves when you bring this point up? I mean, REALLY?! This is your most often brought up point and YOU have the nerve to tell US to go LEARN AN ENTIRE LANGUAGE just to watch a cartoon? Hey do you hear that? IT’S THE SOUND OF PEOPLE NOT CARING OR TELLING YOU TO FUCK OFF! Honestly I really hate this point namely because it’s stupid. If I want to watch my Japanese Cartoons in English, that’s exactly what I’m going to do and no one is going to tell me otherwise. Why is this lazy? It wasn’t lazy when we were little kids and we didn’t know what the original language sounded like. Some people DON’T want to READ while experiencing a visual medium. Frankly we shouldn’t be expected to. It’s rude of you people to say this and you can kindly go screw yourselves. And by this logic seeing as how it is a visual medium and not a written one, the actions should speak for themselves and audio shouldn’t be needed.

In the defense of the sub side though, I can see where they’re coming from with the points they make. Watching a Japanese Cartoon in Japanese with or without the subtitles if you’re lucky enough to understand the Japanese language is a very rewarding experience. You’re getting the series as it was intended to be viewed and you’re learning about a new culture at the same time. English Dubs of children’s anime often don’t keep the spirit of the original Japanese version and frankly fall flat and are if nothing else laughable in an attempt to try to Americanize a series as much as possible. The original actors often have a true passion for what they do it’s often quite pretty to look at.

And now for the English side of things. It’s actually kind of hard to defend English dubbing of Japanese Cartoons or dubbing over their original language in any other language because it wasn’t created for anyone BUT Japan. English Dubs do something that Japan can NEVER do. They give us a new series from a different culture in our own native language and I think that’s probably one of the greatest things about dubs in general. Companies like FUNimation and Viz are known for doing (mostly) decent and some truly outstanding dubs and it’s because of them that we were able to watch the older anime that we know and love. I will always state that from a personal opinion YuYu Hakusho is the BEST English Dub ever done. I tip my hat to FUNimation for granting us this great series and making it SO MUCH BETTER! Watching YYH with the subtitles on while listening to the English dub shows just how much work FUNimation put into this. Not only are the dubbed songs beautiful and fun to listen to, but the performance of the actors in their respective roles is also bursting with personality and emotion. Also, the original version of the series is VERY blunt and direct. It tells you what you need to know and for the most part it’s the same as the dialogue from the manga and if i wanted to hear that, I’d read the manga to myself out loud. The English Dub frankly adds some more dimension and personality to the characters. They all come off as much smarter and craftier and they don’t engage in telling you what you already know. They treat you like an adult and it works.

In addition to this, ALL of us were exposed to Japanese Cartoons in English. Once again unless you’re from a Japanese family and lived in Japan or were somehow able to watch Japanese television networks as a child, if you lived in America you got hooked on watching Japanese Cartoons in ENGLISH~! To think that English dubs serve ONLY this purpose is frankly pretty insulting as you’ve now undermined the efforts of many talented people who’ve done their best to bring us something new and interesting. FUNimation, Viz and I think BangZoom are the few companies that specialize in dubbing and distributing Japanese Cartoons here in America because lord knows we can’t make this shit ourselves! Our best attempt so far has been Avatar: The Last Airbender and it’s gotten to the point that there’s some confusion about whether or not it’s an actual Japanese Cartoon which I believe is rather well placed because it shows that America wants to get in on this and has masked it so well people put it on Japanese Cartoon streaming sites. Granted it is one of the most Asian things America has EVER done. Other attempts to capture that lightning in a bottle that is the exotic Asian culture or whatever you want to call it include Jackie Chan Adventures, Xiaolin Showdown, Samurai Jack and Disney’s Mulan if you want to stretch it that far. The thing is that Cartoons made in Japan have now begun to influence our own culture just as we’ve influenced theirs. You’ll notice now that more action cartoons made in America have that Japanese look to them…sometimes.

Another point I like to bring up on behalf of the dub side is the fact that Subbed series don’t make much money in America. I guess it’s kind of dumb of me to bring that which makes the world go round (no, not Love!) into this argument but the fact of the matter is that once again, people want Japanese Cartoons in America and they want to make money off of it. It doesn’t do much good to import a series over here and NOT dub it into English because then you just don’t make any money off of it. You need to capitalize on it and dubbing makes money. Yes this is my weakest point in the argument and I’m sticking with it.

So if you’ve made it this far, you’re probably assuming that I like to watch my Japanese Cartoons in English, aren’t you? WRONG! I like both languages. For me personally it varies from series to series, for example I’ll watch One Piece, Detective Conan and Seto no Hanayome in Japanese because I like them better that way. I LOATHE the English dub of Seto no Hanayome/My Bride is a Mermaid simply due to the voice of the lead male being in TOO MUCH of FUNimation’s recent dubs and because they made Sun’s catchphrase sound stupid. I WILL watch Ruroni Kenshin, YuYu Hakusho and School Rumble in English because that’s how I first discovered each series, I saw them in English and I’ll stick to watching them that way. Also I think that a lot of fans are like this despite having a preference for one language over the other, they’ll make do with what’s avaliable to them and sit through it. I used to only watch my Japanese Cartoons in English but then I found Seto no Hanayome and Negima?! and I HAD to watch them in Japanese because they weren’t licensed yet.

This argument is positively pointless. Nothing can be gained and by actually going into it taking one side over the other you make yourself sound stupid. You can’t change someone’s mind simply based on your own opinion. People like English dubs because they’re easier to relate to and listen to and people like subs because they get to emmerse themselves into a new culture and learn some Japanese along the way. Feel free to insult me and bag on me in the comment section below to show just how immature you are. I gladly welcome people leaving comments why they like one over the other and also respecting that other people have their own preferences because we’re all Anime fans at the end of the day be it in English or Japanese.