Thursday, December 3, 2009

1st Topic: Subs Vs Dubs.

So I have been a very big anime fan for most of my life. I've always loved the stories and the characters you find in anime. I mean lets face it, you just can't find anything like it anywhere else.

Now unlike most so called "Hardcore" anime fans I am an avid supporter of anime dubs. Why? Well there are quite a few reasons. All of which I will be talking about here. So set aside a little time and read a bit and maybe your opinion will change. And if not at least you will be better educated on the topic.

First if you are unaware what dubs and subs are let me give you a bit of background on it. Simply put Dubs are the process of adding voice over to anime. However in the West the term has come to mean English voice over instead of simply voice over. Subs are simply the original Japanese with subtitles.

Shockingly enough the vast majority of anime fans(I would posit somewhere in around the 75% range) watch nothing but subtitled anime. I have always been left wondering why. There are plenty of reasons I have been told in defense of subs and most of them are either wrong, weak excuses and just plain ignorant.

The most common reason I hear is "I want to watch the show the way it was intended". Well I'm sorry to say that you can not watch the show the way it was intended unless you speak fluent Japanese. Why? Well think about it. Do you honestly think the Directors of these incredible shows want the viewers to be reading text at the bottom of the screen? No they don't. They want the viewers to be immersed in the story and be free to look at the incredible looking artwork that anime is so well known for. Sorry to say you can't do this while reading subtitles. All to often you will miss key visual details while reading subs. Maybe a piece of information key to the plot line or maybe even a visual gag. You are much more likely to miss things like this if your eyes are glued to the bottom of the screen.

Up next we have the "The Japanese performances are always better". Um... Wow.... well that's more often then not completely wrong. The truth is that most anime performances are simply average. So why do people think the Japanese is always better? Simple they don't understand what they are hearing. If you can't fluently speak Japanese you can't possibly know if the performance is any good or not. With this being the case you incur the illusion that the acting is better when it is indeed average. If you want a amusing story about this head over to ANN. There is quite a funny story about a guy who had always said his favorite anime ever Dirty Pair was better in Japanese. Until that is he learned to speak Japanese and was horrified to find that it had horrible acting in it. This is not to say that there is not good acting in the Japanese. In fact quite the opposite. I would say that the amount of good performances out weigh the bad.

It seems as if dubs have incurred a negative stigma that all English dubs are horribly acted. After all most who are watching the English dubs speak English and everyone is a critic. It's obvious why dubs got a bad rap though. Back during the 80's and into the mid 90's nearly every dub was HORRIBLE(with a few great exceptions). However those times have passed and now more often then not English dubs are incredibly well acted. There are even cases in which the English dub is vastly superior to the original Japanese. How is that possible you might ask. Well let me give you a prime example.

The anime Black Lagoon was vastly better in English then it was in Japanese. The reasons are many. Firstly the English script corrected numerous factual errors the Japanese script contained. For example the names of numerous places and guns. In addition to that the Characters are far more genuine. In Japanese a character will always sound Japanese and that's something that cannot be fixed with a deeper voice. Dutch is a prime example of this. He is your classic bad ass big black guy. In English he sounds as such. In Japanese he sounds like a deep voiced Japanese guy. Needless to say he sounds better in English. The same can be said for nearly every character in Black Lagoon be it Benny and his obvious white boy from Florida look and feel or Revy and her harsh words and sometimes psychotic attitude.

The simple fact is that English has accents that Japanese doesn't have and being able to authentically use these accents makes characters closer to the way they should actually be.(and in all honesty what the original creators envisioned them to be) Another good example is the anime BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad. In this anime the character Maho grew up in America and speaks fluent English and sings in fluent English as well. However in the Japanese she has a heavy accent when singing in English. Obviously a character who grew up speaking English would not have this problem. In the English dub Brina Palencia sings the same songs with the same lyrics and the result is vastly better then the Japanese simply because she does not have the heavy Japanese accent the original did. On top of the fact that Brina is a incredible singer with a stunningly beautiful voice. She isn't the only one either. The character Koyuki also has a English performance and again in the Japanese he has a heavy accent. However in the English dub Greg Ayres performs the piece beautifully. Keep in mind that these songs were in English in BOTH versions of BECK. However they sound more authentic in the English. So much so that many rallied to have Funimation release a English version of the BECK soundtrack. Which sadly didn't happen due to licensing reasons(believe me though. Greg himself told me they did everything in their power to get it to happen but it was just not meant to be)

The fact is that most dubs being produced these days(which in all honesty isn't very many thanks to the hard times the industry has found itself in) Are very well acted by all those involved. The days of every dub being laughably bad are behind us. Now don't take all this to mean I hate subs. That's not the case at all. In fact there are shows I simply cannot watch in English for various reasons. For example recently I watched the Fate/Stay Night anime. No matter how hard I tried I could not watch the English because I had played more then 150 hours of the original game. I got so used to the original Japanese(which in this case was indeed better acted and cast) That I could not stand the way the characters sounded in English. This would be the case for alot of other shows I have seen like K-ON! and Kara No Kyoukai. If these were to be released in English I would more then likely still watch them in Japanese. That's not to say that I would not give the English dub a chance however as I have been surprised before.

To me anime should be experienced in whichever way is better. If the English performances are just as good or even better then the Japanese who cares if you are not watching the original. If it's better you are going to get more from the experience. It's still the same story be it in English or Japanese. On the flip side it's nice to be able to have a back up option in the form of subs. I watch anime about half subbed half dubbed. That's the great thing about being open minded. You don't have to be held back in anyway. I have friends who didn't like the subs for a show and stopped watching the show entirely despite the fact that they liked the story. If they were more open minded they could have switched to the dub and continued on and seen the ending.

Something also needs to be said for Fansubs. A disturbingly large amount of "fans" get into anime via this method and as such get stuck up to a degree and think they should only be watching something subbed. Never once do they stop to think that the fan subs they are watching are probably way off the real meaning.(look at the countless posts on Japanator about fansubs laughable failures). But I digress this is another topic entirely.

So at the end of the day it's simple. If you are a anime fan start trying to give the dubs a shot. You may like what you hear. As I said nearly every anime dub being released these days are very good. You may end up liking what you hear and will not have to be constantly looking at the bottom of the screen.

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