Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sub Vs Dub part 2: The Genre breakdown.

So any who have read my original sub vs dub article will more then likely know where I stand on the issue. This time around however I thought I would break it down into a genre by genre basis on why I prefer the dub over the sub. I think you will probably start to notice quiet a interesting pattern.

One of the bigger things that draws me away from subs is that when you have to focus your eyes away from whats happening on screen you miss quite a bit. I thought I would break that down on a genre by genre basis for you.

Comedy. I can't stress this one enough. Alot of comedy has what are known as visual gags. These are jokes that are often never mentioned by the characters but are simply there and are meant to with visuals alone get a chuckle out of the viewer. The problem with visual gags is that seeing as there is no speech associated with them you can't put them in the subs. Hence alot of viewers will miss these jokes all together.

An example if you will. Funimation will soon be releasing the anime My Bride is a Mermaid. In the trailer there is a scene in which the main character is at a festival and is about to eat what looks like a chocolate covered banana(a common treat) But at the last second throws it into the air screaming at the top of his lungs. Now when I saw that subbed I didn't think anything of it. Simply another freak out on the part of the main character. However once I saw it dubbed I noticed something new. The Banana was actually a chocolate covered gun which he had just put in his mouth. A simple joke really. But one easily missed if you have to follow the subs. With dubs moments like this won't happen as your eyes are free to wander the screen and you are far more likely to catch something like this.

Another good example of dubs prevailing in the comedy area is Excel Saga. Now on performance alone Excel Saga stands proudly over it's subtitled counterpart. But take into account the speed at which Excel speaks in that show. Motormouth doesn't even begin to explain how quickly she unleashes jokes upon the viewer. Now imagine having to read her 1000 miles a minute speech instead of just having to hear it? Seems daunting yes? To the point of almost rendering any scene in which Excel is on screen as unwatchable and considering that's the point of the show(it is called Excel Saga after all) it kinda makes you question why you would bother watching it subbed in the first place.

The other problem which is actually quite simple is that when people laugh they more often then not don't stay completely still. I don't know about you but when I get a good laugh it's a full body affair. Obviously that causes me to lose sight of the subs and can cause you to miss the next joke or important plot point. This isn't really a problem if you are one of those laughing on the inside people but come on. Where is the fun in that?

Next we have action. This one is really quite simple. Why would you want to have to be reading subs on the bottom of the screen when all this awesome action is taking place? Is that a contradiction? Doesn't that go against the reason you are watching a show like that to begin with? A good example of this I find is Gurren Lagann. Often times you will find your eyes stuck at the bottom of the screen during a incredibly action packed fight scene or battle only to realize you are missing the meat and bones of the show. One could argue that whats being said during these battles isn't really important and while that may be true for some shows it's certainly not for others.

Take Gundam 00 for example. There are many points throughout the show that have key plot points discussed during a hectic battle. If the viewer was to read the subs they would miss the battle and if they were to watch the battle they would miss some of the plot and risk being lost later. With dubs you need only listen with your ears and watch with your eyes.

Next we have the really really deep show. Ok yeah I know it's not really a genre. I guess you could call it the Philosophical genre. Shows in this genre would be stuff like Serial Experiments Lain, Ghost in the Shell, Noein and BoogiePop Phantom(one of my all time favorites). All these shows have one thing in common. They are very very deep. Serial Experiments Lain gets into very in depth conversations about technology and the ramifications it has on humanity as a whole. Ghost in the shell goes deep into the same with quite a heavy does of politics. Noein goes deep into the kinds of science that would make Einsteins head explode. And BoogiePop just generally fucks with you head.

What am I getting at here? Well doesn't it seem somewhat of a difficult task to run these deep conversations through a filter back into English just so you can think about what was just said? Take the away the subs add a dub and you now have 2 steps. Hearing and thinking about it. It's a much easier task if you ask me. A good personal example that I'm sure many a fan has actually experienced is Ghost in the Shell Innocence. The movie was originally for 2 years only available via subtitles. Until recently Bandai released a Blu-ray with a dub. Now I won't claim to understand everything that happens in the film but I have a MUCH better grasp of it after watching the dub. It was truly like watching two different movies.

The last genre I will get to day is Drama. Take into account this scenario if you will. You are watching a Drama and you are completely absorb by the story and it's characters. Suddenly a heart breaking twist leaves one of the characters heart broken. Your eyes well up and you begin to cry. DAMMIT I CAN"T READ THE SUBS. Isn't that annoying. Having to stop or pause the show or movie because your tearful blurry eyes couldn't see what was being said? Doesn't it just kill the flow for the show? Doesn't having to rewatch the same scene completely kill the mood? I know it does for me. Fortunately drama is a good place for people who are new to dubs to start. Some of the best dubs I have heard came from a drama(Carrie Savages performance as Haruka in Rumbling Hearts still brings tears to my eyes to this day).

A good example in this genre was Clannad. The show was sub title only until very recently and it was one of those shows that pulled on my heart stings. There are quite a few moments that tears did indeed flow and it was difficult keeping up with what was happening with blurry watery eyes. The dub solved this for me. Most of the characters are cast perfectly and the performances to my ear are just as good as the original. I still cry with the dub and it's now easier to let myself go and do so because I don't have to follow text on the bottom of the screen.

So my challenge to sub fans is to go and watch one of you favorite shows in English(assuming of course that it has a dub) and see how much more you notice how much you missed and what it added to the experience. Ignore acting(which as I discussed in my last article isn't even bad) and just focus on what you are hearing and seeing for the first time. Tell me how many things you missed watching the show subbed. Oh and don't cheat and watch the show subbed a thousand times. That would be cheating.