Note: This was intended as a reply to ‘s journal entry about watching anime. It got so huge that I decided to enter it as my entry, instead of clogging up his comment area.

With this subject line, I may have inadvertently opened up a rather lengthy discussion about the subtitles versus English dubbing of Japanese animation. This is the kind of subject that’ll end up causing a large series of opinions and all-out flame wars between fans and Otaku. Though the more mature Otaku tend to sit back with arms stretched behind their head with a small little smile on their face. Getting everyone to agree on this topic is kind of like getting all linux enthusiasts to agree on a distribution. You just can’t.

I agree with you for the most part. I don’t mind English dubs if they’re well-acted, and don’t deviate from the plot. In watching some Anime, I notice that there are almost complete plot changes or rewrites. One of them in question was Shin Seiki Evangelion (Neon Genesis Evangelion), where some of the dialogue failed to accurately or even remotely represent the Japanese script. I’m not talking about single lines, either. This was whole scenes. Having watched Evangelion in Japanese first, through fansubs, I was rather disappointed to see that AD Vision would take such an awesome series and then turn around and ‘punch it up’ to what American audiences might like. A similar thing happened with Disney and Majou no Takkyubin (A witch’s delivery service/Kiki’s Delivery Service), where not only was the dialogue not accurate, but also there were more lines added to scenes where it was silent on the Japanese track. It was obvious that this outstanding film was ‘dumbed down’ for the short-attention spans of our youth (another theory I don’t buy in to). Of course, after the outcry of fans, Disney vowed never to do that again. Watch Mononoke Hime sometime, and you’ll understand what I mean.

However, the dub casts I do like and even sort of call myself a fan of are the folks over at the Ocean Group, who do Ranma. I did stop listening to the English tracks when they replaced Ranma’s male voice with an actual male actor. Sarah Strange was the first male voice and I just got used to her. After that, it’s hard to listen to this new guy and think of Ranma that same way. I’ll be a little heartbroken if Miryam Sorois (Akane) leaves the cast to do Babylon 5 full-time, because I just couldn’t ever think of Akane as being anyone else. Her “honestly”s are just way too cool. The other casts include the group of actors who did Taiho Shichauzo! (You’re Under Arrest) and Aa! Megami-sama! (Oh My Goddess!) for AnimEigo. I fell in love with Natsumi and Miyuki’s English actor right off the bat. Too bad Robert Woodhead fired Natsumi’s voice after Goddess was completed. She played Megumi, Keiichi’s little sister.

On the other end of the spectrum, though, one of the worst dub casts ever? Tenchi Muyo. I just cannot spit and hiss enough about how horrible this group is. Tenchi comes across as a nerd, Ryoko sounds about 80 years old, and Washu just gets more irritating every time I think about it. I just miss Orikasa Ai too much to think of Ryoko as being anything but her. Case in point, during Anime Expo 1996, the entire American cast for Tenchi Muyo, along with the Japanese seiyuu for Ryoko and Aeka were in a panel,and no one wanted to talk to the American cast members at all.

The question to ask now is, are there any horrible Japanese casts? I can’t find a one. Mostly because Japanese voice actors tend to really throw themselves into their work. I think someone wrote a huge analysis about the differences between the two, but I guess as not being a native speaker of the language, it’s difficult to determine whether or not a Japanese actor could be considered “bad.”

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