Anime Vice News

NONSENSE FROM THE NOOB: Dub or Sub?

Are you really missing that much in the dub?


 To dub?
 To dub?

I was glad to see such detailed and insightful responses to my question regarding the whole shojo/shonen divide yesterday. Rolling down that same hill, I’d like to find out where all you lunatics, all you seasoned Otakus, in the Anime Vice community stand in the dub/sub divide. It might seem obvious, but I once again have to step back and notice this since there’s actual slang relating to this area of the viewing experience. Specific slang. And I know a lot of fans have very strong opinions on the subject - - several of my friends have adamantly insisted that I watch everything subbed, since the dubbed versions are woeful compromises.

Me, myself, I don’t have as strong opinion about this, even less than I have for live action movies. I think that might have to do with the fact that a lot of times, it’s easier to convincingly synch an English language track to match the animation, because animators rarely render mouths to encompass the full range of motion included in speaking. In live action, it’s harder to fake. You can see if an actor’s lips are pursed  when they should be flashing teeth, when an actress should be making an “R” sound and not an “A” sound. A lot of times, when I’ve been watching pilots for my column, I’ll even forget whether I’m watching a show dubbed or subbed unless I actually get conscious about it.

I was thinking along these lines after the response and questions I’ve been getting regarding my viewing of EVANGELION, since there are apparently different versions with radically different elements. Honestly, I just popped the DVD into my player and the dubbed track was the first one to play, so I went with that. I’ve gotten so attached to the American voice actors that it’d really be too hard to go back, at this point. More to the point, I’ve been enjoying the series so much, so far, I really can’t imagine there’s anything my viewing experience could be missing.

 Or to sub?
 Or to sub?

Then again, this might all just come down to individual execution. A number of you have said that EVA got a very good dub job and that Gainax was very hands on regarding the translation. I can imagine that might not be the case when you get a looping company that doesn’t care too much for the property to begin, busting it out in a slapdash fashion.
 
I did watch AKIRA and PRINCESS MONONOKE dubbed first and being really enchanted by those versions. It might have been weird for some people to hear a Japanese steam maid talking like Jade Pinkett or a monk talking like Billy Bob Thortnon, but it didn’t bug me that much. I forget the circumstances, but I did end up watching the subbed versions of both of those eventually and I don’t recall there really being much significant that was “lost in translation.” Then again, maybe I’m a philistine.

So I’m curious to see where you all stand on this. Is it really that much of a compromised experience to watch the dub? Or is it requisite that all anime must be watched subbed? Enlighten me!

-- Tom Pinchuk is the writer of UNIMAGINABLE for Arcana Studios and HYBRID BASTARDS! for Archaia. Pre-order the HYBRID BASTARDS! hardcover now on Amazon.com.

 
hitsusatsu11on May 11, 2010 at 10:21 p.m.
You can almost never go wrong watching the original audio. That said there are some great dubbing companies out there- 
Ocean Studios out of Vancouver is amazing, they have dubbed DBZ, most of the Gundams, Death Note, Inuyasha, Escaflowne, Black Lagoon, Monster Rancher ect. 
Some of there notable actors are: 
 
Brian Drummond (Vegeta, Zechs, Ryuk, Allen Shezar, Andrew Waldfelt) 
Mark Hildreth (Heero Yuy)  
Kirby Morrow (Goku, Trowa Barton, Von Fanel, hes even played Jesus) 
Scot Mcneil (Piccollo, Duo, Ratrap, Ali al Sachez) 
Brad Swaile (Gohan, Quatre, Amurro, Setsuna, Light, Rock) 
Ted Cole (Wu fei, Yamcha) 
 
Also Blue Water studio's (who dubbed Dragonball, DBGT, Pretty Cure, Zetta and G Gundam) are a lower end part of Ocean out of Calgary. They are used as a cheap alternative, like when Ocean president did not want to pay high salaries to have his high class actors (who dubbed DBZ) dub GT and DB he had Blue Water do it for less money. Generally their work is not as good but some of there stuff is ok.  
bustajibbon May 11, 2010 at 10:30 p.m.
I would guess I fall somewhere in the middle, leaning a little more to subs.  Honestly, it really seems which I watch first is what I will like for a practicular series.  But lately I have noticed the dub quality being kind of hit and miss.  For whatever reason I like dubs from the mid 90's and prior and still go back and watch my favs in sub just to kind of see if I have a different feeling toward it.  I usually dont.  Now things that are a little more recent I can hear the dub work and just tell its completely off what it should be.  I will usually switch over to subs and find that I like it more so.  Or so it seems for less popular shows.  Its like the studio didnt want to spend the money to make a decent dub so they grab a few guys and gals walking down the street and give them a script to read.  However, anime movies and more popular titles tend to get a little more love and the dub comes out just fine.  
 
For me it really just comes down to quality, the Japanese voice talent to to be more energetic and fitting for the action on screen.  I think this is partly because I speak very little Japanese and the high pitched voice may just sound more fitting.  So subs tend to be a safer bet.  But when a English dub studio really tries, it often is tough to beat. 
agila61on May 11, 2010 at 10:35 p.m.
I normally watch the sub, but if a dub gets rave reviews that I've stumbled across, I'll give it a try. I preferred the Bebop dub. I got used to watching subtitled movies in the 90's watching foreign films on SBS in Australia. 
 
Its an acquired skill - learning to get the info from the text, the emotion from the voice actor, and not miss the action. And after watching a ton of subs, some people forget that its not actually for everyone. 
 
As an old geezer who saw Speed Racer in the 70's but is nevertheless a noob, I find it weird when people get all religious over which is what people "ought" to do. It seems like my fellow sub fans sometimes get all "you ought to all be watching subs, then we wouldn't have to waste time waiting for the voice actors", but a series that has a dub has a bigger market available, and as long as the sales cover the cost of the dub, a bigger market is better for all concerned.
FoxxFireArt moderator on May 11, 2010 at 10:38 p.m.
Subtitled and Dubs are a mixed bag for me. Overwhelmingly I favor subtitled. There have been times dub work has been very good or even better then the subtitled version.
 
I find that comedy series are always best in subtitled. A lot of comedy is timing and some voice actors just don't have that. The delivery is normally off. The current One Piece dub work is kind of mixed. They are "alright", but I'll take subs over dubs in that series. I just can't stand some of the edits that are made for the English dubs. How they renamed God Eneru to King Eneru. That completely contradicts events that happen on screen.
 
Good Dub Works
Evangelion, Fullmetal Alchemist, Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, Death Note, Ghost in the Shell S.A.C., FLCL
 
Subtitles Only
Code Geass, Negima!, Detective Conan, Pani Poni Dash, Gurren Lagann. (I'm sure this list could continue, but I'm just going by series where I have heard both versions.)
sickVisionz moderator on May 11, 2010 at 10:48 p.m.
Most anime that ends up on US TV gets a pretty solid dub imo but when you include stuff that's DVD only the quality of an average dub is pretty bad.  Way worse than any US cartoon I've ever seen. To be fair though, I find that a lot of shows with horrendous dubs have pretty shoddy jpn voice acting as well.
  
I don't have one steadfast rule though.  I usually just prefer whatever I've heard the most of.  For some shows (usually ones that I first saw on Cartoon Network) I prefer the English actors.  For stuff that I first heard in Japanese, I prefer the jpn audio. 
Olivawon May 11, 2010 at 11:12 p.m.
I generally prefer dubs. Subs are fine and all, I'm not against reading, but a lot of the time they're extremely literal and poorly translated.
 
Granted, dubs can suffer from the same problems, but at least they don't distract from the visuals. And the general quality of dubs has greatly increased in the last decade.
 
And let's not even get into how stupid and irritating fansubs can be.
MegaDaffyon May 12, 2010 at 12:10 a.m.
I usually watch Dubs because that's how I started watching anime and they're the easiest to get on DVD.  Other than that, I never really cared which was better because essentially the anime is the same whether it's in English or Japanese(* at least in my opinion, it is*).    
Trogd0r2on May 12, 2010 at 12:28 a.m.
I pretty much always go with the sub it's almost weird hearing english in my anime now.  The only anime i've watched the dub for recently was DBZ because i couldn't stand the super high pitched japanese voice actors.
JonathanMooreon May 12, 2010 at 3:51 a.m.
Sub, sub, sub.
Morteinon May 12, 2010 at 4:11 a.m.
usually I prefer sub
wwfunderakeron May 12, 2010 at 4:50 a.m.
I like using sub and dub.
FekketCantenelon May 12, 2010 at 5:27 a.m.
For me, it depends on context. If I'm multitasking (cleaning, reading, writing internet comments), I'll play a dub, since I can much more easily interpret spoken English than Japanese. If I'm sitting down to watch something, though, I lean toward subtitles.
 
The exceptions are older series like Rurouni Kenshin, Yu Yu Hakusho, and Yu-Gi-Oh!, which had 'meh' to awful dubs but were great in the original Japanese with subtitles. You young whippersnappers have no idea how good you have it with your faithful dubs and your professional voice actors. In my day, they had someone from Marketing come in, decide what dialog would sell toys best, and then hired some hobos to speak the lines.
Juuhachion May 12, 2010 at 5:40 a.m.
Subs only for me please. First of all, subtitles are already used a lot in my country. American TV-shows and such. They all had Dutch subs. You got used to reading subtitles at a young age. I hate the old American DBZ dub, and that also kind of scared me away from dubs all together. Besides, the Japanese seem to fit all the voices a lot better than their American counterparts. Not to mention script changes and all that nonsense.
 
So it's pretty pointless to watch dubs if you ask me.
Juuhachion May 12, 2010 at 5:41 a.m.
@Trogd0r2 said:
" I pretty much always go with the sub it's almost weird hearing english in my anime now.  The only anime i've watched the dub for recently was DBZ because i couldn't stand the super high pitched japanese voice actors. "
Then, do you watch One Piece dubbed too? Luffy is voiced by a woman, after all. The same woman who voices Kuririn (Krillin) in DBZ.
Halberdierv2on May 12, 2010 at 5:59 a.m.
generallythe VA is better in Japanese, but occasionally, if the english acting is good enough, ill have that one runing, it at least allows me to understand what they say if im away from the screen.
kwyrton May 12, 2010 at 6:08 a.m.
I think a lot of it has to do with how you were introduced to anime. I, like a lot of people in the states, was introduced through Adult Swim on Cartoon Network. As a couple of people have mentioned most anime that end up on TV in the US have pretty decent dubs. Since that is what I got used to that is what I prefer. The other issue for me is I really enjoy the artwork in anime. I feel like I cannot concentrate on the scene, the action, and that art if I am concentrating on reading the subtitles. Now someone else mentioned that watching subbed anime is something that takes some getting used to. I'm certain that if I watched enough subbed anime I would probably become very proficient at it and perhaps even start to prefer that method of anime consumption. All-in-all I think it just come down to personal preference. There is no right or wrong way to enjoy anime, just so long as you enjoy it!
blaakmawfon May 12, 2010 at 7:26 a.m.
I generally prefer subs, but there are a few cases where I like the dub better. I don't make the distinction based on lip movements, its just that dubs usually sound forced or like the voice actor is expressing an emotion that doesn't seem to fit with what is happening on screen.
RiverJeanon May 12, 2010 at 7:57 a.m.

OH stop dubbing it. it jus sounds silly. what's wrong with sub? at least there's character behind the original voices. stop dubbing animes!!
ShadowKnight508 moderator on May 12, 2010 at 8:09 a.m.
I prefer listening to the dubbed version, but I do not mind the subbed versions of most anime shows. It is just when I am home watching anime is when I must have a dubbed version playing, for I drive my parents nuts with the Japanese voices of the subbed version lol n_n
Frostaliciouson May 12, 2010 at 8:45 a.m.
I love subs and I honestly could care less if dubs of anime ever existed. With that said, I love Steven Blum.

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