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A Case for Dubs

21 OCT
2009

Let's get this out of the way right now, shall we?  In my mind a well done dub will always be better than a well-done sub.

For those of you who have stumbled here accidentally, allow me to explain: anime are cartoons, generally featuring big-breated robots piloted by angsty teenaged boys.  These bizzare things are produced in a distant land filled with giant monsters, used-panty vending machines, and a language vastly different from English.  And it is no surprise that few issues are quite so devisive in the anime community as the choice of how to translate this crazy Asian gibberish into something we awesome westerners can understand.

One option is to use "subtitles."  Which are words placed at the bottom of the screen that translate what the characters are saying.  These are cheap, comparatively easy to make and can be done by only a couple of sad, lonely people with a cursory knowledge of the Japanese language.  They also allow you to create a direct translation of what is beinig said.

"Dubbing", on the other hand, is where you re-record each character's lines with a new voice actor.  It takes vastly more people to do than subtitles, unless you are the greatest voice actor in the world with large amounts of free time on your hands.  Another problem is that the lines are often changed slightly so that the new voices can better match up with the mouths of the characters.

As mentioned before, I think that dubbing is better, at least in theory.  This is because, in my opinion, the entire system of subtitles inherently takes you out of the immersion of watching the show (no matter how much people continually deny this).  Video is naturally a visual and auditory medium, and when you add a literary element, you fundimentally change the medium.  And since most people are not used to this different medium, even if they claim to be, they will be missing out on some of what the show has to offer.  You must remember that these shows were not designed to have subtitles, and as subs they can and do distract from much of the visual information.

Having said this, I understand that western anime distributors do not have massive amounts to hire the best voice actors.  And yes, despite what some think, there are indeed plenty of excellent American voice actors.  However, the meager incomes of most anime distributors cannot get them the powerhouses of the business such as Frank Welker or Tress Macneille.  Now, I am by no means saying that all current american anime voice actors are doing a bad job.  I love to hear the rich variety of Laura Bailey's performances and the deep tenor of Steven Blum's.  But as any regular viewer of animation will tell you, it only takes one bad set of vocal chords to really ruin the experience.

So what the hell am I trying to say here?  Well, I guess the main thrust of this is that people dislike dubs right now because they are bad.  But they do not need to be bad.

If the western anime distributors would get off their asses, stop whining about the effect of the internet, and start doing a goddamn good job for once in their pitiful existance, then maybe some people would actually buy their products.  You see, dubs are the one thing that fans cannot produce, at least in bulk.  There are plenty of fantastic fansubs out right now for hundreds of shows, and more are released each day.  But as I said before, dubs requires lots and lots of people to work together in a way that a steady paycheck does really well.  So if you do a good job at creating dubs, then people will trust you and will buy from you.  Make better dubs.  Because everyone is right.  They are pretty bad right now.  But they shouldn't be.

ALSO:  If you want people to buy your DVDs, then put some goddamn special features on them you lazy sons-a-bitches.

comments

MOJ avatar MOJ
Mar 1, 2011

I agree with you on most points. More time is spent on reading the subs than actually watching the anime, which annoys me to no bounds because then i have to pause and give the animation a good look before moving along (i am a fast reader but most animes are really fast paced).

 

I did notice that some animes are completly ruined by the dubs. Take for example "The Familiar of Zero". In subtitles it sounds fun, energetic and humuorous, it dubs, it feels strained, dry and sounds like something made in the 1980s

 

I still prefer dubs if the vioces sound realistic

SoulE avatar SoulE
Aug 19, 2010

I would love dub if the voices weren't annoying, most of the time.

I loved Cowboy Bebop, Darker than black, and many other shows dubbed.

It really just depends on the show.

I agree that studios should improve the quality of dubbing, I know I would buy dvds if the dubs>subs.

IchigoTenshi avatar IchigoTenshi
Oct 21, 2009

hehe thats a silly ^^ and I do agree dubbed is better ^^ but! at the same time I love how sometimes the subber person writes funny things down XD

also you get a better feel on whats happening in the story subbed version. but thats okay ^^

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