Dubbed anime should be your first choice
By Carlos Bilan, Staff Writer
Among anime fans, the matter of whether English dubs (where English voice actors re-record lines) or subs (Japanese audio with English subtitles) are better. In my opinion, there are many reasons why dubs are superior.
Authenticity. People who are subtitle purists use authenticity as a reason for why subbed anime is better. However, “god of anime” Hayao Miyazaki, who is one of the directors and founders of Studio Ghibli, said in a 2005 interview to The Guardian: “When you watch the subtitled version, you are probably missing just as many things. There is a layer and a nuance you’re not going to get. Film crosses so many borders these days. Of course it is going to be distorted.” This makes a subbed version not so different from its dub, translation-wise.
On another note, there are anime that are not set in Japan, but in an English-speaking setting. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is an example of a show set in England. In the dub, all the voice actors have English accents, which makes the anime faithful to its setting.
Besides this, there are characters in anime who come from different countries or backgrounds. Hetalia is an example where characters are from different countries, so hearing the voice actors speak English with an accent of the country they represent gives the characters more authenticity.
Emotions. Transliterations aren’t as emotional as interpretations. Using JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure as an example, the English voice actors add more sex appeal, which works for an anime that depicts muscular men. JoJo has a reputation of being overly dramatic, even for its Japanese subs counterpart, and the English dub really succeeds in conveying the anime’s spirit.
The dub of Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun is another example English voice actors doing excellent work. Not only do they embody the characters through their delivery, they also give the script more variety. For a comedy anime, this is especially important, since there are more punchlines that make the anime even more hilarious. The subtitles for this anime and many other comedy anime just declare everything at face value, so they aren’t as funny as the dubbed version.
Idioms, figures of speech, and Anglophone references. Dubbing can break cultural and language barriers that standards in subbed anime are unable to do. For example, Danganronpa 3 has a character named Junko Enoshima, the main antagonist, who says lines like “Those cinnamon rolls can’t resist the urge to save their teacher,” “Fellow nihilist,” “KAMUKURA KAMUKURA YAS QUEEN!” and many more. This really fits her character design—a sexy high school girl with pink pigtails and the personality of a perpetrator of despair.
The dub script being superior to the original. A notable example is Ghost Stories. The anime was so terrible in its original form that Aniplex gave ADV Films, the English dubbing studio, the liberty to do whatever they wanted with the script. This resulted in the Ghost Stories’ dub being hailed as one of the must-see comedy-horror anime of all time, because the modifications were so hilarious yet still faithful to its central plot. One iconic example is when the main protagonists, Satsuki and Keiichiro, are being chased by a demon, and Satsuki says: “There’s nothing to be afraid of Keiichiro, monsters only get evil people like Republicans and we’re not old enough to vote.”
While the latter is an extreme dub example, there are other popular examples of superior dubbed anime according to forums and polls, including Cowboy Bebop, Yu Yu Hakusho, Death Note, and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.
Ultimate appreciation for animation. How are you going to be able to appreciate every detail of the setting and animation when you always have to read text at the bottom of your screen? The point of anime is to appreciate a good story and the art. It doesn’t do the animators justice if you don’t get to immerse yourself in the experience due to your attention being divided. This is especially true if you’re going to be watching an action anime where the characters speak a lot during a fight scene, and you miss out on the action due to reading subtitles during the fight.
I’m not saying that all dubs are superior . There are bad ones, just like there are bad subs. However, people often conclude that dubbed anime is bad. One has to keep in mind, however, that these English voice actors are professionals, so to dismiss the entire English dubbing industry as terrible is close-minded. Thus, when watching anime, dubs should be your first option for all the reasons above. Remember, don’t knock them ’til you try them!