Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Anime - Dub or Sub?

Anime, or 'those weird Japanese cartoons you should have grown out of by now', is the best.
I'm biased, yes, since I've loved anime since I can remember. Pokemon, Doraemon, Digimon... I'm sure there were others without "mon" in the title...

Anime isn't a mainstream thing in the UK, as we have not had a channel dedicated to airing purely anime shows in a long time. We used to be able to watch the very popular "shounen" anime on Fox Kids/Jetix (now Disney XD), Cartoon Network and occasionally Nickelodeon, but now we only see the latest series of Pokemon (Seriously, Ash Ketchum has been 10 for 15 years... would it kill someone to give the poor kid a birthday episode?) and maybe that one anime about football. I won't complain, because if it's not what the people want, it's not what the people want. If people want it, it's nearly always available online for free. Netflix has a decent selection, and Crunchyroll is an official streaming website - premium membership payments support the anime industry in Japan, making it worth the £4.99 a month.

So, a brief story about my anime journey.

My younger brother and I used to get up super early in the morning to watch Naruto on Jetix, and then we'd stay up ridiculously late (like, past 10pm!) to watch Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo (a classic, I assure you). It was dubbed into English, and it was really enjoyable to watch. We grew up with Pokemon on the TV and Pokemon in our hearts (or gameboys - in our childhood there wasn't much difference). Whenever we went on holiday to Thailand, we would watch anime in a Thai dub and pretend to understand - we'd seen most of it before so it wasn't too bad. We were introduced to newer anime that we would then try to find online when we returned home to good old England. After searching online and in libraries, I started to read manga comics as well, and a love story began. When I started secondary school, I toned down the anime-fan and got into High School Musical and Hairspray like everyone else, before quickly returning to Chibi Vampire after High School Musical 2 was a massive disappointment.

At the age of 14, I felt very out of place for enjoying manga and anime. There was a little club at school, and they were awesome (!!!!!!!!), but my friends just weren't interested, and sometimes (unintentionally) made me feel like just a loser for watching it and getting excited for a green-haired boy who played the trumpet (La Corda d'Oro). I hid that side of me for 3 years until I started 6th Form and I drifted away from that group of friends. Then I suddenly had 3 years worth of anime and manga to catch up on, and I was bursting with happiness. Now I'm here. I still don't have many friends who I can geek out about anime with, but my select few are some of my closest friends. Nobody judges me for the random collection of character posters I keep on my wall. I'm back!

You may be wondering about the title of this blog post. "Anime - Dub or Sub?"

There's always a debate about which is better to watch - the anime in the original Japanese Dub with English subtitles, or the anime with an English dub.

Tonight, I sat down to watch the English dub of one of my favourite animes, "Free! Iwatobi Swim Club". It is terrible. I have been snapchatting it's horrendous-ness to my friend for the last hour. But is why is it so terrible, you ask? Many reasons, I answer.

Here I will discuss three different anime and their dubs, and whether I think they are good or not. Enjoy!

Free! Iwatobi Swim Club/Free! Eternal Summer (2013-2014)

Free! starts with four boys—Haruka, Makoto, Nagisa and Rin—before they graduate from elementary school. They all participated in a swimming tournament and won, though they parted ways. Years later, Haruka and Makoto reunite with Nagisa when Nagisa enrolls into high school a year after Haruka and Makoto. Not long after, Rin, who was thought to be in Australia, turns up and challenges Haruka to a race and wins. Afterward, Nagisa suggests creating a swimming club and using the run-down outdoor pool. Haruka, Makoto, and Nagisa, and later on, Rei, create the Iwatobi High School Swimming Club and work together to make the club a success. Rin's victory over Haruka means nothing to him as he realizes that Haruka had stopped swimming competitively and wasn't in top shape. He claims that he cannot get over the fact until Haruka competes against him for real. The members of the revived Iwatobi Swim Club later enter a swimming competition against Rin. [Wikipedia]
This anime is fantastic, if you enjoy this type of genre. Sports anime have their own little cults on the web, such as Kuroko no Basuke (basketball), Haikyuu!! (volleyball) and others, but Free! is my favourite of them all. It differs to others in that the swim team is significantly smaller, and you really see the development of the relationships between all the characters progress throughout both series, and it is really easy to get attached to them. I won't go too much into it, purely because I could talk about it for days, but if you enjoy the kind of anime that is light and warm but with deeper meanings brewing below the surface then give it a try. Sports anime have ongoing themes of teamwork and rivalry etc. but every sports anime ends on the same sad note - the seniors have to graduate at some point. Free! Eternal Summer starts off light, but as the boys have grown up a bit since the first series, their futures are coming a little too soon and watching them deal with it is an emotional ride, especially if you're at the same age as the characters (which I was. *grabs tissues*).

I don't know what it is, but the original Japanese version is just very beautiful. The translations are very lovely and I loved reading them. If you understand a little bit about Japanese culture (or if you've watched enough anime, I suppose) then the whole senpai-kouhai (senior-junior) trope is such a great thing to watch, and the language that they use is an indicator of how someone feels about another, and says a lot about someone's personality. I feel like this is really taken away by the English dub.

For starters, the first episode of Eternal Summer just gave off a completely different vibe to me, it was all sort of DUDES and BROS and RIVALRY. Don't get me wrong, there are definitely elements of all of those things in the Japanese, but... the way they all speak to each other changes the entire thing. It's not that the voice actors are terrible - they're actually great, although perhaps some of them don't quite match up to the character. It just feels a little bit too American to me. Makoto, the captain of the Iwatobi Swim Club, has a lovely voice, and I feel like it matches up to his character well, but why is he calling Haruka (his best friend, Vice Captain of the Iwatobi team) "dude"? It's just so WRONG. Makoto always addresses Haruka in such a fond way, and their relationship is at the point where they don't always need to communicate verbally because they just get each other. THE ENGLISH DUB HAS "BRO"-IFIED MY FAVOURITE FRIENDSHIP OF ALL TIME. That is not okay. They all say things that are very different to the original Japanese and it changes everything. SHAME ON YOU. Also, Rin is pronounced Rin. Stop calling him Reen.

Naruto/Naruto Shippuden (2002-)

A powerful fox known as the Nine-Tails attacks the ninja village Konoha. In response, the leader of Konoha – the Fourth Hokage – seals the fox inside his newborn son Naruto Uzumaki at the cost of his life. As a child, Naruto is isolated from the Konoha community, who regards him as if he was the Nine-Tails itself. A decree made by the current Kage, the Third Hokage, forbids anyone mentioning the Nine-Tails to anyone else. Twelve years later, renegade ninja Mizuki reveals Naruto the truth before being defeated by Naruto with the Shadow Clone Jutsu, earning the respect of his teacher Iruka Umino. Shortly after, Naruto becomes a ninja and is assigned alongside Sasuke Uchiha, whom he often competes against, and Sakura Haruno, whom he has a crush on, to form a three-person team named Team 7 under an experienced sensei, the elite ninja Kakashi Hatake. Like all the ninja teams from every village, Team 7 is charged with completing missions requested by villagers, ranging from doing chores, and being bodyguards or executing assassinations. [Wikipedia]
Naruto is from a different genre of anime - the "shounen" drama. This means that its more of a "boy" anime, or whatever, but it's action packed, has a loud, lovable protagonist and has a bit of something for everyone in it. I couldn't resist giving opinions on it since it is probably one of the first animes that I really hooked onto, even though I've been having my own problems with it recently. They don't matter too much in the context of this blogpost, so I'll save that for another time. This anime, is part of a generation of anime/manga that never end (see also: Bleach, One Piece, Gintama). Naruto had 700 chapters (it's been a thing since 1999) and only finished last year, but the anime is miles behind it and will probably finish within my lifetime (probably). It also has spin off novels, a new spin off film based on the next generation of ninjas, with the potential to keep the franchise going on FOREVER.

The importance of this is that there are loads of characters. Loads. Too many. There are so many characters with different personalities and habits that it must be difficult to find that many voice actors, right? Wrong. I'm sure every voice actor/actress in Japan has had a go on Naruto. Some even twice. (I'm obviously exaggerating here, but not that much). Bearing this in mind, I'd say that the English dub isn't too bad. For some characters, I really prefer their English Actors. It's not too different from the Japanese, and after you get used to it it doesn't matter which version you watch. One thing I always find amusing is the inconsistencies of name pronunciation. Some of the English Dub actors really go for it and give a Japanese pronunciation, then the others go for a very terrible English-American pronunciation. It's great for mimicking.

Cowboy Bebop (1998)

In 2071, roughly sixty years after an accident with a hyperspace gateway made the Earth uninhabitable, humanity has colonized most of the rocky planets and moons of the Solar System. Amid a rising crime rate, the Inter Solar System Police (ISSP) set up a legalized contract system, in which registered bounty hunters (also referred to as "Cowboys") chase criminals and bring them in alive in return for a reward. The series protagonists are bounty hunters working from the spaceship Bebop. The original crew are Spike Spiegel, an exiled former hitman of the criminal Red Dragon Syndicate, and his partner Jet Black, a former ISSP officer. They are later joined by Faye Valentine, an amnesiac con artistEdward Wong, an eccentric girl skilled in hacking; and Ein, a genetically-engineered Welsh Corgi with human-like intelligence. Over the course of the series, the team get involved in disastrous mishaps leaving them out of pocket, while often confronting faces and events from their past: these include Jet's reasons for leaving the ISSP, and Faye's past as a woman from Earth injured in an accident and cryogenically frozen to save her life. [Wikipedia]
Quite simply, the best anime ever? I can't say anymore than that. It is the ultimate classic anime, and if you haven't watched it then, like, why not? Do it. It's probably on YouTube somewhere. The concept is great, and the characters are awesome. Spike Spiegel is the cool, laid-back gun slinger protagonist that everyone wishes they could be, even though he's basically a loser. Jet is the wise, parent figure of the group. Faye is the bad girl. Edward is just Edward, the sweetest, weirdest character of the lot. What's great about it is that you just don't see anime of this kind anymore. It's got such a good mix of genres, and at the time it was exploring themes that people were reluctant to touch, especially for an anime. It has its moments of violence (but honestly I've seen worse), but it also has good comedy, interesting detective elements, it's smooth and classy and gives off a real film-noir vibe, all while fulfilling the "Western" genre.

Many say that the English dub is better than the Japanese dub. I don't necessarily agree, as I think they're both insanely good, but the English dub just suits the show better. Spike Spiegel just has the SEXIEST voice ever. No word of a lie. For such a smooth-talking character, you just expect a deep neutral-sounding American voice to come out of his mouth. Given that the theme music is of the jazz/blues variety, everything comes together better in the English dub.

Watch and enjoy:

So that's it from me. It's not a usual thing for me to splurge 2000+ words about anything onto a blogpost anymore, but hopefully that will change and you'll be hearing more from me in future. Who knows?


Post a Comment