Subs Vs Dubs: Honorifics
We hear them all the time when weâre watching anime, -san, -chan, -kun. All of these honorifics have different meanings and could tell a lot about how a character feels about another character based on the honorific that they use. For example, letâs say Naruto uses the -kun suffix, which he usually uses when speaking to Sasuke, with Kakashi. This would imply some form of disrespect because Kakashi is older and supposed to be Narutoâs teacher. We encounter this problem in English sometimes as well. The use of first names is extremely informal and can be taken as disrespectful. In Japanese, the same nuance is applied when using honorifics.
The 1980s: Robots Miyazaki And Cyberpunk
During the 80s, anime would grow as an entertainment media in both Japan and overseas. In the U.S., audiences were getting titles with more substance and of a higher quality. Shows like Robotech, a combination of three separate shows Super Dimension Fortress Macross , Genesis Climber MOSPEADA , and Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross dominated the airwaves. While the dialogue was heavily re-written to link all three series together, the series retained the originals adult themes, strong storylines, and diverse characters.
But things didnt end there, anime films, like Hayao Miyazakis Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, were becoming increasingly popular and getting screened abroad. Nausicaä would first see distribution in the U.S. as the heavily edited Warriors of the Wind. The localized version, now an action-adventure, lacked the originals environmental and ecological narratives. It also removed the titular female character from the VHS cover and replaced her with male characters who arent even in the film. The new film lost Miyazakis message, leading him to adopt a strict no-edits clause for future foreign releases of Studio Ghiblis films. With one of the greatest Japanese animators taking a stand, a change in English localization soon followed. The un-edited Studio Ghibli films explored mature themes animism, the struggle between good and evil, environmentalism that foreign anime fans had never experienced.
Better Subbed: Kill La Kill
Kill La Kill is another anime where the dub cast did a fantastic job, and since it features a wide range of English VA’s filling the role, all of whom who put out some great work. Because of this, we were tempted to put it in the “better dubbed” category. However, when comparing the dub and the sub, the sub still wins.
The main reason for this is that the Japanese cast really brings some amazing performances with poignant deliveries for both comedy and drama. Additionally, since the main setting is a Japanese school, the series’ original language fits better.
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Difference Between Dubbed And Subbed
There is a craze for movies, shows, anime, etc., which cannot be explained. People all around the world, no matter what age group, enjoys watching it. Many different types and genres of movies, videos, etc., are available so that the viewers can choose and watch according to their preference. Earlier, people only could watch videos that were of a language that they understood, whereas now they have the privilege to watch any video of any language.
Technology has taken an immense leap and improves every day. This has made it possible for people to understand any video, audio, any foreign material. Dubbed and subbed are two methods that provide translation to the local people to have a better understanding. They both have their differences, pros and cons.
The 1960s: Quirky Dialogue
Anime in the 60s captivated the U.S. with its good vs. evil plots and heavy dose of Americanization. Characters Japanese names were dropped for more familiar and stylish ones, and violent or confusing scenes were either edited or removed. Not to mention, these shows only received dubs when they reached a certain number for syndication. And when they did, the episodes werent shown in chronological order. Viewers never even got a chance to experience the anime as originally intended.
Then, before the 60s drew to a close, Speed Racer hit the scene. Here was a show with fast cars and a daring driver, with a family as absurd as his driving skills. Peter Fernandez, a producer at that time, was in charge of Americanizing the anime. He had to write and direct the English adaptation while also voicing many of its characters. Given only two days for each episode, Fernandez was forced to squeeze long, complicated lines of dialogue into preexisting lip movements. The breakneck pace of the dubbing process made Speed Racer famous for its witty, fast-paced dialogue. Luckily, this style of dubbing was specific to Speed Racer, as other popular Americanized anime didnt have this specific problem.
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Purists And The Case For Subtitled Anime
Anime fans who exclusively watch the subtitled versions of anime, even when a dub is available, are often referred to as purists. Purists are usually diehard anime fans, or otaku. One of the main reasons that purists give for preferring subs is that subtitles allow them to experience the anime the way the creators meant for it to be seen. These fans view anime as an artform, and do not believe that it should be altered in any way. Some anime is censored or otherwise changed for the English release.
Many anime series, particularly older series, were censored for the English dub. American licensors often deemed certain types of content to be inappropriate for western audiences, so they changed certain things for the English dub. A classic example of this can be seen in the original English dub of Sailor Moon. In the first English dub of this series, Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune were portrayed as cousins, while in the original Japanese version, these two characters were lesbian lovers. This was corrected in the more recent redub of the original Sailor Moon.
Many anime fans also claim that the voice acting is almost always better in the original Japanese version. This is debatable, as many of the people who make this claim do not actually understand Japanese. Many fans of dubbed anime claim that studios have been doing a better job at casting voice actors in recent years, however.
Dubbed anime is often easier for American audiences to comprehend.
What Does English Dub Mean
To dub is to provide a soundtrack to a foreign movie.
Eg. Whenver Italy screens a Hollywood Movie, the whole film is screened in Italian. The film has been dubbed into Italian.English dub is when the people talk in English. Lets say the show you are watching is from Japan if it is in English dub then instead of it being in Japanese it will be in English.
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The Great Sub Versus Dub Debate Finally Answered
It doesnt matter if youve been watching anime for a week, a year, or a decade. Theres one debate as old as anime itself. One that has raged for years on end. The very debate that tears family and friends asunder, no matter how close. When you watch anime, should it be subbed or dubbed?
For the two of you who dont know, but mostly for the sake of setting the stage for this post, subbed and dubbed refers to the way you watch foreign shows, but for our sake, anime. Subbed is the original Japanese audio captioned in other languages. Dubbed is the same thing, but the Japanese voice actors and actresses are removed and replaced with VAs that perform the lines in their respective languages, often English.
The perk of that is clear. You dont have to read your TV show. You can watch it as youre supposed to. But dubbed come with issues as well. The most apparent being the drop in quality. Many dubs are not as good as their sub counterpart, or at least thats what many people think.
This has created the aforementioned war. Sub purists think that people who only watch dubs are inferior to them because they wont watch their anime as intended. Dub watchers clearly dont like being called fake fans, but as you know, no argument is one-sided. No ones innocent. In actuality, only a small group of people are upset about this stupid debate, but its still fun to think about. So lets put on our thinking glasses, ok? It makes us seem smart.
What Do Subbed And Dubbed Mean
Anyone whos new to anime might not know the difference between subbed and dubbed, so well start with the basics. You also might want to refer to the essential anime glossary for newcomers if anime lingo has got you totally lost.
A subbed anime is one that hasnt been modified, and features the original Japanese voice actors. English subtitles appear at the bottom of the screen as the characters speak. In other words, youll have to read along in order to understand the anime.
A dubbed anime is one that doesnt have the original Japanese voice acting. Instead of reading subtitles, you can watch the anime in the language of your choice with a cast of completely different voice actors.
Keep in mind that theres no right way to watch animeits all about whatever you feel most comfortable with. Dubs and subs both have their advantages and disadvantages, but theres nothing wrong with preferring either one.
Better Subbed: One Piece
When discussing Fairy Tail earlier, we said that the dub was better for new viewers, since it was the best way to bing watch the series, which has an impressive episode count. Naturally, that would mean that One Piece, which has way more episodes, would also be better as a dub, right?
Well, yes and no. The dub is a bit more accessible for those trying to get into the series, but it’s also inconsistent. By this we mean that after 4Kids stopped dubbing the series, new VAs were brought in, so if you want consistency, the sub is for you.
Better Dubbed: 91 Days
Do you like gangster movies? Then 91 Days is for you. It tells a tale of revenge during prohibition, following Avilio Bruno/Angelo Lagusa as he infiltrates the gang that murdered his family in order to deliver justice to those who orphaned him. The acting is phenomenal in both the dub and the sub, but we’re going to have to side with the former in this case.
Where other anime taking place in America might include some over-the-top accents, 91 Days dub is subtle, wonderfully acted and overall just top notch, the English VAs bringing the characters and setting to life.
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Why Fans Love Dubs
Despite the many arguments why fans believe subs are superior, there are some that still love dubbed anime. Its true that some English dubs have had some embarrassing moments thanks to the localization process. But for many fans, dubs were their gateway to anime. They wouldnt know of classics like Neon Genesis Evangelion or Samurai X if it wasnt for the efforts of dubbing companies.
And for those who are more speech-orientated, hearing the dialogue in their native language makes it easier to immerse themselves into the show. Dubbing companies sometimes go to great lengths to ensure the jokes, idioms, and cultural references which would be common knowledge in Japan but unknown abroad have the same impact in other countries.
Similarly, series that take place outside of Japan like Black Butler or Baccano! have its characters speak in Japanese and use Japanese references. Dubs allow these shows to use these locations native language, making the narrative feel more accurate and enjoyable to watch.
Subs Vs Dubs: Sentence
In Japanese, the particles that end the sentence can usually make or break any given sentence. For example, letâs say Naruto was to be having a conversation about how pretty Hinata is. If Naruto were to say, âHinata san kirei desu yo,â it would translate to âHinata is pretty!â The âyo ending implies some sort of emphasis. If he were to say, âHinata san kirei desu ne,â it would translate into, âHinata is pretty. Isnât she?â The -ne ending suggests that the speaker is looking for some kind of confirmation from the other person. Yes, I know that you may be thinking that the particles can easily be translated into English and therefore, none of the meaning is lost, right?
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Better Dubbed: Space Dandy
Space Dandy was directed by the creator of Cowboy Bebop, Shinchiro Watanabe, and it reads like a more comedic, more outlandish version of it. Even more interesting, however, is that this series first aired in America before Japan.
Yes, the dub aired before the sub, a rarity that inclined us to choose the English version of the series. Additionally, the humor of the series worked better in the dub, and overall the English cast did a great job with the characters, which is why we recommend watching the dubbed version.
Lost In Translation: The Case For Dubbed Anime
Fans of dubbed anime also have their own reasons for favoring the dubs. The most common reason given for preferring dubbed anime is that these fans do not like to read subtitles while they watch an anime series. They claim that being required to read subtitles distracts from the story. It can be difficult to fully enjoy the animation and watch what is happening on screen while reading along with the subtitles. Hearing the dialogue in English allows for a more immersive anime-watching experience.
Some anime dubs change the script quite a bit from the original Japanese version. In some cases, many fans prefer the completely different take on the show presented by the dub. For example, the dubbed version of the anime Ghost Stories alters the original script to a more comedic one written by ADV screenwriter Steven Foster. Much of the final recording for this dub was ad-libbed by the voice actors. While the plot of the show is still similar to the original version, the script is much more comedic and offensive in the English dub, which many fans of this anime prefer.
On the other hand, a far less common reason that some anime viewers give for preferring dubs to subs is, in fact, the censorship. Some fans actually claim to prefer the dubbed versions of certain series better than the original because the “mature” content present in the original Japanese version was removed. This is an extremely rare reason for preferring dubs, however.
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Subs Vs Dubs: Character Mannerisms
For many characters, the ending particle is a primary piece of who they are as a character. Remember in #1 when I said that removing the phrase, âDattebayo,â took away from Naruto as a character? Naruto uses the -yo ending a lot. It is because he’s a bold, brash, and loud character. But as the story develops, we see that Naruto has a lot of hidden anger, resentment, and pain and uses the -yo character to not only affirm his statements to others, but also to himself. In One Piece, Trebol, one of Doflamingoâs elite officers, constantly uses the -ne ending. If used consistently, it can become quite annoying and imply that you are trying to rub something in someoneâs face. The ending plays a lot into who each character is and depending on what is used, then it says a lot about the character types and personalities.
Where It All Started
The rise of Japanese animation started with Astro Boy a series about a robot boy which premiered in 1963 and became an instant hit in Japan and abroad. Its animation style and aesthetic later became synonymous with anime worldwide.
As the popularity of Astro Boy grew, NBC Enterprises acquired the North American distribution rights for the series. Fred Ladd, a specialist in westernizing foreign animated programs, took the anime and created its pilot episode. Of its 193 episodes, Fred Ladd adapted 104 of them into English.
However, dubbing animated shows for the American market back then wasnt what it is today. The 60s were a different time and Japanese animation explored topics that werent suitable for Western audiences, such as WWII and animal experimentations. As such, Astro Boy and other anime to follow had their storylines and content altered or removed. This was the standard practice for anime series that wanted to enter the Western market. The effects of this act would go on to change fans perceptions of English anime adaptations, leading fans to choose original Japanese voice tracks over the dubs.
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Better Subbed: Dragon Ball
Dragon Ball was more adventures and comedy-focused than Dragon Ball Z, thus, it wouldn’t be that farfetched to assume that the Japanese VA’s were cast with the intent of filling those comedic adventurer roles. Regardless if this is the case, the Japanese cast of Dragon Ball seems much more fitting to the early comedy-adventure days of the series.
This is why we recommend watching the original Dragon Ball series in Japanese, though both versions are great. Another reason to watch the subs is to get some variety in watching entries in the franchise, since we recommend watching DBZ dubbed.
So What Does Dubbed Mean In Anime
Dubbing is an artform! There is a lot of hard work put into every sentence that you hear in your own language, in anime. A dubbed anime is just an extra way to enjoy a show. Even though it changes some elements of the original language, it is usually for the better. After all, languages don’t always translate perfectly.
Hopefully, you are able to walk away from this knowing a little bit more about anime dubbing and why it may not always work out. Inexperienced voice actors or translators can be easily overwhelmed by the anime dubbing process.
If you are in doubt, you might benefit from contacting a professional voice actor studio to give you a few pointers.
Or risk the fury of anime fans. Your choice.
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