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Watching Anime in Japanese vs. English

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#1 of 58 OFFLINE   GregBe


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Posted September 22 2003 - 05:27 AM

I just watched my first Anime this weekend (Cowboy Bebop the Movie) and absolutely loved it. I started to look through the beginners anime thread, but with over 600 posts, it is a bit daunting.
My dilemma is this, I watched it on Friday night in the English version and thought it was awesome. On Saturday morning, I was feeling guilty that I did not watch it in its original language. After all, I would not even think of watching Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Life is Beautiful or Brotherhood of the Wolf dubbed. I started to watch it in Japanese several times, and was missing the English voices. I am thinking that my mistake was watching it first in English, and putting certain voices with certain characters.
My question is this. Is this a common problem? I am planning on picking up several new titles today. (Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Princess Monoke, Metropolis, Ninja Scroll). Do some of you watch your anime in English and enjoy it, or am I better off by watching all of these in Japanese and just getting used to it.

#2 of 58 OFFLINE   Rob Lutter

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Posted September 22 2003 - 05:38 AM

Uh oh Posted Image

There's usually an argument about this in the Advanced Anime thread every few months so you can probably find quite a few pages with the pros/cons.

I prefer subs (which many of ya know) because I think that english dubs suck both the Japanese culture and substance out of anime. Some say they prefer dubs because they can focus on the animation and subtitles distract them ("I don't wanna read the entire film!"). My main reason for watching subs are the script changes that are made in the ADR (dubbing) process to match the lip flaps of the characters. Even a small change to the dialogue or a missed/added line here/there can change the mood of an entire series. There ARE some screen-compression issues for subtitles sometimes and even some censorship for ratings at times (for instance, I am REALLY doubting that ADV will allow all the "fuck"s to stay in Azumanga Daioh so they can shoot for a lower rating), but the problems are really mimimal compared to the other choice. Also, the Japanese participate in group readings of the script instead of individual recordings... so when you hear two characters arguing, they are doing so to each other and not into a microphone days or weeks apart from each other.

Plus American girls just aren't as KAWAII (er, cute Posted Image ) sounding as Japanese girls to me Posted Image

I wouldn't say "dub" vs. "sub" has a definate champion... it's a personal choice that you have to make (I know that some people prefer to switch back and forth too). DVD kinda squashed the argument by giving people the choice on the same disc (as opposed to separate VHS releases). The best way, in fact, to watch anime is to learn Japanese and listen to it yourself Posted Image

#3 of 58 OFFLINE   Jeff Ulmer

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Posted September 22 2003 - 05:49 AM

(for instance, I am REALLY doubting that ADV will allow all the "fuck"s to stay in Azumanga Daioh so they can shoot for a lower rating)

Depends if Stephen Foster does the dub or not... Posted Image

I'm a sub guy.

Plus American girls just aren't as KAWAII

I completely agree, nor can they scream like the Japanese. There is not the intensity in the English dubs I have heard that anywhere near match their Japanese counterparts.

Stick with Japanese and get used to reading, it is much better, IMHO of course.

#4 of 58 OFFLINE   MichaelGH


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Posted September 22 2003 - 05:50 AM

I'm a sub only kind of guy with Anime. Two primary reasons: As the previous poster said, English dubs tend to remove the Japanese culture aspect of the shows which I really enjoy, secondly Voice Acting is an artform in Japan...the Voice actors spend a long time honing their craft and, to be honest, if you compare the japanease language versus english language tracks it shows...I really have never liked english voice actors in any cartoon (even as a kid watching Transformers)...so to sum up, I recommend trying to get used to the subs (which really shouldn't be hard if you watch other foreign language films subbed).

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#5 of 58 OFFLINE   Michael St. Clair

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Posted September 22 2003 - 05:57 AM

I watch subs about 90% of the time. But there are rare titles where I find the dubs to be as good.

I suggest you listen to releases both ways (or at least the first 10 minutes or so both ways) and then make up your mind. Do this for a few releases and you'll start to form your own impressions.

#6 of 58 OFFLINE   Andy_Bu


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Posted September 22 2003 - 06:19 AM

In general, my wife and I watch dubbed first and then if we hate it (or find our ahead of time that it is poor) we switch to the subs.

We find that we miss to much by spending all our time reading through the movie.

Even though I am a dub first person, I will admit that many of the dubs are horrible. You happened to hit upon one of the best group of english VA's I have heard in the Cowboy Bebop cast which may be causing some of your confusion in terms of which one you thought was better.

Even many of the hard core sub only anime viewers will begrudgingly admit that the dub for Cowboy Bebop is very good. I for one could never picture Spike, Ed, Jet or any other character other than their english voices.

If you are interested in dubs, what I usually do before starting a new series or movie is to simply research the quality of the dub on Chris's awesome web site. If the majority say the dub is average or worse, I go with the sub. If most agree that it is very good (like Cowboy Bebop), then we go with the dub.

Since there are more bad dubs than good IMO, I end up watching more subs. It is no coicendence that some of my favorite anime are ones with good dubs I guess.

Here is the board where you can read about dubs in great detail.



#7 of 58 OFFLINE   Neil Joseph

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Posted September 22 2003 - 06:38 AM

All I can say to this is that I love to watch films in their original languages, especially the Japanese and Chinese (Cantonese or mandarin) titles with the english subtitles on.
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#8 of 58 OFFLINE   MartinTeller



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Posted September 22 2003 - 06:45 AM

I don't know much about anime, but I can tell you that the changes made on the English versions of the Miyazaki films are pathetic. Here's a good example: in Kiki's Delivery Service, there's a scene where two girls are hitchhiking, and a guy stops for them. In the Japanese version, nothing is said. In the English version, one of the girls says: "it's okay, I know this guy!" (paraphrasing, don't remember the exact words). In Castle in the Sky, there's a scene where a boy and girl are standing on a roof, and the boy falls off. In the English version, they make the girl a LOT more concerned than she is in the Japanese version (at least, if the subtitles are accurate). Also, the English version of Castle in the Sky has wall-to-wall music, while the Japanese has much sparser scoring.

I have fun just going back and forth comparing the two, to see how much they dumbed it down/niced it up for the American audience.

#9 of 58 OFFLINE   Bolivar G

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Posted September 22 2003 - 06:47 AM

I must be one of the few PPL who watches Brotherhood of the Wolf and crouching tiger in english:b I hate reading thru a whole movie, I miss to much of the action that way. It distracts me to much, I must have A.D.D or somethingPosted Image

#10 of 58 OFFLINE   Eric F

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Posted September 22 2003 - 06:49 AM

Lol. If you really want to get a sense of how good/bad the dub is (not to mention the acting) just watch in English w/English subs on. Some of the translations are not even close and take on a totally different meaning.

That said, Bebop has one of the best dubs going- I'd say it's better than the original Japanese for a number of different reasons (don't hurt me) which has been covered in this forum many times. Do a search for anime, dub, etc.

#11 of 58 OFFLINE   Peter Mazur

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Posted September 22 2003 - 06:54 AM

I always watch the dubbed version a few times first. I really want to concentrate on the visuals. Once I am familiar with the film or show I will watch it with the subtitles.

A film like Akira or Ghost in the Shell has way too much visual information that you miss if you are trying to read the subs.

#12 of 58 OFFLINE   Dome Vongvises

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Posted September 22 2003 - 07:38 AM

I concur with Rob. I know Origato means thank you in Japanese thanks to watching anime. Or did I learn that from a Styx song? Posted Image

#13 of 58 OFFLINE   Tim RH

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Posted September 22 2003 - 08:47 AM

I know Origato means thank you in Japanese thanks to watching anime.
Actually, it's "Arigato", as in "Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto". Posted Image

#14 of 58 OFFLINE   Matthew_Millheiser


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Posted September 22 2003 - 08:54 AM

While the Cowboy Bebop dub is better than a lot (if not most) if the dubs out there, I cannot for the life of me stand Faye Valentine's English voice. The direction and stylings of the English dub completely disregards Faye's nuanced insanity.
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#15 of 58 OFFLINE   Jason Seaver

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Posted September 22 2003 - 09:13 AM

I generally watch the subtitled version, but do like having an English-language version available. Metropolis, for instance, had so much going on all over the screen that I resented the titles constantly directing my attention to the bottom of the picture.

Not quite anime, but I'm kind of curious what Sony Pictures Classics' plans are for the American release The Triplets Of Belleville this November. It's a French animated feature, and the version I saw at the Boston Film Festival had no subtitles or dubbing at all, except for one line at the end (and sometimes these Euromovies switch languages for no discernable reason anyway). The movie was absolutely watchable that way - there's very little dialogue in any case - but that would seem to be a pretty daring decision for a distributor.
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#16 of 58 OFFLINE   Jesse Brickzin

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Posted September 22 2003 - 09:20 AM

Subs- I am fairly new to Anime myself but the flow of the show is so much better with Subs then with Dubs..

#17 of 58 OFFLINE   Dana Fillhart

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Posted September 22 2003 - 09:40 AM

I know Origato means thank you in Japanese thanks to watching anime.
Actually, it's "Arigato", as in "Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto".

Actually, shouldn't it be arigatou? Posted Image

Anyway, I watched the entire series of Cowboy Bebop in English, and really enjoyed the dubbed version a lot.

BOY was I surprised with Spike's voice when I then watched the movie in Japanese with English subs!!

In that case, I actually preferred the English dub, but like others, I mostly prefer the subs (I can read fast enough Posted Image)

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#18 of 58 OFFLINE   ChrisBEA



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Posted September 22 2003 - 09:43 AM

I have strange tastes on this matter. I love having both, but if I have to choose 1, it would be subs, except for Cowboy Bebop. I love the English dubs for them, best I've ever heard. I don't watch a lot of anime, but I do watch a lot of foreign (primarily Hong Kong, Japanese) films and generally prefer subs, although some of them are pretty bad.

#19 of 58 OFFLINE   Brian Kidd

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Posted September 22 2003 - 10:52 AM

Almost always, the subtitles are more faithful to the original script and the actors are much much better than their English counterparts.

BEBOP is the exception to the rule of bad dubs, but I still prefer the original language.
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#20 of 58 OFFLINE   Tony-B



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Posted September 22 2003 - 11:00 AM

While I prefer a GOOD dub, subtitles are just fine with me too.

Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Subtitles are the best way to experience it in it's true original form without knowing the language, however it distracts you from the watching the action and keeps your attention on the bottom of the screen in order to read the subtitles.

Dubs are good for focusing on the action, but they have to change some of the wording of sentences in order to match the lip movements. While I can deal with changing some words to synonyms that match the lip movements, I just don't like dubs that COMPLETELY change the context and idea of the show. For example, on Lupin the Third they change all of the references to Japanese pop culture to something that an American audience can better relate to. I remember watching one of the dubbed episodes on Cartoon Network, and they mentioned the movie, "Die Another Day". However, Lupin was made back in the 70s and Die Another Day was made in 2002. What is wrong with this picture? Posted Image

If dubs change stuff like they do in Lupin, or if they change things to dumb it down for an American crowd, like in Initial D (which would be funny to see dubbed), then I will watch it subtitled.

Take a look at this article coming from Anime News Network, entitled "English Dubs, not Inferior". It provides very intriguing and thought-provoking points about dubs, and is very well written. Please, I urge that every single one of you read this article, especially those of you who are 100% against dubs.

If you want to find out how a dub is before you watch it, then check out The Dub Track at Anime News Network and Dubreview.com.
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