Saturday, May 5, 2018

Sub vs Dub Theory: You prefer one because you identify the characters with the voices you heard first.

I always had this theory of why people say "ah this Dub sucks because this certain character doesn't sound right" or "DBZ sub is bad because Goku is a old lady."

Maybe it's because when you first watch a show you identify that voice to that certain character. Everybody knows how good Goku sounds in the Dub because most kids only had the Dub available to them while the show was airing.

For me, I'll most likely watch the Dub of the show first then check the sub for a rewatch.

For example I checked out the FMA sub and not hearing Christopher Sabat as Armstrong is pretty weird. I prefer Sabat because he easily nails that character for me. And if you're strictly Sub only, Sabat as Armstrong might sound weird to you.

What are your thoughts on this theory or am I over thinking too much. Thanks for reading my thoughts.

It's a common theory. But I've enjoyed many dubs where I heard the sub first, and still enjoyed them more, and vis versa.

I have to agree. There have even been shows where I saw the dub right after a few subbed episodes, with basically no time in between, (simuldubs for MHA, Darling in the Franxx, etc...) and really enjoyed them. It didn't matter that the old voices were still fresh in my mind.

And then there's been cases where upon re-watching something subbed, I thought "ok why didn't I just watch this subbed the first time around," despite being used to hearing it in english.

It's just the quality of the dubs. I watched Black Lagoon and Haruhi subbed and still enjoyed the dub.

Yea like me with the Steins gate dub. It's superior to the sub even though I watched the sub first.

Funnily enough I feel the exact opposite way about it. Watched the dub first but realized the sub was superior later on. Not a huge fan of the Steins;Gate dub...

I just don’t care for Daru’s Japanese VA, and I love J. Michael Tatum’s star performance. True a lot of the jokes don’t translate well especially the Engrish parts, but the script is very well written.

Yeah. I watched Steins;Gate 0 yesterday and I was pretty much fine with everyone's sub voice except Daru's. He just sounds too dopey in my opinion.

I love Daru’s dub voice, and J. Michael Tatum is great, but imo he just doesn’t hold a candle to Miyano. The loss of Hououin Kyouma’s mad scientist laugh was too much for me.

Just speaking for myself, this is seldom the case. I usually do prefer the Japanese dub over the English dub even if I heard the English dub first. Most notable cases would be shows I saw English dubbed as a child like Pokemon, Digimon, and Naruto.

Despite growing up listening to it in English, when I switched over to Japanese, I found it to be leagues better. There are some English voice actors/actresses I like such as Crispin Freeman, J Michael Tatum, Wendee Lee, and Steve Blum to name a few. But the number of Japanese voice actors/actresses I enjoy far outnumber the English ones so I don't see much point in sampling anime in both languages when the chances are high that I'll probably just prefer the Japanese audio more.

Pokemon is probably the only show i cant watch in japanese with subs, the different names for the pokemon is something i cant deal with for some reason.

Understandable, especially if you grew up playing the games. But the changes to the English dub of Pokemon go beyond the voice acting and name changes to the point that some scenes are just undeniably worse in English (XYZ spoilers for a minor battle and plot point)

So in Japanese, the show's a badass shonen action anime and in English, it's a kiddie show with extremely generic music. Sounds about right.

It's more of a musical example but I much prefer Butterfly to the English Digimon OP1, having grown up on the latter yet the former sounds more nostalgic. I've gone back to several shounen anime I used to watch dubbed and the JP OPs are usually pretty cool. Another example is Zatch Bell English OP1 vs Gash Bell JP OP1. Although to be honest I must admit the English Rave Master OP is a guilty pleasure of mine. It seems like a lot of English OPs just have lyrics with either the name or "this is just explaining the plot of the series". (although this happens in Cartoon OPs too)

I agree with you on everything but the English Digimon OP, that shit was fire.

I have to agree with Butterfly. I'd never seen or heard anything about Digimon, since it was largely overshadowed by Pokemon in my childhood, but when I first heard Butterfly for the first time a few years ago I was awash with nostalgia. I think it reminds me of those upbeat anime songs from the 90s, like something from early One Piece.

So it's definitely not familiarity that makes me prefer Butterfly, it's the peppy rock style that's reminiscent of 90s J-pop/rock that I love.

For some reason, hearing awkward/chuuni lines in Japanese and reading them usually either makes me laugh or hypes me up in some way. Hearing them in my native language (English) makes me feel uncomfortable. Watamote is the exception, which makes me squirm regardless. Christopher Sabat is also a favorite in English.

Otherwise, I agree that there are more Japanese VAs I like than English ones.

i generally prefer japanese over english....its likely because with english i can hear things that i find wrong or can tell when the voice acting is bad/phoned in....could also be some form of visual audio disconnect.....

generally the only one i can enjoy in english is cowboy bepop.....but i think the quality of the english version is pretty high and every voice fits well.

i grew up watching DB and DBZ with the english track and i'm fine with both tracks

The voice casting for Bebop's english dub is probably one of the best ever done. I've seen it both ways, but Steve Blum, Beau Billingslea and Wendee Lee are just outstanding. Even the supporting characters are really well cast.

Then again, I might be biased from being exposed to Steve Blum as Roger from Big O first.

It's two-fold, one part is what you said, which is the nostalgia and association/fetishization of the Japanese culture/language, and the other part is VA's in Japan have the original script along with the directors and staff to bounce voice lines off.

You're not wrong. However I still think that overall, you're more likely to get a quality sub than a quality dub. Just having the VO work overseen by the production team means that the Japanese VO is usually more accurate to the intention of the dialogue.

I think there are two main differences:
  1. the amount of VA experience and skill in the Japanese anime community. It's simply bigger, more busy, and has more new talent. It's also more respected amongst actors and singers and the like, so they're more likely to get roles from those industries. For most dubs there seems to be a much smaller pool of VAs who are often more of a "budget solution" as well, even in a big market like the US.
  2. The degree to which dialogue can be translated at all. When I started learning Japanese I was extremely surprised how close everyday Japanese can be to anime Japanese. I was expecting that anime was extremely stylised throughout, particularly the word choice, flowery formulations, the way topics are approached, and how "cutesy" it can get, but much of that is an actual part of the Japanese language and culture. Obviously there are plenty of exaggerations, theatrical intonations, and "cartoony" phrases noone uses in reality anyway (particularly rude language like "temee" as a pronoun), but the basic style isn't nearly as different as I thought.
For dubs this means that there are awkward situation where characters talk about things in a way we wouldn't expect them from a western context, or where connotation is lost because the dialogue has to be re-written to a large extent. The dubs become fundamentally different and yet have to arrange themselves with the plot and screen action, which were designed with the Japanese dialogue in mind. It's obvious that this gives subpar results.

It also fits with the perception of the community that anime that have some degree of a "western" vibe often have the best dubs, like Dragon Ball, Cowboy Bebop, and Panty, Stocking and Garterbelt. Whereas a show like Gintama will most certainly never get met in terms of either quality or tone since it just makes too much use of its great VAs and the Japanese language.

≫For dubs this means that there are awkward situation where characters talk about things in a way we wouldn't expect them from a western context, or where connotation is lost because the dialogue has to be re-written to a large extent.

That sounds like it should be the job of translators though. Problem is, quality translation is an art, and I imagine not many people working in the anime dubbing industry are exactly such skilled connoisseurs of both Japanese and English literature to actually make a good job of it.

Well, the number one priority for most dubs is basically the match the lip-flaps most of the time because for most people, not doing that is associated with bad Godzilla-style dubs.

That and some things are pretty difficult to translate in a way that makes sense without being overly cumbersome. There's a reason subtitles work better for Japanese translation (along with a lot of East Asian languages) - you can show more of that nuance via text than via spoken dialogue.

English dubs usually aren't as good for me because English voice actors sound weird saying Japanese names, like they're trying too hard to pronounce them properly. It also breaks immersion, as many series take place in Japan. This might be one reason why the dub of DBZ works so well for me, since the character names aren't associated with any geographic region.

I would also attribute the high quality of Japanese versions to the more high-profile voice acting industry in Japan. I admittedly don't know much about that industry, but I get the impression it's much more competitive and widespread than it is elsewhere, just based on the amount of media associated with voice actors outside of anime, such as radio, television, and musical careers.

That's not to say there aren't some talented English-speaking voice actors. They just seem to be the exception more than the rule.

My two favorite dubs:
  1. High school DXD.
  2. Yu Yu Hakusho.
Watched them both subbed as well and I feel like the dubs do most of the characters more justice. I tend to like subs more than dubs, but a well made dub is fantastic!

The dub for DxD is the only way to watch it imo. I tried both and the subs just didn't feel like they captured the absurdity as well. Not to mention I'm pretty sure the localization team for the dub made a game out of trying to never use the same word for boobs twice.

It's funny, cause you know they were like, "We're not going to take this very seriously, and just have a lot of fun dubbing this nonsense." Then end up giving stellar performances. Just like in Ghost Stories, I thin the performances were great because they decided to goof off and have fun, turning a mediocre show into a cult classic.

To me Japanese language is expressed in very different way than English dub that's why 100% of the movies/series I watch are with subs only. Not to mention dubbing both in anime, or in the movies (not anime only) must be modified to fit the lengtht of time mouth moving. Subs don't have such limitation.

I've heard dragon ball dub first and for decades, I prefer sub

I definitely think "what you watched first" plays a big part.

If you normally prefer sub over dub, the time (+exposure to a culture previously unknown) plays significant role too. For example, Eureka Seven was my first anime, and also the only anime I watched with English dub. A couple of years later I tried to re-watch it in Japanese, and I still ended up with English instead because it felt way more natural.

Now it's 2018, and I feel like I'm not only "just fine" with the original version of E7, but I also enjoy it a lot more thanks to enormous experience with Japanese language.

This is true in some cases, for example I can't watch Fate dubbed because I read the VN first so I'm used to the Japanese voices.
However there's no doubt in my mind that American voice actors for anime are leagues below the average Japanese voice actor. Japanese VAs are voice actors as a profession, the industry is big so only the best are chosen. By contrast the industry is small in the rest of the world so low-quality actors are chosen. I feel like most dubs are over-acted and sound broken/stilted - I watched Violet Evergarden dub without watching sub and the major's voice was so irritating, he couldn't speak without over-pronouncing everything. So in general sub > dub.

I prefer subs because sometimes transferring jokes and puns from one language to another.

Example: Your Name. Mitsuha in Taki's body kept cycling through different pronouns to correctly talk to Taki's friends. She's use to talking as a girl and isn't use to talking as a boy, so it was confusing for everyone.

The dub attempt at this joke was poor I'd say.

Then there's fluidity in scenes. Some lines are delivered too slow or fast, and its just because the dubbers have to keep talking for time frame for a scene.

I have not found an anime where I prefer dub over sub regardless of which version I see first, but this is all an opinion.

The problem with dubs is that they fall flat or seem unnatural. I was watching anime on Netflix, and all of them are dubbed. The VO was just bad, it sounded like actors were just reading a script in a monotone voice, no conversational flow. Also I'm tired of teenage girl characters having unrealistically high-pitched voices. Like go talk to a high-school girl, they dont sound like that.

It's entirely possible the reason I prefer subs is because I don't speak Japanese so I don't notice their VO actually sucks too.

Sometimes I feel like the English feels forced or not serious enough. It lacks emotion too often for me to watch dubs.

I like the way Japanese voice actors express emotion, explain, and general vocal reactions more, just fits the mood of everything from the art to the humor. It was made by Japanese so it makes sense that Japanese voices are more in tune with the direction of the show... Also I have pretty much always watched anime with Japanese voices so it feels weird watching in English.


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