Archived Discussion

This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Passivesmoking: One thing that always seems to get overlooked in these dub vs sub debates is "What about people with less than perfect eyesight?" I'm an albino (not an Evil Albino or a Heroic Albino) and am extremely short sighted. This means that if something is subbed I have to sit on the floor in front of the TV to watch it, and even then I've got the option of either watching the picture or reading the subtitles, doing both at the same time is simply impossible for me. High definition only makes matters worse, because the extra pixels mean that the disc makers think they can get away with a smaller font. So for me, it's a case of either watch it dubbed, or only get to see the bottom two inches of it. Not an enjoyable experience.

DV Ds with their multiple language tracks really ought to have put this argument to bed a long time ago, and it's rather sad that it still rages. Just please remember some of us have reasons other than being dumb for wanting to watch things dubbed instead of subbed.
Wodan46: Why is it that Dubs often have squeaky high pitched voices for some or all of the characters, even though the original Japanese voices sound nothing like that? Honestly, I wouldn't mind dubs as much were it not for that incredibly irritating quality. I understand that nobody's perfect, but you could at least try speaking in the right tone.
Mister Six: I just want to register my disgruntlement with people who complain about translators that don't go with direct translations. Replacing some cumbersome wording or a phrase that means nothing to people who aren't obsessed with Japanese culture is not a bad thing! In fact, that's exactly what a good translation is supposed to do. STOP BEING NERDS. Thank you.

Tanto: Hear, hear.

Sort of semi-related...probably due to the mouth-flaps issue, the dub of Bleach decided to go with the original Japanese for the releases on the zanpakuto, "shikai" and "bankai". Before that, Wikipedia (evidently assuming they would be translated) was using "initial release" and "final release" on all its Bleach pages. It was kind of amusing, after the first episode of the dub to use "bankai" aired, to watch the Wikipedia editors scurrying around and changing all the pages...

Harpie Siren: Applauds Mister Six

Lale: Maybe it's because I have a higher-than-average Willing Suspension of Disbelief, but I would prefer direct translations because logically, that's the closest thing you're gonna get to the original, and even the smallest change can change the original flavor. I have no problem looking up something that strikes me as weird or foreign to see what it means to the Japanese. "Cumbersome Japanese phrases" or mouth flaps have no bearing on the spirit of the work, but changes to the work/dialogue itself do.

Air Of Mystery: I would disagree - Japanese translated literally into English is very formal, which seems inappropriate when it's someone like a little kid saying "I am disappointed" (not an actual example). It's a difficult thing to gauge, really.

Rebochan: I prefer that a subtitled translation be as close to direct as possible. If someone is taking the effort to watch the subtitles, they're already more likely to go and read up on cultural notes and other things. A dub should be less literal - the whole point of a dub is adaptating it into a more natural presentation in another language. I don't mean changing the plot, but things like a joke that only makes sense in Japanese or replacing an Osakan accent with a Southern accent. For what it's worth, the sub dub wars ended for me when DV Ds became the dominant method of distribution because for the most part, everybody gets what they want.

Silent Hunter: When you translate stuff from French etc. into English, you lose the "tu"-"vous" distinction. What about the other way? To give an example, at what point in the French dub of Casino Royale do Bond and Vesper start saying "tu" to each other?

SpiriTsunami: Well, that's one thing I can agree with about my language. It oversimplifies things. While having over a dozen first-person singular pronouns is a bit much, the fact that English has one pronoun, "you", that covers four different tenses in other languages (tú, usted, vosotros, and ustedes—sorry I can't talk French with you; I took Spanish as my foreign language) is, well, a bit confusing. English doesn't really have anything for the formal "you", having to settle for some sort of title like "sir" or "ma'am" when trying to address someone politely, and then again, if you're familiar enough to address someone with the informal "you", you probably know their name—and using "you" in that case would be impolite, unless you're that close and can just tease like that. But I'm more referring to the whole singular versus plural thing. A good portion of the country has no second-person plural that can be easily distinguished from the singular, which is why I, a northerner, have adopted the southern "y'all" into my vocabulary. It's a useful word.

Lee M: I prefer anime in dub format, no matter what any purists may say. I don't see the point of listening to everybody babbling away in a non-Indo-European language that I'll never be able to understand while having to read the translations on screen. Anyway, since anime dialogue is all post-synced anyway, the lip-sync won't be any less accurate for the dub than for the original version. My only quibble is that dubs tend to be very long-winded, presumably due to the polysillabic nature of the Japanese language. But what the heck, it's a small price to pay

Caswin: It helps that, being able to only actually translate the odd word aside, you can't really call it "babbling." While by no means always the case, the Japanese voices tend to fit their roles better - or, in worse cases, they tend to be better actors, period - and believe me, it makes a difference.

Lee M: I agree, "babbling" was an inappropriate choice of words. What I meant of course was "speaking incomprehensibly from my poit of view".

Rebochan: For the reasons I explained above, I prefer the Japanese (or original track if it's another language) best because the actors were generally chosen during the production of the program and so was the script. I'd hate to see an American film's Spanish translation because I'd know something was lost there too. But in any case, I still don't see the need to justify everyone's viewing preferences when they're all catered to anyway. Is Subbing vs. Dubbing Serious Business?

Geese: Range. With great power to change the original work comes great ability to either make or break it. A good dub is awesome. A good sub is neat. A really bad dub is hilariously awful, or full-on awful. A really bad sub is just 'eh.'

With that in mind, Super Samurai Pizza Cats taught me how good dubbing work and a lot of Woolseyism can salvage a, well, nonexistent original script in that case. 4Kids did... otherwise. There will never be a sub that will just floor you if the original work wouldn't, but never one that makes you want to throw up, either.

Rebochan: Whoa whoa WHOA! Do NOT mix up the glory of Samurai Pizza Cats with the evil 4Kids! Saban did that show, and the reason it was adapted like that was because nobody at Saban was given a script. They had to try and turn nothing but raw Japanese footage into a show. Theoretically, that should have resulted in a nightmarish mess. Because the English writers were talented, they actually made the whole thing work. Man I miss that show *sniff*.

Orange Aipom: If it's such a big deal, why can't those people learn a new language?

Tanto: Because that's something you can't do in a weekend?

Rebochan: Because learning a new language takes years of hard work, money, and time that a lot of people don't have when they could just pay someone else to translate for them? That's all you're doing when you're paying for a dubbed show anyway.

Vert It's funny, but here in Brazil there is no big debate, because we're so used to subbing in any case since any adult movie (non-english too!) shown in a theater will, most likely, have something like over 75% of cinemas showing a sub version and I imagine that this is probably true in other countries too; is it worthwhile mentioning this?

Xupaxupa: Maybe it would be worthwhile to mention that in some non-english speaking countries there is a predominace of subbing over dubbing for anything that is neither spoken in the national language nor for children, to the point that virtually EVERY movie avaliable in cinema and dvd is subtitled, not dubbed. Besides Brazil, Portugal and Netherlands would fit this. In these cases, people are so used to subtitles, they really abhor dubbing in live-action movies (ex.: "Why is that person not talking with his own voice?"). The reverse happens in countries where dubbing predominates (ex.: Spain, Germany). Maybe all this debate is about something you get used too? (ex.: anchovies )

Rebochan: Well. ADV licensed CLANNAD last year and announced a dub. Now they've had to cancel it entirely and release the show in two sub-only half season sets. That sure brought out the torches and pitchforks. So, who's being unreasonable now? Give you a hint - it's not the people that are accepting the financial realities of a really, really bad anime market.

Ezekiel: Oh sure, gloating over the misfortune of dub fans, misfortune which sub fans have themselves complained loudly about in the past, is perfectly reasonable. Yep, that's the most reasonably reasonable reasoning anyone has ever reasoned. Do you even 'listen' to yourself, man?

Rebochan: Pretty sure I'm not gloating. Since that would mean I would be enjoying the fact the industry is in such deep recession that they can't afford a dub track. I'm just not demanding that people cater to my specific needs in spite of reality. Its no secret Geneon went down because they licensed nothing but niche shows and they might have turned a profit on them had they not undertaken the expense of dubbing them without understanding that dubs don't automatically increase sales enough to make back their cost. If you think that makes me happy, think again - I don't care if there's a dub track, but I damn well know they're important to a lot of people and in the past, they opened up a lot of avenues for anime that just weren't there otherwise. Unfortunately, most of those gateways are now closed - television is almost completely closed off, DVD sales are rapidly shrinking, and retailers are starting to stop selling anime at all (Best Buy just stopped entirely). Instead of understanding that the market is in the toilet, the dub fans are raising holy hell that ADV or even companies that never dubbed their shows like Nozomi are deliberately spiting them. That's the definition of Fan Dumb. It's reasonable to be upset about the loss of the perfect medium we had over the last decade. It is not reasonable to blame the people trying to sell these shows and still make a profit for reacting to a situation they can't control.

Caswin: Fan Dumb should never be made to represent an entire group. Incidentally, if subbing really is "the perfect medium", why do dub fans even exist?

Rebochan: The perfect medium is having all shows released bilingual as a standard, sorry if I was unclear.
SpiriTsunami: In regards to subs being too literal, I've seen dubs with the same problem. There are certain Japanese terms that have a different meaning than the literal meaning—onee-san, for example, which literally means "big sister", but is often used to refer to any Cool Big Sis. Because there is no equivalent English phrase, it's something that is probably best left untranslated—something Geneon didn't quite figure out when dubbing Shakugan no Shana. Geneon's usually pretty good when it comes to dubbing, but that was one part that really bothered me.
Pavlov: Not to be a freak, but I like watching subs and listening to dubs together. Subs give me the original plot, dubs give me the cultural translation. I'd have never spotted the script changes in Spirited Away without using both.

Shellsh0cker: Seriously? Wow, that would drive me crazy, listening to the audio and reading a slightly different script below. Oh well, to each his own, I guess.
Shellsh0cker: While I don't mind subtitled material, I prefer dubs when I can get my hands on them, and took it to be true that I always would. After all, the dubs for The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya, Death Note, and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann were all quite good. Then I picked up the Kanon dub. *cringe* Gods, such horrible casting. I was just lucky it was a dual-audio version. Hear this, fans of dubbing: we are not always right. Sometimes the Japanese voices are just better.
What about people that don't like either?

Rebochan You mean mimes?

Cambdoranononononono: Then you dislike anime (or foreign media) and it's just Complaining About Shows You Don't Like?
Zack Morris-Brando: It sounds weird, I know, but I can't stand my native language in dramatic context; English, and any other language that has awkward, long words have a tendency to make my ears bleed in any show when serious moments come along (not true for all series, however). I include Western dramas, of course. French and Japanese are the only languages I actually like listening to, no matter the genre. Dubs, for this reason, generally ruin the mood a lot.
Why is it that you don't see any haters of Japanese Dubbed Cartoons? Shouldn't the English Dubbed Anime Haters just loathe those as well? In fact, I see a whole lot of people who would like to see a Japanese Dub of a Cartoon. Even more crazy, I see the extreme English Dub Haters actually praising a Japanese Dub of an American Cartoon! It's like they've given up on American Voice Actors all together!

Cambdoranononononono: I imagine that most of the people who hate Japanese-dubbed Western animation live in Japan. On the whole, I assume people only worry about this when they can't watch the media in question in its original language unassisted. People complain about English dubs because it alters their viewing experience, whereas foreign dubs are about that of other people. Who watches a show dubbed over in a language they don't speak? (Okay, I watched My Neighbor Totoro that way, but who needs dialogue there? It has a cat that is a bus, man.) In short, people who dislike dubs on principle might not approve of dubs in either direction, but they only have a reason to be vocal about it in one direction.

I haven't encountered anyone calling for Japanese dubs of western stuff, but I imagine those are kind of outside of the norm for the sub fandom and just consist of the people who idealize Japan. At that point they're just obsessive, and hence do have a reason to be vocal about it.

UltimateChimera: What I have yet to see in the sub vs dub debate is a Team Switzerland person other than myself. Really, I couldn't care less about the language (as long as I have a way to understand it). I've watched my favourite anime both subbed and dubbed, and whether I liked either didn't matter. I only ever swing either way when I see a sub radical (then I pull out FLCL) or I'm actually trying to promote my otaku status at school (and then comes me totally bashing the Bakugan Battle Brawlers voice cast). I've never seen an actual fan of anime in Team Switzerland. If only we all were...