Cowboy Bebop. Ever since its U.S. release in 2000, it's been considered the gold standard for anime dubbing. To this day, many Western anime fans cite this as the only English dub they'll watch. Unfortunately, that attitude does tremendous disservice to the people in the industry that have spent the decade-plus since Bebop's release actively trying to surpass it in quality (including the Bebop crew itself, see Wolfs Rain further down).
What made the Bebop dub work so well, in addition to a near-flawless script, was the perfect casting of the four leads. Special mention goes to Wendee Lee, whose work as Faye can be thought to one-up Megumi Hayashibara (not an easy task to outdo her). Yoko Kanno herself has expressed preference for the English dub, especially Steve Blum's Spike.
If there's a second place, it probably goes to Hellsing and especiallyHellsing Ultimate, which has an English dub that is almost universally hailed as one of the best ever made, coming very close to Bebop. Special mention goes to Crispin Freeman's chilling performance as Alucard, the role that made him a household name among anime enthusiasts. The supporting cast players are tremendous as well, many whom are actually British and deliver performances that need to be heard to be believed. The dubbing is handled by New Generation Pictures, a company that, arguably, has never put out a disappointing dub.
When FUNimation rescued the franchise after Geneon USA shut down, they continued with New Generation for the remaining undubbed episodes (a project that is still ongoing with 2 episodes left). Fans waited very un-patiently for the episodes to come out dubbed, many whom refused to watch them until they were available in English. In addition, the hype was enough for FUNimation's release to include extensive documentaries, interviews, and commentaries on the making of the English-language dub.
Slayers: Now THIS is a good English dub. Despite a very rough start due to its origin early in modern dubbing history (CPM started on it in 1996) and a couple of questionable secondary casting choices, the dialogue from the two leads in particular was the perfect combination of faithfulness and liberalness. Credit goes to Neil Nadelman's excellent translation work. Props also go to the near-legendary English voice cast: Lisa Ortiz – a perfect match for Lina's crazy energy, Eric Stuart, Crispin Freeman, and Veronica Taylor (the latter two coming on after the dub's hiatus following the first 13 eps and much-needed recasting). The chemistry between these four is among the best you'll find in any English dub. These four actors were beloved enough that when FUNimation licensed the fourth season nine years after CPM had finished the third, fans insisted that Funi get them back. So they did.
Other English VAs who have worked on this franchise at some point over the years include notable names like Rachael Lillis, Dan Green, Wayne Grayson, Greg Abbey, Tara Sands, Chris Patton, Jessica Calvello, Stephanie Sheh, Tiffany Grant, Michael Sinterniklaas, the late Maddie Blaustein, Luci Christian, Colleen O'Shaughnessy, Troy Baker, Liam O'Brien, and THE Wil Wheaton! Even the voices that weren't popular ended up being replaced with better actors at some point (such as the original Zelgadis, Amelia, Sylphiel, and Xellos. The latter voice being quite polarizing).
While the prequel movies and OVA's dubbed by ADV do get some flack for using a different voice for Lina, they're actually not that bad, and Cynthia Martinez's Lina voice appropriately sounds like a younger version of Lisa Ortiz. Everything else about these dubs goes through fine, easily as well as the TV series. Plus, who could forget Kelly Manison's Naga laugh? It was actually kind of a shame that Manison couldn't reprise her role in the Evolution-R dub (which was being recorded in different cities by a different studio and she likely wasn't asked).
In addition, the Slayers Premium short film's English dub is quite controversial for also recasting Gourry, Amelia, and Xellos (it was also dubbed by ADV with Martinez as Lina, but an older Lina this time). It's a preview of what would have been had FUNimation not gone back to the original cast for Seasons 5-6. Though even for Premium, ADV was able to get back Crispin Freeman.
Speaking of Lisa Ortiz, her first role as Deedlit in Record of Lodoss War OVA deserves mention; for someone inexperienced at the time, she manages it quite well and arguably carries the whole dub. In truth, though, the dub holds up surprisingly well for a 1996 effort. The occasional awkward sounding take and iffy minor roles notwithstanding, the principal characters, from Parn to Ghim to Ashram to Karla and Wagnard are all well cast and grow into their roles as the dub goes on. It remains a personal favorite of mine. Even if the subsequent TV spin-off dub Chronicles of the Heroic Knight is weaker, Crispin Freeman — as well as most of the returning cast and Angora Deb — all turn in solid performances.
FUNimation's dub for Dragon Ball Kai. After their original dub, which was mostly considered to be So Bad, It's Good, and the uncut redub, FUNimation nails it with this one. Since series composer Kenji Yamamoto (山本健司)note Not to be confused with the other composer named Kenji Yamamoto (spelled 山本健誌 in kanji and known for composing music for Nintendo games such as Metroid and Donkey Kong Country Returns) was fired when his plagiarism finally caught up to himnote The most blatant example: The track "The Ebb and the Flow" is a very blatant ripoff of "War" from the Avatar soundtrack. It is an almost note for note copy., all but the commercial bumpers, opening themes, and closing themes have been replaced with the original Dragon Ball Z score by Shunsuke Kikuchi. The FUNimation dub also followed suit. As of now, the dub has finally got their haters off their backs. The original sound is left untouched (except for the kickass dubbed opening and ending), the scripts are accurate and well-translated, and the voice actors give sensational performances. Special mentions for actors:
Many recasts (like Bulma and Gohan) are well-received.
Christopher Sabat gives his best voicework as Piccolo and Vegeta (the latter sounding much more awesome and appropriate than how he sounded like in the Z redub).
Also of note, Kaioh-ken is finally pronounced correctly even in the TV airings. The uncut DVDs have the untranslated attack names, like Makkankosappo instead of Special Beam Cannon and Kienzan instead of Destructo Disc. Names and words ingrained in the English dubs, such as Saiyan (instead of Saiyajin), Tien (instead of Tenshinhan), and Master Roshi, remain unchanged, however. Finally, we get to hear Son Goku's full name dubbed in an English Dragon Ball (though it was only used once).
The English dub of the original Dragon Ball has often been singled out as being very good. The script was colorful, but still captured the spirit of show. The voice acting was done after the voice actors had had experience in Dragon Ball Z, and voiced their characters as great as they possibly could. Brice Armstrong's narrator voice was particularly praised for having a unique storybook quality to it. This was also the very first Dragon Ball series to hit the airwaves in the U.S. with the original background music, and featured covers of the original Japanese theme songs.
Mega Man NT Warrior – Despite its heavy edits on TV broadcasting especially on Kids WB, most of the English voice acting are rather well done. Brad Swaile as Lan Hikari managed to fit his personality decently. Andrew Francis as MegaMan.EXE is Mega-Awesome! The rest of the English cast of The Ocean Group did surprisingly well with the dialogue as well despite a few cliched lines and even some cringe worthy puns. In NT Warrior Axess however, the English voice acting improved with most of its dialogue close to the Japanese Version, much less edits/censorship, and the voices themselves. It's like watching an English Dub of Gundam Seed and it's odd since both anime were dubbed in 2004.
The Bang Zoom! Entertainment dub of K-On! received mixed reviews from fans, who had grown used to the original Japanese. It has a very good cast (Cristina Vee, Stephanie Sheh, etc) with some wonderful scripting. After the Animax dub, which was sub-par, it's about time we get the dub we deserve.
Zeta Gundam has an excellent English dub. Pretty much all the dialog was changed to sound more natural in English without anything being lost. Jonathan Lachlan-Stewart as Kamille is brilliant, which helps the War Is Hell theme hit home. Jonathan Love as Scirocco nails down what kind of man he is as soon as he appears, and can ham up a room faster than Lelouch, as well as gaining a harem of women to fight for his ideals. Though the entire cast was good, Tom Edwards' performance of Char/Quattro takes the cake. note It's even funnier when you realize the usual Gundam dub cast was on strike at the time, so an new VA lineup was brought in. Zeta to this day STILL has arguably the best dub in Gundam. Another gem gained in the English translation is Mauve Shirt Apolly Bay now has a hilariously clueless voice, which helps the few moments he has something to say be a lot funnier, which isn't to say he can't sound epic or sad well either, he can do that too.
Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket also has an amazing English dub. For one, David Hayter as Bernie Wiseman as came out PERFECT. Two, all the characters lines convey the emotions that come with them to the audience, which is very important considering the show's message that war is bad.
The Read or Die OAV deserves mention on this list. Of course, it's one of those shows where the characters explicitly inhabit a mostly English-speaking world. Every part is well-cast and well-acted, and even after a recent rewatch, it still holds up; none of the parts sound off.
The dub for Read Or Die's follow-up, ROD the TV, is even better. This show makes up for the totally different cast by bringing in actual British ex-pats for the British characters (not shocking considering another title this studio dubbed). Special props for using actual kids – that can actually act – for the kid parts, including lead character Anita (an extremely challenging role even for the best VA's; that's why the original Japanese used a seasoned veteran). These two things give the ROD dub a layer of authenticity that's rare in pretty much any cartoon, let alone a dub.
Steamboy: Many of the actors are actually British, and those that aren't can at least pull off a British accent convincingly. More importantly, it has Patrick Stewart and Anna Paquin. It also breaks what the expected sacrosanct rule of anime dubs: it makes a bratty, 12-year-old female character actually sound convincing. Thank you, Kari Wahlgren!!
AKIRA (2001): Many people think it sounds cartoony, but having seen the entire film in both languages, the English version actually sounds less so. This is particularly unusual, since the Japanese dialogue was prerecorded and the animation crafted to fit it – something that normally only happens with high-budget American cartoons. Joshua Seth and Jamieson Price (Tetsuo and Col. Shikishima, respectively) deliver particularly notable performances, but the real star of the show is Johnny Yong Bosch as heroic punk Kaneda.
Summer Wars quite simply has one of the best English dubs ever heard. There's barely a single moment of awkwardness and all the performances are full of life.
Death Note also has a first-rate dub, with nearly all of the characters excellently cast and performed - especially Light (Brad Swaile) and L (Alessandro Juliani). One of The Ocean Group's all-time best dubs.
Even those who didn't like the original ADV dub or the Manga Entertainment-financed Death & Rebirth and End of Evangelion dubs, probably enjoy Funimation's dubs of the Rebuild movies. All but one of the leads reprise their old rolesnote Amanda Winn Lee (Rei) is the one replaced, and they clearly benefit from the extra years of experience. In addition to the returnees, the new voices are also impeccably cast.
Magic User's Club has a dub that is better acted than the original Japanese, fairly undeniably so.
The English dub of the Berserk anime was a decent dub, in its own right. The dub of the Golden Age Arc movies, however, blows the original series out of the water: compare the performance of the original voices for Guts (Marc Diraison), Griffith (Kevin T. Collins), Casca (Carrie Keranen), and even Adon (Mike Pollock), and see how far they have come in the last decade.
Funimation also managed to outdo the original YuYu Hakusho by actually having edgier dialogue, making Yusuke a wise-cracker, and using the "Freeza voice" from DBZ as Genkai. Also Koenma sounds believable more like Really 700 Years Old. Byakko is definitely more menacing as well. The added Dub Text also put more emotion into the exchange between Genkai and Toguro.
Pokémon's English dub has always been a favorite, to the point where you really have to go out of your way to even find ANY Japanese episodes, and the Japanese character names are only known among hardcore fans. The voice actors were also very distinct and iconic in their roles, especially Veronica Taylor as Ash and May, Eric Stuart as Brock and James, Rachael Lillis as Misty and Jessie, and the late Maddie Blaustein as Meowth, all of whom put much enthusiasm into the roles, and admit the show is a highlight of their careers. The voices were so beloved, that when many of them were changed in Season 9, the controversy it stirred continues today.
Pokémon: The First Movie: Phillip Bartlett's voicing of Mewtwo. Admittedly, his performance is a tad over-dramatic at times (his departure from Giovanni's hideout being one notable example), however, he actually makes it work, especially given Mewtwo's backstory, personality and motives. A special nod goes to Ash's Viking joke.
The voices now fit the bodies (IE, War Greymon, Aldamon, ETC are not voiced by a woman doing her best little boy impression), the jokes are pretty funny, the banter witty, and the new image songs just fit. The only real problem is Lull Destruction and poor choice of putting what music where.
Though for some the Lull Destruction is part of the fun as it gives the series a sense of humor and self-awareness, rarely does it actually ruin anything (the Apocalymon battle and the Dark ocean episode in Zero Two being the only real offenders)
The dub in general actually sticks fairly close to the original dialog often times being word for word, the only major difference is humor is interjected in the dub, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
The Digimon Movie, particularly the Our War Game! (Bokura no Wō Gēmu!) is one of the best examples of how much the English dub did right: Izzy actually points out that Keramon/Diabolomon is being affected by a computer virus, explaining why he grows and digivolves abnormally fast, as well as making him a real threat than just some online Digimon; you have all of the Digimon calling their attacks which is just plain cool (as opposed in the original where they don't say anything):
Agumon:(to Tentomon) Let's sneak up on him (Keramon) quietly. Tentomon:(Attacking Keramon) Super Shocker! Agumon: That's quietly? (Attacking Keramon) Pepper Breath!
Agumon, Tentomon and Gabumon have very clear, expressive voices that are actually not painful to listen to (read: the Japanese voices) and Tai and Izzy get voices that are actually done by voice actors of their gender; all of the dialogue has an added level of humor to it, for instance when Matt and T.K are at the barbershop to use the computer
Barber: You kids have fun, usually I just use that thing to play solitaire on that thing, but- Man being shaved: Careful, Floyd, you almost cut my ear off!
Whereas in the original, the dialogue is quite different
Barber: Man, why do I have to let these kids use it here? Man being shaved: Just let them use it already!
There is a whole level of humor that the dub adds and in doing so, they dialogue becomes more enjoyable, memorable and the characters become more multi-dimensional and interesting. The dialogue also fit the scenarios better than the original Japanese. For instance, after WarGreymon and MetalGarurumon are defeated (temporarily) by Diabolomon, Izzy begins to insult them, saying
Izzy: Your Digimon's a loser. How could two Mega level Digimon lose to a single bug. WarGreymon went out like a coward- Tai:(grabbing Izzy by the collar) You take that back or I'll- Izzy: I was just reading an email! Tai: Well you didn't have to read it so well.
In the original, Izzy says that he is reading emails before reading each one, as well as noting their country of origin, but Tai gets mad at him even though he knows that Izzy is just reading them. When Infemon takes over the phone companies and calls every phone number connected, in the original there is a computerized voice that asks "Moshi Moshi" over and over again, but in the dub, he asks "Did you create me?". Here he is actually trying to find the person responsible for making him what he is, whereas here he is just trying to prank call people. This is more of a dub thing as it connects Our War Game! with Hurricane Touchdown (the next movie) which were originally not connected in Japanese, but were connected in the English release. Even though it is mainly an aspect of the dub, it adds to Diabolomon's character as it shows that he isn't just any malicious Digimon, but one who is looking for his creator, and thus more tragic as well as multi-dimensional. Finally, the dub added much more sound effects and dramatic background music (sometimes a bit over-dramatic though), which can especially be seen towards the end, right before Omnimon kills Diabolomon, which was mostly silent in the original save for Izzy being the only one counting, thus making Tai's open-mouth scream silent and looking like some sound should be heard, but isn't. And Diabolomon gets to say his Last Words, "Willis", which reminds the viewer of his search for his "Creator" and his tragic existence, where as in the original, where he just dies. In short, the dub of Our War Game! used better voices, better dialogue and better sound effects and background music to make the characters more realized, multi-dimensional and interesting and the movie memorable, funny and entertaining.
It's to the point that when the dub acts more like the original, nobody's happy (no, not even the purists who wanted it; they're purists and it's still an English version of a Japanese thing. It's against their religion to not hate it and always will be). Digimon Tamersdoes give us Mons keeping their Ridiculously Cute Critter forms' voices even as they digivolve to their highest levels, and it's total Narm, except in the case of Renamon's smooth sexy voice (her Rookie form is human-sized, so she sounds like an adult, and it's appropriate for all her higher forms.)
Mobile Suit Gundam 00, again with its dub done by The Ocean Group is exceptionally well-dubbed. The Gundam Meisters sound not too different from their Japanese voices. Brad Swaile nails Setsuna's voice perfectly, Samuel Vincent does Tieria pretty well, and Lockon and Allelujah are also quite well-voiced. On the other side, we have Trevor Duvall (who voiced Mu La Flaga from SEED and SEED Destiny), who makes Patrick actually not sound like a complete idiot, Graham Aker's voice sounds almost identical to his Japanese voice, the personalities of every single character remains intact, or in some cases actually get improved a bit. Season Two gives the show a few negative points, though, as the endings (and thus the post-credit scenes) were removed, thus giving dub-viewers no idea what happened to Seraphim Gundam... All in all, though, it is worth watching, if nothing else, then for the even more hot-blooded version of Graham Aker. Ali-Al-Saachez actually manages to sound like not-a-treacherous-bastard when he's talking to Kinue or the Throne Meisters. It doesn't sound like he's planning to kill anyone, making him become one of the sneakiest bastards in dub-history.
Also, Gundam Unicorn (AKA Gundam UC) has one of the more well-received dubs in Gundam history with dubbing handled by a new studio (NYAV Post) with a fresh take on the franchise that pleases even the most hardcore Gundam fans who look at the older Gundam dubs with scorn. It helps that the dub is funded by the Japanese producers themselves for inclusion on the Japanese Blu-ray (but is also carried over to the US for our DVDs).
The English dub of the You're Under Arrest! OAV's was so well done that when Kodansha developed the movie, one of the voice actresses, Etsuko Kozakura, was told to voice her character, Yoriko Nikaido, like the English VA, Pamela Weidner, had done. This also happened with Natsumi (it's been said her Japanese VA, Sakiko Tamagawa, was shown a clip of her English counterpart, Tamara Mercer, and told basically "Do that."). It's no coincidence that YUA has one of the very few anime fandoms where the lion's share of fans like the English dub, and were genuinely upset when it was announced that the long-awaited 2nd and 3rd series would be released only in subtitled Japanese.
Ah! My Goddess has had no fewer than three separate English dub casts over the various parts of its franchise, and (rare for this sort of situation) all of them are considered "good" by somebody. Fans will still argue over which of the casts is best, but each one has defenders. The TV series dub cast, being the latecomer of the franchise, is by far the most Love It or Hate It.
The English dub for Wolf's Rain. It was dubbed by the exact same crew that did the perennially-praised Bebop (except for the ADR scriptwriter), and had a cast made up entirely of industry veterans (compare to the Japanese cast, which intentionally used newcomers in the leads). Special praise in particular goes to Tom Wyner's portrayal of wolf hunter Quent Yaiden, which manages to completely outshine Bebop alum Unsho Ishizuka.
The Funimation dub of Fairy Tail is one of the best English dubs. The main cast does a superb job at capturing the spirit of the characters: Todd Haberkorn plays Natsu like the happy-go-lucky, goofy, super-passionate guy he's supposed to be; Cherami Leigh's "everygirl" take on Lucy leaves viewers eagerly anticipating every witty remark and priceless reaction she makes to the madness that is her life; and Colleen Clinkenbeard totally is the tough yet sweet Erza. The last two took a couple of episodes to work out the kinks in their performances, but after a handful of episodes, they really hit the nail on the head. Of course, that's not to say of the supporting cast, and while it does have its kinks (Kristi Kang does sound a tad too deep for Levy, and the voice actors for Alzack and Bisca are bland), there are simply too many awesome performances to list. Of course, good dubs aren't limited to just good voice acting; the transition from Japanese to English is a virtually flawless one. The whole script is very faithful to its source material, and when they can't make a joke work, they ad-lib it.
It's actually surprising how well Funimation's dub of Steins;Gate went. J. Michael Tatum did a great job with Rintaro Okabe, AKA HOUOUIN KYOUMA even if he wasn't as hammy as Mamoru Miyano at times. Trina Nishimura did a great job with Makise Kurisu, and the rest of the cast also did a great job. The script was well done as well, especially with additional cultural references to Doctor Who and Kurisu, at one point in episode 3 calling Okabe "Hououin carcinoma."
There needs to be more love for Funimation's dub of One Piece. After 4Kids Entertainment's back-alley-abortion of a hack dub that we were forced to endure for three years, the redub is brilliant. Is it as good as the Japanese? Not quite, but it is very good: well-written, well-acted, and well worth your time to listen to. If you're in the USA, you can watch it for free on Funimation's website (if you're not, there are... other methods). What's stopping you? There are even 26-episode DVD sets out now!
It gets frustrating trying to praise this dub while having to deal with both the purists that hate the dub because it's not Japanese, and the ignorant Toonami crowd that thought 4Kids was in charge of the show even SIX years after Toei had (very publicly) handed the rights over to Funimation. As of 2013, Funimation had dubbed over 2˝ times more episodes than 4Kids ever did, however, since their dub hasn't gotten the mainstream TV and merchandise exposure 4Kids' did, it's still gonna take some time for people to get used to the new version.
Monster. The fine folks at VIZ Media and Bang Zoom! actually pulled it off, with every voice fitting very well even when it sounds nothing like the Japanese one (Reichwein and Grimmer most noticeably).
The Funimation dub of Sengoku Basara was fantastically executed. All of the characters were full of life and energy. Most of them were screaming their lungs out for half the series and still managed to keep sounding Badass. One must wonder how their voices survived that show. Robert McCollum pulled off Date Masamune's coolly sarcastic and hot blooded sides, and Johnny Yong Bosch nailed the lovable Hot-BloodedIdiot Hero that is Yukimura Sanada.
ADV Films' English dub of Kanon is surprisingly WAY better than the original – this dub happens to be the literal pinnacle of ADV's quality, since Kanon was one of the very last dubs ADV completed before their 2008 shutdown. The girls in the Japanese dub are too high-pitched to pass for teenage, while ADV's voices actually sound their age. Chris Patton's Yuuichi has the perfect sarcastic tone to his voice, but can also do very emotional scenes as well. Jessica Boone's Nayuki sounds the most age appropriate, with a voice full of energy and cheerfulness. Brittney Karbowski pulls off Ayu's Genki Girl personality without a hitch, but she also knows when to hold back for maximum impact. Tiffany Terrell's Makoto has the immaturity that her character needs and also doesn't sound like a brat. Maggie Flecknoe's Shiori sounds more like a soft-spoken woman than a teenager, which, considering Shiori's quietness and mild passive-aggressiveness, fits really well. Melissa Davis's Mai gives a great acting job of not showing emotion, but giving the sense there's something underneath that coldness. The secondary characters – Joanne Bonasso's Akiko, Natalie Arneson's Sayuri and Caitlin Glass's Kaori – all do their job well.
Le Chevalier d'Eon, another late-era ADV dub, finally proved once and for all that director Stephen Foster was capable of making a dub that was both well-acted and faithful to the original. Despite the fact that the show breaks standard convention by flat-out refusing to use The Queen's Latin (or any accents at all for that matter), it's easily better than the Japanese dub.
BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad has a great English dub. For one thing the English VA's can actually sing. It's not a coincidence that an entry for the Japanese dub appears in the Darth Wiki.
The dub of Cromartie High School is one of the best that ADV ever did. It's very expressive and highlights the absurd hilarity well. The characters play off each other very well, too.
Baccano! has a masterful English dub, from the Chicago accents to the ham, that captures the original's wit, charm, and energy perfectly.
ADV Films' dub of Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water also deserves mention here. Recorded at the now-long-gone Monster Island studio in Austin, this dub had the unfortunate task of covering up a preexisting dub... and succeeded. It is universally considered to be better than the old Streamline Pictures dub. Every part was brilliantly cast. The three children were played by actual children, and all of them could act well (Jean's VA had the double-unfortunate job of having to affect a French accent, and for the most part he manages to maintain it). The kicker is that most of the VA's in this dub didn't do much of any ADR work before or since.
That said, critics were mixed about the ADV dub upon its debut in 2001, with several of them making the mistake of writing it off completely due to the sometimes iffy accents. Over the years, several critics have become kinder, but there are some who still dislike it for whatever reason. Luckily, the dub has won over a small fanbase over the years.
The FLCL dub is perfect. Every voice matches every character without fault, and the acting is superb.
Maybe it's just the fact that English speakers can actually hear the characters' accents in the English dub, but many find the Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi dub at least as enjoyable as the sub, if not more so. There are a few shaky moments, but every time Mune (special kudos to Kaytha Coker for speaking in three voices for the same person and making them all fantastic, which is not easy to do) switchs from her manic sex fantasy persona to her normal voice it's a reminder of how great the dubbing is.
ADV's original release of this series contained outtakes and commentaries, whereupon it becomes obvious the actors enjoyed the hell out of it (even as it wrecked poor Luci Christian's vocal chords).
Zoids: New Century has a very solid dub, especially considering that it's an Ocean Group dub from 2001. The voice acting is well done and it still manages to hold up today. It sounds all that much better compared to the half-assed dubs that Zoids: Chaotic Century and Zoids Fuzors got.
Haibane Renmei deserves a mention. The dub is amazing! All of the voices fit perfectly, none of them are forced and, if you can believe it, all of the main characters are voiced by total newbies! Even this person who reviewed the first DVD on Anime News Network long ago agrees that the dub is awesome.
The studio that did the Haibane dub is LA-based New Generation Pictures, the same group that went on to dub ROD the TV and Hellsing Ultimate.
Sgt. Frog. Say what you want about the dialogue in the dub, but you can't deny that nearly all of the voices are a perfect fit. Cherami Leigh as Natsumi, Leah Clark as Fuyuki, Todd Haberkorn as Keroro... Just look at the character sheet for the series – nearly every voice actor in the show has a page on TV Tropes!
While I don't understand why Pioneer cut 10 minutes of footage out from their release of the 1997 anime movie A Dog of Flanders even though it never aired on TV (there should have been no reason to edit it in the first place!), I can definitely let this slide because of the awesome voice acting! I saw the Japanese version, and some of the voices the characters had sounded too scratchy or raspy for them. The English dub makes them sound so much more natural and much more convincing. Heck, Alois is voiced by the person who did the voice of Jimmy Neutron for crying out loud, and she sounds great!
Disney's dubs of Studio Ghibli films are fantastic. While they do have their occasional weak points (occasional Lull Destruction and sometimes eccentric casting choices for select characters), the voice acting, writing, and direction on each of them is top notch. Particularly outstanding performances include Phil Hartman as Jiji in Kiki's Delivery Service, Mark Hamill and Cloris Leachman as Muska and Dola respectively in Castle in the Sky, Minnie Driver and Billy Crudup in Princess Mononoke, Suzanne Pleshette in Spirited Away, Kimberly Williams-Paisley as Fio in Porco Rosso... the list goes on and on.
As an added bonus, the Castle in the Sky Disney dub also contains a gorgeous reworking and extension of the original score, provided, interestingly, by Joe Hisaishi himself... under the approval of Miyazaki! (This rescore is only contained on the 2003 DVD release; subsequent US releases have omitted it. Strangely, though, the rescore is still on the Japanese, UK, and Australian Blu Rays, respectively).
Tenchi Muyo!'s English dub has also become quite a classic, and is very well received overall by the English fandom. Petrea Burchard's performance as Ryoko is particularly singled out as being very well-done, when fans learned that she would not be reprising her role for the third OVA, fans were quite vocal. Sherry Lynn also gets a lot of praise for her work as Sasami and Kiyone, as well as Jennifer Darling and KT Vogt as Ayeka and Washu respectively. Of the supporting characters, Jay Hopper's voice for Tenchi's Grandfather is often cited as a fan favorite.
Time marches on, however, and many people who view the dubbing of the series now tend not to think too highly of it, citing poor casting (one reviewer spoke "Tenchi sounds like Kermit the Frog, Ryoko sounds like a 40-year-old chain smoker, and Ayeka sounds like a French prostitute"), overacting of a number of lines (a commonly cited line is a GP officer shouting "HEMUSTN'TGETAWAAAAAAAY!" in Tenchi Muyo! in Love), and some inaccuracies in early episodes (like calling Ryo-Ohki a boy when she is later shown to be female).
Sasami: Magical Girls Club (a Tenchi Muyo spinoff). OH MY FREAKING GOD. I watched the Japanese version, and all the voices of both the main characters and their friends are just downright horrible and ear-grating, the worst of them being Kozue, who sounds like a 40 year old with vocal chord paralysis! FUNimation took this series and gave it 9000 levels of improvement! In the dub, all the girls actually sound believable, like real girls, and the voices actually match too! By God, for me, THIS is what a dub should be like!
Black Lagoon's English dub is considered one of the best dubs The Ocean Group ever made – and one of the best English dubs period – with the script pulling no punches in its use of vulgar language, as well as perfect casting for the lead characters (plus the English dub is totally free of any and all Engrish). Brad Swaile and Maryke Hendrikse are well cast as Rock and Revy, while Tabitha St. Germain's Roberta is also a fan favorite. Hendrikse in particular steps out of her bubble as Revy, since she's usually cast as cute little girls... Revy is quite the opposite. Fans were surprised when she did a brilliant job, getting Revy's tough, and vulgar side down.
Although it has more than its fair share of haters, the dub for Inuyasha is very well done... at least from about Season 3 onward. Praise especially goes to the lead actors: Richard Ian Cox (Inu-Yasha), Moneca Stori (Kagome), Kirby Morrow (Miroku), and Kelly Sheridan (Sango), all of whom nail their characters' personality and quirks right out of the gate and just get better as the series drags on. In fact, most of the actors do a great job voicing their characters, and the few who don't are easily overlooked most of the time.
Despite the poor reviews the dub got upon its debut in 2003, it was well-received enough by fans of the series that there was upset over The Final Act recasting a few roles, most notably Kagome and Sesshoumaru (David Kaye).
It may have been three years since I watched this, but I found the English dub of Petite Princess Yucie to be very well-dubbed. Yucie actually sounds like your typical naive everygirl, Glenda sounds wonderfully bratty and arrogant, Cube sounds worrisome (as in personality, not in his dub performance, which is VERY good) and reasonable, just...everybody sounds great! I only remember one really small role in the dub that was ear-gratingly bad, and that voice only appeared in one episode, and after that we never see or hear said character again. I don't know what the Japanese version is like since admittedly I haven't seen it, but considering this is an older ADV dub, you really have to hand it to the dubbers for making this dub really good.
I saw Vision of Escaflowne in English first back in August, and while normally I'm very lenient on dubs, this one proved to be rather rustic but still serviceable, with the biggest dark spot on it being one of my favorite characters having an EXTREMELY young and squeaky kid voice completely unfitting for an Ax-Crazy pyromaniacal Psycho for Hire like him. The English dub of the MOVIE, on the other hand, is a VAST improvement over the TV series, despite the fact that they used the exact same cast from the show. Best of all, what was the worst performance in the TV series as mentioned above has spectacularly improved in the movie. Andrew Francis's voice finally changed by the time the movie was dubbed, and the squeakiness he had in the show has completely vanished in the movie, making Dilandau sound much more tolerable, even more manly, which I definitely approve of! Also, Scott McNeil's Jajuka is as awesome as ever...I just wish they let Francis's voice change when they dubbed the freakin' show!!
Lucky Star has a spectacular English dub! It may have been a few years since I got the final DVD, but I remember the dub being absolutely wonderful! Wendee Lee does such a snarky and adorkable Konata, Kari Wahlgren gives Kagami a real edge to her mild tsundere personality, Michelle Ruff makes Tsukasa sound sooo adorable (and she's using her Lopmon voice for her!), and Miyuki sounds perfectly lady-like. Everybody else sounds great too, but for me, the stand-out is Hynden Walch as Yutaka. My God, I've never heard such a cute yet realistic-sounding little girl voice until I heard her as Yutaka! I just wish Aniplex used that voice for Madoka.
A sub division of Sentai Filmworks called Maiden Japan made it's first English dub, and what anime did they dub first? Tokyo Magnitude 8.0. And it was AWESOME. Yes, I do admit, it does sound iffy in the first couple episodes, but the actors really hit their stride in episode 4, and after that, spot on performances all around! I wasn't sure if Luci Christian would be fit for Mirai, as I thought Brittney Karbowski would be better for the part (She got picked as that girl Aya though, and that's fine with me), but she managed to make her sound like any other bratty preteen girl. But the best of them was Tiffany Grant as Yuuki. Once the good episodes roll in, she NAILS the kid! I only found three major problems with the dub: Yuka's voice is WAY too low and lady-like for her, the teacher had a strong accent, and you can hear Greg Ayres in EVERY SINGLE EPISODE! He's even cast as Mari's late husband, and his voice really doesn't fit him. But that's about it. The rest of the dub is very superlative indeed.
I absolutely ADORE the Nabari No Ou English dub. Everything about it is perfect. The script, the line timing, the occasional little Woolseyisms they threw in, and the voices for each character. Special kudos goes to Kate Oxley for a rockin' Raimei!
In addition, another Toonami revival show, Casshern Sins, has a really good English dub with powerful, and sometimes haunting performances by its GUEST cast. Extra props goes to Eric Vale, Brina Palencia, and Monica Rial for their main roles, and carrying the show.
Ranma One Half's English dub was very polarizing when it came out, and still is to some extent, but has risen as a very nostalgic production full of memorable performances (most notably from it's supporting characters voiced by Willow Johnson, Myriam Sirois, Paul Dobson, David Kaye, Robert O. Smith, Angela Costain, and Cathy Weseluck). The most polarizing aspect of the dub is the voice of Ranma himself, who was voiced by Sarah Strange for the first 3 TV seasons, both movies, and all 12 original OVAs with Richard Ian Cox taking over the role for the last 4 seasons of the TV show. Neither voice has been declared a clear winner in that debate, which still continues to this day. It's unsurprisingly rare for vocal fans to like both voices, even though casual fans don't seem to care that much (many see the character as simply getting older and going through puberty).
The Rozen Maiden English dub has become something of an alternative for fans of the show who refuse to sit through the endless "desu"-talk of the Japanese version. It helps that the English cast is consisted almost entirely of industry veterans like Mela Lee, Sherry Lynn, Mona Marshall, Rebecca Forstadt, and Julie Ann Taylor. As a result, its general reception is considerably above-average. It was enough for Sentai to have the OVA prequel dubbed with the entire original cast years later.
What can be said about Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt that hasn't been already? The key to its fantastic dubbing lied in the English script; namely, it being way more explicit than the original, thus leading to pretty much all the characters requiring aggressive, bitchy voices. Jamie Marchi and Monica Rial could not have nailed Panty and Stocking any more perfectly as rude, crass, action-heroines with attitude. Joel McDonald gives a stellar performance as Brief, with a meek, nerdy voice perfectly fitting to his geeky character. Colleen Clinkenbeard and Cherami Leigh hit the mark with Scanty and Kneesocks, the two classy daemon sisters who pile on the Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness as much as they can. Even Christopher Sabat, as a Caucasian playing a walking Blaxploitation film, does an incredible job.
Special Props to the English dub of Patlabor the Movie 2 (original Manga Entertainment dub). While dubs for most Patlabor works tend to be hit and miss, and the English dub for the original tv series is downright So Bad, It's Good, the original dub for the second film is excellent, probably one of the best for a Mamoru Oshii film. In particular, Peter Marinker (who you may remember for voicing two certain Primordial Lizards from Dark Souls) as Keiichi Goto. Despite Oshii turning Goto into his personal mouthpiece, Marinker manages to make Goto sound witty, intelligent, and interesting in both this film and the first with his dry delivery, and adds a bit of levity to the long scenes of monotonous talking. Definitely the best of all the Patlabor dubs and one of the most beloved among fans.
The long out-of-print 1994 English dub of Mega Zone 23: Part I from Streamline Pictures deserves a special mention. The characters are all exceedingly well-cast, delivering realistic, subdued performances and bringing life to the film. Shogo and Yui's sex scene is particularly well-done; the two characters sound genuinely in-love and in the heat of passion, not like two actors TRYING to sound like they're having sex.
ADV (Again!) came up with the brilliant idea to cast their not-an-actor art director as the lead in Golden Boy, supposedly because that's how he really is. The result is quite possibly the greatest piece of pork in dub history. ADV's usual stable of actors, including such names as Spike Spencer (channeling Monty Python in his role as an old woman,) Tiffany Grant, and Amanda Winn Lee are clearly having the time of their lives just trying to keep up with him.
How we can go through this whole folder without mentioning Code Geass is quite baffling, considering that, apparently, many fans of the show - even in Japan - praise Johnny Yong Bosch's performance as Lelouch Lamperouge. Even on this very wiki, it's said that Japanese fans agree that Bosch's Lelouch sounded more natural, while Jun Fukuyama's sounded more "acted" (this is debatable, but still). And that's just Lelouch we're talking about - everyone in the English dub did a fantastic job in capturing the essence of their characters and matching the tone of the show exactly as the Japanese set it. Yuri Lowenthal as Suzaku, Karen Strassman as Kallen, Kate Higgins as C.C., and so many others, and you have yourself a well-adapted English version of one of the most popular anime in the past ten years. Seriously, not a single voice would disappoint you. Even Nina sounded great.
While the English dub for Little Busters does have its hiccups and occasional miscasts, there is one character whose voice everyone agrees is a DRASTIC improvement over the Japanese version: Komari. There's no disputing it: Komari's voice is the BEST voice in the entire English dub, especially considering the majority of fans agree that her voice in the Japanese version is absolutely horrid in comparison. It's also a first in that they picked someone outside of Sentai Filmworks's normal voice actor pool, which proved to be a great decision. Kudos to you, Tia Ballard!
Atlus and Nippon Ichi Software are pretty famous for this. Even if a game has the option to change the spoken language to Japanese, you'll rarely do so, the dubbing is so good. Specifically:
Namco Bandai has some hits and misses. But, boy! When they hit, they hit really hard! Examples would be the Xenosaga trilogy, the Ace Combat series and some of the Tales of... games, especially from Tales of the Abyss onward. While their dub of Baten Kaitos was terrible, their dub of Origins was spectacular, especially in comparison. Highlights include characters actually showing emotion and Guillo's Voice of the Legion being pulled off quite well.
The period of 2011~2012 saw the rise of British voice actors dubbing Japanese RPG's; with Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story having some simply superb voice work. The former had several casting issues in the original Japanese (with Large HamNorio Wakamoto being cast as, of all things, a Smug Snake and Dunban sounding like a hyperactive teenager in battle). The English actors did their own thing with every last one of the characters and they were not afraid to go overboard when required; leading to the creation of many a beloved meme. TLS's British cast, on the other hand, got the memo on how the game is effectively a much more political and far more grown-up version ofFinal Fantasy and chucked as many JRPG and anime dubbing cliches that they could out the window; with the actors instead going for a big mix of regional accents to convey the class-struggles while writing the English script to convey more of a Dragon Age-style medieval fantasy tone.
Final Fantasy's dubs were widely regarded as lacking; partly due to the Lip Lock. Then, along came Final Fantasy XII: which mixed Brits, Europeans and Americans together to create a great sense of cultural variety for the game's world and featured a script that completely nailed how to convey the subtle schemes and plots that the story revolved around.
The English dub for Fire Emblem Awakening really really splurged, just like in Kid Icarus: Uprising. While both games were handheld (which are typically given much less standards to voice acting than other video games), looking at the voice credits, you can really see that they spared no expense. While they do have a few actors playing multiple characters, almost all of them manage to make their characters sound very different from each other. The one exception is Tara Platt, who voices Miriel and Flavia. (And it's pretty obvious that they're the same person, given how often you're likely to hear Miriel and Flavia's Voice Grunting and voice clips.) The fact that the game has so little voice acting compared to other titles (like Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep and the PSP Star Ocean remakes) makes the Superlative Dubbing even more impressive.
It took a long time for the Sonic the Hedgehog series to find vocal talent that didn't piss fans off, but the decision to bring on Roger Craig Smith as Sonic was a good one: while a bit deeper than expected, he nails Sonic's attitude perfectly. Perhaps an even better decision was to keep Mike Pollock, the one member of the 4Kids voice cast to be universally beloved, as the nefarious Dr. Eggman.
Fist Of The North Star Kens Rage has an excellent English vocal track. The nuances of the characters are retained, as is the overall feel of the game. Kaiji Tang's deep, sober-voiced Kenshiro, Lex Lang's polite and calm Toki, a surprise Richard Epcar with a nicely psychotic Zeed and Doug Erholtz giving us a tragic and obsessive Shin, all come together to make for a very enjoyable English dub of the first game. Impressively, almost everyone manages to pronounce the Japanese names of their Signature Moves properly. The sequel/remake doesn't have an English track, unfortunately.
NieR had a peculiar development cycle where the scripts for the Japanese and English versions of the game were written side-by-side, fundamental translations aside since it IS a Japanese game. This led to a pretty good script, with some pretty cool bouts of Woolseyism. The voice actors are all very memorable and likable in their roles, particularly Liam O'Brien as the haughty and arrogant Grimoire Weiss.
Odin Sphere has a most stupendous dub. While some may criticize it for it sounding overly dramatic, it actually works for a game where the cutscenes produce an aesthetic not unlike Shakespearean plays.
Rumbling Hearts: Every character sounds perfect, and the script is unbelievable. Even in the midst of all sorts of crazy melodrama, each and every character sounds like someone real - especially the high school/college-age kids, which anyone will tell you is particularly unusual in anime dubs. This is quintessential in a series that plays itself as a "slice-of-life" drama. Particular highlights include Kevin Connolly as stoic-yet-sensitive Takayuki, Carrie Savage both playing and powerfully subverting her typecast role as the "shy, delicate moe girl", the always-great Luci Christian teaming up with Monica Rial to deliver a collectively hilarious performance as Ayu and Mayu, and Colleen Clinkenbeard, who does one of the best performances running the gamut between spunky and high-spirited tsundere and desperate, emotionally broken woman since Allison Keith as Misato Katsuragi (see above). By contrast, the Japanese cast was lifted from the corresponding hentai game, and as such delivers with all the subtlety and passion you might expect. (Okay, they're not THAT bad, but they're hardly as exceptional as the English cast turns out to be.) The script is fantastic and filled with extremely well-done Woolseyisms. You know who wrote it? Eric Vale.
People from the UK who grew up in the 80s will remember the animated shows produced by Spanish studio BRB Internacional thanks to their wonderful English dubs. The fact that these shows were produced with an international audience in mind (which was, and still is, pretty rare for shows produced in Spain) definitely helped.