FUNimation's dub for Dragon Ball Z Kai. After their original dub, which divided the fanbase, 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 him,note 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 terms 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).
FUNimation's 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.
The FUNimation dub of Fairy Tail is excellent. 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.
There needs to be more love for FUNimation's dub of One Piece. After 4Kids's back alley abortion of a dub that we were forced to endure for nearly 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 is not the Japanese version, and the crowd that thinks 4Kids is still in change of the show even after Toei publicly handed the rights over to FUNimation.note 4Kids no longer exist. As of 2014, FUNimation had dubbed over three times as many episodes as 4Kids ever did (336 and counting vs. 104), and has held the rights for nearly three times as long. However, since FUNimation's dub hasn't gotten the mainstream TV and merchandise exposure 4Kids' dub did, it's still gonna take some time for reality to sink in, if it ever does.
That the extremely vocal purist contingent of the fanbase have an agenda, and they consider it in their interest to let casual fans believe that 4Kids is still BowdlerizingOne Piece, and that 4Kids still exists at all, does not help either.
What can be said about Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt that hasn't been already? The key to its fantastic dubbing lies in the English script namely, its being way more explicit than the original (which admittedly better fits the extremely raunchy visuals), 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 white guy playing a walking Blaxploitation film, does an incredible job.
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.
Sergeant 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!
It's actually surprising how well FUNimation's dub of Steins;Gate went. J. Michael Tatum did a great job with Rintaro Okabe, a.k.a 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."
FUNimation also managed to outdo the original YuYu Hakusho by actually having edgier dialogue, making Yusuke a wisecracker, 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.
Attack on Titan's English dub really deserves all the love that it gets. The voices are well cast (except for Eren and Armin as kids, but doesn't this happen everywhere?), the acting is spot-on, and you can really tell both the staff and actors absolutely love working on this dub. The only complaints against it are that sometimes dialogue lines are changed which results in some personality changes (some people like it, others don't), but everything else is absolutely gutwrenchingly awesome. And seriously, this show just oozes emotion and passion, as the dub has some of the most guttural, realistic sounding yelling and screaming ever. Listen to the English version of Armin's scream. Doesn't it make your ears bleed in the most awesome way? Anime screams aren't supposed to sound beautiful or perfect, and Josh Grelle really deserves praise for his portrayal of Armin in the darkest of times. Unfortunately, there are still people who consider this dub outright horrible, even going as far as putting it among the likes of Garzey's Wing, and that's just terrible.
Baccano! has a masterful English dub, from the Chicago accents to the ham, that captures the original's wit, charm, and energy perfectly.
FUNimation's English dub of Space Dandy has been shaping up to be a very excellent one. Not only are the jokes translated very well, but the acting is superb. Ian Sinclair, Joel McDonald, and Alison Viktorin are clearly having fun with the material the show throws at them, and by the time Season 2 came around it feels like they have full heartedly embraced their roles. And the enthusiasm doesn't just stop with them, as the guest voice actors brought in for one-episode characters are also putting their best effort into their roles, and having as much fun with them as the show allows them to. The most notable episode that stands as the best example for how well they dubbed this anime is the musical episode, where all the songs sung by the characters have been well translated, and wonderfully sang.
BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad has a great English dub. For one thing, the English voice actors can actually sing. It's not a coincidence that an entry for the Japanese dub appears in the Darth Wiki.
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.
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 favourite. 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.
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.
Mega Man NT Warrior: Despite its heavy edits on TV broadcasting, especially on Kids WB, most of the English voice acting is 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.
Mobile Suit Gundam 00, 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).
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.
Mobile Suit 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.
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).
Ranma ½'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 its 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 boy-type 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 Ocean dub of the first three Dragon Ball Z films is excellent, with incredibly accurate scripts, the original Japanese music and some amazing acting, especially from Peter Kelamis as Goku, whose screams in these films sometimes come eerily close to sounding like Masako Nozawa.
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) switches 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).
Azumanga Daioh was one of those shows that fans of the time instantly declared to be "un-dubbable" due to its heavy use of puns and obtuse cultural references. ADV took that as a challenge and produced what is easily one of the best dubs of their intermediate period. How good? A number of Japanese otaku over on 2ch (a group not known for being outward-thinking, or amenable to things that aren't native) were impressed by it.
But there are still fans who hate the dub for being cheesy, and giving fan-favorite character Osaka a Southern accent which ADV attempted to justify.
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.
Due to its nature as one of the purest examples of Gag Dub in existence, the inclusion of ADV Films's Ghost Stories on this list may ruffle some feathers. That doesn't change the fact that the casting regardless of what the script does is top-notch, and the main actors have phenomenal chemistry. Some of the jokes (mostly the political ones) became dated before the DVD's even hit the shelves, but there's still plenty of hilarity to be found.
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.
ADV's English dub of Kanon is WAY better than the original, which has some top-notch seiyuu but sounds rather generic. This dub also happens to be the literal pinnacle of ADV's quality, since Kanon was one of the very last dubs ADV completed before their 2009 shutdown. The Japanese acting suffers in comparison due to many of the girls being high-pitched to the point that they don't even sound like teenagers, as well as simply sounding too similar to each other. On the other hand, ADV's cast is much more natural and actually sound their age (these characters are high school juniors and seniors; they're supposed to sound grown-up).
Going into detail, Chris Patton's Yuuichi has the perfect sarcastic tone to his voice, but can handle the very emotional scenes easily. Jessica Boone's Nayuki sounds the most age-appropriate, with a voice full of energy and cheerfulness, but with a wistfulness often missing from the original. 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 dub breaks standard convention for a show like this 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. Bonus points for averting Crossdressing Voices with Robin and casting an actual 15-year-old boy (the Japanese had a woman play the role).
ADV's dub of Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water also deserves mention here. Recorded at the now-long-gone Monster Island Studio in Austin, every part was brilliantly cast. The three children were played by actual children, and all of them could act well for the most part — the occasional missed line notwithstanding (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 voice actors in this dub didn't do much of any ADR work before or since. The script adaptation is also really good; faithful to the original yet rewritten for natural flow purposes without changing anything about the story or the characters.
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. The fact that Streamline Pictures had already made a dub of the first 13 episodes years earlier with more renowned voice actors (Wendee Lee as Nadia, for one) didn't help ADV's case, even though the earlier dub was panned too. Over the years, several critics have become kinder, with several mentioning it holds up quite well, but there are some who still dislike it for whatever reason. Luckily, the dub has won over fans over the years.
The English dub of Petite Princess Yucie is 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!
For what it's worth, this dub was the very last one given to Monster Island Studio (see the Nadia entry above) before it was shut down in 2005.Clarification Yucie was the final dub Monster Island started, but it was the next-to-last one completed. The final dub they completed was Get Backers, which is almost twice as long as PPY and wrapped a couple months later.
Princess Nine has an excellent old-school ADV Films dub. All nine girls are expertly portrayed, especially Hilary Haag's Ryo, Monica Rial's Izumi (the way she acts Izumi's somehow inspiring "The Reason You Suck" Speech in episode 17 is STUNNING) and Cynthia Martinez's Hikaru. Vic Mignogna is utterly charming as Hiroki Takasugi, and Andy Mc Avin nearly runs away with the entire dub as Coach Kido.
Nerima Daikon Brothers. Anime dubs are not known for often dubbing songs, and this one not only dubbed everything, but pulled it off surprisingly well. It helped that the three leads Greg Ayres, Chris Patton, and Luci Christian were seasoned veterans who had been working together for years and were already known to have great chemistry. It also helped that Nabeshin gave them a lot of leeway on adapting the songs to make them work in English (as Greg Ayres once said, when the ADR director - his older brother - came to a lyric that didn't translate, they called up Nabeshin and asked if they could put a sex joke in its place; apparently with Nabeshin it's always okay to put in a sex joke).
Despite working in the exact same facility as the old ADV Films with a lot of the same crew on both sides of the glass, due to having less time to finish their work and a smaller budget then their predecessor, they aren't exactly the best at dubbing anime (especially when compared to fellow Texan dubbing company Funimation). But when they hit, they hit BIG
One of those hits is Tsuritama. It was originally going to be a sub-only release until Sentai gave in to fan demand and gave it an English dub, and it is one of their best. Most of the main and minor characters are perfectly cast, the scripting is excellent and full of witty lines (episode 5 has most of these, and they're awesome!), and the voice actors really sound like they're enjoying what they're doing here. The only flaw is Sakura's voice. Nancy Novotny does her voice, and while she isn't BAD, her voice just doesn't fit for a kid like Sakura, and she unfortunately really misses the mark on one pivotal moment in episode 7, but that's about it. Haru's voice actor is absolutely amazing despite being a newbie, and is able to completely capture his quirks and personality perfectly! Seriously, it's like they shipped Miyu Irino out to America, made him take English for five years, and then re-cast him as Haru. One reason it's so good is that it's directed by Janice Williams, a longtime employee of the old ADV Films who mostly worked on the physical side of things ("DVD Coordinator" was her most common job description) and only dabbled in directing occasionally back in the day. She's very good at it and needs to do it more often.
CLANNAD's English dub has its share of critics, but it's easily one of the best (if not the best) dubs to come out of Houston since the collapse of ADV Films and its resurrection as Sentai. That it was one of the first dubs of the period helps despite the name on the box, it still feels like an ADV dub it was clearly given the care that later Sentai dubs rarely enjoy. Every single actor, even the ones whose casting may be seen as questionable, nails their performance and every emotional crescendo, especially Luci Christian, who does a lovely job as Nagisa. It's admittedly not as tight as Kanon or even Air (due to replacing original voice director Kyle Jones with Janice Williams and Steven Foster), but it's still much better than critics give it credit for.
Demon King Daimao is quite an underrated english dub from Sentai. Most of the cast sound quite focused, yet sometimes pretty aloof in terms of character acting when the situation demands it. Highlights include Chris Patton delivers quite well as Akuto, capturing his struggle of him being a Demon King, but also making his Nice Guy traits quite believable. Maggie Flecknoe as Korone is able to sound better than the Japanese version by actually not sounding high-pitched as her more deadpan and low tone just fits the character much better. But the best performance by far is no doubt Melissa Davis as Keena. She is clearly having a blast voicing the red-haired Cloudcuckoolander to the point that, even if you won't like the show as much, as soon as you'll see her, get ready for some hilariously executed lines, not to mention how charismatic she is.
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!
Another dub of a visual novel-based anime that deserves more recognition is the ef duology. While the dub integrates honorifics and some Japanese words such as onii-chan, the melodrama expected of the anime is excellently delivered by long-time ADV/Sentai veterans. Luci Christian captures Miyako's sweet, free-and-easy nature; Monica Rial lends her voice to Chihiro in her usual cute-girl voice with a hint of sadness (given her condition); and Carli Mosier gives Yuuko a mature, motherly vibe as an addendum to her mysterious nature. And once a tale of melodies, the second season, hits, she really gives her all — especially in episode 6, when Yuuko reveals her long history of physical and sexual abuse to Yuu. The males are no slouches either. Greg Ayres defies pessimistic assumptions by the fandom when he voices Hiro; Clint Bickham is a perfect fit as Renji; Illich Guardiola's unique accent is strangely appropriate for Kuze; and David Matranga as Yuu shows that he can surpass his own performance as Tomoya, another visual novel protagonist with lots of emotional baggage like Yuu does. Another thing that helps the dub is SHAFT's animation approach that made it easier for the voice actors to dodge Lip Lock and deliver the lines needed for the strong melodramatic punches.
Other Examples of Good Dubbing:
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 that regularly watch subtitles cite this as the only English dub they'll watch. Unfortunately, this attitude has done a 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 Wolf's 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 is often said 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.note Her actual (translated) words: "Our Spike, good. Your Spike, sexy!"
Many Western otaku who are otherwise skeptical or outright hostile towards the dubbing of Animelove the dubbing of FLCL. The series was thought by many otaku to be un-dubbable due to its use of Japanese puns and pop culture references. Synch-Pointnote the short-lived North American arm of Japanese company media company Broccoli, which was on the FLCL production committee, the American dubbers instead replaced those instances with comparable English puns and cultural references. As for the voice actors, the original director of the series, Kazuya Tsurumaki, hand-picked the English-language voice actors himself, because it was vitally important to him that they have the same "essence" as the Japanese actors. He was particularly impressed by Haruko's voice actress, Kari Wahlgren (who at that point was a complete newbie that had never recorded a dub before).
Ah! My Goddess has had no fewer than three separate English dub casts over the various parts of its franchise, and all of them are considered "good" by somebody rare for this sort of situation. 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.
An amusing comment from Scott Houle, writer/director of the OAV series regarding its casting: "We were going for magic on this one." Most fans agree he succeeded.
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.
The English dub of the Berserk anime was a decent dub in its own right. In fact, it was popular enough that, when the Golden Age Arc movies were licensed ten years later, fans beggedViz Media to hire the original dub studio (NYAV Post) so that the original lead actors who had all gone on record as loving the TV series and were more than willing to return if asked could reprise their roles. Viz obliged, and it's good they did, because the dub of the movies 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.
The third movie is the best yet. Not only do the main three mentioned above give the most emotional and heart rending performances of their careers, we also finally get an English voice to place with the Skull Knight provided by Jamieson Price. His deep baritone not only is perfect for the Skull Knight, but is probably one of the few voices that can match John Avner, whose reprisal of Void is deliciously evil.
As could be expected of any franchise that underwent a full decade's worth of hiatus, director Michael Sinterniklaas wasn't able to get back all the original actors (he was able to get back pretty much everyone important and even some secondary roles), so he used the opportunity to fill the gaps in the cast with seasoned veterans he'd been working with in LA, making what was already set to be a good dub that much better.
With Code Geass, many fans of the show - even in Japan - praise Johnny Yong Bosch's performance as Lelouch Lamperouge. Even on this very wiki, some editors contend that Japanese fans agree that Bosch's Lelouch sounded more natural, while Jun Fukuyama's sounded more "acted" (YMMV, 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.
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 Waa Geimu!) 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):
1/3 of Digimon are virus types, saying that Keramon/Diabolomon is affected by a computer virus was stupid.
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, the 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 reading an email from another kid! 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.)
Although 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!), the awesome voice acting makes up for it. Some of the original Japanese voices had sounded too scratchy or raspy. 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!
When it was announced that the English dub for Doraemon would be edited, many fans were convinced they would hate this dub. But Bowdlerization aside, everything else about it is pretty amazing. The voice actors are spot on, the original background music has been left alone, the edits actually don't hurt the episodes in any way, and best of all, unlike Saban Entertainment, who feels the need to insert pointless and unfunny jokes in every anime they dub, the dub for Doraemon is completely clean of this, and the scripting is pretty faithful for the most part. Mona Marshall steals the show as Doraemon, but nobody expected Johnny Yong Bosch to be cast as Nobita, even more so when they heard the voice he used for Nobita, which is nothing they've ever heard before. Many people hate the edits but find that they love the voice acting.
Ghost in the Shell. The original anime film's English dub (courtesy of Manga Entertainment) was one of the very first anime dubs to aim directly at an adult audience, contain excellent acting all across the board, and have a script that was extremely faithful to the original Japanese with minimal use of extraneous profanity a practice that was all too common back in the early-to-mid 90s, often used to supposedly make the product seem "edgier".note The British refer to this practice as "fifteening". Its dub still holds up extraordinarily well today despite the general industry-wide rise in quality that has occurred since (exemplified by, well, much of the rest of this list).
Among some GITS fans, the only real sticking point with the casting of the original movie was Major Kusanagi. Fortunately for them, when Stand-Alone Complex came out several years later, the Major was recast with Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, who immediately owned that role.
That dub cast and crew became so loved by the fans that there was half-serious discussion about burning down Dreamworks when that company sniped the license for Innocence, the second movie, from Manga Entertainment and decided to release it to DVD without any English dub at all (and SDH subtitles), citing "integrity of the original language" or some such nonsense. Manga's UK branch heard the grumbling from America loud and clear, and commissioned Richard Epcar (Batou's voice actor and a hugeGITS fanboy) to make a dub of Innocence with the Stand-Alone Complex cast. It immediately became their their best-selling DVD ever (due at least in part to American and Canadian fans importing it as a giant Take That against Dreamworks).
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.
If there's a "second place" as far as "gold-standard dubbing" is concerned, 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 in terms of praise. 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 of whom are actually British expats and deliver performances that need to be heard to be believed. The dubbing, as mentioned above, 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, fans demanded Funi continue to use New Generation for the remaining undubbed episodes a project they finally finished in 2014, twelve years after NGP first dubbed the TV series. Fans waited very (im)patiently for the episodes to come out dubbed; many refused to watch them until they were all 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. The wait paid off several-fold, especially with the inclusion of Liam O Brien as an important character in the ninth episode, in addition to all of the original voice actors reprising their roles for the OVA's finale.
The English dub of Harι + Guu features a cast of longtime veterans of the dubbing scene for nearly every character, with Stephanie Sheh delivering one of her best performances as Guu. The script of the dub also manages to make the jokes much funnier while still keeping faithful to the original content. Well, most of the jokes; the "kumo" pun doesn't work in either language, and John Opplinger didn't even try to adapt it (actually, it's kind of amazing the dub turned out as well as it did considering John is known to hate dubs).
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 sub-par Animax dub, it's about time the show got the dub it deserves.
Lucky Star has a spectacular English dub! 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. Hynden Walch as Yutaka has such a cute yet realistic-sounding little girl voice that you'll wish Aniplex used that voice for Madoka.
Magic User's Club has a dub that is better acted than the original Japanese, fairly undeniably so.
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.
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 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!
Even those who didn't like the original ADV dub or the Manga Entertainment-produced Death & Rebirth and End of Evangelion dubs, probably did enjoy Funimation's dubs of the Rebuild movies. All but one of the four original English 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.
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.
Pokιmon'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 (aside from the ones that got banned in the USA), 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 Nintendo yanked the license from 4Kids and moved the dub to a different (cheaper) studio and replaced the entire cast, the controversy it stirred continues today.
Pokιmon: 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 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 castnote Tricia Dickinson is the only actor to appear in both dubs, albeit in different roles Wendy in Read Or Die and Nenene in R.O.D, the latter under an alias, by bringing in actual British expats 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 dub used a seasoned veteran). These two things give the R.O.D dub a layer of authenticity that's rare in pretty much any cartoon, let alone a dub.
The Record of Lodoss War OVA deserves mention as it happens to have been the debut lead role for Lisa Ortiz (she played Deedlit). 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 Debbie Rabbai — all turn in solid performances.
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 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.
Sailor Moon: The fanbase had given up hope of a faithful dub of this anime long ago, due to the series's well-known place in licensing hell.note Naoko Takeuchi had assumed complete control of her franchise, and since giving Toei the okay to license the anime outside Japan again starting around 2009, had not allowed any new dubs to be made, only rereleases of the original dubs. Unfortunately, her other requirement was that any anime release had to be 100% uncut. Since DiC's English dub is one of the most infamous Macekres in existence, that meant there was no way for any American licensor to satisfy Takeuchi's requirements (at least for the first two seasons; the third and fourth were uncut). Complicating matters further was that Takeuchi allegedly also demanded a TV deal as a condition for DVD release but American TV networks hate anime and really hate girls' shows (there's a reasonGirl-Show Ghetto is a trope). All of this, plus the likely absurdly high license cost, added up to a nearly-insurmountable mountain for American licensors. But somehow, Viz Media managed to make it happen. And the reviews have been glowing. The staff shows clear reverence for the franchise, and this is reflected well in the cast choices.
Stephanie Sheh is the spunky, energetic, ditzy lead for Usagi fans could have hoped for. Though slightly shaky in her battlecries on occasion, this is only a slight flaw and there are far more positives. She gracefully walks the line between her crybaby wails, vulnerability and the kind of enthusiasm any teenaged girl has, and nailing the tone of a clumsy if passionate heroine finding her footsteps. Kate Higgins gives a great performance as Mercury, a little reserved but strikingly intelligent and insightful just as she should be. Fan favorite voice actress Cristina Valenzuela (credited as Cristina Vee) is the brash, charismatic soldier of passion that is Mars. Newcomer Robbie Daymond delivers a soft-spoken yet confidently charming Tuxedo Mask, cool and reserved yet clearly caring for Usagi. Michelle Ruff is the plucky and responsible Luna, with a playfulness and warmth befitting her mentor role. And Danielle Judovits (credited as Danielle Nicole) gives a surprisingly strong voice to Naru, emphasizing her everygirl status as Usagi's best friend, adding a layer of chemistry and compassion that endears the character greatly. Ben Diskin really nails Umino, with his nerdy voice and his really funny ad-libs (such as mocking Naru's (Molly in the DiC dub) Brooklyn accent in episode 7 when he's crossdressing), adding a new layer to the character that wasn't present in the original.
As for the villains, Cindy Robinson is the coldly strict, and imperious Queen Beryl. And Todd Haberkorn brings an air of sophisticated superiority and theatrical smugness as Jadeite, making all of his scenes a joy to watch. Fans were very happy that Lucien Dodge didn't give Zoisite a stereotypical gay voice. In short, fans can rejoice, for the English dub we should have had from the beginning.
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 as Gourry, Crispin Freeman as Zelgadis, and Veronica Taylor as Amelia the latter two joining up after a 20-month hiatus following episode 13 necessitated a recasting of every single role in the series except Lina and Gourry. The chemistry between these four is among the best you'll find in any English dub. These four actors were beloved in their roles enough that when Funimation licensed the fourth season nine years after CPM had finished the third, fans insisted that Funi get the old cast back. So they did.
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 though there are fans who liked David Moo's Xellos; his performance in particular falls into Love It or Hate It.
While the prequel movies and OVA's dubbed by ADV do get some flack for using a different voice for Linanote ADV did actually try to get Lisa Ortiz, but she proved unwilling to go down to Texas, prompting a last-minute casting call to replace her, they're actually quite good, 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 a different city by a different studio and she likely wasn't even asked).
In addition, the Slayers Premium short film's English dub caught flak for recasting Gourry, Amelia, and Xellos (it was also dubbed in Houston by ADV with Martinez as Lina). It's a preview of what could easily have been had Funimation not gone back to the original cast for Seasons 4-5. Though even for Premium, ADV was able to get back Crispin Freeman (he loves playing Zelgadis and was going to be in the area anyway).
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!!
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 Kikis Delivery Service (incidentally his very last role before his death), 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, Disney's English dub of Castle in the Sky also contains a gorgeous reworking and extension of the original score. Provided, interestingly, by Joe Hisaishi himself, with the approval of Miyazaki! Sadly, if you're American or Canadian, this rescore is only on the 2003 DVD release; due to LOUD complaints from purists, all subsequent North American releases omit it. However, the rescore is included on the Japanese, UK, and Australian Blu-Rays, although the additional funny ad-libs present on the original US DVD are gone forever.
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). In the Japanese version, 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!
A sub division of Sentai Filmworks called Maiden Japan made its first English dub, and what anime did they dub first? Tokyo Magnitude 8. And it was AWESOME. 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! The best of them was Tiffany Grant as Yuuki. Once the good episodes roll in, she NAILS the kid! The only problems: 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.
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, who was a voice actor in Bebop), and had a cast made up entirely of industry veterans compare to the Japanese cast, which intentionally used newcomers for 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.
AnimEigo's English dub of the Youre Under Arrest OAV's (courtesy of the now-defunct Coastal Carolina studio, which also dubbed the Oh My Goddess! OAV's) was so well-made that when Kodansha developed the movie a few years later, Etsuko Kozakura (who played Yoriko) was told to voice her character more like the English actress, 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.").
The dub of the first TV series, recorded by Coastal after a six-year hiatus, is even better this is due in large part to the fact that they were able to get back every single member of the OAV's cast but one (Miyuki, and her replacement is just as good if not better). The YUA dub was so well-received and so embraced by the fans that when ADV Films announced they had picked up The Movie and some assorted shorts but were planning to dub them in Houston, fans screamed bloody murder until ADV relented and sent the dub to Coastal (sadly, Coastal themselves closed up shop in 2003 upon finishing the YUA Movienote However, Bandai Entertainment briefly and inexplicably resurrected them in 2008 to dub Clamp School Detectives, and AnimEigo resurrected them again in 2012 to dub some Hello Kitty videos they somehow got hold of.).
It's no coincidence that this series has one of the very few anime fandoms albeit a quite small one where you're not likely to fine many if any fans willing to bash the English dub. Fans of the series were genuinely upset when it was announced that the long-awaited 2nd and 3rd series would be released only in subtitled Japanese.
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.
In particular, both Persona 3andPersona 4 have amazing dubs. Both games feature highly prolific voice actors throughout, like Vic Mignogna, Liam O Brien, Yuri Lowenthal, Laura Bailey, Karen Strassman, Tara Platt and, of course, Troy Baker. In each of those cases, you could make a serious argument for their Persona roles being the best performances they've ever given, with the help of the amazing scripts. Tara Platt gets past her occasionally stiff typecasting and gives Defrosting Ice Queen Mitsuru a real heart; Vic Mignogna somehow manages to make Junpei not annoying and a best friend you'd want to have; Liam O'Brien combines Adorkable with Blood Knight for Akihiko while still sounding coherent and giving one of the biggest Tear Jerker monologues in the series; Karen Strassman handles Aigis's emotional transformation beautifully and then sounds completely unrecognizable (and adorable) as Nanako; and Yuri Lowenthal (Yosuke), Laura Bailey (Rise) and Troy Baker (Kanji) are clearly just having the time of their lives, knocking all their comedic scenes out of the park, and still managing to bring sincere emotion to their roles when it's called for. Even minor characters like Takaya (Derek Stephen Prince) are unforgettable because of their voice acting.
The period of 2011~2012 saw the rise of British voice actors dubbing Japanese RPG's; with Xenoblade 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.
No More Heroes is an unusual case: when the game was originally released in Japan, it featured English voice acting with Japanese subtitles instead of the usual Japanese voice acting. The voice acting was quite good, though, with Robin Atkin Downes as the OtakuBlood Knight Travis Touchdown (pulling off an amazingly convincing Fake American accent, at that). The trend continued with No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, and the voice acting was still amazing. Then the original NMH was given an Updated Re-release on the PS3 which included Japanese voice acting, and in a strange turn of events, players preferred the English voice work to Japanese. Is it a case of players being too accustomed to the English VA work, or was it just plain better than the Japanese VA work? Whatever the answer, the fact remains that the English voice work is quality stuff.
It took a long time for the Sonic the Hedgehog series to find vocal talent that didn't piss off at least some contingent of the fandom's infamously Broken Base, 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.
The Unpleasable Fanbase reared its ugly head though and complained enough that Roger Craig Smith often pokes fun at them. However, there were the least amount of complaints when Roger Craig Smith was brought on to voice Sonic, compared to when Jason Griffith was brought on or when Ryan Drummond was brought on. Outside of Sonic as a character, Kate Higgins is said to be the best Tails in the franchise's history, and same with Laura Bailey and Omochao — though Omochao is still The Scrappy of the franchise, he was tolerated in Sonic Generations rather than outright hated.
As of 2014's Sonic Boom: The Rise Of Lyric, the only voice anyone seriously has issues with is Kirk Thornton's Shadow. Say what you will about the game itself; it has probably the best voice acting and snappiest writing in the entire series.
The English cast of the Metal Gear series is among some of the best in the industry, particularly when the original Metal Gear Solid was released, back in a time when English voice acting in games, dubbed and domestic, tend to range from "tolerable" to "laughably bad". There's no two ways about it: David Hayteris the war-weary chain-smoking Solid Snake. The other voice acting powerhouses behind Solid, including Paul Eiding as Colonel Roy Campbell, Jennifer Hale as Dr. Naomi Hunter, and Cam Clarke as the villainous Liquid Snake, also bring their A-game.
Fist of the North Star: Ken's 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.
While the voice acting in Working Designs games were what you would expect from people who were literally hired off the street (some horrible, a few gems like John Truitt's Ghaleon, but most mediocre or bland), their song dubs, almost all sung by Jenny Stigile, were excellent, especially for their time. Of particular note is Wind's Nocturne from Lunar: Silver Star Story, which even got Jenny's performance some attention from 2channel, resulting in the "Shii's Song" meme.
Another great example of dubbed songs done right would be Wild ARMs 3, all of the songs lyrics were faithful to the original meaning but flowed and rhymed, and Samantha Newark's powerful performances of the songs easily surpass the original Japanese versions.
Both Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2 have terrific voice acting, with Helena Taylor as a sultry, sexy, and ultimately emotional Bayonetta. Yuri Lowenthal also gets to have a lot of fun as Luka, Grey DeLisle as Jeanne, and Enzo and Rodin are quite enjoyable to listen to as well. Hey, even Crispin Freeman plays a part in the sequel!
Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, and Pandora's Tower are all dubbed quite well. And interestingly, overseas in England. The cast for all three games have distinctively British accents and all perform their roles with a genuine honesty and energy.
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.
The World of David the Gnome: This show became very popular in America as well due to years of being rerun on Nick Jr. The entire voice cast is quite good.
Code Lyoko is generally agreed to have a good dub, as it was in fact dubbed by the very company who made it in France.
The Smurfs and the Magic Flute: Both English dubs (UK and US) of the original French film are equally strong, but the US dub from 1983 tends to stand out the most. (For one thing, several scenes in the UK dub have the characters speaking with no audible dialogue, most notably during the Smurfs' party sequence and at the end of the working song. This was fixed in the US dub.) Today, only the UK dub can be locally found on DVD releases from Shout! Factory and Imavision, as well as streaming on Netflix and iTunes. But it is believed that the US dub is still in someone's warehouse.