My Honest Opinion on Dubbed Anime

Greetings anime community! This time I would like to talk about a somewhat sensitive topic regarding this community. From the title itself, you guessed it, I’m here to give my opinions on the never ending debate that is dubbed or subbed anime.

But first, a quick backstory! (3 paragraphs long if you want to skip it teehee)

I was scrolling through my feed on Facebook when a post from Netflix (or some Facebook page, I forgot) advertised its exclusive ONA with Sanrio, Aggretsuko (アグレッシブ烈子). After being hooked because Retsuko is just, really cute, plus I like the whole death metal thing going on, I finally had a reason to subscribe to Netflix. Luckily my aunt let me use her Netflix account and I have since been watching Aggretsuko and other anime (Tip: You can actually watch more anime if you use a VPN to Japan).

Now for all of you who are subscribed to Netflix, I think you know that you could change the subtitles and audio tracks in their TV shows and movies. For those that aren’t, there’s an option to change the audio tracks and subtitles through a little menu on the upper right if you’re using iOS. I’m not sure how it works for Android and PC, but anyway. By default, the show was set to English with no subtitles as far as I can remember. Being the person I am, I set the audio to Japanese and the subtitles to Japanese.

However, while it’s convenient that the show is just on Netflix and I could access it whenever I wanted to hear “SHITTY BOSS,” I get lazy and choose to just look it up on YouTube. Truth be told, I was kind of disappointed that the Japanese versions of the “SHITTY BOSS” songs are nowhere to be found, and only the English ones have been uploaded for my listening. However, what surprised me was that the English dub of Aggretsuko was actually really good. It was so good that I actually wanted to rewatch it in the English voices, while still retaining the Japanese subtitles because reasons.

STORY TIME OVER,

Dubs vs. Subs, it’s been a long running debate in the anime community. Many of the common arguments I hear about this issue is that, watching dubbed anime is tantamount to ruining the anime, watching dubbed anime does not give the same experience as that of the original, etc. In short, dubs ruin anime.

To an extent, I kind of agree with these arguments. In a way, a dubbed series kind of ruins the experience that the original aims to deliver to its audience. After all, there are some words and expressions that simply sound weird when translated into another language. The director or writer may have specifically chosen words, in the original language, as well as certain ways or accents of saying these words, that could simply not be captured as well if it was translated and adopted into a different language. You could say, some words get lost in the translation, and it really depends on how the translator interpreted these words, which could possibly cause lost meanings.

Let me give a little scenario on how I think this could happen:

Original Japanese: 「参ります」

Natural Translation: Going

While yes, the translation is correct, by translating to somewhat natural English the word has already lost its politeness level the original Japanese possesses. 参ります is the super polite form of the word 行く. Going could mean anything in terms of politeness in English. Furthermore, if we consider the fact that 参ります is also the super polite form of another verb 来る (come), we’re in trouble should the interpreter interpret it as such when it should be the other verb.

If you want evidence of this in Western animation being dubbed to Japanese, I suggest you listen to Japanese Spongebob. It simply, doesn’t work in my opinion. Patrick’s dopey English voice suited him better than the pathetic voice he has in the Japanese dub. Spongebob’s voice is kind of acceptable, for me at least.

However, I also kind of disagree with this statement simply because of the fact that there are some dubs that do a good job at it, an example being (if you read story time) Aggretsuko. Another example of dubs being good is the Dragon Ball dub. These are in my opinion, examples of dubs that actually match, if not make better the experience being set by the original. If we consider the fact many people simply watch anime to enjoy the experience of anime, and if a dub could deliver a similarly good if not better experience, then why not. In my opinion, anime’s purpose, other than being art waiting to be appreciated (and critically torn apart by critics), is to be enjoyed by the people who love it after all.

In the Japanese dub of Western animation side of things, if you ever get a chance to watch Japanese Gumball (TAWOG), I think that show’s Japanese dub is good. Gumball’s voice actually matches his character, and same goes for the rest of the characters, mostly.

With those out of the way, my take on the matter is that in the end, it’s really up to you, the watcher, to decide. Anime is subjective and we’re all into different things. Some of us could care less about a little loss in translation and prefer dubs. Some of us are simply purists and would rather appreciate the art in its purest form. (To be fair though, by reading subtitles there’s still some loss in translation from the smallest nuance to a complete butcher).

Me, I personally would rather watch my anime in its original Japanese audio, simply because I can practice my listening skills, and because of the argument I just said earlier about how there are terms that simply could not be captured well if translated into another language. However, I’d still watch a dub if I wanted to. Other than to aid my Japanese studies, I mainly use anime to relax and unwind so if a dub could serve that purpose, why not. Just make sure it’s like Aggretsuko level good and not that HORRIBLE niconiconii in that Tagalog Love Live dub I stumbled across.

How about you? What’s your take on the matter? Do you agree or disagree?

I think that’s all I have to say on the matter, for now at least. Bye and have a beautiful day!

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