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Old 27-01-2009, 04:14 PM   #1   [permalink]
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What's your preferred language for anime?

Oddly enough, I didn't see this thread anywhere, so I thought I'd create it.

Which do you prefer: watching anime in Japanese with subtitles, or watching it dubbed in English (or whatever your native language is, if not Japanese?)

And why? Exactly?

No insults, please. I'm hoping to get a serious, insult-free... discussion, preferably, or maybe just a public sounding board, going.
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Old 27-01-2009, 05:13 PM   #2   [permalink]
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Personally, I can only watch anime in Japanese with English subs. This is for a wide variety of reasons, only one of which has anything to do with how "genuine" it is. The rest are purely my own. In no particular order:
  1. For me, the Japanese is actually about 40% of the allure of watching anime in the first place. I think the language is fascinating, and watching anime gives me the chance to immerse myself in the language. It's amazing what you can pick up with just a very basic knowledge of grammar and vocabulary, if you watch enough anime.

  2. (this is the reason I mentioned earlier) To be honest, I do find it very irritating to hear Japanese names pronounced as though they were Italian. And English actors always pronounce Japanese names as though they were Italian. You can't help it. Try saying "Naruto" or "Kagome" with the correct Japanese pronunciation, in the middle of an English sentence. It almost can't be done. You have to completely change the way your mouth works, mid-sentence! And even if you do manage to do it... it sounds really weird. Because the English language just doesn't work with those sounds.

    So English voice-actors get around this by pronouncing the names... as though they were Italian. ("KaGOHmay" instead of "Ka-go-meh," etc.) And... I just find it irritating. It detracts from my enjoyment of the show.

  3. For me, the experience of watching anime in English is... amazingly like the experience of watching Saturday morning cartoons. In fact, it's identical to the experience of watching Saturday morning cartoons.

    See, most of the most popular fantasy anime shows (and fantasy anime is the kind that I like to watch) are geared to be at least understood by children, even if they're not specifically written for children. And so the dialogue is very simplistic and unrealistic. But I can't tell that the dialogue is simplistic and unrealistic, if I'm listening to it in a language that I don't speak. And then I can focus on the substance of the story, instead of being irritated by the dialogue. See?

  4. On a semi-related note... I'd just like to mention that seeing InuYasha dig his claws into his bleeding side, gasp in pain, and then let loose a number of blades with a snarl, is so much cooler than hearing, "Blaades... o-f... BLOOD! (ood-ood-ood-ood)" with an echo effect.

  5. I've noticed with Fushigi Yuugi in particular, that sometimes the English dubs are too literal. Even if that translation makes no sense in the context of English-speaking countries.

    For example, English-speakers rarely address their siblings as "brother" or "sister." And never as "older brother" or "older sister." I've certainly never addressed my older sister as, "older sister!" This translation makes sense if reading it in subtitles, if you know anything about Japanese culture, but to actually hear it in English is just... weird. Very, very weird. And very, very distracting.

That's it for the reasons I can think of offhand. OTOH, there are a few times when I've been glad to hear the English translations. In particular, humor often translates better in the English dubs, because in the dubbed version, the translators make no effort to stay true to the original Japanese, and so they can maximize the humor for the English-speaking audience.

For example, there's a time in Fushigi Yuugi when Tamahome is facing Tomo for the first time. Tomo is this rather sadistic, and powerful, but totally ridiculous bad guy who wears this elaborate costume with gold and paints his face with white, blue, and black, and wears his hair long with an elaborate headdress which has 2 peacock feathers hanging down from it.

Tamahome's reaction to his first sight of Tomo is this:

Subtitled version:
Tamahome: "Your name is Tomo?"
Tomo: "Correct"
Tamahome: "Aren't you embarrassed by that outfit? Those bright, primary colors are in such bad taste! And what's with the makeup on your face?! And those feathers are just so ridiculous! And you actually walk OUTSIDE in that getup?! God, it's just horrible!"

English dubbed version:
Tamahome: "Your name is Tomo?"
Tomo: "Correct"
Tamahome: "Uh-huh. What's with the hair and the make-up? [disbelieving sound] It's embarrassing to even look at---my eyes! I'm going into shock! How can you expect to be taken seriously? Black and blue stripes and feathers?! What were you thinking - it's just wrong!"

"My eyes! I'm going into shock!"

So, there is that. But on the whole, I can only handle the English dubs in small quantities. But that's just me.

Last edited by Katerine; 27-01-2009 at 05:38 PM.
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Old 29-01-2009, 05:30 PM   #3   [permalink]
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Some people do actually say "big sis" though.

I pretty much have to watch in Japanese. I've delayed the year I grow out of anime as much as possible. Many anime are now just too immature for me to enjoy as a solo viewer, and it'd only be worse if I was watching it in english for many of the reasons you've provided.
Subtitlers often provide some context information as well..explaining Japenese cultural references.

Finally, while I appreciate that the japanese voice actors are still making silly voices, the voices are part of the context. Its like dramatic music- you can use the sound to determine the character type. Extra data etc. In English versions I find the information is more jumbled, I suspect because there is a smaller pool of actors you can often recognise a voice from another animation, or the voice is always the same kind of thing (like, 1 voice for little girls in english, but more in Japenese to communicate whether its a brat or a good girl)
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Old 29-01-2009, 06:15 PM   #4   [permalink]
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I prefer it in English. Sometimes I miss small details while reading the subtitles. Unfortunately, most English dubs have trouble expressing intensity and emotion as well as the Japanese counterparts. Like you've both mentioned, I feel like I'm watching Saturday morning cartoons when I'm watching a bad dub. So, I choose to watch most of my anime in Japanese.
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Old 29-01-2009, 10:01 PM   #5   [permalink]
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English dubs don't really bother me unless

a) The dub is poor.

b) Japanese is more appropriate for the setting.

A good example of a) is Excel in Excel Saga, who spoke English in such an insanely gibberish way, like a hysterical woman who has just swallowed a bucket of glue, that I'd have been better off with subtitles.

A good example of b) is Grave of the Fireflies, which is set in Japan during WWII. Having the Japanese characters conversing in English is just totally absurd and I didn't touch the dub, which was totally unnecessary, with a barge pole.

Originally Posted by Katerine
For me, the experience of watching anime in English is... amazingly like the experience of watching Saturday morning cartoons. In fact, it's identical to the experience of watching Saturday morning cartoons.
Originally Posted by Ado
I feel like I'm watching Saturday morning cartoons when I'm watching a bad dub
Is there anything wrong with that though? Some anime are shown on Saturday mornings anyway and since anime are Japanese cartoons, some anime are already Saturday morning cartoons.

Originally Posted by Pengi_Ken-Ohki
Many anime are now just too immature for me to enjoy as a solo viewer
This is a bit of a sticking point for me as well: things like quirky, exaggerated character traits were funny at first, but are now mainly a distraction, and can destroy the atmosphere by reducing the sense of realism. That's not to say all anime have to take place in ultra-realistic settings, but that most of them seem to be geared towards the frivolous crowd.

Last edited by John Faulkner; 29-01-2009 at 10:52 PM.
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Old 30-01-2009, 01:11 AM   #6   [permalink]
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For the animes I rent, if it is a movie I just watch the original Japanese with subtitles.

For series, I watch the anime first in English and second in Japanese with subtitles because usually, especially with a complex anime such as Lain or Boogypop Phantom, you can get different aspects of the story from one which is not in the other. There are some exceptions:

1. For Here and There, Then and Now, (or is it Then and Now, Here and There?) the English dub was so bad, I could only watch it in the Japanese.

2. If is is a simple anime with no complexities, and the English dub is 95% the same as the subtitles, then I just watch it in English.

3. If the subtitles are obviously bad, that is you can tell they only give half of the dialog or cover just the basic storyline with none of the underlining tones, then again I will just watch the English.

Right now I am watching Gungrave. The subtitles with the Japanese version are mostly the same as the English dub, but there are a few small differences that give each a slightly different edge on the story.
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Old 20-02-2009, 01:30 AM   #7   [permalink]
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More than often I prefer japanese with english subtitles. But if an anime has an excellent dub than I'll view it with the english dub. I like to switch it up sometimes.
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Old 28-05-2009, 07:40 AM   #8   [permalink]
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I only watch anime in japanese with english subtitles. It is IMO the best way to watch it.
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Old 28-05-2009, 01:54 PM   #9   [permalink]
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There's only two series that I'll watch the English dub for: Cowboy Bebop and Pet Shop of Horrors. Cowboy Bebop's dub is just brilliant, from the choice of voices to the dialogue to the emotion that each actor has. In fact, I'll watch the dub over the original subtitled track any day of the week.

Pet Shop of Horrors is more for nostalgia reasons; I'll flip back and forth between the two vocal tracks depending on my mood. It's nice to see how different the tracks are in comparison to each other. The Japanese track sounds a lot darker and the evil nature of what D is doing is emphasized.

Other than those two exceptions, I'll stick to the Japanese + subtitles option every single time.

Besides the reasons you guys mentioned (original language, context, etc.), I just don't like the acting, period. More often than not, the emotions behind the dubbed track sound unreal, and the acting sounds fakey. I don't think this is a case of the VAs being worse actors, but a combination of having to pronounce Japanese names (which automatically sound wrong from most English speakers) in the middle of English sentences and also being alone in a recording studio without having anyone to bounce your lines off of. From what I understand, the methods for recording the lines are vastly different between the typical Japanese track and the English dub. I've always heard that the Japanese will record their lines in a group, exactly as real dialogue would occur, while most English dubs are complied from all the different VAs reading their lines alone. I think this makes it more difficult to get a natural-sounding dialogue going, which is maybe why the lines sound so strange in English.

But overall, I dislike the fact that people actually need a dubbed track to enjoy a series. I don't understand why any who can read wouldn't want to hear the original language that a series or movie is in. It's naive to think that the dubbed movie/series is the same as the subtitled one. Something is intrinsically changed the moment you start to adapt it with new voices and dialogue that will match mouth flaps.

I guess I just prefer to watch an anime that is as close as possible to the original concept. Sure, subtitles aren't always right either, but it's just one step closer to what the creator envisioned.

And Japanese is a really beautiful language, even with the occasionally screechy female voices.
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Old 28-05-2009, 02:36 PM   #10   [permalink]
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i will watch any anime in any language, as long as it is good, and has english sub titles......
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Old 02-06-2009, 12:26 PM   #11   [permalink]
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Has to be Japanese with English subtitles for me. I started watching Naruto when it was on TV a year or two ago. Voice acting was okay, but when I got a chance to watch most of the series in Japanese w/ English subtitles I about fell on the floor laughing. I don't know if the script looses its zing in the translating process, but the Japanese conveyance of emotion and humor blew the dubbed version out of the water. And the fact that they said "Baka!" in every scene was more amusing too. Thats just recently, but most are the same way.
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Old 23-06-2009, 07:14 AM   #12   [permalink]
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For me anime isn't anime unless it's in japanese ... it's just meant to be in japanese, watch anime in english and it's just terrible ... chinese anime also isn't that good ... japanese rocks and it's the only language anime must be in.
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Old 27-07-2009, 10:23 PM   #13   [permalink]
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Japanese with English subtitle
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Old 22-08-2009, 10:38 AM   #14   [permalink]
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Originally Posted by bankaimaster View Post
For me anime isn't anime unless it's in japanese
I agree with you, this is the main reason for me why I watch Japanese and subbed. I could not feel the proper atmosphere watching dubbed anime.

But in my country there are not only professionally dubbed anime but also one-voice fan-dubbed anime, when dubber's voice is mixed with original audio at the same volume. Non-professional dubbers always use fan-subbed version to do it, so it looks like someone read subtitles for you.

Many people says that this is the best way to watch anime because they does not need to read subtitles and can watch picture without reading subs and loosing Japanese audio - both, original voice and sound effects are heard to, just one need to "practise" ears.

But anyway, I like subbed version more, because I wanna hear seiyū better and I can read subtitles by myself quickly enough.
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Old 22-08-2009, 03:56 PM   #15   [permalink]
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I find most english dubs to be just horrible. Not to say the subtitles are much better because of translation issues but i can understand a bit of japanese so i perfer the subtitles. Also the audio on dvd's it usually clearer in the orignal language.
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dubbed, language, subbed

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