Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Why I Approve of Dubbing

It's popular to disapprove not just of specific failures of Anime Dubbing but of the idea altogether.

Vrai Kaiser has made a Defense of Anime Dubs, they made good points.  They did say however they're against dubbing Live Action works.  I can't agree with that as much, the scenario is indeed much different, for one it tends to be very visually obvious in ways something Animated wouldn't be.  But when something is kind of campy to start with, like most of the Godzilla sequels, that can add to their charm.

For the two serious Gojira films.  Godzilla King of The Monsters I consider a perfect example of an Americanization of a Foreign film done right, while Godzilla 1985 would be the ultimate example of it being done wrong.  I'll link you to SFderbis to explain why that is.

It annoys me that it's often called "Subbing Vs Dubbing", I know of no Dub defenders saying Subbing is bad, since the invention of DVDs I've always felt every release should include the subbed version regardless of if there is a Dub.  

As a student of the history of literature and mythology, I am a big fan of stories being retold in different ways.  And Dubbing works into another language I consider part of that, even when, in fact especially when, the Dub changes the story or characters in some ways.  If a Dub turns out bad, that's unfortunate but no less valid a work of art then something that was bad in it's original language, or any other poorly done adaptation.

When a Dub becomes very offensive because of it's Censorship, that's unfortunate too, but they become useful historical artifacts.  I don't think we should forget that America was once a land where Homosexual relationships were pretty much required to be censored.  And to some extent we still are in stuff made for kids.

For me personally when I'm watching something in any visual medium the ability to fully absorb myself into the story can be hindered if I have to read while watching.  But if I have no other option I can do it.  For Anime I've done it for The Rose of Versalies, El Cazador, the Attack on Titan OVAs, Engaged to The Unidentified, Kampfer, Yuri Kuma Arashi, Shoujo Sect: Innocent Lovers, many episodes of Strawberry Panic!, several episodes of the first series of Sailor Moon and most of Crystal since they went up on Hulu, and a few others I'm not sure I want to recommend just yet.  (Note, I think I recall seeing the Sailor Moon R Movie subbed a long time ago).

And outside of Anime, well the first Subtitled film I ever saw was The Passion of The Christ, I'm not as enamored with that as I used to be but it was adequate.  A number of French films like, the 60s Judex movie, and the first two 60s Fantomas movies, Nuits Rouges, the 2004 Arsene Lupin movie and the 96/97 Le Bossu movie based on Paul Feval's Novel which I highly recommend.  And some Korean and Japanese films including PGSM, several 90s and 2000s Godzilla movies, ThirstMemento Mori, Love My Life, and a two part episode of Detectives of Seonam Girl's Highschool.  And an Israeli film called The Secrets.

And there are more I plan to in the future, any French Adaptations of Paul Feval I haven't viewed yet only cause I simply can't get my hands on them, especially Les Habits Noirs.  Same with films based on Ponson and Eugene Sue's novels.

But the fact remains for a visual Medium I want to pay very close attention to all the visuals with my eyes while my ears tell me what the characters are saying.  Because after all the original director usually did not direct the film planning on people reading subtitles.  And Anime is arguably an even more visual medium then live action.  The Artist has even more complete control over every single visual.

I'm also in general not as hard on Dubs.  Even Vrai Kaiser thinks Utena's Dub is horrible, so do many Utena fans.  But I loved it, I loved hearing Jeremiah Gutwald as Touga, I loved how Saionji sounded kinda like Vincent Price.  And Misty as the title character.... it took me awhile to put my finger on why she sounded familiar, once I did I went, WOW.  But the best is Shiori, her voice was awesome.

One thing I must say with Utena is not only must you see the series BEFORE the Movie, but as far as Sub or Dub goes you must see the Movie the same way you did the series, it being the same voices in those roles is vital for the emotional impact.  And I say this because, when I first watched it at least, Hulu had only the Dub for the series but both for the movie.  If you watched the series Dubbed because that was the only way you could legally for free, don't then watch the movie Subbed simply on some abstract moral principle, it won't connect properly.

It's not likes Subs never make mistakes.  I frankly get annoyed when the Subs I watch leave out the Honorifics, or try to translate them in ways they don't entirely work.  Some people like Subs specifically because they're a way to learn about Japanese culture, well the honorifics are part of that.  And I find the way they're utilized in Romantic works very interesting and so even wish Dubs would start keeping them in some cases.

And related to that is how the subtitles will conform the names to western naming conventions (individual name before family name) even though I can clearly hear the names being said in opposite order.  When watching fiction about Ancient Greece and Rome or The Bible, no one is confused by them not having our modern naming conventions, so why does Japan having a system very similar to Rome's seem to be something localizers think we can't figure out?

The final reason that Anti-Dubbing attitudes bugs me is that I simply am a fan of the art of acting.  In various styles, acting without speaking, and acting that's speaking only.  I defend the acting of The Star Wars Prequels because I understand that Lucas was going for an older style of acting.  I love both highly Theatrical and Operatic over acting, and much more subtle acting.  Both take talent but different kinds, some actors can do both and some only one or the other.

And I've watched enough Anime Dubs to know they have some damn good acting in them, great performances that many are missing out on because they think the very idea of dubbing is somehow disrespectful.  Some are great because they're over the top, and others because they're heart-wrenching.

So please, give Dubs a chance.

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