Do you prefer Subs or Dubs?
The question I was not looking forward to! Is it possible that I can just skip this question and come back to it later? No… the challenge has an order and you have to follow it…
I have never really like this question. I feel like it brings out the ugly in people and separates the community in unnecessary ways. However, I won’t say that I never participated in the wars that this question started over the years. I just think that no one ever really liked my response because I never really chose a side. I actually like both and the reason why might be a little weird to some people.
We are going back down memory lane again! All aboard!
Back in the era of Toonami and Saturday morning cartoon blocks, all of the shows I watched were in dubbed. I never in my life considered that the shows I was watching were being translated from Japan. It truly never crossed my mind. So with that being said, I loved the voice actors of that era and some of them are legends in voice acting today. From Dragonball Z’s Sean Schemmel as Goku and Christopher R Sabat as Vegeta to Dan Green’s brilliant and iconic voice as Atem (Yami Yugi) from Yu-Gi_Oh!, I honestly felt like we were spoiled and really don’t appreciate what they did for the industry.
As I became older and discovered new shows such as Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, Samurai Champloo, and others on the Adult Swim block, I still had no issue with the actors. I thought all of their performances were amazing! It was here that I discovered that Adam from the Power Rangers was voicing all sorts of characters. Lelouch Lamperouge from Code Geass, Ichigo Kurosaki from Bleach, Vash the Stampede from Trigun, and Renton Thurston from Eureka Seven were all amazing performances! You would be completely blown away if you knew how many voices Steve Blum has done over his career. Most only know him for Spike Spiegel. Maybe Roger Smith from Big O or Mugen from Samurai Champloo. But did you know that he was the voice behind BlackWarGreymon and Guilmon in Digimon? Ken Masters in the Street Fighter Alpha Movie? Do you remember Kazuma Torisuna from s-CRY-ed? Since I didn’t get to voice my choice for crushes, I couldn’t have been the only one that had crush on Scheries Adjani? And I would evil if I did not mention the astonishing performances from Vic Mignogna and Maxey Whitehead as Edward and Alphonse Elric from Full Metal Alchemist. Should I tell them that you didn’t have to look up their names? Kenshin voice was butter! I used to end all my sentences with “that I am” for a good while in high school.
That is only the tip of the iceberg. There were some truly amazing shows with awesome actors! I know there are people out there that say dubs are horrible, but to me, they are my infant years and nothing will tarnish that.
However, there was a turning point for me. The event that shifted my perspective and opened the door to the world that was subbed and all of the wonders that it entailed.
That event was when Adult Swim dropped Bleach from its lineup.
When that happened, I was in complete disarray. Back then, Bleach was one of my favorite shows. I needed my fix. After a few weeks, I felt like I fiend who wasn’t getting his daily dose. Luckily, I had truly good friends who were already up on the mysterious world of “subbed anime.”
Mind you, this was before Crunchyroll was a paid service and back when fansubs was one of the only way to watch shows. Fansub groups like HorribleSubs, UTW-Mazui, and Deadfish rules the anime space and we were at their mercy concerning what shows they chose to fansub for us. Hard to believe that was less than ten years ago.
But it was here that I discovered all sorts of anime. Shows that weren’t even licensed in the states. I discovered the gem in my eyes C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control (RPG Story was one of the best endings EVER!!!), Gosick, To Aru Majutsu no Index, Seitokai Yakuindomo, Shiki, and High School of the Dead. Funny tidbit: I discovered Soul Eater when HorribleSubs trolled the first episode because they did not like the series. Oh! And Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin!
And this was honestly the best time for me when it came to anime. It was like an anime renaissance. Not only did I get to continue with Bleach and Naruto, the shows that weren’t getting dubbed anymore at the time, but I discovered the endless anime that I never knew existed. I still have anime from that time on my list to watch. Still! The only reason I learned about torrents was to collect anime. Sites like Shana Project (that is still running today) were like discovering libraries worth of anime.
Watching all these anime in their native language and with subtitles, I slowly began to shift away from translated dubbed that I loved so much. But something weird happened. For the shows that I started watching in dub and return to, I didn’t have a problem. In fact, I would watch both versions of the show to see the differences to determine which one I preferred. The first show I did this with was Toradora! and honestly, I love both of them equally. I also did this to Your lie in April. I equally cherish both the sub and dub.
But from that moment forward, if I did not watch both versions from the start and became attached to one and the show just dropped the dub, I couldn’t watch it anymore. I wouldn’t say I couldn’t watch it. I am reluctant to. For example, I can’t watch Fairy Tale. I just can’t. I really loved the dub of that show. It reminds of the show Rave Master. Another great show by the way. I tried watching it subbed and it just didn’t feel the same. One Piece is another show that I dropped when 4Kids changed the voice actors and later just dropped the series. It took FOREVER for me to adjust to the Japanese cast of Dragonball Super.
I know it doesn’t make sense. I should be able to enjoy these shows. Perhaps, later on, I will be able to. But for now, I dropped those shows. I still keep up with them but I can’t bring myself to watch them.
Let’s not forget about the movies. I watched Summer Wars, The Girl Who Leapt through Time, Wolf Children, The Boy and the Beast, Your Name, Dead Leaves, and tons of other movies dubbed and loved them all. I have always seen all these movies subbed and though the dialogue may change, I feel like the message in both versions. So why hate on dub if it allows other people to get into anime? I have people that would have never watched anime at all if they had to watch it subbed but enjoy the movies I showed them dubbed. Wolf Children being the one that I show many non-anime fans because it shows it is more than just what they think it is.
So to answer the question, I like both. I can watch My Hero Academia both subbed and dubbed. Actually, I feel like I get a slightly different experience when I flip between the two. They both invoke the feels, but they’re different in their own subtle way. If you don’t believe me, go All Might versus Nomu or All Might versus All for One. The difference is slight, but it is there. The way each actor says their lines, especially during the end of those battles tugged at two different heart strings.
I feel like that applies to all the shows that I have watched in both. Sometimes, the subtitles are poetic and endearing. Sometimes the dubbed knows just the right words to say to tug at the heart.
I appreciate the art form and the craft. I’m not saying there aren’t horrible dubs. I would be lying if I did. But when the dub is good, we should acknowledge and give praise. Translating another language and attempting to maintain the theme and tone of the material isn’t easy. So when it is really good, celebrate it!
Not the answer you were expecting? I know. I’m sorry but I love the medium too much to play favorites. What do you prefer? Let’s talk about in the comments below. As always, thank you for swinging by and reading. I really appreciate it.
Until the next post…