It’s the age-old debate. Which is better? Subs or Dubs?
Well, admittedly, I still argue this one… So which is better? It all depends on your context. Let’s start with the old-school anime. With the exception of a select few (I’ll name a few shortly) anime of the 80’s and early 90’s was poorly dubbed. A couple of exception include Akira and Neon Genesis: Evangelion. A few examples of poor dubbing would be Judge, Moldiver, and Samurai Pizza Cats among others. (If you don’t know them, look it up, yo!)
As the anime fandom has become more mainstream and popular, anime studios don’t have to scrape the bottom of the barrel for actors anymore. If you want some examples of successful voice actors, see Spike Spencer, Steve Blum, Crispin Freeman, Vic Mignogna, Richard Epcar as just a few examples of successful careers.
So… With some newer anime distributions (late 90’s onwards) I’m more torn about which version to watch. The English voice actors do an amazing job now, but the japanese can sometimes hit those emotional keys the americans can’t.
There is, on the other hand, some restraint to japanese voice acting. I’ve heard that there are only a few vocal ranges, which seem to almost be the same few actors for every show. For the males: young boy, old man, mobster, or heroic male lead voice. For the female, there are perhaps a few more variations:
Young girl, tsundere, energetic friend, androgenous character, heroic female lead, old woman.
But still, almost every tsundere character sounds almost exactly the same.
To be honest, for my personal preference, If there is the option, I will watch anime in English first. The reason? That way, its an easy way to get the idea of the story and the characters (modern anime tend not to re-write the story unless they want to angle it to young kids, like pokemon). And then, I can go back and watch it in japanese, be able to compare the voices, and get a bit of a feel for the deeper complexities.
(I find if you watch something in English first, you also won’t complain about how “horrible” the english is if you’ve seen the japanese version beforehand. Such as my first experiences with Bleach and Naruto in English.)
So in conclusion, which is better? That’s up to the viewers to decide, and think about. And really do think… Is the English so bad?