Good dub, bad dub.

Mutsumi

Guild Member
What makes a good dub good, and a bad dub bad?
Often we might talk about how much we like or dislike any particular dubs, but what in particular is it that we dislike about certain dubs? What do we like about them? Must a dub cast the voices as close as possible to the sub to be a good dub? What about when a dub uses an entirely different soundtrack, as in the case of Dragonball Z or the Tokyopop dub of Initial D? What dubs are the best example of how a dub should be done, and why?
 

Project-2501

Straw Hat Pirate
Pretty much anything where they are not just reading their lines in a lifeless monotone (such as mononoke) or doing REALLY bad accents (Negima, Yugo the negotiator). And it helps if the voice matches what you think the character would sound like. (Liam Neeson does not fit Fujimoto in Ponyo IMO)
 

BlackWolf

Godhand
For me a good dub is when the voices fit the roles perfectly, like Full Metal Panic! and Chrono Crusade (although i didn't buy Spike Spencer as Chrono but everyone else was good). I can list plenty of bad dubs, like Mediablasters GaoGaiGar dub, an awesome show but it got an horrible dub using mainly 4kids voices.

Another thing to consider into this though would be the westenizing of the translation, i've seen numourous booklets included in anime which had to explain jokes in the sub track which we (being of a different culture) wouldn't understand. So is it a good thing that the script is altered to tell a joke?
 

Mutsumi

Guild Member
Personally I like the Japanese cultural references in the humour and would rather learn to understand them than have them replaced with something I might be more familiar with. On the other hand I can forgive this if the alteration is not too severe.
 

Nyu

Pokémon Master
Kirrimir said:
Good dub? no such thing. Bearable dubs? see Cromartie High, School Rumble (-Tenma).

What makes a bad dub? it's instantly bad. It's a Dub.

Tenchi Muyo, Macross Plus, Black Lagoon, Cowboy Bebop, New Dominion Tank Police, Steam Boy, Chobits.

All have what I would call really good dubs, granted some are a bit old but they are perfect examples of what can be done.

It's all a case of the right artist that fits the right role and actually has some enthusiasm for what they do. If someone can't be bothered you can really tell in the final product. Budget plays a part sometimes, others its on the studio. You could have excellent actors do the voiceover work, but they will demand a higher payment, pushing the budget up, pushing your purchase price up.

I also can't imagine the lineup for voiceover artists being that big for the western market. Hence why a lot of the child programming voiceovers also do import work like this.

Usually i'll watch a new series in a dub format first. Obviously the japanese original will be of a decent quality already so I like to give the guys that have put the effort in a chance first. If it's rubbish then not a problem, it takes two seconds to change.
 
Nyu said:
It's all a case of the right artist that fits the right role and actually has some enthusiasm for what they do.
Pretty much this. A high budget can be a virtue, as in the case of Disney's wonderful Whisper of the Heart dub; but correct casting, good directing, and enthusiastic actors can be just as, if not more, important.

Though I generally enjoy dubs, the vast majority certainly aren't perfect. Sometimes directors have the actors enunciate too clearly, which results in unnatural sounding dialogue, and I don't like when dub scripts bolt redundant words or phrases onto the end of sentences in order to match the lip flaps. "You know", "right now", that kind of thing.
 

MaxonTreik

Chuunibyou
Kirrimir you are really ignorant.

Anyway, a good dub needs to sound natural. If someone is putting on a goofy voice or overacting I just cringe. Like Fabio mentioned enunciating properly is always a plus. Americans have a bad habit of emphasising syllables instead of just saying a word. Reading off a script in a monotone is bad too (I'm looking at you, Escaflowne).

fabricatedlunatic said:
and I don't like when dub scripts bolt redundant words or phrases onto the end of sentences in order to match the lip flaps. "You know", "right now", that kind of thing.
I dunno. I think those make good alternatives to things like "desu~".
 

HdE

Comic Book Guy
I think a varied cast makes for an enjoyable dub. Shows like Ghost In The Shell SAC and Gundam 00 get it right, in my opinion. The ensemble cast has a certain chemistry there.

I also think Dominion Tank Police has a great dub! It's full of character and charm. Where are those guys 'n' gals now, eh?

And how can we have this discussion without mentioning the two dubs of Akira? The Streamline Pictures dub still has bags more life and zinginess to it than the 2002 dub. Cam Clarke IS Kaneda!
 

ayase

State Alchemist
Acting ability, surely? i.e. Not putting emphasis on the totally wrong parts of words and sentences, as though they've never actually heard anyone speak English naturally before - I consider this a major problem, especially amongst female American VAs. There's a reason the GitS, Cowboy Bebop and Black Lagoon dubs are so universally admired, and that's it. The actors sound natural in their roles, they don't SOund like THEY are ACting!
 
ayase said:
Acting ability, surely? i.e. Not putting emphasis on the totally wrong parts of words and sentences
Wouldn't it be the director's responsibility to ensure that the actors deliver their lines in the correct way? This, I suppose, is where budget comes into it. Getting it right can take time, but time is money and anime dub studios have to work within their budget.
 
HdE said:
I also think Dominion Tank Police has a great dub! It's full of character and charm. Where are those guys 'n' gals now, eh?

And how can we have this discussion without mentioning the two dubs of Akira? The Streamline Pictures dub still has bags more life and zinginess to it than the 2002 dub. Cam Clarke IS Kaneda!
I was going to mention in my first post that I love many of the old Manga UK and Streamline dubs. They may not have been particularly faithful, but the actors seemed to have more freedom to express themselves. Today's dubs are very polished and professional in comparison, but in some cases at the expense of a little soul.
 

ayase

State Alchemist
fabricatedlunatic said:
ayase said:
Acting ability, surely? i.e. Not putting emphasis on the totally wrong parts of words and sentences
Wouldn't it be the director's responsibility to ensure that the actors deliver their lines in the correct way?
Partially, but if the actors can't act in the first place how likely is the director to succeed? I'm of the opinion that good actors shouldn't need a lot of direction, (especially in such elementary areas as where to place emphasis) which leads me to believe that many English VAs are in fact not very good at acting.

But then I'm never particularly impressed with the general standard of acting anyway (if I was a director I'd fire so many people before I got the right ones...) So many actors seem to be chosen for their looks rather than their abilities. If anything, you'd have thought this should mean greater talent in voice acting than live action - though that doesn't seem to be the case.
 

Magillanica Lou Mayvin

Time-Traveller
There are a few things I require to listen to a dub:

-- The voices must not sound annoying. For this reason, I prefer not listening to kids' voices in English--at least the Japanese sound cute!

-- The voices must match the characters. No matter how good a voice actor/actress is, if he or she gets miscast then it'll drive me mad. Blum as Onizuka is an excellent example of a big name getting a totally inappropriate role.

-- The actors/actresses must express personality; not just read the lines off the script in a rushed attempt to match the mouth movements. If there's no genuine emotion expressed, then the dub turns out like Narutaru's and subtle feelings such as anxiety fail to be expressed.

Funimation are usually on the ball, and the people they get for their dubs tend to be very good at their job. I like how they aren't afraid to change what's said to make it more amusing or understandable for Western audiences... though there have been examples of the Japanese subtitles being more clear as a result of this; like with what was said about the scroll in the Basilisk epilogue.
 

HdE

Comic Book Guy
One pet peeve of mine - lip flap.

I remember seeing the English language version of Macross II and being IN STITCHES of uproarious laughter at how appallingly stilted the dub was. There were huge gaps left in the middle of sentences as the VAs waited for the lip flaps. 'Please......let me...be............part of...operation......Minmay!' :wink:

Now, I could live with a slightly looser approach to hitting lip flap. But what about everybody else?
 

Fudce

Great Teacher
Mutsumi said:
What makes a good dub good, and a bad dub bad?
Often we might talk about how much we like or dislike any particular dubs, but what in particular is it that we dislike about certain dubs? What do we like about them? Must a dub cast the voices as close as possible to the sub to be a good dub? What about when a dub uses an entirely different soundtrack, as in the case of Dragonball Z or the Tokyopop dub of Initial D? What dubs are the best example of how a dub should be done, and why?

A good dub should tell the same story as the original language version, and the experience of watching it should be the same as the original intent other than the language difference.


I'm not saying the script should be identical to the Japanese. If a joke doesn't translate well, some more liberal adaption of it may be needed. The voices shouldn't be a voice-match of the Japanese Seiyuu, but rather fit the intent of the character. If the character is a young bratty girl, then make her an annoying young bratty girl. If the character is an old woman, then make her sound like an old woman.

Nyu said:
Obviously the japanese original will be of a decent quality already
Not always true. I've heard my fair share of bad Japanese dubs as well as English dubs. It's just that we aren't as used to hearing Japanese as we are English that the English sounds worse.

Aion said:
-- The voices must not sound annoying. For this reason, I prefer not listening to kids' voices in English--at least the Japanese sound cute!
A common misconception. Annoying characters should sound annoying. If they don't sound annoying then the character has changed, which is a worse crime than an annoying voice.

HdE said:
One pet peeve of mine - lip flap.

I remember seeing the English language version of Macross II and being IN STITCHES of uproarious laughter at how appallingly stilted the dub was. There were huge gaps left in the middle of sentences as the VAs waited for the lip flaps. 'Please......let me...be............part of...operation......Minmay!' :wink:

Now, I could live with a slightly looser approach to hitting lip flap. But what about everybody else?

That's not bad dubbing, that's bad writing.


Basicly, the translator translates what is in Japanese into English.

The writer then rewrites the translation so that it sounds 'correct' in English, and also fits the lipflaps. Quite often they'll say the line to themselves as they rewatch the scene, and if it doesn't sound right (too many gaps between flaps) they'll be forced to rewrite a scene.

Older dubs are notoriously bad for their writing, but modern dubs have people who have been rewriting anime for over ten years, so they have improved greatly.
 

memorium

Za Warudo
bad dubing i would say is Evangelion, and the Guilty Gear X movie trailer

"OH NO! I'M FALLING!"

good dubbing for me is Hellsing, because the characters have the right accents and stuff, and anything by Funimation :wink:
 

HdE

Comic Book Guy
I'll second the comment about Funimation scoring points for good dubs. Everything I've heard that they handled has been great.
 
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