What do you think about audio commentaries?

Discussion in 'General Anime Chit-Chat' started by Just Passing Through, Mar 19, 2017.

  1. Just Passing Through

    Just Passing Through Guild Member

    Are they just filler to "make up" extras where Japanese companies are unwilling to part with material, or are they of actual use and of interest?

    I love me a Clementary, as he's to anime what Bey Logan is to kung fu, always informative, always interesting, and always entertaining. You learn stuff about the show/movie you're watching, and he elevates the disc.

    Japanese director commentaries can be good too, the Kawajiri commentaries on Cyber City are excellent.

    I have a soft spot for Japanese cast commentaries, even though they tend to goof around even more than their US equivalents. I think they're contractually bound not to have an opinion, but they can still entertain at times, and stuff like the Bakemonogatari character commentaries are golden.

    But US commentaries. Once in a rare while you get some good ones, Gilgamesh springs to mind, but for me Funimation's yak tracks are all the same. The same actors saying the same things on each disc, and they record them as a matter of rote, not because an episode is special, not because they have something meaningful to say, they just indulge in some raucous gossip for twenty minutes that means nothing. It's just as vacuous as some of the Japanese cast commentaries (Planetes springs to mind), but it's nowhere near as entertaining.

    Does anyone actually listen to audio commentaries?
    Neil.T likes this.
  2. Ath

    Ath Pokémon Master

    I do! Audio commentaries can be my favourite extra features. I always think of the ones from The Lord of the Rings extended editions as the benchmark, with the thoughtful directors commentary contrasting nicely with the riotous cast commentaries. I also love Sir Roger Moore's relaxing recollections on his James Bond films and Joel Schumacher's self-deprecating one for Batman and Robin.

    When it comes to anime, I would love to hear more about the production side of things. The few times commentaries show up on anime releases, they seem to be cast commentaries, which are less useful to me with animation as there's only so much one can say about voice acting. Would much prefer to hear from either the production team or an expert. You mention Bey Logan, his commentaries were always a highlight on Hong Kong Legends DVDs. I too would love to hear a Jonathan Clements commentary someday. I think it was one of the very first things I suggested on here as a potential thing that Anime Limited could add to their releases when they first appeared on the scene; so I'm still bitter that when the Clementary opportunity finally came with Mai Mai Miracle, it got voted down :p
  3. Patient-X

    Patient-X Straw Hat Pirate

    I'm not that bothered personally, but the commentaries for Spinal Tap, Monty Pythons Life of Brian and Holy Grail are hilarious.
  4. britguy

    britguy Za Warudo

    Commentaries when they are from analysts and that don't involve people who actually made the film aren't really for me. I don't want to hear peoples interpretations of things, if I want to listen to commentaries it's got to involve the writer, directors etc. This gets complicated with Anime as the people working on teh original show are going to be Japanese so your commentary would need subtitles!
    st_owly likes this.
  5. Just Passing Through

    Just Passing Through Guild Member

    Or a dub. Arrow Video's release of The Happiness of the Katakuris has a commentary from Takashi Miike and actor Tokitoshi Shiota in Japanese and subtitled, and then they re-recorded it again, with actors speaking the English translation of the commentary.
  6. britguy

    britguy Za Warudo

    Didn't know about that, that's pretty cool and a good way to get the commentary over while still watching the show/film with subtitles!
  7. Demelza

    Demelza Adventuring Alchemist AUKN Staff

    Depends on the commentary really. I don't find commentary from dub actors that interesting (mostly because I don't usually watch the dubs!), but if it was subbed commentary from the JP actors or someone else involved with the making of the thing then I'd be fairly interested.
    Neil.T likes this.
  8. Rui

    Rui Karamatsu Boy Administrator

    I love the Bakemonogatari ones and anything from the actual production team. Dub commentaries are annoying and I never listen to them; they just disappoint me whenever I go to an Extras menu and see nothing but a Funimation voice actor chat party in there. Since I never watch the dub in the first place, it amounts to being a bunch of random strangers giggling and mispronouncing their way through the content with no obvious connection to the version of the show I actually watched :s

    (I understand why dub viewers might enjoy them, but boy are they irrelevant to me.)

    Neil.T, st_owly and sideways like this.
  9. IncendiaryLemon

    IncendiaryLemon Captain Karen AUKN Staff

    Never watched any anime commentary tracks but I did sit through the commentary tracks for the entirety of Game of Thrones. The ones with Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright on the Cornetto Trilogy are pretty great too.
  10. crashmatt

    crashmatt Thousand Master

    The Lord of the rings Cast comintarys were great as was the Goonies (the cast got back together especially for it). I think they are great for big budget films but I've no intrest in anime comintarys, I would prefer a written interview in an artbook which I could read in my own time.
  11. Blaize

    Blaize Adventurer

    The best English commentaries for Anime have come from Discotek and some ADV stuff. Discotek commentaries are great, normally done by Mike Toole they are really informative and interesting. I've listened to a few ADV commentaries also, mostly those done by Matt Greenfield and David + Janice Williams, since they have been around for so long and are all old school fans there commentaries are a great window into early Anime fandom in the west.

    I avoid all of the Funimation commentaries because they are all terrible. They tend to be VA love ins which rarely talk about the show or episode in question at all. Rather about how good they all are. I know this is a generalized statement and not how every Funi commentary is but it's not far off from my experience.

    I ranted about this in the past elsewhere on the fandom post
    I've been rewatching my favourite series FMA:Brotherhood and while I know alot about the series already this time I've decided to widen that knowledge by viewing along to the episode wiki's on FMA wikia just to make sure I don't miss anything and It's been fun.

    So I thought after finishing Disc 1 I would checkout the commentary track on Episode 1, I didn't expect much as I know that Funimation tend to just use their VA's for these. It's introduction was literally laughing and silly voices, no joke. I wasn't surprised but it did make me more angry than I thought it would. Fullmetal Alchemist is one of the most marquee Anime ever produced and I'm sure if they tried they could have found someone with the knowledge to have produced a great commentary track on the origins of the show, those behind it's production and the impact this franchise has had on Anime in general. FMA deserved better and we as Anime fans also deserve better. How can we ever expect Anime to be taken more seriously when those producing it provide commentary tracks as bad as these?

    It doesn't help that all dubs have been grating on me more and more recently as the lack of variety is truly outstanding. I have found myself gravitating away from English Dubs more and more often because of it. For example a VA i used to really like 'Greg Ayres' has recently become one I can barely stand because he has been overused, did you know he has 60+ main roles in Anime! Those are just the main roles, he's had plenty more minor roles too. The industry is crying out for new blood or a full on transfusion lol. They've used the same VA's for over a decade. Anyway I'm slightly off topic.

    To anyone curious these are a few I would highly recommend -
    • Casshan Robot Hunter - Manga DVD (Jonathan Clements)
    • Golgo 13 The Professional - Manga DVD (Jonathan Clements)
    • Lupin III Castle of Cagliostro - Discotek BD (Reed Nelson)
    • Lupin III Fuma Conspiracy - Discotek DVD (Reed Nelson)
    • Lupin III Green Jacket Series - Discotek DVD (Reed Nelson and many others)
    • Megazone 23 Episode 1 - ADV DVD (Matt Greenfield, David Williams and Janice Williams)
    • Neon Genesis Evangelion TV - ADV DVD (Matt Greenfield) < Haven't listened to all of these but they are decent.
    • Night on the Galactic Railroad - Discotek DVD (Mike Toole and Justin Sevakis)
    • Prefectural Earth Defense Force - ADV DVD (Matt Greenfield, David Williams and Janice Williams)
    • Ringing Bell - Discotek DVD (Mike Toole)
    • Slayers The Motion Picture - ADV DVD (Matt Greenfield and others)
    • Wicked City - Discotek DVD (Mike Toole)
    Neil.T likes this.
  12. crashmatt

    crashmatt Thousand Master

    @Blaize I agree Greg Ayres is a terrable VA I espcially hate him in Kokorro Connet. He sounds like a constipated teenager, I cant imagine how insufferable an audion commentary by him would be.
  13. cudwieser

    cudwieser Student Council President

    Commentaries are a welcome extra imo, if only for the insight they provide. By extension there are the scene notes included with Excel Saga which pop up at key moments in the episodes to explain the very referencial comedy. Without them most westerners would be more lost than they were.
  14. Neil.T

    Neil.T Magical Girl

    Took the words right out of my mouth!

    I don't watch dubs either, so my only contact with them is in US commentary tracks. In the case of Funi commentaries, I continue to watch them just in case I... learn something? I don't know why, though: it's never happened yet. Possibly the one I regret the most is Negima!? I reacted in sheer horror to the bits of dialogue I could hear in the background, and flipped the audio to English to have a bit of a listen. What an absolutely dreadful piece of dubbing. I wish I'd never heard it now!

    And what a train wreck of a commentary.

    That said, and as much as I hate to admit it, I don't think the US voice actors are the only offenders. Personally, I thought that Cowboy Bebop commentary track with composer Yoko Kanno was pretty unlistenable.

    Also, one of the cast-and-crew commentaries for Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion has seiyuu Yukana suggest (no doubt under strict orders from the show's main sponsor, Pizza Hut) that her character CC's love of pizza "broadens her personality tremendously". Or words to that effect. Haah...

    Can I add a few more Clementaries to @Blaize's list?
    • Appleseed (the 1988 OVA) - Manga DVD (Jonathan Clements)
    • Vampire Hunter D - Manga DVD (Jonathan Clements)
    • Vexille - Momentum Pictures DVD (Jonathan Clements)
  15. Emulsion

    Emulsion Thousand Master

    I never watch with commentary audio on. Don't want to watch something while someone is waffling over the top.

    I really have no interest as to why the director did what they did, why they did it or the reason they made a decision. I also have to interest in how much the actors/voice actors enjoyed doing a scene.

    On the question of "are they just filler to "make up" extras". I think they are to an extent, but not just anime. Technically commentaries are an extras, but to me it feels like they are used to make it seem like you're getting more than you are. So often you see a release that states "over 3 hours of extras", when in reality you only get about an hour of actually extras like delete scenes, out takes, etc... The rest of that time is the commentary tracks that have the same runtime as the show/film.

    Saying all that, I very rearly watch any extras anyway.
  16. HdE

    HdE Comic Book Guy

    Sadly, this has been my experience as well. Without mentioning any names, there are certain ADR directors and VAs who I've simply become distrustful of AS PEOPLE because of the unbelievable amount of codswallop they've talked about shows during their commentary sessions. You cannot turn turds into roses with remarks like 'this show is so dense' or 'there's so much hidden symbolism here.' Quality will always speak for itself and crap will always STILL be crap no matter how enthusiastically folks try to make the case that it isn't.

    On a tangential point, I see Greg Ayres got a mention above. He's actually one of those guys whose insights are genuinely interesting when hes given an appropriate platform to sound off about them. I'd go as far as to say that, if he were given a commentary track on a DVD all to himself, I'd find that required viewing.

    If anyone wants a taster of what I mean, go look up one of his convention panels. It's immediately evident that the guy really cares about the medium he works in. He's also REALLY funny when he's got a few beers down him!
  17. IncendiaryLemon

    IncendiaryLemon Captain Karen AUKN Staff

    Too bad Ayres is easily one of the worst voice actors in the industry. Not that his acting it's self is awful, but the sound of his voice is ear grating. It's like nails on a chalk board.
  18. HdE

    HdE Comic Book Guy

    Remind me to lend you my '70s Rush albums sometime.
  19. IncendiaryLemon

    IncendiaryLemon Captain Karen AUKN Staff

    Gladly, I love Rush.
  20. HdE

    HdE Comic Book Guy

    Go on...