You may call me a snob…(or why I prefer my anime subbed)

Vash's Angels

I’m a big anime fan. There’s no way around that. If you walk into my living room you’ll see a decent anime dvd collection and anime cels covering the wall behind my couch. I love the stuff though I’m very picky about what anime I call my favorites. Over the years I’ve gotten into many debates about my “snobbish” attitudes when it comes to anime being subtitled or dubbed. Time to let the whole world know my opinion and reasons on the subject.

The easy winner is subtitles, hands down.

If you think I’m biased because the first anime I watched was subtitled you’d be wrong. The first anime I remember watching happened to be “The Magical Adventures of Unico” and “Unico and the Magical Island”. Both of those I watched dubbed and as a kid I totally enjoyed them, even though I had nightmares about evil puppets turning me into a giant puzzle piece. There was a large gap in my anime watching for many years. The next anime I watched was the subbed version of Fushigi Yuugi.

Since then I watch all my anime subbed and enjoy it that way. I have tried to watch various ones dubbed and while I can live with a couple of English voice actors in certain roles (the English voice of Vash the Stampede isn’t terrible….) I much prefer to listen to the original Japanese seiyuu (voice actors). I’d like to point out that the seiyuu were chosen carefully to fit those particular roles. In certain cases, such as in Fushigi Yuugi, the seiyuu even have several character songs that play as background music and are on the soundtracks that they actually sing. If you only ever listen to the dubbed version of Fushigi Yuugi you’ll miss that wonderful little bit that adds to the experience. I realize it’s easier to focus on the images if you don’t have to read the subtitles but I think you can master the ability of reading fast and seeing the picture at the same time.

I’ve tried and tried to get used to dubbed anime but every time I ended up running from the room, hands over my ears and singing loudly to block out the sound. While I love the sound of Japanese seiyuu, even in high pitched high school girl mode, I cannot stand to hear an English voice actor trying to pull off the same tone (and usually failing miserably). The pacing, the tone, the emphasis never sounds quite right in dubbed anime. Perhaps the actors try too hard. Perhaps they don’t try hard enough. In either case, it’s enough to make my ears hurt.

There’s a local anime convention here in Nashville called MTAC and each year I try to convince the con chair that he would have a huge surge in attendance and fangirls by the truckload if he would just get one relatively well-known seiyuu here as a guest. Or even an actor from a live-action move like Death Note. Heck, if Matsuyama Ken’ichi was at the next con, I’d be one of those drooling fangirls in line.

I’m open to debate about the whole subject of subbed vs. dubbed. If you prefer your anime dubbed and want to give me some great reasons why, drop a comment!