Crap I’d Like To See Dubbed (And Not Dubbed)
Just over one year ago I sat down, popped in my Rebuild of Evangelion blurays, and for the very first time in my anime watching experience, switched the language track to English. Approximately four hours later, having been finally exposed to the bane of Artistic Integrity™ and quality that is English dubbing, I simply thought, “Eh, it was pretty good, I don’t see what everyone bitches about.” Thus beginning my journey through the abject horrors of the American, Canadian, and sometimes British anime voice-acting. Some have been good, the majority have been bad, and a select few have been so bad that I have to question what “bad” truly is. So now that a year has passed since I begun vomiting up my thoughts in the nonsensical, horrendously written, stilted prose that is this blog; I have decided to think forward at two categories. The first is dubs that I will probably never get to see because either they won’t get licensed, they’re really hard to get a hold of, or they just don’t get made (except for a few flukes). The second is dubs that either I’m most-likely going to watch, but really don’t want to, or don’t ever want to see get made in the first place. Why? Because I like watching things I know I’m going to dislike. (Heck, I just ordered the “limited edition” of Shiki off of Rightstuf, despite the fact that I will probably hate both the series and the dub. But hey, at least I get text-less openings and four commentaries!)
Stuff I DO want to see dubbed*
*But will probably never get to watch
The Intense Gambling Trilogy
Why I want to see it: I love Akagi, I absolutely adore Kaiji, and I really enjoyed One Outs. However, they’re definitely shows that lose a lot of their entertainment-value after the first viewing, so I’ll take any excuse to rewatch them with something fresh added to the experience. Sadly, all three of these series have very little chance of ever being licensed. I really wish they would be. If any series has potential for getting some great dubs, it’s these series. No women in the vocal cast? Check. (In fact I think between the three shows there are only two female characters.) A complete lack of children, with the majority of the cast being middle-aged? Check. Hammy as crap? Check. Dialogue and scripting that wouldn’t suffer from a loose translation, allowing for more a natural sounding dub script? Check. (The crazy metaphors in the narration would have to be left in tact through, simply because they’re such an integral part of what makes all three shows so much fun.) Seriously, that’s like the perfect storm of traits for avoiding the pitfalls of standard horrible dubbing.
Trepidations: Casting. All three of these shows have a major advantage in that they lack the areas where dubbing tragically fails nearly every time. But even with the lack of children, the lack of women, and the lack of stiff and stilted dialogue, bad casting would completely fuck all three shows. Without a strong lead and a strong narrator, good direction and scripting wouldn’t save it. I wouldn’t be too worried with Akagi and Toua’s casting as they’re roles are pretty emotionally monotone, but the hammy narrators, Kaiji, and hapless onlookers is where I could see many problems with the dubbing. With Kaiji, there is a whole slew of emotions from the extreme lows and fits of crying, to the triumphant highs and heroic speeches, and I can’t really think of a single male dub actor I’d like to hear crying. With the side cast I’d worry about the dub cast having the right balance of overblown reactions and genuine emotion. But it’s definitely the narrator that I think would make or break the dubs. Yes, Tohru Furuya, Fumihiko Tachiki, and Hitoshi Kubota are all hammy as shit with the narration but it’s a special kind of hamminess; it’s not Jeremy Irons in Dungeons and Dragons, it’s not John Travolta in Battlefield Earth, it’s like Christopher Walken or James Earl Jones. It’s hammy, but it’s also serious, so the cheese becomes endearing instead of just laughable. The narrator needs to sound like he really believes that a three-minute monologue about the perils of gambling/the impossible odds/the general craziness is needed before every action.
More Exploitation OVAs
Why I want to see it: Stupid original work + stupid dubbing = fun times. It’s plain and simple. The best thing about many of the horrible OVAs that Manga released is that, on their own they’re enjoyably bad, but with bad dubbing added they evolve to a new level of bad, where you can have a good time watching it and not just ironically enjoy it. But beyond that, the story telling in most of the gore-porn that came out in the late-eighties to mid-nineties is so basic that it needs bad dubbing to complete the feel of low-budget 80s action movie. Even the “good” stuff that is frequently praised in the R1, like Ninja Scroll, is nothing more than a 90 minute excuse to watch some nicely drawn action scenes with blood and nudity. And really, excluding Godzilla movies, is there anything more deserving of piss-poor dubbing than that?
Trepidations: Blandly terrible dubbing. It takes the right blend of bad for something to be entertainingly bad. It requires a degree of incompetence, an overall feeling that no one in the production had any idea what they were doing, completely flawed execution, and most importantly, a complete lack of quality control. Zeta Gundam had a horrible, horrible dub, but it still had basic QC going on. Character always used the same pronunciation for terms and names, the script (while shitty) still made sense and wasn’t filled with nonsensical dialogue that directly contradicted the on-screen visuals, there weren’t glaring errors that anyone could have caught if they bothered to watch the finished product, and it felt like a complete package. That’s why it was shit. It was poorly acted and poorly written, but it was “competently” made. In order for something to be so-bad-it’s-good, it needs to lack that, every inch of it needs to feel unfinished, rushed, as well as poorly designed. And while a strong source material does make it harder to achieve that, it doesn’t make it impossible.
Dragon Ball Z
Why I want to see it: There are like thirty different dubs for Dragon Ball Z. And from what clips I’ve been able to find, many of them rival Garzey’s Wing for the title of best dub of all time. And while I do have a special place in my heart for Dragon Ball and I really like the original cast, I think that for such a fun and campy show, I can definitely get enjoyment out of some less than stellar dubbing. (I watched the Big Green dub of the first movie and it was amazing.) Plus, so many American anime fans grew up watching DBZ dubbed on Toonami, that I kind of feel obligated to watch it dubbed. (I still had the better childhood, watching horrible .rm copies with nearly unreadable subtitles.)
Trepidations: Excluding the Funimation and Ocean dubs, getting a hold of the truly great DBZ dubs seems to be nearly impossible.
Gag Dubs (Anything like Ghost Stories)
Why I want to see it: Because it represents the ultimate reason for having a dub. It gives the viewer a new way to experience the show. Simply putting something in English doesn’t really justify a dub’s existence. I like good changes, something new added to the experience. But most importantly, it gives me hope that I might get enjoyment out of a previously shitty anime. Did Lucky Star need a straight English dub? Fuck no. When great anime gets dubbed, the dub really doesn’t have anywhere to go, even if it’s “better” than the Japanese track, when both are “great” it doesn’t feel like a triumphant improvement. But with mediocre and shitty anime, that had mediocre and shitty original vocal casts? There is no excuse for being worse than the original. (Okay maybe Garzey’s Wing‘s dub has an excuse, but by being worse, it managed to be a million times better.)
Trepidations: My biggest problem with Ghost Stories was that it was very hit and miss. Don’t get me wrong, the funny shit was really funny and was enough to carry the dub, but the unfunny shit was painfully unfunny, and tended to be the more recurring jokes. (What is it with anime’s desire to take an unfunny joke and beat it into the ground until it turns into an ulcerous pain?) So I can only imagine that there exists some gag dub that, while I it changes the Japanese script completely, retains the painful lack of hilarity so prevalent in Japanese “comedy” anime. Example: the horrible scripting in Squid Girl, which turned a dub that could have been a pun-filled masterpiece of so-bad-it’s-good into a dull pile of feces.
Any Cute Girls Doing Cute Things Show
(Dubbed Entirely by Norio Wakamoto in Engrish)
Why I want to see it: Because it would be glorious.
Trepidations: None. There is absolutely no way anything could go wrong with it. Norio wouldn’t even need to follow the script, he could just start reading the dictionary or something. In fact, fuck dubbing a show. Just make a new show. Have it be Norio Wakamoto reading the dictionary to a gaggle of cute girls. It would be both informative and awesome.
Stuff I DO NOT want to see dubbed*
*But am going to watch anyway (if it has a release)
There are too many entries to list and most of them would be redundant, so I’m just going to pick some key examples. Either of shows that I plan on watching dubbed for the hell of it or non-released shows I just don’t want to see dubbed.
Why I don’t want it: Putting a side by absolute hatred for Key-shit (Air, Kanon, Clannad), lets examine the myriad of traits found within these shows that make it so, without having seen anything relating to these dubs before, I can almost guarantee they suck. We’ve got the following, large number of “cute” female characters all who are in their teenage years, harem bullshit, stupid comic relief side character(s), fucking uguu~, at least one scene where a small child cries, pointless overblown forced-drama bullshit, and overall general stupidity. In short, the deck is tremendiously stacked against the dubs for these shows. And seeing as I don’t generally see the same level of love for Key-shit dubs as I do for something like Baccano‘s dub, I’m going to assume that they didn’t turn out well. (Sadly I will still watch them.)
How it could be awesome: If it turns out they completely rewrote every show, removed all the forced drama, and added mobsters. (Because adding the mafia to anything instantly makes it twice as good.)
Why I don’t want it: Because I like the original, I loved the original vocal cast, and as I just mentioned, American dubbing and cute girls generally ends in catastrophic failure. But beyond that, the cast is full of people from the K-ON! and Squid Girl dubs, which sucked; and the director/scriptwriter is the same man who gave us the fucking Lucky Star dub, which sucked. So the dub probably sucks.
How it could be awesome: By not sucking. But considering that Lucky Star’s dub mostly sucked by merit of just being the show (which sucked) in English, there is some hope that by mimicking Madoka in English, the little girls won’t sound annoying. Then the dub wouldn’t suck, it would just be completely pointless.
Why I don’t want it: Mainly because I’d have to rewatch Code Geass. But also because it’s dubbed by Bang Zoom! and their handling of the TTGL dub does not instill faith that they would dub the trainwreck with the right degree of not-giving-a-shit. Oh there probably would be a level of not-giving-a-shit, but they would still give at least two shits when Geass needs a vocal cast that gives exactly zero shits. But beyond that, I’ve seen quite a bit of praise for Geass‘ dub, even the, “but the Japanese like it too, so it’s good!” crap that I see weirdly thrown around. And that can only mean one thing. It’s probably mediocre at best.
How it could be awesome: The English cast pours on the overacting and sees if they can chew so much scenery they actually devour the recording studio.
Any Cute Girls Doing Cute Things Show
(NOT Dubbed Entirely by Norio Wakamoto in Engrish)
Why I don’t want it: See Key-shit and Madoka. The core composition of these shows generally seems to attract shitty dubbing. And you know what? They really shouldn’t. They’re the shows that probably can benefit the most from dubbing! With plot heavy shows you can’t make an alternate audio track feel like a completely different experience like you can with shows that are pretty much nothing but dialogue. If a show is nothing but three to five females sitting around and talking about stupid shit (and “gags“), there is so much there to adapt and tweak and make something new and exciting. “But what about the Artistic Integrity™ of the show!?” If you’re watching a show about Japanese characters in Japan, talking about Japanese concepts, with clearly Japanese humor, in English, you already do not give a fuck about Artistic Integrity™ . Seriously, DVD/BDs put both audio tracks on there for a reason. Get some competent writers, a good director, some good actresses and make an interesting show about three to five females doing fucking nothing. I know it can exist. Because there are slice of life shows I actually really like. I don’t hate cute-girls-doing-cute-things. So there is no reason why every dub for that particular… genre?… should be so bad.
How it could be awesome: Again, Wakamoto as every single character.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes
Why I don’t want it: Because it’s Legend of the motherfucking Galactic motherfucking-back-flipping-Norio-Wakamoto Heroes. There are just too many things for the dub to fuck up. The Japanese cast is already pretty much perfect, the script is godly and filled with so many memorable lines, the direction is grand, and there is just no real way I could see a dub adding or improving on anything. As cool as it would be to see an R1 release for LoGH, I just have no interest in seeing it in English.
How it could be awesome: It would need to be some legendary dub that made all other audio tracks quake simply by thinking of its existence. It would need actors from every talent pool across the world (not just the American dub industry), it would need to be half-German and half-English so that it added a layer of complexity and depth, and above all it would need a script forged in the heavens by the gods of script-writing and blessed by the holy coven of script witches. In short, it will never happen, mostly because it will never, ever, ever, ever be licensed.