Anime is available
in two language formats. Subtitled, in which the voices are still
the original seiyuu
and the words are translated into English text on the bottom of
the screen, is one option. Dubbed, the other format, involves English-speaking
actors dubbing their voices over that of the seiyuu. Dubbing is
generally considered bad. I'll explain why.
Anime is drawn
so that the movements of characters' mouths correspond to the Japanese
words the characters are speaking. When an anime is dubbed, the
mouths still move at the same rate, but the English translation
often doesn't match those movements, so the companies doing the
dubbing must rewrite the script so that the mouth movements correspond.
This can include actually altering the implications of the words
is done by professionals, as is dubbing, but the subtitlers are
free to translate the Japanese exactly, without adding words or
changing meanings to fit the animation. This allows for greater
understanding of the anime. Also, in a subtitled version, the audience
is able to hear the emotion conveyed through the original voice.
This can often be helpful in deciphering implied meanings in statements.
of How Dubbing Changes Things
Suit Gundam Wing, which is available in both subtitled and
dubbed versions in the United States, the mouth-movement problem
comes up often and those doing the dubbing don't always consider
the repercussions of their choices in altering the script.
alright? (Dubbed: Hey, are you alright?)
you to reload the explosives for Heero. (Dubbed: I need
a favor of you. Reload the explosives for Heero Yuy.)
that. Stop worrying about that right now. Start thinking about
what your next move will be! (Dubbed: Forget that. Stop
worrying about that right now. You'd better start thinking about
what your next move is, kid!)
this example, the dubbed version loses Lt. Noin's sense of respect
for Trowa Barton, as she calls him "kid." Also, Trowa
shows more respect for Lt. Noin in the dubbed version than in the
subtitled version, actually asking her for a favor. This is out
of character for him, since he has no respect for anyone involved
with OZ, the organization that she works for.
|| I see.
We'll expect Acht's search party to regroup before attacking,
rather than assume they've given up pursuing us. (Dubbed: I
see. I guess we'd better expect Acht's search party to regroup
before staging an assault, rather than assume they've given
up pursuing us.)
a wise decision. (Dubbed: That's a wise decision.)
has one able officer. (Dubbed: So, OZ does have one elite officer.)
In this example,
Lt. Noin sounds unsure of herself in the dubbed version, making
the audience wonder at the tone of respect in Heero's and Trowa's
voices. Also, Trowa's statement about "able officers"
in the subtitled version implies more of a lack of respect for the
OZ organization than does his "elite officer" comment
in the dubbed version.
So, you can
see how simple word choice issues can make a big difference in meaning,
throwing off the perception of a scene, sometimes the perception
of an entire character. Thus, even though dubbing tries hard, it
is still a bad idea. Dubbing might not be as bad an idea as not
translating it at all. As you can see, this is not a clean-cut issue,
though I certainly lean more toward subtitling than dubbing.
Suit Gundam Wing
movies are a good example of bad voice-dubbing.
is an example of an anime that underwent unfortunate dubbing.
I've told you about the differences
between subbing and dubbing. Do you want to hear
the difference? Check out these MP3s of the same scene,
in English, and in Japanese. Notice the difference in emotion
and acting quality.