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Post Reply How do you tell good voice acting from bad voice acting?
Posted 9/12/16 , edited 9/12/16
I can't tell if the voice acting is good or bad with Japanese VAs since I don't understand the language

I barely watch subbed anime anyway
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Posted 9/12/16
Since I'm not fluent in Japanese yet, I can only tell a bad VA job if it's REALLY bad. It would have to be way overdone for me to know.

As for English voice acting, if they oversell it, making them feel like they're trying way too hard, then it's pretty easy to tell. That, or if they are pretty emotionless about it. Sometimes a dubbing job sounds bad because of poor casting choices. In that case, you can hardly blame the VA if their voice is unsuited for the role they are cast in.

When people mention that most dubs are terrible, they seem to forget that dubbing is incredibly difficult. The Japanese VAs have set up a performance and given life to a character. The English dub VA has to work within the parameters the Japanese VA has set, making their job twice as hard. Plus, since most English-speaking anime viewers can't understand Japanese, they can't tell if a Japanese VA is bad or not. They only have a baseline for their native language.

This, of course, is all my opinion.
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Posted 9/16/16
Rule #1) Does it make you cringe.

Rule #2) Refer to rule one
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Posted 9/16/16
Good voice acting is about emotion and tonality. To much emotion and it's cheesy. To little and it's bland. Some characters are laid back and others are emotional. Over selling femininity or masculinity is an issue as well. The deep boomy voice of a villain (usually in English dubs) or the squeaky voiced lolly. Good voice acting is quite simply when you can believe that voice belongs to the character not some one in a vocal booth. I don't know Japanese so I can't truly judge, but If I can replace what there saying with the subs and my emotions and the voices emotion lines up I consider that good. If I'm in tears and there monotone somethings wrong. Take Rurouni Kenshin. The female vocalist was a bad fit for the character, but her acting was good. Over time i excepted that his voice was feminine despite the fact that he was obviously male.
lawdog 
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Posted 9/16/16
Easy: Listen to the sub track. That is good voice acting.

Then listen to the dub. If you are lucky you'll get something along the lines of a decent high school play. If not...that is bad voice acting.

Yes, it really is that easy.
lawdog 
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Posted 9/16/16

NyxUlric wrote:

Switch from subs to dubs.

Something just seems off when it comes to dubs, I can't quite put my fingers on it. Maybe they sound too old? Like a high school boy or girl, and the voice actor sounds 25 or 30, so it just comes off as awkward. The lack of feelings, sometimes it feels like they're just reading the lines from a page. Too much feelings, I find that sometimes the English voice actors will overexaggerate a certain scene which makes it even more awkward.

Also, why is it in dubs, the characters' voice sounds so similar to one another? Do they use one actor for several characters? The limited diversity in tone is another reason why it's bad.


Dubs have a number of major handicaps. First, they're trying to fit words of another language into facial expressions which were made for the dialogue of another language. Second, they're not under the instruction of the original creative team. No pun intended, intent and characterization gets lost in translation.

For example, an early example of this is the character Ryoko from Tenchi Muyo. She became a fan favorite for many, largely due to Petrea Buchard's voice acting. Ms. Buchard did a great job, but there was a major problem: She played Ryoko with a level of sexy and sultry that wasn't there in the original. The result was a complete recreation of the character into something that she was not, obscuring the immaturity of the character.

Same sort of thing with Heaven's Lost Property. The American VA just puts too much sexy into Ikaros's monotone, to the extent that it's a stretch to call the English version a monotone.

I just see it all too often, where the dub VAs completely fail at accurately portraying the character as originally intended.

There are some good dubs out there, but even there, the sub version is always superior. Cowboy Bebop is an example of an outstanding dub, but even there, there are things missed, especially with Faye's character. There's a mischevious little girl aspect to Megumi Hayashibara's version has that never gets translated over by Wendee Lee...who, again, does a great job. I see this a lot, female VA's unable to fully have the range that the Japanese VAs do.

Great example: Watch one of the great episodes in anime history: The Ballad of Fallen Angels, episode 5 of Cowboy Bebop. Compare Wendee and Megumi as they arrive on the Bebop from shopping, figure out what's going on to try and get the bounty on Mao, and then go the opera and con their way in. Wendee's version is very good, but she really doesn't change much vocally. Ah, but Megumi? The shift that she makes vocally is just astonishing. And that ability to make such dramatic contrasts is a core reason why the original seiyuus/VAs are so much better.

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Posted 9/17/16
As long as their is emotion is their voices and the vocal inflections match the scene that they are in, then the voice acting tends to be good
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Posted 9/17/16

lawdog wrote:


NyxUlric wrote:

Switch from subs to dubs.

Something just seems off when it comes to dubs, I can't quite put my fingers on it. Maybe they sound too old? Like a high school boy or girl, and the voice actor sounds 25 or 30, so it just comes off as awkward. The lack of feelings, sometimes it feels like they're just reading the lines from a page. Too much feelings, I find that sometimes the English voice actors will overexaggerate a certain scene which makes it even more awkward.

Also, why is it in dubs, the characters' voice sounds so similar to one another? Do they use one actor for several characters? The limited diversity in tone is another reason why it's bad.


Dubs have a number of major handicaps. First, they're trying to fit words of another language into facial expressions which were made for the dialogue of another language. Second, they're not under the instruction of the original creative team. No pun intended, intent and characterization gets lost in translation.

For example, an early example of this is the character Ryoko from Tenchi Muyo. She became a fan favorite for many, largely due to Petrea Buchard's voice acting. Ms. Buchard did a great job, but there was a major problem: She played Ryoko with a level of sexy and sultry that wasn't there in the original. The result was a complete recreation of the character into something that she was not, obscuring the immaturity of the character.

Same sort of thing with Heaven's Lost Property. The American VA just puts too much sexy into Ikaros's monotone, to the extent that it's a stretch to call the English version a monotone.

I just see it all too often, where the dub VAs completely fail at accurately portraying the character as originally intended.

There are some good dubs out there, but even there, the sub version is always superior. Cowboy Bebop is an example of an outstanding dub, but even there, there are things missed, especially with Faye's character. There's a mischevious little girl aspect to Megumi Hayashibara's version has that never gets translated over by Wendee Lee...who, again, does a great job. I see this a lot, female VA's unable to fully have the range that the Japanese VAs do.

Great example: Watch one of the great episodes in anime history: The Ballad of Fallen Angels, episode 5 of Cowboy Bebop. Compare Wendee and Megumi as they arrive on the Bebop from shopping, figure out what's going on to try and get the bounty on Mao, and then go the opera and con their way in. Wendee's version is very good, but she really doesn't change much vocally. Ah, but Megumi? The shift that she makes vocally is just astonishing. And that ability to make such dramatic contrasts is a core reason why the original seiyuus/VAs are so much better.



I have heard some dubs better than the subs. For instance, the sub for Black lagoon was kind of garbage especially with regard to Revy. the japanese voive actor made her sound like 10 years younger and like a high school girl. That doesn't typically fit with a mercenary character.
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Posted 9/17/16
I don't speak Japanese, but I think I can usually pick out really good or really bad acting in anime. I don't normally pay much attention to the acting in Japanese dubs though, so I can't give you any examples off hand.

In English dubs, I pay a little more attention. If the voices sound natural, and the acting has appropriate energy/emotion, I generally think it's good. One of my favorite English dubs is from "Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet."
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