Anime dubs: you love them or you hate them, but there's no denying some dubs do a pretty good job depicting the source material.
Anime dubs tend to have a mixed reputation: you either love them or you hate them, but many fans still prefer to see the original product, which I feel is a little unfair--dubs aren’t inferior products. While there’s nothing to compare the original anime to in terms of voice acting, the dubs are automatically given status as a comparison of how well it can convey the Japanese delivery instead of how it works as an original product. Audiences are used to the Japanese voices, and with the dubs coming out after Japanese-language episodes air, people come to expect a particular sound from the shows they watch. But that isn't to say dubs aren't worth watching, because dubs can do their job pretty well! The 2018 stretch of anime is halfway over, encapsulating the winter, spring, and half of the summer seasons, so let’s take a look at some of our choice dubs that we’ve seen over the year!
My Hero Academia has garnered a great amount of praise as one of the newer big shonen titles, and the dub takes this to full consideration and puts on a great performance. It takes the ensemble cast and makes sure their personalities are just as you remember. It’s hard not to love All Might in any form, and Christopher Sabat’s performance really shines. The gallant All Might is just the same in the dub: powerful, funny, and altogether wholesome. Also a character of note is Clifford Chapin's Bakugo, who keeps the dynamic spirit of the young explosive hero. Bakugo in the dub is harsh and loud as his original, and definitely doesn't mince his words. The voice actors bring a lot of energy to the table, and it's evident in the final product.
For me, Cardcaptor Sakura is one of the first dubs I was introduced to as a child, so having this come back as a dub filled me with nostalgia and made me very fond. As a whole, Cardcaptor Sakura is a very cute and tender series, and keeps to its aesthetics even during serious battles. The dub maintains this tone fairly well, from the comedic and gentle slice of life moments to the dramatic battles that come with the new slew of cards. It's an earnestly feel-good show, and the dub keeps that same upbeat attitude. Also as an added bonus, the voice actors who voice Sakura and Syaoran also voiced them in the dub of Reservoir Chronicle Tsubasa, so there’s familiarity there!
Angels of Death is still running right now, so it’s hard to judge it as a complete product, and there are some aspects of the original game, such as the slow horror in its exploratory aspects that unfortunately can’t really be translated. However, from what we’ve seen so far, the dub is decent, especially Zack--his character is meant to be unhinged, allowed to run rampant and acting on impulse. Before the story, he’s meant to be seen as a threat and a wild card, so to have Dallas Reid consistently ham it up for Zack’s performance really makes it, because that’s the kind of person Zack is meant to be: impatient, instinctive, impulsive, and foul-mouthed, and it works very well.
This series is another one that’s still unfinished, and it’s no ordinary comedy, it’s a wild comedy filled with a whole ton of of crazy situations, from biker gangs, gaming conflicts, and strict teachers on the lookout for bad behavior, just to name a few. Over time, I’ve managed to realize that for the most part dubs manage to make the most of wacky comedies. A lot of the parts that are exaggerated in the original manage to keep that same spirit in the dubs, and Chio’s School Road is no exception. Things never go very well for Chio, and the dub doesn’t fail to show her over-the-top reactions to the chaos keeping her from getting to school. A subdued performance would greatly dull this series, but the dub keeps things as zany as possible.
Really, Pop Team Epic? Yes, Pop Team Epic.
Like in Chio’s School Road, anime dubs have a solid handle on adapting comedy, and what is Pop Team Epic if not completely, absurdly over the top. The show is chaotic, reflecting the insatiable personalities of their main characters, and the dub doesn't hesitate to go full ham. Even though the majority of Pop Team Epic has to do with parodying Japanese culture (with the exception of the coming-of-age Hollywood movies episode), the dub manages to translate those jokes, even the more obscure ones. They even keep the running joke of the voice actors changing per episode, which was not something I expected them to keep. If you enjoyed just how crazy the original was, the dub compliments that perfectly, and is a unique experience worth watching.
Dubs truly are their own animal--just because they're not in the original Japanese doesn't mean you can't have fun with them, and that they aren't enjoyable on their own merits. Dub teams work hard, and it really shows. To the dub-watchers out there, what are your favorite series that came out this year? Let us know!