Anime Talk: Subtitled or Dubbed?

Sub or DubThis week on Anime Talk I want to discuss Subtitles and Dubbing.  What I would like to know from the Anime fans in our community which do you prefer ? When I first got into Anime myself I went out of my way to avoid Dubbed Anime  because at least 85% of all Shows I saw that were dubbed had HORRIBLE voice actors. I preferred Subtitled because though I did not ( and still don't ) speak Japanese I could hear the emotion in the voices of the actors which in my option made the shows more enjoyable.  The Voice actors of the English Dubs usually have bad character voices and can't get the emotion right most of the time.

Now however as I am getting older I find I am seeking out Dubs more then Subtitled works. It seems the the English voice actors are getting better maybe because Anime is becoming more mainstream. I do still find the voice overs could be better but now a days I find less enjoyment in Anime if I have to focus a portion of my attention on reading words that are flashing by at a rapid pace at the bottom of my screen. Plus if you are watching anime on the go on your smart phone or tablet it becomes harder to read the subtitles on the smaller screens. So unless the dubbed are truly bad, or I just can't find a copy dubbed and is only available in Subtitled format I will choose not reading while watching Anime, how about you ?

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14 Responses to Anime Talk: Subtitled or Dubbed?

  1. Keen observation about subtitles being too small on mobile devices (yeah, showing my age, too). I have always found subtitles to be distracting. And, as you say, they voice-overs don’t always convey the emotion or the action. Anime used to have a core of generic Americans who simply read translations. Remember the old Godzilla movies? The American actors were absolutely horrible. I could go on about expectations and cultural differences…

    These days, and not just in anime, the viewing audience is more demanding. Pay a high ticket price for a foreign movie? Dang right, I want accurate translations with voice-overs that fit the scene. You would be amazed how many movies are being updated. As a side benefit, the updated translation and voice acting is re-introducing many films to a whole new audience.

    I think a large part of the demand for accuracy and drama is driven by technology. Not just the small screens, but we live in an age of cinematic wonder. CGI, VFX, budgets higher than most country’s GDP… the audience wants more. Even if they are fat and lazy.

    As for the Japanese language itself, amazingly simple to learn! I studied for one year uin high school. I still remember a lot of vocabulary. Grammar and sentence structure is very economical.

    Many learners get hung up on the alphabet/characters (kanji, hiragana, romanji). It’s really no big deal. Look at it this way: “ion,” “iron,” “lion.” By adding a hook or a straight line, I changed the pronunciation and meaning of the word. Same with kanji. Like an iron lion in Zion.

    As an added bonus, if you can speak any Japanese, you can make the women blush.

  2. Frevoli says:


  3. JR19759 says:

    I usually watch the dubs, it’s easier to watch when you’re not having to concentrate on reading the subtitles at the same time. However I have watched the sub versions of a few shows and found that in the dubs a lot of stuff is taken out and changed, which is annoying. The last sub I watched, the dub version hash’t been released yet, so I’m really hoping that the dub doesn’t do anything stupid, because the original was just fine the way it is.

  4. Harlequin says:

    Subtitles. So if you not english users like me you understand. Every translate like english to hungarian, japan to hungarian is a crap, very different meanings and the translate is a crap. Sometimes the “home edition” subs is more better.

    And i more like manga-s 😀

  5. The Atomic Punk: Grammar and sentence structure is very economical.

    Grammar and sentence structure AREvery economical. Did I mention that I was born a blond?

  6. Worf says:

    Subtitled. Even though I don’t speak Japanese, I still feel the emotions are better conveyed in the original voices. That may not always be the case, specially when something is going for a theatrical release, but…..

    As a non-anime example, but to score my point on theatrical releases, I am from Brazil and we speak portuguese here. I saw the first Kung-Fu Panda dubbed. It was priceless and incredibly funny. But they spend a lot of money getting very good translators and voice actors, and a lot of time translating the jokes, and even inserting good jokes with brazilian “memes” where the english ones wouldn’t work. That is a lot of effort, money and time that most companies don’t want to spend on niche markets. So they just do enough to make sure the translation is understandable and the actors don’t suck.

    A lot of times, even the way the sound is edited later, makes a difference. In a lot of dubbed work, I can hear the difference between good sound editing and editing that was made just to make sure the sound syncs up with the video. It sounds a little weird as if it isn’t coming from the mouths of the characters but off from the side and it totally spoils the experience.

    Ok, rant over. 😉

  7. Myro says:

    Back when I started, it wasn’t like you had a lot of choice. Imagine a world in which the internet didn’t exist (or at least wasn’t the marketplace it is now), so you just had to take what you could get. I may have preferred subtitles, but mostly I was watching dubs.
    Flash-forward to now, and while you actually can watch DVDs where both options are available, I’m usually watching dubs because the quality of voice acting has gotten better. Whereas before, the emphasis was on synching speech with the animation, resulting in a lot of unnatural sounding speech cadence, now the emphasis is on tone and emotion, which ultimately sounds better. And some Japanese jokes don’t translate well into English, so something different has to be said anyway. But there are still times the translation is just…wrong.
    You know what I found fun? Watching Ranma 1/2 with both the dub and subtitle on, and seeing when the two didn’t come close to matching. It didn’t happen that often, but it was interesting, if not downright hilarious when it did.

  8. darkvatican says:

    Subtitles on anime are a lot like dubbing – both can be really poorly done. I’ve seen so much of both good and bad subbed/dubbed anime and movies, that it doesn’t bother me to watch them, either way.

    Now, when I start watching something one way, then I will probably ALWAYS want to watch it that way. For example, I started watching Fullmetal Alchemist with fan-subs, and shortly thereafter the official, English-dubbed version came out. I tried to watch the English version, but the voices were all wrong (too childish). In the end, after watching just one episode of English-speaking Edward Elric, I went back to the fan-subbed version and never looked back.

  9. Vampyrist says:

    Subbed, though I have watched a few shows dubbed. For the latter, I make sure the dub is good and accurate through the internet. Dubs have gotten better, so I am more likely to watch a modern dub like Code Geass or Baccano! (Whose dub is supposedly superior to the original, also recommend it highly, it is my favorite anime).

    I find subbed is better as I feel emotion is better portrayed and it is less distracting. A weird accent in a dub can be distracting, such as the dub of Monster, I did not enjoy Tenma’s english voice and it detracted the enjoyment of the series. Side note, Monster is fantastic and I highly recommend it. I also believe things are better in their original version, due to the emotion conveyed. Lastly, I don’t mind subtitles, I am used to them do to my Anime watchings and my foreign film watchings, so they don’t alter my judgement.

  10. Keric says:

    I must say I AN NOT an Anime fan, at best I am an Anime dabbler, I think the last Anime I saw was the Armitage series, and before
    that xxxHolic!

    That being said, I saw the original Baron Von Munchausen in German sub Eng,(German class) the sub were slow enough to read, my brain retcon-ed it into English, and it was cool, but for me, It is the exception to the rule in the Sub/Dub argument.

    My choices
    1 American market remake
    2 Dub
    3 Sub(very LAST choice!)

  11. That being said, I saw the original Baron Von Munchausen in German sub Eng,(German class) the sub were slow enough to read, my brain retcon-ed it into English, and it was cool, but for me, It is the exception to the rule in the Sub/Dub argument.

    Love love … Liebe Lieb’ von Munchausen! What a cad. Those Dos Equis commercials (most interesting man in the world)… that is Baron von Munchausen, you fluffies! Man of the Hour, foul-mouth braggart, Ladies’ man… a Ritter! Admirable for his exaggerated tales. In meinen Deutschen Augen. Und Seele.

  12. Herr D says:

    As some have noted, it comes down to the final package. I’ve seen the full range of idiocy. When the dubs sound like the actor was handed the wrong script- When the subs were written by John Cage or might as well still be in a language I didn’t know-
    I think the funniest one was when I watched a French version of Beauty and the Beast with white subtitles on a white caption background with those little white stage directions. I could sometimes make out a bracket sticking up into the black. Editing needs to improve as an art.

  13. capt perv says:

    i generally prefer subtitled. The newer anime are engineered for surround sound and such, and with dubbs they don’t reengineer the sound to make sound right

    older anime such as record of the lodas war or berserk are fine though

  14. Nate_The_Prate says:

    I’m not a huge anime fan, but I find myself preferring the dubbed versions, though I guess it depends on the company.

    I find the females in the original Japanese to be extremely annoying…