Anime: Subbed or Dubbed

Ah, the ageless debate of subtitles vs dubbing over with native voice actors.  I have an opinion (shocker!).

I am going to focus on anime because I haven’t seen many/if any dubbed Bollywood or the like.  And I’m ignoring bad kung fu dubs.  Some of them are better for the cheesy words-don’t-match-mouth-moving (the soccer one comes to mind) and again, my depth isn’t so great.

Anime however, that I feel I have some “authority.”  I’ve seen more than 2.

My short opinion is that subtitles tend to be better, but dubbed versions are damn convenient.

My best example of this definitely shows in Jubei-chan: The Ninja Girl. There is a single line in one episode where the dubbed version (when I first watch this is what I had available).  She said putting on the eye-patch that transforms her into an awesome warrior was like “a bad headache.”  My brother was around and had seen the subbed version and said, “Oh no, you need to see the Japanese.”  The more-direct translation was “like the worst menstrual cramps of my life.”

Oof.  As someone who’s had bad menstrual cramps most of my life – Yikes!  No wonder she doesn’t wanna!  It really changed the line.

And that tends to be true.  When anime is regionalized, sometimes vocals are changed either to better line up lip-movement or to handle “sensitive” issues.  American boys might have been exposed to cramps! Nope!  Just a headache.  Those are equal right???  You know, because a charlie-horse cramp in your gut is like the sore foot when you first walk around for an hour in new shoes…  Totally equivalent. *rolls eyes*

However, I am a busy person.  I like listening to TV shows (this is how I binge them) while cooking, cleaning, doing puzzles, playing video games, and other “around the house” sort of chores & hobbies.  I got through a bunch of a Parks & Rec season while sewing a skirt once.

So, honestly as much as I prefer the better dialog when it is subtitled, if I have the option there is a very good chance I’ll watch it dubbed.  Because I am “lazy” I guess and don’t want to just sit and stare at the words on the tv.  I want to be able to multitask.  Frankly, few anime take 100% attention and those that do, I gladly switch to subtitles.

So that’s my opinion.  I respect people who also say they prefer dubs so they can watch the art/anime instead of reading.  I don’t find that personally a problem, but there are times when there is a lot of action that I totally understand that annoyance.

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Librin Latone

Writer, nerd, and perpetual student. I am obsessed with books - both the reading and the making of them. If I won the lottery I would try to have the best private(ish) library in the world. It wouldn't be totally private because the whole purpose of having books is helping other people find a book they will love. I have 2 cats, Genkii (energy) and Kawaii (cutie). I will mention them regularly because they are a daily delight in my life. Granted, sometimes when I'm playing video games they are not so much "delight" as they are "distraction"... but I love them regardless.

One thought on “Anime: Subbed or Dubbed”

  1. I have subtitles on all the time, even when the show’s in English. It’s a hold-over from when the kids were small and I was watching shows at a low volume while they were sleeping. I found that I could understand plots better and sometimes there is side dialogue that you’d really never hear unless you have the volume at a ridiculously high level.
    Anyways, since I’m already used to it, I’d much rather have the original language voices and the English subtitles. I like hearing the original character’s emotion and delivery and I don’t find that having to flick my eyes to the bottom of the screen for a few seconds takes away at all. One caveat to this, however, is when the subtitles accidentally reveal something to early. Like if the character says “You just wait, this guy is… (next shot) a wizard!” but the subtitles don’t include that pause. The reactions are off by just a second. Meh.

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