|Sailor Moon is a staple of 90's anime if I've ever seen one.|
To be sure English voice acting in anime has come a long way since those early days and has given way to a rather tight-knit community of actors who all specialize in different roles. I'm not attempting to discredit these professionals and my not being able to enjoy English dubs has little to do with the current ability of the voice actors in general. Frankly speaking my command of the Japanese language is very rudimentary, my spoken Japanese is limited to asking for simple directions and my my ability to read and write in Japanese is non-existent, and so if I choose to watch an Anime in Japanese, if the option is there, I must read subtitles. Ergo it is not my understanding of this complex language that leads to choosing the original audio over the English equivalent nor is it some "weeabooesque" loyalty to a language I don't fully understand. It isn't even about some sense of purity. . . well not fully anyway.
There are those who would argue yes, but I don't buy it. If I produce a monochromatic, shot-for-shot reproduction of the 7 Samurai in Japan featuring an all Japanese cast, can I call it an Akira Kurosawa movie? Probably not. Aesthetics alone do not make a cultural medium, and that's what anime is, or rather has come to be known as. I'm aware that the word "anime" is simply a Japanification of a the English "animation", but lets be real here, in the popular North American psyche the term "anime" has come to embody so much more than mere "animation that happens to be made in Japan" and that's really what I'm getting at here.
|All the anime! (got it form here).|
Animation attempts to be an emulation of real life to a certain degree. Certainly some artists and animators take liberties but at the end of the day, the characters have to be identifiable and if there is dialogue, at one point the artists and animators would've had to think about which language these characters would be using as their native tongue. In the case of Japan that language is most likely Japanese, thus when the characters speak, rhythmically they speak and move as if they were speaking Japanese, like caricatures of Japanese people, because ostensibly that's what they are. Even in works of animation wherein the characters speak gibberish, the animators and artists will likely, perhaps even subconsciously include nuances that come from their native language as an automatic point of reference (take the Swiss show "pingu" for example - a English dubbed pingu would just be awful, though most of the charm does come from the fact that they are indeed speaking gibberish).
In most cases this dissonance is jarring and takes me out of the experience, it becomes hard to take the whole thing seriously, especially if the story-line is meant to be taken as such. This doesn't work nearly as bad with comic anime and in fact adds to the fun in many cases given the off-kilter nature of Japanese comedy (for example one of my favourite anime, Cromartie High School is hilarious in both English and Japanese for very different yet equally funny reasons). But, hey, if you don't have this problem, then good for you, keep on trucking.
|I remember the original series of Hellsing having pretty cool English dubs in which the characters were given country specific accents which was a nice touch.|
For the record the Avatar argument was not why I wrote this to begin with it just serves as a good example for my argument. I haven't watched all of Avatar but believe me, it's on my bucket list. Avatar borrows its visual style from a number of Japanese anime tropes -- the world and character design, and animation are without a doubt wholly reminiscent of the aesthetic of anime, but you know what? I would not watch Avatar: The Last Airbender in Japanese. Of course I wouldn't! And that's because the show was produced by a team of English North Americans, speaking English, writing English dialogue, with character animation, while reminiscent of anime, designed and timed around the English language for ostensibly English speaking audiences. Avatar doesn't feel "off" the way imported and dubbed anime does because it was designed around the English language -- English is the native language of Avatar.
To reiterate, English dubbed anime just sounds kind of weird to me. It's in the lines; it's in the way the lines are delivered in relation to the movement of the characters; it's in the off-kilter tone and intonation, the extension of certain syllables that are not usually extended to match mouth or bodily movements that seem more natural in Japanese. It's in the decent yet still somehow awkward translation of Japanese phrases that are so melodramatic they sound inane in English that are somehow more palpable when read. It's the feeling I get when I realize that I've never heard a native speaker of English ever talk like that in real-life -- not even close. And that my friends, is why I, assuming I have a choice in the matter, will almost always choose Japanese audio over English for my Anime viewing pleasure. Thanks and goodnight (assuming you're reading this at night).
Well that went on much longer than I originally expected and I'm sure I introduced more problems then I solved, but hey, these things really write themselves ya know? In any case, see ya again when I feel like writing something again. Hope that was at least interesting for you, even if you don't agree.