I had an idea for a game XD


TL;DR history/ramblingsCollapse )

So, the rules to the game are as follows: just select a character from an anime, manga, or video game and select the perfect voice actor you think could portray them. Or, if you're feeling more adventurous, just take a whole handful of such characters and assign them all different VA's from the same dubbing company.

Alternatively, you could do what I've just demonstrated and take a character from an anime that already has an English dub and reimagine that anime being dubbed by a different company.

Have at it XD
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I'm new here....

So, it isn't clear to me if this community's still running, but I've been trying to find a group like this since forever. My school completed a con awhile back, and one of the complaints we got was that there were too many shows in English! WTF?! Never mind that part of the reason why we were showing shows in English is because we actually had a big-name ENGLISH voice actor in attendance that year; never mind that the dub I ended up putting on was spot-on, apparently it's enough to complain about that we showed ANY DUBS AT ALL! The worst part of that is that I'm virtually certain there are at least some people on staff who agreed with that sentiment, even if the people who brought it up thought it was ridiculous.

Honestly, you don't see me yelling at my anime club because they don't show more things in English! Normally I wouldn't give a shitabout which language people watched things in--but the fact that people are so vocal about it make me want to spurn Japanese-language stuff forever out of spite--and force all the sub purists to watch English episodes of "Black Lagoon," "Rozen Maiden," "FLCL," and "Hellsing" until they like them!
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Nadia--The Secret of Blue Water (ADV Dub vs. Streamline Dub)

To add some variety to this community I have decided to post some in-depth reviews to some of my favorite dubs of all-time. Most of these could be read on places like AnimeonDVD.com's English track forums, but I'm gladly gonna share them with you guys. Why? Because there are dubs out there which have been undeservedly passed over, and they deserve a far better fate than being dismissed. So that's what my newest posts will be to this site.

My newest review is not a Studio Ghibli title. In fact, it is for Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, a 1990 series from Gainax which is a loose remake of Castle in the Sky centered around Jules Verne's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" as its subject. Once dubbed to only eight episodes by Streamline Pictures, the series has since been repackaged and redubbed by the now-defunct Monster Island studios in Austin, Texas, distributed by ADV (now known as Section 23 Films).

There are naysayers who have given this dub the cold shoulder, but personally I think doing so would deprive you of a charming, delightful dub that matches the tone of the show. According to sources, the dub directors, Charles Campbell and Lowell Bartholomee, cared about the quality of the show and worked hard to ensure that the dub would match. It's not perfect, but considering that this show is set in Europe, watching this show in Japanese would seem odd. No offense to the original team, but there are many things about the dub that add in many ways to the show, particularly in the use of the accents for each character. While some, like Jean's, are shaky in places, others, like the crew members of the Nautilus, work in their characters' favor, as they are supposed to be survivors from around the world.

What follows is a discussion of each (principal) character and their voices.

Meg Bauman (Nadia): The first thing that struck me about the dub was that the three young protagonists were voiced by actual children. While there is an air of inexperience in their performances, it also adds an intangible aura of realism and charm to the dub. It is also a refreshing change of pace from hearing actors/actresses stretching their voices to sound like children (no offense to those people of course, it's just nice to hear children sound like children for a change). Of the three, Bauman as Nadia really stands out. She is the driving force of the series, displaying a complex array of emotions while maintaining a fragile childlike innocence, and Bauman delivers these to perfection. It's also interesting to note that, like Nadia, she was fourteen at the time she recorded her part. She also speaks with a neutral accent--a surprising choice, but it works.

Nathan Parsons (Jean): OK, here's the voice that determines whether you'll like the dub or not. Like Bauman, Parsons has a very daunting task in his acting of Jean. He has to be enthusiastic, charming, and display growth throughout all 39 episoes... while speaking with a French accent. This accent, as mentioned, is thick and could discourage one instantly. However, with each subsequent episode, Parsons grows more and more into his character and the accent becomes less distracting. In a way, it is complimentary to his overall performance as Jean. Issue aside, Parsons delivers an infectious energy and determination to the character which is impossible to dislike. His best moment is in Episode 15, in which he witnesses Ensign Fait's death. Although he admits that serious scenes are not his specialty, he obviously gives his all to this moment, and his breaking down at the end is moving. Another important factor of his performance is how his chemistry with Bauman clicks. This is because they both knew each other in real life as students at the Austin Musical Theatre, which explains why their interactions feel so natural and real in the dub.

Margaret Cassidy (Marie): The third corner of the children, little Marie, is also voiced by a child actress, 11-year-old Margaret Cassidy. That's approximately seven years older than her onscreen character, but she brings an intangible cuteness to her part that it makes her presence onscreen a delight. She spends a lot of the time being cheerful and happy, although there are moments where she has to be serious and sad... particularly in the episode where she is introduced. This scene, in which she describes her parents being shot, is amazingly delivered... which is saying a lot considering that this is her first episode. She obviously relishes her role, and it pays off.

Since the whole show rests on these children, ADV should be commended for going out of their way to bring an extra punch of effort for the dub. Which is not to say that the adult cast is any less entertaining!

Sarah Richardson (Grandis): From the start, Richardson simply is Grandis. She recreates the character's fiery temper, amorous fickleness, and secret soft nature to a T and beyond. Some people may argue that she overacts, but that's how Grandis should be. It makes her all the more hilarious when things go wrong... which they often do. It is interesting to note that while her character is Italian (or Spanish, it's debatable), she speaks with a disciplined English accent. This was because when she auditioned for Italian and Spanish accents, it sounded too much like she was in a pizza parlor(!). It doesn't matter, though; it fits her character marvelously, and her grandiose relish for the role really comes through.

Martin Blacker (Sanson): Like Grandis, Sanson and Hanson start off as comical bad guys but in later episodes they display other emotions. Blacker sounds like he's having a lot of fun with the character, speaking, like Grandis, with a veddy British accent. He also has a goofy, yet vain and expressive voice that works wonderfully with the character, and really enjoys himself during any moment where he goes over the top. I love this guy! Some other moments from him which I liked included his scenes with Marie, particularly when he breaks down into tears in front of her. It's moving and genuine without feeling forced.

Corey Gagne (Hanson): Complimenting Blacker is the rather down-to-earth, sometimes scrappy sounding tones of Gagne, who plays Hanson. When he raises his voice, he is a hoot, but Gagne also handles the quieter moments very well. I also found his scenes with Electra very sweet and heartbreaking. One other interesting aspect is that he has a somewhat neutral accent. I don't know why this was done, but strangely, this does not distract from the character at all.

Like the children, all three of these characters are spot on in the dub; the chemistry between them is so natural, that you'd swear they were all in the recording studio together!

The other major characters in the story include:

Jason Phelps (Ayerton): When we first meet Ayerton, he comes across as a flamboyant, but arrogant and boastful man. Later on, he develops a whacko sense of ridiculousness (partially due to the bad writing in the filler episodes). Phelps handles him excellently. One oddity is that he uses an American accent continuously--which seems somewhat strange when he reveals himself to be a count from England. Not that it detracts from his performance, however.

Ev Lunning, Jr. (Nemo): A professional accent coach and Yale graduate, Ev Lunning lends his voice to the mysterious captain. He gives the character a sense of intrigue and aloofness. While his voice is distinctively different from that of Akio Otsuka, it nonetheless works. It should also be noted that he uses a sophisticated Indian accent, which adds an exotic touch to the character. It was a decision on the voice directors' part, since they were trying to link Nemo to the origin of the Mysterious Island story, and one that works in his character's favor. While there are a few moments when he sounds stiff, that's more attributed to the mouth flaps than his actual acting. In the later episodes, he really gets more into character, particularly when he belts out orders to his crew and communicates with Gargoyle.

Jennifer Stuart (Electra): The first thing you'll notice upon hearing her voice is that she speaks with a British accent. Again, this is a creative decision on the directors' part. Since Electra is a complex character, with a "no-nonsense" like attitude, it adds a depth of dimension to the role. Throughout, Stuart does an excellent job with the role. Particularly spectacular are her explosive catfights with Grandis--she and Richardson obviously relish those moments--and her emotional breakdown in Episodes 21 & 22. It's utterly engrossing and powerful. People who believe that English voice actors cannot emote should hear this part in the dub--it's amazing.

David Jones (Gargoyle): This is probably the only voice that took me a long time to get used to. Since he's the major villain of the piece, you'd expect something very menacing and vile, but strangely he comes across as rather casual and deadpan. At first I found it off-putting, but as his performance develops, we receive a depth of complexity and arrogance in the character. It works in favor of Gargoyle being arrogant, and, now when I think of it, I can't imagine Gargoyle in English without this vocal. He also gets to do some really evil cackling in the latter episodes, to the point where you'll be surprised that its the same actor.

All the other incidental roles are equally well cast and bring liveliness and enthusiasm to their roles.

One other thing that should be mentioned about the dub is Lowell Bartholomee's script adaptation. Rather than providing a literal word-for-word transliteration, his screenplay polishes up the subtitle script and somehow skillfully brings it into convincing, believable English. Even some occasional awkwardnesses in the original script, like Gargoyle's speech about the destruction of Sodom and Gamorroh, is corrected to fit better with the old Bible story. In other words, his script succeeds as both being smooth and natural while remaining faithful to the original.

While Nadia's dub has received praise in several reviews, other critics have been less than kind, and there are few, if any, Anime fans on the net who confess it to being one of their favorites. As a matter of fact, some label it as a dub to avoid. This is unfortunate, because the current version of Nadia is, as mentioned, one of the finest dubs ever made, and the care and quality provided to it shines through. Rather than pedestalizing this series to the Japanese voice cast, I prefer to say that this dub succeeds in its own right. Sure, there are some rough spots, but once you overcome them, you'll find yourself experiencing a charming Engish track that matches, and in many ways improves on, the series.

Streamline's dub, on the other hand, well, it has its moments, but all in all it pales in comparison to the ADV dub:

Ardwright Chamberlain (Jean): Nathan Parsons is the better Jean, hands-down. The problem isn't with the French accent, which is shaky, as with Nathan, but because he vocally sounds too mature. I have no problems with slightly older-sounding reinterpretations of younger characters if their acting is sound (e.g. Vic Mignogna as Edward in Fullmetal Alchemist and, to a lesser extent, James van der Beek as Pazu in Castle in the Sky), but here it works against the character, especially since the ages of both Jean and Nadia are very vital to the show's outcome. I remember reading comments about the first dub criticizing the Streamline Jean, and I'm afraid I have to agree.

Wendee Lee (Nadia): OK, I'm of two minds here. I like the voice, but again, I feel that not convincing enough to be a fourteen-year-old's. (Since this is a major plot point in the show, this is disappointing.) Her confrontation scene with Gargoyle sounds especially cringeworthy, "You are murderer!" Geez, I couldn't help but cringe. I'm equally split about the accent: it works at times, but at others, it really gets in the way. Wendee is talented, but if there's anyone I'd rather hear as Nadia, it's Meg Bauman; she does a better job.

Cheryl Chase (Marie): I liked her as Mei in Totoro, and I figured she would be good for Marie. The little bit I heard of her sounded OK, but Margaret Cassidy ultimately wins out--she sounds more authentically "childlike" and cuter.

Melanie McQueen (Grandis), Steve Kramer (Sanson), Tom Wyner (Hanson): I had no problems with either of those three. I admittingly prefer Sarah, Martin, and Corey's performances--part of this is bias, but also because I think all three have more punch with their roles. But that's not to discredit Melanie, Steve, or Tom. All three are decent in their own right.

Jeff Winkless (Nemo): Hmmm.... I really don't know what to think of this performance. It's not as goofy-sounding as Magnus Lee in Vampire Hunter D and nowhere nearly as dreadful as his Muska in the ridiculously overrated pre-Disney dub of Laputa (a role Mark Hamill played to perfection in the current version), but somehow the voice doesn't sound right. It lacks authority. Average, at best.

Edie Mirman (Electra): Ah, interesting; she too speaks with a British accent. Nice. She and Jennifer Stuart both tie.

Steve Bulen (Gargoyle): At first I thought David Jones' take on the character was too deadpan and lacking in menace, but after hearing Steve, I have to say that I prefer Jones. Vocally, Steve does have the right "sinister" tone for Gargoyle, but the problem is that he plays him too much as a run-of-the-mill villain. Honestly, I doubt that this would work in his character's favor, especially when he reveals himself at the end.

Bob Bergen (Ayerton): I prefer Jason Phelps, but that's not to discredit Bob: he's fine, but Jason sounds more characteristic.

All in all, the Streamline dub isn't the total writeoff as I've heard fans make it out to be, but it's certainly not a great dub either. The biggest problem I have is that the two lead characters are badly miscast--Jean especially. There are numerous other good voices in the dub, but these are outweighed by too many weak ones. Carl Macek's version only got about as far as the first eight episodes.

My Neighbor Totoro (Fox dub and Disney dub)

WORD OF NOTE: I realize there are people who will disagree with my post and I respect that. However, I will not put up with disrespectful, hostile posts. I stand firmly behind this view, and if you disagree with it, that's fine. But any posts that come across as attacking and negative I will instantly delete.

To add some variety to this community I have decided to post some in-depth reviews to some of my favorite dubs of all-time. Most of these could be read on places like AnimeonDVD.com's English track forums, but I'm gladly gonna share them with you guys. Why? Because there are dubs out there which have been undeservedly passed over, and they deserve a far better fate than being dismissed. So that's what my newest posts will be to this site. My next review is about another beloved film by Hayao Miyazaki, My Neighbor Totoro. There is no argument that this is a such a charming film. However, there is a very hot controversy around the net from many who are disputing on which dub is the best or worst.

In the early 1990's, Fox distributed a dub produced by Carl Macek and Streamline Pictures. It was hailed, even by Macek's harshest detractors, as one of his finest efforts. The dub has proven to be popular, selling over half a million copies on video. When Disney acquired the rights for Miyazaki's movies, however, it was inevitable that Totoro was going to receive a new dub, whether fans liked it or not. Regretably, when Disney unleashed their version, many, many, many fans of the old dub napalmed it from the start, despite receiving fairly favorable reviews from reliable sources. In the past, there were dubs that were of such dubious quality that it was a miracle to find a fan of any of them. However, this new dub of Totoro is totally undeserving of such a backlash. In fact, if it had come before Fox's dub, it would have be hailed as a charming, delightful interpretation of Miyazaki's beloved classic... which, in this writer's opinion, it is. Even still, the constant negativity against the dub has fueled fire to those who believe that Disney only acquired Ghibli's works just to destroy them, an argument which is totally fatuous in every way.

While it may seem chic for internet fans to do so, I will not evaluate either the Fox or Disney dubs of Totoro by comparing them unfavorably to each other, but individually. The cast of Totoro is a considerably small one compared to most other Ghibli movies, so only the principal (important) characters will be covered.

Satsuki (Lisa Michelson, FOX dub; Dakota Fanning, Disney dub) -- The two sisters who serve as the main characters carry the show along, so it is important for both to be voiced appropriately and ACT like children. Lisa Michelson, the late wife of the ADR director for FOX Totoro, raises her mature-sounding voice to sound childlike. Usually such attempts can sound strained or unbelievable, but it works very well for Lisa. She obviously sounds like a sister of the verge of adulthood while struggling to maintain her childlike innocence.
Dakota Fanning takes the character in a similar way, with a different approach. She has an odd tendency to sound "older than her age," but this works pretty well with her character. There are some scenes where she comes across as more low-key than necessary, yet her interactions with her little sister Elle make the dub equally natural and believeable.

Mei (Cheryl Chase, FOX dub; Elle Fanning, Disney dub) -- Arguably the juiciest role in the show, Mei is a hyperactive and sometimes impatient youngster who often upstages her big sister. At the time I listened to the first dub, I didn't realize that Cheryl actually WAS trying to sound very childlike, because it sounded very natural. This is a very fitting example of adults voicing children convincingly.
Elle Fanning's interpretation is no less entertaining; in fact, one might argue that she steals the show. She is consistently lively and adorable, with a cute laugh to match. Her crying scene toward the end, too, is priceless. I've heard many declare that she is annoying, but one could say the same thing about Cheryl's take.

Dad (aka Mr. Kusakabe) (Greg Snegoff, FOX dub; Tim Daly, Disney dub) -- The scatterbrained but kindly father of the girls is at times easygoing and fun and other times serious and comforting, just like any father. Snegoff's approach on the character is pretty much as you would expect, and more than appropriate (he also served as the ADR director and wrote the script, as mentioned earlier).
Tim Daly plays the character identical to Snegoff's, and is pretty much on par. He has a soothing, soft gentle voice, and he doesn't hesitate to let go in the moments where he acts childlike (in the bath scene, for instance).

Mom (aka Mrs. Kusakabe) (Alexandra Kenworthy, FOX dub; Lea Salonga, Disney dub) -- The mother of the girls has a very small part, but is equally well played in both dubs. Both Salonga and Kenworthy have soft, motherly voices and portray their characters pretty much the same.

Granny (Natalie Core, FOX dub; Pat Carroll, Disney dub) -- This character is approached differently but effectively in both dubs. Natalie is as grandmotherly as you'd expect, very soft and gentle, only getting emotional in the film's critical scenes toward the end.
As for Pat Carroll, I was surprised when I found out that she was cast for this character, but there were no traces of Ursula within her. It was also very pleasing and refreshing to hear her play a different kind of character rather than a nasty, bargaining, double-crossing Sea Witch.

Kanta(Kenneth Hartman, FOX dub; Paul Butcher, Disney dub) -- One thing that both dubs have in common is that this impish youngster who teases Satsuki (and later befriends her) is played by a young boy. Kenneth's voice is noticeably lower than Paul's, but both play the character just as they should.

Totoro (Unknown, FOX dub; Frank Welker, Disney dub) -- The titular character is only in for a few scenes, and does little more than growl, grumble, roar. There is no actual credit to who did Totoro's voice in the Fox dub, but it's difficult to evaluate the performance as a whole when it has only one speaking line.
One of the biggest criticisms I hear of the Disney dub is the dubbing of Totoro's voice; fans have declared that he sounds too ferocious in comparison. However, I will argue that either interpretation is valid. Welker shouldn't be discredited, either; he is a fabulous actor and what he brings is no less credible.

Cat Bus (Carl Macek, FOX dub; Frank Welker, Disney dub) -- The approach to the most unusual character in the film is strikingly different in both dubs. In FOX's version, Carl Macek gives the cat a high-pitched male voice with only two lines, "Next stop, little sister!" which works fairly well.
Welker, on the other hand, provides the character with cat-like meows and at one point even screeches, "MEEEEEEI!"; an odd substitute, but it's no less effective.

Voices aside, the other difference in the FOX and Disney dubs is in the adaptation of the script. FOX's dub is sometimes a bit loose in places (naming the fuzzy creatures "dust bunnies", for instance), but is otherwise faithful to the original. Unfortunately, I did notice several places where the dialogue sometimes sounds stilted, particularly in Mei's confrontation with the goat. Yet since this was done in an era when technology had not yet caught up with how to do dubbing, I'm more forgiving.

The Disney version, scripted by the Hewitts, on the other hand, is a fresh new translation of the Japanese script, and it hews closer to it. Past Disney dubs have sometimes gone overboard with adding in extra dialogue (although I'm nowhere nearly as anal about it; the dubs are still charming), but with this one this habit is very much toned down. While many may argue otherwise, this script actually surpasses the FOX script, for sounding both natural and going the extra mile of including details that the previous dub neglected to mention (the origin of the Totoros, for instance). And while fans may groan all they want about "classic" lines being replaced, the fact remains is that the basic story is unchanged. There are a few places where the lip-sync doesn't always mesh, but note that I emphasize the word FEW.

There is no denying that the FOX dub is a classic of its time, but Disney's reinterpretation is by no means a disservice. To the average ear who has never heard of Totoro, it's a well-produced, appropriate-sounding dub, with a good cast and effective performances. While the arguments over which version is superior may rage on until the very bitter end, it's obvious that the creators of both dubs are fans of Miyazaki, and it shows in both takes. Each takes their own approach to the story, and are neither better nor worse. They simply are what they are.

Castle in the Sky (JAL Dub vs. Disney dub)

WORD OF NOTE: I realize there are people who will disagree with my post and I respect that. However, I will not put up with disrespectful, hostile posts, like accusing me of seeing what someone perceives as an "inferior" version first and being biased for it. I am not biased against older dubbing in general. Nor am I biased against any of the actors involved in the older dub, nor for the VAs in the newer dub. I will stand firmly behind this view, and if you disagree with it, that's fine. But any posts that come across as attacking and negative I will instantly delete.

To add some variety to this community I have decided to post some in-depth reviews to some of my favorite dubs of all-time. Most of these could be read on places like AnimeonDVD.com's English track forums, but I'm gladly gonna share them with you guys. Why? Because there are dubs out there which have been undeservedly passed over, and they deserve a far better fate than being dismissed. So that's what my newest posts will be to this site. Without further ado, tonight's first post about dub reviews is one of my personal favorite movies of all time, Hayao Miyazaki's 1986 action-adventure epic, Castle in the Sky, aka Laputa: The Castle in the Sky. Of all the dubs, this one is one of the most hotly debated, but I think it's an awesome dub, as you will see in my review. (Note that I will also compare it to the older dub that Streamline distributed years ago, not the Japanese version, as I am of the very opinion that a dub should stand on its own, and not simply be a carbon copy.) This is a totally subjective review, and is totally my opinion only.

THE DISNEY DUB

Recorded in 1998 but delayed until 2003, reactions to Disney's Castle in the Sky dub have been divided. Hardcore fans of the original Japanese were especially harsh, condemining it as a travesty to the original and that it is a dub to avoid. On the other hand, there have been just as many who actually enjoyed the dub as a fun and interesting reinterpretation of a classic masterpiece with clever casting choices and a fully spruced up (and extended from the original by the composer) musical score. To this day, the debate about the dub rages on, with a significant amount of detractors and admirers. (In case you haven't figured it out by now, I am one of the latter.)

The most outrageous of naysayers have claimed that the voice actors in the dub have no enthusiasm and that Disney was just setting out to descerate a masterpiece, both of which are subjective (and some might argue ridiculous) in the extreme. Two more realistic criticisms are that the lead characters sound older than their intended ages and that the script is talkier than necessary. Such faults aside, the Castle in the Sky dub is a first-rate English track when taken on its own. In fact, viewing it today, one wonders if these detractors saw the same dub.

Prior to Spirited Away, Disney's dubs for Ghibli works were handled by Jack Fletcher, which included Kiki's Delivery Service and Princess Mononoke, both of which, like this dub, were high quality but received divided reactions. Although there are those who argue that the more recent tracks by Lasseter are more faithful, I find myself drawn to the Fletcher dubs more for their interesting mixture of Anime voice over artists, traditional voice actors/actresses, and big-name talent, resulting in something of a unique, multicultural mix that I somehow miss from these new dubs. Castle in the Sky is my favorite of the three Fletcher dubs, and one that I enjoy listening to repeatedly.

It is true that the script adaptation sometimes verges on the loose side in places and goes overboard in inserting extra dialogue. But John Semper's overall script gives the movie a fresh, lively appeal for American audiences that still retains the adventurous tone of the original, with witty lines and smooth, natural writing. (It should also be noted, too, that every new line, adlibbed or altered, is not out of context with Miyazaki's signature and the actual plot is unchanged.) It is an admittingly liberal translation (with some omissisons such as the "Gulliver's Travels"] and "Treasure Island" references), but it's a well-written one.

As far as the voices go, Disney's dub has an eclectic selection of ideally chosen (and occasionally eccentric) performers to lend their voices. Fletcher does tend to make unusual casting decisions for his dubs, but he does make an effort to make sure each voice is directed well enough to not be detracting from the visuals or out of sync with the lip flaps (although there is one place where some of the lines are slightly off by about a hair, but not gratingly enough to detract).

James Van der Beek (Pazu): This has caused a lot of controversy from both critics and fans. While Van Der Beek's voice, as mentioned, does sound perhaps a too mature (although it would have been hard to imagine just what voice would suit this character, considering that he is in many ways young yet mature in others), his actual voice acting isn't as bad as you'd expect. Pazu is supposed to be earnest and exuberant, and Van Der Beek brings consistent enthusiasm to the part. His best scenes are where he's talking quietly with Sheeta, notably on the Crow's nest on the Tiger Moth and during some exploration scenes in Laputa. Admittingly, his performance isn't my favorite, but he does a better job than what naysayers give him credit for.

Anna Paquin (Sheeta): Like Van Der Beek, Paquin sounds a bit too mature, but a childlike quality still remains with her voice, making her more of an appropriate choice. Her acting is good, but her accent is wishy-washy. At times it sounds American, while at times, it sounds British. (This "problem", however, actually works in favor of her character, considering that she is from "far, far away.") There were perhaps a few moments when she wasn't as strong as others, but for the most part she acquits herself fairly well. (Interestingly, this wouldn't be her only voice acting role in Anime; about sometime after this film was released, she was the lead in Steamboy, but that's another story.)

Cloris Leachman (Dola): Unquestionably one of the very best performances in the cast (and one which was universally praised even by the minority who otherwise disliked the dub), Leachman simply is Dola. Not only does she have the right voice for the role, her vocal delivery and comic timing is impeccable. It's obvious she was having a blast with the part--every scene Dola's in is a delight.

Mark Hamill (Muska): Since his youthful days as a Jedi Knight, Hamill has proven himself to be quite an accomplished voice actor, with one of his most famous roles being the Joker from the Batman series. But with this film, Luke Skywalker finally crosses over to the Dark Side of the force. His vocalization of Muska is a mixture of Luke and the Joker, and it matches the character so well (especially at the climactic moments when he reveals his true identity) you'd swear he wasn't the same whiny but lovable hero moviegoers remember him best for. Sly and smooth-talking at one moment and devilishly insane at the next, Hamill runs wild with this character, oozing with genuine evil throughout. And of course the evil laugh--awesome. If there's any reason that this dub warrants a listen, it's his performance as well as Leachman's. These two are phenomenal.

Mandy Patinkin, Mike McShane, and Andy Dick (Louie, Charles, and Henri--Dola's boys): McShane and Dick both have had previous acting experience (in fact Mike was heard as a minor role in Princess Mononoke), but this was a first-timer for Mandy. All three are perfectly cast as the pirate triumvirate, and tear into their roles with the sort of comic campiness that these characters require. Their best moments are when they celebrate over Pazu and Sheeta joining them, asking for food, and later on, when they each approach Sheeta, offering to help her in the kitchen. One cannot help but chuckle along with their one-liners; extraneous though they may be at times, the manner in which they deliver them make this trio a lot of fun.

Richard Dysart (Uncle Pom): This is only a small role, but it's a very lovely one. Of the performances in the dub, this is the most underrated. Dysart has a gentle, kind voice and gives a warm performance for this character. Plus, his first lines where he mistakes Pazu and Sheeta for goblins are both priceless and beautifully delivered, especially, "I can't see you clearly yet, goblin, but you sound like Pazu! And if these old eyes of mine don't deceive me, there's a she-goblin with you." Brilliant!

Jim Cummings (General): Ah, clever casting yet again. From the moment I found out he was in this dub, I knew I wanted to hear him. His general is as gruff and scratchy as you'd expect (in fact, he sounds somewhat similar to Razoul from Aladdin--very fitting, in fact, since this character is similar), but it's in his scenes with Muska where he really shines. He also gets a memorable one-liner, "Blast! I really hate that man." If anything, this dub is more about the supporting characters than the leads.

John Hostetter (Boss): One of the things that I've always loved about the Ghibli dubs is how they use famous names with traditional voice actors and Anime voiceovers, giving them something of a multi-cultural feel. This role is an example of the latter. Hostetter is not very well known, but he has been heard in various dubs by Jack Fletcher--notably the Airship captain from Kiki's Delivery Service, and Ji-San in Princess Mononoke. There isn't much depth to his performance here, but there doesn't need to be. All that Hostetter has to do is provide gallant toughness and boldness, and he does just that with his gruff voice. It's a shame his voice has not been heard in any other Ghibli dub.

Aside from Tress MacNeille (who has become quite the Ghibli dubbing veteran), who turns in a cameo role as the wife of Pazu's boss, and Corey Burton (who is quite notable as one of Muska's agents) other roles in the dub are played by names such as John DeMita, Andrew Philpot, Michael Sorich, Matt Miller, Scott Menville, Eddie Frierson, and Debi Derryberry (who has a notoriety for playing high-pitched little girl's voices) as the obnoxiously funny, pint-sized daughter of Pazu's boss and a little softer and nuanced as young Sheeta in a flashback sequence. Admittingly, some of the incidental voices verge on sounding somewhat "cartoony," but considering that the movie has some equally cartoonish action, I don't consider this a bad thing at all. (I should mention, too, that whoever voices Sheeta's grandmother in the small flashback sequence is perfectly cast and acted.)

It's the new soundtrack by Joe Hisaishi, though, that really makes this dub soar. There are those who say that it is too intrusive for a film which initially had periods of silence, but Disney's dub does manage to leave some intact (the sequence where the robot is attacking before blasting through the firedoor, the lookout in the clouds scene, and at the pivotal moment where Pazu slowly walks to embrace Sheeta after Muska gives him a minute to speak with her). When the music does come in, though, it is longer and extensive, but throughout it's absolutely gorgeous. Hisaishi is no stranger to Hollywood style scoring, and his reworking showcases how much he has progressed over the years as a musician. (To those who would like to hear the extensive new score separate from the dub, it's available on a soundtrack CD from Tokuma. Its catalog number is TKCA-72436.)

Not a purists' dub, but a fun, lively, and interesting reinterpretation, Disney's dub of Castle in the Sky isn't without its occasional shortcomings, but its strongest assets outweigh them by far and ultimately render the dub a delight. Even though some may use the dub as a speculation point about aural alterations, I have to say that it does its job in providing a rollickingly good, fresh new version of a classic tale and then some. It'll probably be too jarring for fans of the original Japanese to get accustomed to, but for what it is, it's certainly a listenable and well-produced dub. There will be those who will argue that it is one of the lesser Disney dubs (which I don't agree with), but even a so-called "weak" Disney-Ghibli dub is still better than 99.9% of the worst dubs around.

One thing I forgot to mention that in the dub, the ending song, "Kimi wa nosette" is the only vocal track in the Fletcher-Ghibli dubs that remains untranslated. Kiki handled its opening and ending songs by replacing them with sprightly pop/rock ditties by Sydney Forest (due to rights issues), while Mononoke seamlessly translated its two vocal tracks into English. Castle in the Sky does not attempt to translate the song into English, but, like Hisaishi's music, it received a major musical upgrade. The vocal is untouched, but the accompaniment has additional instruments, like a piano, xylophones, which makes the song more rich and fuller sounding. In fact, after listening to this revised version of the song, the original feels somewhat empty (although still beautiful overall). Too bad they didn't include this upgrade on the soundtrack album of the USA music; it would have made for a lovely way to close off the album just as it does the film. I wonder why they didn't bother to translate the song anyway?

I should also add that I have also seen the movie in Japanese. That was the first time I ever saw the film. While I enjoyed it then, it doesn't make me like Disney's version any less. On the contrary. I am aware of the differences, but I love both versions equally.

THE OTHER DUB (JAL/Tokuma)

Recently, I had a chance to take a look at the pre-Disney dub, not produced by Streamline, but distributed by them. This version was recorded by an unknown company at the commissioning of Tokuma. Produced for screening on international flights on Japan Airlines (JAL for short), this had a brief theatrical screening in 1989 in America before quickly disappearing into oblivion. The only legitimate release of this dub was on the Japanese R2 DVD. There have been a number of fans who say that this version surpasses the current one, but I didn't have the same response when I saw it. The only points this dub has is that it doesn't have the rescore or the sometimes overdone extra dialogue. On the other hand, though, the script itself is not very smooth and comes across as very stilted, with attempts at humor that sound either contrived or not very well written at all. Even with the one asset that it preserves the last part of Sheeta's speech, it isn't enough to make up for the choppy writing.

On that level, the voices sound plain wrong too. People have said Pazu and Sheeta's VAs are "absolutely perfect" compared to the newer dub, but I didn't feel the same way. In the older version, Pazu is played by Barbara Goodson, and as such, sounds higher pitched than James. There have some occasions when boys can be voiced by women without the audience realizing it (in fact, in Japanese, a woman plays Pazu). Unfortunately I didn't find this case to be particularly convincing: there is an obvious feminine quality to her tone which I found quite distracting. The older dub was recorded at a very fast pace, and as such, she comes across as though she doesn't know where to go with Pazu, as evidenced by the lack of enthusiasm in her delivery. Her attempts at conveying emotion, even during the most intense scenes, sounded very forced and unnatural, too. Had more time been spent on this old dub, I'm sure that Barbara could have turned in a much better performance; as such, this is one of Goodson's weakest roles, which is a shame considering that she has shown skill in other dubs.

Lara Cody as Sheeta tries to copy the vocal tone of the Japanese voice actress by raising her voice to an unnaturally high-pitch. There have been some cases where actresses can get away with this approach, but in this case, Cody sounded more strained than authentic to my ears. She also suffers from the same problem that Barbara's Pazu does: a lack of genuine emotion. Even her moments of desperation and screaming felt more forced instead of natural. I'm sure that Cody could have done a much better job if she was given the time to develop her character more properly.

Now I'm not saying Van der Beek and Paquin were "perfect" for these two characters, but I felt that both put more emotion into their performances, hence my preference for them. As far as Cody and Goodson are concerned, they could have done a solid job, but sadly, they didn't.

The real downer to the older dub are the performances of the rest of the cast. As Muska, Jeff Winkless just didn't give me the same creepy, chilling vibes as Hamill. His Muska sounds more like he's cold-reading off the script in an uncharismatic, monotonous voice. In doing so, he never comes across as genuinely evil or frightening, but extremely bored throughout. I've heard far better examples of "subtle evil" acting in many other dubs. It got even worse for me at the end when Muska unveils his true colors. While Mark goes all out during his psychopathic final guise (even showing hints of the Joker, to good effect), Jeff puts absolutely no energy or enthusiasm, still sounding as monotonous as ever. Case in point: after demonstrating Laputa's power and knocks Sheeta aside, he simply says "You little brat" very flatly, and his subsequent "Now you die" had me wincing; it was just like a bad episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. The final confrontation scene is even worse; not only does Winkless continue talk like an emotionless robot, he says "Now say bye bye!" while pointing his gun at Sheeta. No matter how much force he half-heartedly tries to give the line, it doesn't change the fact that it brings unintentional humor to what should be a frightening moment. Hamill sounds much more natural and genuinely threatening with his "Now get over here!" Lastly, Jeff's final scream struck me as non-existant, and he doesn't put enough emotion to convey Muska's eventual fate; it simply sounds weak and ineffective. In the end, there really is no question over who is the better Muska — it's Hamill's show all the way. As with nearly everyone else in this older dub, Winkless just wasn't at his finest when he did this role.

On that note, even Dola (Rachel Vanowen) disappointed me. Her voice — which sounds like a scratchy June Foray as Granny from Looney Tunes — came across to me as unconvincing and unnatural; she simply screams her lines without any real personality. Even when Dola is supposed to be not so abrasive, there's still something about Vanowen's performance that sounded very off; it just sounds so stilted, almost as if she's reading off the page instead of acting. The overall effect of her performance was very hard on my ears and totally devoid of the charm that Cloris provides.

The pirate brothers (Eddie Frierson, Dave Mallow, and Barry Stigler) are given goofy-sounding cartoon voices. In doing so, however, Eddie, Dave, and Barry all forget to embue their characters with personality, and as such, they come across as rather generic and not even remotely funny. And this is from someone who generally likes these three guys. So for me, Mandy, Mike, and Andy excel as these characters for giving them more personality and not making them goofballs.

Even Uncle Pom was disappointing. For one thing, the tone of Ed Mannix's voice is reminiscent to the cartoony-sounding pirates, not an elder, which could be enough for the viewers to mistake him as one of Dola's boys! That his delivery lacks the charm Richard Dysart provides is also a problem.

The General actually doesn't sound too bad; Mike Reynolds sounds less scratchy than Cummings, but appropriately gravelly. For the most part, he acquits himself very well, but I still detected some stale dialogue and delivery, particularly "I... really hate secret agents!" which sounded strangely choppy and unnatural. His calling of "Where are you Muska?!" toward the end is also surprisingly lifeless and detached. If not for that, I would say that he's the best voice in the JAL dub; Cummings may be more recognizable, but he sounded smoother and less stilted from the start.

I found the incidental background voices to be either generic or, in several other scenes, completely non-existent, particularly in the case of the crowd noises (also known as "walla"). For instance, in the sequences where the coal miners witness a punching match between Pazu's boss and one of Dola's boys, there are obviously mouths moving from the crowd characters, but they don't make any sound, resulting in a bare, empty scene. The same is true for the climactic scenes where the soldiers are attacked by both the robot in the army fortress and the armada of robot soldiers at the film's climax. Even with the argument that the Japanese version was less chattier than Disney's, these obviously bare scenes only succeeded in emphasizing that the creative staff involved didn't really spend as much time as they could have; as such, I felt as though I was watching a badly dubbed kung-fu movie. (Granted, Disney's version does lay the walla on a little thick at times, but at least it doesn't sound anywhere nearly as "empty" as this old dub.)

As mentioned, the ADR script is not very smooth and comes across as very stilted, with some of the most inept-sounding lines I've ever heard in any dub. Just to give you an idea, let me provide you examples of the dialogue from this older dub and compare them to Disney's version:

JAL Pazu: "I'm as hard as a brick moppet if moppets were made out of bricks!"
Disney Pazu: "If my head were any harder, you could use it as a cannonball!"

JAL Muska: "The light is pointing to the center of the whirlwind. Laputa is in that wind. Did you hear me, we go straight forward. We're sure to find an entrance."
Disney Muska: "The light is pointing to the center of the whirlwind. Laputa is in that storm. I won't retreat. Now go straight ahead! And that is an order, Captain."

JAL Muska: "This place is where the throne room is, isn't that appropriate? Now say bye-bye!"
Disney Muska: "How appropriate that we've ended up in the throne room. Now get over here!"

In all fairness, the JAL dub script gets points for preserving the last part of Sheeta's speech, but the overall choppy flow of the dialogue and lack of thought for clarity ultimately kills that asset. Straightforward faithfulness alone does not a good script make. Some older dubs do stand the test of time, but JAL's Laputa, sadly, isn't one of them. It falls short compared to Macek's own My Neighbor Totoro and dubs of today, period. There are a number of fans who stand behind the JAL dub, but even with the argument that it is not as loose as Disney's version, I was still very disappointed with it. Needless to say, it's not worth the trouble of importing the Japanese DVD to own it unless you're a diehard fan.

So in short, aside from at least one controversial script alteration and occasionally unnecessary additional lines, Disney's dub of Castle in the Sky is the better English dub, not only in production values, but in overall flow. It's not a purist's dub, and it'll probably play better to people who are unfamiliar with this movie, but despite its faults, it's still a very listenable and competently-produced effort that offers charms of its own.
Ace

(no subject)

Protip: If your favorite character's dub voice doesn't live up to your expecations, do not take it personally. Yes, it sucks that they weren't what you expected. But the producers didn't cast them to ruin the game just for you. They don't have a vendetta against you.
Stop the self-righteous bitching and get over yourself, please.
It was one line. One. Out of the dosens the character will have. Who knows, maybe he'll surprize you.
magical me

First Post / Greg Ayers Panel

Hey everybody! I'm a long time lurker who's finally decided to join. Nice to meet you all. :)

Anyhoo, I thought a good subject for my first post would be this (in)famous 2007 Greg Ayers panel about fansubs. Its not about dubs per se; but in it Ayers dispels a lot of the sub-snobs' misconceptions about how dub companies operate and how fansubs are more "accurate and pure" than professional translations. Its a fun panel to watch because about halfway through Crispin Freeman, Tiffany Grant, Talesin Jaffe, and some of Greg's other VA pals join in from the audience to vent their frustrations about bootlegs, fansubs, and the state of the industry. Here's part one...




...the other parts (there are 18 total) are on YouTube. Ayers is really good at working the crowd and he's good at conveying the seriousness of the situation while, at the same time, keeping his sense of humor.

===================================

And here is another, more condensed Greg Ayers fansub panel done in 2008...



The overall tone of this one is slightly less upbeat since it's in the wake of Geneon's collapse and ADV's string of bad luck. But its worth watching because Greg provides some very interesting insider information.

My favorite part of this panel is when he talks about how many edits are dictacted by the JAPANESE companies; not the American ones (for example, he said Funimation was forced to keep some of 4Kids' One Piece changes because the Japanese company thought those changes made the show more "marketable" to American viewers). The Japanese anime companies all want to have the next Pokemon and DBZ. And the exectutives think that massive edits will gain a bigger audience because it worked with those 2 shows.


The only thing I (mildly) disagree with him on is the practice of downloading stuff that is either WAY out of print or old shows/manga that have never been licenced  and probably never will. I understand his reasoning that you should seek out R2 releases. But its just impossible sometimes.
Case in point, about a year ago I wanted to check out the Rayearth movie but I couldn't find a legit copy ANYWHERE. Its so out of print that sites like Rightstuf didn't have it anymore. I even scoured the dealers' rooms in conventions for legitimate copies and I didn't have any luck there either. I wanted to see it dubbed. So, eventually I got sick of searching, rolled the dice by buying it online, and got stuck with a bootleg from Amazon Marketplace. Now I wish I had just watched it on YouTube or something. Yeah, I probably would have had to watch it subbed and I'd still be technically supporting illegal activity. But the way I see it, watching a free fansub is a much "lesser evil" than giving money to an ass#@!% who sells bootlegs while claiming they're the genuine article.


*ahem* on a more positive note, I'm looking forward to seeing all of your comments! ^_^

Ace

(no subject)

Dissida: Final Fantasy is getting a North American release, which, of course, means it's getting an English dub.

Dissidia will not be ruined forever if it gets said dub, trust me, it won't.
Frankly, I think Square does a fantastic job when it comes to English language versions. (RE:CoM's was a rush job and it was still great)

Yes, FFX had it's issues, but FFX was Square's first real try as having voice overs, period. I'll bet if you compare the Japanese version of FFX with later releases like KH2, FFXII and Dissidia, I'll bet the later stuff would be technically better as well.

If you want to import the Japanese version, go right ahead. You wanna sub the Japanese version, no one's stopping you, heck I'll even watch them cause I like spoilers.

But don't tell us that we shouldn't support the English language version, and that we aren't real fans for wanting it. Some of us actually like them.