4: Dubs (Saga of Tanya the Evil)

I had the privilege of experiencing Saga of Tanya the Evil through the dub on my first watch.

My long-running motto for anime dubs is this: if it makes more sense for it to be there than Japanese dubbing, then hell yeah I’ll try it. Thanks to it, I have concluded that the dubs for shows such as Death Parade, Xam’d, Fullmetal Alchemist, Baccano, and others such are the method to a superior watching experience. And there are some anime I actively refuse to watch dubbed in Japanese such as Cowboy Bebop and Space Dandy. And there are antithesis to this motto too: the JoJo dub is far superior in Japanese than in English.

Here’s an addendum to that motto: if I accidentally open a dub file of a show, then why the hell should I not see where it goes before going back to the supposedly superior option? This happened to me when I watched Shiki for the first time, where it obviously, objectively makes more sense to watch it in Japanese as per my motto. And you know what? I liked that dub, too. So my method does have cracks in it every now and then.

That’s why I decided to go into this anime with the English dub. Sure, it would have made more sense for the dub to be German, but no one was going to translate a german dub into English, let alone would they make a German dub in a reasonable time. And look at that, I enjoyed watching it considerably.

The unique opportunity arose when my files for the show happened to be dual audio. Localization changes have been a sticking issue for all dubs, and it’s gotten more traction in mainstream conversation now that simuldubs are starting to become normal practice. I’m of the opinion that, for the kinds of dubs I prefer, localization changes are for the better. Additionally, no matter what kind of anime you dub, there’s always going to be something that needs to be changed. Some of those changes, depending on the show, are going to be drastic.

In this case, I’m reminded of a particular scene in the second episode: a bureaucratic businessman gets locked into a conversation with an ephemeral, superior being who speaks to the man through the passersby next to him. In the Japanese version, the man appears emotionally controlled while he clinically dissects his situation and the thing talking to him, while the thing is similarly calm and authoritative as they lightly banter with each other through conversation. In the English version, the man is a bit more incredulous about his situation, the thing is a bit more smug about explaining it, and the both of them engage in heavier banter as their ideals clash. It’s debatable which version of each character fits their personality the most, depending on how you perceive a certain individual to behave, but ultimately I enjoyed how the dub handled the conversation better. The situation is absurd, and the being who was bothered enough to talk with the man is even more absurd. Having the characters more flexible with their emotions in this situation would be a sensible interpretation.

This extends to the rest of the series, where I find the English dialect and vocal patterns to make more sense to me than the original Japanese dub in this context, even if the lipflaps are catered to Japanese audio. It would be useless to ask me how it makes more sense because it’s a matter of preference. And my preference is to watch this show dubbed.

There’s the added bonus of freeing up your focus to the full visuals rather than reading the lines at the bottom of the screen. Yes, that’s a thing. Reading subtitles hampers your ability to notice all the visuals, not matter how fast you can read. Go on, try it. Watch an episode once through without subtitles, then do it again with subtitles on. You’ll be surprised at how much more you pay attention to what’s on screen.

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