Best Anime Dubs You Can Watch RIGHT NOW (Part 4)
Hey everyone, hope you managed to enjoy your summer! I’m AJ from the Cartoon Cipher and the seasons are beginning to change, lets see if we can recommend even more anime dubs for you all to enjoy.
BEASTARS (Season 1+2)
Dubbing 3DCG anime has always been a bit more difficult compared to standard 2D works as there are other technical elements that could potentially get in the way of delivering believable sounding and looking performances. Studio Orange has gone above and beyond to create an anime with a distinct style all its own through the use of unique CG models, but that made me all the more curious as to how natural the dub would sound. Thanks to some solid direction and inspired casting, particularly from the three main leads, the overall experience was exceptionally solid. With that said, I feel confident in claiming that season two definitely worked out the kinks and elevated the dub’s quality even further.
One of the only detriments of season one’s dub was the rather dry script and how it sometimes sounded as if it got in the way of those more potentially natural performances compared to the Japanese version. However, season 2 does stand out with a script that has a bit more flavor to it, communicating the intended meaning from the original with fewer awkward pauses. Obviously Jonah Scott and Griffin Puatu take their performances even further than before, but even new characters get their opportunities to shine. Standouts include Kayleigh McKee as Pina who manages to bring a loveable attitude to such a jaded personality and Patrick Seitz as Riz who is able to go from lovable to threatening at a moments notice. Honestly the biggest downside to season 2 is that the shift in focus does mean we get to hear even less from actors that had so much presence before like Laura Jill Miller as Haru. But I guess one of the qualities of a good dub is that you’re always asking for more.
Tokyo Revengers has a lot of heart. Through all the time traveling shenanigans, it’s how involved and connected the characters feel with each other that really drives people to keep coming back for more. Thankfully the dub keeps up the charm of those relationships, maintaining a strong emotional core with a few dashes of necessary punching up for a story that revolves around such informal gangs. Standout performance has to go to our main trio of Takemitchy, Mikey and Draken. A.J. Beckles continues to hit the anime dubbing scene hard this past year with an emotionally resonating performance that captures the internal struggle of our main lead as he walks down this path of tough decisions. Then there’s Aleks Le and Sean Chiplock carrying so much presence through their contrasts with each other. Anime News Network actually did an interview with these three and it’s worth checking out to get some insight into what inspired some of these performances. Many of the other characters carry themselves with a lot of attitude that feels appropriate for the time periods that are being used in the story. Seriously, give this show a shot, no matter the language.
As a long-standing fan of Fairy Tail, I was greatly looking forward to Edens Zero finally being released on Netflix. Similar to how this series carries on the open world adventure legacy of Fairy Tail, I think the dub effectively carries on the legacy of its predecessor dub as well. Sean Chiplock was an unexpected pick for our wide eyed protagonist but he lands in a solid sweet spot between lovable goofball and capable adventurer. The robots sound appropriately robotic without sounding devoid of personality and while not all of the small verbal quirks from the original were preserved, the ones that were kept in sound very fun. The dub also has the added benefit of some role reprisals from Fairy Tail with actors coming back to play lookalikes. It’s great that Bang Zoom was able to take advantage of the new remote recording landscape to make this happen for both major characters and even small, cute cameos. Not exactly a deal setter on its own, but definitely a decision that I appreciate as a fan of Mashima’s works as well as a fan who hopes to see more blended casts like this coming out of LA in the future.
Getter Robo Arc
Personally I’m not that familiar with the Getter Robo franchise nor its previous dubs from other studios. Regardless, this one features plenty of gruff-sounding voices, over-the-top delivery and pretty good screaming, all of which seem right at home for a show of this tone. Throw in some extra silly-sounding side characters and it’s a pretty fun listen for the most part. In fact you may have come across a video floating around courtesy of Twitter user Emma Pete, compiling a lot of the f-bombs from the dub’s dialogue. This colorful language seems to be courtesy of the series’ translator Ian Fagen, who also worked on the subtitles. It’s clear Ian’s had a direct involvement with this dub, even giving advice on the casting and direction to some extent, and you can even hear his voice in some bit parts! He’s implemented profanity where he believes it brings out the tone of what’s being expressed in Japanese, and made sure not to use it too carelessly with characters who don’t have that kind of personality. The dub script is actually very very close to the subtitles most of the time, and while the delivery can feel a bit slow at points, there’s still some vivid characterization from the actors. In terms of technicalities, while the dub has the occasional issues with sync, so did the Japanese, which the ADR team do try to remedy from time to time. I also remember episode 2 did have a moment where they played two takes of the same line…at once, so hopefully that’s either been fixed already or will be later. Regardless, while some things like the swearing may be divisive, I personally think the dub for Getter Robo Arc is in pretty fucking good hands.
Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop
Yes it’s yet another Netflix dub premiere, but this time from a team I wouldn’t have predicted. Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop is a film about haikus, young love and buck teeth, with a dub coming from Igloo Music. While they’d done some dubbing before, Soda Pop looks to be their first anime project specifically. Likewise the ADR director Christina Diamantara had mostly worked on live-action dubs for Netflix like Sweet Home, however she’s also a film director in her own right. The cast was also pretty refreshing, it seems like many of them have done voiceover of one kind or another whether it’s cartoons, games or live-action dubbing, and some are well known for on-camera work. There are a few ties to anime here and there, but it’s not much compared to the rest of the dubs on this list. But that’s not the only unique thing about this dub.
Adapting anime into English often involves a balancing act between maintaining the meaning of the original dialogue while also making that dialogue sound natural while also matching the lip sync. Soda Pop’s dub had to deal with all of that on top of translating haikus with their notable 5-7-5 syllable structure. I can’t imagine this was easy, and the official sub & dub have slightly different ways of approaching each individual poem: sometimes they’re able to preserve the 5-7-5 structure in translation, other times they let it slide. Having said all this I am no haiku expert and in fact, some of the written ones in this movie don’t even look like they’re three lines long. Maybe there’s more to this artform than just counting the syllables, and the film will probably introduce many non-Japanese viewers to concepts like kigo, but again I don’t know much beyond 5-7-5. Without going into spoilers, the climax of the movie hinges on a connection between Japanese words with different meanings that sound the same, and the dub did make an effort to explore that, though you should probably watch the film and make your own mind up about how successful it was.
One thing that occasionally caught me off guard was the lip-sync. Granted, sometimes it can be hard to tell for sure if it’s off because the character animation is quite exaggerated in certain shots, but I think there are sometimes slight moments of disconnect, though only a few were blatantly obvious. Regardless, it feels like the dub was trying to go for a more natural and grounded sound…well, other than the mall security staff. The protagonist Cherry is played by Ivan Mok who you may know from The Americans. His performance in particular was very subdued but also awkward-sounding. Some may be put-off by it but I think (to an extent) it’s important to his character; he has trouble communicating and uses haiku to express himself. Meanwhile, teen voice actor Sam Lavagnino, well known as Catbug from Bravest Warriors sounded incredibly lively and spontaneous as Beaver, and really found the fun in each of his lines. Even other characters like Japan (yes, the character’s name is literally “Japan”) played by Marcus Toji sounded effortless and natural. And Ping Wu who hasn’t voiced in anime since Rave Master, was both hilarious and moving as Mr. Fujiyama and is one of the most memorable performances in the film. For an anime dub coming from a relatively unexpected crew, Soda Pop was a nice surprise. And despite its flaws, I still appreciated it.