Recently I’ve wanted to talk about English dubs in anime, but not because I still see people complaining about their validity, but for another reason. I’m tired… a lot… like all the time. That’s only intensified since having a kid which, I suppose, is to be expected. It’s worse this time of year, when it’s dark out and the computer screens inside seem brighter by comparison. I’m a full-time journalist, which means I spend my working week staring at screens. Many of my other hobbies and side-hustles are also screen-based which means I’ve got dry tired eyes and headaches a lot of the time. And if I’m over-tired, my eyes aching and feeling queasy from staring at a screen all day, the last thing I want to do is come home and read subtitles. Thank goodness for English dubs.
I grew up on dubbed anime, so I’ve never really been a ‘purist’ about sticking to the subs. I’ll argue that Japanese voice actors treat it more like a craft, put more of their heart and soul into their work and, consequently, the results are better, but there are some brilliant dubs out there. And then there’s those I prefer because of circumstance, nostalgia or just personal preference. Naruto is my go-to example. I just prefer the English voice cast for almost all of the characters, particularly for the erratic little ninja himself. For Tsuritama, one of my favourite anime, I think both dubs are about equal. Then there’s Dragon Ball, a series that, in all honesty, just sounds wrong to me in the original Japanese and that’s just because it’s what I grew up watching.
When reviewing anime releases, I’ll hop between dubs where available and, if I’m feeling particularly fatigued, I’ll stick predominately to the English. That said, most of the anime I watch is still subbed, thanks to simulcasts and the fact that the majority of anime I enjoy don’t tend to get dubbed. Once the reviews are out the way, I feel so burnt out and tired that I’d rather watch old episodes of Star Trek. But those series that have dubs mean that I’m able to enjoy anime without giving myself a migraine.
I’d say that was three, maybe four days of the week. The rest? Give me subbed anime all day long! I’m just grateful that there’s the option there, and I know I’m not alone. People seem to forget that everyone has different reading speeds, and some struggle reading at all. I remember one early follower of ours who only watched dubbed anime because they were dyslexic and struggled to read subtitles. Anyway, I’m not turning this into a lecture. I know that our readers are all wonderful people, I just wanted to present my own case on the necessity of English dubs. For me, it’s less a preference and more self-care. But what about you? Let me know in the comments below.