Anime is one of the most popular media in television and movies made today. But it has not always been so. Japanese animation works have always, to some extent, been well regarded by Western critics and audiences, but not quite at the level they are at today. A partial reason is due to a vocal subset of Western audiences who tend to dislike foreign films because of the dubbing.
If a dub doesn’t match what the characters are saying correctly, the essential ideas of the movie get lost in translation, or just plain bad casting, English dubs can be hard to take seriously. Thanks to many recent animated films, these methods have been corrected to an appropriate level and the true power of the film shines through.
“Spirited Away” (2001)
Creating a dub for the only animated film in history to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature seems like a daunting task. However, by this point, luckily Studio Ghibli had developed a reputation for quality translations of their movies, and this movie is no exception.
Taken away as if by magic tells the story of a girl working in a bathhouse populated by spirits to save her parents (who have been turned into pigs. The English dub has a talented voice cast, including the likes of David Odgen Stires, Jason Marsden, Suzanne Pleshetteand Lilo’s voice, Daveleigh Chaseas the heroine Spirited Away.
“The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya” (2010)
This 2010 drama was the sequel to a television series based on the Haruhi Suzumiya novels written by Nagaru Tanigawa. Following this, the series’ English dub actors reprized their roles for the series’ only theatrical film.
The main character, voiced in the English dub by Wendee Lee, is a chaotic teenager with secret godlike powers that can alter reality at will. But at the beginning of this film, one of her friends, Kyon (Crispin Freeman), discovers that reality has been warped to the point that he is a stranger to Haruhi and their social group has changed drastically.
“My Neighbor Totoro” (1988)
Not just another Ghibli classic, but the movie that introduced audiences everywhere to the studio’s mascot – a sizable bunny spirit named Totoro. Like many animated films of the time, two separate English dubs were produced for the film. One for Streamline Films in 1998 and one for Disney in 2005. Both dubs have their differences which make for unique experiences while watching.
For example, the Streamline dub came first and featured grown adults (Lisa Michelson and Cheryl Chase) voicing the film’s main children. Meanwhile, the Disney dub uses Dakota and Elle Fanning than voices, for a slightly more authentic experience.
“Your Name” (2016)
On Rotten Tomatoes it is the second highest rated animated film of the 2010s (behind Princess Kaguya). Two strangers separated by time, location, social status and gender suddenly find themselves switching bodies. At first, it looks like a typical body-swapping scenario, but over time, and they attempt to contact each other, they discover that it may have something to do with a comet destined to cause disaster.
The English dub serves the story well, and Stephanie Sheh and Michel Sinterniklaas help convey the confusion and peril of their main character as the film’s intensity increases.
“The Tomb of the Fireflies” (1988)
Another Ghibli movie with two unique English dubs, one made by Skypilot Entertainment in 1998 and the other made by Seraphim Digital in 2012. Regardless of version, both serve up a powerful story of two brothers stuck at the end of the Second World War.
When they are orphaned and homeless after their town is bombed, the two try to survive on their own, but their desperation only grows. It’s one of the most tragic films the studio has ever produced, and both English dubs honor and maintain that tone, thanks in large part to their powerful actors’ performances.
“A Silent Voice” (2016)
A silent voice is a drama that tells a beautiful and compelling story of redemption and acceptance. Former bully Shoya Ishida has become an outcast and has decided to make amends with those he has wronged. To that end, he befriends one of his former targets – a deaf girl named Shoko Nishimiya.
The two become close friends, dealing with both their emotional scars and the reactions of those around them to their past. The English translation serves the story well, with Robbie Daymond and Lexi Crowden perfectly serving the angst and love of their characters.
“Wolf Children” (2012)
It begins with an unusual form of tragic love story – a woman named Hana falls in love with a werewolf and they have two half-human, half-wolf children before their father is killed in an accident. Hana must now raise her children on her own, balancing their growing curiosity and independence while keeping their true nature a secret from the world.
As the children grow older, the son, Ame, becomes more invested in her wolf form, while the daughter, Yuki, becomes more confident as a human. Micah Solusod and Jad Saxton do a great job of expressing their characters’ growing independence, while Colleen Clinkenbeard puts on a powerful performance as Hana.
Already an unusual piece, being a Japanese film based on an English source – the 1952 Mary Burton novel, Borrowers. The story involves a boy finding his home secretly populated by a race of tiny people who survive by stealing things from humans. Again, two English dubs were used, this time more separated by country than by studio.
StudioCanal made a version for the UK in 2011 with the vocals of Tom Holland and Saoirse Ronan as main characters. Meanwhile, Disney did another international dub in 2012 with an elongated title and a much more definitive ending in its conclusion, whereas the other versions are slightly more ambiguous.
“The girl who crossed time” (2016)
Based on a 1967 novel by Yasutaka Tsutsui, this film from the Kadokawa Herald shows a teenage girl named Makoto who somehow gains the ability to literally step back in time. It’s already a fun premise, as it first does what any teenager would do with time travel: avoid bad grades, get to school on time, and avoid awkward situations in general. .
Of course, when unintended consequences begin to set in, she begins to realize the true importance of what she has. In dubbing, Emilie Hirst keeps Makoto’s charm and exuberance intact, making for a delightful performance for a fun main character.
A true legend considered one of the best science fiction films of all time. Director Katsuhiro Otomo took over the direction of his Manga written in 1982. It tells the story of a dystopian, futuristic Tokyo, where rebel biker gang leader Shotaro Kaneda and his best friend Tetsuo – whose developing psychic powers could put the city on your knees.
With Akira‘s two different translations, Shotaro was voiced by Cam Clarke in the 1989 Streamline dub, while the former Power RangersJohnny YongBosch reprized the role in the 2001 Pioneer version. Both versions retain the original film’s narrative and effectively serve its jaw-dropping visuals.
Next:Every Studio Ghibli Movie Ranked From Worst To Best
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10 Best Anime Movies Where The English Dub Was Really Good – GameSpot
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