Subs vs. Dubs

Part of the Weebing 101 Series

Because anime is a thing people care about, they care about their opinions. A lot, unfortunately, and one of those categories is whether or not watching with original Japanese audio and English subtitles is better than watching with an English Dub. Here’s our take on pros and cons of each.

DUBS: The pros here are obvious. You don’t have to read the subtitles, so you can look away for bits and pieces and still listen, and you can also enjoy the art of the whole screen without anything being covered or having to look away from most of the scene in order to read the subtitles. You also don’t have the problem of sometimes not being able to tell who’s saying what in chaotic scenes, or the rare problem of having there be a dramatic reveal in the subtitle text that you read before the music/animation/sound gets to that point. Kind of like when you’re reading a novel and it gets so exciting that you turn the page and quickly scan to see if there are any all caps words, etc., and spoil it for yourself because you’re an impatient dork. Definitely not referring to myself here. Overall, it can be easier to immerse yourself.

The cons for dubs are that historically, they’ve been bad. Really bad. As in voice acting that’s straight terrible and/or the translation wasn’t done well, and it just feels weird. Often the lip-syncing would be completely off. Fortunately, this is becoming less and less of a problem as time goes by, dubs have gotten better and better. There still is the underlying issue of the difficulty of dubs, in which you can’t really dub culture or syntax. Some phrases in Japanese take three syllables and the English counterpart is fourteen, and vice versa. Gestures, body language, etc. in Japanese are so different from English, that when dubbing, it can be extremely difficult to portray without it just feeling bizarre. Dubbing well is extremely difficult, because the V.A.s have to communicate what the characters say, with matching emotions, timed in the same way, which frequently isn’t possible using the most accurate translation. So, they have to approximate, which can result in a different translation, and you’ll be watching a slightly different version. Many people who have seen the sub and dub of Fullmetal Alchemist will tell you that each present a very different protagonist with different motivations. Dubs can also take longer to make, so if you’re watching a simulcast of a show, often you’ll have to wait a while after it airs to watch the dub.

SUBS: The pros with Subs are mostly just, NOT the cons of Dubs. You keep the original voice acting, to which the show was animated. Being a step removed by the language barrier also helps to not notice if voice acting isn’t as good. You get a more accurate translation and are experiencing the work as it was originally created. You’re closer to the source material.

The cons of course, are mostly listed in the pros of Dubs. You have to be watching at all times; you can’t go up to get a drink and still follow what’s going on. You don’t get to experience the bottom fifth of the screen for a good amount of the show because, depending how the subs are done, they’re covering up the art there.

As for us, we prefer Subs and will do what we can to get them as our first option. Some dubs that we’ve heard parts of and really like, however, are the dubs of KonoSuba, Kill la Kill, One Punch Man, Kaguya-sama: Love is War, and Darling in the FranXX (good voice actors, still has awkwardness of “that would be weird to say in English” for Darling at least).

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