Blackcat130

Blackcat130

Professional procrastinator/Blogger on the side/ lover of all things animated/Bachelors in English with a concentration in creative writing/ promoter of chill vibes.

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Latest Articles

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The magic of dubbing

Often times, when an anime is dubbed people, will say the dubbed version is inherently inferior to the original Japanese. Which in the case of many early 80’s to mid 90’s I would agree with to an extent. Often times the voice acting is poorly directed and cheaply done with amateur actors, but I believe that changed largely due to Dragon Ball Z. The massive popularity of Dragon Ball Z brought more money into the localization process of many Japanese products when they were brought over to the west and this can be seen in how the dubbing of Dragon Ball Z. Despite these improvements why do people continue to believe that dubbed anime is inherently inferior to the subbed version? Both types of localization have their own strength and weakness, so why does the western anime community hate over the other?

  • Being a keen fan of anime I can certainly agree with the points you've raised in this topic suggestion although I generally prefer to watch anime subtitled and hear the original language, but that's my personal preference. I have seen some dubbed anime in which the voice actors did a splendid job - Crispin Freeman's voicing of the Kyon character in 'The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya' series and film (2006 - 2009) is a good example, but in direct contrast to this is Emily Hirst, whose whiny, nasal drawl was not at all in keeping with the character Makoto Konno from 'The Girl Who Leapt Through Time' (2006) and annoyed me intensely. One of the problems with dubbing (and subbing) is transference of cultural idioms and references. Simply switching these from one language to another, e.g. Japanese to American English doesn't always work and (no offence intended towards Americans) it shouldn't automatically be assumed that everyone in the English speaking world will necessarily understand the American reference or idiom. One size doesn't always fit all! Whilst professional subtitlers will sometimes, by necessity, have to be linguistically creative with translations and transference of idioms and cultural references, any competent translator will never balk at translating a difficult turn of phrase - which can't be said for some fan 'subbers' I could mention - so will try to keep as close to the original as possible whilst still creating text that can be easily understood by non-Japanese speakers. This doesn't make subtitling superior to dubbing as the two approaches to translation are completely different, as any professional voice artist will confirm. There is, admittedly, some 'snob bias' from some who prefer subtitling and there always will be; it's just the way of the anime community. Coincidentally I'm presently preparing an article about the history of subtitling in which I also cover anime fan subbing - both its good and bad points, so it would be interesting to see someone take up your topic suggestion and write about the development of dubbing; I have some fascinating source material I could suggest for anyone interested. – Amyus 3 years ago
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  • I tend to prefer subbed anime over its dubbed counterpart. My main reason for this being that I feel the original Japanese voice actors are able to capture concepts and convey them more effectively than an American voice actor. Abstract concepts that are unique to Japan like the red string of fate or even the various ways to say "I love you" may be things an English-speaking voice actor might not completely understand and will therefore not be able to capture the subtle nuances associated with the idea. However, that's not to say English dubs don't have their merits. There are a number of anime in which I actually prefer the English dub. FMAB, Rurouni Kenshin, Yu Yu Hakusho, etc. Possibly the reason why some people in Western audiences hate dubbed anime is a matter of superiority and originality. The Japanese dub came from Japan where anime was born and is thriving. Because anime is still a relatively foreign concept for Western audiences, it may take a while before the idea of something belonging to one country can successfully bridge the gap across cultures. – ceekim 3 years ago
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Latest Comments

Blackcat130

I’ve mentioned this in some of my earlier comments, that it was never meant to come across as complaining or making an uproar. But rather I was trying to comment on trends that I’ve noticed with in the animation industry. If you can point to what section in my article came across as me making an uproar it would be greatly appreciated. As in both my articles I’ve published on this site, people seem to think I’m complaining, when my goals is to point out area’s where I think an artist work can be improved.

Not only that but, many of your comments I felt I pointed to in my article as well. Such as how Shiro suffered from PTSD, had a rare muscle disease, lost a arm and went on to find happiness despite his troubles. I made a point to dedicate a lot of attention to how Shiro was built up as a great leader to the paladins. I even had a quote from the director about how they wanted Shiro to be more than just the token gay character.

I also drew attention to how the producers wanted the series to be more focused on the action, while the writers and directors said they wanted more opportunities to explore the paladins background and deal with more of the dramatic action side of the series.

While I didn’t mention it in my article the director did want an opportunity to explore the paladins ethnic background as well, but once again the producers blocked it for the reason I mentioned earlier.

Also as to why fans didn’t raise a fit about the ethnic backgrounds of the Paladins. I would say it was due to a couple factors.

1. They didn’t use the Paladins ethnic background in any of the marketing like they did with Shiro’s sexuality. The paladins heritage was left largely ambiguous, with only subtle hints to it (such as with Shiro’s name, and Hunk and Lances family dropping hints as to their background. This came in the form of their word choices their family used and food they prepared when they got back to Earth.

2. Another factor is if no information is provided, their is no analysis that could possibly be made, only speculated upon. BTW Hunk is Samoan, Pidge is Italian, Lance is Cuban, and Beside his Galra heirtage nothing is known about Keith. Most people assume his father is American because of his southern accent, but that’s once again speculation simply because there is no further information given. The paladin’s ethnicity is never explored. This is probably as you said, that it didn’t matter in the grand scheme of the series. Most of this information comes from the data book, but was never mentioned in the series.

3. I also believe people didn’t care about Shiro being Japanese, as animation as whole has plenty of Japanese protagonist. Due to Japan being one of the biggest animation producers. So it is fairly easy to access shows written and directed by people of a Japanese background. This means the market isn’t exactly starved for shows that follow a Japanese protagonist. (This doesn’t excuse American studio’s from not writing a series that follows a diverse background imo though, but that’s why I believe it might not have been that big of a deal for people) Where as LGBTQ+ characters being shown in a more favorable light is less common. So when event’s like a Gay wedding appearing in show’s like Voltron or Steven Universe its a big deal for people who are a part of the community, and they don’t want their sexuality to be used as a marketing gimmick.

I also agree with you on that the show is about about how we could come together despite our differences. Proof of this can be seen in how the people who worked on the show, as well as the paladins come from a multi cultured background. And the fact that the Voltron coalition is made up of various aliens the paladins meet in their journey. While the main antagonist is an empire made up largely of one race, and the people they forcibly subjugated (and are not loyal to the galra).

I also want it to be known that Shiro is one of my favorite characters. Despite my criticism of how his sexuality was handled, I believe he is a fully realized character. But it doesn’t mean there aren’t flaws in how he is handled.

I believe criticism is the only way we can improve. If we are not aware of problems we can’t fix them. This is why I wrote this mini essay in response to your criticism, as this is how I perceived my article. But maybe I was wrong. Maybe it didn’t come across that way. If you could point to where exactly you felt I was lacking it would be greatly appreciated. It will only help me improve as a writer.

Shiro's Sexuality in Voltron: Legendary Defender
Blackcat130

I had this same feeling when I heard they initially wanted to reveal Shiro’s sexuallity earlier. I thought they were using it as away to randomly change/introduce a character with a different sexual background last minute.

But now I have my doubts, as Joaquim Dos Santos has a long history of trying to get LGBQT+ characters in his animated shows. Korra is the most notable example. And while I know most people hate KorraSumi and accuse it of the same queerbaiting Shiro is accused of. Santos often tries to include varied characters only for his producer or the network to tell him no. A noteable example of this is with the animated series Justice League Unlimited. A lot of the openly gay/bisexual characters had this aspect of their background hidden. JLU was a show that both had Dwayne McDuffie and Joaquim Dos Santos working on it.

Dwayne McDuffie is the individual who wrote Static Shock as I mentioned in my article, and he has a long history of writing characters of varied nationalities, political backgrounds, and sexual preferences. He even called out the comic-book industry for its blatant tokenism when it came to minority groups.

This is a link to a mock pitch McDuffie wrote in 1989.
https://www.marvel.com/articles/comics/dwayne-mcduffie-s-legacy-in-comics

Now, this is purely speculation based on what I’ve read about Joaquim Dos Santos. But, I believe his more “diverse” characters got written out and relagated to the comics instead. Somthing that Dwayne McDuffie complained about. Because of NDA’s (non-disclosure agreements) it’s hard to find out the truth, but I choose to believe he had the best intentions due to his history and the people he has worked with. That’s all I can really say in defense of the writers and directors. Make of it what you will.

Shiro's Sexuality in Voltron: Legendary Defender
Blackcat130

I should have another one coming out, eventually discussing Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt. It will be talking about the differences between objectivefication and being sexually open character.

Shiro's Sexuality in Voltron: Legendary Defender
Blackcat130

I’m sorry if my article sounded like I was complaining to you. That wasn’t my intent, as Shiro is easily one of my favorite characters in this version of Voltron. I tried to be fair to what the people who worked on this series prensented.

The point of my article was to show how LGBTQ+ characters are often written out of stories, or their storylines are often under developed because these social groups are considered “unmarketable or alienating”.

I understand that for many people Shiro’s storyline was fine, but to others like myself felt there was room for improvement. Criticism shouldn’t be seen as simply complaining, but as creating discourse for understanding one another. Sorry, my article didn’t come across that way. I’ll try to do better next time.

Shiro's Sexuality in Voltron: Legendary Defender
Blackcat130

Lance loses Allura (the only unambigously women of color on the team) shortly after they start dating. There’s also Ezor and Zethrid who are revealed to be in a relationship during season 7 I belive. Besides Zethrid losing an eye, they get a happy ending that we won’t get to see on screen.

Jokes aside I completely agree with you. Shiro’s ending was incrediblly underwhelming for me. And I hope LGBTQ+ characters start getting better representation soon. Because as it is right now most characters of this background feel like their included for marketing.

Shiro's Sexuality in Voltron: Legendary Defender
Blackcat130

I also believe that’s what the writers were going for as well. I posted on an earlier comment about how Shiro puts duty before his personal feelings. But think they could’ve done more to illustrate that. Such as showing how Shiro’s career was getting in the way of his relationship with Adam.

Shiro's Sexuality in Voltron: Legendary Defender
Blackcat130

I agree with this sentiment. My biggest problem with Shiro was they had a couple of opportunities to further develop his romantic background but choose not to or weren’t allowed to. I can’t remember which season it was, but after rescuing Pidge’s father, they send him back to Earth with a message for their familiys. I felt like that would have been a good moment to introduce Adam. Instead, Shiro makes no mention of family or romantic partner. He instead sends a message to the garrison, which further informs the viewers on his personality, as he puts duty over his personal feelings. That aspect could’ve been a good way to make his relationship with Adam detiorate naturally. But nothing was done with it. That was the most frustrating part of this. It could’ve been a better reveal. Instead, they dropped the ball.

Shiro's Sexuality in Voltron: Legendary Defender
Blackcat130

I agree that anime often uses panty shots and close-ups of the female chest as a reoccurring joke/gag to an obscene level. But, I’ve always understood it as just that a joke. Character’s like Nami who reveal a lot of skin shouldn’t be written off as being merely objectified, as to how these characters dress and handle their sexuality is an important part of their character. A good example of this would be in Naruto. As the series progresses Ino’s outfit becomes far more revealing, while Hinata continues to dress conservatively. Hinata does this despite being considered the most well-endowed girl in her age group. This is because of her personality. Hinata is far more modest when compared to the other girls. While Ino is arguably the most confident and vain girl of her group. Ino puts far importance on her looks than other characters. The way she dresses throughout the series reinforces that idea.

While I’d love to see more varied female designs and personalities, my problems with female characters in anime rarely have to do with their treatment sexually. Don’t take this as me writing off your point about anime women receiving biased treatment in terms of fan service. This bias does exist, but often there’s more to how they’re depicted than meet the eyes. Your example of Rei from Evangelion is proof that. The scene you choose where Shinji falls on a naked Rei with here panties scattered about was meant to mock how anime continuously uses they idea of panty shots as a joke. Rei merely shrugs it off and is largely indifferent to Shinji seeing her nude, and doesn’t slap him until she hears him saying something bad about Dr. Ikari. But details like that are often missed.

Anime in America: The Adverse Affect on Women