Sunday, March 24, 2019

EDITORIAL: Redubs -- and the controversy that goes with them.

It seems like every time an Anime receives a new dub, there are always going to be people having their pens sharpened with readiness to slash the newer version to pieces no matter how much improvements it may or may not offer over a previous dub. Simply because of fans who were attached to said previous version. I've seen it happen. And now it's about to happen again.
Works such as Akira, The Castle of Cagliostro, the Ghibli classics Castle in the Sky and Porco Rosso, Nadia, and Vampire Hunter D all had preexisting dubs which were released by Streamline. At the time of their release there were reviews on places who were outraged at the existence of their dubs by Streamline, and understandably so -- all five were problematic in many, many ways. So much so that one would think that when companies such as Pioneer, Manga, Disney, ADV, and Sentai stepped in to do better results, fans would be more welcoming of the updates. Instead, there were outcries of people who declared that the newer versions were actually worse than the previous dubs, despite the advances of technology, translation, and acting in the years since their initial releases. Why? Because of nostalgia.
Now to be fair there have been some early dubs from the 80s that weren't always bad. My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service, before they got picked up by Disney, both had competent and well made dubs. One of them was released to video. The other was not. But then Disney picked up both films, and due to rights issues, had to make their own versions. Totoro s new dub, no matter how it turned out, was always going to be trashed by people who grew up with the FOX dub no matter what. Even if they chose a different cast, people still would have said it was "worse" than the old dub, simply because those people saw that first dub so many times. Even as someone who has seen Totoro the first time with the FOX dub, I was one of the few who decided to appreciate the new dub for what it is and acknowledge both as legitimately good dubs, because the first dub WAS good, and the second actually offered a lot of great stuff, too.  Kiki was lucky to mostly escape such comparisons, because a lot of fans grew up with the Disney dub on VHS, as the Streamline version had not been released on LD. But even then, there still were people who disliked it and said that the Streamline version was better. Now to be fair, Disney did take occasional liberties with  Kiki and Castle but both were ultimately approved by Studio Ghibli, and so for me, it's not a big deal. Neither of the liberties overstep the boundaries that Nausicaa's infamous first dub, "Warriors of the Wind" offensively did many years ago. No cutting of scenes, no renaming characters, no major plot changes. The storylines were still the same despite the occasional added in line. And the acting in both Disney dubs was excellent. There's a reason I consider both Kiki and Castle's dubs by Disney among my favorites. Because I found them charming.
Recently, two other Anime classics received new dubs. One of them was Sailor Moon, which had been through many different dubs, most of which were poorly received. VIZ finally managed to do a dub that presented the series uncut and with a credible cast. And still, fans of the previous versions still go around screaming how it is the "worst dub ever" and that "everyone should watch only the first dubs -- so much better", even though a lot of those comments were just from people who had been raised on said earlier dubs. Even Escaflowne's new dub was not immune to such criticism. Ocean's previous dub of the show had its assets, but it had its problems, too: there was a lot of stiff delivery in places where it should have been more vibrant, and the first several episodes especially had shakier acting. Funimation's new dub was praised for the most part, although of course, not everyone liked it. There were fans of the Ocean dub who screamed about its alteration. Don't believe me? There are some Amazon reviews on one of the Funimation releases who have crucified the new dub. Even on YouTube some fans detest this new version. Myself? My only quibble was the voice of Prince Chid. That's the only voice I prefer from the Ocean dub. Everyone else, I thought, gave significantly great performances. More importantly, the script was a huge improvement over the original. Better written and nowhere nearly as stiff sounding.
Now another Anime classic is going to receive a new dub: "Neon Genesis Evangelion". This is a show with a dub many people are familiar with. In fact, the primary performances of Spike Spencer, Tiffany Grant, and Alison Keith as Shinji, Asuka, and Misato have gotten consistent raves (as well as some very vicious naysayers). So much so, in fact, that all three reprised their roles for the Funimation dubs of the Rebuild movies. But for reasons that are too messy for me to get into, Netflix is commissioning a new dub for the series and jettisoning the old dub. A lot of fans are understandably furious about this, especially considering that the three principal actors have reprised their roles. But this time none of them are being brought in. ADV Films' dub of the Evangelion show, despite its fans, has also had its share of harsh detractors. Some of which had been rather vicious toward Rei's voice actress Amanda Winn Lee, particularly for some of her sound effect choices for the film End of Evangelion. There have been lots of vocal detractors about the ADV dub who have made it clear that they abhor the dub and badmouth it in every way they can. Which is enough to make me wonder if those same people will quickly find fault in the newer dub and trash it just because. Other fans of the older dub will be even more upset because of course it will be jarring to hear a different voice for a character they've identified with.
So what is the best solution for all this? Offer all versions of any dub on any Anime release, that's what. I personally have made it clear that I absolutely detest the 80s dub of Akira, but I still applaud Funimation for issuing it on BD along with the newer dub. Why? Because however problematic that version might have been, there still were people who grew up with it. Discotek Media did the same thing for The Castle of Cagliostro: offering both dubs. As much as I have also preferred the newer dubs of Castle in the Sky, Nadia, Vampire Hunter D, and Porco Rosso over their 80s' and 90s' counterparts, there are still a vocal number of fans who are furious that the previous dubs that they remember are not included on the BD. I don't blame those people, even if I do not particularly like those older versions. They are entitled to it.
My point being, everyone is entitled to their preferences. The magic of physical media means you can choose how you want to view it either way. Offering all versions is the best compromise imaginable. People can choose how they want to see their favorite Anime. Whether it be the original Japanese, a previous dub, or a newer, up-to-date dub. If all Anime releases took this path of offering all dubs available so as to please all sides.
And that's all I have to say about this soon-to-be controversy about the upcoming Evangelion redub. Have both versions available on BD to appease people. Having said that I'm not going to actively view the new dub with preparations to crucify it or praise it. I might check it out one day, even though I'm not the biggest fan of that show. Nonetheless, this is my opinion about the whole thing. I know there will be people who disagree, and that's fine. I just wanted to state my two cents.

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