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How to Enjoy Dubs

Well...for me the use of honorifics fits some dubs, others not so much.
(August is National Language Month in the Philippines, so I'd like to talk about enjoying anime in different languages: the anime dub. This post can be read in English and Filipino.)

Coming from the generation who were introduced to anime through dubs aired on TV, it's not hard for me to still enjoy them even in this time of free-and-paid legal streams and a 24-hour TV channel of English-subbed anime. But it's not from the mere childhood nostalgia or habit of tuning in to your TV daily for that new episode (in fact, I underwent a "SUBS ONLY, DUBS SUX" phase too!). Over time, I've come to appreciate anime in as many languages I can understand them in. And to be able to do that, I keep the following in mind.


It's still animation

As I am not fluent in Japanese, I cannot watch Japanese-language anime without subtitles. This means that half the time I watch a show, my eyes keep switching back from the scene to the subs. Without subtitles I’m able focus more on the animation itself and notice cool color palettes, choreography, or storyboarding in a scene without having to replay it.

But that does not mean disregarding Japanese voice acting completely! In fact I am a big fan of some seiyuu and support their work. Watching dubs means that depending on how many languages you understand, you get to fanboy/fangirl more voice actors in two (or more!) languages.

The art of voice acting is universal

Let's get this out of the way first: if you watch dubbed anime mainly to compare how different the new voice is from the original, you're going to have a bad time. This is because they will most likely be different.

I don't know how it is done in the West, but with Filipino casting directors, they cast the voice based on the character's looks and personality, not on how the Japanese seiyuu sounds. (Of course, if we're lucky, we get an exceptional actor that's uncannily similar to his or her Japanese counterpart. For example, Haruka Nanase in the Japanese and Filipino dub of Free! and Free!: Eternal Summer.)

Now onto voice acting.

The Japanese are on a league of their own when it comes to this. It's a big and mature industry, with 130 voice-acting schools and numerous agencies ... so I'm not really going to compare it to the Filipino side, where the ways you can get specialized voice acting training are limited: through an eight-week workshop, via a talent search (unfortunately only for the young ones), or from other industries with voice work (radio, theater, TV).

Yet despite these limitations, the vastly underrated voice actors in the Philippines manage to do a good job when it comes to anime. When you listen to anime dubs from the nineties, Filipino dubs are far superior to their Western counterparts: the older English dubs are flat and emotionless, with awkward pronunciation of Japanese names. But they're better now, don't worry!

(But I'm also not saying that Filipino voice acting is always perfect. You'll still hear inconsistent stress, pronunciation, and silent letters in Japanese names from time to time. It's a mystery why this is so, considering with the internet, it's very easy to look up the correct ones.)

Good thing that good voice acting is not limited to the language used. If the actor is effective, the emotion will be there whether the line is delivered in Japanese, Filipino, English, or any other language. And you really have to give kudos to the ones who can do comedy or heavy drama! More than once, I've been reduced to tears because of a hilarious or heart-wrenching dubbed scene, even after having watched the original version (and not cried that first time!).

It's just sad that in the Philippines, more often than not voice actors go uncredited in anime nowadays.

The beauty of localization

If you're reading this and you're bilingual, then you already know that there's always something lost when it comes to translation. And literal, word-to-word translations are a big no-no. Translation will also differ from person to person, taking into account each person's unique experiences and how it affects how they express themselves.

So for me, I choose to focus on the beauty of these differences. How this line seems lovely in Japanese, or how it sounds great in English too, or, wow, what a more fitting line in the Filipino translation. I hate the argument that translation ruins the original, because it really does not. Different versions can coexist, each with their own strengths and weaknesses! The original Japanese version will still be there, for your enjoyment, if the localization is not for you.

(And do you think authors and creators frown when their works get translated into one more language? That means more people to enjoy their creations! If you're a writer or artist, doesn't it feel nice when your work is "published in X languages, available in X countries"?)

Speaking of localization, I find that the dubs I enjoy are right there in the middle: not too localized (see the Free!: Eternal Summer US dub) and not strictly Japanese either. Yes, language and culture are inseparable. Yes, there will be some meaning (and culture) lost when translating from one language to another. But that also means that there is space to be filled by this new language (and culture). Where the right mix of Japanese and Filipino cultures happens is the perfect spot for me. And considering that we still don't have mainstream Filipino animation that's made for an older audience, I'll get my fix of Filipino animated characters from anime dubs.

To give you an example of dubs I enjoyed, let's consider a localization scale: 0 for "strictly Japanese," to 10 of "extremely localized." For three sports anime, I'd set the Filipino dub of Haikyuu!! on 5, Kuroko's Basketball 7, and Yowamushi Pedal 9. I find the Yowamushi Pedal dub difficult to rewatch because of its insistence at using formal language, which frankly is not realistic given the age and personality of the characters and the setting of the anime. Kuroko's Basketball is fun to watch if you like Filipino humor and basketball, though looking back at the dub of S1 from 2013, it's becoming more difficult to rewatch because the memes and catchphrases in it are getting old (they were fun back then, not so much now. And it's only been three years!). I'm probably on my fifth rewatch of the Haikyuu!! dub already and still not tired of it, with its right mix of what's retained from the Japanese and what comes from the Filipino (will I ever get tired of "Ang landi-landi mo, Oikawa?" Not for now.)

You'll enjoy anime dubs more if you embrace those differences too.

The fact that you are supporting anime legally

How much is your cable subscription worth? For me it's almost P400, and I get 60+ channels including Animax and Hero. That's less than P7 per month per channel, nothing compared to the exorbitant licensing fees the broadcasters pay to be able to air the anime, not to mention the costs of translating and dubbing! When you watch dubbed anime on free TV, cable, or TV box, you are supporting anime legally, in one of the most affordable ways possible in the Philippines.

Support anime, and you get more anime.


Those are the things that help me enjoy anime dubs. What about you, dear reader? What helps you appreciate dubbed anime?

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Hunter x Hunter (2011) Filipino Dub: First Impressions

Panoorin ang Hunter x Hunter (2011) tuwing Lunes hanggang Biyernes, 7:35 - 8:00 n.u., sa GMA.

Hindi ko naabutan ang unang "season" (episodes 1-50) ng Hunter x Hunter (2011) sa GMA, kaya ngayon ko lang mapapanood ang dub. Heto ang first impressions ko.

Paano ba Mag-Enjoy Manood ng Dub?

(Dahil Buwan ng Wika ang Agosto, gusto ko pag-usapan ang pagiging available ng anime sa iba't ibang wika: ang anime dub. At ang post na ito ay mababasa sa Filipino at Ingles.)

Para sa katulad ko na nakilala ang anime sa pamamagitan ng mga dub na inere sa TV, hindi mahirap sa akin na manood pa rin ng dubbed anime sa panahong ito ng mga libre at hindi libre na legal stream, bukod pa sa 24-hour TV channel ng English-subbed anime. Pero hindi lang ’yan dahil sa nostalgia o dahil nakasanayan ko na na sumubaybay sa anime araw-araw, ha! (Sa katunayan, nagkaroon din ako ng "SUBS ONLY, DUBS SUX" phase.) Sa pagdaan kasi ng panahon, natutunan kong mag-appreciate ng anime sa anumang wika na kaya ko silang intindihin. At ang mga susunod ay ang mga inaalala ko para magawa ’yon.