Ah yes, the question we all love, but can’t ever find a good answer to, as it depends on the viewers/listeners taste. I will write about my own experiences and opinions here though, so you don’t have to agree in any way.
First of all, when I watch anime online, I do prefer the subbed versions, like so many else. The feeling of watching something that’s still new in Japan, in their own language, translated by fans who love the series just as much as I do, is just really nice. Since anime is such a big deal in Japan, their voice actors put a lot of effort into bringing their character to life, and you can hear that when watching a subbed series.
But there are also countries doing a good job with the voice acting after the translation. I’m not talking about America here though, as every time I watch just a snippet of a series in that language, I feel like chewing my own ears off. It’s like they don’t take their job seriously, and make some sort of Spongebob voice on purpose, because an anime is just another cartoon, right? Wrong! An anime is so much more than just another cartoon, and I wish more of the studios who dub them would realize that.
I’m not gonna bash the American voices only though, as the Danish ones are just as horrible. We don’t really dub anime though, unless they are sure to be a hit, like Miyazaki’s movies or Pokémon. Heck, we don’t even get subbed DVD releases anymore, because the distributors think the fandom died out years ago. We still get the newest Pokémon movie dubbed though, so go figure.
Then there’s the third language I speak, and the one I use the most when it comes to anime; German. Over the past 15 years, Germany has become really good in dubbing anime. I know, a lot of Germans would probably want to chop my head off for saying this, but I actually think it’s true. Thinking about how Agent Aika was voiced by actors who sounded like they were about to fall asleep, compared to newer releases like Black Butler, where Sebastian sounds like the cunning devil he is supposed to be, I think it’s a huge step in the right direction.
Whether I watch a series subbed or dubbed also has to do with what I’m used to, and where I can get my DVD’s. Back when I was a bumbling teenager, I watched Hellsing on German TV, and since that’s how I got to know Alucard and company, I also got the German dubbed DVD’s. Code Geass on the other hand is my favorite series, which I watched online, and thus wanted to own the UK subbed version. Black Butler is a totally different story for me though, as my boyfriend got me the first DVD box in German. I watch the new seasons in their original language, but I’m fine with continuing my DVD collection in German. And then there’s Free!, which was a struggle, because I really wanted it with UK subtitles, which didn’t seem to ever happen. In the end, I was forced to buy it in Germany, but am quite alright with it, as their voices are way better than I thought they’d be.
Watching a series dubbed is not always about voice acting though, as it can also be nice to do something else while watching. I sometimes find it hard to concentrate on the subtitles when watching a series, especially when I’m stressed or tired. Watching a series in a language where I don’t need to read anything can be quite relaxing though, and it lets me do other things while following the series. It’s also nice for my son to be able to understand what is happening in a movie or series, which is why I tend to buy Ghibli movies with Danish dub if available. The voice actors actually do a pretty good job on those at least.
That’s all I have to say about my opinion on subbed vs. dubbed anime, and why I sometimes choose one over the other. What thoughts do you have about this? Do you prefer subbed or dubbed? 🙂