The authentic experience when watching foreign language films

Recently I decided to watch one of Hayao Miyazakis best and possibly one of my favourite films of all time Porco Rosso in the English dub. It was slightly late and I was tired, also I was curious to hear what the dub version would sound like after having spent several years watching it in the original language only, and quite honestly it was horrible. I have tried this with several other anime, not wishing to try it with live action films since I already know what it will be like and in almost all cases the dub has been terrible.

Perhaps my aversion to dubs is in part because I have watched the anime in Japanese for so long that to watch them in any other language seems totally unnatural. However I think a large part of it is because the anime and films were made in that country and their original language. And personally I find dubs to be very lazy, made of those who don’t wish or worse cant be bothered to read subtitles on their screen or even the cinema.

There is something very genuine about watching anime in Japanese or any other language that a film might be in. When viewing anime in the original language you gain much more, the formalities and subtleties of the language are shown to you. And as important you are viewing something of another culture, but dubbing what you are doing is taking away one of the most important elements of culture, its language. I doubt you will ever find a Kurosawa film dubbed, partly because it would be a horrible insult, but also because by dubbing you would have missed out on the actors performances that made the films what they are.

I simply find dubbing to be rude, many actors and voice actors for the anime give very give very good performances for their roles, and their voices are the characters in anime, so by changing the voice you change the character. Often the dialogue can be completely changed, partly because certain words and phrases don’t cross the language barrier and often because the translators decide on what makes the dialogue in another language work. Going back to Porco Rosso and other films such as Mononoke Hime and Cowboy Bebop, in all of them there have been issues with whole scenes having significantly different dialogue.

I don’t think I am being too picky, but what I would like is for more people to watch the subtitles with the knowledge that there are other countries out there who speak other languages and act in those languages just as well as people do in English. Partly this is out of common courtesy to those who were involved in the making of the anime or film, especially the actors, but also it is because of the valuable resource that films and other visual media represent when looking at another culture. You are likely to find out more about mannerisms, honorific’s and social norms from watching a film or anime in its original language than anything else (except perhaps some of the weirder pieces out there, but even then it’s a possibility).

Basically be it an anime or a film from another country I think that we as viewers and consumers should give the actors and voice cast some proper respect by viewing them in the original language, rather than being fairly lazy and watching it in an overdub.