Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Will we never escape our poor localization past?

Every day that goes by, I try to think of reasons why anime isn't as widely accepted as it could or should be.  It's not that there isn't great content out there right now.  There's a lot of good stuff that people can easily catch.  Surely a few people would stumble upon that stuff and the word would spread.  It has to be some other sort of barrier...something that stops people from giving anime a shot in the first place.  Unfortunately, I think that roadblock might not be an inescapable one.  At least, not for a number of years.

A very large majority of today's anime fans prefer subs over dubs, which is something we've discussed in the past.  We're talking about the anime lovers out there...the ones that are accepting of anime and all that it offers.  Why is it that most anime fans are like this?  Well, they've been burned by dubs in the past.  All it takes is a handful of poor-quality dubs to really ruin a story, and when subs aren't an option you're left with a story that just doesn't have the emphasis it should.

Again, this is the opinion of the majority of anime fans.  The thing is, those people are more than willing to watch an anime and read along with the story.  Your average viewer of any TV or movie medium isn't interested in reading to enjoy a show.  They want to watch a program, listen and enjoy.  That automatically eliminates a huge amount of people all because they'd rather watch than read along with a show.  At least I can partially understand that logic.  Those viewers want a show that is made for them, not loosely adapted.

Now why won't those people give anime dubs of today a shot?  They too know of poor anime localizations.  While they may not watch any anime today, they know that dubs in the past were of very low quality.  There were all sorts of hastily dubbed programs years ago, which was enough to drive people away from anime altogether.  For every one of us that has given anime a shot, there are plenty others that were driven away by dubs like those found in Gigantor and Astro Boy.  I love those shows, but it's the wave of mishandled dubs that set a standard for most viewers.

I think the above video really shows exactly what I'm talking about.  I love this spoof from South Park.  It's not only funny, but it's spot-on with the poor anime localizations that we've seen in the past.  I know that dubs aren't like this anymore, but it's clear that plenty of people still think all sorts of anime is like this.  It's good for a laugh and a joke, but not meant for serious viewing.  The damage was done many years ago, and working through that is no easy task.

There will be some people that will give anime a shot if you reach them the right way.  The more open-minded out there just need to be shown that anime has changed and that quality has gone way up.  Those people are indeed out there, and it'll take time to get to them.  Unfortunately, for some other people, all we can do is give them time.  That generation's mentality will slowly be washed away by the quality localizations of today, both dubs and subs.  As long as we keep pushing those open-minded to give things a shot, we'll have to let time turn the tide with others.


  1. While some don't want to acknowledge it, the fansub scene is the reason for this. Those who have seen it first are generally snobbish about it and without debating the legal issues, the fansub crowd are often the ones who I hear complaining most about dubbing. Sadly, the contraction of the US anime industry over the last 6-8 years has made the fansub group a larger piece of anime fandom giving them a much greater say certain avenues such as this one about dubbing.

  2. Ah the video isn't available anymore :/

    But yeah I agree with the relaxation part. It can be taxing to stay alert and read everything that has been said if you're marathoning some series. That's why I only watch so much every day, because I find myself tired a lot after work or something XD. So luckily dubs. have gotten better over the years.