The fandom’s relationship with anime dubs is rocky, to say the least. Some swear by them; others can’t stand them. SimulDubs are leveling the streaming playing field, allowing native language preferrers to see their favorite shows in their preferred formats sooner. And, of course, multiple tracks on DVDs changed the world of home video forever for anime fans.
To that end, it’s time for more studios to turn an eye backward when they choose titles to dub. Nozomi Entertainment is doing just that, and has been for some time. But while SimulDubs and new titles are more lucrative, now more than ever, these classic series need some extra love.
We’ve Gotten Better
Some anime dubs, like You’re Under Arrest and Cowboy Bebop, have stood the test of time. When a localization is so good that it makes the show’s creator retool the character to fit the dub version better, you know you have gold. But it wasn’t always that way, as we know. Direct-to-TV dubs massively altered aspects of some shows, and it wasn’t always for something as understandable as localizing a reference or a pun. The need to censor-proof a lot of media means we ended up watching people celebrate with bottles of fizzy space water. Or learning just how close two cousins could be.
But in 2021, the mentality around localizations is changing. At least to some degree. While nothing is ever perfect, we’re leaps and bounds ahead of where we were. There are good studios out there whose main goal is to create something as close to the original as possible. That means the people out there localizing your favorite anime probably also love that anime, and are going to put their heart and soul into getting it right.
We Can Fund Them
As mentioned above, Nozomi is Kickstarting a Dirty Pair dub after many years. Anime dubs — and anime in general — used to run solely on how quickly studios could make back their investment. No merchandise? No dice. Eventually it got safer to release older series at all… but investing in a full-cast English-language track was still not necessarily feasible unless you could guarantee high sales. It’s why we get low-price Blu-rays of things like, I don’t know, Astroganger. But even so.
Now, though, it’s easier to fund projects like these without having to bank on imponderables like actual sales figures. All you need is enough people up front to put their dollar down, and the rest is gravy. If there’s enough interest, it’ll get paid for. If not… well, now you know.
So My Best Friend Specifically Can Watch Shows I Like
Sometimes, preferring anime dubs isn’t just a casual choice. Some people really do process things better audibly. Some people want to get their entire eyes on the action at all times. (And yes, some people just prefer dubs.) Dubbing older series will open an entire new world of anime to these fans that’s been less accessible to them before. And when I say “these fans” I mean “my best friend,” and when I say “new world of anime” I mean “very specific shows from the 1970s.”
Having complete, accurate dubs of classic series would allow newer fans to expand their horizons, and enjoy doing so. They could watch in their preferred format, and (in some cases) wouldn’t be stuck with a heavily bowlderized version. Granted, that’s a harder task when a lot of assets are missing — that was the issue with Dirty Pair ’til now. But doors are opening, Japanese studios are helping, and I have a long list to get through. Please help.