The debate between subs and dubs is both on-going and juvenile. Watch what you like! Don’t let other people ruin your good time. Here are some great English-dubbed anime performance for your viewing pleasure.
Cowboy Bebop may permanently answer the question, “Who is the coolest MC of all time?” Spike Spegiel is surely the coolest dude between the stars, but the voice acting is far more nuanced than you might expect. Like a lot of anime, a late-season whammy opens the show up dramatically from its initial premise, allowing for an expansion of both the characters and universe.
Death Note (2006-7)
Netflix has many crimes, but one of their greatest was removing all thirty-plus episodes of Death Note and replacing it with an unlikable live-action movie that is most useful as a manual for how not to adapt a beloved anime. Yet, the original still exists, untainted by Netflix’s tragic flaw: an insistence of remaking every anime on the platform, but worse.
Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan typifies a very particular, very loud kind of anime voice acting. Everyone is constantly, constantly yelling at someone. Or, they’re dramatically whispering to themselves. For an anime that depicts teenagers decapitating one-hundred-foot-tall shambling monstrosities with swords and Enlightenment-era jet packs, that kind of performance might just be okay. Most of the times, I would roll my eyes, but I found the emotional experiences of the characters in AoT to be legitimately compelling, if sometimes screechy.
It’s almost enough to say that, weeks after finishing the anime, I was walking around the house mumbling “tu-tu~ru!” to myself without noticing. The serious-to-the-point-of-parody MC in Steins;Gate alternates between a comic detachment from reality and a dangerously brilliant rule breaker. Voice actor J. Michael Tatum nails Rintaro Okabe’s unique and conflicting combination of alienation from his fellow human and a desperate desire to finally be loved, easily yawing between the two extremes of his character with perfect comedic timing. Not that we could ever call Steins;Gate a comedy, but Tatum’s range is put to excellent use alongside a sterling supporting cast.
Dragon Ball Z
While Dragon Ball Z might not be an example of the pinnacle of Japanese art, it remains of the most durably popular series in all of animation, Japanese or Western. Thanks to wide-ranging and repeating broadcasts throughout the United States, few shows have been more effective at introducing Western boys to anime.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
In the genre of adventure anime, few series comes close to the dizzy heights of the Fullmetal Alchemist series, which narratively has explored some of the most memorable and harrowing emotional territory in what purports to be a shōnen anime. The voice acting of the two Elric brothers is pitch-perfect to both their characters and their emotional growth throughout the narrative arc.
This is the only feature-length film on this list, and it doesn’t fit in well with the other titles. It’s not adapted from a shōnen manga, unlike many of our other choices. This, instead, is a love story told so gently that you might not even realize how thoroughly the characters have sucked you in until things start going very sideways. Few films, animated or otherwise, have kept me rapt until the absolute end or offered such a cathartic emotional experience as Your Name.
One Punch Man
For a series that love to takes the piss out of itself, One Punch Man made an interesting casting choice with Saitama. Rather than make him a parody, the English dub portrays him as a painfully average guy that just so happens to be the strongest being in the universe. It seems like that joke would run dry after the first go, but somehow the voice acting discovers new dimensions of the show’s core conceit with each episode. Worth a watch just for the hilariously over-the-top theme song.
Everything you need to know about why Inuyasha is great is contained in the show’s thrilling IMDb summary: “A teenage girl periodically travels back in time to feudal Japan to help a young half demon recover the shards of a jewel of great power.”
It’s the rad pajama demon, and he’s coming to slice up your business! Despite its classic status, Inuyasha holds a smaller place in the pantheon of anime culture than it deserves. It’s an ideal synthesis of shōnen and shojo themes, with cryptic ghosts, dramatic sword battles, time-spanning romance, and heart-wrenching betrayals enough to satisfy any viewer. It’s a classic of the genre for a reason.
When it was released in Japan, Gakkou no Kaidan’s cookie-cutter characters and plot led to quick irrelevance. When the anime was imported for an English dub, the dubbing studio was told they had free reign to change the story. And boy, did they. They created the single most hilarious anime dub ever seen, deftly mocking the tropes of the narrative even as the characters progress through the clichéd storyline. Telling you too much would ruin the surprise: just watch it for yourself if you haven’t seen it yet.
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