The Salty Anime Challenge Day 20: What’s an Anime Argument That You Absolutely Hate Hearing?

There are bunch of arguments in the anime world that I’m sick of hearing, but I mostly chalk it up to ‘Eh, to each his own.’ Some ‘arguments’, however, there are just no excuse for – and these are my top two choices.

English Dubs Are All Terrible.

I couldn’t think of an image to put here, so enjoy Haru being adorable.

Growing up with 4Kids and DiC, and the absolutely terrible dubbing jobs some companies did on those early direct-to-video movies in the 80s and 90s, I can totally get how dubs would get a bad rep.

But, guys, this is 2018, why are we still bitching about this? And why are we acting like dubs are the plague of anime?

We have great dubbing companies now. We have incredibly talented voice actors with passion for their work. We have people who care in the industry. It’s not perfect – oh god, no – but it’s massively better than it was back in the day. Yet it’s still incredibly common to hear ‘Ugh, I hate English dubs. They all suck.’

All of them? Really? Come on now.

‘Well, maybe one or two are okay, but the vast majority all suck.’

The vast majority? Is that why dubbing companies are bigger now than ever?

‘They just make bank on the mainstream anime that the plebs watch on Toonami and stuff.’

Mainstream? More anime are being dubbed now than ever too – from obscure to mainstream.

‘Poser anime fans love English dubs. A true anime fan would watch the original.’

Who cares what language they watch it in? They’re still following the story, they engage with the characters, they’re being immersed in the world – they’re enjoying it. You’re a true anime fan if you’re A FAN OF ANIME. I have a friend whose native language is English and lives in the US and he watches all of his anime in a German dub – is he less of an anime fan?

‘No.’

Why not?

‘Because it’s not English.’

(That last part was, word for word, a conversation I had with someone once. They were serious.)

‘But, come on! English dubs have all sorts of censorship!’

This may be true for broadcast releases, but it’s becoming increasingly rare for this to happen at all, especially now that 4Kids is off the anime road. Even if they do, the DVD release is usually uncensored and it’s typically available incredibly quickly.

There was even an instance somewhat recently of a show being censored on broadcast for basically showing child nudity and iffy sexual-ish situations with the visually underage character (Dance in the Vampire Bund – the MC looks like a child when she’s actually over 400 years old because vampire.) People got up in arms over it, and they STILL got the uncensored version on the DVD release first time out.

‘But the acting and voices in English suck so much compared to the Japanese!’

This part of the argument seems to make the assumption that all Japanese versions of anime are well-acted with fantastic voices, and that’s an epic blanket statement. Hardly anyone who makes this argument seems to understand that the original Japanese can be terrible in regards to acting and voice work too.

One of the reasons I hate this one is because so many of the people who say this don’t understand Japanese nor do they really understand Japanese culture, and thus, I have to question, do they really understand what makes for good acting in Japanese? Especially voice acting.

Sure, you can probably tell in big dramatic moments or funny moments where there are instances of intense emotions which version seems better, English dubs are frequently dinged for sounding ‘flat’, but is that just because they’re usually yelling in the Japanese version? Is it because they have a funny inflection to whatever word you just heard?

Remember when people wouldn’t shut up about how bad Naruto’s dub was? It’s actually a really good dub. The acting’s great, there are barely any changes whatsoever, the BG music stays exactly the same and the voices fit extremely well.

‘Naruto’s dub voice is grating!’…yeah…because his original Japanese voice was grating.

‘Sakura’s dub voice is irritating!’…yeah….because her original Japanese voice was irritating. And for the love of god, Naruto fans, you even got to keep your theme songs in Japanese. Do you have any clue how rare that was back then? Especially for the shows aimed towards younger audiences? Geez.

There are sucky English dubs. There are sucky Japanese versions. Neither is inherently good or bad just because they are one or the other.

It’s anime purism at its most annoying. They act like dubbers are out to ruin the beauty and sanctity of their perfect anime’s original form by even thinking about translating the dialogue, or like the disgusting English language could never compare to their glorious Japanese.

You may be wondering why I all of people, considering I compare, analyze and even make fun of the differences between originals and dubs, would make this claim. My SDC series is one of the reasons why I am so adamant about this. I actually have a very hard time finding entries for this series, and nearly all of them are kids shows from the late 90s and early 00s from companies who are infamous for half-assing dubs for money. Even dubs where I’ve heard that they’re really awful, like Sonic X, I’ve tried to do an SDC on and I barely have anything to say.

Not to mention that dubs help anime stay alive not just in the States but around the globe. You should be thankful not hateful.

You’re Not a Real Anime Fan if You Haven’t Seen (Anime)

Oh fuck off.

Is this implying that I could watch thousands of anime but fail as an anime fan because I haven’t seen one or two titles? That’s just ridiculous.

Again, you’re a true anime fan if you’re a fan of anime. End of story. There are no pre-requisites, there are no tests, there is no required reading or watching – even if you’ve just seen a couple of anime and decide that you’re an anime fan now, you’re an anime fan.

I believe there are some major classics every anime fan should watch at least once because I believe they’d really appreciate and enjoy it, but I don’t have a checklist of shows that you need to complete before I grant you your ‘Certified Anime Fan’ badge.

With the English Dub thing we have purism, but here we have pure elitism. This is anime fans trying to lord themselves over others by making them seem more important or validated because they’ve seen the ‘best’ or ‘most important’ anime. I’ve found that anime fans are some of the most inclusive and kind bunch of people you could ever meet, yet we have people who say things like this to make others feel bad.

If you want to suggest things to people, do it. Don’t guilt them into watching things or make them feel like ‘bad fans’ just because you want to feel superior.

21 thoughts on “The Salty Anime Challenge Day 20: What’s an Anime Argument That You Absolutely Hate Hearing?

  1. Really good points and I totally agree! Especially with anime and geek culture becoming main stream, I know quite a few people now from all age ranges, backgrounds and situations who’ve watched at least one anime.

    There really is no place for this elitism and purism, it just comes across as childish gate keeping.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Nice article fiddletwix! I really hate hearing these kinds of arguments too.

    You forgot the one about English dubs skewing the original intent of the Japanese script, said by people who watch with ENGLISH subtitles as if whatever fansubber (because an elitist is probably watching pirated fansubs over licensed streams) they subscribe to doesn’t inject their own interpretation when subbing.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I tend to prefer subs over dubs, but that’s a personal preference and definitely not something I’d force onto others, especially since there’s so many clips from good dubs I haven’t watched yet. The reasons for my preference are:

    1. Subs are more likely to be faithful because they’re made for people who care about authenticity. However, there are faithful dubs and unfaithful subs. I’m just saying I don’t think any sub does butchering on the level of Mew Mew Power.

    2. I like the way the Japanese language sounds.

    3. I’ve found more dubs than subs with bad acting. You are right, however, that there is good English acting and bad Japanese acting (I’ve heard both.) Unfortunately, I feel that many English dubs aren’t put up to the same standards as originally Anglophone cartoons.

    But once again, this is all my opinion, and I like good dubs, too. In fact, I’m indifferent or even happy with a few changes unfaithful dubs have made.

    And don’t worry about the SDC deal. Even excluding faithful dubs, there’s been plenty of unfaithful dub episodes that you should never run out of ideas.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Exactly. Preferences are perfectly fine. It’s when people make blanket statements on quality just because it’s one thing or another is when it gets ridiculous.

      I tend to be fine with either one. I usually only have big preferences when I’ve gotten used to one version over another.

      For example, I don’t much care for the original Japanese Trigun because I fell in love with the show on the dub. Likewise, I find it awkward to watch Death Note in English even though it’s a fine dub because I first watched it in Japanese.

      Then there are instances where I have changed my mind. For example, I like the Japanese Pokemon and Yugioh better even though I grew up with and love the dubs (no matter how badly they were dubbed, that’s my childhood right there.) and then there are shows where I’m ambivalent either way, like with Naruto, Fruits Basket, Inuyasha, Bleach and One Piece.

      At the very least you provide real and understandable reasons for your preferences besides just ‘well, pbbt, they’re just better.’

      I’ve seen some pretty damn horrible fansubbers. But it’s not so much they’re changing the dialogue or story for the sake of whatever and moreso ‘I can’t even understand what the hell’s going on’ Being fair, though, these terrible subs are usually relegated to obscure shows and OVAs, though the first Yugioh sub I ever watched was damn-near indecipherable.

      Fansubbers do it for nothing, though, so 1) can’t be picky, and 2) you gotta admire them for doing all that work for nothing but the love of the show or the practice of subbing.

      If there’s one thing I always treasure about fansubbers is that they usually bother to have notes for instances of culture gap so the viewer can understand certain aspects of the culture or mythology that we might not get in the west. And they tend to always put proper subtitles on signs and written papers and such so we can actually read what’s on screen. Dubbers seem to be really spotty about when they decide to do the latter and they rarely ever do the former.

      As for the SDCs, oh god, I’m far from running out of material for posts. The various Yugioh series alone should keep me busy until I’m middle-aged lol.

      I just went through a period of frustration like a year or two ago where I wanted to branch out a bit with what shows I spotlighted for it, and nearly every show I thought would work was a dead end in some way (Admittedly, a good chunk of them were because of missing subbed versions or missing dubbed versions. I nearly had to drop One Piece because the 4Kids dub had been basically wiped from the Internet in lieu of the Funimation one, but I finally found it a while back.).

      It doesn’t have to just be unfaithful, it has to be different enough for me to have something to discuss in at least a moderate amount of detail. That’s why I dropped Sonic X, I just didn’t have much to talk about.

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      • For me, “faithful” means making the dub as close to the sub as possible, and “unfaithful” means making changes (such as name changes). An unfaithful dub can still be a good dub, though. In fact, sometimes unfaithfulness results in a better product (i.e. Zatch Bell, the dub of a great anime called Gash Bell, where they censored the titular character’s genitals and a song about groping breasts).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Indeed.

        I loved Zatch Bell! I remember the thing with his censored crotch. They didn’t do the best job with the digital paint, but it’s an understandable edit for broadcast TV and even DVD release, if I recall correctly.

        I’m not sure I would say it’s unfaithful just for censoring a crotch or changing a song, though. If it doesn’t affect the story or characters at all, it’s ultimately superfluous. It’s worth noting, but it doesn’t really change the show. That’s my two cents anyway. However, I will admit that the superfluous changes can really add up if there are a ton of them, especially if they’re done for the sake of ‘Americanization’, making it reach a point where I would call it unfaithful.

        Zatch Bell had a really great dub, though, I agree. The dub theme gets stuck in my head sometimes at random.

        I can name another better show that’s better because it’s unfaithful – it damn near rewrote the show. Duel Masters! I’ll be talking about that show soon. 🙂

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      • I think that dub faithfulness is a spectrum. A dub with no censorship, paint edits, or anything is more faithful than Zatch Bell. However, Glitter Force, due to its scene shifts, more overt Americanization, and cut episodes, is less faithful. And 4Kids One Piece is even less faithful than that.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I agree. I think it’s the labeling that throws me. I can easily say a dub is more faithful to its source material than another, but the gray area is tough to walk through when you’re trying to label a show as ‘unfaithful’ or ‘faithful’ as a whole. Obviously a dub is truly faithful is they don’t touch a thing and get a great cast with a good voice director and everything, but knowing where the line lies is tricky.

        I think if anything really changes the story, characters and, to a degree, the dialogue is the most susceptible to the term, but then again, some of the most changed episodes of 4Kids shows will keep the story and characters pretty much the same yet change so much background stuff that I’d be lying through my teeth to call it anywhere near faithful.

        As you bring up with One Piece, they can have an entire episode basically go point for point as the story goes and have the characters react the same way, but it’s hard to call it faithful when they’re also eating the fakest digital paint cookies, facing off against water guns, hammer guns and Sanji’s sucking on a lollipop while they digitally paint a moving mouth onto Luffy to make him talk.

        I suppose it really depends on each specific situation and show.

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  4. ‘Certified Anime Fan’ badge: Can we make one of these? Let’s award it to anyone who has ever watched any anime in any language and enjoyed it and wants to say they are a fan. Let it spread and let people realise they aren’t alone. Something positive and inclusive for the fan base rather than exclusive gate-keeping for the sake of those who want to feel special by belittling others.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes to both of these!!

    I’ll admit I’m not a fan of dubs, but I can appreciate some good ones. FMA & FMAB come immediately to mind. GTO, Ouran HS Host Club, Wolf’s Rain—all great dubs. While I don’t particularly care for them, I’m a strong believer of it’s all personal preference. One is not superior to another in the end.

    There’s a lot of shtick I haven’t seen that are construed as *shows of the true anime enthusiasts.* It’s always kind of pissed me off, this elitist & self-entitle notion, because everyone watches anime for varying reasons & everyone enjoys different genres & different kinds of narratives. A lot of the SUPER popular & *must see if you’re a true fan* stuff just doesn’t appeal to me. It in no shape or form makes me less of an anime aficionado. You watch what you like & however much you want. If you enjoy any aspect of it, guess what, you’re a fan. Boom.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Truth be told, anytime someone has told me ‘you’re not a true anime fan if you haven’t watched (anime)’ it kinda makes me not want to watch it. I don’t know what it is – maybe I feel like I’m giving into the pressure if I do it. Maybe I feel like I’m only watching it because someone told me that. Maybe I won’t like it and people will be mad at me for it. It’s weird how one sentence can say and do so much. I just want to enjoy my anime in peace and share my enjoyment with others.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dude, I’m the same way! I think for me it’s the negative association. Being told that statement makes me associate that anime with elitist hatred or alienation, & I’m almost instantly guaranteed never to pick it up. My brain’s like, “Noooope.”

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  6. The dub thing annoys me too. When I was younger, I would completely understand this argument since the dubs, while decent, did cut a lot of stuff from the original. But now, it’s a lot better and there are some shows where I prefer it over subs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My first big realization that broadcast dubs were edited fairly heavily was when they aired Yu Yu Hakusho on Toonami. The way they digitally painted over Kurama’s wounds in the Dark Tournament were so obvious it was sad. Plus, there are some instances where Yusuke obviously swears or flips people off and they sloppily covered it up. But Yu Yu Hakusho is another show I much prefer in the dubbed format and was available uncensored extremely quickly.

      I didn’t get to really see much subbed anime until I was in my teens because I didn’t have access to a computer and most of the DVDs and VHSs I got only had the dub track. I believe the first subbed version I watched was of the first Inuyasha movie, and I liked it just fine, but preferred the dub a little more.

      Dubs got me into anime. Dubs got a good chunk of people into anime. Gotta keep up the dub love. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      • Absolutely. Even though I watched the recent Sailor Moon reboots, I still prefer the dubbed version. (Except for one of the voices for Serena/Usagi).

        I do watch mostly subs now, but that’s only because they’re available first. When netflix has an option, I tend to go for dubs. Plus, watching arabic dubs are hilarious, even though I don’t understand the language. lol

        As long as someone is watching anime that should be a good thing. Arguments like this and the other one you mentioned just puts a damper on the fandom.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. YES! THANK YOU!

    I can’t stand either arguments when it comes to anime. I may watch anime in Japanese most of the time, but I’m not going to shy away from dubs. There are some anime series and movies I watch in both languages with no problem like Haibane Renmei, Gankutsuou, Jungle Emperor Leo (1997), and The Place Promised In Our Early Days. There are anime series that I think have better English dubs than the Japanese version like Shinesman, Sailor Victory, and Yugo the Negotiator. Heck, the English dub of Yugo actually corrects a HUGE mistake that the Japanese version made (The official language of Pakistan is URDU! Not Arabic, so get it right!). Not to mention there’s crappy Japanese voice acting. Even though I’m not as fluent in Japanese as I used to be, I can still tell good Japanese acting from the bad.

    One other argument that I can’t stand is “Oh, I don’t like older anime” which I’ve been hearing some of that since I got into blogging. I understand that the animation can be aged or how some series have expired licenses, but there are some quality series that came out decades ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh I most definitely agree with that. As someone who watches anime from all decades (and has a real soft spot for older animation and art styles), it’s really irritating when I hear either someone dislikes or won’t give an anime a chance just because it’s old. And it doesn’t even have to be like 60s, 70s or 80s – some people will write off series that are a merely a decade or two old.

      I get that older decades have their own style in regards to art and animation and even in regards to writing and tone, for the most part, and I can totally understand someone not gelling with older anime just because the style puts them off, but to say they dislike older shows or won’t even give them a chance purely on the basis that they’re old and somehow that must mean they suck, completely ignoring that the landscape of anime as we know it today wouldn’t exist without those older titles, is infuriating.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sure thing, Fiddletwix. It’s great you appreciate anime from all decades. I can be a bit biased with the 90s and 00s stuff, but I’m totally open to anime that came out before those decades. I mean, I really like Grave of the Fireflies and I was pleasantly surprised with the original Toward the Terra anime if we’re going by 80s stuff, but I digress. It does annoy me when people consider anime that even came out in the early 00s to be old-school for them.

        That’s true and I don’t dispute that. People should still give them a chance regardless. Where would The Matrix be without Ghost In The Shell? What about the Universal Century era of Gundam series? Shoot, even Key the Metal Idol might be more influential than people give them credit for (see: Evangelion and Lain).

        Liked by 1 person

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