Written by Andrew Choi
Where do you stand on Disney's dubs? Plus, a goodbye.
You’ve most likely heard this by now, but two weeks back, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea was given an American release date of August 14th. Ponyo, as it is being called in its localized incarnation, tells the story of a magic goldfish who yearns to live and be with her land compadres. More interesting than a title or a premise, Disney announced the names of several voice actors who are involved in the project—not because of names like Frankie Jonas, Cate Blanchett, and Matt Damon, but because it once more prompts an enduring debate in the anime community: “Are Disney dubs really that good?” Let's talk it out over brunch.
A debate where there lay both supporters, ardent naysayers, and those who just shrug their shoulders in an indifferent “eh”, the argument over Disney’s dub prowess emerges from a variety of perspectives. There are those who call Pixar’s voiceover work to attention when demonstrating the merit of Disney’s dubs, but that view isn’t entirely supported. Pixar is much more involved in the voiceover process than Ghibli, mostly due in part to the fact that that scripts for their films are written in English. Voiceover work is an intrinsic part of the creative process for Pixar, as it doesn’t involve the pesky middle man known as localization. The most we’ve ever heard from Disney about Ghibli’s involvement in dub work is that Miyazaki “likes them”. So the argument here, for the most part, is unfortunately unsubstantiated.
On the other hand, those who decry Disney dubs as nothing more than “a way to market the film”, are already reading against the proverbial grain. Proponents of subtitle purity generally claim that casting A-list actors serves only to further advertise the film through big names, and can restrict the creative potential of dub since these actors may be inept at voice acting. “Subtitle snobs” may see the name and already have an opinion brewing deep in their loins. This mindset leaves many subtitle-goers who watch Disney dubs with an unfair and negative predisposition. They’re bound to hate it, either way.
So where do you stand? What’s your take on the people who are people who argue for either side? If you are one of the many on either side of the debate and/or champion one of these arguments, where do you stand? Why am I wrong?
Oh, one last thing: today's my last day writing and editing for Anime 3000. I want to thank Sean, the staff, and every person in the anime community for what they have—and sometimes have not—taught me about the mechanics of this industry, as well as writing in general. I’m not really one for ceremonious goodbyes, so if you’d like to hear why I’m leaving, and most certainly more miscellaneous nonsense, tune into this week’s podcast. Thanks, everyone.
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