The Dub Track You're Under Arrest
by Ryan Mathews, Jan 21st 2003
"Better than the Japanese". It's the ultimate achievement for an anime dub, to be considered by viewers to have outdone the original voices. Few dubs ever reach this pinnacle, among them El-Hazard, Cowboy Bebop, and Gasaraki, and even then it's controversial. Some hard-core fans refuse even to consider the concept - the original is the anime, they'll tell you. The dub is just a translated remake, so how can it possibly be better?
But every now and then one is. The dub actors can find depmth in their characters that the Japanese actors overlook, or sometimes just take a different angle altogether that ends up working better. Of course, which track is "better" is always going to be a matter of opinion. However, when the Japanese voice director expresses that opinion, it carries some weight.
That's exactly what happened with the original You're Under Arrest OAV dub. The Japanese director saw the dub, and was said to have been so excited that he made all his actors watch it before recording the TV series. You can't get a more ringing endorsement than that.
I myself am a huge fan of the OAV dub, so when AnimEigo announced that they would be bringing out the TV series with the same dub cast, I was excited. Now, an eternity later (what has it been, three years?), the first set of DVDs has finally been delivered. The series is being sold as a box set of the first 12 episodes, the first four of which are the original OAVs. (New material begins with episode 5.) This provides an excellent opportunity to compare the old dub work with the new. The transition is very nearly seamless. This was truly a dub worth waiting for.
My biggest concern was the sole cast change, that of Miyuki. Played by Jo Ann Luzzato in the OAVs, the role is taken over by Juliet Cesario (Belldandy, Oh My Goddess!) for the TV series. This is, beyond a doubt, the smoothest actor transition I've ever heard. After watching the four TV episodes on which I based this review, I went back and watched episode 3 of the OAV series to hear the original Miyuki again. I could barely tell the difference, and that was only because I was listening really hard. If I didn't know they were two different actresses, I doubt I ever would have noticed.
Tamara Burnham Mercer picks up right where she left off as she plays Natsumi, the spunky tomboy with a 'tude. Mercer's forceful delivery is the signature voice of the dub, the first voice that comes to mind when I think of You're Under Arrest. I'm glad to see it hasn't changed a bit.
Similarly, Marc Matney is his old, over-the-top self as Ken, the motorcycle cop whose heroic demeanor falls to pieces when confronted with his feelings for Miyuki. It's character voices such as Natsumi and Ken that make this dub so great. They're not simply examples of good acting. They're great voices that bring the characters to life in a unique way.
Another great character voice is Yoriko, played by Pamela Weidner. Weidner tweaked her performance slightly from the OAVs, as Yoriko's character was shifted slightly from office gossip to cute office mascot. The new Yoriko is almost identical to the old one, just a little less forceful, and a little more whiny when appropriate.
Amy Tipton (Voogie, Voogie's Angel) is a new addition to the cast, playing the cross-dressing policeman Aoi. The joke is that Aoi is more of a woman than most of the actual women in the cast, and as befits that, Tipton gives Aoi a voice just dripping with gentle femininity. I was a little surprised at first, since Aoi is a man, after all. I'd expected Aoi's voice to be a little lower. But by the time I'd watched through her premiere episode, I agreed with the direction. It's important that Aoi be not just convincing as a woman, but the most womanly woman on the show, and that's just how Tipton plays it.
As good as the actors are, Coastal's scriptwriters deserve a lot of the credit. Coastal is renowned (or infamous, depending upon which side of the debate you're on) for "embellishing" the translated scripts with their own jokes and gags. They get away with this because they're so gosh-darned good at it, more often than not actually improving the script. Check the clips below for some examples.
So, the question is, is the You're Under Arrest dub better than the Japanese? The answer, in this reviewer's opinion, is a resounding "yes". In fact, I was a little disappointed in just how much better it was, as I expected more of the Japanese track. The best example of how Coastal has outdone their Japanese counterparts is Strikeman. Just look at him. In every scene, he's grinning maniacally and posing, a ridiculous parody of the American superhero concept. The dub voice, Jason Hatfield, takes that idea and runs with it, going enthusiastically overboard with a parody of superhero-speech. (He reminds me a little of The Tick.) Compared to him, it's surprising just how flat the Japanese voice sounds, heroic, but not goofy as his character's appearance demands.
"Better than the Japanese". Yep. Believe it.
Rating: **** (out of 4)
(Review based on episodes 5 - 8, the first four TV episodes)
Dubbed by: Coastal Carolina
Directors: Scott Houle with Pamela Weidner
Natsumi - Tamara Burnham Mercer
Miyuki - Juliet Cesario
Chief - David Underwood
Ken - Marc Matney
Yoriko - Pamela Weidner
Aoi - Amy Tipton
Strikeman - Jason Hatfield
- Yoriko asserts her independence
- Proof that YUA takes place in the future
- Natsumi and Miyuki discuss Strikeman's parking enforcement technique
- Ken and Miyuki give Aoi some advice
- Aoi's presence in the men's locker room is causing problems
Note: The squeaky wheel gets the grease. When ADV Films acquired the rights to the You're Under Arrest movie, their announced plan was to use their own studio and actors to do the dub. It made economic sense - why hire an outside studio to make a dub when you've invested so much in your own dubbing infrastructure? But nagging by fans must have tipped the scale, because ADV eventually reversed themselves. Coastal Carolina is working on the dub of the movie even as I write this.
Agree? Disagree? Have a comment about a dub, or just about dubbing in general? Let me know! (mathews1 at ix.netcom.com)