The Dub Track
Miami Guns

by Ryan Mathews, Sep 2nd 2004
With the multitude of high-visibility titles and interesting dubs that I have yet to review, a silly little anime like Miami Guns wouldn't ordinary make this column. But when I learned just who was doing this dub, how could I have possibly passed it up?

That's right, Coastal is back. Or, to be more precise, Phoenix Post Sound, which, as the ever-present parenthetical phrase explains, is a division of Coastal Studios, Inc. Scott Houle and company packed up and moved inland to Asheville, North Carolina and have started fresh. I was curious to hear how their first dub would sound, especially considering that the cast would almost certainly be comprised entirely of anime rookies. The answer is "surprisingly good".

First, a quick bit about the anime. It's an extremely silly, farcical take on the "girl cop" genre. It's been described as "You're Under Arrest meets Excel Saga", and that's dead accurate. Like the latter, it cares nothing about making any sense. If you like the Excel Saga style of humor, you'll like this show. If you don't, you won't. Miami Guns is a natural fit for Houle and Co., having cut their teeth on such nonsensical anime as Elf Princess Raine and Shinesman.

The cast is all new, or so at least I'm concluding based on my failure to find any information about them online. Nicole Gibson has the biggest role as Yao Sakurakoji, the "loud" member of the girl cop team. She shouts and hollers with manic enthusiasm, holding nothing back. She's perfect, assuming what they were going for is "gleeful insanity", which is a pretty safe assumption.

Suzanne Willard plays Lu Amano, the "quiet" half of the team. It's harder to get a read on her as a critic, since her role requires her to deliver all of her lines deadpan and nearly emotionless. It's darn hard to say anything meaningful about a role where most of the lines sound the same. I will say this though: playing such a role is a lot harder than it looks. Given little emotional range to work with, it's hard not to make the role sound wooden. So even though the performance doesn't sound impressive, I know that it is. And Willard and Gibson play off each other very well.

The rest of the cast is just as strong. Charles Dee Rice is very funny as the Chief, another over-the-top role which requires him to change his vocal performance every now and then for brief gags. Mary Evans comes off cute and competent as lab girl Kaken Musume, which makes some of the silly stuff that comes out of her mouth all the funnier. And my favorite bit character has to be the leader of the military troop that storms a girls school, played by Scott Treadway, doing a pretty good impression of R. Lee Ermey.

One of the things that I've always appreciated about Coastal's dubs is how much fun the actors seem to be having. This isn't just good for employee morale — when dubbing a wacky comedy, it's absolutely essential. I've heard comedy dubs where the cast is talented, well-directed, but just not as funny as they could be. When the actors are truly having fun and are free to be as silly as they want to be (with a good director to rein them in when necessary), that's where the comedy gold comes from. Check out the behind-the-scenes videos in the You're Under Arrest DVD sets for examples of what I'm talking about.

My only real criticism is that I would like to have heard more "Coastalisms", those "improvements" to jokes that Coastal fans appreciate so much. Now, I didn't watch the Japanese version, so I can't say with conviction that they aren't there, but there were too few of those moments that made me chuckle and say "don't think that was in the original".

When I heard that the new Coastal, Phoenix Post, would be too far away from the old Coastal to employ any of their old actors, I was a little worried. Scott Houle has mentioned in interviews that the new studio is in the middle of a thriving theater scene, so actors wouldn't be hard to come by, but still—! How do you build a new stable to replace the one that did the incredible dub of You're Under Arrest? And from scratch, no less, from a community of actors that has never dubbed animation before? Well, somehow they did it. I can't wait to see what they do next.

(And you know what? There's no longer any excuse for bad acting in a dub. If Phoenix Post can put together a stable this talented in Asheville, what's the excuse for a studio based in NY or LA?)



Rating: ***½ (out of 4)
(review based on episodes 1-4)

Vital Stats:
Released by: AN Entertainment
Dubbed by: Phoenix Post Sound (a division of Coastal Studios, Inc.)
Directors: Scott Houle, Pamela Weidner

Cast:
Yao Sakurakoji - Nicole Gibson
Lu Amano - Suzanne Willard
Chief Amano - Charles Dee Rice
Kaken Musume - Mary Evans
Nagisa Tojo - Crystal Waters


Clips: Thanks to Anne Packrat for helping me choose the clips and editing them.
Agree? Disagree? Have a comment about a dub, or just about dubbing in general? Let me know! (mathews1 at ix.netcom.com)

The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of Anime News Network or its sponsors.

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