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Hey, Answerman! - Rub-a-Dub

by Brian Hanson,

What's up, everyone!

Man, directing a play is hard. For more information on that, follow the link there. It features me, Brian! Talking about the trials and travails I endure in the process of creating art. Or something.

Either way, there were definitely some questions this week, and I, as the appointed "Answerman," have an obligation to answer them:

Dear Answerman,

How does the anime scriptwriting process work for English dubbing? I know sometimes things are ad-libbed, but other than that I was wondering how things work in general. First you obviously have to translate it, right? Where does it go from there? Does it go to a separate team of scriptwriters (or perhaps just one person) who rework it into the final form we later see on DVD? Do the people that rework the translation into its final form double as something else within the company? Do they earn a decent salary, or do they have to work at other jobs as well? Are there any other skills that they usually possess such as the ability to translate, and so on? I was thinking about it a few weeks ago and was really curious as to how this works and what it's like for the people that have these jobs.

Yeah, it's pretty much exactly how you described it - it's nothing altogether too fancy. The thing to note, though, is that the dubbing studios do just that - dubbing. The actual translation of the script is typically handled elsewhere, and those "official" translations of the original scripts are usually monitored very, very closely by the original Japanese studios. The Japanese studios tend not to involve themselves with the dubs of their properties all that much, except in certain cases. (By "certain cases" I really mean when a big, huge title is being licensed. As much as 4Kids butchered One Piece, I think it needs to be reiterated that Toei Animation signed off on everything that was changed and altered or outright murdered in the creation of that dub.)

So, yes, once the official translated script is finished, that's sent over to the dubbing studio, who have a small team of writers - who are also typically ADR directors themselves - in order to try and make the dialog more "natural" when spoken in English, and also to try and match the amount of mouth movements or "lip flap" in the animation itself. It's also pretty uncommon to see one person specifically credited with just writing the ADR script for a dub and nothing else; considering the low amount of anime that gets dubbed these days, there just isn't the demand for that particular position. Although it's certainly happened before. For example, with a show with a ton of episodes, like Naruto, you'll often see dub scripts being assigned to outside writers in order to meet deadlines. One of the last things Carl Macek was involved with before his untimely passing was writing on several episodes of Bleach. I would say the skillset involved in writing a good ADR script for anime dubs is its own peculiar creature. It requires a certain gift in writing accentuated, heightened dialog, the ability to mold and mesh lines of dialog into a very specific and set amount of words and syllables, and of course, the ability to work quickly and efficiently.

The best dubs aren't simply cold line readings of the subtitle script. I know everyone loves absolute fidelity to the original source material, but any outside audience can tell how awkward and wooden most literal Japanese translations sound when spoken aloud. The best dubs manage to capture a sense of authenticity to the original Japanese script, sure, but also add its own character and energy. And by that I don't mean obnoxious, lazy pop-culture references (coughcough Sgt. Frog), I mean that they take the time and effort to make the characters sound like actual characters, characters who feel and sound comfortable in their own language. The reason why most dubs tend to lack that sort of empathy is, sadly, the amount of time and/or money being made available to the dubbing studios for that very purpose. It is still a product, and they have to deliver that product on time and on budget.

People often ask me if I prefer subs or dubs when watching anime. I always respond "Subs", but not simply for the common reasons of "dubs are kiddified/translated wrong" or "I don't like the English voices". Honestly I think the English voices are fine most of the time.

What does bother me about the English voices, is that I hear the exact same people... over..... and over...... and over again... in EVERY SINGLE ANIME! Particularly when it comes to Funimation. Every time I watch something they dubbed I can point out ten people that did the main cast in at least five of their other new shows. It's not that I hate Vic Mignogna, Laura Bailey, Todd Haberkorn or any of those others, I'm just tired of listening to them. Just like I couldn't stand eating the same thing for every meal, I don't want to listen to the same voices every show I watch.

So my question is, why do Funimation and other companies hire so few voice actors that they have to reuse such a small group of people for every show?

This isn't just you, I assure; this is a pretty common sentiment I've noticed amongst most fans. Every time a dub cast list gets leaked to the internet, the general response is usually, "Johnny Yong Bosch again? Groan."

The important thing to note is something I mentioned in the previous answer: time and money. Dubbing studios ain't got a lot of either. They've got to turn around a 13-episode anime series, fully dubbed, in only a few months. I suppose they could always invest in talent scouts, hold bigger auditions, spend a few weeks trying out a variety of different voices, that sort of thing. Or, they could realize that they could just call in the same actors they've worked with before, the actors with whom they've built a solid and professional relationship, and they could save all that time and actually record an entire episode.

It's not nepotism, it's not playing favorites. It's just the nature of the business. If time and money weren't an option, I'm sure dub studios would get a bit more ambitious with their casting, making use of greener actors or springing the money for big stars a la Disney with the Ghibli films. But it's not gonna happen. And really, it's just as bad in the entirety of the animation world. I don't know how many US animated series you've been watching lately, but I don't seem to hear too many people complaining that John DiMaggio, Tom Kenny, Kath Soucie, and Maurice LeMarche are in everything.

I read weekly most of the discussion about the anime industry and fansubs. I watch more fansubs than the legal versions of anime. For the past 5-6 years, I watched a ton of anime. I mean just a ton. If I bought every series I watched, I think I would fill a 10 ft by 30 ft wall with DVDs. (I haven't calculated the costs but I don't think I would have enough money to pay for it all) Most of these series I have watched were fansubbed. The biggest factor for watching fansubs is I just don't like the idea of having DVDs and merchandise all around my house. Another factor is a lot of these series aren't available to buy in the US which leads us back to fansubs. So I'm called a leech, cheap, criminal or whatever because I don't support the industry in the standard fashion of buying DVDs, t-shirts, or the fanservice figurines.

I love movies, the old black and white films, the classics and a lot of the new movies. So I try to support the movie industry by: buying a movie ticket to the movies I really, really want to see, talking about movies with others, and renting. But the only thing I don't do is buy DVDs and the merchandise (posters, mugs, shirts, etc). The same with anime, I just don't want to have a ton of DVDs laying around my house.

The first thought I have about DVDs is: what do I do with DVDs? Watch them over and over? I don't like watching an anime series more than once. I remember the plot, storyline, characters, and everything about it so it loses its wow'ness after the first go through. This is why I have gone through so many series in the past few years.

My questions would be: How would I support the anime industry without having to buy DVDs and merchandise? How would I get older series that just aren't available outside Japan? How do I support the anime industry just like I do with the movie industry?

The only idea I love is the idea of Crunchyroll (which I am also a subscriber). I like paying for a subscription (or renting) to watch anime without actually having to pay for DVDs or having buy an episode to download. (I don't think I would have enough hard drive space to hold all the series I watched so far) I wish the anime industry would jump on this idea for which people like me could support the industry. I'm the type that if there was a way (other than DVDs) to pay for the anime I watch, I would. But, until then, I have to stick with fansubs.

Well, I certainly hope you don't have to stick to fansubs if you're a Crunchyroll subscriber, but anyway.

And, hey, you already are supporting the anime industry without buying DVDs. You are a Crunchyroll subscriber. The money you are giving them is going back to the original creators in no small quantity. It's a good thing. You are not a leech or a criminal in any sense.

Look, nobody's going to argue that you need to pay 29.99 or 59.99 MSRP for a DVD or boxset of a show you haven't seen. That's crazy. It's crazy and nobody does that anyway. Nobody buys the first season of Dexter on DVD when they haven't seen any part of the show beforehand. (Well, okay, maybe some people do, but it's a small sample.) It's a steep price and an even steeper barrier of entry. That's why there's things like Crunchyroll, and Hulu, and Funimation.com's video site, or Anime Network, or Netflix, or any of the other bevy of online, legitimate streaming websites out there, hosting free and legal streams of brand-new shows as they're released. Those things already exist, and you should be using them, because they're all pretty great. (Maybe not so great if you're not in North America, but... well, they're working on that.)

I can't speak for "the industry" or "fandom" at large, but I will say something. It sounds like you're not much of a collector, and I can understand that, but... I find it impossible, completely impossible to be an anime fan to have absolutely no desire whatsoever to track down your favorite show or movie or OAV on DVD to have and hold and own forever. There's gotta be something, some show that you absolutely love and you need to have it on DVD so you can show it to your friends or pop in an episode and watch it when you're having a bad day, or something like that. You don't need to buy every damn show that you watch or sorta like every season. That would lead you further into bankruptcy than a Ponzi scheme. But I would say that you owe it to yourself and to the medium you claim to love, to find and buy and keep the stuff that really excites and moves you. There's got to be at least two or three of those. Every true fan has them. And those are always worth owning.

Wherein the Answerman chuckles heartily at the line "the monthly budget of all famous manga and anime."

Could you please tell me that who can supply me manga and anime on weekly bases that could be used on website without the copyright problems. And please tell me what would be the monthly budget of all famous manga and anime.

If you are not the right person please specify who is and please give email of the perticular person if you can.

Well gosh! Is it Answerfans time again? I believe so. Last week, I wanted to get your collective insight on this little puzzle, on who the unsung heroes of this industry really are:

KENZICHI has the PERFECT answer to this QUESTION on this here INTERNET:

For this question I have the PERFECT answer: Nico Nico users.

Some of the BEST fandubs I've heard of songs (mostly Vocaloid songs) I've heard on Nico Nico. Frankly, most of the time, I can barely even listen to Vocaloid songs because I can't stand the voices. Their voices are so robotic and just... I just can't stand it. Really the only Vocaloid I can stand to listen to is Rin (maybe). And it's a shame too considering a lot of their songs are really good. But once I listen to a Nico Nico singer or chorus I'm seriously blown away. A lot of their voices are so gorgeous and amazing to listen to that I just forget that it's a Vocaloid song I'm listening to.

Even talented artists and video makers lurk on that website. Some of the most amazing Hetalia videos I've ever seen came from Nico Nico. Seriously. (Thinking of you "Prisoner of Love" FrancexJoan MAD.)

Not to say that EVERY Nico Nico video is great (like youtube). It's just that some of the great videos are the ones I see appear on Youtube.

James goes for two, but that's okay, I'll allow it. For now:

Up and Coming Talent?

I think Akira Akatsuki, the artist of Shonen Jump's Medaka Box (written by Nisio Isin) is going to get big in the next year or 2. Medaka Box is just plain fun and the art is sharp and fun (and a little ecchi/fanservice). Akatsuki lays out his fight scenes nicely and the non-fight elements are handled just as well. Hell I think Medaka Box is deserving of a larger audience as it is!

I think US fans are also going to discover how great Takuya Matsuda with the US version of Shonen Sunday. Matsuda's MAJOR hsa consistently been one of the best manga since 1994, yet I am always amazed how it really start getting a US following til a few years ago. MAJOR is a great baseball story, spiritually is it the succesor to Kyojin No Hoshi.

Those are my 2 picks for Up and Coming talent. One that is just getting recognition and one that is an established talent in Japan. So there you go...

I hope you are not implying that Grave of the Fireflies is a bad movie, because I will hurt you, B.J.:

Makoto Shinkai.

Well, okay, he's somewhat of a superstar. I mean, CrunchyRoll has given him is own holiday and all, but I really think he can appeal to people outside of otakudom. Think about his three movies (I haven't seen his game work). Those can be understood and enjoyed by ANYBODY. I know it's been said before (specifically on the back of my 5 Centimaters Per Second DVD Case) but I really do think that Shinkai is the next Miyazaki. And I mean this not only in the sense of quality but also in appeal. I don't know what he's working on next but I really think the big companies should be taking a look at getting it on screens across America (if it's suitable, of course).

Miyazaki isn't going to be around forever and the other Ghibli films seem to be pretty forgettable (or Grave of the Fireflies -shudder-). If there's going to be a guy to fill the hole Miyazaki leaves behind, especially in the American anime market, I would go for Makoto Shinkai.

Logan has three! THREE up and coming talents! Ahh ahh ahh! *dead*

Although I'm not big with underground anime, I'm very keen on manga that hasn't come to the surface with American publishers. I feel a bit ashamed to say I've been reading fan-translated scans for a while now, but have ceased since... about a month ago. While on this escapade I've had the treat of exposing myself to some very unconventional manga artists.

The first author- which has FINALLY been published! Thank you, ViZ Media- is Kyousuke Motomi, who's gender is still unknown to me (ViZ's translation says female, but the self portrait states otherwise). Motomi is the creator of two series that had me hooked within the first few chapters and had me laughing to tears. The two manga series now published in the states that I adore are Beast Master- which I suggest reading first, since it's finished- and Dengeki Daisy, which is in the works. Both of these are hilarious, have interesting characters and plot lines, keep you guessing, and have you wanting more. Although they lean towards more of a Shojo manga plot, the art and humor is very much more Shounen, which girls who usually read Shounen may appreciate. The art isn't bubbly, soft, and round; it's more gritty, straight lines, and a lot more simple than Shojo manga. The humor doesn't revolve around the shortcomings or clumsiness of characters, but the genuine flaws (Physical and mental) and jokes that can acutually make sense in our culture. I see Dengeki Daisy taking off here in the US, especially; more because of the awkward relationship between Kurosaki and Teru and the fact that they're layered characters. Needless to say, Kyousuke Motomi is someone to keep an eye on.

On a different end of the Shojo market is Akizuki Sorata, the mind behind a beautiful re-imagining of Snow White; Akagami No Shirayukihime. The tale unfolds with the life of a young herbalist with a rare red hair color, which ends up intriguing the Prince of a Kingdom and everything seems to snowball from there. It's a rich fantasy with deep background and believable characters that suffer the times of the country they live in. The art is beautiful and organic, albeit Shojo, but it doesn't taint the extraordinary retelling of a Princess who's screen time was hogged by a bunch of big-nosed dwarves (which are happily now where to be seen). It's addicting just within the first chapter and has throughout had me on the edge of my desk chair. I would be delighted to see this on the shelves one day-- and you should too! Keep an eye out.

The last author I'm dying to get published here in the states is Komi Naoshi of Double Arts who's original one-shots, magnificent artwork, and general story telling had me floored. His only actual series was the tale of two teens set in a fantasy universe where a life-threatening plague causes people to disappear! The only cure seems to be these Nuns who are able to absorb the sickness through touch, but then put themselves at risk for being in a lot of contact with it. One such nun, Elraine, is being affected by the disease she's obtained-- but is saved by a boy's touch who nullifies her fits. However, if they stop touching for too long, she starts to disappear, leaving the two connected by their hands all the time! This leads to some serious comedy and is a total mind-boggling treat to read since the characters seem to be able to dish out something new each chapter. It's not a full romance but hints at couplings here and there-- making it a strong Shounen since the focus is the combat techniques the two are able to use while connected. Sadly, the series had to be cut to an abrupt end since it wasn't popular in Japan, but it left with a strong ending that would dazzle people here in the good ol' US of A. I have strong hopes this Author will release something popular so I can eat up his stories and artwork!

There are plenty of other Authors I discovered that I could go on and on about, but these are the three that really left a mark on the kind of manga I read and the anime I now watch. I hope this will be somewhat beneficial to people who want something new- if the last two ever hit the shelves...

Rednal's got not one or two or even three people to champion, but rather a whole friggin' company:

NIS America. The entire company, considering how new it is to anime releases. Yeah, they had some non-universal disc issues with their first release. But you know what? They're still pretty new at releasing anime, and it didn't take them long at all to set up a way for people to get those discs replaced. They admitted their error, took responsibility like mature individuals, and outside of that issue had a pretty darn good first release with some really nice boxes, quality artbooks, and wisely chosen shows. I'll be honest with you; I don't see them ever growing half as big as Funimation, much less dominating the market. They're pretty small, and the way they do business (very niche audience), that isn't likely to change. But they're a company that seems to actually like their fans; not simply market to, but actively like, and I think that the shows they release in the future are going to be well-chosen for the fandom. Probably what they figure will appeal to their customers, and you know, I don't think that's a bad way to do business. I mean, this is the company that very actively supports suggestions for products; if enough people show interest, those products have a tendency to show up. So I'd say don't just keep an eye on this company's operations, but get involved. The more they know about what anime fans want licensed, the better they'll likely be able to do at getting it for you. You'll be supporting the industry in multiple ways, too, and that's never a bad thing.

Ricardo is predicting the future of certain seiyuu, right here, right now:

Well, since I'm quite new to the Anime and Manga world (I first started watching anime seriously on 2006 and I first read a manga on 2007) I don't know many of the so-called 'superstars', but I have noticed, in this time, quite a few people who certainly caught my attention. I'd dare to say that the most prominent of them is Hanazawa Kana, whom I came to know from Kobato (although I had already watched other roles by her such as Sketchbook's Kajiwara Sora). Looking back at her profile you can see a fast increase in the last years - most notably this year, with 14 roles so far - and, as a mathematician, I wouldn't dare to say that it was 'coincidence'. If I had to say, she'd be my favorite seiyuu these days.

There's a seiyuu who really caught my attention the first time I heard her - Aoki Sayaka. When I first watched Baccano! I was mesmerized by HOW MUCH the voice had fit the character. It's as if, as they say, 'she was born for that'. Apart from that, I've seen (or rather, heard) her acting in Haruhi, Da Capo II and ef - a tale of melodies and none of these caught my attention as much as Miria. I'd say that's one of the cases when the seiyuu becomes more famous as the character than as itself.

On the manga side, I'd say the drawings by Tsuda Masami really impress me. It's not the best art there is, but still it has a felling that most mangaka doesn't. You can easily see that by reading Karekano or Eensy Weensy Mosnter. I still haven't got the chance to read her newest publication - Chotto Edo Made - but based on her previous works, I'm sure it's gonna be at least just as epic as any of them.

That's all the responses I got, but next time, I wanted to try something a little more... timely, I guess. One of anime's best and brightest was recently taken from us in his creative prime, and so I wanted to hear a bit from you guys on the work he's left behind.

Now you've got this week's question, and it's time to get answerin'.

For those of you new to Hey, Answerfans!, I'll explain the concept.

Believe it or not, I'm genuinely curious what you think.

That's right; as much as I love the sound of my own voice, I do love to listen to what other people have to say on a subject. I'm finding that over the last few years, the attitudes, reasoning and logic that today's anime fans use eludes, confuses or astounds me; I have so many questions for you, and I'm dying to hear what you have to say in response.

Welcome to Hey, Answerfans!

Basically, we're turning the tables. Each week I'm going to ask you a question, and I want you to email me your answer. Be as honest as you can. I'm looking for good answers; not answers I agree with or approve of, but good, thoughtful answers
. People feel passionately about these subjects and I'd like to see that in the responses I get. I'll post the best answers I get, and maybe some of the crappy ones. Sometimes there may only be one or two good ones; sometimes five or more. It all depends on what I get in my inbox! Got it? Pretty simple, right? Start writing those answers and email them to answerman [at] animenewsnetwork dot com.

We do have a few simple ground rules to start with.

Things To Do:

* Be coherent.
* Be thoughtful.
* Be passionate.
* Write as much or as little as you feel you need to to get your point across in the best possible way.

Things Not To Do:

* Respond when the question doesn't apply to you. For instance, if your email response starts with "Well, I don't do whatever you're asking about in the question... " then I'm going to stop reading right there and hit delete.

* Be unnecessarily rude or use a lot of foul language.
* Go off-topic.

That is all I've got in my bag of tricks this week, so remember to send in all those questions and responses to answerman(at)animenewsnetwork.com and I'll do my darnedest to answer them! Until next week, then!

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