The Dub Track
Urusei Yatsura: Remember My Love
by Ryan Mathews,
It reminded me of the friendly email exchange that I had with Eric Sherman of Bang Zoom, after I'd characterized some of his studio's efforts as "hit-and-miss". Far from being angry, he just wanted some clarification of my criticism. Isn't it great that these professionals take a review for what it is, one viewer's attempt at expressing his opinion and giving constructive criticism? Would that everyone could be that understanding.
Artwork is not final and is subject to change
This is AnimEigo's second go at dubbing an Urusei Yatsura film, so I was curious to see what improvements I'd hear. Unlike the first movie, Remember My Love isn't drowning in characters (at least not to as great an extent), so the dubbing crew could concentrate on a few performances, rather than recruiting dozens of actors for one and two-line roles.
There are incremental improvements in many characters, most noticeably Megane (Colin Hackman), who seems to have a better hold on his pontificating voice and freaks out to comic effect in the scene where Megane works up the strength to destroy his Lum pictures. Ataru (Steve Rassin) and Lum (Shannon Settlemyre) are still two of the best voices in the dub, with a good handle on their characters and good chemistry with each other. I'm still not impressed by Shinobu (Danielle Sullivan). The director really needs to help Sullivan find a distinctive voice for this character, rather than "generic schoolgirl". What talent Sullivan has is being wasted, because I don't hear any real acting in the character, just someone reading the lines and getting the emotional inflections right.
The film's original characters are voiced decently. Kristen Foster plays two of them, three if you count the tanuki Oshima, who appears originally as a teenage girl. She also plays the old witch, Obaba. She's pretty good as all three, although her performance as Oshima in tanuki form seemed a little derivative of Shippo from Inu Yasha. (Not that that's necessarily a bad thing.)
Justin Greer plays Ruu when he first appears, first as a manic clown, then a dapper magician. He does a good enough job with the magician's "sophisticated gentleman" voice for it to be funny when he breaks up coughing while trying to impress Lum with his laughter.
Margaret Woodfield plays Lahla, and although her performance is competent, I have the same complaint here as with Shinobu. There's no distinctiveness to the performance. In fact, sometimes I had trouble telling Lahla and Shinobu apart, despite their being played by two different actresses. I mean, come on! Lahla is a motorcycle-riding child tutor, half road warrior, half kindergarten teacher. Surely there was a unique take on that voice to be found somewhere.
Regular readers of this column (all ten of you) know I have strong opinions regarding the casting of children in dubs. In a nutshell, I'm for it, but only if the character in question truly behaves and talks like a child. Childish characters benefit from childish voices. However, too many, heck, most children in anime are adults in little bodies, 12-year-olds and younger who cock their heads to the side and give opinions on the mysteries of life. Unless you can get your hands on Haley Joel Osment or some other actor of his caliber, the chances are that any little kid you put in the role is not going to be up to the task. They have no experience with adult life, yet they're being asked to portray characters who are, essentially, little grown-ups in disguise. The result is an awkward, unsure performance.
At least to my ears. I'm just one guy. Your opinion may vary.
Remember My Love manages to hit all three examples of my view: casting a kid where it's perfect, not casting a kid where they really should have, and casting a kid who wasn't quite ready.
Obaba's little boy doll, which repeats everything she says, is played by young Zach Tomosunas. It's just perfect hearing this little boy's voice attempt to copy Obaba, because that's something kids are known to do now and then. It makes for a wonderful opening scene to the film.
When Lum's Stormtroopers meet little child versions of themselves in the amusement park, Megane has a brief exchange with his younger self. Rather than cast a child for those few lines, they are delivered by an adult, I presume Hackman, in a squeaky high-pitched voice. The result is pretty painful.
After having seen that, I worried. Was that how Ruu in his true form would be portrayed? By having Greer raise his voice a bunch of notches? Thankfully, no. The child form of Ruu is played by child actor Mark Jones.
I have mixed feelings about Jones' performance. On the one hand, his voice is exactly what I wanted for the role, a little-boy "brat" voice, a little gruff sounding, perfect for Ruu's personality. On the other, while Jones does the loud scenes very well, he seems a little unsure of himself while delivering more subtle lines. Again, this is a complaint of mine common to many child performances.
One more thing. I usually don't comment too much on the technical aspects of dubs I review, because I'm not knowledgeable and would be talking out my rear end. However, my fianceé and sound clip editor Anne has been in broadcast school most of this year, getting training in sound mixing. While hardly an expert, she at least has more knowledge than me, so I figured it was worth asking her to weigh in. We both agreed that the mixing of the dub is a little below par. The voices seem to sit on top of the music and effects, rather than inside them.
Overall, this dub improves upon Only You, as I'd hoped. The main characters are a little better, and the incidental characters are lot better. If you didn't like the first dub, it's worth giving it another shot. Still two stars, though.
Rating: ** (out of 4)
Released by: AnimEigo
Dubbed by: Swirl
Ataru - Steve Rassin
Lum - Shannon Settlemyre
Shinobu - Danielle Sullivan
Obaba - Kristen Foster
Obaba's "Kid" - Steven Paul
Ruu - Justin Greer
Young Ruu - Mark Jones
Oshima - Kristen Foster
Lahla - Margaret Woodfield
- Ruu, as the Magician, confronts Lum
- Ruu, in his true form, sets Lum straight
- Megane goes berserk!
- Lahla gives Ataru a bad grade
- Obaba greets the group as they hunt for Lum
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.