The Dub Track
Azumanga Daioh

by Ryan Mathews, Jul 1st 2004
Okay, might we all agree that ADV has solved the problem of dubbing the Osaka accent? For their dub of Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, ADV decided on a Texas accent to represent Osaka-ben. It worked. It really, really worked. In fact, the accent and the dub performances in general really made the anime. A friend of mine who refuses to watch dubs hated the show, and when I tried to describe to him my favorite scenes, I realized it was the accented vocal performances that made it so funny.

Knowing a good thing when they see it, ADV kept the Texas accent for Ayumu "Osaka" Kasuga in Azumanga Daioh. And once again, it works.

Azumanga Daioh is yet another great comedy dub from ADV. Some brilliant casting has put together an ensemble of actresses most of whom nail their parts. It shows the strength of ADV's stable that they can cast an anime with more than seven major roles (screen time is divided fairly equally among all the Azumanga girls), and not have a single weak voice.

I do have one major criticism, and I'll get that out of the way first. Although I wouldn't call her voice "weak", I'm not finding myself much of a fan of Chiyo-chan. She's played by Jessica Boone (Arumi, Abenobashi), who is a talented actress, but who really has to chirp her voice to get it up into 10-year-old Chiyo's register. She sounds like an adult trying really hard to sound like a kid. Which is what she is, I suppose, but I'd like it to be a little easier to suspend my disbelief.

Mandy Clark (Reika, RahXephon) explodes out of the speakers as spunky Tomo. Tomo never just speaks; she shouts, she hollers, she loudly declares. Clark holds nothing back, cutting loose with an energetic fervor that perfectly suits the character, and doubtless required turning the mike down.

The cool, athletic, closet cute-o-phile Sasaki is played by Christine Auten (Priss, Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040). Her voice is deep and soft, and she plays the character perfectly straight, which makes it all the funnier when her cute side emerges.

Kira Vincent-Davis (Quon, RahXephon) plays the aforementioned Osaka. She has ADV's Osaka-Texas accent down pat. It sounded a bit strange at first, since ADV's manga translation used a Brooklyn accent, but the more I watched, the more I laughed. Now when I re-read the manga, I hear Osaka with a Texas accent. Davis' slow, gentle drawl perfectly matches the lightheaded daze Osaka seems to be in all the time.

Other notable voices include Luci Christian (Sasshi, Abenobashi) as the irresponsible English teacher Yukari, and Monica Rial (Haruka, RahXephon) as her long-suffering friend, the P.E. teacher Minamo "Nyamo" Kurusawa. Rial's early history of playing soft-voiced characters is long behind her, as she plays another forceful character. Andy McAvin (Johji, RahXephon... This is a real RahXephon reunion isn't it?) is the perverted literature teacher Mr. Kimura, his voice cracking and breathy as he makes one questionable suggestion after another.

The measure of a comedy dub is how well it makes you laugh. ADV's recent comedy dubs have made me laugh pretty darn well. When Anne and I find ourselves quoting lines from the dub the next day (often in Osaka's Texas accent) and laughing all over again, we know they're doing something right


Rating: *** ½ (out of 4)

Vital Stats:
Released by: ADV
Dubbed by: ADV/Industrial Smoke & Mirrors
Directors: Sandy Krasa, Don Rush

Cast:
Chiyo - Jessica Boone
Osaka - Kira Vincent-Davis
Tomo - Mandy Clark
Yomi - Nancy Novotny
Yukari - Luci Christian
Nyamo - Monica Rial
Sakaki - Christine Auten
Mr. Kimura - Andy McAvin


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)

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