Why Don’t Anime Fandubs Exist?

Posted by Michael Pinto on Nov 19, 2009 in Animation |

What you’re looking at above is an example of the “good old days of anime” which weren’t so good. When it came out Captain Future wasn’t so bad in terms of quality, but the dubbing here is amateurish to say the least. This wasn’t so unusual in the early days of anime as small companies would blow everything they had to acquire the rights to a show — only to realize that they had little budget to do a proper dub.

Toonami: The golden age of anime on cable?

As anime became popular enough to be on cable TV that changed as the market from anime graduated from home video. The result is that a generation of fans no only expects their anime to be dubbed, but to feature high quality voice acting. So sadly for anime importers if they pick up a title for DVD sales only, their market has an expectation that the sound will sound just as good as what they’d see on cable TV.

Making matters worse if they released a subtitled only DVD mainstream fans would overlook the release while hardcore fans would feel that they can already get that for free on the net. This really means that the “value add” of American anime importers is the dubbing.

The anime series Hayate no Gotoku!

My guess is that American anime fans will never get into creating fandubs because it requires too much time and effort. With a fansub you get the quick payoff of producing something quickly with little effort. But dubbing requires not just the ability to record sound, but having friends who have not just the talent but the time to record hours of takes.

Making matters worse when you get a show from Japan it’s unlikely that you find a way to separate the music and sound effects from the voice acting. This would leave our fandubbers to create their own music and sound effects which would take more effort than a than a licensed importer would ever have to deal with.

Making anime music is hard work...

To me the lack of fandubbing represents the direction that American anime importers should think of going in. I half wonder if instead of being in the importing and distribution business if instead they shouldn’t be in the business of selling localization services directly to the Japanese?

The age of physical media may not die out, but it’s going to diminish with every year to come. If the Japanese studios and American firms embraced this you could see dubbed anime coming out to the market much quicker. Imagine if the shows were dubbed before they were released in Japan? We might not get to that, but if the American companies retooled for the process you could see a dubbed shows in place while a series is still running in Japan.

Special thanks to anime-games.co.uk for the amazing video!

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