By Aarownd 34 Comments
To preface this, I've been a huge fan of One Piece, even back from the 4kids days. When I got older, I moved onto the Sub, and slowly realized all Funimation, and to a degree, all English voice actors, are kind of terrible. They're just not believable in any Anime I've seen. I've heard a lot of good Videogame voice acting, primarily when it's not trying to be wacky. Like a lot of Anime does. But the reason I have personal issues with English Dubs, is that I know that's not how people speak. I'll use One Piece as an example, since it's one of the two Animes I remotely care about. The Japanese voices in One Piece, probably sound re-goddamn-diculous to a native speaker of the language. But as just some idiot foreigner, I have no barometer for what a Japanese person sounds like in average conversation. As far as I can tell, people just yell every sentence seemingly at random. So I can't very well tell if the acting is good or bad. But with English dubs, I already know that that isn't how people talk. People don't yell stuff randomly, and speak in Cartoon voices in English. I know that, because I speak it on a daily basis. I can tell when English voices A. Don't fit a character, and B. Aren't acted well. Which makes Dubs virtually unwatchable to me.
Now, let's move on to why Funimation in particular is bad at localizing Anime. I guess my main issue, would be that they use the same actors, for almost every series they get the license to. It's literally impossible to watch a funimation dub without hearing multiple voices from Dragon Ball Z. Which is at least understandable, since Anime isn't the most profitable business in America. But the problem with it, is that they don't act differently. They play every character exactly the same, there's no difference even in their tone of voice. If you listen to Christopher Sabat, he sounds exactly the same in every role. And rarely does he fit any character. Which, is really a major issue, when they don't even bother to get new actors to fit characters.
Whenever I have this discussion with anyone, they say that the Funi-dub of One Piece is great, and that the creator "Hand-picked the cast". Which brings me to a couple reasons why that argument in its favor makes no sense.
1. Eichiro Oda (The Creator of One Piece) doe not speak English, so he wouldn't be able to properly judge English Acting.
2. "Hand-Picking" is completely irrelevant when he's picking actors from a pool of twenty. His choice would just boil down to tonally which of the twenty actors he feels matches best. Not that he watched a bunch of different series' and picked actors from them.
Now, I don't want to sound like I think Funimation is all bad, and a lot of these issues are completely understandable. Since like I said, Anime isn't the big business in the colonies that it is over in the Japans. So a lot of the time, they simply can't afford to hire new actors regularly, or obtain licenses as fast as would be preferable. But these reasonable problems aren't enough to excuse lazy work. Over half of the main cast in One Piece is voiced by Dragon Ball actors, which I shouldn't have to tell you, isn't a good ratio of recycled actors.
And now One Piece itself; Some of the bigger issues with the Funi-dub, is that their big marketing push, was that it it's closer to the original than the 4Kids version was. Which, while it's true that it is vastly more faithful to the original than the amount that was censored in the 4Kids version. They still change a majority of the lines characters say. Watching episodes side-by-side like I've been doing, you can tell just how much is changed. Most lines in an episode are unnecessarily different. Nami had a line in the original that was "I wonder what's going on over there" as she was sneaking away from an action sequence. That line was then changed to "Looks like somebody's rocking the boat". Which I again should not need to tell you how just plain retarded that is.
Another issue that most don't seem to notice, is that they kept the changed name of the fruit Luffy ate, and by extension, the name of all of his attacks. In the original; it was "Gomo Gomu" which translates directly to "Rubber". So by eating the Rubber fruit, he became a rubber-man. But the 4Kids changed it for American audiences to "Gum Gum", which only makes a slight amount of sense, since I guess gum stretches. But the logic behind that isn't my issue with it. My issue is that it didn't need changed. It's a Japanese series brought to English, by that same logic, "Zoro" shouldn't have the same name, it's too Japanese. It should be changed to something Americans can relate to. Like Bill, or Steven. It's entirely pointless to change that, but not other equally Asian names and words. Zoro uses a sword style called "Santoryu", which "San" means "Three" and "Toryu" means "Dragon Slayer" when translated directly, but in Sword fighting, it's used as the base title of any sword style. So he uses a three sword style. Does any of that sound as simple as Gomu meaning rubber?
Another problem, is that Funimation will hire women to do adult male voices. Which the Japanese do, but like I said, Americans have no barometer for what the Japanese sound like. But it's easy for us to immediately recognize a male character as being voices by a woman trying to sound like a young guy.
I also have a large issue with their fans attitude towards it all. They act as though Funimation is the second coming of Christ; At the slightest mention of Funimation not producing the highest caliber of product, they act as though you're personally attack them. And that you obviously live in your parents basement, jerkin' it to RapeLay all day.
Another huge problem is that most of it seems unnecessary. If Funimation just focused on subbing Anime, they'd not only produce content faster, there'd be much lower overhead, meaning they could not only make it faster, but they could also make a lot more of it. They'd take quite a few jobs from people, but they'd create possibly more jobs by hiring talented people to put subtitles on each series. If you look at the higher quality subtitle work on Anime, they use specialized fonts for specific characters. They create special fonts and implement them, all in their free time. Because they love Anime that much. There are only a few reasons I can think of that would stop Funimation from seeing this is a better business plan. 1. Channels like Cartoon Network won't air something in a foreign language. 2. Their fan-base is largely 12-17 age group, and that whole demographic is shockingly close-minded, and surprisingly xenophobic.
Other than that, it's cheaper. Would encourage kids to read more often, and at an accelerated pace. Faster to produce content. A majority of the work is already done. It makes way more sense, purely from a business point of views.
Here I'm going to like a couple videos showing the key differences in the voice quality.
While neither of these sound particularly great, nor would I want to listen to it on my iPod. The Funimation version sounds just out of place. And the bad singing is much more noticeable than in the Japanese version.
Here, the Funimation version isn't terrible, but it's markedly different, and lacks a certain impact. And due to changed dialog, the character interactions leading up to this point, made a lot of it less important in the dub. But I will commend the voice-actress for Luffy here. She managed to convey some minor amount of emotion in her voice. But that's another issue, whenever she's just talking, or even doing a generic attack, she sounds like she doesn't give a shit about doing it. That she would rather be somewhere else, and that this whole thing is stupid.
There's an example of the bland voice-work done for the vast majority of the series.
Regardless of how I feel about Funimation, and this dub, One Piece is still awesome.