One Piece: Funimation Travesty.

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.

19 Comments
20 Comments
Posted by Aarownd

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.

Posted by David

I still think I'd rather watch the Funimation version than the 4Kids version but luckily I agree with you and don't have to watch either of those and just watch the original with subtitles. The Japanese voice actors fit the characters they portray so perfectly I can't imagine anyone else playing them.

Posted by BraveToaster

They could always hire new talent looking to get into the VA business. It would be cheaper than hiring over-rated (and over-used) VA veterans.

Posted by EXTomar

The problem is that most Anime let alone a popular one like One Piece are expensive to license. It is easy to say "do better production" but often the budgets are thin and the market is niche.

Posted by Aarownd

@EXTomar: That's what I'm saying, that I realize it's a very expensive thing to do. But just because it's expensive, doesn't excuse recycled actors, altered dialog, and a seemingly low amount of care being put in overall.

Posted by clstirens

@EXTomar said:

The problem is that most Anime let alone a popular one like One Piece are expensive to license. It is easy to say "do better production" but often the budgets are thin and the market is niche.

@BraveToaster said:

They could always hire new talent looking to get into the VA business. It would be cheaper than hiring over-rated (and over-used) VA veterans.

I wonder if that's possible

Posted by kindgineer

I guess one of the reason I don't watch Anime, is the subtitles. It has absolutely nothing to do with being Xenophobic, or close minded. I enjoy hearing voices I can understand, and Funimation provides that. I watched I think what could be called the first "Season" of One Piece in English, and vastly preferred it over the subtitled version.

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with subtitling. There are plenty of masterpieces out there of that calibur. However, the industry is just way to small. It needs to mature before we can move forward and have better voice-acting and subtitles.

Edited by Sogeman

Dubs always just sound like they're shouting for shouting sake not because there's any kind of emotion behind it.

That song was the first time I heard the english version of Luffy and damn that just sounds off. Then I reread the text and now it's totally obvious that it's a woman trying to sound like a guy. No wonder it sounded weird. In the original she doesn't try to sound like a guy, it's just great.

Though reusing voiceactors is also a problem in japanese. Once you watched One Piece two times over you notice Zoros voice actor in everything he's in. Same goes for Jiraiya from Naruto. Not as big a problem though, they aren't in every series ^^

Posted by LordXavierBritish

So, just don't watch the dub?

Posted by Aarownd

@LordXavierBritish: The main reason I made this, was because I know people who try to convince me that the Funimation version is better. This was just a convenient place to put it.

Posted by N7

I feel like this is the perfect time to post a link to a podcast I like, while at the same time being relevant.
 
In this episode of Talkin' Tunes with Rob Paulsen, Candi Milo talks about the "anime voice" that people expect you to do when you go for that type of role. It puts into perspective a lot of things in the industry that you may not know about.

Edited by believer258

I thought the dubs for Full Metal Alchemist and Yu Yu Hakusho were fantastic. At the end of the day, though, I do not want to read a TV show. I'll take a slightly annoying dub over a good sub anyday, though chances are that unless I really like the story and characters I won't watch a bad dub anyway.

Honestly, though, Funimation is one of the better dubbing companies out there. We're talking about a niche business that asks for hundreds of different voice actors for shows that aren't going to be shown on TV much, and aren't going to get tons of viewers when they are. I don't expect the same quality voice acting that I would from a Pixar movie. Funimation seems to be doing the best they can with what they have.

On a final note, I did watch the last eleven or so episodes of Full Metal Alchemist subbed because I couldn't wait. I wish I would have waited for the dub, though - Ed sounding like a girl was odd when his VA in English was a fellow with a deep, scratchy voice.

EDIT: As for the shouting thing - I'd imagine that would sound the same to a Japanese-speaking individual? I've always been under the assumption that shouting is shouting, no matter the language.

Posted by Demoskinos

Can't say I agree. Theres plenty of good dub work out there.

Posted by Zippedbinders

Why would you even watch the One Piece anime in the first place? Reading the manga negates all of these issues.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@EXTomar said:

The problem is that most Anime let alone a popular one like One Piece are expensive to license. It is easy to say "do better production" but often the budgets are thin and the market is niche.

Plus there are, like, only five voice actors in all of anime. Johnny Yong Bosch, Yuri Lowenthal, Laura Bailey....uh.....Evil Johnny Yong Bosch, and Super Johnny Yong Bosch.

Edited by PenguinDust

One problem I've noticed with dubbed recently is too many of the voices sound alike. Because I don't speak Japanese, I don't notice it as much, but when I watch a dub it seems the studios keep using the same actors over and over. Worse yet, there's little variety in their readings. Think of how unsettling it is to hear Nolan North do his typical voice work in practically every other title. Now imagine if there were whole groups of games where every character sounded like another character in a completely different game. I don't know enough about the dub of One Piece to criticize since I only watch the subbed versions. 4Kids scarred me but good. However, I can say that there just seems to be too many of the same actors working in the dubbed anime field with the same voices.

My second problem with American dubbed anime is the tonal range of the actors. We're all aware of the high pitched voices the Japanese actresses often have, but my current concern is with the lack of deep sounding male voices. Quite often Japanese male actors have these low pitched voices which resonate with strength and wisdom. Watch an old Kurosawa samurai movie and you can hear it. Certain archetypes in anime often have these voices to illustrate the seriousness of the character. Western voice actors typically don't read with that depth. There are American actors who do, but I guess few are working in the field of anime localization.

Posted by Aarownd

@believer258 said:

Honestly, though, Funimation is one of the better dubbing companies out there. We're talking about a niche business that asks for hundreds of different voice actors for shows that aren't going to be shown on TV much, and aren't going to get tons of viewers when they are. I don't expect the same quality voice acting that I would from a Pixar movie. Funimation seems to be doing the best they can with what they have.

Which is why I brought up the idea of just subtitling anime. It would solve the voice actor variation issue, and the overhead in getting a production together. Since the sub is already great, why do we need to make a new version just for the few people who are absolutely against the idea of reading? Most of the fan-base wouldn't really care that much, especially if they explained that it would result in more product being produced.

Posted by believer258

@Aarownd said:

@believer258 said:

Honestly, though, Funimation is one of the better dubbing companies out there. We're talking about a niche business that asks for hundreds of different voice actors for shows that aren't going to be shown on TV much, and aren't going to get tons of viewers when they are. I don't expect the same quality voice acting that I would from a Pixar movie. Funimation seems to be doing the best they can with what they have.

Which is why I brought up the idea of just subtitling anime. It would solve the voice actor variation issue, and the overhead in getting a production together. Since the sub is already great, why do we need to make a new version just for the few people who are absolutely against the idea of reading? Most of the fan-base wouldn't really care that much, especially if they explained that it would result in more product being produced.

Do you have any solid evidence that "most of the fan-base wouldn't care that much"?

I would much rather watch dubbed, to the point that I immediately drop any interest in any anime that's subbed. I'm one potential customer, and on matters like this there's never just one person with that kind of opinion. Cutting off dubbed is a whole lot of market share for them, and when you're talking about a niche product such as anime then "a whole lot of market share", even if it isn't even three fifths, might be enough to put them under and make anime even more niche. At the end of the day, I don't even think that most of the people in this business are in it for the money. They're in it because they enjoy anime and they enjoy their jobs, and they want to bring anime to a wider audience. You would be doing those people, the people in Japan who create the anime, and everyone else who enjoys it for that matter a disservice by completely stopping dubs.

If you want to watch subs, then Funimation subtitles pretty much all of their anime if I'm not mistaken. And if Funimation doesn't do it, then there are a lot of fan subs that you can watch that, from what I've heard, are pretty good themselves. I'm strongly against the idea of never dubbing anime.

Posted by EXTomar

It also depends on the show itself. I mean One Piece is full of dialog that isn't exactly Shakespearean. The dub for something like Durararara! was fine because it was slower and more deliberate.

Posted by ShadowKnight508

Another wonderful show in which the subbed version (with original audio) is much better than what the dubbed version turns out to be. I love One Piece, and have been watching the subbed episodes for quite a few years, so I was interested to see just how a episode in dubbed form would sound. Unfortunately, the dubbed version falls short of what could have possibly been awesome due to voices that don't always fit the character that's talking. Just look at the video comparison of Luffy singing in both Japanese and English in the original post. I will admit, both versions are annoying, but at least the Japanese version comes off as less annoying, mostly in part to that voice the dubbed Luffy has.