Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Sub vs. Dub

For those of you who have no idea what "sub" and "dub" might mean, it's like this: There's a discussion going on in Germany between those fans of animes who like the original voices (meaning the Japanese original) with subtitles ("subs") and those fans who like getting a German version of the movies/series (dubbed, therefore "dubs").

I personally am a fan of the latter kind. I like running series and movies on my computer while writing or doing other stuff - and as my Japanese consists of a handful of words, I can't understand the movies/series that way. So I like my movies/series dubbed, meaning I can listen to them while writing or doing other stuff. Other fans state that the German version is worse than the original on principles. I can't really tell if they're right (very bad Japanese, remember?), but I can tell that I usually don't like the Japanese voices for girls/women which are quite often very high and 'girlish'. I detest that when it comes to more or less self-confidant, officially adult characters.

As the German DVDs usually also provide the original Japanese voices, I don't see the point in always saying "the real fans don't need dubs, let's stop producing them". I'm already learning to be a web-master, I simply don't have the time to learn Japanese right now - and I'm not in the mood for just sitting in front of my TV with an anime, just because there's no German dub. I'm a real fan and I need dubs, so I want them. And where are new fans supposed to come from when they can't watch an anime, because they don't understand it? I don't really like subtitles. I like watching the screen (and not always watching the movie), not the lower half only, trying to read the subtitles. First of all they sometimes are really bad made (in colours which rather fade into the background - how am I supposed to read this) and don't really give me the feeling of the situation. (As the Japanese language doesn't necessary have the same voice patterns as German and I often can't say whether the sound of the sentence comes from the emotion of the character or simply from the language - bad Japanese again, I'm afraid.) In short, as a person living in a country where movies and series are dubbed on principles, I demand an anime to be dubbed as well.

But what I hate more than the discussion as a such (which is lost for the "sub"-fraction anyway - the publishers have realized by now that a dubbed movie/series sells better, thus they spent the money for dubbing), is what the "sub"-fraction insinuates: A real fan doesn't need a dubbed version, so everybody who's no fluent in Japanese or doesn't want to spent most of the movie trying to figure out what's happening and how the characters are feeling by subtitles and intuition, necessarily isn't a real fan. That's a stupid idea to begin with and doesn't get better by saying it more often.

Anime-characters necessarily don't have the best possible mimics. Their faces consist of a few well-drawn lines. While I like this sort of style, it's not exactly telling a lot about what someone is feeling. Now, I can say "I'm going to kill you" in a lot of different ways: stating it coldly as a fact; screaming it at my enemy in rage; crying while bowed over the body of my beloved, lost in grief. The words are the same, but the deeper feeling is different. And with less than a basic understanding of how Japanese is spoken, I can't tell what kind of feeling there is from simply hearing the Japanese version. The subtitles don't help me to understand this (as Japanese characters don't necessarily always act like Europeans either), the voices don't help me to understand this - and quite often neither do the other things I see on scene. So what can I do? I can try to guess it. And I even failed with that in French sometimes, while watching "Saint Seiya" without really knowing the background story.

In addition I usually don't devote my vast attention span completely to one thing - I listen to music or watch/hear movies or series while I'm writing. I have the TV running while I'm reading and so on. But a movie in a language I can't understand with subtitles forces me to only do that ... that makes me quite jittery. I like doing various things at the same time and feel unbalanced while only doing one thing at a time - unless I'm sleeping, of course.

And because I don't want to learn Japanese (and currently don't have time for it anyway), I'm no less of a fan than someone who did learn Japanese. I'm interested in manga and anime, not exactly in learning Japanese or knowing everything there is about Japanese culture. That might come some day, but not right now.

I really hate people who think they know it all - and I especially hate people who think they're the only real measurement for something!

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