There is an old saying that goes like this there are 3 things you don’t talk about: politics, religion, and sports (some put money here instead). For anime fans, there is a fourth entry Subbed vs Dubbed.
As long as the two options have been in existence anime fans fight over this with no end in sight.
I am not taking a side in this article. The reason is there is not a huge difference to me and the whole controversy has gotten way out of hand.
So instead of adding fuel to the, I am taking a more neutral approach and will present the argument for both as objectively as possible.
By the end of this article, you will understand what English Subbed and Dubbed are, why fans choose one or the other, their downfalls and which one would be better for you.
This a big topic so let’s get into it

What is English Dubbed Anime?

Wolf's Rain EngDub
English dub refers to an anime that has English voices instead of Japanese voice actors.
One of the great challenges of English dubbing is that the process is the opposite of how the process works for voice acting in Japan.
Normally the animators make characters animation after the voice actors record their voice. With English dubbing, the anime already exists so voice actors have to match the lip-sync of the anime. This is why many dubs appear strange this is not just an anime thing but any medium that has dubbing over the original language.
Funimation is the largest company that does English dubbing in the US. Since the early days of English dubbing, it has improved. There are even several series that are better to watch than the original Japanese voice acting. If the Japanese voice acting with subtitles exist what is the value of English Dubbing?

Why Do People Prefer English Dubbing?

Easier to multi-task while watching.

If you watch an English Subtitles anime then you have to read the subtitles all the time.
If you know a little Japanese you might be able to look away every not a then. For the vast majority, this is not the case. The need to consistently have to read the subtitles prevents you from being able to do anything else.
I often multi-task when I watch anime especially if it’s shounen series. Shounen animes are great but can be repetitive.
The English Accents are More Authentic
Many anime takes place outside of Japan. But if you watch the series subbed you could not tell the difference. Japanese voices sound the same reagardless of where the story takes place or where the character is from.
This ruins the experience for me.
For example Code Geass: Akito the Exiled’s Leila the main protagonist is from France.
However, her voice sounds weird in Japanese because the accent is non-existent. Her voice in the English Dub has a thick French accent. This simple change makes a big difference in the entire anime.
Leila Malcal from Code Geass Akito thr Exiled

Modern English Dubbing Quality is on par with the Original Japanese Voice acting.

There are even some shows that are better than the Japanese versions FullMetal Alchemist Brotherhood and Cowboy Bebop come to mind.
The meaning is roughly the same so you are basically getting the full experience.
Kenzo Tenma Monster

What is Wrong with English Dubbed Anime?

The Dubbing can be Incomplete
Many dubs make two big mistakes. The voice actors may say Japanese words in the assumption that the audience knows what is means.
This is a problem because there might be people who watch that are not familiar with these terms. They are not going to know what it means.
The other mistake is that the Dub will not provide subtitles for Japanese words that appear in newspapers, napkins, billboards, etc.
Only important parts of an anime will have the focus be on written Japanese words. If you cannot see the translation then it ruins the experience.
English Dubbed Anime Takes Longer to Come out
From personal experience, this can be an issue. When I was watching Bleach for the first time, it was English dubbed. This was during the early years and I only watched English dubbed anime.
I got to the point where Ichigo fights Grimmjow. This where the dubbed left off. So naturally, I did not want to wait for the dub so I continued with sub.
If impatience is one of your virtues then this could be a huge factor for you.

Other Reasons included cuts, censhorship, over swearing

Should You Watch English Dubbed Anime?

This depends on personal preference in 2020 there is not much of a difference.
If you are looking to watch something from the 90s, 80s, and early 2000s the dubbing might not be too great.
I would recommend that you do not watch any English Dubbing for an anime that came out in the 70s.
If you prefer hearing something in your own language watch English Dubbed.
Fathom events show many anime in theaters. Generally speaking, English subbed tickets go fast. But watching the English dubbed is fine.
You will find that the differences are minor and watching English dubbed can be fun.

What is a English Subbed Anime?

Tokyo Godfathers one of the better subbed anime
Anime comes from Japan (I am sure you know this by now) so all the voice actors are Japanese. Since this is the case when places outside Japan first get the anime it will be in Japanese. Most people in the world do not understand Japanese.
The solution was to create English Subtitles or whatever language is native to that country. The subtitles are the sentences that appear toward the bottom of the screen and show the translation of what is being said.
Subtitles may also appear right under Japanese words that appear on the screen. These are situations where the characters are reading something in a newspaper, tv, etc.

Why Do People Prefer English Subbed?

English Dubbing has a Hard Time with Matching the Japanese Voice Actors intensity.

Despite this, there are some English Dubs that I will take any day over their subbed counterparts.

Having said if I had to watch a brand new series and given the option to watch it either subbed or dubbed I am probably going to watch it dubbed.

The subbed acting is more intense.

Here is a good test to prove this. Watch any action scene with English voice acting. Afterward, watch the same scene again with Japanese voice acting. The difference will be obvious. Dubbing has come along way but still suffers in this department.

Also, I love to watch classic anime and the English Dubbing for some of those shows are just awful. This is why I tend to favor subs when I can.

Orihime Crying out to Ichigo
The Subtitles Prevent a Loss in Translation from the Original Source Material.

English Dubbing is not an easy task because it’s a translation of Japanese into English. It is usually the case that when a studio translates Japanese to English, it causes the anime to lost stuff.

For example, studios have to change pop culture references and slang because the average American audiences would not get it.

Certain things do not translate well and often the English word chosen is incorrect. The worse part is if you have never seen the subbed version or even the anime itself you may not even realize that the translation is wrong.

My first experience with that was with YuGiOh! Duel Monsters.

In some cases, a studio may not just dub the anime with English voice actors but also alter the content itself.

I am referring to censorship, cuts and other alterations.

4Kids was infamous for doing that during my childhood. The biggest example of their handy work was YuGiOh! Duel Monsters. But even big anime like Sailor Moon also faced the same problem and DIC dubbed it not 4Kids.

Dubs also have the tendency to either add over the top swearing or remove it. The next time you watch English Dubbed anime from the 80s and 90s pay attention to the swearing.

Thankful this issue is not as relevant in today’s English Dubbed anime.

A Bigger Anime Selection

 Dubs take a while to come because the original anime has to finish in order for the dubbing to even begin.

It was not until the 90s that the dubbing industry really started to grow and studios were able to dub more shows in English.

This means that the number of English dubbed anime is much less than subbed anime.

Spcae brothers an great anime that was never dubbed in English

Here are some numbers for perspective.  According to this subreddit English dubbed anime has a total of 1574 animes in total. I counted the list in case you were wondering. The list does not contain anime in the 60s to 80s. But it gives you a good enough idea.

By comparison, the total number of Shounen anime ever created is 1937 anime. So basically one genre has more anime that all anime available in English.

If you choose to only watch English Dubbed anime, you will miss out. How many well  according to this source at least over 11000 anime have been created.

That means watching dubs only means you experience 14 percent of all anime.

What is Wrong with English Subbed Anime

Reading Conditions Such as Dyslexia

I have talked with people who cannot watch subbed anime because of Dyslexia. For those who share this condition, there really is no other way to watch the anime besides in English Dubbed. Also, some people just have general problems with reading subtitles.

Subtitles can be distracting.

I prefer experiencing anime with fantastic visuals English dubbed for this very reason. You can miss stuff if you have to divert your eyes to the screen for a couple of seconds.

This is really only an issue for watching an anime in theaters or live. In both cases, you cannot rewind the movie or episode. Now in the case of an anime on a DVD or by streaming this is a non-issue because you can rewind anytime.

Should You Watch English Subbed Anime?

To get the full anime experience watching anime subbed is a must.

Plus you are only limiting the amount of anime you can watch if you stick to only English Dubbing.

Also, you can use more streaming services to watch anime that only have the subbed version.

It does take time getting used to reading subtitles but like anything else you get used to it over time.

Regardless if you do or not watch English Subbed it does not change the level of a fan you are and do not let anyone tell you otherwise.

Final thoughts

The debate will rage on until the end of time or anime (whichever comes first). As the years go on the increasing quality of English Dubbed anime lessens the impact of siding with one or the other.
But you will still have those who believe that you must watch anime subbed or you are not a true fan. I do agree that you can’t get the full experience with English Dubbed alone but the fan part is a bit of a reach.
This level of discourse is not productive and could drive new fans away from the medium. After going through both sub and dub you see that in the grand scheme of things there is not much of a difference.
I want people to watch anime from my perspective the fact that both options exist is a huge win for you guys.
Japanese voice acting has many years on English voice acting. But if we continue to support English Dubbing it will keep improving.
I doubt I convince any anime purest to watch English Dubbed. But at the very least I hope that I convinced them to not be critical on their fellow anime fans for choosing English Dubbed.
Regardless of which you choose just watch anime that’s all that makes me happy at the end of the day. If I helped you make an informed decision even better.
There are many reasons to pick Sub or Dub did I miss any? Which do you prefer to let me know in the comments? Also, what is your favorite anime that was Dubbed in English?
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Thanks so much for reading and have a great day
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Mymediachops is a blog created by a life long anime fan. My goal is to prove that anime is for everyone. I focus on created content to help new fans get into the medium while also discussing anime that made a big impact on my life.