There is this sort of negative stigma that exists within the anime community when it comes to English dubs.
There are those who are rather skeptical with dubs, saying that anime isn’t meant to be translated into the English language because it potentially takes away from the intended story.
There are some who don’t really think much of dubs as anything too important, claiming it as something that is normal and have always been a part of Western anime culture.
And then, there are the hardcore anti-dubs. Those who revel in their own hate and utter disdain of the English language “staining” their favorite Japanese shows with its cruelty. They’re the kind of people who pull their hair at a regular basis and believe that anime is to be left alone, away from the hands of evil Westerners plotting to assimilate Western culture into an otherwise Eastern form of media.
The bottomline is that all 3 outlooks are wrong, in my opinion:
- No, translating something into English does not take away from the intended story (if done in the right way).
- No, dubs are important and a vital factor in anime becoming as “mainstream” as it is in the West.
- And no, dubbing an anime isn’t like sprinkling mold all over a deliciously well-constructed cake (although some dubs definitely are), but rather it’s the extra icing and fancy edible decorations that make the cake that much more exciting and delicious. And hey, there are also times where the dub IS the deliciously well-constructed cake.
Well, I mean, to be fair, you can’t entirely blame the the anti-dubs for thinking the way that they do, seeing how our history with dubbing anime was not without its low points.
I won’t deny that there IS a huge chunk of English dubs out that don’t help with the overall cynical outlook towards dubbed anime, BUT, at the same time, there are certainly a handful of amazing dubs that do their respective series’ justice, and some even ADDS to the overall experience with just how great and appropriate those dubs are.
And that’s what we’re gonna tackle today.
Keep in mind that while I do prefer some over others, for all intents and purposes this is not a “Top” list. All of these dubs are great and bring something special to the table in their own special ways, so ranking them would be illogical.
So, without any further fanfare, these are 10 of my highly recommended English-dubbed anime:
10.) Garzey’s Wing, Golden Boy, and Ghost Stories
Alrighty, we’re starting the list off with some crazy bunches over here. Yeah I know it might be considered cheating to put THREE entries into one spot, but in essence these three are on this list for the same reason: the complete and utter insanity of the dub.
All three have ridiculously horrid storylines, ranging from both nonsensical to repetitive. But the dubs just make them SOOOOOO much more fun to watch, as they are pretty much something you would expect from an abridged series, except the zinger is that this is an OFFICIAL dub.
Can you just imagine how much fun the ADR director had penning the scripts for these shows? Or the voice actors’/actresses’ reactions to having to perform said scripts? The whole selling point is in the fact that they all probably just went with it and didn’t really mind at all about the plot or context and just concentrated on how they can make these stories funny. And damn straight they did a fabulous job.
With tons of inside jokes, references, and humour that always pokes fun at the story’s overall madness, these three anime are definitely dubs that are best enjoyed with your friends if you all want something mindlessly entertaining to watch.
Special shoutout(s): EVERYONE FROM THE DAMN CAST OF ALL 3 SHOWS, THE ADR DIRECTORS, AND EVERY EMPLOYEE OF THE DUBBING COMPANIES.
Ok, this one maaay be a bit biased, but hear me out.
This show has one of the most stacked dub-casts that we’ve seen in the industry in a while, and in my opinion, they truly deliver on all the talent that it has. Considering that a lot of the characters aren’t Japanese and there aren’t many cultural references, adapting Fate/Zero into English was for the most part effortless and didn’t have a lot of repercussions as to mistranslations, so errors and awkward scenarios were few and far in between, if at all for that matter.
As for the casts’ performances, they were all amazing to watch and listen to. From Kari Wahlgren’s representation of Saber, to Crispin Freeman’s eerily suave Kotomine Kirei, every one of the dub cast was on-point. Hell, even David Vincent’s Gilgamesh and Bridget Hoffman’s Irisvielle, whom I thought were a bit oddly played at first, eventually grew on me. All the emotion and individual characteristics of each character were represented extremely well by the dub cast, and I’m very thankful that I watched this show in English for my annual rewatch of the series. Seriously, I have no complaints about the dub at all and find it to be one of the better dubs to come out in recent years.
Special shoutout(s): Jamieson Price for his charismatic interpretation of Rider, and Matthew Mercer for doing Kiritsugu’s English dub justice, being able to represent both his cold-hearted suaveness, as well as his emotional moments.
8.) Hellsing/ Hellsing Ultimate
While the original Hellsing series had its own fair share of problems, two things stood out from it that really caused it to be such a big hit: the kickass soundtrack, and the amaaaaaazing dub.
Considering that the series is set in England, in my opinion it just feels more natural to have the characters speak in English, and the cast of Hellsing just nails that department so well. The accents themselves are pretty good with only minor complaints, but nonetheless the dub as a whole just adds another layer to the show’s overall coolness factor, making it a classic dub that will be remembered for just how awesome it is.
Special shoutout(s): Muthaf**king Crispin Freeman. Enough said.
Trigun is an interesting entity. It might not have been such a big hit in Japan, or at all for that matter, but when it came to the West we welcomed it with open arms, eventually declaring it to be a well-loved classic.
And one of the many reasons why it is so referred even today is the dub. Whether it’s the colorful cast of villains, the entertainingly complex protagonists, or even the supporting cast and one-off characters, everyone did their performances beautifully and the whole thing just adds to the already-large enjoyment-factor of the show.
Special shoutout(s): Johnny Yong Bosch, for his wonderfully whimsical performance for Vash the Stampede, being able to convey his goofy and eccentric attitude with his more serious and stoic nature.
This shouldn’t even be explained too much, it’s just Baccano.
It helps that the setting and the whole time-period that the show is in does fit a more Western-style narrative, and so an English cast would be more preferable. However, what really made this dub such a classic are, of course, the performances for every single character of the show.
From J. Michael Tatum and Caitlin Glass’ amazing double act as Isaac and Miria (respectively) to Bryan Massey’s diabolically stellar Lad Russo, every member of the cast was able to bring out the diverse personalities of arguably all the characters and made them work soooooo much better in English. Baccano stands as one of my favorite anime ever, and this dub is a solid reason as to why.
Special shoutout(s): Tough choice, but I’m gonna have to give it to Bryan Massey. Because Lad Russo.
5.) Black Lagoon
Really, do I need to explain this?
Infamous for its excessive profanity, Black Lagoon is just fun fun fun fun and even more fun all wrapped around a solid 10-inch layer of fucks, shits, and more fucks shipped in a giant tank filled to the brim with guns, ammunition, and explosives.
That’s how amazingly epic and badass this dub is. Even in the more emotional moments, the performances never let up, but as a whole it just really shines when the action-y stuff comes up on screen, and whenever it does, oh boy is it loads of testosterone-filled entertainment for everyone.
EVERYONE. Seriously, there is not one thing that I can fault this dub cast for. From Brad Swaile’s rendition of the timid but clever Rock, to Maryke Hendrikse’s no-holds-barred performance as Revy, the whole cast was just an absolute pleasure to watch.
4.) Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt
Oh, look at that: another series infamous for its excessive amount of profanity. This time, with 25000x more Western pop-culture references than you can shake a stick at.
P&S is mindless fun, and the dub greatly reflects that. Swear words, sexual innuendos, references to classic cartoons and movies, ALL of them smashed together to create a wondrous ball of amazing that just sucks you into the show and never lets you go.
Seriously, this is one of those shows where the English dub just simply supersedes the Japanese version, simply because of its style and presentation. Kudos to everyone on the staff for making this gem of a dub.
Special shoutout(s): Jamie Marchie, Monica Rial, and Christopher Sabat. This trio represent the absolute insanity and hilarity of the 3 main protagonists’ dynamic with each other, in addition to having kick-ass performances of their own individual characters.
3.) Death Note
While some people are a bit split on whether they should watch the dub or not, it has always been one clear-cut choice for me. And that’s because this dub is just great.
I found no faults in any of the portrayals. In fact, a lot of them just made the experience a lot better than with just the subbed version, I don’t know why. All I know is that this dub is approaching the “classic”-level of English dubs very quickly.
And with a scene like this, how could it not?
Special shoutout(s): Brad Swaile and Alessandro Juliani for their portrayals of Light and L, respectively. Besides representing their characters oh-so brilliantly, their chemistry and interactions are just as well-portrayed as the Japanese version.
2.) Code Geass
Now this one is probably the show that had the fandom split riiiiight in the middle as to which one they prefer when watching Code Geass. I watched the first season of this show dubbed, and then due to unforeseen circumstances I had to switch to the subbed version for the second season.
But, during my rewatch of the series as a whole, I swayed more to the dub-side of things, not really sure why. Both versions of the show have their merits: Jun Fukiyama definitely did a solid performance as Lelouch, but Johnny Yong Bosch ALSO gave an astounding rendition. Takahiro Sakurai was great as Suzaku, but Yuri Lowenthal was simply exquisite as the character as well. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how I loved the dub as a whole more than the sub. It just works so well, considering that the whole setting is about Britain taking over the world. Maybe not the most solid answer, but I am confident that this is a dub worth checking out.
Special shoutout(s): Johnny Yong Bosch for his cunningly exquisite portrayal of Lelouch vi Britannia, able to show multiple facets of the character’s personality to a high degree.
1.) Cowboy Bebop
It’s Cowboy Bebop.
I don’t have to tell you to watch this, you guys go do that RIGHT NOW.
Arguably the most popular and most revered anime dub ever, Bebop not only holds a special place in the hearts of die-hard fans, but it was also a major influence in the growth and popularity of anime in the West.
Think of it what you will, but you cannot deny how amazing the dub for this show is.
Go. Watch. It.
Special shoutout(s): Seriously, everyone from the cast belongs here for their stellar performances. But, for the sake of the majority, I’ll give it to Steve Blum, because Spike Spiegel is not the same without his smooth-as-ice voice.
Thanks for reading all the way through! There are many many more amazing dubs out there that I didn’t mention, but these are the 10 that I find to be more representative of how good dubs can be. Of course, feel free to disagree with any of the entries in this list in a civilized manner in the comments section and let me know what other dubs you find to be very recommendable.
As per usual, leave a comment down below pertaining to your thoughts on this review, on the anime itself, or if you would like me to review anything. And, speaking of liking, give the review a thumbs-up if you enjoyed it and follow me on twitter @tbs_ken for updates and general shitposting if you feel like doing so.
And, with that, I bid you all adieu. This has been Ken, and I’ll see you guys in the future-
-whenever that may be.