Extra: Kids don’t need the culturez

If you’ve been around since the good ol’ Toonami days, back when they pretty much played anime and little else, you’ll get where this article is going pretty fast. For you flesh bloods out there, here’s the low down (and you might be noticing this based on what kinds of streams you watch, as well): Anime that targets the very young, be that All Ages or even some PG works, often get denied a subtitled version.

That’s right. They are denied a sub, the cheapest translation option available to a US company. After all, without the need to hire actors, the company need only focus on the actual translator(s). That’s a heck of a lot cheaper. In fact, more than a a few companies as of late have been offering subtitle only shows as a way to cut costs and get the product ready for sale faster. In light of this, why in heaven’s name would a company go out of their way to create a more pricey dubbed version and exclude any basic subtitled version? The answer links right back into the ol’ localization trap, which I’ve touched on before. Remember Brock’s “donuts?”

There are, of course, practical reasons. Most companies opt for the dub only for kids shows in the hopes that these shows will be aired on broadcast television, making a dub a requirement. These shows usually don’t count on being sold, only televised, making the subtitled version unnecessary. They also count on the fanbase remaining in the young ages the show is intended for, which often end up too young to read at the speed needed for shows with subtitles. That said, I can’t help but wonder if the United States would still have such low reading ability as a whole if we would only stop expecting kids to be idiots and actually challenged them once in awhile. Just as with localizing cultural elements and phrases, forcing a show into a different language it wasn’t intended for and not releasing the original is based on the assumption that the audience won’t be able to handle or enjoy the show in its original form.

And, yes, while there are some that prefer the dub for a variety of reasons (it’s less work, they wish to focus on the show rather than reading, they enjoy English actors/voices, they’re slow readers, etc), more than half of these same dub only shows also experience heavy editing and localization. Considering that most kids today struggle not only with reading their own native language, but also have no idea about other cultures or where Japan is on a globe, I personally think it would do some good to show kids that, hey, your nation isn’t the only one on the planet and, hey, there are languages other than English out there and they’re all beautiful in their own way. Forcing everything down into an English only mold isn’t just more costly for anime companies in the US, it also encourages a rather narrow minded view of the world we live in.

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About inrosegalaxy

Raised on everything from Moby Dick to the Star Wars X-Wing books from a young age, it came as no surprise to anyone who knew me that I’d become a literature graduate and avid writer. But my love of a good story wasn’t restricted to the written word in my early years. Star Trek, Mystery Science Theater 3000, and badly dubbed Godzilla flicks helped shape my love of science fiction on screen as well. I wrote my first story while in the second grade. It was a horrifying tale about murdering a fairy-eating dog via a slice of pizza (in my defense, my only exposure to pizza was in the cafeteria and I swear you could legitimately kill someone with those things). I was a special snowflake. Today I write science fiction, fairy tales, Gothic epistolaries, fantasy and anything else that pops into my bizarre and twisted mind. I write new articles for my blog every Tuesday and Thursday. And if you happen to fancy Japanese animation, I also run an anime review blog, RRAR, which updates every Monday.

2 thoughts on “Extra: Kids don’t need the culturez

  1. I heard anecdotes back in the 90s about anime being released in the US on separate sub/dub VHS releases that may also factor into dub-only preferences.

    All else being equal (price point, availability, etc), dubs outsold subs by about 4 to 1.

    I’m firmly of the opinion that DVDs saved commercial subtitling since it meant that both could be made available in the same package…

    • But is the increase in sale enough to cover the cost of dubbing? Dubbing means having not JUST a translator, but sound mixers, voice actors, directors, dub script writers and more. More people involved means more money to be spent in production.
      There were indeed different VHS available for some stuff depending on preferences, but often the dub were still edited 50% of the time, because, again, broadcasting dreams. Not that they all actually got aired over here, sadly.

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