The Age-Old Question

Greetings, members of the White Lotus! Y'all ready for this?

As long as weeb and otaku kind can remember, this debate has ravaged our community. It has turned brother against brother, friend against friend. The mere answer to this question could make a person turn their nose up at you or gag in response. This three-word question holds more weight than Goku after an all-you-can-eat buffet.

The question: SUBS or DUBS?

Before I get into it, I'm gonna give y'all who don't know some info on what this actually is.

Subs or subbed anime is when a show is at its purest form straight from Japan and subtitles are added to help non-Japanese speakers understand conversation.

Dubs or dubbed anime is when the show is dubbed over its original audio, usually in English.

So before I give you my personal preference, I'll give you some good things about both (yes, both. Just hear me out, okay?)

Let's start with dubs, because alphabetical order:

1) Dubs are good for gateway and casual watching

Anime at its core is just cartoons from a different country. However, the prospect of watching something in a language unfamiliar to your own can seem pretty daunting. But when it's in your own language, you become more open to the art style and storyline. Many an otaku started their journey watching Toonami late night on Adult Swim, their eyes glued to the screen as shows like Cowboy Bebop, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Yu Yu Hakusho held their last few hours of attention. Some, like myself, started on Kids WB Saturday morning cartoons with Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh. And if you're at work, working out, or just wanting something as background noise for doing whatever (I'm actually watching Seven Deadly Sins as I write this), dubbed is the way to go. Many sub watchers know that if you look away from your screen for even a second, you could miss a whole scene or an important plot point. With dubs, you just have to listen for certain cues and conversation if you need to look up. So dubs might be more your speed if you're working out, putting on makeup, or even making a cup of tea (mild plug, no regrets).

2) Dubs are good for a certain continuity

In some cases, dubs help progress continuity. This is a small point but a point nonetheless. So in certain instances, especially in music-focused anime, dubs can keep a certain consistency within a show. For example, in Carole & Tuesday (yes, there's a tea in the shop named after them), they go from conversation to singing more often than not. And all of the songs, sans ones by side characters, are all in English. So watching this subbed isn't exactly cohesive with the music itself.

3) Dubs help showcase location and accents

So anime comes from Japan. Duh. And most anime settings are of course in Japan. But sometimes settings are in different countries or characters travel to different countries and everything is still in Japanese. However, in dubs like Black Butler which takes place in Victorian England, you can hear the English accents from the main characters and varying accents from characters not from England. For shows like Hetalia, where the different countries are actually turned into people, it's nice to hear their accents (as dramatic as they are). Same goes with a shonen-ai favorite, Yuri!!! On Ice. Yurio's Russian accent is the icing on the cake with him being in a constant state of anger. And the other skaters' accents from all over the world can be heard better in English.

Alright, Lotus, let's get to the subs:

1) Subs have continuity

So same point for the subs. A little copy/paste here: anime comes from Japan. Duh. And most anime settings are of course in Japan. So certain cities and locations are better pronounced by the native speakers as VAs (voice actors). Also in some cases, there are language switches when characters interact with characters of different nationalities or go to different countries. For example, in Free! the Anime, when Rin and Haru visit Australia, everyone there is speaking English and Rin actually switches between Japanese and English when talking to his former host family and translating for Haru. It was hella cute, not gonna lie.

2) Subs are great to help you learn Japanese

Immersion is an amazing way to learn a language. When watching something in a different language with subtitles, you tend to pick up on repeated words and connect them with the translation, especially common phrases like "thank you" and "what?" (NANI?!) that are used often in basic conversation. Plus, there are sites like that have been specifically to help you learn Japanese while watching the shows you already like. You can't go wrong with that.

3) Subs give a bit more depth

Hey, sometimes things get lost in translation. It happens. So sometimes translations from Japanese subbed to English dubbed can have a few holes it. And some watchers don't like swiss cheese so they go for the subs.

So what's my preference?

My reasons:

1) Sometimes one version sounds better than the other

Because I am a musician and a scholar of the musical arts, I rely heavily on my sense of hearing more often than not. Some subs to me (Free! for example) sound better with Japanese VAs than with American VAs. And vice versa. I prefer to hear the voices of Black VAs in Cannon Busters than Japanese ones. And I also don't speak Japanese well enough to be able to tell if the voice acting is actually good or not. But if the VAs in the English version just don't suit my fancy, off to the subs I go!

2) It's not that hard to flip flop, especially if you're impatient

Subs aren't as daunting as they seem to be. It's just reading words at the bottom of the screen which opens plenty of doors to more subbed media to get into other than anime. And sometimes the dubbing lags compared to just getting subs right after they air in Japan. If you started in dubs, some shows like Attack on Titan has incredibly matched VAs so they sound very similar no matter what language is being spoken.

At the end of the day, just don't shame someone for how they like to watch. It's okay to tease a bit but refrain from making fun of and causing harm to people in our community that just want to have a good time and enjoy some content.

So how do you like to watch your anime: Dubs or Subs? Lemme know in the comments.

Sip Savory and Spill Responsibly! I'll see you next Tuesday!

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