Fans find more limited anime language options


POSTED: Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Back in the old days of translated anime in the United States, fans who wanted to buy anime on VHS tapes had to choose whether they wanted to get the version with English-dubbed audio or the one with Japanese audio and English subtitles.

The advent of DVDs changed that. Thanks to increased storage capacity, fans could have the best of both worlds. If they didn't want to spend half their time reading the screen, they could choose the dubbed option. If the thought of seeing their series of choice utterly bludgeoned by an English adaptation that wasn't particularly appealing, the subtitled version was only a menu click away.

It's an option that seems to be sadly on the wane in recent months as publishers cut back on costs. DVDs with subtitle-only versions are on the rise; aside from Funimation and Viz, publishers don't seem inclined to produce English dubs except for their biggest releases. ADV Films' disintegration has also meant fewer jobs for English voice actors, although it is nice to see that the former ADV dubbing studio, now known as Seraphim Digital Studios, will be working on the dubbed version of “;Halo Legends,”; the anime based on the popular video game franchise.

The result: More fan-favorite voice actors are retreating from the business. Hilary Haag, known for her cutesy-with-a-touch-of-psycho turns in such roles as Milk in “;The Super Milk-chan Show,”; Rebecca Miyamoto in “;Pani Poni Dash”; and Tessa in the various “;Full Metal Panic”; series seem to have disappeared from the industry. Greg Ayres, a former Kawaii Kon guest and the voice of Negi in “;Negima!”; and Koyuki in “;Beck,”; announced his semiretirement at the Nekocon anime convention in Hampton, Va., a few weekends ago. More are likely to follow if this trend keeps up.

Then there's the announcement from Bandai Entertainment last week regarding one of its upcoming releases, “;Kurokami.”; The DVD release will feature six episodes, with options for dubbed or subtitled versions. The Blu-ray release will feature four episodes and the dubbed version - and that's it.

It's a curious move, especially considering Blu-ray is supposed to be the next-generation DVD, offering not only high-definition images, but also more storage space - space that could, of course, house two more episodes and the Japanese audio. But the reason for the split release, Bandai representatives told Anime News Network, was that the license for the Japanese audio was turned down for the U.S. Blu-ray release.

In a time when anime needs to be more accessible than ever to expand its audience, the industry instead seems to be taking steps to fracture it further. I can't be the only one who sees that these moves can only hurt in the long run.

Meeting roll call

» Aiea Library Anime Club: 3 p.m. Saturday at the library, 99-143 Moanalua Road. This month, librarian Diane Masaki will be screening the first few episodes of “;Kiddy Grade,”; a series that I wrote about in 2005 (http://www.hsblinks.com/18s). For more information or to RSVP, e-mail Masaki at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Batman, Wolverine and the X-Men are characters commonly associated with American comics. That's nice and all but my beat is manga. Solution? Meet the manga-fied versions of these superheroes in “;Drawn & Quartered”; in the Sunday Today section ... and see whether they're worth your time and money.