Despite the popularity, sometimes an anime just can’t be translated and retain its charm. Here are some examples to help explain why.
English dubs have come a long way since companies started distributing anime in the West. Although every once in a while there’s a dub that doesn’t do the original series justice, for the most part they’re pretty decent. Gone are the days of 4Kids changing rice balls into donuts, as many companies now try to retain cultural origins. Despite the improvements in the dubbing, there are still a number of series that have yet to receive their own English dub, one of which is the smash hit Monogatari.
For years, Nichijou was one of the best-known examples of a popular anime without an English dub. This was due to licensing issues, which resulted in the series only being available with subs for eight years. An additional theory for the delay was due to the show’s niche humor and pun. Many of his jokes require at least some knowledge of Japanese culture, which means many casual anime fans probably wouldn’t immediately understand them.
This same reasoning could apply to Monogatari animated. It’s also rooted in Japanese culture, and requiring some understanding of that culture might also explain why there hasn’t been an English dub yet. Sometimes the translation of certain jokes and puns just doesn’t work, and when a series revolves heavily around them, it may be best to leave it as is and provide subtitles instead.
One title that appears on lists that anime fans would like to see dubbed is The garden of sinnersalso known as Kara no Kyoukai. It started as a series of light novels and received seven anime films produced by ufotable between 2007 and 2009, then an OVA in 2011 and a final film in 2013. None of them received an English dub, while the boxes have not been available since. 2013. The story takes place in an alternate universe in the Fate/Stay Night series and the Tsukihime series.
Animation companies want to see a return on their investment, so spending money to dub a series that they think won’t be suitable for Western audiences is generally seen as a risk not worth taking. . If the subtitled versions work well or if a reputable company wants to distribute them, they will often consider a dubbed version. Unfortunately, many series go unnoticed and are not promoted as much as others. Light novels have recently started to be localized for Western audiences, which has helped certain series gain popularity.
Despite the popularity of anime as a whole in recent years, some production companies don’t think the risk is worth it, especially for stories that rely heavily on Japanese cultural knowledge or puns. Sometimes a company just sits on a license and hopes someone offers a high fee for the rights, which will also result in a lack of distribution or localization. Many series do not perform well overall, even in their home country of Japan.
Although there were some exceptions, such as ghost stories, many of these anime won’t even be considered for dubbing because they did so poorly with Japanese fans. That said, the rise of streaming services has certainly helped some shows get English dubs. As the anime industry continues to grow, we hope more companies will start providing voiceovers for the series, regardless of their performance in Japan. Different cultures like different things, and what may not be popular in one country may be in another.
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