Dubbing has come a long way since the early days when people just didn't take it seriously and they just wanted to put out something that would make anime more accessible to Western audiences. Well, times have really changed since then when not only did dubs improve in quality, but in some cases they even end up being better than that Japanese track as the one thing people just don't realize is that there is good voice acting and bad voice acting on the Japanese side, just like with English dubs. That said, there are shows that are pretty straightforward to dub where a simple translation and style adjustment of the Japanese script would do the job. And then there are those shows that are much more difficult than others to dub. Reasons range from extensive wordplay to lots of singing, as well as stuff that just doesn't translate well to English where that gives script writers a hard time. And of course, there are other factors as well like a large cast, the need for accents, the strenuousness of the voice (just ask Jessica Calvello about that) and the show just feeling awkward to be listened to in Japanese.

So with that, here are what I feel are the ten most difficult shows to dubs in anime. Of course, from a director's standpoint things would be different from mine, but I can tell which shows are going to give ADR directors a tough time more so than others. This comes as Sentai announces that they are dubbing one of the toughest shows out there to dub, a surprising decision seeing that undoubtedly Chihayafuru would not have been dubbed if it had been licensed and released under the normal time frame back when it came out. Is it the toughest show? Read and find out because it's on this list.

10. Teekyu
To start off this list, here is a short where the girls talk fast and the jokes are really cultural with a good number of them not making sense when translated. That kind of dialogue is hard to dub not only because of the speed the characters are speaking, but script writing is such a pain in order to maintain the humor. But the reason why it lands here and not higher up the list is because of its length as two minutes is not very long. That said, this show will almost certainly not see the light of day on home video in America, much less see a dub, so nobody will have to deal with this crazy show.

9. Seiyu's Life
This show is all about voice acting, and while Funimation would love to dub everything, it was a smart decision on their part to pass on dubbing this show. Simply put, this show is meant to be watched only in Japanese. First of all, the VA's for the main trio need to sound like rookies, which is not easy to do even if everybody who became VA's started out in that stage. Then there are the real-life seiyuus that make appearances and it would sound really weird for them to be dubbed over. So putting two and two together here, this is a show just wouldn't work out in any other language.

8. The [email protected]
The general rule of thumb when it comes to dubbing shows with singing is that songs done in a casual setting get dubbed while songs done in a performance setting are not as not only is there the difficulty of pulling it off, but there are also rights issues involved. Singing is much more difficult to dub than straight talk. While I could fill up this list with idol shows, at least may of them can get away with just leaving the songs in Japanese and all of the talk and stuff would be dubbed. Not to mention, VA's are paid to act, not sing, while singers are paid to sing, not act. That kind of stuff makes voice acting idol shows tricky for the Japanese seiyuus. But of the idol shows, I put [email protected] above them all because of the large cast and some of the characters are really difficult to portray like Hibiki, Ritsuko, and the twins. And then there's a lot of singing, though I don't recall any happening outside of performances. While I could make similar arguments to other idol shows like Wake Up Girls, Love Live, UtaPri, and AKB0048, I'm just taking what I feel is the most difficult of them to dub. Seeing that nobody is really interested in bringing this show on BD that there is pretty much zero chance that it will even come to a point where a decision on a dub is made, much less get a dub.

7. Kiniro Mosaic
Sentai wisely passed on dubbing as not only it is from a genre without much marketability, but there is all sorts of wordplay and stuff going on where speaking English is part of the joke. There is plenty of English dialogue being spoken where it is an essential part of the show, and the stuff that goes on between languages just doesn't translate well into English (maybe into other languages, but to joke about English being spoken when the main track is in English just doesn't come off right). That happened in Strawberry Marshmallow and that just didn't work out well when subtitles were in place where Ana is supposed to be speaking English in the Japanese track. And then of course, there would be the need for British accents (though oddly enough, they were not in the Japanese track), as well as all sorts of other ways to make things presentable. And then episode 7 of the second season is where things would have gotten really nightmarish had Sentai decided to dub this where there is so much wordplay and language mixing.

6. Negima
The difficulty in this show has mostly to do with the large number of characters with all sorts of quirks. There are 31 girls in class 2-A, along with other females, and the MC is a young boy. So that means lots of female VA's are needed and not to mention, Negi himself was cast with a female seiyuu. Unlike other shows with large casts, there is the need to consider interaction between each other which makes multicasting much more of cautionary. And of course, the need for Negi and the other British characters to have accents to give this a more authentic feel. Funimation sure is glad to have Greg Ayres able to voice these young characters seeing that the female talent pool was already stretched out back when it was dubbed (though that's not as much the case today with the talent pool much bigger than ever before). As if that wasn't challenging enough, there's a good amount of humor that just doesn't work when directly translated such as the green onions joke in regards to Negi's name.

5. Excel Saga
Lots of things makes this comedy so tough to dub from the jokes, the wordplays, the pop-culture references (which the ADV notes were a big help for), language mixing, and other stuff that's not so easy to translate. But what pushes this show onto the list is Excel's fast-talking mouth. Jessica Calvello experienced firsthand how demanding the role is and had to be replaced because she strained her voice talking at light speed. It's a good thing Matt Greenfield was able to find someone who makes this transition as seamless as possible because that really did a number on Calvello's throat that forced her to take a lot of time off before resuming her career.

4. Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad
There are lots of things in this show that make this all sorts of difficult to dub. First of all, there's a lot of singing involved, and as I have mentioned before, singing is much more difficult to dub than straight speech. In many cases, the songs can be left alone in Japanese as they are in formal performance settings, but not in this show. And more importantly, there's intermixing of English and Japanese dialogue that creates all sorts of problems and it made scripting a nightmare. Knowing just how much of a challenge it was to dub this show that Funimation brought in three veteran directors and together, Mike McFarland, Chris Bevins, and Taliesin Jaffe got really creative. They brought in professional singers to do the singing, while changing the language division with a cultural division.

3. Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju
Rakugo is an artform, one that has a special style and requires a certain composure and style of speech in order it to be high quality stuff. There is just no doing translated rakugo as the style just isn't easy to replicated in any other language. And seeing how it is front and center in this show where high quality rakugo is an absolute must, and that's why I'm not expecting to see this show dubbed if and when it gets released on home video. There's the scripting aspect where things appear as seemingly random stuff, and the actors for the storytellers that are going to have to really step up their game. Experienced and big name seiyuus were brought in for a reason as it is a really crucial aspect to this show, much more so than most other shows.

2. Chihayafuru
Here is the show that motivated me to do this Top 10 list. This is all about karuta and the 100 poems, and to summarize things, the karuta mechanics only make sense in Japanese. There are concepts like k-syllable cards and easily mistaking one card for another based on characters, as well as acting on instinct that makes you vulnerable to committing a fault. Not to mention, dubbing these poems means much more than just simply translating them as they need to read out in poetic fashion, which is extremely difficult to do and perhaps impossible in order to keep the flavor that makes karuta what it is. Then there is the poem reading during the match that has a unique style to it that is not easily replicated in English. So with Sentai deciding to tackle the challenge of dubbing this that they had their work cut out for them and I'm hoping that they find a way to make this presentable given these obstacles.

1. Gintama
And taking the top spot is Gintama. There are lots of reasons why this show makes it to the top. There is a ton of wordplay, as well as jokes and pop culture references that do not translate well into English, and a good amount of it is fast-paced. Above all, what puts this show at the top of the list is the length as there are 300+ episodes in this series, meaning 300+ episodes worth of hyper-strenuous translating, scripting, and acting that makes for something that makes dubbing this show a super-risky proposition. While the episode count alone doesn't warrant inclusion on this list, that is what pushes what is a huge challenge to dub over into the top spot.