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Porco Rosso (1992 JAL Dub)

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  • Porco Rosso (1992 JAL Dub)

    Widgets Magazine
    Whenever I hear people declare loudly that the pre-Disney dubs are all inordinately superior to their current counterparts for the Ghibli dubs, it's always enough to make me wonder if I was wrong to assume that the current ones are good. Now in the case of Totoro I can sort of see the point, as that older dub WAS genuinely good (although I really don't have any problems with the Disney one aside from the sometimes iffy OP/ED songs). Kiki's older dub isn't too bad either -- although it could be that both were fortunate to be helmed by skillful hands (Greg Snegoff). Even then, however, the Disney version is my preferred choice for that film. With Laputa I firmly attest that the Disney dub, for all its minor faults, is superior to the embarrassingly laughable and cringeworthy '80s dub no matter what. Even if there WERE fans who loudly attested otherwise. The same is true of Porco Rosso. I had long been aware of the existence of this alternate dub for JAL, but I had never actually seen it, as I first saw this movie in Japanese, and ultimately preferred the Disney dub. The JAL dub has very few fans, but some say it's better than the current version. Sadly, when I tried listening to it, the opposite turned out to be true.

    While Porco Rosso isn't my favorite Disney-Ghibli dub, it's a far more competent and skillfully executed production than this '90s JAL dub. Like Laputa's older dub, it's an embarrassingly laughable, poorly executed, hokey-sounding dub that sounds like it should be for a cut-rate Saturday Morning Cartoon, or rather, a bad Hong Kong dub. Trust me, it's AWFUL. The script adaptation, aside from being guilty of omitting the last part of Gina's speech at the end of the film, doesn't sound particularly polished or well written. I have the feeling that whoever wrote this script was not skillful in adapting Anime in general.

    The voices, however, are what really bring down the JAL dub. I know viewers are divided about Michael Keaton's turn as the title character in the Disney dub, but one listen to his counterpart on the JAL dub, Barry Gjerde, and I have to attest that Keaton does the better job. Now in all fairness, I can sorta see Porco having the sort of voice Barry uses, but his turn as Porco sounds even more detached than Keaton. Particularly embarrassing is a slow, drawn-out, "the dirty rotten scu-u-um." His laugh also sounds very phoned in, forced, and frankly, not very convincing. Even the scenes where he's supposed to raise his voice never once ring true. He's guilty of overacting as well. Most cringeworthy example: "Shut u-u-u-u-up. Just get out of here and leave us alo-o-o-o-one." Seriously, it's laughable and doesn't match the visuals on screen at all. (It also sounds strangely like Cam Clarke's similarly cringeworthy turn as Kaneda from Akira.)

    The Mamma Aiutto boss isn't much better. Brad Garret's boisterously gravelly turn was funny and entertaining, and his JAL counterpart is funny, too… for all the wrong reasons. The voice is distractingly cartoony, sounding like he should be Rocky and Bullwinkle. The only humor to be gained from JAL's turn is the kind of "so bad it's funny" kind of delivery. The rest of the pirates fare no better. They all sound either wooden or embarrassingly cartoony. The occasional accents are hokey as well.

    Curtis' voice itself doesn't sound too awful when he's talking normally, but there's something about his performance that feels off. He doesn't put enough energy into the scenes where he's supposed to be aggressive. I also found myself laughing when he said "the damn thing's stu-u-uck". "Shut up sausage face" is also pretty laughable. Not a very good sign. His worst moment is when he's chasing Porco through the clouds. When he yells "Don't be a chicken, pig. Fight me now," he doesn't put any emotion into the scene, and it doesn't match with the visuals at all. He also overacts in the wrong moments; his proposal to Gina scene in particular comes across as though he's not really taking the role seriously and hamming it up with no major nuance. I think his actor could have done a much better job with better voice direction. At best, his turn is mediocre. One notable thing is that he doesn't use a Southern accent like Cary Elwes does. Some fans have criticized Elwes' turn for that accent, but he brings something to the role of Curtis that his JAL counterpart does not: gusto and swagger. His performance has a lot more life to it than his JAL counterpart.

    The exchange between Porco and Curtis when they're in the clouds is badly acted, too: "Buzz off, sausage breath!" and "Take your fight an' stuff it, I'm on vacatio-o-on!" The only humor I got from that scene was, again, "this is so bad it's laughable." It's stilted as well.

    Even Gina is disappointing. Her Japanese vocal for the song is retained, but her voice is neither sultry enough to convey Gina's occasional flirty nature, nor even emotional for her vulnerable moments. The phone exchange between her and Porco in particular falls flat on its face. She speeds through her lines and is totally devoid of emotion. She sounds like she's READING, not acting. Susan Egan is much more passionate and emotional in this scene by comparison. Actually, the same is true for the rest of Egan's turn as opposed to her dull JAL counterpart.

    It's interesting to note that Mr. Piccolo also speaks with an Italian accent and has a deeper voice, but his voice actor lacks charm and character. Again, he comes across as very cartoonish in both his voice and delivery. David Ogden Stiers' turn is much warmer and funnier by comparison.

    The only halfway decent voice in the older dub could arguably be Fio; at least she doesn't strike me as miscast. But even then, her acting is a serious step below Kimberly Williams-Paisley. A lot of her lines come across as very awkward, like "great li-i-ines." Even scenes where she's supposed to express aggressive spunkiness come across as distressingly wooden. There are also some really badly delivered lines such as "Greeeat! I've already talked to the factory! I'll order them right away! You're great, Marco." There are a few moments when she comes across as decent (like the scene where she talks with Porco on the beach at night), but even then her delivery is hampered by some unnatural, Shatneresque pauses in the script. Kimberly was clearly enjoying herself from the start, and for that her performance is superior.

    The final thing I should mention is that the lip-sync is absolutely atrocious, with lines coming across as poorly timed to the mouth movements, with obvious gaping mouths. It only gives the feel of a bad Hong Kong dub.

    It really is no wonder that this older dub isn't fondly remembered. I wouldn't be the least be surprised if Carl Macek was similarly displeased with it. Like Laputa's older dub, I could only stand a couple of seconds from this older dub of Porco, to the point where it was impossible for me to listen to anymore. That's how embarrassingly bad it is. If anything, it only proved to me that the Disney version is superior.

    Still, for the morbidly curious, here's some comparison clips:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDCUNECqCFo - Porco VS Curtis in the Clouds
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbiWqJsOpr8 - Fio, Curtis, the pirates, and Porco
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWuBjnOgg2w - Porco & Gina phonecall scene (This part shows why the Disney version is superior; the JAL version of this is just awful, especially Gina's shockingly lifeless "Jerk" as she slams down the phone.)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqRwal5JErE - This shows Piccolo, Fio, and Porco.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuFpZCJOs64 - "The dirty rotten scu-u-um!" VS "You really expect me to wait here?"
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpFHVTLbrm8 - Curtis attempts to court Gina
    Last edited by JTurner; 11-14-2015, 01:19 AM. Reason: merged two posts
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