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Gintama Dub Discussion

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  • Gintama Dub Discussion

    Widgets Magazine
    Since I posted quite a bit about the previous dub when it was no more than the first compilation movie that didn't represent Gintama as a whole very well and now it has a completely new one for the actual series with a full cour right off the bat and more coming weekly (albeit starting hundreds of episodes in), I feel that I should probably do the same for this. In fact, since a lot of my thoughts are inevitably going to revolve around comparing the dub actors to the seiyuu, the fact that I now have other dub actors to compare against as well just gives me more to go on.

    I have currently watched the dub of episodes 266-274.

    First of all, the easiest thing to pick out is pronunciation. From the start, we hear "Gintama" and "Gintoki Sakata" exactly the way you'd expect from old dubs that pronounce all Japanese names the way an American with no experience with them would guess from looking at them, with the emphasis on the second syllable in all of those cases. This is still a hit-or-miss matter in dubs, but most of the big ones put a lot of care into correct pronunciations. Funimation dubs have some of both, unsurprisingly due in large part to the ADR director; Mike McFarland in particular clearly makes sure all the pronunciations in his dubs are perfect. Bang Zoom! dubs are pretty reliable these days, especially for Aniplex shows (this also makes sense, since Aniplex has a producer overseeing all their dubs), with notable exceptions such as the protagonist's name from their "Erased" dub being mispronounced in that typical old way for some reason. Compared to Sentai, though, not only full of those same mispronunciations but the far worse situation of inconsistent pronunciations, almost any modern dub is better. But as the series goes on, it turns out that not nearly as many names are mispronounced as that first scene might've suggested, and in fact... it seems to have its own inconsistent pronunciations, though not nearly as bad as Sentai. It's worth noting, though, that for the most part, they actually nail a lot of the pronunciations quite well, which was pleasantly surprising. Sometimes it does feel a little unnatural, which is another alternative less preferable than a simple mispronunciation, so you get some of everything here, for better or worse.

    Another interesting note that arises from the vulgarities and references to other properties inherent to the comedic series proper is that there's actually censorship in the dialogue. Now Gintama does have some of this for both of these cases, but it's often a quiet ding that doesn't actually obscure the words being said. This dub does retain some of these, but also completely bleeps out other lines, both in the case of filthy language and explicit names of characters from other series, like Piccolo. But then... even this isn't always true; they say other characters' names just fine, as well as some words that generally aren't allowed on TV. So that's strange, and it's all a shame, but I suppose the concept of bleeping isn't unprecedented for Gintama either.

    The script adaptation is naturally critical for any dub, but it requires greater attention to detail with comedy series full of very Japanese humor and puns, and there are few examples as extreme as Gintama, one of the biggest reasons it's my favorite anime that I was quite okay with never being dubbed. The first movie was just a compilation of a "serious arc" from the series, so Sentai didn't have to worry about these issues much, but this team has the full challenge in front of them. It's a fine line to walk between not just taking the literal script from the Japanese version when it makes no sense in English and maintaining the integrity of the series. This dub seems to do a pretty decent job at adapting these lines into clever equivalents for an English audience, enough that I didn't experience anything particularly distracting on either side of the line, although I'm pretty sure the subtitles already did a good amount of the work for them.

    Michael Daingerfield as Gintoki: Chris Patton's Gintoki sacrificed most of Sugita's tone in favor of keeping more of his attitude, which is arguably more important. Michael returns to a deeper voice for the character, but occasionally sounds a bit dull. When he really gets into the comedy, though, he feels like a worthy English Gintoki, interestingly sounding quite a bit like Chris himself, although neither are anywhere near Sugita's iconic performance. Once Michael sings a terrified rendition of the Doraemon theme, though, I have to give him a lot of credit.

    Cole Howard as Shinpachi: Since Shinpachi exists primarily as a tsukkomi, being able to nail that is essential to his depiction. Cole's voice gets a bit grating as he goes on these rants, which hurts the role a great deal. There was little chance they could get anyone to stand up to Sakaguchi's tsukkomi perfection, but that doesn't mean it couldn't be any better than this. In normal conversation, though, he's perfectly fine, so it's not as if he's the worst they have to offer.

    Jocelyne Loewen as Kagura: While Jocelyne is the worst voice of Kagura yet, that's only because her competition is Rie Kugimiya and Luci Christian, the best voice actors in each prior version of the series. By any other standard, she's still probably one of the best voice actors in the dub. She has Kagura's spunk down pretty well, but otherwise she sounds a bit too much like any normal (appropriately cute) girl when Kagura is meant to have some distinctive vocal ticks.

    Janyse Jaud as Tae: Most of what we've gotten to hear from Tae thus far primarily requires a great deal of sweetness but also a sharp edge, and Janyse displays the necessary range well.

    Chantal Strand as Tama: For some reason, characters who have to sound like characters while also being robots tend to sound more natural in Japanese than English. That's how Tama feels, but when the only thing that initially seems off is that she sounds successfully robotic, it probably means Chantal is doing a good job.

    Jason Simpson as Kondo: I have to prefer David Wald's Kondo; there's nothing wrong with either, but Jason doesn't really sound as deep or absurd as the character demands.

    Michael Adamthwaite as Hijikata: Conversely, Hijikata was voiced by the unlikely Blake Shepard in Sentai's dub, while Michael is a far more fitting choice. There's a bit more nuance to Nakai's Hijikata overall, but Michael gets the gruffness and the mood of Hijikata as much as one could ask for.

    Vincent Tong as Okita: Having done very little other anime and nothing else I've seen, Vincent is totally just Matsuda from Death Note to me, so I was worried that that's all I'd hear from the very different character of Okita, but fortunately he has a more impressive range than I might've given him credit for, and while Clint Bickham was also a pretty excellent choice, Vincent is a fine replacement.

    Adrian Petriw as Yamazaki: Yamazaki is such a Yamazaki. He's probably the only character at his level of screen time without a star seiyuu, his Sentai voice actor would've been a good choice if he wasn't already playing one of the three other members of the Shinsengumi, and his new voice actor fits right in. So no, he doesn't sound great, but he sounds like Yamazaki. For what that's worth.

    Advah Soudak as Kyubei: There's a lot to capture around Kyubei's unique gender position, and I'm not hearing that from Advah enough to be confident in English Kyubei at this point.

    Matt Ellis as Katsura: Similarly, Katsura is a very involved character, and Ishida always impresses with the versatility he presents. Illich Guardiola is a great actor although some can find his thick accent distracting, but Matt just sounds too plain when Katsura demands a lot more.

    Andrew Francis as Sakamoto: If I ever had any doubt about Andrew's Sakamoto, it gets remedied every time he does that signature laugh so perfectly.

    Marlie Collins as Tsukuyo: We only get to hear a bit of Tsukuyo's comedic side here, so there's a lot of her character not represented, but like Advah's Kyubei, it seems like there should be more complexity to the character.

    Bonus: At this point, almost any studio can have access to voice actors who have been in one Dragon Ball dub or another. Since a slightly altered Piccolo speaks in the first two episodes, it should be a given that a Canadian dub including many Vancouver actors would get Scott McNeil for that little cameo, which is greatly appreciated.

    Overall, this dub is playing out better than my admittedly very low expectations. The Sentai dub was already somewhat painful to sit through even for just one movie without many of the aspects that make Gintama so hard to dub, so to be able to more or less enjoy the experience of watching the Gintama series with this dub is impressive enough. The Sentai dub was clearly a very quick, cheap experiment to see if simply having a dub attached to the franchise would boost sales enough to warrant licensing any more, so if it had succeeded perhaps they would've put in some real effort for the series (and recast most of the characters, since they just recycled the same few people who happened to be in the studio for everyone), but it still surprised me to see this dub, which was just dumped out on Crunchyroll with 265 episodes having been skipped, appear to have a decent amount of effort past the bare minimum. Honestly the voices do get under my skin more than I've let on, but I acknowledge that that's due in large part to my bias to the Japanese version, which will of course always be better than any dub of the series could ever be.
    Last edited by GingaDaiuchuu; 02-02-2017, 12:30 AM.
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