Top 10 Worst English-Dubbed Anime
Worst English Voice Acting in Anime History
Please note that this is a list of some of the worst English voice-acted in anime history. By no means are all, or any, of the listed anime bad. What we're talking about here are the big and not-so-big titles that were great in Japanese and would have been just plain better off if they had left the language alone.
These judgments are based on several factors:
- Does the voice match the face?
- Does the voice capture the feeling of the moment?
- Portraying emotions
- Recording quality
- Quality of the anime in question (let's face it, a bad anime is a bad anime)
- Voices' impact on the anime
- Changes in anime due to dubbing
- Impact on anime culture
Also, as these are reviews, so SPOILER ALERT!
#10: Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children
Without a doubt, this is the greatest CG film in history, Japanese or otherwise, with textures and animation well beyond its years. The sequel to the best Final Fantasy game ever created and with the most realistic CG ever seen, even to this day. Advent Children has everything we have come to expect:
- All our favourite characters
- Answers to so many questions
- Perfect blend of technology and magic
- A new buster sword
- Great story
- A perfect sequel
This story has everything... except proper voice actors. While the choice for Sephiroth was good in terms of the sound of his voice, even that didn't compensate for his horrible inability to match his voice with the situation. On top of that, the timing is sometimes off as the actors didn't seem to have paid attention when they were doing this. The worst part is I don't think the American producers even bothered to do a retake on anything and just shotgunned through to get it onto the shelves. Now we all know it was animated for Japanese, but when you screw up a laugh's timing, there's something wrong. And let's not get into detail on how racist they were when they voiced Barret. For the fans, they completely ruined Reno and Rude. And I mean completely.
So if you're going to watch this epically beautiful movie, keep it on Japanese audio and read the subs. If you hate reading subs, either learn to love it or learn some Japanese.
#9: Rurouni Kenshin (Samurai X) 2nd Release
Another masterpiece turned to almost unbearable crap, this anime is one of the biggest to be allowed to hit America and even managed to get aired for two seasons. While it has an extremely compelling story to draw you in, and plenty of comic relief to keep your attention, it was originally one of the very few anime that had perfect English dubbing. However, upon the release of the Blu-ray, the studio decided that it was best to re-dub the series. Why? Two reasons:
- They thought it needed to be a bit more family-friendly (dialogue-wise)
- They felt that some viewers were too dumb to understand the story since it was originally translated almost word-for-word.
The result is not only a disaster, but an insult to the viewers, especially anyone who ever watched the original release. To start off, there were only three of the original voice actors in the entire series, two of which were one-episode characters. Next, you now have poorly-timed voice acting (seems to be a trend again) where it's obviously off the mark (whereas the original's dubbing was spot-on to the point where you couldn't tell it was animated for a different language). Most of the voices don't match the face anymore, and a lot of dialog has been rewritten. The rewriting was truly the hammering of the nail on the coffin. While the premise of the story is still the same, the complexities and genius of the story are lost in translation. On top of that, a lot of the humor and jokes are either lost, changed (dumbed-down), or omitted.
Example (spoiler alert!): There is a scene where Kenshin is on a "break" from training with his master. Incapacitated from fatigue, Kenshin is forced to listen to his master reminisce about embarrassing moments of his past. Revitalized from anger, Kenshin then narrates the legacy of his master and proceeds to list all the man's faults. This entire scene is shortened and part of it was also omitted in the re-release.)
Do yourself a favor. If you want to enjoy this great series in English, just buy the older DVDs.
#8: One Piece
One Piece is another wonderful anime and a great giant, but has some pretty bad shortcomings. While a majority of the voice acting is pretty spot-on, this anime still did worse than a few others. Its biggest fault is emotions: While the bad voice acting was mostly limited to the villains and temporary characters, there's a universal slacking in highly emotional scenes. While there's a lot of hit-and-miss, it's still mostly miss, and does very poorly in capturing moments. Much of the story-telling, drama scenes, and humor scenes are lost due to dull voice acting. The reason this trumps even Rurouni Kenshin is the fact that, at one point, RK had good voice acting.
While some may not agree, there are just certain voices that never really matched and lines that just didn't translate well, like...
- Zorro (While his voice does match, avid anime watchers know his voice more as someone who's exceptionally buff, so it's just plain wrong to hear a strong voice and see someone so scrawny)
- Sanji (Another voice that matches, but when he turns into his perverted love-bird mode, the moment that is supposed to be funny or semi-romantic is gone)
- Bon Clay
- Alvida (Original fat version)
#7: The Sailor Moon Series
Okay, this was not the most well-written anime ever and was more of a chick anime than a guy's or unisex (although most chicks didn't like it, either). However, a lot of its lack of success can be attributed to its exceptionally poor dubbing. Like in the above video, a majority of the screaming throughout the entire series is extremely pathetic and never captures the scene, ever.
First off, as some may know, this series is one of the best anime ever produced in the 90s, despite the half-assed storyline and many loopholes concerning said story. But by no means is this a terrible anime in original Japanese. When first dubbed into English in the late 90s and since, the translators cycled through several different casts almost every season. Initially, there were only four major problems with the dubbing: Serena (Sailor Moon), Luna (the cat), Artemis (the other cat), and Sailor Jupiter.
Serena, a high school girl, gets the voice of a middle-aged hag, the same as Luna, whose human form is supposed to be very young as well. Artemis gets the voice of a 50-year-old who should be announcing sports, even though his human form puts him in the 20-somethings. Finally, while Jupiter's voice matches her looks, it's the most emotionless voice you can hear on the market. Sad, angry, happy, excited, solemn, getting punched in the face, etc.: In every single scenen, there's no change in her emotions, or rather there's no emotion at all.
As the seasons advanced, the translating studios hired different casts to replace existing ones, trying to make them "correct." However, the more they replaced, the worse the voice acting got. While the timing never suffered, the voices themselves did. Voices stopped matching faces, a lot of the sound-effects were lowered (sometimes made completely inaudible), and BGM (which are pretty well-written in the later seasons) were lowered or even replaced with an American take (which 90% of the time in dubbed anime, ends up terrible. i.e. the Dragonball Z opening theme).
Long story short, guys, keep that dial on Japanese.
#6: Yu Yu Hakusho Movies (Poltergeist Report and Golden Seal)
Okay, this is a kick ass anime series and one of the few that was perfect in English dubbing. However, the two movie OVAs sucked like no others. Talk about a super bummer on an awesomely written series.
While Golden Seal has some similar sounding voice actors from the series, it was still an extreme flop with getting voices that matched. On top of the fact that it was early 90s dubbing (which means bad timing, too), the 2011 re-release did not see a re-casting. Not at all. The movie was sold solely on its name, and anyone who's seen the old VHS/DVD copies knows how bad it is. Apparently, Funimation felt it unnecessary to fix something that was broken.
Poltergeist Report, despite being a later release, was even worse. Not only were 99% of the voices completely off (except Botan), the timing was off, and the sound effects were dramatically reduced to the point where the voices sometimes overshadow them. And if that wouldn't be enough to piss you off, real fans will notice that half the characters' names are mispronounced constantly throughout the movie.
#5: Astro Boy
Okay, guys, we all knew this was gonna make the list. Debuting in America in 1963, we go through almost 30 years of voice-acting hell thanks to this little buster. Considering the date, you all should already know the stereotyping for anything prior to the 90s so I won't bore you by describing how badly the dubbing was done.
#4: Dragon Ball Franchise
Let's face it, you all knew it was coming. While the translation of this anime has greatly increased its popularity and also the number of people opening up to the anime world, the English dubbing of this franchise is an utter disgrace to the anime itself, and its original fans. Aside from dubbing problems, you have the heaviest amount of censoring and dialogue/story rewrites across the board.
We'll admit, first and foremost, that Goku is the only character that has been properly dubbed. Compared to his Japanese counterpart who sounds like a whiny little high-pitched brat, the English Goku is a much better alternative, and let's not even mention the constant switches in voice actors in the Chinese dubbed episodes and movies.
The voices for all the characters are overly "cartoony" and the constant recycling of voice actors on different characters is extremely obvious. It's a classic example of exceptionally high budget and extremely low return. The accents of all the characters (for example: Krilin and Vegeta) are over-emphasized with their faces and just end up sounding like complete garbage.
On top of the unbearable voice acting, you also have the tampered dialogue and extremely cheesy one-liners. Any true anime fan would want to slit their wrists after only a few minutes of this murderous use of the English language.
#3: Naruto Franchise
Alright, all you Narutards, you have to admit, this is an absolute abomination in English. Having been crowned by American fans as "The New Dragonball Z," this anime franchise is the biggest to hit Japan and the world in over 20 years. Having a fan base larger than the Dragonball franchise in its first year of release (and wouldn't be dubbed for another good eight years), the Naruto Franchise is the biggest translation flop from Viz Media's history, and so terrible that even Funimation can feel good about itself in all respects.
For some people who don't know, Viz Media and Viz Publishing is the biggest advocates in exposing the West to anime and manga that are among the upper echelons of quality and popularity. Even back in the 90s, they introduced the best in English-dubbed anime, including Street Fighter. One would think that with their history, Viz would do well with this big name in anime society, but it truly set them back.
The English version of the Naruto franchise has absolutely no voices that match the characters. Aside from the voice mismatches, the actors try too hard to mimic the original VAs so much that they end up sounding even worse. This stacks exponentially as you hear the terrible translation (plus additions or omissions) of catchphrases. It turns even some of the most dramatic and downright serious moments into mere jokes.
Do not even attempt to listen to the English version because I can guarantee that your ears will bleed.
#2: Yu-Gi-Oh Franchise
It's time to d-d-d-d-d... oh, screw it. Excuse me while I go vomit in the corner. One of the grandest anime ever created (despite the dodgy storyline) and one that even has its own nationally and internationally recognized card game and tournaments, the YGO franchise is literally one of the most brilliantly written anime ever to grace the screen. However, it had one fatal flaw: Toei Animation sold all rights to 4Kids Entertainment.
This English-dubbed anime is truly the definition of an abomination. Not only has this disgusting company changed many parts of the story, but it has thoroughly brought out some seriously racist and downright ugly voice acting. While making sure that over 90% of the voices were terrible, they also had to make a lot of them as racist as possible. Brooklyn, Australia, India, China, etc. There are no limits to the butchering of the voice acting.
On top of that, it led to editing that is not seen anywhere else in the world. We're talking funds wasted on changing an entire line of printings of cards across the world, and video editing of the anime. Originally, cards were shown as they do in real life, situations were more realistic, and the story was more serious and dramatic. However, having the sole rights to the YGO franchise, 4Kids Entertainment has gotten away with murder in killing a story that rivaled even Death Note.
Japanese versions of this anime are very low in number, and 4Kids Entertainment has gone far out of their way to make sure it stays that way, knowing that should the original cut be openly available, their sales will drop to absolutely nothing.
Do yourself a favor, just skip this anime. It's not worth the tears of a true fan.
#1: Speed Racer (Original Release)
Yes, here it is, #1. The absolute worst English-dubbed anime of all time. This anime is the cause of all bad anime stereotypes to date and is the reason anime almost completely lost its popularity in the West. It almost single-handedly prevented all anime from coming to the West. Due to the release of this series, low-quality productions like Total Drama, Adventure Time, and China Illinois were allowed to develop and come to be. Had Speed Racer not been released, we might have seen a much better evolution in animated quality in the West, rather than a trending devolution.
This anime has a boundless list of terrible voice acting: poorly-timed speech, sarcastic emotions, and inabilities to capture even the most basic moments. There is never a single time where the voices actually portray what is going on, even something as simple as taking a bite out of a sandwich. And this is merely a small chip off the overwhelming pyramid of garbage that makes it fall short of even mediocrity.
Though the animation and story-telling are far beyond its time, the dubbing of this anime ruins any of its good qualities. If you ever saw the original Japanese release, you will cry rivers of blood upon hearing just one minute of the English dubbed version.