Updates Wednesdays

Comic 355 - Sub vs Dub

Posted on Wednesday, the 1st of May at 12:00 AM, 2019 in 2019

Author Notes:

DanVzare Wed, 1. May 12:00 AM, 2019 edit delete
Something that I've noticed is that people who watch subtitles, all have what I call the "subtitle superiority complex" where they deem dubs to always be inferior. And for the most part, no one ever disagrees with them. It's like the PC vs Console debate. Everyone knows that the PC is better, so we let them use the term "PC Master Race" in a non-ironic way.
(And while I prefer PC also, I'll always try to play AAA games on a console just because of the DRM. If you need to know why, look up Assassin's Creed Origins.)

But I'm going to do the unthinkable and take a stand, and actually say that dubs are superior to subs.

Now let me explain why through a series of rebuttals to common arguments. Do keep in mind that these arguments only work for English dubs. Since different countries dub at different qualities. Also, it's mostly aimed towards anime, but not entirely.

"The voice acting in dubs is terrible."
The only time I've seen such terrible voice acting that it's worth pointing out, is on old video games such as House of the Dead and Resident Evil. Not only were those video games (which usually had bad voice acting anyway), but these days most voice acting is pretty good. And generally they hire professional voice actors with a lot of experience. Besides, unless you can speak the original language (in which case why are you watching a dub or a sub), you can't even tell if the ORIGINAL voice acting is any good. The dub might actually be done better!

"The voice acting is ear grating."
From the few times I've watched both the sub and dub versions, I've found that they usually try to get voice actors that sound similar to the original versions. Sometimes though, they fail completely. So I can't fully argue with that one, but it's mostly preference anyway.

"All the voice actors are the same."
And none of the subs share voice actors?
Still, I guess I can't argue with that one. I've actually become able to name voice actors better than movie actors.

"You get a more true experience with subtitles."
Yeah, because the creators truly intended for your focus to be split between what's going on, and the words at the bottom of the screen. (That's sarcasm by the way.) Film, cartoons, television, ect, are all audio-visual media. With subtitles, you're not getting all of the audio part of that equation. You can't even be sure what words are being emphasized. And you certainly aren't getting all of the visual part. Your focus is always split between two locations, so rather than your eye being guided as intended via the camera work. Instead your eyes are constantly darting to the bottom of the screen! This is why I prefer reading the manga, because at least then your eyes are being guided correctly.

"What I mean is you get it unedited and uncensored. With subtitles, you get a true translation, but with dubs you get a dumbed down version."
As you can tell from the comic (and my above comment), I usually read the manga. So when I go to watch the dub, I should be keenly aware of any major changes. To my knowledge, I've only encountered one. That was at the end of the Red Ribbon Army arc on Dragon Ball. Almost always, the dub is a line for line faithful recreation, with any changes (usually unnoticeable minor ones) merely being there to fit the words into the allotted time.
And sometimes, the dub is actually MORE faithful than the subtitles. A really good example I think is Princess Mononoke, where instead of just doing a direct translation, they instead made sure to make minor alterations to better match the cultural language of English. "This soup tastes like water" was meant to be a major insult, but it isn't insulting in English at all, and so it was changed.
You could argue that changes like that ruin the artistic vision or the intent, but I believe it keeps it intact.

"There's nothing wrong with subtitles. It's just like reading text boxes on a video game, or speech bubbles in a comic."
No it isn't. Comics were designed with those speech bubbles in mind. And the panels were framed around them. Video games that use text, also are designed around them. Adventure games usually have the text above the character, with it coloured to match the character who is speaking. RPGs have text appear at the bottom in an actual framed box. If there's no voice acting, then usually the text will only move onward once you click a button. Movies, cartoons, anime, and so on, usually aren't designed to have text at the bottom of the screen telling you what is being said. So no, it's not the same. And saying so, is quite frankly an insult to anyone who has any creative experience in any sort of medium.

"Subtitles are cheaper and easier to make, and therefore there is a lot more media with subtitles than with dubs."
That's true. I can't argue with that. But that just proves my point that dubs are superior. If something costs more and takes more effort and time, then you're going to make sure it's better. This compliments my previous point about simple and lazy direct translations being a bad thing, and how subs are more likely to be said direct translations. It's an argument of quality vs quantity.
Also, knowing that more things will have subs than dubs, tells you that if it has a dub, then chances are it was worth dubbing. You could almost consider it a seal of quality. After all, you're unlikely to invest the money into dubbing something utterly terrible.

"Subs make it easier to learn that language."
That is also true. But unless you want to learn that language, it doesn't really matter.

Ok, I think that's everything. But I want you to hit me with your best arguments, so I can update and improve my arguments. Even if you agree with me, try to point out holes in what I said. I want to strengthen my case as much as possible.


Geeky Meerkat Wed, 1. May 6:53 AM, 2019 edit delete reply
While you do raise good points I have a counter-argument. The "I want to be able to claim to be a better fan, by pointing to one little difference about how we enjoy this fictional work" unspoken argument.

When enjoying any fictional work it's important for many fans to be able to say to other fans, "Yes but do you X?" and the whole sub vs dub debate offers that ability without really requiring any more effort on the part of the person attempting to be superior.

Imagine if fans did NOT have that easy to point to thing. Then they would have to do things like spend money on attending conventions or buying merchandise and that just sounds crazy. No no no, we need a nice FREE way of being better than others.
DanVzare Mon, 6. May 12:23 PM, 2019 edit delete reply
Oh come on!
You just had to make the one counter-argument, that completely trumps all of the points I made.

In one paragraph you've managed to completely undo what took me around ten paragraphs to argue!

I mean, I agree with you. But I don't like losing in such a way, that it feels as though I was punched by Saitama.