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The Age Old Argument...

So, which is better subs or dubs or the original version? Either, none? An age old question, and in truth, there is no *right* answer. Each version has its own inherent advantages, depending on whether you or the director takes advantage of the different media.

Here's a quick breakdown on the advantages of each...

Original Language Version

  • No lines of text to obscure the view.
  • Often done in wide screen format so while you have some black bars, you get the *whole* picture.
  • You see the *entire* production in exactly the manner the director intended.

English Subtitled

  • Original dialogue is usually left intact. Great if you either understand or are learning the language.
  • Often there is minimal editing of the original version (why bother?), so you can see the *whole* movie without any creative... errr... omissions.
  • If there are any "technical" problems with the original, this can be fixed with the new release.
  • Despite the fact that most anime movies are released in wide screen format, very few subbed versions take advantage of the black space and would rather reformat the picture, cut out the sides, and put print in the middle of the picture.

English Dubbed

  • Ideally the director and the actors/actresses would have an idea of the original concept and should therefore be able to eliminate any weaknesses in the original version.
  • No annoying subtitles cutting out part of the picture. You just have to sit back, relax, and enjoy.
  • If there are any "technical" problems with the original, this can be fixed with the new release (eg. Tonari no Totoro.)

A Word About Fan-Subs/Fan Dubs...

In a word... Don't. While we don't have any experience with fan dubs, we have had some of the "other" variety. There's no longer any reason for them to exist -- there are enough companies out there that bring out almost all of the current releases in a fairly timely manner (with the exception of some older long-running TV serials. OK, Viz is slowly working on MI, and KOR has finally made it out).

If you don't care about the quality of the product, well here's another: they're illegal. There are people out there that claim that since they're not available here, that it's legal to produce fansub or fandubs. Those people don't know what they're talking about. Japan, like many other countries, have signed an international copyright agreement (the Berne Convention) which automatically covers works in all participating countries.

Aside from the legal issues, the problem you're more likely to run into is that whoever is doing the work may never get you your tapes. Besides, the fan-subber/fan-dubber will often use some pretty poor equipment (some even use mono VCR's!), and being that most can't afford studio-quality editing equipment, you can expect video and audio drop-outs on your tape. Some try to use 8mm and Hi-8 equipment for "mastering," but this will inevitably result in shifted colour palattes. All multi-generation tapes (regardless of equipment used) will result in colour bleeding and audio compression. If you don't want to buy the tape because it's too expensive, don't forget your local video rental outlet. The selections are growing all the time.

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