Dubs: love them or hate them, they make anime accessible to a huge number of otherwise uninterested viewers. But are they better, or at least as good as subs? Today, we’ll weight the pros and cons of each to find out once and for all, which is better, dubs or subs.

Subtitles (subs)

The Good

all might i am here
Bones

When anime is created, the casting team work hard to find voice actors with the right tone and personality for any given role. By watching anime with subtitles, you get to hear each line as the director intended it.

Also, sites like Crunchyroll make new episodes of popular shows available with subtitles the same day that they air in Japan. Even simuldubs run a week or two behind, so if you’re desperate for the latest episode of your favourite show, subs allow you to watch it as soon as possible.

The Bad

Purists argue that subs preserve the integrity of a show, since it’s not watered down by localisms. However, subtitled shows run into trouble when the characters use phrases that don’t have a similar English expression. Look no further than the watashi, boku, ore joke from Your Name (at the top of the page) for a good example.

Notice how the entire joke itself is changed? Usually the differences aren’t as major, but it’s possible to lose plot-relevant information, for example, when subtitles fail to reflect the honorific used to address a particular character.

Dubbed Audio (dubs)

The Good

steins gate dubs vs subs
White Fox

Don’t want to read while you watch? Maybe you prefer to have anime on in the background when you’re doing other things? If so, dubs allow you to follow the story without demanding your full attention.

Dubbed anime is also easier for younger or English-as-a-second-language viewers to follow. If you can’t read English all that well, hearing it spoken might be the difference between becoming completely lost and getting the general idea of the story.

Since most producers of dubbed anime tend to use the same cast of actors for every show, it’s easier to identify your favourites when they appear unexpectedly. This in turn, allows you to feel like you’re more knowledgeable about the community, and can enhance your enjoyment.

The Bad

Dubs are prone to using localized expressions (to the point where it’s actually become a meme). Some studios like 4Kids are notoriously bad for this, replacing certain types of food with Westernized variants or removing some scenes entirely (deeming them inappropriate for Western children).

In the hands of the wrong studio, dubbed anime can be radically different from the original. Take Yu-Gi-Oh! For instance: the dub introduced the “Shadow Realm”, removed any instances of violence, and changed Joey’s motivation entirely.

There are clearly good and bad sides to subs and dubs. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference: just watch whichever you like best. There’s no right or wrong answer here!

Ian Garland

Just an ordinary guy who woke up one day in the magical world of anime reviews. Check them out... or don't, i-it's not like he likes you or anything...

View all posts