Anime: The Subs/Dubs Debate & Script Adaptations*

*title changed from The Subs/Dubs Debate & Translations to The Subs/Dubs Debate & Script Adaptations for more accuracy

To domesticate or not to domesticate? That is the question.

-me just now, 2015

Often the dub debate comprises of issues with script changes, character edits, or something within the realm, without necessarily taking into consideration the idea of domestication and foreignization. It’s pretty disappointing that fans don’t ever talk about the pros and cons of these processes, especially since script adaptors mainly operate on these two dynamics. It would be refreshing to see a discussion that considers the privileges and disadvantages of each process in terms of marketability, rather than building an entire argument on, “I hate X anime for what they did to X character/ the story.”

I’m interested in the process of adapting anime through the directorial and written route, and I’ve been reading up on script adaptations from highly regarded Marc Handler. He’s had his hand in script adapting for known anime such as FLCL and Cowboy Bebop. Admittedly, I’ve only recently heard his name, but his interview on script adaptions for anime is a really long and nice read to curl up to!



  1. Nice post 🙂 Truth the majority of any fan base don’t particularly get too bogged down with specifics such as administrative handling in the production, however you do bring up some nice points. Crispin Freeman did a cool interview talking about translation adaptations etc. and he made a reasoning that went a long of the lines of “Sometimes it’s hard because you have to keep to the original script because of what you’re given, but sometimes the translation comes through as ‘My double edged sword is better than your double edged sword,’ and that for many reasons does not make for good dialogue, so I have to change a lot at times.”

    Keep posting 😀


    1. Crispin Freeman is very much an influence that I will reference from time to time whenever I make a post. In fact, he and other voice actors in the industry were my original sources of inspiration for wanting to learn more about the animation industry in the U.S.

      Thank you for your comment!


      1. Crispin Freeman is simply amazing. I haven’t seen a bad dub with him in it yet. Apart from maybe some of the cast in Code Geass, but even then they were still okay and most certainly weren’t terrible.


  2. Some of things, we have to consider when translating anime is the cultural values. Some things are edited out in the American dub versions because they don’t apply to American culture as oppose to Japanese culture. Sometimes I think that it is a disappointment to edit things out because then we won’t get the “whole package” with the anime and also we won’t get to fully understand some of the cultural lessons.


    1. Thank you for your comment!

      I suppose what script adaptors must also consider is the kind of audience they are dealing with. They might work under the assumption that not nearly enough people who watch anime want to have a cultural lesson in Japanese society. This is by no means an underestimation or insult to the intelligence of the watchers. Put differently, (and stolen from voice actor Crispin Freeman), it’s similar to how an aspiring chef will carefully taste and analyze the ingredients used for a fine meal they consume, as opposed to a casual diner who will just eat a meal without necessarily taking its components into deeper consideration.

      Having an uncensored script adaptation of a show might be a treat for critical watchers who are seriously interested in learning Japanese culture. However, for the majority of casual watchers out there, a show laden with cultural references impossible to discern alone without resources and research might prove exhausting and not worth the time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That is true. Anime that appeals to the masses. I was looking at this from a literature perspective in regards to translation. Sometimes certain symbols, word phrases, and etc. are lost when being translated from one language to the next. As a result, losing or changing these “minor details” could possibly lose its cultural significance/ value or lose the author’s original intention.

        Also, since translated anime focuses on appealing to a larger audience, it got me thinking about how censorship in media influences people’s values and way of thinking. For example, the original Sailor Moon series, aired the dub versions for four seasons, but not the last one on TV. My assumption is that they didn’t know how to “edit” the transformations of the Sailor Starlights. That last season touches upon some deep topics such as gender bender and LGBT, which at the time may seem to risky to show on television. However, since we come along way, honestly I think right now in our generation that it would be appropriate to show a dub version of that last season of Sailor Moon because people’s views and values are changing.

        Anyways, I think I went off topic from your original blog post, but thanks for your insightful comments.

        Liked by 1 person

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