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The Grandiloquent Ninjas

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(dun dun dun) the Naruto Dub! [Oct. 3rd, 2005|08:15 pm]
The Grandiloquent Ninjas
kirstian and I keep talking about actually posting here again, but we never actually do it. I am breaking the cycle and posting again, because I have to show her Canadian self up in something.

And about what? The most recent hot-button topic in fandom (not really): the Naruto dub.

Before you read, though, this is not a scathing mockery. I like the dub so far.

Naruto-- I am torn, I really am. I like her tone; she's about as close to Takeuchi as one could hope for in English in that respect. Her acting, though is really dated (read: bad). She sounds like she's in a ten year old dub, and that just doesn't work for the main character. Naruto disappoints me, overall. (I do like their translation of 'dattebayo!' though.)

Iruka-- He's a good actor, but he really struggles with the pronunciation of Japanese words (geNEEN?). Normally I don't have a problem with misplaced stresses from English speakers (I'll admit it outright, I say NaRUTO instead of NARUto), but he's trying so hard that it's very obvious. I would rather have a more natural-sounding tone with a worse pronunciation, honestly. Other than that, though, his performance was well-acted and his tone is good for Iruka. Overall, more good than bad here.

Mizuki-- Why was the best actor in the episode the one who won't be coming back for 145 more? Seriously, Mizuki was stellar. Excellent actor, good tone for the character, and he had a lot less trouble with the pronunciations than Iruka's actor.

Sarutobi-- Sarutobi was good, but I can't listen to him without cracking up. The rest of you do not have that problem, because you have not heard kirstian's Sarutobi impersonation. GOLD. And it also sounds, uh, a great deal like dub Sarutobi. Good actor, but an association there I just can't take seriously.

Konohamaru-- Yes, yes, yes. He's annoying, but Konohamaru is annoying. I am most pleased with this casting.

Ebisu-- I WANT TO HAVE CRISPIN FREEMAN'S CHILDREN. Why is it that the best character actor in the cast was relegated to such a minor role? (And unlike the other character actor I'm familiar with from video games who we will go into in a bit, he delivered.) He was hilarious. I was dying. And I've been randomly yelling "HONORABLE GRANDSON!" (sometimes literal translations are the best and funniest things to use, really) at people since then because it amuses me so very much. ♥

Sasuke-- Gay and fabulous. A+++, would buy from again. And that's all I have to say on the matter, because 'gay and fabulous' is about all there is to pre-Chuunin Exam arc Sasuke.

Sakura-- She ties with Naruto for the worst actor (well, actress in both their characters, I guess), honestly; her acting is just as dated as Naruto's. She also had trouble with the Japanese words, and inner Sakura just sounded lame. She's not ear-bleedingly bad, but she's not up to the bar set by the rest of the actors, either. Mediocre, as a whole.

Kakashi-- I was expecting so much better. It's not that what we've seen so far is bad acting-- it's just Kakashi, Child of the Sea God. You see, Dave Wittenberg (the aforementioned actor who didn't deliver) is actually a very good character actor; see Allen Ridgely (Xenosaga) and Cliff Fittir (Star Ocean 3) for examples of how good he can be. He just apparently decided that Kakashi had no character to voice, and Kakashi ended up sound like a stoned version of Troy from Suikoden IV (Wittenberg's second least-acted role). And as awesome as Troy was (hell, I'd do him) he is not a ninja. He is the Child of the Sea God. And conversely Kakashi is not Child of the Sea God, he is a ninja. DOES NOT COMPUTE.

Shikamaru-- Decent acting and a hilarious voice, but a tone that is utterly wrong for Shikamaru. Save the flaming queen voice for Sasuke, please, because Shikamaru's probably the only one of the genin boys who actually grows up to have sex with a girl.

Ino-- Pronunciation problems (kuNOYchee?), but on the whole she was good for Ino. She's a better actress than Sakura, too. Figures, with this trend of giving the good actors the tiny parts (Steve Blum as Zabuza and Crispin Freeman as Ebisu-- what crackhead casts this, anyway?).

Hinata-- She hasn't said much yet, but what she's said consists of 75% of Hinata's vocabulary anyawy. She's decent, but not stellar. I really liked her in the first episode, but in episode three her voice sounds almost like a forced falsetto.

Fandom, please shut up about the lack of an OP. No, really. As much as you may regret it, you do not live in Japan, and North American audiences have very different demographics. Have you maybe noticed that the typical North American television show does not have a two and a half minute opening theme? Because generally speaking it doesn't. That's just the demographic; audiences here are not used to sitting through openings that long. They change the channel because they are bored. It's a fact of the culture you live in-- don't like it, move to Japan. And even shows that do retain their OPs without much abridging (generally ones targeted at older audiences, like Fullmetal Alchemist) have problems. Licensing the music is a hassle, as I'm sure Funimation could tell you after they couldn't get the rights to use "Melissa" on North American television.

I adore a lot of the translations and localizations. "Village Hidden in the Leaves" is probably my favorite, because it makes more sense than Hidden Village of Leaf. I like the fact that technique names were translated (if Kishimoto had intended them to be mysterious foreign gibberish to his audience, he wouldn't have put them in easily-understood Japanese for a Japanese audience, would he?), and though the fact that "jutsu" remains in Japanese is annoying to me I can concede that "technique" is a much longer word and wouldn't fit with the timing.

Biggest quibble: the non-translation of "sensei" when not used as an honorific. 'Sensei' is the only honorific I give leeway to in English translation because it's a part of North American pop culture now; my generation, raised on Mortal Kombat and Karate Kid and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, knows the title 'sensei' in conjunction with a martial arts master, be it Pat Morita or Master Splinter. The younger target audience is even more familiar with it. When it's not an honorific, though, I think it should be translated.

Also, fandom? Shut up about the official sites using "Guy" instead of "Gai." His name was just a stupid Engrish joke to begin with. "Maito Guy" has the exact same stupid punchline as "Maito Gai." No deep and profound meaning was removed.

Dear ignorant fans, the clouds were in the Sexy no Jutsu in the original. I promise.

The only real edits that I noticed were a bit less blood (which I'm fine with; it's about damn time someone in the North American media realized that violence is not more child-appropriate than sex) and the removal of the infamous kissing scene in episode 3. And even then, it still happened-- and if anything, it was gayer because the "EW OMG THIS IS NASTY" knee-jerk reactions from Naruto and Sasuke were removed.

Naruto still kissed Sasuke, he still turns into a naked chick, he still takes Konohamaru to look at girly magazines, and Kakashi still reads porn (look at YTV's site; the book's called Make-Out Paradise and Jiraiya is a dirty old porn writer who spies on naked girls). Even if the Child of the Sea God reading porn does not compute.

I may take a whack at some Jump and game fandoms soon and the stupidity therein, since I'm downloading a bunch to read offline in my internetless home existence. Here's to not making a year between posts from now on!