Subs vs. Dubs

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Stub: This is a total braindump! Feel free to rearrange and sort things out.

See also: Subtitle, Dub
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Subs vs. Dubs is the perennial argument among anime fans over whether it's better to watch the show/movie in the original language with translated subtitles or with translations provided through voice actors dubbed in replacement of the original language.

Arguments for Subs

Since they are not constrained to matching the "lip-flapping" of the characters, subs have more freedom to accurately translate the original language.

Fans watching a show or movie with subs get to experience the original performances of the voice actors, which are presumably closer to the creators' intent than the localization which they may have no involvement with.

GoatJesus, an Anituber who makes video essays, has addressed his preference for basing analysis off of the sub instead of dub in a couple of his videos:

I’m going to be using the official subtitles for this video as reference, because the official dub was extremely liberal. I consider it to be one of the best dubs out there overall--um, minus a few cheesy lines--but, really only for casual viewing. It doesn’t do so well if you’re trying to decipher meaning or message from the show accurately. I can pick up on a few Japanese words without research and tell you that there’s a heavy difference between the official sub and the official dub. Give it a look-see:


Rose: People aren’t things! Would you blaspheme God!?

Ed: Alchemists are scientists, so God is something ambiguous, that we don’t believe in. It’s ironic, since we’re the ones who are closest to being gods.


Rose: Well if there’s no magic, then you bring someone back to life!

Ed: Just a matter of time, Rose, science will find a way. Science is the answer to everything. If I were you, I’d drop the scriptures and pick up an alchemy book. We’re the closest things to gods there are.
I think it’s different enough to warrant the use of sub. It changes the context of what Ed’s saying entirely. Instead of Ed stating his own atheism, albeit obnoxiously, Ed’s just preaching the gospel of science… I think that a lot of antireligious themes were omitted in the dub because of Vic Mignogna [Ed’s voice actor for the dub who is very Christian].[1]
Alphonse is the consistent narrator in [the Fullmetal Alchemist 2003 anime], which is changed oddly in the dub at the end. (Which is another reason not to trust dubs for analysis since they vary consistency on a whim. I'm just saying, it's not the original director…Even though it is pretty good—)[2]

Arguments for Dubs

Subs stick closely to the source material in an effort to keep the translation accurate, but in comedy works because many jokes are untranslatable the essence of the scene/humor is lost. Dubs are more apt to localize the jokes, better preserving the scene's purpose and feel.

Because the viewer doesn't have to read text on screen in order to understand what's happening, their attention isn't split and they're better able to appreciate the animation and what is happening visually.

Dubs allow for relevant accents, such as in the Yuri!!! on Ice anime, which features a cast of professional figure skaters from countries around the globe. The dub has, in this fan's opinion, the very fun inclusion of Russian accents for the Russian main characters. However, some find the accents distracting.

Related Media


  1. ^ GoatJesus. Dante's Inferno in Fullmetal Alchemist 2003 (español SUBS) (at 2:13), a video essay posted to YouTube on 15 January 2015. (Accessed 10 November 2018.)
  2. ^ GoatJesus. Fullmetal Alchemist VS Brotherhood - Ultimate Comparison Part 1 (at 6:43), a video essay posted to YouTube on 20 June 2018. (Accessed 10 November 2018.)