Studio Ghibli Beats Every Other Anime Studio At One Crucial Piece Of Production

By Nina Phillips | Published

the boy and the heron

For the most part, I am on the subbed side when it comes to the subbed or dubbed argument with anime. A lot of English voice acting is weird, with enunciation in the wrong places and too dramatic acting. However, I find there’s one exception to that rule, and it’s most of the movies from Studio Ghibli. I am not saying Studio Ghibli’s movies are better dubbed, but that it doesn’t matter either way.

Cultural Context and Casting Choices

Actually, there is one I will argue does a bit better in English than Japanese, and that’s Howl’s Moving Castle. This anime is based on a book by Dianne Wynn Jones of the same name. The series is set in a fantasy world that’s very similar to England. Therefore, having British actors as the cast actually makes much more sense than Japanese actors, and the show feels more solid this way.

Dual Charms of Dubbing

For the most part, though, I would say the dubbed version of Studio Ghibli movies, no matter the language, is equally as good as the subbed. Even one of the major directors for the studio, Hayao Miyazaki, says that each version is nuanced and has its own features you’ll miss in a different language, especially certain visual aspects.

The Dubbing Debate

Hwang Dong-Hyuk

In an interview with The Guardian, Miyazaki said, “When you watch the subtitled version you are probably missing just as many things. There is a layer and a nuance you’re not going to get. Film crosses so many borders these days. Of course it is going to be distorted.”

This is because the studio, and Miyazaki in particular, have taken great pains to make sure that the dubs are as high quality as the subs. It is one of the reasons Studio Ghibli did so well in gaining popularity in English-speaking countries. Even in live-action shows, dubs are often more popular than subs from Asian countries, as was seen with Squid Games.

Crafting Quality English Dubs

Therefore, having English versions, and high-quality ones, was a necessity. To make sure the dub is done well, the team in charge of the movie closely works with the English dubbers and the creator of the English script.

For example, Princess Mononoke was the first Studio Ghibli anime to be released after their deal with Disney. To pull in English viewers, the English version of the script was written by Neil Gaiman (Good Omens) and featured actors like Claire Daines (Stardust), Gillian Anderson (The X-Files), Billy Bob Thornton (Sling Blade), and Minnie Driver (Good Will Hunting).

Hollywood Stars and Voice Acting

While these are big Hollywood actors, and not necessarily voice actors, the team managed to show that they were actually quite diverse at doing both, managing to replicate the personalities and attitudes of the characters in the anime well with only their voices.

It’s a hard job, and many Hollywood stars aren’t good at it. Disney and Ghibli managed to find ones who had famous names to draw in Western audiences and who could also voice act well to make sure the series was quality. This is one of the biggest reasons why the studio has amazing dubs.

Preserving Miyazaki’s Vision

Miyazaki and others at Studio Ghibli also fought to make the anime as accurate as possible. While scenes are often cut out, changed around, or adjusted for Western audiences, Studio Ghibli held firm that this does not happen with their movies, and it’s definitely helped to ensure every version of the anime is exactly what he intended it to be.

Source: Popgeeks, The Guardian