You are on page 1of 4

Translation: The process of Dubbing

There is one topic in this world almost guaranteed to cause arguments, make
tempers flare, and incite violence, even between the closest of friends. The topic is not
whose god is better, which political party is lying to the people, or whether PNOY is the
devil or not. The topic, as any anime fan will tell you, is whether Subs or Dubs are
better.
In our setting, the argument extent into two groups: the haters of all that is dubbed, and
the worshippers of dialogue they can actually understand.I find that most people who
hate dubs hate Filipino dubs. I never see them complain about dubbed anime from any
other country. So a anime fan may watch anime in Italian, Chinese, English etc. but not
Filipino? This argument has no logic. If an anime can be dubbed from Japanese into
Italian or anything else, it can also be dubbed into Filipino.
But Here's a rather fundamental question: What does "anime" mean? According to my
Merriam Webster Dictionary it is a style of animation originating in Japan that is
characterized by stark colorful graphics depicting vibrant characters in action-filled plots
often with fantastic or futuristic themes. So if you say "I'm an anime fan." to most
Japanese, they're probably going to assume you mean exactly the same thing as an
English speaker familiar with the genre would--that you like anime, not that you love
anything and everything animated. It's not a strict definition in Japanese, but without any
other context, even most Japanese assume the word "anime" refers to Japanese-style
animation.
Anime may come from Japan, but a good deal of the way it's brought to Englishspeaking audiences is with an English-language audio track. It's hard to get anime aired
on TV without it sporting English audio, and so a dub is vital to getting a given anime
series or movie in front of the widest possible audience.

Most of the time, an anime is provided by its original Japanese licensors with no
English subtitles or audio whatsoever. The first step, then, is to create an Filipino
translation of the Japanese audio. The translation process demands broad cultural
knowledge of Japan, and sometimes knowledge of a highly specific or technical area.
The translation produced from the show's Japanese voice track is not what's used to
actually create the dub. Instead, another writer will take the translation and any
associated notes or documentation, and produce from that the actual adaptation
dubbing script. Some writers are themselves voice actors as well, which allows them to
both expand their creative horizons and understanding of what's needed to the
scriptwriting process.
What makes this stage most difficult, and most crucial, is that several goals all
have to be met at once. First, The dialogue has to fit comfortably into the same amount
of time as the original speech, to make it easier to match.Second, The script has to
sound natural to Filipino speakers. Japanese grammar is entirely unlike Filipino, and so
sentences might have to be restructured completely in order to fit in the same space.
What can be said in a few words in Japanese might take a whole sentence in Filipino, or
vice versa. And finally, the Plot points, subtle emphases, and other crucial information
all have to be conveyed. It's too easy to lose these things in the process.
The second and third points are both part of a larger issue: fidelity. Over time, anime
dubbing work has moved away from being slavishly precise and more towards being
adaptive. A lot of this is context: a historical anime, for instance, needs to have more of
the "Japanese-ness" of its original dialogue preserved. A show set in the modern day,
though, can swap more of its Japanese-centric gags for matching pop-culture conceits.
Some shows may abandon any attempt at being faithful at all, but only if the material
calls for it. Shin-chan was rewritten from scratch for its Filipino dub ( Shin-chan was
voiced by Andrew E., a local rapper notorious for his suggestive lyrics. Shin's mother's
name was changed to "Carmen", father's name was changed to "Bert", and Shin's dog
was renamed "Puti", meaning "white".), in big part because the original was such a

blizzard of culturally-specific gags that any attempt to be faithful would have just
collapsed in on itself. Fortunately, the Japanese licensors for the show heartily approved
of this approach.
Once a dub script has been written from the translation, the next step is to cast suitable
actors for the dub, and produce a recording from it. During the actual recording process,
a key element is what voice actors and directors refer to as "matching flap." "Flap" is
slang for a character's on-screen mouth movements, and so the actor voicing the
character has to time his speech to match, if only roughly, when there are mouth
movements. It isn't always possible to be completely accurate, but it helps to preserve
as much of the illusion as possible. This becomes doubly difficult given that the flaps are
originally timed for Japanese speech; as per above, the differences in syntax and
speech patterns means it can sometimes be difficult for the dialogue to be stretched or
squashed to fit.
To end this paper, I will say that, regardless of what I or anyone else thinks, you should
just go with whatever it is you enjoy the most. If you enjoy dubbing more than subtitles,
then just watch it and have fun, and if you are one of the subtitleholics, then ignore the
pressures of the masses and go for what you really like. But, whichever side you are on,
before you completely write off the other, you should at least do it professionally.