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  1. #1

    The Newbies Guide to English ADR

    The Newbies Guide to Dubs
    aka "English Dubs: The Good, The Info, & The Issues"
    by Ariolander, Hentai PhD.


    The online community of anime we often bashed dubs. Many turn our noses up at those that watch em and others all they know is that of what they have seen on TV. Either way there is more to dubs than the fact "dubs suck" but why do they suck? Who is to blame? Whats the problem? My answer to all of the above is... "blame the ADR staff". For those of you who don't know who the ADR staff is then this guide is for you.

    So yea I started to write the next in my "Newbie's Guide to Moe" but then had a hard time trying to explain something so very subjective. Don't worry though I got it mapped out and hope to have it done within the week. Till then I recently created a list of of Excellent English Dubbed Anime and in assembling it I included info on the voice actors and production staff that are often overlooked but I felt like ranting the importance of.

    The Definition:

    First off lets explain ADR then go on about the roles each person behind the scenes plays.

    • ADR - Automated Dialogue Replacement
      Also known as the beep method, is the process of replacing original language voice acting with voice acting in the viewer's native language using software and a series of beeps to help the actor find their cue.

      The actor then reads their lines, using the beeps to help them match the mouthflaps of the character on screen.

    Though we all may recognize the voice actors there is the people responsible many people miss and they can affect the quality of a dub just as much if not morose.
    • ADR Director - Possibly the the single most important man influencing a dub. Sometimes credited Voice Director or Dialogue Director he directs the voice acting and recording of dubs and many also cast their shows.
      They make decisions on how a dub should sound, direct their actors to get the desired performance, and work with their engineers to ensure the voices match the mouthflaps and the overall recording of the show to create the desired effect.
    • ADR Scriptwriter - The second most important in the process. ADR Scriptwriters take the raw translation of an anime from the translator and creates a whole new script.
      They try to match the original meaning of the dialogue with the mouthflaps of the characters. The scriptwriter must pay attention not only to when the mouths are moving, but also how they are moving to create a believable script.
    • Translator - The first step in the conversion process. They do what their name might imply. They create the raw translation of an anime into English.
      Their job is to convey as much information to the ADR scriptwriter and subtitler as possible.

    Note: There are two different script involved in dubs. The actual dub's ADR script and the subtitle script. The main difference is unlike the dub script the subtitle script doesn't not have to accommodate for mouthflaps. When the dub script matches the subtitle script they aren't true subtitles but rather "dubtitles" and the company who did it got lazy.

    The Studios:

    There are only a dozen or so studios responsible for all dubs in the US. Ordered by their perceived quality (appearances on my Excellent Dubs List)

    • Bang Zoom! Entertainment
      An independent production company based out of Burbank, CA. They have produce dubs for Bandai, Geneon and other anime companies as well providing post-production audio services for anime and video games.

      They are responsible for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Witch Hunter Robin, Vandread and Vandread the Second Stage, IGPX, Planetes, Last Exile, & Flag
      Other series include s-CRY-ed, Chobits, Onegai Teacher, Scrapped Princess & Lucky Star.
      [Profile @ Crystal Acids] [Official Website]
    • Animaze
      A studio based out of Encino, California. Though not currently active this is the studio responsible for much of Pioneer Animation (Geneon) and Bandai.

      They are responsible for Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell, Outlaw Star, Big O, & Wolf's Rain.
      Other series include Trigun, Armitage, Serial Experiments Lain, & Code Geass
      [Profile @ Crystal Acids] [Official Website]
    • ZRO Limit Productions
      Based out of Los Angeles, California they work mainly with Bandai & Geneon as well. They have been known to co-produce series with Animaze

      They are responsible for Big O, Wolf's Rain, Ghost in the Shell, Mobile Suit Gundam 08th MS Team & Outlaw Star.
      Other series include Trigun, Serial Experiments Lain, Sailor Moon & Code Geass.
      [Profile @ Crystal Acids]
    • Amusement Park Media formerly ADV Studios, formerly Industrial Smoke & Mirrors
      Based out of Houston, TX and as expected from their former name ADV Studios they focus on ADV titles. From 1995 - 2005 they were known as Industrial Smoke & Mirrors.

      They are responsible for D.N. Angel, Angelic Layer, Moonlight Mile, Coyote Ragtime Show, & Full Metal Panic!
      Other series include Noir, Azumanga Daioh, Macross, Excel Saga, & RahXephon
      [Amusment Park Media @ Crystal Acids] [ADV Studios @ Crystal Acids] [Industrial Smoke and Mirrors @ Crystal Acids]
    • New Generation Pictures
      An independent visual media production company in Beverly Hills, CA, founded in 1999 by Jonathan Klein. Among other endevours, it produces anime dubs primarily for Geneon.

      They are responsible for Hellsing
      Other series include Kamichu , Girls Bravo, Ergo Proxy, Paranoia Agent, & Haibane Renmei.
      Other works include Final Fantasy IV & Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria
      [Profile @ Crystal Acids] [Official Website]
    • Sync-Point
      Based out of Los Angeles, CA they worked mainly on Broccoli USA titles.

      They are responsible for FLCL
      Other series include I'm Gonna be an Angel!, Aquarian Age the Movie, & Di Gi Charat
      [Profile @ Crystal Acids] [Official Website]

      Only studios that made my list are listed.
      [Other companies include:
      FUNimation Studios Funimation's internal studio based out of Ft. Worth, TX.
      The Ocean Group based out of Vancouver, BC, Canada
      Headline Sound Studios based out of Irvington, NY
      NYAV Post based out of New York City, NY

    The highest concentration of studios is in the Los Angeles, CA area where many of the independent studios are located doing work for Bandai, Geneon, videogame & movie industries.

    Both Funimation & ADV do almost all their work in-house in their own studios located in the Fort Worth/Houston area.

    The Actors

    These are the most visible part of the dubbing process but I will highlight just a few. Some work with certain companies as internal actors others freelance. You likely know these people by their voices.

    • Crispin Freeman
      7 time industry "Actor of the Month" award winning voice actor. With almost 100 titles under his belt this man is one if the industry's most veteran actors. He often makes convention apperances and hosts an educational panel of mythology in anime. He has also worked ADR crew positions as an ADR Direcotr, ADR Script Editor, and Producer.

      You likely know this man as Togusa from Ghost in the Shell, Kyon from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Alucard from Hellsing, Holland from Eureka Seven and Amon from Witch Hunter Robin
    • Chris Patton
      11 time industry "Actor of the Month" award winning voice actor. With over 110 titles under his belt this man is one if the industry's most veteran actors.

      You likely know this man as Itsuki from Air Gear, Katana from Cayote Ragtime Show, Manabu from The Galaxy Railways, Sousuke from Full Metal Panic.
    • Luci Christian
      6 time industry "Actress of the Month" award winning voice actor.

      You likely know this woman as Tenma from School Rumble, Deunan from Appleseed, Asuna from Negima, Rico from Gunslinger Girl, & Kaname from Full Metal Panic
    • Monica Rial
      5 time industry "Actress of the Month" award winning voice actor.

      You likely know this woman as Hazuki from Moon Phase, Misa from MAcross, Hyatt from Excell Saga
    • Greg Ayres
      5 time industry "Actor of the Month" award winning voice actor.

      You likely know this man as Negi from Negima, Hideki from Nerma Daikon Brother, Son Goku from Saiyuki, Chrono from Chrono Crusade
    • Johnny Yong Bosch
      5 time industry "Actor of the Month" award winning voice actor.

      You likely know this man as Vash from Trigun, Kiba from Wolf's Rain, Renton from Eureka seveN, Ichigo from Bleach, Itsuki from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and Lelouch from Code Geass

    Then again on second though since most of you watch your anime subtitled you might not know these people after all.

    The Issues:

    The whole industry changed after the "100% Authentic" manga movement in early-mid 2000s fans became aware of the white washing and it eventually bled over to the anime side of things and many companies have changed the way they approach things. We laugh about it now but back in the 90s they flipped whole scenes of Sailor Moon so the cars drove on the right side of the street. The thought of having honorfics & terms like "sensei" preserved int he dub was unthinkable 10 years ago.

    While industry is better than before I think a new problem is arising concerning dubs. In order to cut costs many anime companies are starting to do all their ADR work in-house and in many cases sticking to familiar & local actors. While veteran actors is a good thing problems arise when you use actors for convenience/cost purposes rather than them fitting the role.

    Then again the anime industry isn't the only one suffering from a dearth of talent and settled into an aging pool that they are comfortable with because it seems Hollywood is the same way (Shia LaBeouf is not helping). Though one saving grace between anime that Hollywood can't enjoy is that a talented voice actor can vary his/her voice enough to be nigh unrecognizable from previous roles. Slight changes in pitch and tone can give an actor much more utility but sadly I can think of only 2-3 American voice actors capable of such a feat.

    For example the recent Code Geass was a guaranteed success in America so they made sure they hired all of our most veteran actors but when your lead Johnny Yong Bosch can only sound like Johnny Yong Bosch and the series comes so soon after another hit series where he played the lead Ichigo in Bleach then we start having serious problems. Conversely in Japan Ami Koshimizu plays Kallen and she was coming straight out of her lead role as Horo in Spice and Wolf but it was nigh impossible to tell it was her till I was pointed it out, checked her profile and re-watched everything again.

    In the same vein you have people like Rie Kugimiya who can not only play roles like Alphonse Elric from FMA but play half a dozen different characters from the same character archetype (Tsundere) back-to-back-to-back but vary it up so that it is not a problem. If only we could have our actors extend their vocal range then maybe recycling wouldn't be such an issue today and in the future.

    In Summary:

    Back in the VHS days when buying anime you had to choose weather or not you wanted the subtitled or dubbed version as you could have only one. How spoiled we are these days to not have to make that choice. While I might agree most dubs suck things have changed over the years and when I came back gave dubs another shot I was presently surprised in some cases (but also left horribly cringing in others).

    Crest of the Stars is probably one of the worst examples of recycled actors. A look at the DB entry for voice actors has EVERY single actor play at LEAST 3 roles except for Jessica Yow & Matthew Erickson who play the two main characters. If you look at the list or pay attention to the ADR studios you find that the same companies find themselves re-using the same actors that they are comfortable with or are local which may lead to problems in the future if no fresh blood is introduced. When we put such limitations on the talent pool we are seeing a lot more flat out mis-casting of actors into certain roles.

    The fact remains most dubs suck.

    • ADR = Automated Dialogue Replacement, the process dubs are made
    • ADR Director - Directs everything. Many times decides the cast too.
    • Translator - Tramslates from the script from Japanese to English
    • ADR Scriptwriter - Changes the script to fit mouthflaps & speech
    • The Studios - There are 6 main ones. they decide all of the above.
    • The Actors - The guys you hear speaking.
    • Issue #1 - Most of our actors suck compared to their Japanese counterparts.
    • Issue #2 - Our industry is cheap and recycles actors. Actors not skilled enough to mask voices.
    • Issue #3 - Johnny Yong Bosch should never have been cast as Lelouch from Code Geass.
    Last edited by Ariolander; 02-12-2009 at 06:19 AM.

    | MangaTraders - Lackey | HentaiTraders - Staff | - Admin |
    Scanlation: Typesetter, Editor, Scanner, Cleaner, & Connoisseur
    Warning: Due to the nature of Ariolander all posts now come with a disclaimer.

  2. #2

    I was gonna talk about the process but the fact is I know nothing about recording. The closest I have come was hosting an internet radio show for TradersNetwork and that lasted for about... 2 weeks and a podcast I do with some friends.

    If you want to know more then I recommend Adventures in Voice Acting by Bang Zoom! Entertainment where they explore the industry and interview about 100 voice actors. Its a bit expensive online $35 after shipping but if you see it at a convention you can grab it cheaper. I got it for $25 at AnimeExpo.

    If you want to become a voice actor all I can do is point you toward more information:
    • Check out Crispen Freeman's FAQ where he addresses this question.
    • Check out and try out for potential casting agents.
    • Though ANN's answerman is often wrong you can check out his answer here.
    • has tools for potential voice actors.
    • Finally there is this article on Kidzworld where they interview a cartoon voice actor.

    Sorry for double posting I went over the 15000 character limit in the last post.
    Last edited by Ariolander; 02-12-2009 at 06:16 AM.

    | MangaTraders - Lackey | HentaiTraders - Staff | - Admin |
    Scanlation: Typesetter, Editor, Scanner, Cleaner, & Connoisseur
    Warning: Due to the nature of Ariolander all posts now come with a disclaimer.

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