The Ten Worst Dubbed Characters in Anime
Prepare your ears for fail. Here are the 10 worst casting decisions made in anime – Ever.
Well, it seems as though I still have a bit more condemnation in my blood after my review of Free! , so why not do a countdown of some of the worst casting decisions EVER made in anime with regards to English dubbing. For the record, I am a big dubbed anime fan. I believe that dubbed anime brings a whole new level of enjoyment to anime. However, the following ten entries are some of the most stomach-churning, ear bleeding, life questioning awful acting jobs I think I’ve ever come across… which is a shame because about 98% of the actors in this list I actually ENJOY listening to! And in some cases, the fault may not lie with the actor itself, but with the director or the dubbing crew, so to share the shame, I will include the ADR Director information. So, without further ado…let’s count it down!
#10 – Greg Ayres as Kaworu Nagisa from Neon Genesis Evangelion
[ADR Director: Matt Greenfield/Amanda Winn-Lee]
I hate to do this. I really and truly hate to do this…after all, Greg is one of my favorite anime voice actors ever. However, his sin [::rimshot::] in the re-dub for Neon Genesis Evangelion is something I have to take him to task for. Long story short, ADV Films did a re-dub of some parts of the Evangelion series for it’s “Directors Cut” edition, and some V/A’s couldn’t be reached, so they re-cast some roles…one such role was Kaworu, the seventeenth angel. Originally played by Aaron Krohn in the first dub, he was subsequently re-dubbed for the “Directors Cut” by Greg Ayres…and…well…he made Kaworu sound like he was trying to seduce Shinji instead of befriend him. Every line he gives when he’s around the 3rd Child has an undertone of flirting and come hither about it that was not in the original English dub, nor the Japanese. Don’t believe me? I refer you to the scene in the shower when Kaworu and Shinji are just about to leave:
“Time to go?”
“I have to go to bed.”
“NO! I think you have your room…uhhh..that they gave you…I mean…”
In the original Aaron Krohn dub, Kaworu says the line “With me?” innocently—almost as though he were confused about what exactly Shinji meant. After all, Kaworu IS an angel—someone who is not affiliated with the human world. However, when Greg says the line “With me?” and the subsequent “I’m saying, I love you” line, he sounds like he’s ready to bed down Shinji right then and there. I’m not sure if he was coached to play Kaworu like this, or if he misunderstood the character, as he once said in a Commentary Track that Kaworu was a “yaoi character”, but either way, this version of the Seventeenth Angel sounded like he wanted to exercise his Angel of Free Will on Shinji…
#9 – Sue Ulu as Ritsuko Akagi in Evangelion: Death & Rebirth
[ADR Director: Amanda Winn-Lee]
Yep, it’s another one from the twisted world of Evangelion. And again, it’s a case of re-dubbing…but this time, we have the same person playing the same character in the same scene… but giving a lackluster performance during a key moment the second time around. Lemme explain. Evangelion: Death and Rebirth is a rehash of the original twenty-six episode series told in an abbreviated movie format. However, due to licensing issues here in the US, all of the dubbed scenes had to be re-recorded for the movie.
Once such scene is the infamous “Chamber of Guf” moment in Episode twenty-three Rei III. In the original dub, Sue Ulu, playing the spurned lover Ritsuko Akagi, gives a dramatic and emotional speech that pretty much explains everything you need to know, while at the same time showing how emotionally broken this woman really is. It was, up until End of Evangelion, Sue Ulu’s best performance to date. However, in the dub for Death and Rebirth… Ritsuko sounded less like a spurned emotional lover and more like an instructor giving a lecture; completely emotionless. It was nothing like her performance in the series, and that is a crying shame because we KNOW she is capable of so much more… heck, we know because we HEARD her do it!
One wonders why the director didn’t try to get the same performance out of her the second time like the first time? Time restrictions? More worries about licensing? Or was it just laziness? I can’t say either way, but what I do know is that it’s a crying shame the movie did worse than the TV show did with regards to this one scene.
#8 – Philece Sampler as Cody from Digimon Adventure 02
[ADR Directors: Bob Buchholz & Jeff Nimoy]
Ah, Cody; the only one in the second season of Digimon Adventure that actually had a cool, level head and was reliable to a fault. Now, if only your voice actress, Philece Sampler, had gotten the memo that you were not, in fact a pragmatic thirty year old, but were, in fact, an elementary school student. [And yes, I know in the dub they say that all our 02 cast was in Middle, but the original Japanese has our 02 crew in elementary school and our 01 group, save for TK and Kari, in middle…. I know, it’s weird…]
Seriously, there is NO way Cody’s voice should be that deep. Even his Japanese voice actress used a higher voice for our youngest Digi-Destined because the character was notably younger in the original Japanese than he was in the English dub. This voice could’ve been used for just about any other character in this story, but the directors in their infinite “wisdom” decide to give this deep somewhat raspy voice to the YOUNGEST member of the team? Really? Don’t get me wrong, the voice itself is great – and you seriously don’t know it’s a woman playing the role… but for that voice to come out a body that small… it’s just not… prodigious.
#7 – Vic Mignogna as Yoshimori Sumimura from Kekkaishi
[ADR Director: Kevin Seymour]
It’s pretty safe to say that Vic Mignogna’s goal in life is to dominate the world a little at a time. Seriously, this guy has done it all – anime voice actor, youth pastor, Star Trek [Fan-series] actor, writer, director, producer, singer. It seems as though he can do no wrong, right? Wrong! If there’s one main problem I had with Vic playing our young protagonist Yoshimori is that he didn’t change his voice AT ALL from what we’ve heard in previous projects.
I kept getting Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist with each episode, and that really got tiring. Vic only really has a couple varying voices in his arsenal, and he’s often tapped to play main characters like Ed in FMA, Tamaki Suoh in Ouran High School Host Club, or Dark Mousey in D.N.Angel… so once you hear him in a role, it’s hard not to hear one of the other characters he’s played. Maybe it’s not so much his fault, but the casting director who picked him for the role. I mean, come on, you mean to tell me that there was NOBODY else you could possibly cast to play Yoshimori? You HAD to go with the one voice actor with the most recognizable voice in the history of dubbed anime? You couldn’t go with ANYONE else with more range?
#6 – Sam Regal as Kyoichi from Boys Be…
[ADR Directors: Liam O’Brien & Sam Regal]
This anime almost put me to freaking sleep… and that was even BEFORE I heard the dub. Boys Be is a bore of a series, with boring characters and boring animation. So, what better than to get one of the blandest voice actors to play the role of the main lead Kyoichi.
Seriously, I was almost crying at my TV, begging for him to give up ANY kind of emotion, but there was none to be found. It wouldn’t have been TOO bad, and probably wouldn’t have made the list if it wasn’t for Liam O’Brian’s energetic portrayal of Makoto, Kyoichi’s best friend. It really makes Sam’s portrayal of Kyoichi stand out as being sleepy and uninspired… which, given the snail-on-a-turtle slow pace and white bread plain story, might make sense.
#5 – Patricia Ja Lee as Patricia Martin from Lucky Star
[ADR Director: Alex Von David]
Ah, my beloved Lucky Star. You’re so perfect, so cute, so dawg-gone relaxing and funny, and your dub is almost legendary and dang-near flawless. But, alas… there is one, big, GLARING fault. And that faults name is Patricia Ja Lee as our freshman character Patricia Martin. I swear, it’s like nails on a freaking chalkboard. I’m not sure who the heck told her to pitch her voice up that high, but whoever did it needs to find me and explain why in the name of all that is good and holy they thought it would be a good idea. I swear, it doesn’t even sound natural! It sounds like Minnie Mouse on acid… BAD acid.
And here’s the crazy thing – it didn’t need to happen that way! Patricia Ja Lee has an awesome speaking voice without any crazy alterations! If she had used just her REGULAR voice, it would be PERFECT. But, alas, it’s not what we were given, and what we’re left with is a dark shadow on an otherwise perfect dub.
#4 – Dakota Fanning as Satsuki in the Disney Dub of My Neighbor Totoro
[ADR Directors: Cindy Davis Hewitt and Donald H. Hewitt]
When it comes to anime, The Walt Disney Company tends to go towards famous people to act as V/A’s. Most of the time, like in Spirited Away and My Neighbors The Yamadas, the outcome is great. Other times… not so much. The re-dub of My Neighbor Totoro falls in the later category.
This beloved childhood movie was hindered by Dakota Fanning’s portrayal of Satsuki. It just seems like she’s reading more than acting, and there are key moments when it honestly sounds monotone as compared to what we see on screen. The original English dub, as done by the late Lisa Michelson, far and away, remains the better Satsuki in my book, as she actually ACTS through each and every line. Now, to be fair, and just so it looks like I’m not just picking on an innocent girl, I will say that everyone in this re-cast dub has the same problem, more or less, including Elle Fanning, Dakota’s sister, who plays Mei and Paul Butcher who does an ABYSMAL job as Kanta. So yeah, when it comes to Totoro, the Mouse should’ve left well enough alone.
#3 – Kevin Corn as Daisuke Niwa from D.N.Angel
[ADR Director: David Williams]
As with all anime shows, the main character sets the tone for the entire series. Everything about this character has to be on point because, let’s face it, this is the guy or girl we will be hanging around with 99% of the time. Kevin Corn’s portrayal of Daisuke Niwa points in the completely wrong direction. Kevin sounds like he’s trying to speak posh and proper, over pronouncing words like there’s no tomorrow and suffering from an affliction I like to call “Crispy T’s”. Listen to him say a single word ending in the letter “T” like “important”…the emphasis on the “T” really makes me want to throw my remote into the TV. And it’s not just this anime either! He sounds the exact same way as Kotaro in “Angelic Layer”.
While I can give him a few points for trying to sound like a prepubescent kid, it just doesn’t work here, and what we’re left with is a character that sounds even wimpier than he actually is. Also, when you consider that his alter ego, Dark Mousey, is voiced by Vic Mignogna, it makes the dreadfulness of his performance stand out even more next to this veteran voice actor.
#2 – Mona Marshall as Ryoko in Tenchi Muyo! GXP and Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Oki
[ADR Director: Scott Page-Pagter]
When I sat down and watched Tenchi Muyo! GXP and heard the voice of Koushiro “Izzy” Izumi from Digimon Adventure come out of Ryoko’s mouth, I nearly went insane. Why on earth would you decide to give Mona Marshall, a voice actress who is well known for playing young pre-teen boy characters like Minoru from Chobits or Chagum from Moribito the role of Ryoko… who is quite clearly NOT a young pre-teen boy?! Would you assign Travis Willingham the role of Haruhi Suzumiya? Would you give Stephanie Shea the role of Tai Kamiya [Yagami in the original Japanese] from Digimon Adventure NO, YOU WOULDN’T!
Now, granted, we have heard Mona Marshall play female roles before… not that many, mind, but a few. So it could be argued that she has a female voice in her arsenal …somewhere… so it begs asking why she went with THAT voice for Ryoko instead of going with a more, oh I don’t know, FEMALE SOUNDING VOICE?! While, granted, she does act the role very well, tone-wise, it’s a calamity, it’s a tragedy, and it’s… well… not prodigious.
#1 – The Entire Cast of Candidate for Goddess
[ADR Director: Wiley Isa]
This show already had multiple strikes against it from the jump. Not only is it a rip-off of many different mecha anime shows [Most noticeably “Neon Genesis Evangelion”…], but the acting in this one is so shockingly bad…I can’t find one single person who actually did a passable job! And don’t think this is just a cast of newbie actors… no, a lot of these are VETERANS, but you wouldn’t know it because many of our lead characters use Pseudonyms instead of their real names. It’s almost as though they were ASHAMED of having their name associated with a project like this, and rightly so; heck, I would be ashamed to be PAID for doing such a pathetic job. Un-synchronized Lip Flaps, Incorrect Gender Casting, Pronunciation issues, and just overall bad acting run rampant through this production and the blame is shared between the actors who say the lines, and the director, Wiley Isa, who allowed this abomination to see the light of day.
And the kicker is that, as part of the extras on the DVD release of “Pilot Candidate”, the original Japanese V/A’s actually show you… HOW TO DUB AN ANIME! I’m not kidding. The Japanese actors run through lines one-by-one, showing the viewer how to properly dub a show, get the acting and emotions right, and how they do multiple takes until it sounds perfect. Crying shame neither Wiley Isa or any of the other actors saw this extra… maybe we would’ve gotten a better product – oh, who am I kidding? Pilot Candidate as a whole sucks in whatever language you listen to it in, it’s just a matter of what language you prefer to listen to the suckage.
Honorable Mention: Keith Burgess as Mokoto Hyuga in Evangelion: Death & Rebirth & End of Evangelion
[ADR Director: Amanda Winn-Lee]
I have to mention this one. Here is another case of recasting failure at it’s finest. Matt Greenfield, working under the pseudonym Brian Grandvelt, did not reprise his role as Bridge Technician Mokoto Hyuga for the two Evangelion movies, so he was recast with Keith Burgess. And with that recasting, a new character was unwillingly born into the Evangelion Franchise…a character known by fans as “Black Hyuga”; so named because our geeky Technician now has the voice of a big 30 year old black man. It’s not BAD per-se, but it IS hilarious and worth a listen.
And so that’s it. The top ten worst casting moments in anime. As I said before, I really do enjoy dubs and I truly appreciate most of the actors and actresses in the voice over field… which is why it tears me up, both as a fan and a consumer when I hear actors not giving their all in roles. If you want me to buy your product, put in the effort!