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Tuesday, December 14, 2004


Claire (クレア)

Japanese culture is powerful and cool. There is such an interesting contrast between the traditional and modern; the yearning toward the lust of the new and the pull of the comfort of the ages. But that is just the way I see it when I am there. I feel like a mysterious person standing at the edge of the sea, waiting for the tide to come in and wash over me. The more I learn, the more I realize how little that I really know.

There are lots of articles about all the cool stuff that is sold in Japan that will never be sold overseas. A friend pointed me to a post someone put into his (my friend's) Live Journal about this. I said it is probably because the Japanese think we will not understand it. Technically, Japanese early adopters are 3-5 years ahead of us--look at keitai, PDA, laptops and you will see what I mean. He looked at me kind of strangely, like 'how did you already read it'--I had pretty much summarized an article I had not seen. But then I have been to Akihabara and Den Den Town and he has not.

As for anime, dubbing it is a crime and a shame. Have Truffaut's movies, Bergman's movies or Fassbinder's movies ever been dubbed into English? I don't think so! (Well, sometimes foreign films get remade by Hollywood, but that is different...)

For some odd reason the distributors find it necessary to dub films like Cowboy Bebop: Knocking at Heaven's Door, Patlabor: WXIII, Ghost in the Shell: Innocence, and Metropolis for theatrical release in the US. Do they think only children go to see these films? Do they think only people who do not want to read subtitles go to see these films?

Like those who watch films of reknowned European directors, those who are students of Japanese culture appreciate many different films of reknowned Japanese directors, even though some happen to be animated. Mamoru Oshii, Hayao Miyazake and even Shinichi Watanabe do sell films by name. Why should their films be taken less seriously because they are animated?

To me, the voice actors used to dub Japanese films for American release are far inferior to the majority of seiyuu in Japan. (I have seen a couple of anime, e.g. Miami Guns, that were pretty bad...) There are qualities in the seiyuu's voices used that aren't conveyed or portrayed when American voice actors are chosen. There is so much that is "lost in translation": mood, spirit, feeling, accent, personality.

I like anime--everything from Texhnolyze, Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex, Patlabor to Excel Saga. I like Ozu, Kurosawa, Kitano, Iwamura. I like to listen to NHK radio news at work even though I don't understand everything they are saying and have to repeat the program a few times in order to grasp even part of it. I continue to study Japanese. And my dream is to one day live and work in Japan or just live and study there if I had enough money and time.


dubbing, in my opinion at least, ruins the whole flavor of the movie. the voice actors add another layer to the project concept as a whole. Nothing worse than getting a really inspiring movie and having it ruined by sub-standard dialogue and poorly conceived, forced voice characterization. I enjoy the movies just fine. I think in terms of techincality we could do our best by following the context..that helps you to grow in understanding another culture. I dont mean this as a rebuke, by the way, but too often the viewing public makes the demand for convenience an over-riding concern and artisrty ends up being sacrificed. If we approached other art forms in this manner, maybe Leonardos Codec would be overlaid in Kanji..or Britney Spears would sing in German..ah but I said art.. now why did I put Britney Spears in there? My point is simply. If you change the original, no matter how close the translation is..doesn't it change the texture of the original, so all you're getting at that point is a forgery. Learn Japanese. It's good for your head..(I'm talking to myself now). I found this post very insightful because of the way it illustrates a change in the ways we perceive art and culture. The world is moving into a more global awareness. Formerly traditional perceptions have begun to fray at the edges. Becoming outmoded, but through this adaptation, the integrity of the original is perserved in a mutated form. Whereas the dubbing follows an approximation, the use of the form to expand itself to include a dubbed version would be closer to evolution..sort of a pop culture conglomerate traditional forms would become refurbished and could find a larger common ground. It is an interesting trend certainly. It goes beyond such concepts as post modernist and the literati..it's sort of a common approach to a world art. which is where it all began anyway right?...hey has anyone seen my bison horn?


ooh! I liked Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex! The animation was just...jawbreaking. Too bad there aren't good translations/dubbing. Non-native japanese speakers can't enjoy at as much as we should.

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