The Last Dub (Remembering my favorite English dub performances for the last time)

Dubbing is the post-production process of recording and replacing voices on a motion picture or television soundtrack subsequent to the original shooting schedule. The term most commonly refers to the substitution of the voices of the actors shown on the screen by those of different performers, who may be speaking a different language. (Wikipedia)

10 years can change a lot. There was a time where subtitles were distracting, Japanese voices were unnecessarily high pitched and poorly cast. Hell, there was a time where all I had access to watch was English. By that I mean, there was a time before subs. Just finishing Hare+Guu, I realized that I had completed a series from an era that I’ll likely never relive.

There used to be a time where I listened to the dub of a series and judged the work fairly to see if it was quality. If I saw a certain studio was licensing a work I would run names through my head and hope and pray they cast it right. Watching a new series, an English speaking voice actor or actress would become a character I loved and cheered for. In a way, these people will always be the characters they played, even after taking new roles. I may never seriously watch another dub, but before I fully move on to this new era I want to remember those people and their most iconic roles.

Mary Elizabeth McGlynn

If there’s an ultimate strong female voice, it’s Mary Elizabeth McGlynn’s. While she had great roles and performances as Helba from .hack//SIGN, Cornelia in Code Geass and especially Hilda of Outlaw Star fame; she will always be The Major to me. When she spoke it always struck me as the voice of someone in control, which fit the character perfectly. Motoko Kusanagi was all about competence and control. Whether the character was conversing in the most realistic chat-room ever conceived, directing her unit in a failing firefight, or doubting her own existence, McGlynn’s performance never wavered, felt out of place or strained. Watch the Ghost in the Shell tv series and you’ll realize what it’s like to see someone born to play a role.

Laura Bailey

This woman will always be the most talented and versatile voice actor or actress to me. I’m very familiar with her work, but there are roles where I honestly wouldn’t have known if it was her if not for the credits. Her roles range from what you were think her standard would be, like Keiko from Yu Yu Hakusho to the sexy and intimidating Lust of Fullmetal Alchemist fame (a personal favorite). Damn it, she’s even play Shinnosuke from Shin-chan. Who can’t tell her she’s not appropriate for a role, any role. But the role I’ll always attach her to is Tohru Honda of Fruits Basket.

Michael McConnohie

This guy doesn’t get many starring roles, though you may remember him as a certain big hat wearing vampire, but he has a very distinct voice and is impossible to mistake for any one else. I remember him well from dual roles in Rurouni Kenshin and Samurai Champloo. He’s also done lots of work in video games. You can hear him in Ninety Nine Nights II (though I wouldn’t recommend actually playing the game). The role I most remember him well for is that of Norris Packard.

This guy is a beast. He stands head and shoulders above his counterparts in piloting skills and professionalism. Now if Norris Packard was to come across Amuro in the One Year War, he’d be a dead man. But you have to admire what this Oldtype can do in a Gouf. In his shining moment against the entire 08th MS Team, he added some gravity and class to the antagonistic role. McConnohie does well to make you take Packard seriously even in his “hammier” moments. And I was actually sad to see the old soldier go.

When I watched this scene I also found an interesting juxtaposition between the characters and the voice work. Seeing Shiro Amada’s English voice work sounds a little strange, even corny to me.  That was an interesting coincidence seeing and hearing someone flounder and then seeing and hearing their counterpart, Packard/McConnohie, do the same.

Mandy Clark

Overall, I think ADV did an outstanding job dubbing and translating Azumanga Daioh (give or take a few issues revolving around Osaka).  They even had a very handy booklet included with each DVD that helped explain the very Japanese show.  So I think it would be disingenuous for me not to include some love for it.  And Mandy Clark’s performance as Tomo Takino is the example I’ll use for this show.

Many people think an annoying performance is just annoying, but I think Tomo is brilliantly funny when she’s annoying.  Clark strikes that perfect chord of being annoying, energetic and funny without sounding weird to do it.  Like all the examples before, she will always be Tomo to me.  Stupid, stupid, “Knucklehead” Tomo.

Richard Cansino

The dub performance for Kenshin Himura is probably the only one that I’ve heard and enjoyed for a male character with feminine qualities.  Overall, the Rurouni Kenshin dub was a rather mixed bag with characters like Saito, Sanosuke and Shishio getting excellent voice work while (as tends to be commonplace) some lesser characters get horrible ear drum ripping voice work.  But despite quality of the episode or the surrounding voice acting, Cansino’s work was always consistent and loveable.  I could and will always equate his performance to that of the gentle, admirable man-slayer Battousai.

These are my picks for great English dub perfomances.  I left out some obvious choices, because I had trouble narrowing them to a favorite or best performance.  To Crispin Freeman (Togusa, Holland, Shannon Cassul) and Steven Blum (Spike, Roger Smith, Shishio, Orochimaru) I apologize.

What’s your favorite English dub performance? I look forward to hearing from everyone.  And if you were wondering why I didn’t mention Mr. “Super Popular” Johnny Yong Bosch, he gets the title pic.  That should be enough.  I always watch Trigun in English and no matter what part he plays, I always hear at least a little Vash the Stampede in him.

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42 Responses to The Last Dub (Remembering my favorite English dub performances for the last time)

  1. gaguri says:

    My favourite’s Team Rocket for me, no contest. Prepare for trouble, make it double~

    I watched very little dub, but I liked the one on Deedlit from Record of Lodoss War. Very playful acting, perfect for Deedlit’s character, except I can’t say she was better than the original seiyuu. I feel that in general, most dub actors can’t give their all like original actors can in more emotional scenes.

    • I feel the same way a lot about most dubs. Even though I honestly can’t understand most of what the native voice actors are saying without reading it on the screen you can often feel the emotion in a good performance. Then again if a dub performance does the same thing then I consider it something outstanding. If I listen to a dub and if feels natural and comfortable then it has done its job.

  2. quigonkenny says:

    re: Michael McConnohie:
    You got me with the “though you may remember him as a certain big hat wearing vampire” for a second. I thought you were suggesting he voiced Alucard in Hellsing (and I noticed you didn’t mention it among Crispin Freeman’s credits). I’d forgotten all about Vampire Hunter D (who is a dhampir, by the way).

  3. pp says:

    the english dubs on zoids are pretty good. by far the only show i’ll ever watch with english dubs.

    • It’s been a long time since I’ve watched ZOIDS on Toonami. I enjoyed the concept, though I can’t remember enough of the performances to bring to mind how good it was. There are some good dubs out there, you should give one or two a try.

      • pp says:

        you should Zoids a spin again for old-time sake. There’re quite a number of cheesy plot in the show but the concept of machine animals/dinosaurs are good concept. I particularly like to see the zoids fights

        is those sort of shows that if you watch it as a kid you’ll love it..

  4. Hanners says:

    I never watch dubs now aside from the odd episode here and there to see how they stack up in review copies, but I always liked the English dub of Neon Genesis Evangelion – Indeed, the first two times I watched it all the way through (back in the days before I knew better) I viewed the dubbed version, and it was only third time around I switched to subtitles.

    That made it all the more disappointing when I met Spike Spencer (Shinji’s English dub actor) last year and realised that he’s a bit of an ass…

    • LOL! I hear the same thing in reference to Vince Mignogna. I have no interest in meeting any of the voice actors except Laura Bailey, though if I ever found out she was an ass it would break my heart.

      Also, your choice of favorite dub is kind of funny given that Eva is one of my most hated dubs, up there with s-CRY-ed. But I’ll definitely acknowledge that it’s one of the more important dubs out there.

  5. mrwan says:

    In my opinion, Goku in English works much better than Goku in Japanese, especially when he’s grown up.

    • The classic, “why does he sound like a little girl” comment. I had the same reaction when I first watched my first Dragonball Z movie. This was long before it got popular here in America. I hated the Japanese Goku’s voice. I love it now. Goku’s been played by several English voice actors, my favorite may be the guy who did the original Ocean’s dub. I think his name was Sean Schemmel or something like that.

  6. Rakuen says:

    Hmm, I have to say I like Travis Willingham. I’ve only heard him in two roles though. The first is FMA, which by way of watching the entire series dubbed, I can only imagine the series in terms of English voice acting. Beyond that, though, I always thought he had sort of a detached voice. So imagine my surprise when I pop-in Mushishi, flip it to the English track, and there’s Travis talking. I think his voice alone gets across that he’s a wanderer with his own agenda. Maybe the Japanese VA has the same aspect, but seeing as I have no real barometer for it, greater minds will have to tell me.

    I agree with you on Richard Cansino. I recently went back and watched some of the Kenshin series. I was fine with Japanese voices for Tsuiokuhen, but as soon as I got to the main series, it just wasn’t working anymore. He will always be Kenshin to me and I know there’s a lot of people out there who agree.

    Time would fail me to talk about many other people, so I guess I’ll close this with my least favorite casting: Mona Marshall as Motoko in Love Hina. Love Hina is the first series I watched entirely subbed, and Mona’s the reason for it. Motoko got out one line of dialogue and I immediately said, “Nope, I can’t listen to this for an entire series,” and flipped the track. I get Motoko acts like a bit of a tomboy, but that doesn’t mean she should sound EXACTLY like a boy. Specifically, she shouldn’t sound exactly like Izzy from Digimon.

    • Mr. Roy Mustang, I’m a bit ashamed I forgot to mention him. The Fullmetal Alchemist dub is one of the best out there. And glad you agree with me on Cansino. It’s not easy for English voice casting to find a good voice for a femine character who kicks so much ass. They’ve tried and failed plenty of times.

      HA! And as for worst dub performance I’ll give you one in return as gratitude. Patricia Ja Lee as Patricia Martin in Lucky Star. How the hell do you dub an American character and she sounds worse than anyone else? Her voice almost killed any chance of me finishing the series dubbed.

  7. Dubbed anime was how I watched most of my first series, back when Adult Swim was about anime instead of crappily produced stoner comedies like it is now. MS Gundam, 08th MS Team, 0080, 0083, CCA, Trigun, .hack//SIGN, Rurouni Kenshin TV, Cowboy Bebop, Inuyasha, GiTS: SAC were all shows that I watched dubbed back in middle school and high school, late at night on Friday through Sunday nights. While I can’t say I would watch the dubs on purpose now, for the most part they served me well until I learned enough about anime to find my own series and broadband came to my area.

    Though the one exception is Cowboy Bebop. I still think that the English voice actors are cast much better for the roles than most of the Japanese ones were. I’ve watched a few episodes of it subbed, but only out of curiosity. Cowboy Bebop remains the only show where I prefer the dub.

    On a side note, seeing some of the English dub voice actors at anime cons makes me wish that I could enjoy the dubs a bit. Johnny Yong Bosch, Vic Mignogna, and Greg Ayres have been at my local con a couple of years and they’re really fun, cool guys. The Ouran panel and the True Tales of Con Horror panel (18+ and at night so they can say whatever they want) were ridiculous amounts of fun.

    • I’m in the same boat as you. Adult Swim really blew up for me when I was in college. Cowboy Bebop, probably the best dub ever, Trigun, InuYasha, so on and on, they were all airing late at night for me to watch. I suppose it was the golden age of dubbing.

      Also, all the UC Gundam stuff. I own and have watched dubbed (minus ZZ of course), almost exclusively. Gundam SEED and Gundam Wing are similar, mostly dubbed.

      I suppose meeting the voice actors personally would go better than me meeting some of the mangaka or directors for Japanese series. If I ever met Tite Kubo I’m afraid he might have read some of my material (I know, very unlikely) and punch me in the face. But I would love to meet Greg Ayres and tell him how much I enjoyed what he did on Chrono Crusade.

  8. Baka-Raptor says:

    Last night I started watching SDF Macross, IN ENGLISH!

    • Iijima Mari, the original singing and acting voice of Lynn Minmay reprised her role in that same English dub. I haven’t seen it myself… not sure if want.

      • I feel a bit of shame, but I too have been watching SDF Macross dubbed. It was too convenient, & I didn’t want to look for the torrent. It is nice to see that Edward Elric is just as capable a pilot as he is at alchemy though.

      • Baka-Raptor says:

        4 eps in, her accent is a bit strange. It’s like Japanese with a Chinese kick. Can’t decide whether it’s off-putting or appropriate. More on this story as it develops.

  9. kadian1364 says:

    G Gundam –
    “This hand of mine glows with an awesome power. It’s burning grip tells me to defeat you!” Oh Mark Gatha, I will never forget you gave me my first GAR.

    Kare Kano –
    Veronica Taylor, who I’d known in the role of Ash Ketchum for so many years, blew me away in her performance as Yukino Miyazawa. Subtle emotions, swaggering bravado, delivering both dramatic and comedic lines with the right punch. In a role that in so many ways could’ve sunk the whole dub effort, she stepped up in a big way.

    Full Metal Panic –
    Chris Patton was born to play Sanosuke Sagara. And I can never listen to another Tessa after Hilary Haag (a huge improvement over the Japanese VA IMO).

    Beck –
    Finally, Greg Ayres’ Koyuki was the spearhead in Funimation’s “reversioning” of Beck, one of the finest all-around anime dub efforts I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to.

    • abitidi says:

      “Not a problem.” I’m inclined to agree about FMP. although I found the entire Japanese audio track a bit lacking. I found the Japanese voices too generic and similar, while their over-the-top American counterparts leant a real added character to them.

      In the same vein, my favourite dub would have to be Midori Days. Drew Aaron was everything a delinquent should be.

    • Chris Patton is another very often used actor. Hell, if you need a angsty, aloof teenage protagonist to pilot your real/god-like mecha, then he’s the dude for the dub. I loved his work as Ayato Kamina from RahXephon, but your guys are right. He’s Sousuke all the way. “That’s not a problem.”

      Mark Gatha did an excellent job as Domon Kashu. But the person I really love in that show is Dave Pettit, who played Master Asia. I wonder why I can only find him for that role & he has such a good distinct voice?

      And for Kare Kano, I’ve heard a lot of women who’ve watched that show dubbed talk about how much they liked Arima’s voice. I think he did a good job playing that role. I would have loved not just more of that show, but more of him and Veronica Taylor owning those roles.

      I’m starting to pick up some good choices for anime that I should give a chance dubbed.

    • Shinmaru says:

      I just switched to the English dub of Beck, myself, and wow, seriously impressed her. I liked the Japanese just fine (outside of Daisuke Namikawa’s lol singing), but the English dub is clearly superior. I’ll miss the Engrish swearing, though. 😦

  10. Chrisa says:

    I whole heartedly agree with you on Laura Bailey and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn. Laura Bailey as Sana in Kodocha is freaking unbelievable! She catches Sana’s ADD and serious emotions perfectly. But there was a point where I was getting annoyed by her because she was in everything one year. A funny fact about McGlynn is that she married her co-star from Fushigi Yuugi. She played Nuriko and he played Tasuki. Also, I’m a fan of Tony Oliver. He was such a good Lupin III, cracked me up every time.

    When I watched Berserk, I listened to the English dub and wasn’t too crazy about it until I listened to the outtakes on the dvds. John Avner as Void was particularly hilarious.

    The most fun I’ve ever had listening to a dub was definitely Baccano!. Sure some people on 4chan were bitching about the accents but it made sense it context since the series took place in America, (most specifically in New York City), and the actors had a blast. The one I liked the most from that dub was the guy who played Ladd Russo. Bryan Massey needs more psycho roles so I can listen to his voice more!

    There are two voice actors that I wish could have more roles. They’re Bob Bershultz (?) who played Gene Starwind and Dave Mallow who played the Commander Amaro in FLCL. They need more love. Those are their only mentionable roles.

    • Ah yes, Outlaw Star. It was part of that great trio of cowboy-esque shows that appeared on American television around the same time. I can’t figure out either why we didn’t get to see more of his voice work. It’s a shame.

  11. Chronolynx says:

    Absolutely, 100% agreed on the first two. That’s one of the reasons I have trouble watching the original Ghost in the Shell movie, actually, because it isn’t the Major without McGlynn. And Bailey’s Rise was an amazing improvement over Persona 3’s Fuuka (though I still always think of her as Tohru).

    Outside of those two, the FMA and S-cry-ed are two shows I can only watch dubbed.

  12. s-CRY-ed for me never worked dubbed. I don’t know why, but I never thought the actors in dub never could meet those of the original cast. It didn’t sound natural to me at all either. I’m sorry Mr. Blum, but the Japanese Kazuma will always be the one I remember. He still has at least a dozen other roles that he owns though so he can’t complain.

    That’s another vote for FMA.

    • Baka-Raptor says:

      Ryuhou’s voice was the one I could never get over. It sounded so tame compared to the Japanese voice.

      • Either one of them, Ryuhou or Kazuma, I couldn’t stand. Their Japanese voices were both uber-manly and full of emotion. I’m not sure how anyone could match those performances. Then again maybe the Japanese voices were too manly for a pair of teenagers, but I liked it that way.

  13. Mark Gatha and Dave Pettitt: In the Day of Sigma OVA that came with Mega Man: Maverick Hunter X, there are some shades of G Gundam in the dub, especially the part where X performs his “Shining Finger”.

    Persona 3: Actually, Mela Lee voices Fuuka, not Laura. Laura voiced the female protagonist in P3 Portable, as well as Cloud of Darkness (Dissidia: Final Fantasy) and Marta Lualdi (Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World). Mela voiced Shurelia in the first Ar tonelico.

    Dave Mallow: His most recent role that I can remember is Wild Dog from Time Crisis 4.

    Veronica Taylor: For a true test of what she can do, watch Seven of Seven (Shichinin no Nana). She voices all seven Nanas. She also voices Aoi Matsubara from To Heart and Freya from Valkyrie Profile.

    Mary Elizabeth McGlynn: Also sings some songs from the Silent Hill series.

    Michael McConnohie: Also voices Charles zi Brittannia from Code Geass.

    Chris Patton: Also voices Yuuichi Aizawa from Kanon.

    Now for some of my favorites.

    Stephanie Sheh: Mikuru Asahina (Haruhi), Orihime Inoue (Bleach), Kyrie (Devil May Cry 4), Nicole Mimi Tithel (Mana Khemia), Princess Anastasia Romanova (Shadow Hearts: Covenant). Most recently cast as Yui Hirasawa (K-On!)

    Liam O’ Brien: Gaara (Naruto), Vayne Aurelius (Mana Khemia), Akihiko Sanada (Persona 3), Kain Highwind (Final Fantasy IV DS), Dist the Reaper (Tales of the Abyss).

    Jessica Boone: Chiyo Mihama (Azumanga Daioh), Nayuki Minase (Kanon), Misaki Suzuhara (Angelic Layer).

    Barbara Goodson: Laharl (Disgaea series), Rita Repulsa (Power Rangers series).

    Crispin Freeman: Jeremiah Gottwald (Code Geass), Kyon (Haruhi), Overlord Zetta (Makai Kingdom), and even Helios (God of War III).

    • bonehimer says:

      Day of Sigma was indeed pretty solid, it also helped it was a side video game extra so I was expecting a quick hack job.

      • I feel bad for not even once mentioning Liam O’Brien. He was a natural fit for Gaara. Besides the Japanese voice actor I couldn’t stand to hear anyone else play one of my favorite characters. He also did a pretty good job in Ergo Proxy and was excellent as Clive in Hare + Guu.

        And almost forgot about Crispin Freeman (& everyone else’s) video game work, probably because it’s such a pain to look up. I didn’t enjoy brutally murdering him in God of War III. >:-)

  14. vendredi says:

    Probably Karen Strassman for female voice actress – although I think her strongest performances by far tend to be found in games such as Persona 3 (playing Aigis), Odin Sphere (Gwendolyn), and Ace Combat 5 (Nagase). She’s one of the few female English VAs that I feel can capture that soft-spoken yet resolute female lead very well.

    As far as guys go, probably Crispin Freeman. Yes, his voice never changes a whit, and he’s typecast as heck, but he plays his type very well: the more mature and mysterious male mentor/adversary. Holland from Eureka 7, Amon in Witch Hunter Robin and Alex Rowe in Last Exile are good examples.

    • When I think of Freeman, I usually think of 3 roles. Togusa, Holland and the knight with the big sword from the Soul Calibur series, Siegried. I’m probably familiar with Strassman’s work and don’t even know it, considering all the games I’ve played. I’ll have to look her work up.

  15. Shinmaru says:

    Agreed with kadian on Veronica Taylor as Miyazawa in Kare Kano. Her performance sounds like it should not work at all (I kept thinking of Amelia from Slayers, haha), but somehow, it’s perfect.

    You also mentioned RahXephon — I love Monica Rial as Haruka. She nails every aspect of the character, but really, I love it because her voice is sooooooooo sexy. I mean, damn.

    • It was nice that Monica got to play someone who wasn’t a near mute, as that can often be her role. Haruka was sexy character, she really helped that. I don’t mind the older ladies either. *cough* Let me not get off subject.

  16. sadakups says:

    I like Chris Patton’s performance as Sousuke Sagara in Full Metal Panic. Well, it’s not as badass as the Japanese counterpart, but he sure made his own version really good. Probably the best performance Chris had was playing Tatsuhiro Satou in Welcome to the NHK. It rather sounds the most natural of all, since he’s playing a 20-something year-old character.

    I also mention Vic Mignogna. He played a very good Webber in FMP, and Edward Elric from FMA.

  17. Pingback: Ganalot! » Blog Archive » Crisis Core FFVII English Dub cutscenes part 8(*spoilers*)

  18. Robert Weizer says:

    I used to play so many PS2 games with voice acting while I was living with regular TV and PS2 access. I was on IMDB all the frickin time looking up other roles people did!

  19. Matt Wells says:

    McConnohie also gives one of the greatest dub performances I’ve ever heard in The Big O as the English voice of Scwarzwald. Perhaps my favourite dub performances, and one of the few I will call with certainty superior to the original Japanese voice actor’s performance. He gives the role a frantic paranoid energy severly lacking in the Japanese version. My one complaint is that he doesn’t get to summon Big Duo in the correct German, as his Japanese counterpart gets to. “Big Duo, es ist SHOW ZEIT!”.

    Big praise for both Vic Minogna and Steve Blum. Blum may tend to coast by on his typical badass voice, but his range really does belie his talent. I still can’t hear him as anything but Leeron in Gurren Lagann, outcamping the chracter’s Japanese voice by a country mile. Crisipin Freeman also deserves great praise, though I’ve only really heard him in the Dub for Hellsing Ultimate. His Alucard gives me chills…

    Dan Green, though a somewhat cheesy voice actor in the likes of Yu-Gi-Oh, really does a great job as Kotaroh Tiger in the english dub of Gaogaigar. Though the head of 3G’s japanese voice is as close to perfect as you can get, Green fills in the larger than life role admirably, relishing lines like “With effort and bravery, victory is 100% secure!” and “Titanium Head DRRIIIVERRR!”.

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