Why dubbed movies are doing so well, even though they’re just trying to make a splash? | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Why dubbed movies are doing so well, even though they’re just trying to make a splash?

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on LINE

Why are more dubbed versions of films being screened?

The dubbed version of the Indian film “RRR,” which has been showing since last fall, was released on July 28 and has become a hot topic.

By the way, looking at recent foreign films, there are a number of films that have more dubbed screenings than subtitled ones, such as “The Super Mario Brothers Movie,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” and “Wild Speed: Fire Boost,” among others.

RRR,” directed by Rajamauli, which cost $72 million (approximately 9.7 billion yen), the highest production cost in Indian film history. The dance battle song “Nathu Nathu” in the film won the Best Song at the 95th Academy Awards (2023) (PHOTO: AFRO)

Why are more and more dubbed versions being screened? We asked foreign drama critic and film writer Toshi Ikeda.

He said, “I think the rise of dubbed versions is largely due to the increase in the number of cinema complexes since the late 1990s; before the late 1990s, the default in the movie industry was to show subtitled versions (only). Before the late 1990s, the film industry was still in a period of “high Western and low Japanese” (Western films were more popular than Japanese films). I think people’s awareness changed to the point that there was a need for dubbed versions of some films.

In the cinema complex business, the sale of drinks and other goods at concessions is important, and I think they really want families to enter the complex. Then, I think that dubbed versions, which are easy for small children to understand, have come in handy.”

Personally, I had an embarrassing assumption that the dubbed version was suitable for children. When I was wondering what to do when I saw “Lion Boy” because there were almost no theaters showing the subtitled version, I was struck by a word-of-mouth comment that “the dubbed version is more purely enjoyable because of the amount of information in the images.

I was also struck by the word of mouth that “dubbed versions of some films are being screened more frequently than dubbed versions. I also think that the popularity of DVDs and Blu-rays is also a big factor. Depending on the software, it is possible to enjoy multiple versions of a film, which is a new way to enjoy a film, and above all, I think it is great that consumers have more choices.

Japanese-dubbed versions of foreign TV dramas” have made up for the lack of programs on Japanese TV.

Mr. Ikeda points out, however, that Japanese people have a long history of enjoying “Japanese dubbed versions” on TV.

In the 1950s, the Japanese TV industry was short of programs due to a lack of production capacity and the “Gosha Agreement” of the Japanese movie industry, which did not allow movies to be broadcast on TV,” Ikeda said. This is when the production of Japanese dubbed versions of foreign dramas began to flourish. This period is sometimes referred to as the “first voice-over boom. The freshness of having foreigners speak in Japanese may have been one of the reasons for the popularity of dubbing, while the small size of TV sets at the time may have made subtitled versions unsuitable.

Even after the sharp decline in foreign drama broadcasts in the 1970s, many movies were broadcast in the so-called “Yo-eiga Gekijo” slot during golden hours on terrestrial TV, earning viewer ratings to a certain extent. However, as BS broadcasting began to spread in the 1990s, terrestrial “Yo-ga Gekijo” began to decline, and both movies and foreign dramas entered a new era in which BS broadcasting became the main channel.

On the other hand, the anime boom that began in the late 1970s gave birth to several star voice actors (the second voice actor boom), and when anime gained renewed attention in the late 1990s and voice actors expanded their range of activities to include singing and appearing in video games, a third voice actor boom is said to have occurred.

In the late 2000s, when those who had been familiar with anime and dubbing from childhood entered their teens, voice acting became one of the most popular occupations for children, and the fourth boom in voice acting began, and the current popularity of voice acting has gone beyond a boom to become a uniquely Japanese phenomenon.

Japanese anime is also very popular overseas, and this has led to an increase in the popularity of voice actors and artists who sing theme songs and other songs overseas as well.

Advantages of Watching “Dubbing

What are the advantages of watching recently released films dubbed?

In the case of an original version with actors from the country of origin who are not well known in Japan, having a popular Japanese voice actor dubbing the film is a great added value.

3D and 4DX, “immersion” is important, so dubbing is probably better than subtitles that float on the screen. As for dubbing of animated films, some of the most hardcore fans are against subtitles at all. This is the argument that subtitles tarnish the images because they want to enjoy the screen = images.

On the other hand, foreign dubbed versions often have a small number of voice actors who take on many roles, while Japanese dubbing and animation with numerous voice actors can be considered luxurious.

On the other hand, in the past, there were films such as Jackie Chan’s films that were said to be more interesting when dubbed.

In the past, however, there were films such as Jackie Chan movies that were said to be “more interesting” when dubbed. The fact that each station had its own fix for a certain actor made Japan’s dubbing culture more interesting.

In the 1990s, however, more and more dubbed versions made for video releases were broadcast (which was a cost-cutting measure for TV stations), and in the 21st century, when a foreign film was released in theaters, a dubbed version was often made at the same time, and in such cases, there was a notice in Japan that the translation should not be changed too much from the original version. In the 21st century, more and more dubbed versions of foreign films are being made at the same time when they are released in theaters, and in such cases, it seems that the dubbed versions are being ordered by their home countries not to change the translation too much from the original version.

The dubbing of Hong Kong films such as Jackie Chan by Hiroya Ishimaru and Mr. Boo by Taichiro Hirokawa were interesting in part because they were able to ignore the Hong Kong creators. Personally, I think it is fine to have such “funny dubbing” or “weird dubbing,” but there is a risk that it could lead to a firestorm if done poorly. I think we have to be serious enough to get an endorsement from the home country.

38.9% “Always subtitle” when watching movies (“Do you watch movies with subtitles or dubbing? Dubbing?”) (Survey of 1,000 men and women aged 10-70 or older nationwide in 2009, from an ELABEL Internet survey)

Disappointing dubbed movies are…

Conversely, we asked Mr. Ikeda to name some of his disappointments with dubbed movies.

Depending on the voice actor, a celebrity can replace a cast member if he or she has a scandalous history, so be careful about using celebrities.

The drama “Supernatural” Seasons 1 and 2 were also impressive. Hiroki Narimiya and Satoshi Inoue of the comedy duo “Tsugichocho” dubbed the main characters, the Winchester brothers, in seasons 1 and 2. Then, we wondered why they had celebrities dub the show in the first place. In fact, Hiroki Narimiya has retired from acting.

In addition, even those who were thought to be good actors in general dramas are sometimes not so good in dubbing.

Take Hiroyuki Miyasako, for example. For example, Hiroyuki Miyasako, who played Hawkeye in the “Avengers” series, disappeared from the mainstream entertainment industry and was replaced by Hiroki Higashiji, who was still better.

The Simpsons MOVIE” was cast with George Tokoro, Akiko Wada, and atsushi Tamura, and fans of the TV dubbed version were outraged. However, there are many famous celebrities who are skillful dubbers, such as Kendo Kobayashi for “Pacific Rim” and Momori Matsuzaka for “Paddington,” so I don’t think it’s a good idea to deny them all.

He adds, however, that the pattern of using well-known celebrities for advertising purposes will probably become obsolete in the future.

After all, the moment the face of a voice actor is announced in an anime or other production, it can cause a firestorm on the Internet. Even if there is a publicity effect, if the dubbed version is not good, there is a big risk that it will have a negative impact on the box office. Ghibli’s latest film, “Kimi tachi wa dou wa Ikiruka” (How Do You Live?), is a hot topic, but with this voice cast, there was a possibility that the film would have been burned, so I think they did not announce it.

Which films are better suited to be watched with subtitles and which films are better suited to be watched dubbed?

So, what is the difference between subtitled films and dubbed films?

There are more and more fast-paced Hollywood films these days, and I prefer to watch a good dubbed version when I’m exposed to too much information. Recently, I have been watching Hollywood blockbusters where the amount of information in the dialogue is as large as that of the images. For example, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” and “The Flash” are typical examples of superhero movies. It would be better if the dubbed version of the film has a casting that is unique to the dubbed version.

What particularly struck me about “The Flash” was that Michael Keaton, who played Batman in the 1989 version of “Batman,” played Batman again. Koichi Yamadera, who dubbed the film, had also dubbed the Batman played by Keaton, so this was exquisite casting. However, if you still want to avoid the accident of encountering a poorly dubbed version, it is better to first approach the work through the subtitled version. It is best to have both a good dubbed version and a subtitled version coexisting.

On the other hand, the most difficult part of dubbing is musicals. Personally, I sometimes get turned off when I hear English songs forcibly translated into Japanese. Still, there are some successful examples, such as “Anna and the Snow Queen. I think it is also good to have “only the songs in English (original language),” as in the case of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which was also broadcast on TV.

The fact that it has become commonplace to have both subtitled and dubbed versions of a film is actually still very new, and has only been around for the past 20-25 years. Ikeda spoke of the rise of dubbed films.

The dubbed versions have flourished in the past few years because a new generation has emerged that takes it for granted to have both subtitled and dubbed versions, and I think we are entering a new era in which the number of fans of foreign films may increase as more attractive voice actors are added.

Even among those who normally prefer subtitles, 80% chose the dubbed version for the movie “Anna and the Snow Queen” (from a CCCMK Holdings, Inc. survey conducted in 2002; sample size: 1601 people).

Satoshi Ikeda, foreign drama critic, was born in 1967. Started writing while a student at Waseda University, and has contributed to numerous film and TV magazines, including “Screen” and “Eiga Hiho. He has written several books, including “Foreign Dramas You Should Watch Now” (Seikaisha Shinsho), and has served as an advisor for WOWOW’s Academy Awards broadcasts for about 20 years, supervised TV programs, and appeared on the radio.

Click here for Satoshi Ikeda’s Twitter (X)

  • Reporting and writing Wakako Takou

Photo Gallery3 total

Photo Selection

Check out the best photos for you.

Related Articles