From “Cowboy Bebop” to “Ghost Stories”: the best animated series dubbed in English

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The fierce battle between subs and dubs has been going on for decades, and frankly, it’s a battle worth looking into. Like South Korean movie Parasite (2019) director, Bong Joon Ho once said, “Once you overcome the one inch high subtitle barrier, you will discover so many more amazing movies”, the same postulation also applies to anime.


Hardcore fans would say that anime with English subtitles would always be superior to the English dub due to its Japanese voice acting bringing more believable to the characters. Nonetheless, there are a number of anime series that arguably feature memorable English dubs that might even surpass their original Japanese version.

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‘Cowboy Bebop’ (1998)

Hailed as the paradigm of English voice acting, the neo-noir sci-fi adventure series not only offered audiences a mix of genres and music, but also a range of standout voice acting performances from the majority of the cast members. distribution. These days, few people can imagine space cowboy Spike Spiegel without thinking of Steve Blumin the distinctly deep hoarse voice.

Set in the year 2071, when humanity is no longer restricted to habitation on Earth, cowboy bebop (1998) witness the lives of a team of bounty hunters as they pursue criminals for tempting rewards while instinctively seeking ways to free themselves from their respective pasts.

‘Space Dandy’ (2014)

Another amazing anime that sees humans exploring the infinite realms of the solar system. space dandy (2014) can be described as a space opera where the audience follows the main protagonist, who is a forgetful and pompous alien bounty hunter named Dandy, as he is caught up in a series of romantic, adventurous and comedic circumstances all discovering rare aliens.

While the English sub offers a handful of relatively mature jokes, space dandyThe English dub of proves superior in terms of matching her English voice personalities to the chaotic high level displayed in the series. For audiences unfamiliar with the Japanese language, the decorative visuals can also be overwhelming enough to feast on when you’re preoccupied with following the subtitles.

“Black Butler” (2008-2017)

As the supernatural mystery series is set in 19th-century Victorian-era England, black butler (2008-2017) is one of those rare instances where anime subtitles and dubs each have unique selling points to offer. The English dubbed version with a heterogeneity of English accents can be quite an immersive experience for viewers.

Motivated by revenge against those who murdered his parents, black butler follows a young Earl, Ciel Phantomhive, as he makes a contract with a demon named Sebastian Michaelis, who disguises himself as the Earl’s butler. Together, they unsurprisingly become a perfect match when it comes to solving one mystery after another.

‘Bacano!’ (2007)

Baccano! (2007) is a supernatural detective series where things get complicated due to its diverse narratives encountering multiple intertwined storylines, the pulp Fiction (1994) anime.

Revolving around groups of people consisting of thieves, alchemists, innocents, and the mafia, their seemingly unrelated paths begin to cross due to the invention of an elixir of immortality. The strong English dub by the voice actors is solidified by the incorporation of authentic New York accents, providing an American feel that better complements the fictional Prohibition-era setting of the series.

“Ghost Stories” (2000-2001)

As cowboy bebop, ghost stories (2000-2001) exemplifies an excellent anime English dub, but for reasons you might not expect.

Following a group of friends dealing with various supernatural occurrences in their neighborhood, the original Japanese version takes on a more traditional take on its horror subject matter. Rather, on the basis that the core story and character names remain intact, the English dub has become a legendary adaptation that’s ludicrously bombarded with ad-libs, wall-breaking, and politically incorrect jokes that don’t lend no attention to the taboos of religion and the LGBTQ+ community.

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“Death Note” (2006-2007)

Centered on a teenager who discovers a mysterious book that gives him the power to kill anyone whose name is written in it, Death threat (2006-2007) is an exceptional psychological mystery anime that defined the 2000s. Fans are always eager to witness the moral showdown between shrewd anti-hero Light Yagami and eccentric greedy detective L.

There are significant changes regarding the sub and dub versions. For example, while Light sounds more chilled and composed in the Japanese rendition, the English dub allows the vigilante to be more emotional and makes his psychotic moods quite entertaining. Nonetheless, each rendition is exceptional in its style and both deserve viewings for different experiences.

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“Black Lagoon” (2006-2011)

Based on Rei Hiroe‘s manga of the same title and produced by Madhouse StudioThis action-adventure anime is a must-watch for fans of badass female characters, torrents of gunfights and bloodshed, and 80s action movie style with sardonic humor.

Set in the fictional city of Roanapour, where notorious criminals from around the world congregate to conduct illegal transactions or hide from legal authorities, the English dub of black lagoon (2006-2011) feels more naturalistic than its Japanese counterpart due to the various nationalities highlighted in the series. For example, Americans, Hispanics, and Southeast Asians to name a few.

‘Hetalia’ series (2009-2021)

Speaking of diverse nationalities, Hetalia (2009-2021) is another example of how dubbing different languages ​​can change the initial tone of the series, sometimes for the better.

In addition to providing lesser-known anecdotes, Hetalia is best known for using satire and light comedy to depict different countries and historical events. The series’ English dub takes advantage of the instant comic impact of various accents that most viewers are familiar with, taking it a step further with its satirical and ironic wit, while the Japanese dub makes you focus more on the original jokes written by the series. webcomic artist Hidekaz Himaruya.

‘Samurai Champloo’ (2004)

Samurai Champloo (2004) is set in a historic Edo period in Japan where samurai, hip-hop and baseball co-exist. Thus, it’s no surprise that its rendition of English voice acting doesn’t alienate, but further enhances the anime’s plot polymorphism and cements itself as one of the must-watch English dubbed anime.

Seeing the return of Steve Blum as the abrasive and arrogant young outlaw Mugen, the English voice acting for the rest of the main cast, the calm ronin Jin and the jovial middleman Fuu, are also performed exceptionally by Kirk Thorton and Kari Wahlgren in this action-adventure animated series that explores themes such as coming to terms with death and discovering one’s individuality.

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‘Afro Samurai’ (2007)

Written and illustrated by a mangaka Takashi Okazaki, Afro samurai (2007) follows the title character, voiced by none other than the formidable Hollywood veteran Samuel L.Jacksonon his way to avenge his father who was killed by a bandit named Justice.

Having never been voiced in Japanese and featuring a musical soundtrack written by RZA from the famous group of hip-hop artists Wu-Tang Clan, Afro samurai is rough, tough and very obviously inspired by American pop culture, which explains the insurmountable level of violence, badassery and fun to be had from the action-adventure samurai epic

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