For those who don’t know, I’ve been rewatching a lot of anime I’ve only seen dubbed in English in Japanese (with English subs) I’ve done it with Tenchi Universe, Outlaw Star, Trigun, and Cowboy Bebop. This time I set my sights on what was probably my favorite anime (post high school/early college) Yu Yu Hakusho
I just finished rewatching the entire series, and here are some of my impressions. Note that in the future, I plan to post my reactions to voices as smaller status updates rather than a longer form post like this one.
I love the YYH English dub more than any other English dub. It’s what I used to consider the gold standard (actually I probably still consider it in many ways) I remember trying to watch the Japanese dub later only to find that it clashed a lot with how I’d become used to hearing things.
For example, Yusuke and especially Kuwabara’s voices in the Japanese dub come off as the most changed. It’s hard to put a finger on how Yusuke’s voice differs exactly (I’m not exactly an expert of audio terminology) but Kuwabara has a much higher and more annoying pitched voice (rather than his low and kind of more oafish voice)
That was back when I hadn’t seen nearly as much anime though. Upon trying it again, I finally understood the voices are meant to sound like stereotypical Japanese delinquents, and I was finally able to get past the initial episode to experience the dub
I’ll give you my conclusion before I go into the specifics (well more like random tidbits) Ultimately, I think the English dub is still better. I do really like the Japanese dub and I prefer some of the subtitle translations versus how they chose to localize. However I still think the voices in English are better than Japanese. Part of that might have something to do with the difference in audio quality (I think the equipment used for English voices was better than the initial recording) and part of that might be due to my own nostalgia, but that’s really it.
Some interesting tidbits:
Koenma is the son of King Yama, but in Japanese they refer to Yama as Enma. I guess the two are interchangeable, though if you know Japanese ko is often used to refer to children, so Ko-enma is essentially Enma’s child.
Koenma is voiced by the same VA that voices Luffy in One Piece. Which felt really weird and is probably one of the ones I’d prefer in English. I might feel differently had I seen YYH first, but who can say.
Both Jorge Saotome (the blue ogre who’s with Koenma) are voiced by the respective narrator. Which might seem like a small thing, but there’s actually a gag about it in the last (or second to last episode) where Jorge is narrating and it cuts to him (which is how I first learned he was the narrator) It doesn’t feel like something the English dub did by chance, so it’s good to see there was some foresight to the end of the series from the very beginning.
Spirit gun in the English dub was rei gun. Rei being another word for spirit, but also sounding similar to ray gun. I get they probably changed it because it would seem cheesy in English, but knowing Japanese I found it kind of a neat little thing.
Some of the ways the subtitles are translated changes nuances of some of the scenes compared to how the dub handles them. Sorry I can’t really give much for examples though. In the future, I’m going to try and make more notes while I watch things so I can explain my impressions more.
Kuwabara has the same voice as the merchant in Resident Evil 4. A fact I probably wouldn’t have noticed if I weren’t playing the remake in Japanese at the same time as watching. Hiei also had somewhat of a familiar voice, but I couldn’t tell you what other characters he did.
This might not have anything to do with differences between the Japanese and English dubs, but for the ending, for the first time (despite seeing it over like 10 times), I got the impression that things were left open ended. What I mean by that is Yusuke mentions several times about how he’s only going back to the human world temporarily to fulfill the promise he made, and that Genkai says something about how the future is uncertain and they’ll have to watch over things. It kind of makes it sound like Togashi, despite ending it, was trying to leave it open to potentially go back to it one day.
I’ve heard all kinds of stories about him ending it prematurely because of disagreements and trouble he had with editors, and maybe he really wont go back to it (considering his pace on HxH it’s probably impossible) Though I’d still like to think it might be possible one day, as I kind of would like to see a Yu Yu Hakusho story with them as adults
I do plan on reading the manga sometime in the near future (I own all of it) and I’ve heard there’s even more differences (For one, I know that Yusuke apparently smokes cigarettes) I’ll have to do a reading thread when I do.
That’s about all I have to say. Like I said, I’ll have more to say about the next series because I plan to take notes whenever I get a thought (instead of trying to remember them all) and I plan to post shorter little updates rather than a comprehensive post.
As for what series I plan to do next, I’m thinking Eureka Seven or Blood+.