Six of the best English dubs in anime

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If you ever want to start a fight among anime fans, just mention English dubs in a group of them. Chances are, someone in the room will have unnecessarily strong opinions about them, usually in the negative. While it is true that many early English dubs were cringe-inducing, those times are (mostly) gone. As studios have continued to grow their acting talent, the quality and consistency of dubs have steadily improved.

There are some great English dubs of anime out there, just waiting for you to dive into and enjoy.

Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt

English dubs: Panty and Stocking

Yes, we’re excited for the return of the Anarchy sisters, but we’re also hoping that the cast of the English dub returns as well. Panty and Stocking themselves were played by Jamie Marchi and Monica Rial in roles that showcased just how good an English dub could be when the actors are having the time of their lives. Christopher Sabat, Colleen Clinkenbeard, and Cherami Leigh all provide fantastic work, though the late Chris Ayres steals the show as the wicked Corset in every scene he’s in. This dub is so good that even the Japanese creators have said that it is closer to their vision of the show than the original.

Kaguya-sama: Love is War

English dubs: Kaguya-sama

Comedy is such a fickle mistress. It relies heavily on timing and delivery, things that can be disrupted when dealing with a language barrier. Even when we’re used to reading subtitles quickly, there is a disconnect that is tough to overcome. That’s why shows like Kaguya-sama: Love is War work so well when dubbed. The chaos of the show lends itself well to being localised, and it is done very well here. The entire cast deserves praise, but Ian Sinclair, who plays the narrator in the show, helps carry much of the humour here. He is so extra and fun and perfect in the role.

Yu Yu Hakusho

English dubs: Yu Yu Hakusho

The late ’90s and early ’00s were a tough time for English dubs. The localisation industry consisted of some excellent actors but it didn’t have the depth it does now. This resulted in some uneven shows, with the lead roles being solid but the supporting cast feeling wooden or silted. That is what makes the Yu Yu Hakusho English dub so good. The show has a large main cast but every one of them is perfectly cast. It is easily one of the best English dubs of its time, with particularly great performances from the likes of Justin Cook as Yusuke and Cynthia Cranz as Botan.

Crayon Shin-chan

English dubs: Crayon Shin-chan

Most English dubs try to stick close to the original material as possible. In fact, they are often contractually obliged to not change anything aside from the voices. However, when Funimation got the chance to provide the dub for one of Japan’s longest-running children’s shows, they turned it into a strange, irreverent collection of lewd jokes and dark humour. Shin’s mother was constantly saving up for a boob job, his friend was the victim of domestic abuse, and the biggest show on TV was Action Bastard.

It is such a wild ride that feels like a team of incredibly talented actors made an abridged series, but it is officially licensed. It can be tough to track down these days, though some episodes have made their way onto YouTube.

Cowboy Bebop

English dub spike spiegel

Very little needs to be said about this English dub. There are career-defining performances from some of the best in the business, but they are helped by the fact that the show is heavily influenced by Western media so the English voices don’t feel out of place. Though it has become the gold standard for English dubs of the period, it wasn’t immediately obvious that it was going to be a hit. Steve Blum, the voice of the iconic Spike, reportedly left the booth thinking he had dropped the ball in a role that would become one of his most beloved.

FLCL

English dubs: FLCL

Few shows are more chaotic and wilder than FLCL, which made it a challenge to localise. The frantic energy of the animation combined with the specific references to classic Japanese shows made it challenging, but somehow it came out as one of the best English dubs. Kari Wahlgren is the standout here, but everyone in the relatively tight cast holds their own amongst the chaos and action that defined FLCL and its subsequent shows.

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