October 23rd, 2016

Thoughts on Escaflowne's New Dub

So...FUNimation's new dub for Escaflowne has come out. How does it hold up compared to the Ocean dub? Let's find out!

To be honest, while there are parts of the Ocean dub that I liked (Van, Folken and Jajuka's voices), it can't be denied that it has a lot of flaws. For some reason, the dub muted the music somewhat, making it barely listenable unless you really strain your ears. Plus, most of the actors kind of overdid it with their acting, making them come off as kinda whiny (Hitomi being a serious offender), others sounded kinda stiff and emotionless (Allen and Yukari), and some were downright bafflingly miscast (Dilandau). Thankfully, FUNimation's acting is far better.

Hitomi: I'll admit, when I heard FUNi was redubbing Esca, Caitlin Glass wasn't my first choice for Hitomi. But she's an experienced actress who puts a lot of effort into the roles she's cast in. Now, listening to her, I can't believe I ever doubted her, because she makes Hitomi sound great. She never goes over-the-top, nor does she try too hard to...y'know, sound like a teenager. Her voice is perfectly natural and feathery, and her emotion really shines through, so it's hard to really find any fault in her performance. Kudos!

Van: Yeah, this one's gonna be a polarizing one. Everyone remembers Kirby Morrow as Van, and I can't blame them. He was one of the better voices in Ocean's dub, and obviously no one can even try to get to his level. And let's be honest, did ANY of you expect Aaron Dismuke of all people to be cast as Van? I sure didn't! But after five episodes of this new dub, I have to say that sometimes the unexpected can be a good thing. Yeah, face it, Aaron's no Kirby Morrow, but really, why should he be? Nobody should have to just imitate someone else, as that's not sincere. The point of voice acting is for an actor to deliver their own take on a character, even if it's not like the original. I think Aaron does a good job of capturing Van's hotbloodedness, but also his sweet, timid side too. Sure, the voice took some getting used to, and he sounds significantly younger than that of both Seki and Morrow, but he also gives him a more vengeful and growly edge to him that I think really gives Van more personality, especially considering the things that happen to him. So yeah, sometimes the unexpected can be a good thing.

Allen: I saw the show in four languages, German being one of them, and I REALLY liked Allen's German voice, as I thought his original English voice was not only a bit too breathy and echo-y, but Brian Drummond kinda made Allen sound less like a dashing knight and more like a disinterested, condescending caretaker than anything. There didn't seem to be oomph in his performance, something his German actor, Peter Fletchner, managed to put in. Thankfully, Sonny Strait manages to rectify that ten-fold and give Allen some much needed emotion and charisma. Plus, he actually manages to sound like he actually gives a durn about everything that's going on around him, so kudos to you for that.

Merle: Back in the day, Merle's voice was considered pretty badly miscast. I honestly had no problem with it, but I can see how her voice could grate on people's nerves, especially since no one can measure up to Ikue Ohtani's take on her. But really, did anyone expect Alexis Tipton, a woman who usually does elegant lady voices, to be cast as a little cat girl? I had no idea she could even pitch her voice so high, but she did, and surprisingly well, I can attest to that.

Dilandau: THANK GOD, HE DOESN'T SOUND LIKE A FIFTH GRADER ANYMORE!!! I prayed with all my heart that he be given a new voice, and I kept saying to myself as his first scene came, "Please don't suck! Please don't suck! Please don't suck!" Thank God, my worries have been put to rest! I can take him seriously! Don't get me wrong, I love Andrew Francis, but at the time of the show's old dub, his voice was WAY too high pitched for me to take him seriously. I did want Josh Grelle to play Dilandau, as I thought he'd be a great fit for him, but Joel McDonald manages to put his all into the role, and I really respect him for his take on the character, and I only heard him in one anime beforehand (Nabari no Ou). I do think his voice does sound a LITTLE bit breathy, but you know what? I don't care! He sounds great! True, for me, nobody can beat Dilandau's German actress, but Joel comes pretty close. Honestly, I'm just plain happy he sounds mature and villainous, and NOT like a chirpy nine-year-old! I can't wait to hear the rest of him in the series, and I know he'll sound great! Congratulations, FUNimation! You passed the test, and you get an A+!!!

Folken: Now, I know what you're thinking: "They cast Vic Mignogna as Folken?! What?! That can't be right! His voice is too high pitched! Paul Dobson did a great job as Folken! Why?!" I agree with you, as I'm still completely flabbergasted by the casting choice myself. Folken has the deepest voice in the whole series, and FUNimation has many deep-voiced actors who could perfectly match up with that of Joji Nakata, like Chris Sabat or Ian Sinclair or even Josh Grelle! Why they went with Vic is beyond me. But I will say this: Unlike Andrew Francis (at the time), I can actually take Vic seriously. He has a lot of acting experience, and even if his voice doesn't quite match Folken, he can still put in a lot of effort and emotion into a role when need be. For all we know, he might blow us away with his performance. It's still too early to judge, as I've only seen up to episode 5. But that's okay!

(more to come soon)