Today I decided to watch all the dubbed episodes on my Kyo Kara Maoh! DVD 1.
Poor Sean. I don’t think he’ll ever recover from the horror.
Yes, it was pretty bad. Dubs suck as a rule, but this one was patently horrible. I could at times see where they were coming from with their voice actor selections: Cheri-sama/Celi/whatever had a decently sexy voice, Yuuri had relatively decent “WTF?” range (though his emotional stuff and Maou stuff needs serious work), the girl doing Wolfram matched the original Japanese actress relatively well, and Yozak/Josak was actually pretty funny. Conrad, however, was a disaster, as was Gwendal; the guy doing Gunter only managed to sound like Gunter every now and then, and for the rest of the time he sounded like he was trying to sound like a wuss. Anissina just didn’t fit at all; her voice didn’t stand out. And somehow, the dude doing Murata Ken sounded way too much like Jimmy Flinders. (Ridiculously deep voice, too…) In general, I think the voice actors were chosen for how closely they could get their voices to resemble the original actors; it doesn’t seem like much emphasis was placed on using proper, realistic intonation.
The opening scene of episode 1, with Conrad and Yuuri’s mother in the cab, was the best, hilarity-wise. Conrad sounded absofuckinglutely gay. It was so bad, I can’t think of it without bursting into laughter! Because of that, I was looking forward to the intentionally gay scene in episode 5 where Conrad’s putting in Yuuri’s contact lenses…but unfortunately that fell flat on all counts. Conrad was too stiff, Yuuri didn’t sound vulnerable enough, and Wolfram’s response was hardly filled with shock and outrage.
My main reason for watching the dub (other than boredom) was to check out the voice acting, but my secondary reason was to see how much the English dub translation differed from the subtitles. There were some interesting changes; for example, in episode 5, when Yuuri asks Conrad if he’d cry for him if he died, Conrad’s line changes to something like, “I’d be too busy. I’ll be coming with you.” That’s a little bizarre, and I’m not sure that meaning is what was originally intended…
Some details were changed, too, to make sense to an American audience. In the subtitled version, the Shibuya Yuuri Harajuku Furi joke is halfway explained; in this version, they changed the joke completely, to “Isn’t Yuri short for urine?”
Ha, ha, ha.
They also changed the part where Yuuri compliments Adelbert’s Japanese, so that instead of just looking baffled at Yuuri’s stupidity, Adelbert explains that he gave Yuuri the ability to understand the language. This kind of messes up the later scene where Gunter and Conrad explain to Yuuri that nobody is speaking Japanese…
They changed the line “feudal drama” to something like “civil war reenactment”, which makes sense to an American audience, but is kind of questionable since they leave the fact that Yuuri is Japanese intact. Additionally, they changed Yuuri’s reaction to his mother’s “fantasy-esque” decor; instead of thinking that his mother’s taste is supernatural, Yuuri now just mutters that she likes teddy bears and teacups.
There are also some funny lines in general, like Yuuri’s “Give me the skinny” in episode 1, or the pirate’s abrupt “Shut your hole” in episode 5. These sometimes added realism and helped the flow, and sometimes didn’t. (I mean, at one point, Gunter says, “That’s the way it went down.” And who says “the skinny”?) I did like Wolfram’s swearing, though; I thought that fit fairly well.
All in all, I still recommend this DVD…for the subs. Please, children, watch the subs. Spare yourselves the pain. For a good laugh, just watch that first opening scene. That’s all you need to see.