The release of the Attack on Titan English dub at the beginning of June has fueled the fire in the Dub vs Sub debate which has been ongoing since before the early otaku days in America when my father used to have it over Akira. With a title as popular as the Titan franchise has been for FUNimation, the release of an English dub was bound to become the center of the debate. Anticipation ran high, both for the dub enthusiasts wanting to put voices (other than those in their heads) to the characters in their native tongue, and the sub fans waiting to trash the assault on the purist perspective.
The premiere, held at the Anime Boston convention in May, was packed to overflowing. So many of the convention attendees were left waiting outside once the hall had reached capacity for the premiere that they scheduled a second showing the following day to satisfy the disappointed hordes. The premiere itself, was excellent. Followed by a Q&A with some of the dub voice actors, the event actually lived up to the hype and the build-up.
The sub enthusiasts picked at the edges, concerned about a couple of awkward phrases and debating the casting choices for a few of the minor parts, but there was little to criticize. Even the most hard-core of them were won over at the sight of Sasha in the “potato girl” scene coming beautifully to life in English. Ashly Burch tackled the fan-favorite interaction, and a tear came to my eye to see it unfold. Seeing Bryce Papenbrook not-so-surprisingly revealed as the voice of Eren Jaeger was a nice beginning to the show, if only to confirm that I would not have to turn in my Otaku card for misreading the breadcrumb trail of hints left by FUNimation leading up to the premiere.
The Attack on Titan mania is continuing as FUNimation has begun its ramp-up to the release of the two Attack on Titan movies. The release dates for Japan have been set and announced. The first of the two, Crimson Bow and Arrow, has a Japanese release date of November 22, 2014. The second, Wings of Freedom, is expected to follow in the early part of 2015. Both, of course, are merely the appetizers, as the live-action movie, directed by Shinji Higuchi, is likely going to be released in 2015 after a couple of years of extended anticipation. Haruma Miura, known for his roles in Space Pirate Captain Harlock, and Kimi No Todoke, was recently confirmed as having been cast for the “main role” in Attack on Titan, though that role has yet to be confirmed officially as the Eren Jaeger character. More breadcrumbs, I suppose.
Despite the slow westward roll of the material most consumable for American otaku, this franchise seems poised to be the giant on the scene for at least the next couple of years. The incredible job done with the casting and execution of the English dub premiered at Anime Boston may even have quelled the dub vs sub debate, at least in this case. All the old points will be revisited with the next epic fail of a dub, as they have since anime first became popular in the states.
By Reuben Malone