Anime commonly really fucking sucks with dialogue, it’s a consistent problem and it’s a key cause to why I usually am forced to read annoying subtitles to watch Japanese cartoons. The usual issues with anime dialogue relate to the dismissal of a fundamental element of mature storytelling, ‘show don’t tell.’ Anime dialogue is usually laced with exposition that would be unacceptable in any self-respecting American drama. Another common element that incorporates the lack of ‘show don’t tell,’ philosophy is the rampant use of internal monologues in anime, having a character just exposit their emotions to so blatantly is considered extremely lazy writing. But expositional dialogue isn’t inherently bad, but it’s the way its delivered in Dubs that create this disconnect with me about anime dialogue.
English Dubs are usually terrible, because the majority of voice acting in English speaking countries are for children cartoons, wherein the over-the-top nature voice acting fits for the younger demographic being targeted. But when these voice actors are tasked with trying to give a believable and serious performance, they are outwardly terrible. The meme about Dubs having the same 7 fuckbois in every single show is patently true, I’m sick of hearing the same untalented over-the-top idiots in every show. Animation is naturally a more expressive medium and therefore it courts audiences that need basic human characteristics and emotions repeatedly explained to them, that’s why the anime community is filled with autists. This may be why the scripting of the shows even in Subs is, so exposition orientated, these feel their audience can’t understand subtly. This definitely contributes to anime’s fundamental issues with dialogue.
However, there is one show that stands out amongst its contemporaries with dialogue, and that’s the Black Lagoon Dub. This show’s Dub is objectively so much better than the Sub, because the script was entirely re-written by the English produces to be appropriate for an older demographic. All the uses of bastard in the original script were replaced with more mature language like, ‘fuck’ and ‘motherfuck,’ and it’s unbelievably fantastic. The dialogue does fall into dumb anime speak every once and a while, but the more melancholic and slower moments of the show are highlighted by the great script writing and more relatable language. Black Lagoon’s Dub is a prime example of what Dubs could be if the English producers got more creative and worked a little harder. Other examples of Dubs that I think are worth watching include, Steins; Gate, but not 0, the Dub is not as good there, and Neon Genesis Evangelion, only because the awkwardness entirely fits Anno’s thematic elements.