*Before getting into this, I have to say that I watch and appreciate both dubs and subs of anime. I tend to watch more subs but I still respect all the work that goes into dubbing an anime and this is not suppose to attack or degrade voice actors or the process of dubbing in anyway. This is just my opinion, nothing more.*
When I first really got into Gintama, I wished that some company would make a dub for the series so that more people would learn about the series. However, the more I watched (and read) I realized that there is so much Japanese cultural references and nuance in the series that it would be fairly hard to dub it, let alone try and replace the jokes for a english speaking audience. When Sentai Filmworks picked up the series for distribution in North America, a little ray of hope emerged. If the series did well enough, I thought Sentai might put in the money to create a dub. Well that hope quickly faded as Sentai only released four dvd collections of Gintama with only subtitles. Flash forward to 2012 and surprisingly, Sentai not only decided to release the first Gintama movie on dvd and blu-ray, but also include an english dub of the movie! I will be honest, I bought that blu-ray as quickly as I could just to hear the series in English. I was so excited to see how the series would translate into english. So I popped the movie in, went to the options and turned on the english dub. And when Gintoki first spoke…. I turned that crap off immediately! God damn that dub was terrible!
Ahem.. Once I had regained my composure, I turned it back on to see if all the voices were that bad. Needless to say, it did not get any better. I suppose that Shinpachi and Kondo’s VA sort of matched their characters but thats kinda stretching it. If the video below doesn’t prove my point of this dub being born from the depths of a cruel and evil mind, then I can’t help you.
After that movie, I lost all hope of getting an english dub that was decent. In fact, I was completely against the series getting the dub. Jump to February 1st 2017. Here I was, just looking at anime news as you do, when I find the news article on Crunchyroll stating “Crunchyroll Adds English Dub of ‘Gintama Season 3’! ” I had to take a double look to check that I was not hallucinating. I knew Crunchyroll had announced that they had plans on releasing blu-rays of Gintama in the near future but this? This was unexpected…. but intriguing. While reading the article, I instantly felt negatively towards it. I had a feeling it was going to just another Gintama movie horror show. Therefore, I didn’t even try the first episode… until last night.
As a self-proclaimed super fan of the series, I felt that I was doing a disservice to the series if I did not at least watch an episode of the dub. By the end of the night, I had watched the first three episodes and I feel that I can give my first impressions of the dub. So here we go:
Don’t get me wrong, it is a better dub than what Sentai tried to do. It really is. From the first three episodes alone, I could see that the VAs actually cared about the characters and the world… but that can only get you so far. The VAs all sounded good. They didn’t do a bad job with what they were given, but the casting could have been better in my opinion. After watching the three episodes, I decided to scroll through some of the comments. One comment in particular stood out:
This is pretty much how I feel about the sub at the moment. The show feels pretty different with an english voice cast. That’s not a bad thing but the way the casting went, as the comment above mentions, the characters don’t feel like the characters we know and love. Kagura stood out to me the most as being very different from the intended character. In the original work, Kagura speak Japanese incorrectly and with an accent. The English VA barely puts on an accent and speaks perfect English. Something got lost in translation there (see what I did there.) It doesn’t help hearing English voice actors say Japanese words with questionable pronunciation and that by the third episode, most of the male voices sounded quite close to each other.
Long story short: Better than the Sentai dub but still feels odd. The VAs are definitely better but a lot of the male voices sound pretty similar and monotone, their pronounciation of certain japanese words are awkward as hell, and there is still the issue of the voices not fitting with the characters (although this is less than the previous dub).
I will most likely watch a few more episodes of the dub to see how it progresses. I might skip to the Shogun assassination arc to see how the dub fairs with serious Gintama. All in all, in my opinion, Gintama is better left in its natural Japanese form with subtitles. If you tried watching Gintama before and didn’t like all the text, didn’t get the humour, or just prefer dubs over subs, then I would give this dub a try. It’s not bad but not great. I will leave a link to the dub down below if you want to watch it for yourself!
Link to Dub: Episode 1