Get your hon-ホン-hon on
by Bob Johnson
It’s 2021! Valentine’s Day, Louis Riel Day, and Mardi Gras are all in the same week! I can’t think of a better excuse to revisit la langue d’amour. Now, if you want anime merely *about* France, two headliners are Rose of Versailles (which is fantastic) and Le Chevalier d’Eon (which is mostly okay). But from here on out, we’re going to learn how cunning linguists can watch shows *in* French!
It’s up to you to say if you’re better served by listening or reading, but odds are good you will be stuck with one or the other instead of both at once. When searching the Internet, the magic keywords are “VF” meaning ‘dub’ and “VOSTFR” meaning ‘sub’.
Though hardly perfect, Netflix has decent odds of having both a dub and a sub in any given language. While still better than nothing, I would note that there are some consistency issues with the French subs for Netflix Originals, and puzzling omissions. Netflix, for example, has Wakfu, France’s answer to Avatar or RWBY, and a decent effort to make a shonen adventure show. You can watch in the original French audio, but there’s no French subs.
As for the Big Two-and-a-Half US anime distributors, they are mostly stuck in the past as far as multi-language support goes. Funimation only has English and Japanese, though sister site Crunchyroll features about 18 titles dubbed in French. On HiDive, the only French dub is Elfen Lied, which is decent enough, but may not be your cup of tea. However, that’s not the *most* French show on HiDive. That honour has to go to Valerian & Laureline, the long-overdue animated series for the most influential French sci-fi comic of all time, made in collaboration with anime studio Satelight. Though HiDive only has it in English, you can easily get a taste of the VF through 9 episodes officially posted to YouTube.
In a classic case of “I never knew this was an anime”, check out 1983’s Inspecteur Gadget, produced by DIC in France but animated by TMS in Japan. Fun to see in a fresh light! Various video search engines can usually find a few scattered VF episodes.