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.
Finally, here’s two websites you might find useful to connect with franco-fandom: Geekbecois and (though it’s not long for this world) RadioKawa.
Or, How I Found a New Hill to Die On by Bolt Vanderhuge
Arguing about whether it’s better to watch anime in a language you can’t understand with subtitles you hope are accurate, or to watch it in a language you can understand and hope is accurate and well-acted is an argument that’s as old as the practice of localization itself. There are a lot of good arguments when it comes to artistic intent and some good horror stories about re-edits and script changes thanks to the likes of 4Kids Media and Fox Kids, but there is also one to be made about accessibility and watchability. Of course it doesn’t help that a lot of the people making the pro-subs argument can be real elitist assholes about it.
I actually started out as an ardent dub-watcher, with my main argument being that I wanted to watch anime rather than read it. I honestly didn’t care about bad readings or poor acting, much in the same way I am forgiving of the bad animation that comes from low budgets, as long as the story was interesting. If anything, bad dubs were all part of the fun, especially when it came to janky old anime (like say Angel Cop) anyway. I also have never been very fast at reading, and actually had a hard time keeping up with dialog if the characters were just standing next to each other having a rapid-fire conversation, let alone if there was any kind of action going on. Also, if it was just a conversation going on, I could go into the other room and get something from the fridge and not actually miss anything as far as the story if it has an English dub. So I am understanding of people who are intimidated by the thought of watching subtitled anime, and of the argument that not having dubs will limit the amount of people who get into anime.
On the other hand, there is the issue of changing the intent of the artwork, and censorship in general. This is not a new phenomenon, as a lot of the first anime to be brought to the United States through localization had this issue from the get-go. Usually this had to do with someone’s sensibilities being offended, like a couple of the Sailor Scouts being a couple, or Ghost in the Shell’s Major making a period joke, or “you got me,” which is pretty much everything 4Kids ever did with their “by the time we get through with it, the kids won’t even know it’s from Japan” mentality. There has thus always been a lot of back and forth on the issue, with the justification for changes made when creating a dub amounting to “it’s localization, therefore any changes are justified.” This is a simplification, but I don’t have the word count to get into it. This has gotten to be more of an issue for me because more recently there has been something of a shift in politics, which is making its ways into dubs. Whether this amounts to making fun of acceptable targets or just being prudish, it all goes back to artistic intent being changed, whether one considers seeing an awkward male protagonist accidentally groping his female coworker to have artistic merit or not. This goes hand-in-hand with the revelations that a considerable portion of the localization industry frankly hates its customer base, so the question then becomes, do you really want to give people who hate you what little money you earned while getting yelled at by Karens for an inferior product? Do you really want to keep hearing the voices of scummy people over and over in everything?
Eventually I got over my own reluctance to watch anything that didn’t have a dub, and I got better at reading subtitles. Further, I’ve come to appreciate the voice acting done by the Japanese voice actors, because even if I can’t understand the words, the tone, delivery, and emotion still come across. I still have a love for certain dubs which will never go away, whether they were actually good or just funny, it’s just that I find myself not really able to watch new dubs anymore with some of the knowledge I’ve gained. I suppose it’s kind of like going back and watching the Naked Gun movies with what we know about O.J. Simpson now – some people are just fine doing it, but for others it can be pretty awkward. So I can’t help but hope that some Japanese studios will do their own translations so they can create products they can sell directly to fans on this side of the pond.
-or- How I Learned To Stop Worrying About the Radio In My Supra by Gristle McThornbody
Once the domain of vaporwave-blaring hipsters pining to be ironic under the guise of A E S T H E T I C, city pop is Japan’s answer to the bombastic 80s. Clawing back from relative obscurity, we are treated to neon-filled, tape deck fueled ode to the big city life. Filling this watercolored, pastel world is the melodic and often horn-filled songs that toast to the bustling life of a never-ending, 24-hour day. To some degree, it mirrors America in the same time, with artists like Chris Cross who –well sparkle- with some technopop elements, while letting the mix aerate with elements that naturally advect into our stream of consciousness, and you have the recipe for that musical entrée.
Conventional wisdom suggests that a hotel stay on Boardwalk costs $2000, or so Rich Uncle Pennybags had always said. So it came as a shock that not only was it reasonable to visit Atlantic City – it was possible to do so with some twelve thousand other weeaboos, for only a couple hundred dollars.
KYOTO (MxW) – Following weeks of speculation in the industry press, government statisticians have formally acknowledged that Japan’s Strategic Tsun Reserve has dwindled in recent months, well below seasonal averages. Now, officials are sending muted words of caution indicating that the Tsun supply may not last until the Tokyo Olympics, threatening to place a damper on Anime output at a critical time.
PM Abe did not respond to questions related to stability in the Tsun markets.
Initial estimates of the need for additional Tsun are off by possibly two orders of magnitude. The earliest bookings data for Japanese hotels in Summer 2020 indicates a heavy load of otaku, fujoshi, and full-on weeaboos, and licence applications for pop-up shops catering to the sweet-and-sour demands of discerning clientele are through the roof.
Recently there seems to be some push back against fan service from within the fandom. I’ve been accused of that myself, from the “elitist” angle rather than the “objectifying women” angle. The thing is most people seem to forget that boobs aren’t the only form of fan service. As the name suggests, it’s really anything that’s there only for the service of the fans. Whether that’s a long flyby sequence of some space ship that earns a movie a well-deserved nickname for its slow pacing, giant robots showing off how awesome they look before, during and after they punch each other, of some nice, long hard objects continually shooting their loads, it’s all fan service, as long as it’s only really there just for its own sake.
Inspired by the Otakon theme that wasn’t, a chapter in the life…
Chapter 1: Fumes
A whiff of burned jet fuel faintly wafted down the arrivals lane as the early afternoon sun blasted through the clouds and off of every blinding glass and concrete surface at Dulles. Finding a cab to cut across the huge gap into the city involved entirely too much ducking back and forth into one dead end after another, half in the chilly building and half out among the deafening vehicles and uncomfortable summer heat. Finally the correct cutaway appeared ahead; the taxi dispatcher winced at the phrasebook and cut-up words, simply pointing out the door to the line of waiting cars.
Seong-mi went over the plan again and again. The mission had a certain utility, but it would never have been condoned, even a few years ago. A young married couple on honeymoon was certainly a believable story. It also had the advantage of being technically true. Still, any plan that piled on complications nearer to the deadline was likely to cause unwanted questions when it inevitably failed.