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If the point has yet to be conveyed, I am a huge fan of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. It was my favorite show of last year, and is probably my favorite anime of all time (though not what I’d consider the best. I CAN have Objective views, after all.)

So naturally, I went out and bought the first DVD, artbox and all, as soon as humanly possible, and almost immediately watched the dub as soon as I got home.

In short, I loved it.

Thus, in lieu of a WTF!? Wednesday this week (I didn’t watch THAT much anime due to everything else that was going on) I am going to review the dub as well as the general DVD release Haruhi is getting.

Now, I’m definitely more of a Subtitle watcher than I am a Dub watcher, but that doesn’t mean I’m of the opinion that dubbing is a horrific process that decimates anime. No, it’s bad directing and acting that does that. Bad dubs can harm a series… but then, sometimes the directing and acting in the japanese version may suck as well.

By that note, I will still give dubs an honest chance, especially where it’s a series that I’ve watched the subbed version to death (seriously, I must have watched Haruhi like 4 times through already.)

So, what are my impressions of the series?

Positive

  • Crispin Freeman as Kyon. Now, I may be a bit biased on this, seeing as Freeman is probably one of my favorite American VAs (from BEFORE Alucard, mind. His Zelgadis is still the best part of the Slayers dub by a huge margin,) but Freeman is simply BRILLIANT as Kyon. He’s sarcastic when he needs to be, he’s serious when he needs to be, and he even has the most PERFECT perverted voice when talking about Mikuru. I cannot sing enough praise on this part.
  • The dialog. I understand that translating Japanese is a pain in the butt, and dubbing anime when the dub fanbase cares about stuff like lip flap has got to be ten times harder. Therefore, I tolerate slight changes to the dialog quite easily. It’s not like I’d be able to make a better translation than an experienced person who has probably studied the language and makes a living off his knowledge.
    So when the dialog not only is well adapted to American audiences but also BRILLIANT in adaptation, I cheer and applaud. My particular favorite line comes during the conversation in Yuki’s apartment.
    Yuki: *Lots of stuff about Haruhi being important for auto-evolution*
    Kyon: “No way!”
    Yuki: “Way.” *Continues*
    I cracked up at this line. But not just because it strangely works for someone as tight laced as Yuki, but also for my next point.
  • The delivery of the lines. Not just Crispin Freeman, but ALL the actors are pretty much spot on with their line delivery. When Yuki’s VA says the above “Way,” she says it like you’d expect Yuki to say it. Yuki is just deadpan and fast enough, Mikuru is spineless, whiny and wimpy enough, Itsuki has the right level of infuriating arrogance, and Haruhi is just as beamingly insane as she needs to be. Perfect deliveries on everyones part, especially with…
  • The dub of The Adventures of Asahina Mikuru 00. OH. DEAR. LORD. Just as the episode was able to show the acting talents of the japanese VAs and the directing quality and attention to detail of Kyoto Animation, this episode shows the true versatility of the American VAs. It’s truly the pinnacle of the first DVD, and combines all the positives into pure glory.
  • LE Box Extras. The Box Art is very pretty, and the little stuff thrown in is just fun. Plus, I now have the Hare Hare Yukai single, meaning I can listen to it finally in the car (it’s not very friendly to MP3 players.)

Neutral

  • The episode ordering. Okay, I admit, I’m a Broadcast Order FREAK. This show doesn’t feel right when it’s not shown in the Catch-22 style disarray. It’s downright WEIRD not having Kyon correct Haruhi about the next episode number. However, the reason this is Neutral and not a Negative is I understand precisely why they can’t do the regular release in Broadcast Order, and I’m going to be buying the LEs all the way to the end, so that means in the end I’ll have both Broadcast Order AND Chronological Order to watch through. And I’m cool with that, especially with everything else being so amazing. Everything, that is, except for…

Negative

  • There’s only one thing I don’t like, and that’s the lack of a dubbed translation of the opening for Episode 00 (11/1). Mostly, it kinda detracts from the dub when a song you assume to be sung by one of the characters (and not the VAs doing an OP or ED, as is the case for Bouken Desho Desho? and Hare Hare Yukai) when the singing is left in Japanese. And frankly, in this case, it’s QUITE alright if the English VA’s singing is horrific, since Mikuru apparently can’t sing for crap anyway. It’s SUPPOSED to sound semi-painful and low quality, dangit.

In conclusion, aside from that one fault (which in the end doesn’t matter much anyway), the Haruhi Dub alone is worth the price of DVD admission. It’s easily on par with the Japanese acting of one of the best anime in recent memory. Highest Recommendations.

Final Grade: AA (loses a plus for that one gripe)

Next Week… The When the Cry: Higurashi DVD Volume 1 comes out. I’ll be here to review it as well.