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Dub review is a little late coming, but I wanted to confirm something before I wrote about this dub.

I guess since the Haruhi dub was so amazing, there had to be a particularly poor dub to offset it, and that dub is the Higurashi dub, released in America as the not-as-pretty-sounding-as-Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni “When They Cry.” At least it’s not as bizarre as changing the name of Kimi ga Nozomu Eien to Rumbling Hearts. Yeah, explain THAT one to me.

Anywho, let us dive right in.

Positives:

  • Mion’s English VA, Kelli Kassidi. ANN doesn’t have any other listings for her beyond Mion and Shion, so I assume she’s a new VA. She’s also a rather impressive new VA, and has just the right tone for not only Mion, but also the slightly lighter Shion, and handles creepy the best of any of the cast. Her performance is a shining gem among the rest of the performances.
  • Most of the dub script. Aside from one localization choice (which will be covered in the Neutral section) the dub script itself is well done, and thankfully there’s no Dub-titling. It’s just the actors that make it seem lesser.
  • On a side note, Detective Ooishi’s voice is incredibly good as well. Sounds like a chain smoking gravelly voiced middle aged man, which, hey, Ooishi is.

Neutral:

  • Keiichi and Rena’s voices. Keiichi’s VA Grant George starts off annoying with a rather nasally sounding take on our lovable paranoid batboy, but he improves a little as he eases into his role. Rena’s VA, on the other hand, has about a schizophrenic performance as the character she portrays. Mena Lee’s Rena tries too hard with the cute voice, forcing herself into a cutesy rhythm with the voice and ends up failing to portray the right kind of cute. However, when she goes creepy Rena, Lee puts on a performance almost equal with creepy voiced Mion.
  • The localizations of Onikakushi and Wataganashi. Onikakushi gets localized as “spirited away by the demon,” as opposed to the “demoned away” of the fansubs I watched. This translation gets the point across and manages to hit all the syllables, so I know why it was done… but it sounds insanely longwinded just listening to it. It doesn’t have the same flow and rhythm of Onikakushi. On a similar token, the Wataganashi Festival becomes the Cotton Drifting Festival. Again, an accurate translation. However, the name Wataganashi sounds much more… sinister than Cotton Drifting, so hearing it called that is kinda odd to me. However, these are just personal aesthetic details.

Negatives

  • Rika and Satoko’s voices. Oh my goodness, do they ever suck. Reba West as Rika sounds much older than she should (she’s SUPPOSED to be a cutesy desu-chan!) and fails to enchant the viewer in the subtle ways the Japanese VA did. Minx Lee as Satoko proves to be very inconsistent with the character she’s trying to portray, slipping between too cute and too mature and never settling down in between. I’m giving George and Mena Lee a fair chance, but West and Minx Lee would be the first to be dropped if I were to redo the dub.
  • General acting and delivery. This falls in line with what I wanted to confirm: The dub of Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni fails to achieve the same sense of creepiness as the Japanese Sub does. The robotic delivery of the actors and the weird lack of flow that the English language gives completely ruins the utterly oppressive atmosphere of this remarkable horror series. When I first watched the dub, I was wondering if its lack of an impact on me was due to it being in English or due to me knowing just what was going on. When I showed the subbed version to my friends, the former was confirmed: it’s just CREEPIER in Japanese.
  • Lazy localization of credits and preview sequences. And by lazy I mean none. I kinda LIKE seeing the names of the Japanese and English people behind the series when I’m watching the opening and closing credits, not condensed into a simple credits slide at the end. One might think they were trying to appease the more obnoxious of the Otaku hardcore by not touching the text in the OP and the ED, but their treatment of the previews betrays the truth: either they ran out of time or simply were lazy and didn’t see the need to translate the flowing Japanese text in the preview. For those who don’t know, the flowing text in the previews highlights important lines, events and objects in the next episode; it’s an artistic choice over showing scenes, and comes out as downright poetic and beautiful, especially with the somber piano theme playing. I was very sad to see these left without a translation.
  • Lack of extras. Note to Geneon: TRAILERS ARE NOT EXTRAS.

And so, we come to my grade for the Higurashi Dub.

Grade: D. Aside from the good performance of Mion and the decent script, the bad acting and directing fails to allow the series to achieve the same feel as the Japanese version.