Friday, May 16, 2008

Subtitles or Voiceover?

This is a debate that often erupts in Visual Anthropology class. Usually subtitles win out. But here is an interesting article from Japan Today that brings up some problematic (and unfortunate) issues regarding subtitles.

More recently, however, film distributors have become increasingly aware that younger audiences are unable to comprehend subtitles on current films. To simplify things, subtitle producers have been ordered to reduce the number of words flashed on the screen to the bare minimum, and use of Chinese characters has been cut.

But the comprehension problem may also be indicative of the dumbing down of the nation. Young adult moviegoers’ lack of familiarity with many basic historical facts, says the Sankei, in some cases has not progressed beyond middle-school level.

As a result, distributors are rapidly switching over to voice dubbing—not only for animated cartoons, but also for conventional cinema.


Link to 'What are Nazis?' Today's kids can't handle movie subtitles at Japan Today:
http://www.japantoday.com/category/kuchikomi/view/what-are-nazis-todays-kids-cant-handle-movie-subtitles

1 comment:

DickMcVengeance said...

Most of us ryuu-gakusei go for subtitles because admittedly, that's what we're used to when we watch fansubbed anime. After a while, a tolerance builds up where reading subtitles is absolutely nothing, and we tend to do it unconsciously.

I can't say I'm a strictly-sub or strictly-dub person, though. My feeling is that I want to hear the voices in the language that they were meant to be in. So, with news and interviews, I want to read subtitles. For anime that takes place in Japan, I want to hear Japanese voices.

Now, when it comes to an anime that is focusing on obviously Western characters, I watch the dub. It feels more natural, and everything comes across easier. I think that's why Sukiyaki Western Django was shot with everyone speaking English -- it's a Western, and there were no Japanese people in Midwestern America. That's part of why I love Miike.