Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sgt Frog - Bad Dubbing

I just got my rented copy of Sgt Frog, Volume 1 in the mail today. Boy, I gotta say I am both elated and disappointed.

See, this series is great. Sgt Frog is actually called Keroro Gunsou. (Which means, you guessed it, "Frog Sergeant") Frog Like Aliens attempt to invade Earth - but fail miserably at it. Sgt Frog is captured by the Hinata family. Sgt Frog is abandoned by his fleet, and is forced to live with the Hinata family, where he quickly becomes like family. He's soon joined by his Platoon Subordinates, all of who have quirky details about their character.

Anyway - I watch the first episode. The subtitles go by pretty quickly, so it takes a little getting use to - and it doesn't help that Japanese Text (explained at the top of the screen) is appearing every few seconds. For someone not versed in Japanese, this gets a little hard to follow. Yet that's why God creased pause buttons! I know, not the easiest way to enjoy a show - but this seems worth it.

Now, usually when it's very hard to follow the subtitles, I naturally go to the dubbed audio - which usually simplifies things. Yet, here's where everything starts to really stink - the dubbed script is... simply horrible. You see, I watched the first episode in Japanese, and then went to hear it in English. Not only is the dialogue different - but it changes the nature of the characters. Sgt Frog is no longer the overly excited charming character he usually is - suddenly he's this conniving little sneak. Mind you, Sgt Frog is sometimes always planning to get back to trying to conquer the Earth - but that's very much in the background to his usually grateful nature to the Hinata family. He might complain about having to do chores - but he never seems ungrateful, and even seem elated to be called "Friend" by Fuyuki.

The best way I can explain how badly the dialogue is rewritten is this: it's like Shin-chan. When bringing it over to America, they found the potty humor, while gross - was still aimed at young kids, and might not satisfy an American audience. (And, trust me, these aren't jokes American kids are use to hearing.) So they decided, in addition to subbing the show, they would add in tons more gross humor more in tune with young adults in mind.

Now, that might be all well and good for Shin-Chan - who's target audience different when shipped overseas - but there is nothing wrong with the humor of Sgt Frog as is. We don't need added jokes. For example, the mother comes home. In Japanese she announces that her artist finished early. In the dubbed version she says something about him working quicker without pants. WHAT THE HELL?! Do we need that extra joke? It's damn insulting to the American fans, who might naturally want to hear the dialogue Dubbed - and not get an accurate translation!

I hear Funimation put out some tests of dubbing the show, to gauge fan reaction. They got in trouble for needlessly changing names - which angered many fans. While it's all well and good that they took those criticisms to heart - that doesn't mean fans also wanted a different script.

Dubbing means actually, simply, translating the voices. This isn't even a case of having difficulty trying to synch up the lip movements - this is having the characters say something completely different.

Suffice to say, I'm not going to follow the Anime. The Manga looks better and a damn bit more accurate. If you can deal with subtitles - then I urge you to give Sgt Frog a try. Otherwise, don't watch it. Your simply not getting the real Keroro Gunsou that the Japanese have enjoyed for so long.


  1. I've lost count of the number of overseas films that have been RUINED through bad dubbing. I've been relying more and more on subtitles, but even those are often pretty lousy. Some of the typos are pretty entertaining, though. I'll never forget one in which the word "bald" was spelled as "blad." It made the scene funnier than it should have been. ;-)

  2. If you understand Spanish, there's an accurate dub in Spanish from Spain since November 2006 by the time adv licensed it. The dub was much accurate and dubbed the songs contrasting the English one. Also currently, the Spanish is somewhere in 2/3 of the whole series where the English only had below a hundred episodes.