How dubbing actors work: part 2

In the first part of our review, we talked about the process - from translation to styling and voice acting, we recalled great dubbing actors and talked about why they were far from as simple as they seemed.

Today we’ll dive into the details: let's see why it’s almost impossible to translate jokes and foul language well, which is why dubbing may be better than the original voice acting and what are the features of the work of the anime voice acting in Japan.

Photo by Jordan Scott / CC BY

What else affects the dubbing: jokes and not only

One of the most difficult tasks in dubbing films, television series and cartoons is the translation of jokes, abuse and various references, which are mostly understood by the native language speakers and often escape from other cultures.

There are two options: literal translation and contextual.

In the first case, the translation is done close to the text. The risk of this option is that even the most competent translation may be incomprehensible to the Russian audience simply because the joke was made in a different cultural, historical and social context. But such a dubbing will be difficult to blame for the distortion of the original meaning and the original.

In the second case, the translation is adapted to the audience of the target language. For example, one of the popular translations of “Courage-Bambay” is the series “Everybody Hates Chris”, where he (Denis Kolesnikov) adapted not only jokes, but even the names of heroes, the names of streets, brands and food. This had its own meaning - the translator proceeded from the idea that the original names would simply be incomprehensible to anyone, and the Russian audience could laugh at the adapted jokes, and the function of the comedy series would be performed.

As a result, something is often used in translation: some jokes (especially if it is a pun or even letters and sounds) are adapted to the audience as far as possible, and some are translated literally. It is very difficult to do both, to translate well, without distorting the meaning, and to keep the humor. It looks like a good translation of an art book - it is important to preserve both the meaning and the power of the original text.

The installation sheets for jokes, curses, or other places that may be incomprehensible to translators from other countries are often explained. In the dialogues and scenarios of major films and TV shows such explanations can be very detailed. Therefore, poorly translated jokes in the movie are rarely the result of the fact that "the translator simply did not understand the humor."

The reasons may be different: from the very broken phone of the entire dubbing process (several people make edits, then the studio coordinates them with another dozen people, especially if the film is large, and so on) to some internal reasons why the joke could not be heard at the box office (for example, irrelevance or fear that the joke will not be understood or misunderstood).

A similar story applies not only to humor, but also, for example, to swear words - in translations they sometimes disappear where they are in the original, and appear in other places. This is due to censorship (internal or external), or the desire to “drag” content under a certain age rating.

Translation of the mat is a creative exercise, but not as complicated as translating jokes, because most often it can be done contextually (the meaning here is rather in the fact of swearing, although there is a pun in the language, and language allusions), and to use it in process all knowledge in taboo vocabulary.

When dubbing, the original meaning of a replica or even a replica can be completely lost, not only because of insufficient translation quality or some cultural peculiarities, but also because of local causes. For example, Tatyana Omelchenko from “Cubic in Cuba” talked about how from the translation they were once asked to remove expressions like “My God” out of fear of the law about insulting the feelings of believers. Such things also affect the final dubbing.

Dubbing in japan

In most countries, actors of theater and cinema are often engaged in dubbing - only sometimes voice acting becomes their main specialization. But in Japan, this is a separate profession - seiyu, the “voice actor”. Seiyu is engaged in anime and video games dubbing, re-sounding of foreign films into Japanese, acting as narrators in radio shows and audio dramas, voicing commercials and audio books.

Interestingly, women are the most common. Female voices in the Japanese film industry are more in demand because they can voice not only female roles, but also children and teenage boys (of which there are a lot in anime and Japanese video games).

To become a seyyu, you need to be trained in special courses, which are quite difficult to enter - the competition is very large. There, students are taught not only to use their voices, to depict different characters, to depict heroes of different sexes and ages, but also to sing professionally. Therefore, talented seyyu often not only work in the voice acting, but also build a career on the stage. They received their share of attention in the 1980s, when Japan began to actively create animated series.

In Russia, a dubbing actor is often “attached” to a specific actor (for example, the famous Russian voice actor Vsevolod Kuznetsov gave a “voice” to Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves and Tom Cruise - we hear that in theaters). In Japan, seiyu are associated with the anime heroes whom they are voicing - especially if it is a popular series, which then receives a full-length film, bonus series, a radio show and a video game.

Dubbing or original?

With the development of consumer culture, serials are increasingly diverging. Someone advocates viewing content in the original with subtitles - the original acting game cannot be replaced or transmitted, the true meaning of jokes and sentences cannot be fully understood in the dubbing.

Someone does not like to read the subtitles, because it violates the integrity of the viewing experience, and sometimes even gets used to the voices of a certain voice studio. For example, The Big Bang Theory has long been voiced by Courage-Bambay, and when the series began to be shown on STS, many could not get used to the new voices of the characters.

A special category - movies and TV shows, where the dubbing unexpectedly turned out to be even better than the original. For example, many admit that the Russian dubbing of “Shrek” is better than the original voice acting, because it more fully conveys the character of the character. Aleksey Kolgan duplicated Shrek in the Russian box office.

Another example is the series “Clinic” in the translation of the MTV channel. He went on the air before the widespread appearance of unlimited Internet, and therefore became almost a household word: Yevgeny Rybov voiced all the male heroes of the series (from JD to Dr. Cox).

Another unconditional example is Goblin translations, which are stand-alone performances around original content. His dubbing - the gag over what is happening - a peculiar form of independent creativity.

And how do you prefer to watch movies: in the original or dubbed? Do you have any favorite voice actors or studio dubbing?

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