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It’s a debate that’s raged on since the earliest days of the anime fandom - subs vs dubs. Are you a purist who only watches anime in its native language? do you wait patiently for the English releases? or do you just decide on a show-by-show basis? Since anime dubs used to be known for awkward performances, censorship, and sloppy Westernization, it seemed only natural in the ‘90s and early 2000s to write all of them off as inferior. But now that the Western fandom has evolved and localization studios have had a few decades to perfect their craft, we see dubs coming out every season that can truly stand toe to toe with their Japanese counterparts - and in some cases, surpass them.
Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at the 10 best English anime dubs. With standout performances filled with memorable lines and iconic voices, these shows just wouldn’t be the same without their outstanding dubs.
10. Gakkou no Kaidan (Ghost Stories)
- Episodes: October 2000 – March 2001
- Aired: 19
Gakkou no Kaidan garnered mild success in Japan, but its cookie-cutter plot and bland characters meant that it didn’t have a prayer of catching on in the international market if translated faithfully. So when ADV Films acquired the license in 2004, the Japanese studio gave them free reign to do whatever it took to sell the show in America. And so, we were blessed with the hilarious gag dub known as Ghost Stories, which takes the basic building blocks of the plot and coats everything in a thick layer of offbeat humor and pop culture references.
According to dub actors Greg Ayres and Monica Rial, much of the dialogue was improvised and whoever got into the recording booth first was able to decide the tone that each episode would take. With standout lines such as “Principals always look like lesbians”, “Run like a big black man is chasing you!”, and “Someone call Canada! We need Alanis Morissette, stat!”, it’s no wonder that Ghost Stories skyrocketed this otherwise lackluster anime to cult stardom.
9. Hetalia Axis Powers
- Episodes: January 2009 – March 2010
- Aired: 52
Unlike Gakkou no Kaidan, this anime about personified countries getting on each other’s nerves was already a comedy show to begin with. But when the English dub came along, it added something that the original was sorely lacking – purposefully bad foreign accents. Watching Germany berate Italy for being such a coward is even funnier in the dub, since the characters respectively sound like a Nazi from Indiana Jones and a squeaky-voiced Mario.
New jokes and nuances were added as well. Our favorite performance comes from Eric Vale as both America and Canada, who each embody their nation’s stereotypes in a way that’s somehow both offensive and kind of heartwarming. Their game of catch in World Series is a rapid-fire barrage of quips from America’s “I’m not sure I can love moose and drag my ass as much as you do, ‘kay?” to Canada’s “My grandmother taught me the true spirit of the maple leaf!” Bawdy American comedy at its finest, courtesy of the English dub of Hetalia.
8. Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academia)
- Episodes: April 2016 – June 2016
- Aired: 13
Of course, it was only natural to choose Christopher Sabat, the legendary booming voice behind Vegeta, Piccolo, and Alex Louis Armstrong, to portray the All-American hero All Might – that had to be the easiest casting decision Funimation ever made. But the real acting chops in this quirky show come into play with the protagonist, Izuku, and his second season rival Todoroki.
Justin Briner accentuates Izuku’s burning determination despite his physical weakness with a shaky teenage voice that constantly seems to be shifting between childlike wonder and adult resolve. While trying to convince David Matranga’s Todoroki to embrace both sides of his troubled heritage in the climactic battle of the tournament, both characters fight for what they believe in with such passion that you completely forget you’re not watching the show in its original language.
7. One Punch Man
- Episodes: October 2015 – December 2015
- Aired: 12
When it came time to localize the smash hit One Punch Man, many viewers wondered whether a new voice actor could capture the charm of Makoto Furukawa’s signature bored, yet carefree tone as Saitama. But luckily, Max Mittelman stepped up and proved us all wrong. His take on the character is a bit lower pitched and more laid back than bored, but still perfectly captures the ennui of a hero who’s too powerful for anything to give him a real challenge.
And much to our surprise, 18-year-old newcomer Zach Aguilar gave quite the engaging performance as Genos. He infused the character with a youthful passion that the original didn’t quite manage, which makes Genos seem even more obnoxiously earnest when Saitama just wants to be left alone. These two roles were difficult to get right, but the One Punch Man English dub knocked them out of the park.
6. Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch (Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion)
- Episodes: October 2006 – July 2007
- Aired: 25
Here’s another case where a Japanese voice actor’s performance was so iconic that it would take an exceptional dub actor to do it justice. But when Western audiences first heard Johnny Yong Bosch as the bombastic and conniving Lelouch, they knew that it was just as amazing as Jun Fukuyama’s legendary portrayal. Bosch’s Lelouch voice has enough range to sound convincing in any of the wide array of scenarios the characters finds himself in – from grand political speeches to quiet school life.
There’s an art to a good over-the-top performance, and Code Geass is a show that’s so over-the-top that it shoots past the top and rockets into the stratosphere. Fittingly, the rest of the English cast also brought their A game to make sure that no character sounded boring. Crispin Freeman made Jeremiah Gottwald as melodramatic as possible, Karen Strassman gave Kallen a rough and feisty voice to match her tomboyish attitude, and Liam O’Brian probably had way too much fun recording increasingly flamboyant lines for Lloyd Asplund. There’s not much subtlety involved, but it’s hardly needed. The English dub brought these wild characters to life in the hammiest way it could, and that’s exactly why it’s so perfect.
5. Mahoutsukai no Yome (The Ancient Magus’ Bride)
- Episodes: October 2017 – March 2018
- Aired: 24
Thanks to internet streaming and the simuldubs that localizers like Funimation provide, the most popular anime each season can be professionally dubbed in the blink of an eye. And the English version of Mahoutsukai no Yome, even as quickly produced as it was (and even with its suspicious lack of British accents for an anime set in England), is some of the finest work the studio has ever done.
Of particular note is Dani Chambers’ performance as Chise, which captures the character’s awkwardness and bleak but hopeful attitude wonderfully. Everything from her little squeaks when Elias tries to give her a bath to her defiant rage against him when he tries to sacrifice Stella feels like it comes from a place of deep sadness that Chise has dealt with for her whole life. It would’ve been easy to give Chise a monotone voice, but we’re so glad that her complex personality got the complex portrayal it deserved.
4. Devilman: Crybaby
- Episodes: January 2018
- Aired: 10
As Netflix’s first truly original anime (because we shall never speak of Neo Yokio ever again), Devilman: Crybaby had a lot to prove. Its 10 episodes were released all at once in five different languages and the English version is a tour-de-force of powerful performances from new and old faces alike. And compared to the side-splittingly stupid 1987 OVA dub, which gave us such gems as “It’s true what they say, smoking is bad for you. Especially when it’s your own flesh you’re smoking,” it’s practically Shakespeare!
Griffin Burns had perhaps the most difficult acting job in the entire series as protagonist Akira Fudo, who changes from a cheerful young man into an emotionally tortured demon hybrid whose life keeps getting worse by the second. Akira’s extreme empathy causes him to cry for whomever he knows is hurting, and Burns captures the character’s struggle with his human emotions and demonic urges brilliantly. And in the very tense second half of the series, he tinges Akira’s outbursts with a quivering tone that emphasizes how broken the character feels inside. Which, for an anime that focuses so heavily on characters and relationships, is exactly what it needed.
3. Cowboy Bebop
- Episodes: April 1998 – April 1999
- Aired: 26
It’s universally known among anime fans that Cowboy Bebop is one of the greatest anime ever created. And even though it was dubbed in the era of censorship and stiff-as-a-board dub dialogue (see Sailor Moon and the entirety of the 4Kids lineup in the early to mid 2000s), this dub is still considered to be one of the greats – and for good reason.
What works so well about this dub is how perfectly cast the main group ended up being. They all seemed like real friends who understood each other and played well off of each other’s strengths. Wendee Lee’s star-making performance as Faye has been said to overshadow even the original voice actress, and Steven Blum’s effortlessly cool and smooth voice cemented Spike’s place as one of the sexiest men anime has ever had. According to composer Yoko Kanno, “Our Spike, good. Your Spike, sexy!”
2. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- Episodes: April 2009 – July 2010
- Aired: 64
It’s difficult to choose whether Romi Park or Vic Mignogna makes the better Ed Elric, but one thing is for sure – both the Japanese and English versions of Fullmetal Alchemist are amazing. We chose the Brotherhood adaptation for this list, since the overall quality of the dub is higher and the voice actors have more experience, but we also can’t forget Aaron Dismuke’s heartwarming performance as Alphonse Elric when he was only 12 years old. When Maxey Whitehead took over for him in Brotherhood, she spoke her lines into the same bowl that gave Dismuke’s Al his iconic metallic echo.
Hiromu Arakawa, the author of Fullmetal Alchemist, is an expert at switching between comedy and drama at the drop of a hat. Because of this, every actor had to have enough range to cover all of the emotional swings each episode takes without breaking character. And for the Brotherhood dub, no expense was spared in making sure that the voices were absolutely perfect all the way through. Whether you watch the original version with subtitles or the English dub, you won’t be disappointed.
1. Death Note
- Episodes: 37
- Aired: October 2006 – June 2007
Death Note is a story all about relationships between people who hate each other, and nowhere is this better explored than in the rivalry between Light and L. Brad Swaile’s intense (and sometimes gloriously campy) performance as Light was a true joy to behold, but the most jaw-droppingly amazing acting to come out of this anime was none other than Alessandro Juliani as L.
The odd, almost musical rumbling of L’s voice keeps you on edge, wondering just what he’s hiding underneath that sly tone. He always seems to be one step ahead of Light, just by how calm he is and how easily he can fire off a perfectly timed reply to some off-the-cuff comment – like Misa’s line “I wouldn’t dream of living in a world without Light!” and L’s dub-only reply of “Yes, that would be dark.” Unfortunately, Alessandro Juliani didn’t stay in the anime world for long, returning mostly to theater and small TV roles. But for that short time, we knew him as the definitive voice of one of the greatest antagonists in anime history.
We’ve come a long way since the likes of the ‘90s Sailor Moon dub and the Devilman OVA, but the Wild West atmosphere that led to such hilarious gag dubs as Ghost Stories is sadly behind us as well. Nevertheless, the streamlined, high quality dubs of today are well worth the rocky road we had to travel to get to them.
Do you agree with our list? What are your favorite anime English dubs? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!
One of the best things about English dubbing is you get to watch anime with no subtitles for once and English dubbing offers more diversity in accents than the original Japanese voices ever could! And also to show these hardcore anime fans that you can still express the same context, meaning and emotion without using honorifics (please note it’s one of the Honey staff’s pet peeve).
This list is an update to our previous Top 10 English Dubs anime and it’s a very tall order, to be quite honest. But I think we managed to make it even better in this new iteration of our Top 10 English Dubs Anime! Want to know why this one is bigger and better? Read on, dear readers!
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 1998-December 1998
Vash the Stampede is the man with $$60,000,000 on his head for laying death and destruction in his wake. He is evil, bloodthirsty, heartless and his reputation for turning every city into a smoldering ruin has earned him the nickname “The Humanoid Typhoon.” But rumors are rumors and actually he is one of the nicest people around and even after his alleged recent destruction of a city, no one died. Who is Vash and why does he leave a trail of destruction? No one knows for sure but two insurance agents Meryl Stryfe and Milly Thompson will soon find out as they follow him around through the unforgiving wastelands of planet Gunsmoke.
One of the classic anime any fan should check out. Trigun is set in a Sci-Fi Wild West world with very hot and dry locales filled cowboys, bounty hunters, assassins, and the everyday struggling thirsty civilians. It’s made even better with by adding English dub to make the mood appropriately better with people having Texan accents and sometimes Southern accents. Everything fits. Sure the Japanese original voices are a tad more talented but in this kind of setting, you need the right voices to get that right atmosphere going. Also, English Vash is funny as hell.
9. The Slayers
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 1995-September 1995
We follow the story of Lina Inverse and her partner Gourry Gabriev as they travel the land for fame, fortune, food and kicking monster butt. But it’s not your typical fantasy journey because Lina is one hot-tempered, yet, a lovable young woman with, uh, height issues.
The English dubbing industry was fairly young in the 90s so we got very few talents. This led to shows having samey voices because they’re using the same voice actors and some ended up taking voice roles of characters they’re not good at. There are exceptions and The Slayers is one of them. They hit the mark on selecting the right voices for the characters and you can clearly tell because you’re laughing your butt off every time Lina opens her mouth, and her sharp-ish voice matches her… uh… hmmm… height.
8. Crayon Shin-chan
- Episodes: 800+
- Aired: April 1992-Ongoing
Don’t be fooled at this anime starring a little kid as its main character because this anime is not for kids at all. Crayon Shin-chan is a story of a young curious boy as he goes about his life at school and at home. Despite his young age, Shin-chan has a knack for using unusual and profane language that leaves anyone he talks to, including his parents, dumbfounded.
Shin-chan’s English dub took a lot of liberties in the jokes and they even gave characters new names and personalities. Even though this is a red flag for the more dedicated fans, the changes were appropriate because there are some Japanese jokes, social commentaries and even toilet humor that cannot be understood by a Western audience. Still, Shin-chan is still a very funny show with a talented English voice cast with the right enough skill to deliver that laugh-out-loud punchline.
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: January 2014-March 2014
Space Dandy is like watching Cowboy Bebop on an LSD trip, and don’t even try to piece together the continuity of this anime unless you want the universe to implode. With that said, Dandy is a very eccentric and carefree alien hunter searching for rare alien species, and mess around in his favorite breastaurants.
Ian Sinclair, the voice of Dandy in the English dub is perfect with an energetic performance that goes well with Dandy. His delivery is fast, snappy, smart and charismatic, and really brings Dandy’s character to life. But it’s not Dandy who has a good voice acting, the supporting characters QT and Meow also deliver the notes, and they’re so good in fact that Space Dandy is best watched in English.
6. Kill la Kill
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: October 2013-March 2014
Voicing Matoi Ryuuko is very difficult considering she’s in the category of hot-blooded characters in super-powered shounen shows, she yells a lot (especially super moves), and sounds like a tomboy, but thankfully voice talent Erica Mendez pulled it off and made Ryuuko sound as much as her Japanese voice counterpart. That’s saying a lot because Ryuuko’s Japanese voice actor is the industry veteran Koshimizu Ami and she is considered one of the best voice actors in Japan.
But what makes a good main character? The villain? The sidekick? The supporting characters? All of them? Fortunately, Kill la Kill has a ton of silly and sometimes lecherous cast of characters and they were all sounded great in English. Kiryuuin Satsuki’s English voice isn’t as authoritative as the original, but voice actor Carrie Keranen still did an outstanding performance. And let’s not forget the oddball but still a good friend/sidekick Mankanshoku Mako with also an impressive performance by Christine Marie Cabanos.
5. School Rumble
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: October 2004-March 2005
Tsukamoto Tenma is a girl in love with classmate Karasuma Ooji and like any heartstruck girl, she can’t muster up the courage to confess. On the other hand, school delinquent Harima Kenji has fallen in love with Tenma, but he’s having trouble confessing. Will these two finally notice their feelings for each other or will things get complicated when they start misunderstanding each other?
So English dubs are arguably superior in shows with foreign or alien settings (ie not in Japan), but what about infamous settings like Japanese high schools? Can English dubs compete on their rival’s home court? Well, they can.
As we pointed out in Shin-chan, the humor falls flat if the delivery sucks and thankfully the English dub in School Rumble remains one of the best examples of good dubbing while delivering the laughs. Harima Kenji’s English voice may sound not too brash compared to the Japanese original or some of the voice casting choices were questionable, it is clear the English talents were good at what they do and the dialogue feels natural like you’re in an actual high school setting.
4. Hellsing Ultimate
- Episodes: 10
- Aired: February 2006-December 2012
The Hellsing Organization tasked to defend Great Britain against any forms of supernatural threats (mostly vampires and ghouls). At its head is Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing, spends her lifetime fighting the undead scourge. With an army and money at her disposal, her ultimate weapon in fighting these monsters is another monster named only as the vampire Alucard.
Hellsing Ultimate has a huge cast of characters from different parts of Europe and the rest of the world like Great Britain, Germany, the Nazis, South America and the Vatican and a Japanese voice cast cannot do that. This is one of the few instances the English dub reigns supreme — Every character sounds unique and you can tell what nationality they’re from just by listening to their accents and way of talking.
3. Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: October 2010-December 2010
The Anarchy Sisters Panty and Stocking are foul-mouthed, nasty angels that got kicked out of heaven and they’re spending their days hunting mischievous ghosts in Daten City, a place located between Heaven and Earth. Panty is a sex-starved nymphomaniac who wreaks havoc with her moans and bodily fluids, and Stocking, a goth loli girl with a huge sweet tooth. The two angelic sisters must work hard by killing ghosts to hopefully go back into heaven.
Let’s be honest here: Japanese swearing English words aren't really intimidating, and rather they’re just funny to hear thanks to their language’s limited vocal range. You can tell the actors for the English dub were having fun with the script because while they improvised a lot of lines, the profane, and disgusting delivery were fun to listen to. And it doesn’t hurt the fact that they used a lot of different English accents to make the show more varied and silly.
2. Cowboy Bebop
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 1998-April 1999
In the year 2071, man has colonized the solar system and with humanity expanding out to the reaches of space, law and order need to adapt and find ways to deliver justice throughout space. To do this, the Solar System Police seek the aid of bounty hunters called “Cowboys” to hunt down fugitives and bring them to justice, while getting paid in the process. The story starts with cowboys are Spike Spiegel and Jet Black and their ship called the “Bebop” looking for outlaws and put food on their plates.
Cowboy Bebop is considered one of the best English dubs out there and you can see why. Voice actors Steven Blum, Beau Billingslea, Wendee Lee, and Melissa Fahn (Spike, Jet, Faye, Ed respectively) delivered their lines with the right emotion and tone for every situation and carry humor even in tough situations.
One of the most important thing about making characters memorable to the fans is how they sound and act. The English dub did a good job in making the characters as likable as the original Japanese. Though not perfect, the English dub delivered something good that anyone will enjoy watching without even switching to the Japanese audio.
1. Death Note
- Episodes: 37
- Aired: October 2006-June 2007
Yagami Light is the perfect boy scout: He’s good looking, smart, raised by an upstanding family, and is good at everything. One day he sees a peculiar-looking black notebook with the name Death Note on the cover and after reading the instructions inside, Light discovered he can kill anyone just by writing their name in the notebook. With his new found power, Light took it upon himself to rid the world of evil. Is Light the world’s judge, jury, and executioner ridding the world of evil or has he become so obsessed with his power to snuff everyone’s life at the flip of the pen?
Death Note takes the number one spot over Cowboy Bebop simply because Light’s English voice and performance are perfect to a tee. Cowboy Bebop’s voice cast and acting are all great, but Spike’s English voice isn’t as charismatic than the original Japanese. You can tell the voice of Spike, Steven Blum, fell flat when you watch the final episode — the grunts lack energy, his low emotions when his comrade Shin died, and dull exchange with Vicious. Overall his performance is great, but it’s hard to forgive when the delivery of the final and sad moment of Spike fell flat.
Yagami Light, voiced by Brad Swaile, has more emotion than the original Japanese voice actor Miyano Mamoru. Light’s Japanese voice is not bad in any way, but Light’s English voice offered more energy into the lines. English Light is a bit more maniacal when he gives off that evil grin after a successful plan and it stayed consistent up to the final episode. Brad’s pants and wheezing were spot on and his final delivery revelation to Light’s former comrades was flawless.
In certain types of stories with unique settings, watching an anime in English is the way to go. Not only this list showed you one of the best dubs, it also shows you that dubs can work or can work even better in any setting anime has to offer. The variety of this list is what makes it a bit better than our old Top 10. And this is a good sign because English dubbing has gone a long way and it’s safe to bet the next English dubbed school romance anime or comedy is going to be good!
So what is your favorite English dubbed anime? Please tell us by leaving a comment below!
For anime fans, dubs can be a touchy subject. Some English speakers, for example, appreciate being able to watch anime in their native language. Others… Well, let's just say the hardcore purists would rather that dubs don't exist at all.
To me, either "sub" or "dub" is fine. As long as the acting is good, the characterization is spot-on, and important plot points aren't omitted or changed, I'm fine with watching anime in a language other than Japanese.
Thankfully, there are more than a handful of shows that fit the criteria I mentioned. Some of the best ones are the following:
10. Space Dandy
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Jan 2014 – Mar 2014
Where to start with this show? Let's see: You have a main character, who's a dandy guy in space, who's named… Space Dandy. Along with a cat-like creature named Meow and a robot named QT, Dandy gets paid to discover new alien species for his clients. Actually, he'd rather be with the lovely ladies at the oh-so-subtly named BooBies, but he's got his hands full doing his job and trying to shake off the Gogol Empire, which is tailing him for some reason.
Space Dandy is, first and foremost, an episodic comedy series. When you have that kind of format, it helps to have a strong leading man. And that's exactly what Ian Sinclair delivers, when he gives us a goofy yet charming take on the titular character. Other strong performances from the English dub include Joel McDonald as Meow, and Kent Williams as the leader of the Gogol Empire fleet.
9. Black Lagoon
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr 2006 – Jun 2006
Nope, this isn't a reboot of the 1954 monster film. It's something better: A Japanese businessman, Rokuro Okajima, gets captured by a band of mercenaries while transporting a mysterious disc across the seas east of China. The mercenaries — who run the Lagoon Delivery Company — decide that Rokuro is a valuable hostage, and attempt to extort ransom money from his company in exchange for his life.
Unfortunately, the company doesn't budge, and has Rokuro declared legally dead instead. Realizing that he has no other choice, Rokuro joins the Lagoon Delivery Company — made up of Revy, Dutch and Benny — and takes on the name "Rock". Meanwhile, the disc they captured turns out to be more than they bargained for.
The English script really works well for this anime, since most of Black Lagoon's characters are non-Japanese. Each of them has a distinct accent and personality, so they're fun to listen to. Of course, your mileage may vary on the English actors' interpretation of certain characters — like Revy, for instance — but overall, this dub nails the essence of the show.
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Apr 1998 – Sept 1998
With a name like Vash the Stampede, how can you not be badass? Joking aside, Vash is the main character of Trigun, a show set in the desert world Gunsmoke. Vash has a knack for causing mass property destruction, so he's always being followed by two smokin' hot insurance ladies: Milly Thompson and Meryl Stryfe. As the women get to know him better, they realize he's actually a pretty nice guy — if you ignore his dark and troubled past, that is.
It's hard to believe that Vash is Johnny Yong Bosch's first voice acting role. Not only does Bosch stay true to Vash's complex character, but he's also able to put his own spin on the peace-loving, quirky hero. And when you have a pseudo-Wild West setting like Trigun's, it's hard to go wrong with an all-American cast.
7. Eureka Seven
- Episodes: 50
- Aired: Apr 2005 – Apr 2006
Eureka Seven kicks off with Renton Thurston, a teenage boy who dreams of becoming part of a mercenary group known as "Gekkostate". One day, a girl named Eureka crashes into their garage with an LFO (Light Finding Operation), and inadvertently forces Renton to leave his comfortable life behind forever. Lucky for him, Eureka also happens to be a member of Gekkostate, and as Renton accompanies her, the two grow closer and closer. Meanwhile, a government conspiracy gradually unfolds around them, along with questions about love, life and humanity.
Like Trigun, Eureka Seven is a Johnny Yong Bosch starrer. His Renton is a bit whiny at first, but becomes less so in later episodes. Stephanie Sheh's Eureka has a similar character progression: She starts off as a typical emotionless girl, and eventually becomes more in-tune with her human side later.
Aside from the two leads, you have Crispin Freeman as the Gekkostate leader Holland, Kim Strauss as the main villain Dewey Novak, and Kari Wahlgren as Eureka's evil counterpart Anemone. They're the other standout performances on this show, so keep your ears peeled for them.
- Episodes: 16
- Aired: Jul 2007 – Nov 2007
Famous for its unconventional storytelling style, Baccano! constantly jumps between three different storylines set in three different years during the Great Depression. If that sounds a bit off-putting, don't worry: All of them eventually come together and make sense as the series goes along. Also, despite the time period, the show's not depressing at all; in fact, it's pretty heavy on action, and sometimes ventures into comedic territory.
You could say that this show is meant to be dubbed. Even though it has a big cast of colorful characters — from ordinary immigrants to insane killers — the English actors bring them all to life. The various accents are a nice touch too, so don't miss out on them!
5. Hellsing Ultimate
- Episodes: 10
- Aired: Feb 2006 – Dec 2012
This anime is set in an alternate reality, where the world is besieged by vampires, ghouls and other creatures of the night. To fight against them, England enlists the services of the Hellsing Organization, led by the iron-willed Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing.
Ironically, Integra's most powerful weapon is a vampire named Alucard, whose bloodlust and power are second to none. So when the neo-Nazi organization Millennium decides to strike and cause another world war, it's up to the Hellsing organization to stop them.
As Alucard, Crispin Freeman balances the monstrous and human aspects of his character perfectly. The rest of the cast isn't shabby either: Steven Brand's portrayal of Father Anderson's religious fanaticism is spot-on, while Gildart Jackson is positively chilling as the creepy and insane Major. Considering that this show is set in Europe, it's appropriate for the characters to have various accents — which the dub gets right, for the most part.
4. Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Oct 2004 – Mar 2005
So far, all the anime we discussed had a Western — or Western-like — setting. Does this mean the aforementioned setting is the only thing that makes English dubs work? Judging by the work on Beck, that's not necessarily the case.
In this show, we have 14-year-old Yukio Tanaka, a 100-percent Japanese boy with a 100-percent boring life. At least, that's until he rescues a weird-looking dog from the clutches of some nasty kids. The dog, it turns out, belongs to Ryuusuke "Ray" Minami, a guitarist who's spent some time in the States and introduces Yukio to rock music.
One thing leads to another, and the next thing Yukio knew, he's become a vocalist/guitarist for the band BECK — along with Ryuusuke, vocalist Tsunemi Chiba, bassist Yoshiyuki Taira and drummer Yuuji "Saku" Sakurai.
Beck already has a solid story and cast to begin with, and fortunately, the dub doesn't take away from that. Aside from their high-quality acting, the English voice actors also sing the translated songs themselves. Now that's a feat to beat, no rhyme intended!
3. Samurai Champloo
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: May 2004 – Mar 2005
Another show that has an excellent English dub, even though it's set in Edo-period Japan, is this one. Samurai Champloo revolves around an unlikely trio: a plucky girl named Fuu, an uptight and reserved samurai named Jin, and a dance-battling swordsman named Mugen.
Somehow, Fuu manages to drag the guys into a quest for the "samurai who smells like sunflowers", which is the closest thing this show has to an overarching plot. Otherwise, it's a collection of mini-stories that are just so entertaining to watch, thanks to Shinichiro Watanabe's masterful direction.
Since Fuu, Jin and Mugen are the main characters, it's important that they have strong voice actors. In this regard, the English dub doesn't disappoint: Kari Wahlgren's Fuu is headstrong yet endearing, while Kirk Thornton's Jin is exactly who you'd expect him to be. The award for "Knockout Performance", however, goes to Steve Blum, whose brash, guttural voice fits Mugen's personality so well. If you've already seen the original Japanese version, I suggest you try this one too!
2. Cowboy Bebop
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Apr 1998 – Apr 1999
At first, Cowboy Bebop's premise seems to be nothing more than "bounty hunters in space". After you watch it, though, you'll understand why anime fans continue to rave about it even after nearly two decades of its release.
Everything about this show is so well-done. From the characterization of Spike Spiegel and company, to the various stories told in every episode, Cowboy Bebop hits all the right notes. And speaking of notes, Yoko Kanno's score makes this series stand out all the more. If you're a fan of jazz music in particular, you'll find something to love here.
Like Samurai Champloo, Cowboy Bebop is directed by Shinichiro Watanabe. Also like Samurai Champloo, a main character — namely Spike himself — is voiced by Steve Blum. It's great how Blum captures Spike's cool personality, while lending him an air of mystery. As for the rest of the guys, their voice actors also did justice to their roles, so no complaints there.
- Episodes: 6
- Aired: Apr 2000 – Mar 2001
Every now and then, a show comes along that'll make you go "WTF" in the beginning, and "OOOOOH" by the end of it. FLCL (also known as "Fooly Cooly" or "Furi Kuri") is one of those shows.
Basically, it's a coming-of-age story about Naota, an ordinary grade school kid. When he literally crashes into a girl named Haruko, his life instantly gains 10,000 points on the weirdness scale. Through increasingly bizarre visual metaphors, FLCL shows us how Naota grows up, and hands us a nice conclusion that only a show like this can deliver.
And speaking of "delivering", the English dub for this show is awesome. All the voice actors fit their characters to a T, and the writers took great pains to localize the script without diluting the charm of the original. If there's ever a must-try dub for dub haters, this is it.
I'm not gonna lie: This was a tough list to put together. I had to leave out a lot of shows with equally fantastic dubs, like the two Fullmetal Alchemist series, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Yu Yu Hakusho, Death Note, Spice and Wolf, Highschool of the Dead, Steins;Gate, Kill la Kill and almost all of the Studio Ghibli films. So if you know of other shows that sound great in English, especially if their dubs are underappreciated, we'd love to hear more about them in the comments!
I'll start with Mushishi and Tiger & Bunny. What about you?