Well, the new year is upon us and let me just say it was quite a hit or miss year for dubs. There’s a lot that came out between the both home released and simuldubs, so today I’ll be counting down my picks for the top ten English dubs of 2016. I am including simuldubs and home releases, so even if it was released on Netflix or something last year, it still counts since a home release can reach more people than just a streaming service. So let’s jump right into it because there is a lot to cover!
10) Dangan Ronpa: Future Arc
Ok, this one might be a little bias. The future arc wasn’t the best that Funimation could do. There were still some stand out performances. Ian Sinclair as Sakakura was incredibly engaging, Justin Breiner as Mitairai was exactly what I thought it would be and it was perfect, and it’s always wonderful to hear Bryce Papenbrook come back as the ever optimistic, can’t keep me down Makoto Naegi. But the rest of the cast was kind of forgettable. But I think that was due more to the fact that the show wasn’t really written all that great to begin with. However, the dub still came together in an entertaining way for fans and, to be fair, this is about as fanservicey as I get with this list. I acknowledge the flaws the show had, but I can’t deny how much I enjoyed the dub, so I’ll rank it pretty low on the list.
9) Disastrous life of Saiki K/Re:Life
The first is the disastrous life of Saiki K, the story of a young man with psychic powers who just wants to live a normal life but everyone around him is just wacky and ridiculous. The entire show is carried on the performance of Jerry Jewell as Saiki internally monologues everything. His commentary on his “friends” and family resonates with viewers because everyone has that one person they know where you are convinced you are the only normal person around. The gags never get tired and the cast is genuinely funny to listen to.
Similarly, Re:Life is about Kaizaki, a young man who finds himself in what’s called the Re:Life program. Not only is this show incredibly funny due to the chemistry between Micah Solusod and Josh Grelle as the two leads, but there are also some very touching moments. The direction on this show is spot on since it never feels awkward to go back and forth between the two tones. Both shows were a comedic breath of fresh air and definitely worth a watch.
This was a show that I wasn’t too excited for since I’m not a fan of the Hellsing series. However, once the cast was announced, I immediately knew I had to start keeping up with the show. The great thing about this dub was the blend of new comers from the past few years and some of my favorite actors from about ten years ago. The only reason why I think some fans might struggle with this show is there is a lot of historic humor. Some of the humor relies on the viewer to understand certain historic events from Japanese history. It’s not many moments, but there are quite a few in the first episode that could turn off some who want to check out the show. Despite that, the cast is stellar and 100% worth at least a look.
7) My Hero Academia
Who doesn’t love super heroes? This shounen anime was very much a breath a fresh air compared to the others that are out there. When the dub was announced, it was hard not to be excited with all the hype Funimation had centered around it. But, they did not disappoint. From Justin Breiner’s show stealing performance as Izuku to Clifford Chapin’s bombastic job as Bakugo, there’s so much about this dub that gets the audience hyped up and excited for every episode. It was hard to stop watching this show over and over as I waited for new episodes to come out because it’s such an exciting show.
6) 91 Days
Who doesn’t love some good old fashion gangster drama? In a show all about making deals and conquering territories, the most stand out performance was from the quietest role. Austin Tindle’s performance as Angelo/Avillio is so engaging with so little to go on since Angelo is mainly keeping quiet so he can plan his parent’s revenge. But, to me, the reason this show works is because of how cinematic it feels. It takes a lot of cues from movies like The Godfather and this gives the dub a little more freedom to experiment with things like lingo and language from the time. It adds an additional layer to the characters by letting the dialogue have more personality as opposed to just being a straight translation.
5) Snow White with the Red Hair
This is one of the most satisfying shojou dubs I have seen in a very long time. Josh Grelle and Brina Palencia have such a wonderful, natural chemistry together that it’s hard not to get invested in Zen and Shirayuki. I wish I had more to say about this dub, but really I enjoy a good love story and I enjoy it even more when the couple works so well. The other cast members are great as well, many of them are funny or create wonderful tension. However, it always comes back to how great Zen and Shirayuki are together and sometimes it’s just that simple when it comes to making a good dub.
4) Assassination Classroom
I did this show a severe discredit because when I watched the first episode in Japanese, I didn’t like it. I couldn’t keep up with the humor, which made me feel like I was missing something that everyone else seemed to get from the show. When the dub was announced, I had to give it another try. This is part of the reason I’m ranking the dub so high on this list. It, essentially, convinced me to watch this show. And I loved it. There are far too many actors to call out one by one, but each cast member delivered on their characters. They were all unique, funny, engaging, and at the very end even heartbreaking. It’s a dub that has stayed with me long after the show has ended with the wise words of Koro-sensei still ringing in my ears.
3) One Punch Man
This was another show that I knew was good, but had little to no intention of seeing. As I mentioned before, it’s hard for me to get invested in comedies when I watch them in Japanese. While One Punch Man is much easier to follow than some of the other shows this year, it still didn’t really strike me as something to watch until I heard the trailer for it. Max Mittleman 100% sold me as Saitama and I tuned into Adult Swim to watch each episode. The show is incredibly well written with an amazing lead and supporting cast that hit each comedic point perfectly.
2) Yuri on Ice
There’s not a lot that can be said about Yuri on Ice that hasn’t been said already. In terms for the dub, it was just as outstanding as everything else about the show. It’s obvious that so much attention and care went into the adaptation as well as the casting. The chemistry between Josh Grelle and Jerry Jewell is incredible and creates an additional sense of passion between Yuri and Victor. From the minor characters all the way up to the mains, I have nothing but good things to say about this show. It is an absolutely beautiful for a beautiful show.
1) Your Lie in April
Between this show and Yuri on Ice, it was difficult to decide which was the better dub this season. For me, what it boiled down to was seeing the range of the actors. Your Lie in April covers aspects of childhood and adolescence, so actors Max Mittleman and Erica Lindbeck had to go all out for their roles. There’s so much about this dub that works perfectly. There are many monologues through out the anime, but the show never feels preachy and the actors always keep you firmly engaged with their performances. Without a doubt, this is a dub that you must check out from 2016.
Thanks for checking out this list everyone! I’m very excited to be moving into 2017 and am already working on some content to make this year leaps and bounds above the last. There are already some great titles announced, so hopefully we’ll get some good dubs out of it too.
Have a Happy New Year!