Danganronpa — At Least the Teddy Bear Sounds Better in Englis

One of the weirdest anime/video game franchises

I don’t exactly remember what I did in 2017, which probably means that it wasn’t my favourite year to be alive. I would talk about how it was only the beginning of my actual problems, but that’s not why I write articles. Aside from the culmination of Samurai Jack, otherwise known as the best cartoon show ever, the other thing that happened to me in 2017 was my discovery of a peculiar anime/video game franchise that seems to get weirder with every entry in the series. If anyone knows it, it’s called Danganronpa.

Danganronpa is a lot of things, but essentially, it’s a game that is sold as a visual novel, which might be true. It’s more similar to Ace Attorney in style, and I already talked about how I don’t consider that a visual novel, and that is because of its complexity. While the gameplay draws elements from visual novels and adventure games, the story is a bit more complicated to describe, especially when considering that there are separate canons for several storylines present in the franchise. Still, in all cases, it seems to revolve around a group of teenagers who are forced to participate in a “killing game”, where they are conditioned into killing each other by a black-and-white teddy bear. I know it’s zany, but it gets zanier.

Personally, I was more impressed with the first entries in the series. It was only later on that I was somewhat disappointed in the franchise’s direction, but like I always say, that’s not my call to make. Regardless of what you might think about the franchise, better or worse, all that doesn’t matter is that I want to talk about the voice acting in the game.

Monokuma is the teddy bear, by the way

Now, a saying goes more or less along the lines “true weebs only watch the subs”, which means that if you’re a true admirer of anime, you won’t watch the English-dubbed version; instead, go for the Japanese voiceover with the English subtitles. While it is an arguable statement regarding Danganronpa, I can say that Monokuma, the iconic villain of the franchise, sounds a heck of a lot better in English than he does in Japanese. But hey, that’s just me.

I don’t usually say this since I agree with most people that, for the most part, anime sounds better in Japanese. Still, in the case of Danganronpa, I think that Brian Beacock pretty much defined the evil teddy archetype with his portrayal of Monokuma alone. In that sense, the seiyū (Japanese voice actor) of Monokuma, Nobuyo Ōyama, does a less significant job since his portrayal sounds like the generic evil anime cutie archetype. But again, that’s just me.

But if anything, I think this shows that sometimes, they do a better job in English, as ironic as it might be. But it doesn’t work with every anime.

Should there be more of these?

It’s interesting how sometimes an anime can sound better in English. Monokuma is just one character out of a bunch of characters, but I don’t think this majesty of a voiceover applies to the rest of the cast of Danganronpa. Another anime with excellent voice acting in English is My Hero Academia, where multiple characters seem to have the perfect tempo to their voice (seriously, I have no idea what I’m talking about).

People need to remember that the characters’ lips don’t match their speech in anime. This is because the anime industry in Japan is busy and stressful, so they try to cut as many corners as possible. One of these corners is the mouth animation, which only opens and closes the mouth with no intricate lip movement. Since Japan is mainly oblivious to other cultures, they don’t consider how their western consumers would appreciate it. So the American voice actors often have to match their speech to the character motions. This is why English dubs sound as if the characters speak slightly slower than expected, and one of the factors that often make English dubs not as good as the Japanese voiceover. But some anime succeed in bypassing that limitation.

I think there should be a greater attempt at having more awesome-sounding anime in English because there are not a lot of them. I, of course, can’t do anything about it… but can you?

Can you be an anime voice actor?

I’m just curious about my doing it, but I’m not interested. I met some people who said they want to become voice actors for anime, but I can’t imagine they’re already on the path to a successful voice acting career. If you could give a say about which anime you think has great voice acting, be sure to say so yourself. Other than that, you can say anything else about Danganronpa.

In Conclusion…

Danganronpa is a fascinating game, but later entries are not as good as the first ones. Go ahead and check it out for yourself; just be warned that the themes present in the series are kind of… suggestive, to say the least.

I don’t know if there can be more voice actors in English that do a better job than their Japanese counterparts. Not for me to be bothered with either; I’ll take whatever dub they give me, English or Japa…

You know what? Danganronpa is too weird to describe in text. Watch it yourself!

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