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Watching anime is a beloved pastime for many people around the world. With more anime being licensed and released outside of Japan than ever before, fans now have the choice between viewing subtitled versions that keep the original Japanese audio or watching English dubbed versions.

As an anime enthusiast, you’ve likely encountered the age-old debate: subs versus dubs. 

Should you watch your favorite shows with their original Japanese audio and English subtitles, or opt for the dubbed version with an English voiceover?

In this article, we’ll delve into the pros and cons of each option, helping you decide which path to take. So, grab your popcorn, sit back, and let’s dive in!

Advantages of Watching Anime with Subtitles

Watching anime with subtitles has several benefits. For one, it allows you to experience the show in its intended form, preserving the original dialogue, tone, and emotional weight. This can be particularly important for dramatic moments, as the voices and sound effects play a significant role in conveying the feelings and atmosphere of the scene. Additionally, subtitles allow you to hear the characters’ authentic voices, which can make their interactions and relationships feel more genuine.

Pros of Watching Anime with Subtitles:

  • Preserves the original intent and tone of the show
  • Allows you to hear the characters’ true voices
  • Can enhance your understanding of Japanese culture
  • Provides a more immersive experience

While subs are often considered the purest way to experience anime, there are instances where watching the dubbed version might be preferable. For example, if you’re not fluent in Japanese, dubs can help you understand the plot better, especially in shows with complex narratives or fast-paced dialogue. Moreover, some people find it easier to focus on the animation and visual details when they don’t have to read subtitles simultaneously. Lastly, if you’re watching anime with a group or in a public setting, dubs can be more convenient, as they eliminate the need for quiet attention to subtitles.

Pros of Watching Anime with Dubs:

  • Easier to follow for non-Japanese speakers
  • More accessible for those who struggle with reading subtitles
  • Better suited for group or public viewing

Emotional Impact of Dubs vs. Subs

The emotional impact of anime scenes can differ significantly depending on whether you watch them with subs or dubs.

On one hand, subs allow you to experience the raw emotion in the characters’ voices, which can be particularly powerful in dramatic moments.

On the other hand, dubs can sometimes lack the emotional depth of the original Japanese voices, potentially diluting the impact of certain scenes. However, some dubs are well-made and successfully convey the emotions of the original version.

Ultimately, the choice comes down to personal preference and what works best for you.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Subs and Dubs

When deciding between subs and dubs, several factors come into play.

Firstly, consider your fluency in Japanese – if you’re not confident in your listening skills, dubs might be a better choice.

Secondly, think about your preferred viewing style – do you like to focus on the animation and visuals, or do you prefer to immerse yourself in the audio experience?

Finally, evaluate your connection to the show – if you’re deeply invested in the characters and story, you might want to choose the version that feels most authentic to you.

Voice Acting Quality: Subs vs. Dubs

The quality of voice acting varies greatly between dubbed and subbed anime. While some dubs feature talented voice actors who deliver impressive performances, others fall flat in terms of emotion and authenticity.

Similarly, some subs may have mediocre voice acting, but others boast exceptional delivery that enhances the overall experience. It ultimately depends on the production team and the cast chosen for each version.

Capturing Character Nuance Between Subs and Dubs

So which truly provides a more faithful experience of characters? The realistic answer is that both mediums have their strengths and limitations.

Subtitles give you direct access to the original script and performance intentions. But language barriers mean you inevitably miss nuances from translation alone.

Dubs place interpretation into the hands of different writers and actors. This filters the essence of characters but also allows added naturalism based on cultural context.

A balanced perspective acknowledges the pros and cons of both approaches. You may find alternating between subs and dubs even within the same series offers the most complete character experience.

Strategies for Transitioning to Subs

For those looking to expand their viewing experience, there are effective methods to get your brain used to following subtitles while still enjoying the anime. Here are some tips:

  • Start with a short series or film subtitle-free to grasp the characters, story, and vibe. Then watch again with subs on to acclimate yourself.
  • Pick a show with simple, fast-paced dialogue so you’re not overwhelmed trying to keep up with long conversations.
  • Watch dubs and sub-versions of the same scene to directly compare voices, performances, and translations.
  • Enable subtitle prefs for larger text size, clear font & colors, and ample display time.
  • Sit close enough to your screen to read comfortably without excessive eye movement.
  • Try saying dialogue aloud as you read it to aid in processing meaning.
  • Gradually work up to denser subbed content, pausing if needed to absorb conversations.
  • Prioritize getting invested in the story and characters over perfectly grasping every line.


Choosing between anime subs and dubs ultimately comes down to personal preference, viewing habits, and your connection to the show. Both options have their advantages, and there’s no right or wrong decision.

Whether you prefer the authenticity of subs or the convenience of dubs, what matters most is that you enjoy the anime experience. So go ahead, experiment with both, and find what works best for you!

FAQs – How to Choose Between Watch Anime with Subs vs. Dubs

What determines if an anime gets dubbed?

Popularity and licensing rights determine if an anime gets an English dub. More popular shows are more likely to get dubbed. 

What language is all anime?

The original language for most anime is Japanese. 

What is English anime called? 

Anime with an English dub is still called anime.

What is the proper way to watch anime?

There is no right or wrong way. Watch subbed or dubbed based on your preference.

Should I read or watch anime first?

It’s up to you! Some prefer to read the manga first.

Is it too late to start watching anime?

It’s never too late to start watching anime! Begin with popular, classic titles.

Should I learn Japanese if I watch anime?

Learning Japanese is optional for anime fans. Watching subs can help pick up some basic phrases.

Tom Velasco

Tom Velasco

I'm just a regular guy who loves hobbies. I'm also the creator of Hobbyist To Riches, where I've spent the last 15 years trying out all kinds of hobbies that make life happier and financially rewarding. My adventures have taken me around the world to immerse in different cultures and their diverse pastimes. I love sharing this journey of discovering new passions!

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