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Top 10 Best English Dubbed Anime of All Time

Some anime fans prefer not to read their TV shows. That's what dubs are for: translating Japanese shows to make them more accessible to English audiences. But what separates a good dub from a great dub? Let's count off some of the best and find out!

by Jankenpopp
Dec 27, 2015 10:36 PM | 25,421 views

Do you like anime dub?

Making an anime dub has its difficulties. The Japanese staff often needs to approve the English script, so it needs to be written and rewritten. The dubbed lines must match up to the character's mouths, even though they are speaking Japanese, which has different pacing from English and other Western languages. Many jokes are lost in translation, and must be rewritten for non-Japanese audiences, and cultural references often need to be localized or at least explained. Admittedly, dubbers have their work cut out for them, and it's no surprise that many miss the mark. However, there are some dubs that defy expectations-they're that amazing!


MAL Rated 7.82, Ranked #789 | Aired Winter 2014 | Produced by Bones

Licensed by FUNimation Entertainment

Space Dandy dubbed video

You can tell when the cast of an anime had fun making it. In this English dub, Ian Sinclair is silky smooth as our favorite womanizing bounty hunter, and Alison Viktorin weaves exasperation and panic into the auto-tuned voice of QT. The voices aren't the only difference—the English opening and ending themes, Cosmic Adventure and Word Pack, lose none of the groove of the funky Japanese originals.

Watch the dub here!

Kill la Kill

MAL Rated 8.27, Ranked #227 | Aired Fall 2013 | Produced by Trigger

Licensed by Aniplex of America

Kill la Kill dubbed video

Both versions of Kill la Kill were undoubtedly hell on the vocal cords. The casts deserve respect for rising to one of the most melodramatic and unrestrained scripts in recent years, to say nothing of the English dub's spot-on casting. Christine Marie Cabanos's elfin voice is tailor made for the irrepressible Mako Mankanshoku, a fitting foil for Erica Mendez's no-nonsense Ryuuko Matoi. And if you've ever wanted Attack on Titan's Levi to take off his clothes, an uncharacteristically wacky Matthew Mercer (as Aikurou Mikisugi) is more than happy to.

Watch the dub here!


MAL Rated 8.58, Ranked #67 | Aired Summer 2007 | Produced by Brains Base

Licensed by FUNimation Entertainment, Aniplex of America

Baccano! dubbed video

Period pieces are all about immersion, and the accents of Baccano! are frequently cited as some of the best in the industry. Bryan Massey's Ladd Russo speaks with a Brooklyn timbre that gets stronger during fights, and Jerry Jewell is a captivating gangster in the role of Claire "Vino" Stanfield. Todd Haberkorn's Firo Prochainezo rounds out the New York-flavored cast with a easygoing greaser lilt that belies his fiery personality.

Licensing rights expired 2/8/2016. :(

Death Note

MAL Rated 8.75, Ranked #32 | Aired Fall 2006 | Produced by Madhouse

Licensed by Viz Media

Death Note dubbed video

Who could possibly be better opposites than Brad Swaile and Alessandro Juliani? In Viz's English dub, Swaile's Light switches seamlessly from composed mastermind to psychotic killer, and Juliani punctuates L's monotone with bizarrely expressive food noises and asides. But the most fun comes from Brian Drummond as Ryuk: gravelly as a lifelong smoker, unrepentantly amoral, and addicted to apples.

Watch the dub here!

Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! (WataMote: No Matter How I Look At It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Unpopular!)

MAL Rated 7.34, Ranked #2080 | Aired Summer 2013 | Produced by Silver Link

Licensed by Sentai Filmworks

Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! dubbed video

Izumi Kitta drew acclaim for her portrayal of socially inept Tomoko Kuroki, and Monica Rial matches her manic performance note for note. Her dub of Tomoko swings wildly between megalomaniacal delusions and tongue-tied anxiety. Almost as good is her surprisingly hot "Yandere Boys Verbal Abuse" CD in episode 2.

Watch the dub here!

Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt

MAL Rated 7.81, Ranked #802 | Aired Fall 2010 | Produced by Gainax

Licensed by FUNimation Entertainment

Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt dubbed video

It's hard to capture the spirit of an anime in translation. How do you top the original PSG's offbeat blend of English and Japanese vulgarity? According to Studio Gainax, Funimation was specifically instructed to pack the dub with as much creative cursing as possible, in part to teach English swears to the Japanese animators. Voice actresses Jamie Marchi and Monica Rial more than deliver as the titular fallen angels, exchanging rapid-fire ribaldry with Christopher Sabat's Bible-thumping Garterbelt. This is perhaps one anime that does even better dubbed than subbed!

Watch the dub here!

Howl no Ugoku Shiro (Howl's Moving Castle)

MAL Rated 8.73, Ranked #35 | Released November 20, 2004 | Produced by Studio Ghibli

Licensed by Walt Disney Studios

Howl's Moving Castle dubbed video

Any Disney-dubbed Miyazaki film deserves a spot on this list, but only Howl's Moving Castle has Billy Crystal as the sarcastic fire demon Calcifer. Disney's dubs always have big name actors, and in this movie, Christian Bale brings a bit of Patrick Bateman's vanity to the wizard Howl, and the late Lauren Bacall is terrifying as the haughty Witch of the Waste. The highlight is Emily Mortimer and Jean Simmons pulling double duty as young and old Sophie, blending two performances into a single powerful character arc from shyness to confidence.

Disney's page here

Gakkou no Kaidan (Ghost Stories)

MAL Rated 7.75, Ranked #912 | Aired Fall 2000 | Produced by Studio Pierrot

Licensed by ADV Films, Discotek

Gakkou no Kaidan dubbed video

Yes, that dub. After a lukewarm reception in its native Japan, Ghost Stories was handed off to ADV Films with instructions to do anything necessary to make the dub sell. Anything. So they threw out the bulk of the script and created the world's first official "abridged series". In this dub that is more a rewrite, Monica Rial's Momoko is a pleasantly fundamentalist Christian, Chris Patton turns Hajime into a perverted jerk, and Greg Ayres reimagines Reo Kakinoki as their Jewish friend "Leo". Almost as raunchy as South Park, the dub ended up being translated back into Japanese and became more popular than the original! Fans of this series might enjoy Sealab 2021, which is a redub of an older American cartoon named Sealab 2020.

(A/N: "Abridged series" refers to a genre of comedy fandubs of anime, popularized by LittleKuriboh's Yu-Gi-Oh! parody.)

Watch the dub here!

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

MAL Rated 9.25, Ranked #1 | Aired Spring 2009 | Produced by Bones

Licensed by FUNimation Entertainment

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Flat-out good anime can also make for good dubs. This one frequently tops best dub lists as well as our own anime rankings. Vic Mignona and Maxey Whitehead's Elric brothers are a dream team, matching Edward's brash confidence with Alphonse's tinny timidity. The sound design adds delicious flavor to each performance, particularly the metallic ring of Alphonse's voice. Watch out for Christopher Sabat as Major Armstrong in a bombastic role to rival his Vegeta.

Watch the dub here!

Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)

MAL Rated 8.56, Ranked #75 | Aired Winter 2011 | Produced by Shaft

Licensed by Aniplex of America

Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica

Madoka is all about change and maturity, and its themes play out phenomenally well in the English dub. Christine Marie Cabanos's Madoka Kaname is a study in innocence, a small voice standing Cnut-like against a tide of despair. Sarah Williams is her best friend Sayaka Miki, and those who play League of Legends will hear more and more of her Jinx as her character's burden begins to take its toll on her sanity. The real emotional climax is in Rebellion, in which it's hard to tell whether the tears are the actresses' or the characters'.

Watch the dub here!

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