Japanese 'Avengers' fans up in arms over shoddy voice acting on Blu-ray release

By Philip Kendall

The dubbed Blu-ray version of recent Hollywood smash "The Avengers" hasn’t even made it into stores yet, but Japanese film fans are already writing it off as junk.

Despite the Japanese releases of previous superhero movies – "The Incredible Hulk," "Iron Man" and "Thor" included – being voiced by professional, suitably cast voice actors, the dubbed version of "The Avengers" in cinemas featured none of the same voices, despite the movie being based around the premise of bringing these much-loved heroes together in one spot.

Movie buffs had hoped that Disney Japan, the company behind the Japanese Blu-ray release, would reinstate the original super heroes’ Japanese counterparts for the home release, but it has become clear that those wishing to enjoy the action movie without subtitles will have to put up with the same subpar voice acting that was shoehorned into the cinema release.

With just under two weeks to go before its release, the dubbed Blu-ray version of "The Avengers" currently has an average review score of just 1.5 stars out of five on Amazon JP, with more than 65 reviewers giving it the lowest possible score.

Scrolling through the customer reviews beneath the product description, the term 吹替版 "fukikaeban" (dubbed version) is followed almost constantly by terms like “awful,” “mismatched” and “poor quality”.

Comedian Naoto Takenaka is credited as giving one of the marginally better performances.

Perhaps hoping to appeal to as many people as possible, or perhaps simply hoping to keep production costs down, Disney Japan opted to enlist a host of Japanese TV stars and comedians to provide the voice acting for the film’s characters, rather than those who voiced them in the previously released movies. While few film fans have problems with the stars themselves, many cinephiles are angered that their voices are simply not appropriate for the movie, made all the more infuriating by the fact that the perfect voice cast already exists.

Here’s just a small selection of the angry comments made online by Japanese Avengers fans:

-- “The voice acting here is exactly as everyone says: absolutely dire. I’m cancelling my order.”

-- “If they want to sell any DVDs, they need to get the original – professional – voice actors back on board!”

-- “Disney Japan are laughing in fans’ faces. These people are simply not qualified to handle this project.”

-- “The Japanese voice acting cast is horrendously bad.”

-- “There is a big difference between using a famous person’s voice and a voice that fits a role. This is all wrong.”

-- “I had hoped for the dubbing to be of a similarly high quality as the movie itself…”

-- “This was the perfect opportunity to right the wrongs of the cinema release’s voice acting; this production makes me doubt the integrity of those in the industry.”

-- “However I look at it, all I can think is that we’re being taken for a ride. This voice acting sullies and otherwise superb movie.”

-- “I’d been looking forward to this for years. What a total shambles it turned out to be!”

So, not a great start then…

Of course, one might argue that movies ought to be viewed in their original audio language rather than with a dubbed voice track, but there are times when – as in "The Avengers" – the pace of the action is so fast that attempting to keep up with on-screen subtitles actually detracts from overall enjoyment of the movie for many. If an effort is to be made to provide a dubbed audio track, the least producers can do is populate the cast with actors whose voices fit their characters, rather than simply hiring well-known voices and famous names. As much as I like comedians like Ricky Gervais, Louis CK and Chris Rock, for example, the last place I’d like to hear their vocal talents would be in the middle of a superhero flick.

It’s at times like these that I feel incredibly fortunate to have been born in an English-speaking country. With English often considered to be the standard language for things like movies, games, even scientific and medical journals, I rarely find myself lumped with a sub-par version of an an otherwise great work.

Japanese movie and videogame fans, however, don’t always have it so easy. The recent release of military shooter "Call of Duty: Black Ops 2," for example, is reported to be blighted with glaring errors and mistranslations, resulting in many fans railing against the game’s publisher Square Enix and demanding that a downloadable patch be provided to fix the careless mistakes.

If any of you are looking to pick up a bargain, meanwhile, the Blu-ray release of "The Avengers" – with the original English voice track included – is currently listed on Amazon Japan for just 1,078 yen.

Read more stories on RocketNews24. -- Limited Edition Bathroom Scale Features Japanese Voice of Barney and Phoenix Wright -- Japan’s 30 Best Selling Video Games of All Time -- Cover of Hey Jude by Japanese Voice Actress is “An Insult to the Beatles,” Destroyed by Internet

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Is there anything other than shoddy voice acting? Japanese voice actors always ham everything up to the extreme.

There's the macho voice; and the bitchy everything-ends-with-わよ-woman-voice; and that's about it.

They are ALWAYS “awful,” “mismatched” and “poor quality”.

17 ( +20 / -3 )


-2 ( +2 / -4 )

If the dubbing is that bad, then watch it with subtitles. I wouldn't go so far as to "cancel my order". But yes, Disney does bite balls quite a bit.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

but "Speed" sometimes it's annoying watching a film with subs. Specially if the fill is action packed and many people speaking very fast throughout the movie. I can understand the people's frustrations and I would also be pretty Peed off if this happened. I guess the only 2 things they could do is like you said is watch it with subs and or learn some English. But this does not solve the problem of Disney hiring "El chepo" guys to dubb the movie > <

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

learn English, enjoy it in it's original form...

-2 ( +11 / -14 )

Sometimes it goes the other way. In the English-dubbed release of "Mononoke Hime," Billy Bob Thornton's voice was a horrendous choice for Jiko Bou, the wandering monk.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Are movies with subtitles not casual in Japan? I don't understand why dubbing is preferred, when it's lowers the quality of the movie.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Japanese voice talent for anime and movies is some of the very best in the world. It is terrible that Disney cut costs by producing such a substandard and insulting product. It would have taken very little extra effort and investment to do it right the first time. They will now have to re release it with the real voices, and apologize. No other course of action is conceivable.

There is every reason and then some for Japanese dubs to be accurate and as good as possible. The Japanese film and Anime industry has for years produced, funded and released superior english dubs of series with great care and casting, and these release, almost all of the, are models of what a cross lingual production should be. It is not at all easy to dub into another language, it takes masterful timing and use of language and requires editors and directors who are fluent in both languages far beyond what most can imagine. As for the posters here who have summarily showed their lack of sympathy, i am sorry to see such anywhere especially on a news service hosted in Japan, we can at least be respectful to our hosts.

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

I'm just waiting for AKB48 to voice Ironman and the Hulk then Disney Japan can have my money.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Japanese voice talent for anime and movies is some of the very best in the world.


I don't watch cartoons and whatever, but the few times I've seen a movie on TV that was dubbed, I lasted about 2 minutes before I started looking for ear bleach to get rid of the hammy atrocity I had just witnessed.

8 ( +12 / -5 )

As for the posters here who have summarily showed their lack of sympathy,

Sympathy for a multi-billion dollar corporation that puts out a substandard product? Sorry but I disagree.l

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Has anyone ever watched TV series X-Files with the Japanese voice overs ? Very hammy and Mulder and scully almost seem to have swapped voices.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Y1000 for the import and Y3000 for the substandard Japanese dubbed version. Disney may have skimped on dubbing costs, but they won't pass their savings on to the customer. How greedy.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

There are some good voice actors in Japan. I have two friends (a couple) who are regularly on the radio, TV documentaries, and should be doing Disney characters soon. I hear they are very good and sound completely different while performing.

The problem is more the management agencies/industry looking to place their talent who have no talent. Sounds like Shoddy work for the Avengers. Dubbing just seems like an afterthought here and probably delays the release of a movie even more. More money spent on the dubbing means less profits. Why spend more money when the movie is already in the can?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I've been watching anime forever... I suppose I'm just used to it...

The fans make a good point about not pairing voice actors too characters though.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

All movies, foreign or domestic deserve to be watched (and heard) in it's intended form. That goes for format, sound and picture. Dubbing ought to be outlawed.

Also, with Japan mastering the English language to such an extent, wouldn't it be better if people tried to hear some PROPER English once in a while?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

..we can at least be respectful to our hosts.

Hosts? Please tell me you're joking, brother. If you are here visiting, then sure, they might be hosts. If you live here, visa, family and what have you, you are a citizen. Same as anyone else.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Dubbing ought to be outlawed

Many kids are too young to read all the subtitles and many old-timers' eyes are too far gone to read from a distance. Plus, don't forget the great potential of dubbing. For example, a lot of Italian movies with English subtitles have turned out to be more hilarious than real Hollywood comedies.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

that should be "a lot of movies with English dubbing..."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The latest anime (US) Frankenweenie in theaters will be in Japanese not English. So you kidies out there had better wait for the disc with subtitles to come out. Boo to dubbed movies here when there is only one version.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have to agree with Tairitsomething. If Japanese want to become a country globally up par with a proper English Language skill they should do some effort, yes subtitles take away the experience perhaps, but we should think about the future. I know Ive learned A LOT of my English by watching subtitled movies when I was little.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The film is NOT AVAILABLE FOR 1078. Its 1078Y off the original price, so its 3000Y.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

ALL dubbed movies are awful, particularly in Asia -- although Hong Kong kung-fu movies dubbed in English have a special exception as it's part of the whole 'culture' to the movies. Japanese dubbing is better than some of the dubbing in SE Asia, but it still consists of basically two voices: high-pitched squealing woman and coarse yakuza-voiced man. There is no in-between. Back when I used to have a TV and cable I would watch shows on FOX and get a kick out of switching between English and dubbed Japanese. It was amazing to hear the difference between the real actors voice and the Japanese voice actors.

My advice to these people: just buy the original and watch it with subtitles. If you have kids that are too young to read the Kanji, then they shouldn't know the difference in voice actors anyway.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

And for those who say subtitles take away from the experience, they do not, unless you are intentionally reading them for study (and then they're probably not in your native tongue anyway). When I think back on movies I've watched with subtitles I don't think about the subtitles at all. Even when watching I don't fell they take away from anything.

1 ( +2 / -1 )


They hardly strive to be that good at English. But it would do them good.

In the long run.

@billyshears A totally valid objection. I should have stated more clearly that movies directed at the adult portion of the public should not be allowed to be dubbed.

In Spain during the Franco years, the authorities loved dubbing. Foreign films with "questionable" dialogue could easily be transformed into "proper" Castillian, without any pesky ideas being served the movie going public. A poweful tool indeed.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In the English-dubbed release of "Mononoke Hime," Billy Bob Thornton's voice was a horrendous choice for Jiko Bou, the wandering monk.

Spirited Away, too. The English-language performances are dire, particularly the parents.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

So they finally get a taste of what anime-fans had to deal with for years. They should learn to love subtitles or simply learn English. And why complain now and not when it was in theaters?

At least they didn't name Ironman "tetsuwan" or Tony Stark "Sakamoto Taro" (or other random names) like they end up doing to anime characters under the direct supervision of the Japanese studios.

Anyway, has nothing to do with me, I got the bluray when it was released two weeks after it opened in theaters here. 100% reasonable English voices, though lacks Japanese subs (but some international versions have dozens of languages, especially EU ones)

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Most dubbing I have heard here is laughable. Overacted, melodramatic garbage that belongs on a Vaudeville stage and not in modern cinema. I am happy people are finally piping up about it.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

you cannot watch a dubbed movie and call yourself "Movie buffs"... unless it is one of the laughable movies from the 1970s that are so bad they are good (like the old bruce lee ones)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Maybe it's revenge for all of those poorly dubbed Kaiju movies... ^__^

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan has always been a culture of dubbed over subbed. It has nothing to do with the fast pace of the video. For example, all the Korean dramas aired on NHK and such are dubbed. Korean dramas are nowhere close to being fast paced. Also, when NHK aired Little House on the Prarie back during the 1970s, it too was dubbed in Japanese. And so on and so on. You won't hardly see any television shows from outside Japan that are subbed rather than dubbed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You won't hardly see any television shows from outside Japan that are subbed rather than dubbed.

You obviously don't have cable TV. Most shows are shown in subtitled versions (and dubbed versions too).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Then watch it in English with the real voices.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

You obviously don't have cable TV. Most shows are shown in subtitled versions (and dubbed versions too).

I had the three Star channels and used to enjoy all three channels until they made one channel exclusively for dubbed movies, no dual audio channel just the horrible dubbed version. I was paying the premium price for three channels not two.

I just got hulu, its nice, but a few movies that I wanted to watch are only in the dubbed version. sigh - It's 2012, it's digital - give us the ability to choose our audio channel and subtitle language.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

since these are real fanboys...

learn english = problem solved

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Has Disney ever dubbed something well? As in, something that was originally in a different language.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

My problem with dubbing lies mainly with the creative process. To make a movie, with actors that you want to work with to portray the characters and dialogue you try for days to get just right, to have that idea squashed by some local little sound studio bringing local celebs... Uuaah. That goes all ways, mind you. Matt Damon in Ponyo is no better than KimuTaku in Shrek.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Interesting point, probably Disney wanted to appeal to use star talents or a more cheap dubbing company instead of the companies Paramount used for the first movies, a big problem when you became a big fan of the first five movies and then your superheroes changes voices in the worst way possible. Do you remember The Simpsons movie? Japan had a similar situation, Fox knew that the movie was going to be a hit and decided to remove the dub company they were using and instead input star talents (more known movie and tv stars) to perform the characters and with this the movie was destroyed by Simpsons fans.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They should have used AKB48

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Bryan Villados In Europe most countries dub everything rather than subtitle. Italian, French, German, Portuguese.... you won't find a movie or drama in the original English

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It was bad before that !!!!! Some of those guys are over the top and cheesy performances. The women talk childish and the dialog is " Lost In Translation "

" Bob-San, Suntory time !!!! "

0 ( +1 / -1 )

On the Disney channel is a children show called chef le frank, the dog teach children how to make they own snacks from different country, on the China Snack le Frank said in the English that Chinese use chopstick to eat, in the Japanese dubbed it said that Japanese use the chopstick, why even bring Japan into a program that is talking about china?

That is why they don't like to watch movie in they original form?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

The choice of Hard Gay to voice the Hulk really needed more consideration. "HA-RU-KU, FOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The film is NOT AVAILABLE FOR 1078. Its 1078Y off the original price, so its 3000Y.

Yep, I went straight to Amazon because that price for a new blu-ray of a new movie in Japan is unheard of. 3000yen is not worth it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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