What I Learned from Watching the Ghost Stories Dub

Do you guys know about the hilarious and sorted history of the Ghost Stories dub? I feel like a lot of people have at least heard of it by reputation.

GS 1

I should say, all the subtitles are from the show…

In short, the Ghost Stories anime is a boring series that was supposed to be a huge hit but ended up as a flop. The source had been very successful and the adaptation went to Pierrot while the studio was in its heyday. They hired a fairly prestigious cast and were banking on huge numbers. When the ratings ended up rather poor, it was a huge embarrassment instead. As such, once the adaptation rights were sold for the English dub, the studio basically said they didn’t really care how it was handled as long as the basic story and names stayed the same (so people could still find and buy the manga…)

That’s when writer director Steven Foster decided to basically rework the entire script and it ended up very different.

Now I have seen the dubbed version and from the little I have seen of the original, the dub really is more entertaining in my opinion. However, it’s not anime. It sort of feels like an early 2000s “edgy” adult swim comedy. The type of humour, narrative beats and structure is very much Americanized. And that was fascinating to me.

You see, I watched this entire series, and it never felt like I was watching an anime. Despite the fact that the art, names, events and plot remained unchanged, it still came off as a very US work. And I mean specifically US, Canadian comedies are a bit different and British ones are unmistakable.

GS 6

cats are cute

Although, as I said, I do think the Ghost Stories dub was an improvement on the original, and hilarious (although the humour did get pretty repetitive), it did remind me that for the most part, I just prefer anime. But why?

What really made it confusing for me is that I really like 50% off as well as DBZ abridged. In theory, both those series should be the same. They are also anime with scripts that have been reworked by American authors and recreated with an American cast for a primarily American audience. In fact the feeling of something foreign should be even greater since those series are also heavily edited from the originals. And yet, I never got that same impact as I did with the Ghost Stories dub.

In hindsight, I think one of the things that hit me about the Ghost Stories dub but I couldn’t quite put into words, is that it was completely separated from the original. Not just the original Ghost Stories but from the original medium of anime as a whole. It was its own thing. It didn’t follow genre convention, anime tropes or classic anime themes at all. It could easily have been made by a team that has not seen the original before adapting it.

GS 2

I really like this joke

If you told me the US production just had a general outline of the series on which to go by and created everything else from scratch to sell to a North American audience, I would believe you. And that is exactly what they were hired to do so it’s not a bad thing. If anything, the Ghost Stories dub has lived down in history as one of the most notable and beloved dubs out there.

But when you look at projects like DBZ Abridged and 50% Off, they really feel like they were created by fans of the series. And they were. You can see that they are playfully making fun of the original in a loving way, like when you throw insults around among friends. As a result, the end product is probably best appreciated by fans of the original as well, or at least people who are familiar enough with anime to pick up of the sarcasm and subversion. Rather than by a wide general audience.

I want to stress that I certainly don’t mean one style, or approach is better than the other. A lot of it depends on what you want to achieve. And if you want to achieve broad appeal, which you probably do if you’re trying to sell dvds or something, creating an end product that feels more familiar to your target audience, makes a lot of sense.

And it’s not like 50% didn’t throw a few jabs in there as well.

Gs 4

maybe it was a touch more subtle

The other impression I was left with is that, whoa… American (and this time I am definitely including Canadian) humour sure is cynical. We do enjoy playing on outrageously inappropriate material and adding in a lot of blue and black comedy. (I don’t know if anyone else uses those terms, from what I know blue humour is sexual while black humour is morbid). There were so many jokes that essentially played on completely unacceptable racism, implications of bestiality the inclusion of a borderline frightening religious extremist element. Honestly 90% of the humour was that.

On the other hand, most comedy animes I have seen tend to draw the laughs from absurdist situation, non sequitur, repetitive punch lines and situational jokes while generally staying away from broader social commentary and pretty much never playing on more serious subjects of inequality or tragedy.

Personally, I do like a bit of bite to my comedy now and then. After all, one of the great things about comedy is the fact that you can make really unpleasant subjects a bit more palatable. But while watching Ghost Stories, I also realized that for me, there might be such a things as too cynical and pessimistic. The optimistic and, for lack of a better word, often more innocent approach to comedy that I have found in a lot of animes, is a welcomed distraction.

These days, I watch almost no sitcoms or American TV at all. But I do watch a lot of YouTube and stand up comics. I get my does of of the meaner stuff from there and by the time I tune in to a show like Saiki K, I can just enjoy the lighthearted laughs and nonsense. Now that doesn’t mean there aren’t serious themes under neath, but they aren’t treated in the same way.

GS 5

hate it when that happens

Well this got off track.

OK, how about we go with: isn’t it amazing that an anime dub so perfectly illustrates the different cultural approaches to humour. If I was a better blogger, I would now extrapolate what those different approaches can tell us about both the cultures that created them and the audiences that enjoy them. Maybe I will at some point! For now though, I’ll leave you with a question: have you watched the Ghost Stories dub? Did you notice the same thing? Is it my experience that’s limited and there are plenty of super cynical anime comedies?

Rini 3 (14)

see…cats ARE cute!

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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32 Responses

  1. I really hope I’m not butting into a conversation. I have a google alert for GS but I NEVER check it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll pop on over to YouTube every now and then and read some comments because they ALWAYS make my day, but I’m not the crazed egomaniac who googles himself (okay maybe once every couple years). So it’s really a fluke that the one time I check out the alert, it brings me to this FASCINATING discussion.

    First of all, I think Irina (you? do I address this to you or the group? I don’t know these protocols very well!) did a superb job of critical AND FAIR analysis. I loved reading the perspective, especially of some of the posters, from a standpoint where they admitted GS’s comedy wasn’t their cup of tea, yet they (1) could appreciate it and (2) not go batshit crazy attacking it. I’m assuming from the use of “s” over “z” this is an English site? I know it’s 2020 and everything is global now, but it seemed to have a Brit slant to it, which I so enjoyed hearing. Contrary to popular belief, not all artists are looking to have everyone love their work. But to hear how different people view it? Always welcome. (Oh, to the person who’s never seen/heard Izzard. DO! You will not be disappointed. And if you get the chance to go to a live show, do. Word is Izzard has a basic structure, but he pretty much just wings the whole show so you never know WHAT’s going to transpire.) Back to my point:

    There’s so much animosity (and division, especially here in America but I see it growing around the world) toward anything Other. It’s often virulent, hateful, and sometime, frankly, fucking terrifying. All you have to do is stumble upon a Karen video and you start to fear for the state of humanity. But YOU GUYS. I don’t know if it’s a sign of hope or just a testament to Irina and the kind of reader she attracts. But your critique of the show was open and honest and never once went into Attack mode or Hate gear. THAT is increasingly rare these days. So thank you for that. Totally made my day, especially after going down an NPR wormhole last night and got beaten down by articles on the erasure of black inventors and its proven effect on innovation and the economy, the lack of female representation in sci/tech institutions, and the continuing, spiraling nightmare that is the corona crisis, an event I am so disturbed by I’m writing a series of short stories about it and posting them on my website to keep me from drinking myself into oblivion every day. A few points I wanted to make, though.

    Re: cancel culture. Yeah, there is no way GS would get through the gate these days. Which I am conflicted about. Yes, every stereotype and trope is harvested for comedy, a cheap shot I’ll grant you. But it was an equal opportunity offender. I turned Satsuki into an ardent feminist and, sometimes, I pointed out the error of fanaticism, no matter who you are. Races and sexualities, political parties and genders, sex roles, sex, religion—I went after everyone. I played it fair. Although I will admit I was harder on Republicans and this was over ten years ago. I’d fucking crucify them now. Now they’re all hateful. But back then it was just George Bush, Katrina, and shit like that. Maybe I’m being too generous, but if you look at Momoko, for example, at first blush, yes, she’s a maniacal born-again who’s funny. Look deeper and pay attention to the dialogue closer and you discover that while she can be extremely myopic and judgmental, she throws up her arms in disgust/frustration at times, will cotton to religion’s own sins and failures, is incredibly earnest and kind (she’s the only one who doesn’t treat Keicherou like he’s retarded, if you notice), and is very open about her previous “sinful” life and how she was fucked up and Jesus saved her ass. Except for the comedic bashing I make her do, she’s actually quite a lovely and fair portrayal of faith, someone who makes mistakes but when it comes down to it is led by her love for God and others. Oooh! So heavy! Sorry!

    But if you catch it, if you pay attention AFTER you gasp about your initial reaction to how offensive the joke was, after you stop laughing about it (sometimes in spite of yourself), attuned listeners will notice something. I’ll use the Black gags as an example. The very first racism “joke” is in the first episode (admittedly the tamest of the bunch) where the statue comes to life and asks, “Do you have any books written by Black people?” in a goofy, but earnest high-pitched voice. (Fun fact: that was my amazing engineer Adam Jones who is half black/half hispanic once again letting me abuse him in the booth. He’s a brilliant sound engineer but he’s innocently hilarious–see Pani Poni Dash extras bloopers on YouTube and you’ll see.) I see the line get quoted in the comments section all the time, A HUGE compliment. But it’s not really making fun of Black people. It’s pointing out, in a sonically comedic way, the under-representations of Blacks in American culture. In the rabbit joke, a joke that has it’s OWN YouTube video with I think close to 2mil views and a joke that is constantly quoted in the comments section is ACTUALLY just pointing out a racist society. I may misquote may own line here, but basically it’s “I’m sorry, Shirotabi but it will never work between us! It can never be! Not because you’re a rabbit…but because you’re Black!” Personally I think the joke is MADE by Brittney Karbowski’s delivery. Her voice cracks on “Black” with such straight-faced, deadpanned passion the stupidity of it is made that much funnier. The joke’s not making fun of Black people, it’s just implying that if you’re a mixed race couple in some parts of America, you’re not gonna be welcomed with open arms. It’s a shameful truth. And like many of the jokes in GS, I tried to point out truths (trans people get NO respect), bad ideas (the electoral college), systemic flaws (conservative stacking of the Supreme Court), horrific abuses (Katrina victims), and a bunch of stupid shit as well: nosy bus drivers, hypocrites, America’s detrimental sex hangups, white kids rap-speak, the list goes on and on. Did I dig the knife into topics that piss me off and situations I find abhorrent? Hell yeah! This was my chance, baby! I explain this in my upcoming book (out this October! Shameless plug!) that when they bought it, they didn’t know what to do with it. First thing they said was, “Let’s give it to Ste7en (though then I went by Steven—another story in the book).” And I asked them, “Are you SURE you know what you’re doing? This is me you’re talking about.” You take the leash off…this dog’s gonna run.

    I’m talking too much. I’m a Christian and I made fun of Christians. I’m gay and I used the fag derogatorily. I aimed the gun at myself too. It was only fair. Bottom line: Ghost Stories was a grand, glorious experiment that, to my utter shock and dismay, has become such a cultural touchstone that it is STILL inspiring fresh debate about adaptation, comedy, correctness, and as Irina asked here, “Is it even anime?” which is a FASCINATING point that I never once thought to ask. My answer? Good question! It’s DEFINITELY an American show. But I’m American, it was my job to make the show appeal to an American audience, and I tend to base my comedy in the vintage Bugs Bunny school: crazy shit said in the most sonically funny way. BIG POINT NOT MADE: (and I’ll suck my own dick on this one) GS had the best cast ever assembled. Even the walk-ons were funny. Even the periphery characters with two lines were hilarious. That’s the actors. Sure, I directed. But they were all brilliant. All I had to do was tell them the color I was looking for (if they couldn’t tell by the line itself) and they gave me the exact fucking SHADE I never knew I wanted until I heard it. That’s exceptional talent. And it’s true. Comedy is HARD. But these guys made it look effortless. The show breezes along with such a bouncy, carefree (but secretly calculated) way, you’d think we made it up as we went along, which I did. It was my finest hour as a writer, director, and comedian and I’ll never experience that nirvana again. It was a gift. The surprise that it still makes millions of people laugh, what? 15 years later? NOBODY gets that. I am humbled and so thankful to my God for giving me such a gift. More than anyone, I know I don’t deserve it. There is a lesson to be learned here I’d like to share (ANOTHER story from the book! lol): GS was the ONLY time I had complete freedom. I was famous (and some fans hated me for it) for the way I’d “adapt” some of the anime. But no matter what anyone says, I always stayed true to the spirit of the original work. It was a moral decision. It’s not MY art, I’m just a shepherd of it. If I can polish it, I’ll do it. But I’m not going to fuck with your art. (Though I did fuck up one show on purpose in my career and I dramatically cast against type in another. THOSE stories are not in the book! Maybe the next one!)

    Thank you everyone who commented and schooled me and thank you to our gracious host. Sincerely, this made my weekend. And a dear friend of mine just passed away a couple of weeks ago. If anyone needed their day brightened, it’s this asshole.

    Oh! The lesson I wanted to share! Perfect. I’ll leave you with that. GS was a show where I was my COMPLETE self. I’ll be honest. That was terrifying. I didn’t know if anyone would think my fucked up mind was funny. Truly, as we were recording it, WE were laughing our asses off, but I wondered as I left the studio every day if this was gonna work or not. Especially because there were a lot of fans who hated me so much, if it had my name on it, they were ready to attack and often did without ever seeing the show themselves. I am not this fortress of confidence. I’m a writer. We’re the most insecure people you’ll ever meet. I cannot stress this enough: I am BLOWN AWAY that this show wasn’t just liked, it’s been called the best dub ever made and is loved by millions of people. My favorite compliment to read (besides “Steven Foster is a legend” I’M KIDDING–though it is trippy) is “If more anime was like this, I’d watch more anime.” Which kind of answers Irina’s key question, doesn’t it?

    Is GS anime? That’s up for discussion, as you guys have so brilliantly pointed out. I’ll say that it’s something incredibly unique that was born due to bizarre but perfect circumstances at the exact right time with the almost ordained group of people and it most likely will never happen again. That, my friends, is a miracle if I’ve ever seen one. And I’m humbled I got to play a small part in it. It’s a reason why I’m in love with God. He has truly put me through hell (yes, a story in the book), but He has loved me beyond anything I deserve or can comprehend. I hope you experience a fraction of that because it’s beautiful.

    SO! No matter what you do, no matter how scared you are, no matter how alone you might be, no matter how big a risk it looks, BE. YOUR FUCKING. SELF. The beautiful, wonderful, one-of-a-kind self you are, the one God made but you made your own. Because you don’t know what the real you is capable of. Oh it made me laugh. But I NEVER expected it to become what it has become. And if I would have played it safe or listened to my insecurities, it would have NEVER HAPPENED. That’s powerful. And that’s the reason I wrote a book. I hope you guys embrace this truth. You are WONDROUS. And it doesn’t matter if it’s just one person or millions, you are going to be JUST what someone needs, what they’re looking for. And you sometimes won’t even know it. So be yourself. God, it sounds hokey. Stupid. Ridiculous. But I’m a living testimony to doing so. I’m sorry to take up so much of your time. But writing is a lonely existence and sometimes it feels good just to talk to someone. And I can’t imagine a more lovely group to spend some time with than all of you. Thank you.

    See what I mean? You were just being yourselves and commenting. And none of you had no idea that you just being you would have an effect on someone. And look who it had an effect on! LOL. Again, a miracle. The world is full of them, kids. Be proud of yourselves for being one yourself.

    Love,
    Ste7en

    • Irina says:

      Hi Ste7en, thank you so much for an amazing comment.
      I am mostly grateful for anyone thinking there is a British slant to anything I may say. I am in fact French Canadian which is possibly one of the least cool things I could be.
      This comment is so much more interesting than the post itself and I really enjoyed learning some behind the scenes.
      In my own experience the GS dub was a very good product that was so open about it’s DNA. It made me realize that cultural identity is detached from the trappings of anime and very much a reflection of their authors. It’s that sort of strong sense of identity and individuality that I personally found the most fascinating about something that normally has neither, being a dub and all. And it is just as interesting to see how it has endured and how deeply it has been embraced by audiences. Which I think steams at least a bit from that identity regardless of how risqué the jokes may be.

    • Kapodaco says:

      This comment makes me want to re-watch the series from a different perspective.

  2. A_Real_Pikachu says:

    I’m on the 2nd episode, and I think it’s amazing. There aren’t any shows this funny in Kanto. Luckily I can understand the pop culture references regardless :3

  3. Ahh, Gakkou No Kaidan. Sure, the humor got bland over time and the repetitive story felt like a chore occasionally, but I will agree with you that the absurd twists on the story were pretty much what made this show pretty watchable in its own terms.

    I even wrote a review on this a year back here: https://traditionalcatholicweeb.wordpress.com/2019/08/02/anime-review-xviii-gakkou-no-kaidan/

  4. Anonymous says:

    Similarly Nelvana reworked the dub for Cardcaptor Sakura removing all references to romance so it could be more popular to the shonen audience.
    Ghost Stories i’ve seen a few clips here and there and i couldn’t help but laugh at the jokes because it was just so bad its hilarious.
    You are very correct how there’s many styles of humor me personally have a pretty edgy and dark sense of comedy and its mainly used towards criticism and pointing out ironic stupidity of others regardless of anything.
    I can’t imagine seeing this dub make it past especially in todays world with things like Cancel Culture or to put it bluntly CANCER CULTURE and the tumblrite refuges on a cancerous hellhole known as twatter start attacking the people behind the series just because they worked on it. (Side note Studio Bones and Eichiro Oda received violent threats from SJWS for the way they drew and animated characters and that Studio Bones threat was very eereily like what happened to Kyoto Animation last year. And its really annoying being falsely accused as istaphobic)
    -K rogueotakugamer

    • Irina says:

      We have a different opinion on social causes I figure. I do think cancel culture is a phenomenon that sprung up out of a certain need brought on by newly expanded communications across wide demographics. In a way it’s a bit like an immune system trying to rid the whole of harmful elements. And like an immune system it can go haywire and overreact causing way more harm than good but that doesn’t mean that we immediately give up on the concept. It’s more a question of balance in my opinion.

      As for the possibility of making the dub now, it seems way less biting to me than something like BoJack or Rick and Morty, both of which are huge successes so I think it would have done alright. It’s kind of dated but otherwise I think it would do fine. Most of the episodes are like a really mild Family Guy.

      I had to look up what istaphobic means and I couldn’t find an actual definition. Only urban dictionary which was: “And(sic) identity politician who has no other ammunition but labels”. I’m not sure if that’s right.

      • Anonymous says:

        That definition is very much correct and to be honest as i said before and i’ll say it again i’m completely apolitical i’m simply a pro fun egalitarian thats pro free speech and expression.
        And the way you compared it to how an immune system going haywire and overeacting causing the complete opposite is exactly how i view cancel culture as well.
        I’m just personally fucking sick and fucking tired of all this pointless faux outrage culture and ban this ban that and i just don’t bother at all following up with any current events because its just going to make my own anxiety issues worse and that it also doesn’t affect me at all and i just simply wanna game,watch anime and read manga in peace nothing more nothing less and thanks for hearing me out on my grievances and not instantly labeling me as an alt right incel mass shooter who hates 3d women and wants to see them all as sex slaves.

        • Irina says:

          Well of course. You’re more than free to express your views. I just thought I’d warn you that I occasionally have been called a sjw on this blog, so you might see that in my posts occasionally. As long as that doesn’t bother you, it’s all good with me.

          • Anonymous says:

            Thanks my anxiety issues isn’t as severe as it was little long ago because i’ve been doing my best just to relax and get back to writing stuff on my own blog.

  5. otakudreamnation says:

    I see what you mean. I generaly watch feel good animes (or at least with some optimism in it), Ghost Story’s dub would be something I could enjoy after 2 beers with the boys but never without.

    On the subject of cultural differences in comedy, I found that Konosuba was a perfect mix of cynicism and wholesomeness. The characters will all exasperate Kazuma(the MC) but never do you feel like they don’t absolutly love each other.

    • Irina says:

      You know, I think the difference may be in the approach. I see what you mean by KonoSuba being occasionally cynical and definitely playing with the inappropriate humour but it never felt like you gotta laugh or else you’ll cry. Does that make sense?

      • otakudreamnation says:

        Konosuba manages to laugh at NEETS which is a pretty dark concept but does it… tactfully? Mhmm

        For me, Kazuma and Aqua are the characters that carry the most scathing real world critiscism and cynicism. They both have a huge amount of flaws.

        But at the same time, they’re beautifuly insane bastards that own their flaws. Damn everybody else! Its hilarious and a bit cathartic to watch.

        They remind me of Barney in How I met your mother. Result it, no matter how many times the show ridicules them, it’s fine cuz you love to hate them. “Oh you silly Aqua !”

        • Irina says:

          They do have a lot of flaws but the framing is fairly positive towards them. Kazuma often does end up saving the day and he is surrounded by attractive women who do depend on him (i.e. he has an actual harem) which is considered a high reward by a lot of people. Aqua got a bit shafted in the movie but despite her behaviour in the series there is a lot of reverence for both her powers and her position. She remains unmistakably a goddess no matter what she does. Both characters grow a lot and there’s a sense that whatever flawed behaviour remains it could be corrected with time and effort. They are redeemable characters that seem to be written and presented to be liked by audiences. To me those are sympathetic and optimistic characterizations. I’m really not that tough to please…

  6. I didn’t know what you were talking about until I saw some of the screenshots and yeah, I’ve seen some clips online. I appreciate black humour and bawdy humour if they’re done well, but I usually need to be pretty drunk before I start laughing at shock humour.

    From a psychological standpoint, it’s this sort of knee-jerk reaction to laugh when someone says/does something that grossly defies our expectations, which is why a ‘comedian’ can go up on stage and say a bunch of stuff that would otherwise be socially-unacceptable, and get a crowd to laugh. Love it or hate it, it’s arguably the lowest-hanging fruit on the Tree of Comedy– at least slapstick requires some amount of timing and context in order to be funny. A good example, I think, of dark American humour done skillfully, is George Carlin. He utilises shock in his routines, but all of it is framed within the greater scope of some very observant (especially for the time) social commentary. I used to spend hours watching American/Canadian comedy when I was a teenager, but now, most of my favourite comedians/sketches are British. I could lie to myself and say it’s because I’m more “mature” now, but I still cackle at videos of people getting hit in the face with soccer balls, so….

    And Japan does have some cynical comedies, but it’s very subtle, and definitely more optimistic in that the cynicism or the person being cynical is often the brunt of the joke (Think WataMote, OreGairu, or Aggretsuko. Also, I watched a bit of Sayounara, Zetsubou Sensei a while ago, and it also seems like a very good example of this) Japanese culture has a very strict “do not complain in public” policy. It’s considered selfish. So when a Japanese comedy wishes to make a cynical statement about society, it behooves them to do so in a lighthearted, more tactful manner– usually wherein everything works out in the end. Caricature and parody can also be used to similar ends (I recall seeing some funny anime/manga renditions of Donald Trump over the past few years, but can’t remember where).

    But I’m overstaying my welcome. Sorry for getting all serious, especially on a post about comedy! I don’t mean to belittle anyone or be a spoilsport; I just like talking about this stuff. To each their own. Oh, and in case it wasn’t obvious from this rant, you’d certainly have my attention if you wrote that article about different types of comedy and their cultural relevance 🙂

    • Irina says:

      ta’s not fair Carlin was brilliant! Izzard dos some fantastic shows too if you haven’t gotten around to him on your British comedians. You probably have… Heck even Woddy Allen did some actually funny inappropriate stand up like a million years ago!
      I hadn’t considered WataMote or Zetsubou in the same sort of cynical ein but they would fit the description. I love both of them. Good pull!
      You can’t overstay your welcome, my comments section is the best part of my posts! All contributions are welcomed

      • I by no means wanted to imply that Carlin was anything short of brilliant. He was one of my heroes in high school, and still one of my favourites. I was using him as an example of how to do these things in a more sophisticated way.

        I’ve actually never heard of Izzard. I admittedly don’t cast a wide net when searching for shows or comedians, usually just binge watch a specific person or show when I come across one I like. I think John Cleese is my favourite British comedian, and Mitchell and Webb are close seconds.

  7. ospreyshire says:

    I’ve heard this about this dub. Some of the jokes to look like they go too far though. I heard the Japanese version was nothing too special and played everything straight. Then again, I like Shinesman which has a different script in the dub, but it’s funnier and doesn’t rely on black or blue humor (I knew what you meant).

    • Irina says:

      To me, and I am by no means the arbiter of good taste, they seemed clumsy and out dated rather than actually mean but like I said, it’s a personal impression.

  8. alsmangablog says:

    I enjoyed the Ghost Stories dub, though I agree that some of the jokes went a little too far or were too dark for my tastes. Overall though, I thought it was pretty funny and I was tickled by the fact that it’s essentially an official dub done in an “abridged series” style.

    Another dub that I love that similarly does its own thing with the series, and ends up being much more farcical then the original, is Samurai Pizza Cats. It doesn’t use edgy humor, as it was aimed at kids, but also has a much more American style of comedy and I originally didn’t realize that it wasn’t an American cartoon. I think in that instance they had to essentially create their own dialogue from scratch though, as I don’t think they were able to get transcripts or proper translations of the show to work from, for some reason.

    • Irina says:

      I actually love Samurai Pizza Cats…I watched it so long ago and I think I may not have realized it was anime. Like I thought it was america to begin with… oh boy….

  9. Scott says:

    I’ve watched enough clips of the dub on YouTube to tell me that it isn’t for me. I’m with you on a lot of this. I don’t mind humor with some adult edge to it, but not when it feels so mean spirited and cruel just for the sake of it here.

    • Irina says:

      I’m not sure I would go as far as mean spirited but I could be wrong. It often sounded to me like a little kid trying to be shocking, you know?

  10. AK says:

    I watched this dub with some friends after hearing about it. I think most of the laughs here came from the idea that the localization team didn’t bother localizing it. Or maybe they did too good a job, and as you say they made it a totally American product by doing their own thing on purpose, ignoring what the original work was supposed to be. It’s such a weird idea that would usually be unthinkable.

    You’re right that our approaches to humor are very different. I don’t know Canadian humor, but I’ve seen some British comedy, and it has a very different feel from our American type; just watch the UK and US Office series to see that. Japanese humor feels even more different — I just got through watching Bakemonogatari, and a lot of the comedy there relies on wordplay that you have to understand the language to get, and the kind that you don’t find in American comedy that much now, more like that old “Who’s on first” bit.

    • Irina says:

      It’s true, Japan does love word play…Quebec does as well… Maybe that’s why I find it comforting.

  11. Djm says:

    I’ve always found the Ghost Stories dub to be a great litmus test for people, in a weird way. I’m not one to police comedy, but if I see or hear someone laughing just a little TOO hard at some of the lines in the dub (as you described, Irina), it’s very telling.

    The show Duel Masters had its own reworked comedic dub that I always recommend. It was a generic card game battle anime, but the dub was reworked to be pretty enjoyable in my opinion, with none of the raunchiness of Ghost Stories. It even had a brief run on Toonami and Cartoon Network here in the US. If you can find it, I’d recommend it. 🙂

  1. July 31, 2020

    […] up is Irina with “What I Learned from Watching the Ghost Stories Dub“. If you haven’t read this yet, be sure to! Not even a subs verses dubs debate, just […]

  2. August 1, 2020

    […] What I Learned from Watching the Ghost Stories Dub (I drink and watch anime) — The English-language release of the series Ghost Stories is legendary among a set of western anime fans because of its intentionally bizarre dub. The original work was pretty mediocre, but the dub turns it into an ultra-offensive comedy of the kind that probably wouldn’t fly today. Irina analyzes the ways in which this dub completely changed the feel of the series into something uniquely western. […]

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