About a month ago, Sentai Filmworks released the Gintama movie on DVD and Blu-ray, with an English dub. It’s the only English dub any piece of Gintama media has gotten, with Sentai’s release of the series being subtitled only. Needless to say, there was some concern about the dub, both based on the property itself and Seraphim Digital’s (the studio that does most of Sentai’s dubs) history of producing… less than stellar dubs recently. The dub isn’t really any worse than any other one they’ve released, but it’s not really great either, and has some really weird problems.
The first oddity is encountered early on in the movie, when the characters retelling the premise of the series. When Gin mentions the business he runs, Odd Jobs Gin, in the dub he calls it Yorozuya, the Japanese name. But that in itself isn’t terribly shocking. Needlessly leaving in Japanese terms is a thing that’s started creeping into official translations lately. But what makes it odd is that in the subtitles it’s referred to as Odd Jobs Gin. It just seems incredibly weird that it would be left in Japanese in the dub, but translated in the subtitles, when it being the other way around would sort of make more sense.
The second things you’ll catch onto pretty quick is that there are honorifics all over the dub. But, again, these have started to creep into official translations lately, so it’s not shocking. And like the last one, if you look at the subtitles they aren’t there. Sort of. At first I assumed that honorifics weren’t being used in the subtitles since they weren’t showing up while they were being said all along in the dub. But then eventually someone uses “-chan” when referring to Kagura, and it shows up in the subtitles. It’s only “-san” that seems to get removed. It isn’t one of those instances where “-san” is being changed to Mr. or Ms. either. It’s just being removed completely, while “-chan” is left in. This one is more of an oddity with the subtitles than the dub, but whatevs.
The third oddity ties back to the first one a bit. In the movie there’s a sword called Benizakura. In the dub, the name is translated to Cherry Blossom. But, oddly enough, it’s left as Benizakura in the subtitles. So it’s like the opposite of the Odd Jobs/Yorozuya situation. Whereas that term was left in Japanese in the dub and translated in the subtitles, Benizakura is translated for the dub, but left in Japanese for subtitles. Clearly they weren’t aiming for consistency with the translations.
It’s a fairly common occurrence in Sentai’s dubs, so it’s really no surprise, but there is some mispronunciation going on with the names. Well, with one name: Katsura’s. There are only a few instances of it being said correctly, with it being pronounced Catsura most of the time. There’s one instance where Shinpachi says the name two different ways, neither of them the correct one, in the same scene, merely seconds apart. But somehow nobody ever gets Kagura’s name wrong, despite it starting with the same sound as Katsura.
During the big climactic fight of the film, when Gin and Katsura are fighting a large group of amanto, there’s a brief exchange of dialogue between the two. The exchange ends with Katsura threatening to kill Gin for a remark he makes. In the dub, the threat ends up being spoken by a different character. The shot when the line is said focues on an amanto jumping at Gin and attacking him. Whoever wrote the ADR script was probably confused and ended up having the line said by the amanto instead of Katsura. It’s an understandable mistake with the movie, but if you watch the scene as it was in the series it’s pretty clear that Katsura is saying it.
I didn’t really want to get into talking about the actual cast, as the casting is pretty good for the most part, but there are three points about it that I’d like to raise. The first is Shinpachi’s voice. It’s pretty bad. He has the loudest, screechiest, most annoying voice they could have possibly given him, and he talks and shouts a lot in the movie. The second is Otose, who only shows up during the little skit part near the end and has like three lines. She sounds way too young when she’s pretty clearly an older woman. And she’s Jewish for some reason.
Third, there is an absurd amount of multi-casting happening with the dub. Most of the cast is pulling down two roles, some doing three. Kyle Jones, who directed the dub, does four named characters (though one is a dog) and is actually listed in the credits 13 times when you include all the nameless bit parts (one time his name is mispelled as Kykle, but it still counts). This isn’t a big problem for the movie since most of the central Gintama characters only show up as cameos near the end and have one or two lines, but if they ever did dub the series there would probably need to be some re-casting.
Dub problems aside, this is a really good movie. The story arc it’s based on is only four episodes long, so the movie manages to adapt it without actually needing to cut much content. It’s basically the exact same as the series, only this time with nicer animation. There are some great fight scenes, including the previously mentioned climactic fight at the end, which is easily one of the best parts of the movie. It’s one of the best shonen action anime I’ve seen in a while and is definitely worth watching, though you may want to do so with the Japanese audio.