Will Castle in the Sky and Kiki's Delivery Service Have New Dubs?

Castle in the Sky DVD
BionicVapourDude asks a question that I'm sure is on many of our minds: "Will they [Disney] be redoing the awful dubs of Kiki and Laputa?"

I would hope and pray for dear life that those old dubs will be banished forever, down the same dark pit that holds Warriors of the Wind. If the upcoming DVD reissues are to make any improvements, the soundtrack is the #1 place to start. Will this happen? I can's say for certain, because there's no word. I have a couple ideas, so here's how I see this situation:

As the story goes, Castle in the Sky and Kiki's Delivery Service sat in the Disney vaults for years before being released. The dubs were finished, everything was complete, but they just sat on the movies.

That changed with the arrival of Spirited Away. That was the point where John Lasseter began aggressively handling the Ghibli catalog under Disney's wing. He took charge of the Disney soundtracks and fought tooth and nail for support in home and theaters. He brought on Don and Cindy Hewitt to handle the US dub scripts. He even managed to streamline the DVD cover designs, which were a great improvement from the original releases.

And with the Disney/Pixar merger - I still say that was Steve Jobs' greatest business deal - Lasseter has complete and total control over the Ghibli catalog. To him, they might as well be Pixar films, and he'll fight just as hard to protect his adoptive children.

Whatever your stand on the dubs-vs-subs issue, I think we can all agree that the Disney dubs for Castle in the Sky and Kiki's Delivery Service are the worst of the bunch. The second and third wave of DVDs - while of varying quality from one movie to the next - were a great improvement.

These are purely my own observations. I have no facts as of yet to report. But until I hear otherwise, I think it's an easy bet that there will be new dubs for Laputa and Kiki.

Oh, and that hideous DVD cover has got to go. Those poor kids look like they've had plastic surgery. Are these Michael Jackson's kids?


Anonymous said...

To show my opinion about the Ghibli dubs, I've made a list,

# 1 - Totoro
# 2 - Howl's Moving Castle
# 3 - Spirited Away
# 4 - The Cat Returns
# 5 - Whisper of the Heart
# 6 - Nausicaa
# 7 - Ponyo
# 8 - Castle in the Sky
# 9 - Pom Poko
#10 - Mononoke
#11 - Kiki's Delivery Service
#12 - Grave of the Fireflies
#13 - Porco Rosso

Laputa and Kiki may not have the most outstanding dubs in the world, but they aren't so horrible to warrant redubbing (in my opinion)

Anonymous said...

The criticisms about the reworked soundtrack in Laputa is especially unwarranted. Joe Hisaishi composed all of it himself, and I even recall Miyazaki saying he liked the new soundtrack better. I think if any criticisms should be made at all they should be made about the voices and the added backround chatter, but not the music since there was absolutely nothing bad about it

James said...

I actually don't mind the dubs so long as the original is included. Never heard the Laputa dub, didn't Hisaishi add new music?

My first real exposure to Ghibli was the Kiki dub so I actually have a small fondness for it.

The covers could use a redesign however.

asuka said...

i actually think there are quite nice things about the disney kiki dub. yes, yes, yes to all the problems with it (extra lines for jiji, filling in in silences, etc.) - but i think kirsten dunst's performance is really good.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

@James - You'd be surprised how many people will be nostalgic for the dubbed cartoons they grew up watching, no matter how cheesy. Even today, there is a small but dedicated following behind the old Carl Masek dubs for My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service.

But you're right; as long as the original soundtrack is included, all is well. Quality subtitles are a must; the Kiki "dubtitles" must be amended.

@asuka - I wouldn't blame Kirsten Dunst, because she's so sweet and lovable in her movies (Spiderman wouldn't be the same without her), but she was poorly miscast for Kiki. The part called for a young girl, not an adult trying to speak in the "happy kiddie" voice.

My own humble opinion, of course. As long as you enjoy Miyazaki, that's what counts. But I really would prefer to see Kiki performed with the level of craft and dedication brought to the Spirited Away-Howl-Ponyo dubs.

@Anon - Thanks for the comments, both of you. It's great to have you aboard!

Chandra said...

I saw both Kiki and Castle a while ago before I 'knew any better' about dubs (have learned a lot from your site). I don't remember anything glaringly bad about Kiki, but I do remember being vaguely disappointed in Castle. Now, I suppose, I'll have to watch both again. I assume the DVDs offer both options?

asuka said...

well, we'll disagree about kirsten dunst's performance.
what i think is the biggest problem with the kiki dub is the writing. i can't remember the lines off the top of my head but my memory is that the dub tries to change the film into more of a "you gotta believe in yourself" fable, which is slightly different from the actual tone of the film.
i love that film.

BionicVapourDude said...

Listening to either the Kiki dub or the Laputa dub makes me want to shoot myself in the face LOL.

BionicVapourDude said...

As far as which English dubs I can watch, and which ones I can't...

I can watch:

Spirited Away

All the other ones are terrible.

But I still say Kiki and Laputa are by far the worst offenders (although Fireflies really sucks too)... Besides all the awful extra lines in Laputa... listening to James Vanderbeek trying to play a little boy is beyond creepy.

And don't even get me started on Jiji.

Philip said...

"but she was poorly miscast for Kiki. The part called for a young girl, not an adult trying to speak in the "happy kiddie" voice."

@Daniel - If Kiki was dubbed in 1998 then Kirsten was 16, three years older than Kiki in the movie. I do agree the voice is too peppy, but the age isn't so different.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

@Phillip - Doh! Why did I think she was older? She always seems to be 25 in my mind. Some people are that way; they'll settle into an age and stay there forever. I knew kids in junior high school who were already senior citizens.

I just never liked her line readings, which were far too fake and peppy. The fingers should be properly pointed at the script doctors and voice directors, not necessarily the actors. How could she have sounded if she spoke more naturally, instead of a Disney Channel pop star? Ah, well. It will forever remain a mystery.

Sean L. said...

I personally don't really care about the dubs, because I never watch them more than once out of curiosity. My main problem is that the voice actors for the main characters in these movies were cast way too old-- especially for Pazu in Laputa. Good lord, that was silly. What were they thinking using the voice of a grown man for a little boy? It just sounds wrong and it bothered me so much I almost couldn't get through the movie with it.

So yeah, a re-dub with a new cast would be nice, but somehow I just don't see why they would actually go through with that. They already went through all that work in the first place...you know? It would be a major dis to their own work on the old dub to just scrap it and do a new one. Wouldn't that be sort of...self-incriminating?

Anyways, I would at least love to see a more accurate revision of the subtitles for Kiki in a new DVD release. That would be awesome. But that especially goes for the Cat Returns--those are the worst "dubtitle" offender. Don't think we're going to see that fixed anytime soon though.

Chris Sobieniak said...

Of course aside from wanting a new dub for "Kiki's", I sorta wonder what the much older dub for Kiki's was like (this of course was the Carl Macek JAL dub). I wouldn't say if it was any better than Disney's own, but I liked the older Totoro dub personally.

Jon Turner said...

I may be in the minority here, but I LOVE the dubs for both KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE and CASTLE IN THE SKY. True, they're not perfect dubs, but horrible, you say? I think not. They don't deserve to be "banished", and they're certainly not in the same vein as "Warriors of the Wind". Yes, they both have extra dialogue and music, but they still remain faithful to the original stories and don't alter the characters that much.

As for LAPUTA's dub, I actually think I liked it better than the Japanese version simply because of the performances by Mark Hamill and Cloris Leachman; both were perfect as Muska and Dola, and the new score was awesome, too; as someone mentioned above me, Miyazaki was quite happy with the new score, and said he liked it better than the original. I also found nothing wrong with the English voices for the film; even though James van der Beek and Anna Paquin sounded a little too old for their roles, I felt both still did good jobs with their characters. Even the supporting characters were very well done.

The only bad dub of LAPUTA was the Streamline version; all the voices in that older dub sounded so lifeless and flat that they ultimately took me out of the movie in an instant. Yes, the script is less chatty, but it also sounded very stilted and very choppy. Certainly not my idea of a superior dub. Even the performances of the leads in this older dub pale compared to even Van der Beek and Paquin; as I mentioned, both sounded a little too mature, but compared to the robotic-sounding, emotionless VAs in the first dub, I'll take them any day. Even the supporting cast in the first dub was awful, and nowhere nearly half as good as Disney's version.

So I'm sorry, but I prefer Disney's version of LAPUTA. Even though I know it has some differences from its Japanese counterpart, it is NOT a bad dub at all. Nor is it the "worst" dub of the Ghibli-Disney releases.

The same is true with KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE. Terrible? Worst dub ever? I think not! I thought it was a delightful dub all around, with great voice acting from everyone and great scriptwriting. Yes, it takes some liberties frmo the Japanese, but it still does a good job in staying true to the original while adding to it.

In fact, NONE of the Ghibli-Disney dubs have struck me as bad or terrible at all. Some may be stronger than others, but they're NOT bad dubs at all. And guess what? GHIBLI APPROVED THE DUBS DISNEY DID. ALL OF THEM. So there is nothing wrong with them in their eyes. Also, as much as you and other people may hate these two dubs so much, OTHERS LIKE THEM. They have already found their audience. They don't think they're bad dubs at all.

So I'm sorry, but I am not all for seeing new dubs of these movies recorded. Especially since they are nowhere nearly as bad as you continually make them out to be. In fact, your constant criticisms of them have only discouraged me in ever giving your website a listen. If I'm going to listen to my Ghibli, I'll watch it with these dubs by Disney, thank you very much, and if you say they suck, well, it sucks to be you.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to enjoy CASTLE IN THE SKY and KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE dubbed, just as I like them.

Toongirl said...

Whoa, this thread seems to have touched a nerve. The versions of Laputa & Kiki I own are fan-subs, so I can't comment on the Disney dubs.

But concerning Dola in Laputa, I was curious if anyone else noticed this. She has red pigtails that stick straight out and in her "pirate study" there's a painting of either her (or her mother) when she was younger.

I always wondered if she was either loosely based off Pippi Longstocking or supposedly related to Pippi in some way. After all, Pippi's father was a pirate too.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

@toongirl: I always thought Dola was based on Pipi, too. I don't think Miyazaki ever got over the Pipi Longstockings project being snubbed by its original author. A lot of elements from Pipi were recycled into Panda Kopanda and Heidi. There's also a Pipi-like girl in Miyazaki's 2005 short film Yashosagashi.

And people can be really attached to their favorite dubs. That's fine by me. We're no longer trapped in the VHS era; we can choose soundtracks on DVD and Blu-Ray.

As far as Ghibli "approving" them, Disney is given a very wide latitude on their dubs. Ghibli is pretty much hands-off; it's not a concern for them.

But it's all good. Everyone has their reasons, as Renoir said. I really don't mind all that much, and I really don't care. I'll be sticking with the subtitles either way.

BionicVapourDude said...

Dear Jon Turner,

No it doesn't suck to be me, just because I don't particularly like Disney's interpretation of the Kiki and Laputa dialogue/voice acting, etc.

I always have the original Japanese, which is fine by me. If you like the Disney dubs, then by all means enjoy them.

However, like it or not, these dubs are merely translations of an original work by Ghibli, and thus they are not the films created by Miyazaki. Do you think Disney improved upon what Miyazaki had created?

Granted, subtitles also lose some meaning, but at least we still have mostly correct dialogue, as well as the performances of the actors, as directed by Miyazaki. And for a non-Japanese speaker, it's as close as you can get.

In the end though, watch whatever version you like best... but to avoid this blog altogether because "Ghibli Freaks" prefer the true original versions over these horrid dubs is a little baffling to me.

As for why these two are particularly awful... I'd say it's because of the vast differences between them and the source. I think all we can ask for in a dub is the same thing that John Lasseter has been saying recently when he was doing interviews for Ponyo.... To not change/alter the meaning or mood of the scene, and to have the English speaking audience have the same level of understanding as the Japanese audience. That's it.

So if you look at it within the criteria presented by John Lasseter, Laputa and Kiki are both massive failures.

Jon Turner said...

It is my decision alone if I choose to avoid the Ghibli blog.

Anyway, while there may be some discrepencies from the Japanese originals, these two dubs are not in my minds awful. AND THEY ARE NOT FAILURES. They still pretty much convey the same story and the voice cast is talented. I will not even bother arguing on this subject anymore, as I can see that we are not going to agree on this.

Yes, Lasseter has said not to change any meaning, but keep in mind that it is Ghibli who has the final say in the dubs, not Disney. Hate them if you will, but I will never agree with that. To me, the dubs always have been, and always will be excellent and not failures at all.

Jon Turner said...

Also the comment about "improving" Miyazaki with stuff like the rescore: if Miyazaki says it's OK then there's no harm.

I'm just saying that I completely disagree with this website about the dubs being awful or failures, because to me they never have been and never will be. Miyazaki has said he prefers viewers to watch his movies in a language they can understand, and that only compels me to stick to it.

So you'll excuse me if I avoid this website.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

Well, Jon, I hope you don't leave. You're so very dedicated to your cause and it would be a shame not to have you around anymore.

I certainly can't fault anyone for holding different opinions from mine; on the contrary, I don't want visitors to this blog to parrot my opinions. My goal all along has been to foster discussion and debate and spark conversations.

If you're a passionate defender of one topic - like the US dubs on the Ghibli DVDs - that's great.

One thing that I've always prided myself about the Ghibli Blog - and everyone here should feel proud - is that we can have civil discussions and stay friendly and respectful towards one another.

Far too many internet discussions just devolve into shouting matches, and infantile temper tantrums. That's something that always leaves me weary, and I'm sure you end up feeling burnt out, too.

I'm not accusing you of anything, and I hope you wouldn't think that. I'm just explaining my point of view a little.

Anyway, you brought up a lot of very good points, and I certainly agree with your assertion that everybody should enjoy these movies as best they see fit. That's the luxury of DVDs and Blu-Rays. Pick the soundtrack that works for you and have fun.

tweetium said...

I join those who found the dub job on both Kiki and Castle to be just fine and very well done. In act I would have a tough time declaring that one dub job was better than the other on any of the films. Each film has a unique character...and each film must have had it's unique challenges to cast and dub. A great job was done by the crews who dub'd each of the films.

Rin said...

I think Spirited away was the olny alright dub Disney had done they decided to disrespect a very dear voice actor Lisa Michelson who had died and not only did they make a mockery of Satsuki in Totoro throwing annoying Dekota Fanning in her place and Kiki replacing her with Kirsten Dunst. The best part is the fact that all the old ones that she was in are GONE you can't even buy them anymore and Disney doesn't even credit the fact that it was done before I recently found out Disney was messing up dubs that were already dubbed well after they butchered Totoro I found out that Kiki was redubbed and so was Castles in the sky. I felt like I was lied to by disney I didn't even know about any of this until the totoro I grew up with was taken away forever. I understand that the movie might not have sold so well if people did the voices that no one really recognized but seriously if it was disney anyone would watch it despite the voice acting half the time you don't know till after you have bought and seen the movies. At least disney could have tried to at least give credit or something. I think it sucks though because the movies I grew up with can be taken away and I can never have them back if say my VHS I have breaks or there is no more VHS players. If that ever happens though I seriously will hate disney. It is like they took my favorite anime like Fruits basket and re dubbed in with disney celebrities. I wonder how people would fell if there favorite show was recasted either way hopefully disney doesn't find something else to make there own that has already been dubbed and loved for years before they got there grubby hands on it. I love John Lassiter but god you would think he of all people someone from pixar would at least give some recognition. I am just so annoyed they butered Totoro it just pisses me off as long as you work for disney or are famous you can mess up whatever you like weither it hurts people or not. I kinda know it is stupid to be so made but God did they have to be so disrespectful. Why don't they just go and steal movies heath ledger did and recast all of his parts then people would know how me and I know tons of other people must feel.

Rin said...

Castles in the sky was kinda boring I would have loved to here the bad guy from mighty morphin power rangers Barbara Goodson do the main boys voice she also did the original dubbing of the moms voice in kiki as well as tons of other voice acting roles. The Disney version was horrible the voices made it sound like a chartoon done in the 70s which it wasn't. they didn't even have emotion in there voices it was boring. I'm sorry but I would love to know a reason other then I guess more money of why they felt the need to redub it and horribly at that. I'm sorry that good voice actors don't have awesome agents and tons of money to resume a role in the next dubbing either. I hate that Ponyo it had core whoever it popular in disney now gets the lead voice role. OMG Miley Cyrus!! lets have her relitives play a voice acting role in the next Hiyao Miyazaki movie. Maybe one of the jonas brothers adoptive uncle can be the little girl. right. thanks Disney. Dreams only come true if you know or are related so someone with money or someone who is popular at the time of when they release another film. *Sigh* I just don't understand their way of thinking

Rin said...

Disney does seem to do a good job on soundtrack though except for the begining totoro song where whoever is singing sounds angry at the world and seems to be screaming not singing then again it is different from most disney singers who sing through there nose or have there voices fixed to make it sound creepily echoed ish. Spirited Away was good in voice acting wise the girl playing Chihiro is lilo's voice not a huge popular singer's sister she had done voice acting before and knows how to voice act very well the other voices also were not boaring, obnoxious, or annoying. It was like after spirited away everyone wanted to do voice acting for a Hayao Miyazaki movies. Everyone doing voices now seem to be big headed and sound it in there voice acting through out the movie. Totoro is obnoxious hardcore. Castle in the sky is really boaring when it shouldn't be. and kiki's was done pretty good but the voices kinda made me sad that they dubbed over other good voices that no one will never be able to hear.

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