"Dub-title" Watch: Pom Poko

Disney's newly-released Blu-Ray of Studio Ghibli's Pom Poko contains "dub-titles," or a subtitle track taken from the US dub, instead of a proper translation of the original Japanese soundtrack (which, after all, is the whole point of reading subtitles). This follows on the heels of BDs for Princess Mononoke and Castle in the Sky, which also needlessly mangled the subs.

This is especially annoying, as Disney's Pom Poko dub is one of mangled attempts in the Studio Ghibli catalog. They had a rather nasty habit of attempting to rewrite the scripts for their US soundtracks, giving away crucial plot points, changing or adding dialog, and generally treating the audience like terrified, clueless toddlers. I am personally not a fan of any of the Don & Cindy Hewitt US scripts for Disney's dubs, but at least the DVDs and Blu-Rays include multiple language soundtracks, so viewers have a choice. Using "dub-titles" instead of proper subtitles takes that choice away.

Add in the limited distribution of the latest Ghibli BDs, and it's rather obvious that Disney is in "contractural obligation" mode. They're only interested in finishing out their contract, and then getting out. Disney is finished with Studio Ghibli.

6 comments:

Sloindahed said...

This is terribly irritating to see.
Out of curiosity, do you collect/purchase Blu-Rays of the Ghibli catalog? If so, which versions (Original Studio Ghibli, Disney, UK, etc,)?
It's just that I've been collecting the Disney Blurays of Ghibli films since they've been releasing them figuring that they were sufficient in quality and within my budget compared to the imports, but the more I hear about them (like this particular story), the more I contemplate just biting the bullet and spending a small fortune on the imports.

daniel thomas said...

I don't mind purchasing the US Blu-Rays as long as the subtitles are correct. The Japanese Ghibli BDs are terrific, but far too expensive. Fortunately, exchange rates are more favorable to the Dollar, which means lower import prices than in recent years.

For Ghibli, I would avoid the "dub-title" US discs, just to save frustration, and purchase those titles that get the subs right.

Vinicius Pires said...

Can you tell me if the subtitles for the Disney release of Mimi o sumaseba are ok? Cause I'm pretty sure this film will never see a release here in Brazil so I'll have to import one. I was looking for prices in eBay and the Disney release is much cheaper than the Japanese one (especially now that Brazil's currency is ridiculously devalued), though the fact that the English cast is presented on the cover art really annoys me...

Christian Kent said...

I agree that while this is a frustrating oversight on Disney's part and the argument is rife with merit, to be able to share these films with my young daughters (who cannot read subtitles or speak Japanese) far outweighs the drawbacks. Most of us older blokes put up with far worse in our introduction to the films of Studio Ghibli. The first time I saw Nausicaa it was as Warriors of the Wind. In retrospect, that infamous cut is an affront to all that is good and right in the world, but at that time it was more than enough to blow my socks off and make me a rabid fan for life. Think of all the botched fan-subs, chopped aspect ratios, and 3rd generation VHS tapes we scrambled to find and eagerly devour. My sister, who lives in Fukuoka and speaks Japanese fluently, argues that the literal subtitles lose just as much in translation as the dubs. She says (and I swear, she is the least snobby person I know!) that unless you speak Japanese and understand the people and the culture a bit, it's apples to apples. Neil Gaiman's "soup to water vs. soup to donkey piss" story seems like a perfect illustration of this concept. Everything you need to experience a Ghibli film exactly as it was intended to be experienced is provided on the Disney releases. It's not their fault you can't speak Japanese.

Young said...

Disney is finished with Ghibli? Good riddance. Now GKIDS can take over and distribute Ghibli films the way they should be.

Christopher Sobieniak said...

Magic pouches, indeed!

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