One of the eternal questions in anime is, subs or dubs? When I asked this question of my Twitter and Facebook followers, I was surprised at the huge number of varied responses I got back. Most hardcore anime fans seem to prefer the original Japanese versions with subtitles because of the high quality Japanese seiyu, but quite a few said they prefer to relax while they watch anime, which meant dubbed episodes since they don’t have to actively read the screen. While I certainly choose subtitles on the subs or dubs question myself, there are several shows — Kill Me Baby and Yamada’s First Time come to mind — where the dub is done in such a clever way it might be superior to the Japanese original. Another dub gem is Kiki’s Delivery Service, which features Phil Hartman in his final role as the snarky voice of Jiji the cat. Dubbed anime can be useful in other areas: back when my kids were small, they found me watching my Magical Knights Rayearth DVD boxed set. Thinking quickly, I switched the audio from Japanese to English and said, “I’m sorry, this series is only in English. Do you want to watch it with me?” They did, and basically learned English from the show over the course of 49 episodes. So, which do you prefer, subs or dubs?
It’s high summer in Japan, a time to endure the massive heat and humidity that only central Japan can manage. Happily it’s also time for matsuri, the wonderful festivals that are a fixture on anime series. From the smiles on the faces of the yukata-clad festival-goers to the stalls selling takoyaki octopus balls and cold Asahi beer, I visit every festival I can find in Japan. While every Japanese city holds a charming local festival — our city’s was yesterday, and I enjoyed exploring the various stalls while taking photos — there are some truly famous festivals you should try to hit if you’re ever planning a trip here. The top five I recommend are:
- Gion Matsuri, a massive procession of floats that moves through Japan’s ancient capital of Kyoto. Held in July.
- Nebuta Matsuri in Aomori, at the northernmost tip of Japan’s main island. Famous for giant illuminated floats. Held every August.
- Awa Odori, a 1000 year old festival related to the Bon Buddhist holiday in August in which women perform a dance that looks like waves on the ocean. From Shikoku, but also held in Tokyo in August.
- While all cities have a local Tanabata Festival, which celebrates a Chinese story about lovers Hikoboshi and Orihime who became the stars Altair and Vega and can only meet once per year, the most famous is in Sendai in August.
- If you find yourself in the Tokyo area in April, why not attend the Festival of the Steel Phallus? It’s basically a celebration of love and fertility, and is one of the most random festivals you can visit. Held in Kawasaki (between Tokyo and Yokoyama).
Summer is hot, but not as hot as the onahole lineup J-List has for you this month. Enjoy tons of new offerings, from the hilariously named Bubble Butt deluxe toy to the official onahole of JAV star Mihara Honoka to the new “Frigging Girl” from Toy’s Heart. Which will you get?