Having watched the original ADV release countless time I admit to a bias and the effects of nostalgia, and I did keep that in mind going into this event. But after watching the first right episodes of the new dub, I have to say that it’s not for me in its entirety. That being said, there many many aspects of the new dub that are obviously superior to the original, at least in my mind. So let’s focus on the positive to start with:
1) Dialogue in the first episode
I’ve always though that the ADV dub got off to a rocky start right off the bat in the first episode. This does not have so much to do with the performances by individual actors as it does with the scrip itself. For example, the first audible line in the entire series in spoken by Shinji as he is attempting to contact (presumably) Misato over the phone. Unable to reach her, he hangs up the receiver and childishly yells, “This is dumb!” Please bear in mind that at this moment the city is being evacuated as it is under attack. Not that any of this seems to concern Shinji. Yeah, not a great start… Minutes later, Shinji and Misato have survived a violent blast from an N2 mine, and after righting their car, Misato turns to Shinji and says, “Thanks Shinji, you’re pretty useful.” No concern for any potential injuries, no shock that they just survived an explosion with comparable power to that of a nuclear device, and no care to explain anything that is going on to poor Shinji. Just a cavalier attitude. While these and similar lines did grow on me in the end, kind of in a it’s so bad it’s funny way, this is not a good introduction for newcomers to the series. Mercifully, this was all rectified with the new translation.
2) Higher quality performances for secondary/minor characters
As is often the case with a production (particularly older ones), the characters of… lesser importance do not receive the same degree of care as those of primary concern. This was the case in the ADV dub of EVA, particularly with respect to Toji, Kensuke (to a lesser extent), SEELE members, and essentially any unnamed character. The new dub gave new life to these characters, with an overall improvement not only in VA performance, but better scripting all across the board. The new script and actors made interactions with these characters seem much more natural and organic, which was something I really appreciated. As good as the main cast may be in any production, nothing jolts you out of a carefully crafted world more jarringly than a shitty extra.
Now for all my praise, there were evidently things about the new dub that I did not appreciate. Please see below:
1) Key script changes
I know a lot of people have been up in arms over the whole NERV pronunciation, with it being naehrf as opposed to the original nerv. This isn't necessarily something that concerns me, and I can live with it. Want to change the pronunciation to make it more correct? Go ahead. Hell, there wasn’t even consistent pronunciation of EVA in the original dub, it flopped constantly between ehva and eeva. To be honest, I’m not event sure which one is “correct”. This isn’t what I mean. What I’m talking about are major changes to the script with respect to lines that I thought were plot integral or just sounded really cool. Here are some precise examples:
- “I mustn’t run away…” Shinji, Ep. 1
- “Acts of men are better than acts of God.” Misato, Ep. 7
- “Tell me, is she still so… wild in bed?” Kaji, Ep. 8
- “What the hell is this?” Shinji, Ep. 26
- “So fucking what I’m not you!” Misato, EoE
- “All’s right with the world.” Keel, EoE
No. 2 and 6 really irked me in particular. Misato’s line in episode 7 really exemplified her conviction, and it also sounded super badass. Keel’s line was spoken as he reverted to LCL at the onset of Third Impact, and it was handed to us on a bloody silver platter. It’s part of the goddam motto for NER(f)V for Christ sake! Why this was changed in the new dub I will never know.
2) The main cast
I really don't want to rag on the new VA and pick apart the individual performances. So I won’t. I will however provide some comments. The first thing I did when the new dub was released was target some key scenes in EoE to gauge how the voice acting for Asuka, Misato, and Shinji would pan out. Those being the battle between EVA-02 and the Eva series, the elevator scene, and the scream respectively.
I have always loved the battle between EVA-02 and the Eva series. The juxtaposition between the classical score and brutal hand-to-hand combat in truly a thing of beauty. To top it all off, Grant’s performance was top notch from the opening in the submerged EVA-02, to the death throes at the hands of the Eva series. McKeon’s performance certainly was not subpar in any respect, but it just did not hit me as hard as the original.
The final exchange between Misato and Shinji is also a very powerful moment. This scene did not have the same discrepancy as a result of the VA, but more so because of script changes, as I already touched on above. Hearing Keith-Shipp yelling “So fucking what I’m not you!” really drove home the message behind their whole conversation. Given the opportunity Keranen may have delivered the line with just as much gusto. I suppose we’ll never know.
Finally, Shinji’s scream in the closing moments of part one of EoE. Not much to say about this one. I enjoyed the new one just as much as the old. Congratulations.
Ultimately I think my opinions on the main cast are not worth a whole lot from an objective standpoint, mainly because they are just that. Opinions. After watching and listening to the original cast so many times, hearing these old characters with new voices just seems strange to me. I have spent too much time with the old guard to make the transition at this point.
In the end, I probably will watch the remainder of the Netflix release with the new dub to get a better idea of the whole picture, but that it as far as it will go. I doubt I’ll ever rewatch the show with the new dub after this. While as a whole I’m happy that the show finally got a new North American release, I’m glad that I have a few copies of the whole ADV dub in it’s entirety. Luckily I purchased a few of the box sets back in the days before even owning the show was prohibitively expensive.
"What the hell is this?" - Shinji Ikari