Music is a common theme in many anime titles, and I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work on many musical series in a variety of different capacities. I’ve played singing characters, I’ve adapted lyrics into English for opening and closing themes, sung those themes, and more recently, had the immense challenge and pleasure of directing a musical show, one of my favorites, Show By Rock!!.
At conventions, I’m often asked to host a panel on dubbing music for anime, because not many people know how it is done, or just how much work is involved. With the home video release of Show By Rock!! Season 1 coming up next month (shameless plug- pre-order here!) and Season 2 currently streaming in simuldub format (another shameless plug- watch it here!), this seemed like the perfect opportunity to give you all an inside look at the process.
watch Season 2 here cough*
As an ADR director, it’s always been my desire to have the shows I work on be in English, top to bottom; every theme song, every insert song, all of it. But in reality, that isn’t always possible, for a number of reasons, including, but not limited to, getting permission from the original record label and artist to dub their songs, acquiring the license for a show’s music, and having available time to do the meticulous work of adapting and recording the song or songs. I mean, what if my show is 13 episodes and each one has a different closing (I’m looking at you, Riddle Story of Devil…)? Also, the Japanese licensors may have many legitimate reasons for not wanting their music dubbed into English, and who am I to argue? Sometimes you can’t win ‘em all.
Episode 2 and 1 Endings of Riddle Story of Devil. It changes every time too!
For the sake of this article, however, let’s say Funimation does get permission, acquire the license, and have the time. What comes next? How does your favorite anime theme get transformed from Japanese to English? Well, over the next few weeks, I’m going to show you! Come back next week for more info about the adaptation process, and the following week to learn how we record and mix the music, complete with a live stream look into an actual music recording session. It’s going to be so much fun- I can’t wait! See you then!