Being a Brief Discussion of Anime Dubs: This Ugly Yet Beautiful World, Volume One (Mania.com)
Date: Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Hello, and welcome back for a brand new look at anime dubs. This week I'd like to take a few moments to discuss a new show called This Ugly Yet Beautiful World, dubbed by ADV Studios and released by ADV Films. It's an exciting prospect for fans that has everything it needs to succeed. The series has an experienced ADR director who has worked on successful and enjoyable dubs, a talented cast, and a story by GAINAX. Despite these formidable credentials, however, the show achieves mixed results.
This Ugly Yet Beautiful World's dub shows quite a bit of potential. The cast is doing a generally good job with their characters, and none of them show any special weakness. Braden Hunt and Bucky Bestman do good work as Takeru and Ryou, though Mr. Bestman has a few lines that could benefit from a little more emotion. The leading ladies, Goldie Fawn and Circe Nightshade in the roles of Hikari and Akari, both create a feeling of innocence in their characters extremely well. Ms. Nightshade has a bit of trouble expressing fear, though that's a minor point even at worst.
The dub's problems stem from moments of uneven weakness. Several lines feel slightly wrong, generally because the actor's timing sounds unnatural or because of a momentary display of under-confidence. It's not a major problem, but it is pervasive through the entire cast, generally excepting the Hikari and Akari characters, and tends to crop up more frequently in the supporting cast. Misplaced emphasis and uneven pacing detract from otherwise good deliveries. Eileen Dover has quite a few lines of narration, and her performance doesn't achieve maximum effect. She's very good at matching the general tone of the character and scene, but she stays too locked in to one energy level. The lack of subtlety keeps the performance somewhere between fair and good when it could do a lot better. Alexis Bestman delivers a fair performance as Kimi. The character's sharp, smarmy dialog comes across extremely well but her softer material doesn't have quite the same polish.
Taken as a whole, the dub is fairly good but somewhat disappointing. The dialog suffers from numerous awkward pauses related to flaps. This problem extends across multiple characters, and tends to happen more often in the front half of the disc. In general these problems never warrant calling the dub bad, but they clearly indicate rough portions that will hopefully see improvement in future episodes.
The core story for This Ugly Yet Beautiful World has a slow, mystical quality that makes regular appearances to break up the quick, light comedy. These moments offer the best promise that the show intends to go on to offer a rich and compelling story, but at the moment it's not clear exactly what it's going to deliver. The slow moments contain a lot of mysterious dialog and vague talk about destiny, along with some dark portents of violence, but it hasn't resolved itself into any particular theme or source of tension. That's not bad in and of itself, because a series so close to its beginning doesn't have to do much more than set itself up and lay down the foundation for the story's later evolution. The main source of danger for This Ugly Yet Beautiful World is that it doesn't go quite far enough to fully establish its darker, more serious conflict, and it veers away from the comedy enough that it's unlikely to hook viewers looking for laughs.
At this point it's too early to say whether or not This Ugly Yet Beautiful World will go on to provide hours of enjoyment for viewers. The first disc places it in a very awkward position of trying to incorporate a lot of elements but not getting them to work cohesively. The good news is that this kind of behavior shows considerable ambition. The show is almost certain to do something interesting and worth watching even if it's not successful as a whole.
The show contains numerous fanservice scenes, including nudity. Potential viewers should note that this series is not appropriate for younger viewers, and those who dislike fanservice should probably look for a different title. This disc contains some violence, and later volumes will probably have more. For the moment I'd tentatively recommend the series for viewers who want to watch something new, dark, and ambitious who don't mind the possibility of watching a show that bites off more than it can chew. Those with more conservative tastes will probably want to wait until more of the series has been released to make a final decision.
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2006 by Way Jeng