After a couple months of fits and starts, October gave a vision of what a broadly competitive field of dubs used to look like for a number of years, but one that is perhaps fleeting as we come into the turn of the year which is typically slower even when not in a national recession. And a vision that may have had less substance than past times as dubs from Los Angeles, Vancouver, Calgary, and Singapore gave way to two cities from Texas once again. With ADRA stalwart Kanon finished for ADV's Amusement Park Media studio, and final volumes of only a couple more titles (now in FUNimation's hands) finishing out in December, it may be quiet for a period in early 2009 for Houston. Studios affiliated with Geneon, too, (also distributed through FUNimation) like Bang Zoom! and Ocean, are playing out a handful of volumes for their final shows with the company (Ocean's The Story of Saiunkoku, with its longer run, may last the longest), until further notice. (Both studios continue work--though less work--with the likes of Bandai, however.)
November, still in nominations as of this report, and December coming up next, will not see a change from this trend. And most conspicuously, as the last quarter of 2008 becomes more clear, despite the hits to West Coast dubbing, the dubs seen least of all at this time are those from New York, save now token efforts from TAJ's Pokemon.
October was, on top of it all, a send off of a dub fan favorite from Houston, with the last major role for Jessca Boone--but it was a winning send off: Her fourth award overall, and her first since February of 2006. From the same, much lauded, dub, Chris Patton nets his eleventh win, a mark that will be hard for any other performer to match. And with that dub, Kanon Vol. 6, being ineligible for overall monthly best dub because of the limit on maximum number of wins, the competition initially for October in the last category was heated, though the voting was definitive. Among the final volume (unless a dub for a yet un-aired third season) for past winner Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage and two shows that have had strong followings during their releases so far, The Story of Saiunkoku and Rozen Maiden Träumend, victory went to a newcomer: Ouran Host Club, from FUNimation Studios, the fifth dub from them to attain the position.
Best Female Performance of October 2008: Jessica Boone as Nayuki Minase for Kanon Vol. 6
It was with some sadness that the dub fan community learned near the end of this past summer that Jessica Boone, who had gathered quite a following among dub listeners for her spirited performances in many fan favorite roles (Rue, Princess Tutu; Misaki, Angelic Layer; Arumi, Abenobashi; Azmaria, Chrono Crusade; Chiyo-chan, Azumanga Daioh; and many others from a list too long to continue), was moving away from Texas since her husband had to relocate to Virginia. Thus, we are unlikely to hear her again in an ADV production, and it's not known when she might again be heard in another anime dub. It is slightly bittersweet then that she picked up this month's award for her moving portrayal of the sweet, if often sleepy, Nayuki Minase in Kanon.
From the beginning, Boone had something of a greater challenge than some of the other actresses portraying the women who enter the life of Yuichi Aizawa, the protagonist of Kanon. All of them fall within easy to define (and thus, fairly easy to act) stereotypes: the energetic idiot (actually, two of them could fit under this heading), the sickly girl, the taciturn one, the really nice one, the stuck up one, etc. Nayuki is also a very common stereotype, but perhaps the least outwardly distinct: the childhood friend. The task for Boone was to find some way of making her stick out in the audience's mind, when Nayuki is just so...nice, and just there. Whenever she chided Yuichi for not keeping his promises to her, she gave Nayuki a very believable intonation and genuine feel to the simple word, "liar". When she said it, we knew instantly how she felt she had been misused by Yuichi, who was often off chasing after one or another member of the Kanon girls. When she faced her own great emotional crisis in this last volume, Boone gave the character a very heartfelt and sincere portrayal. You could sense Nayuki's anger and despair strongly--a strong performance as a memorable send off to her fans.
We wish her well in her new home, and best wishes in her future acting career.
Best Male Performance of October 2008: Chris Patton as Yuichi Aizawa for Kanon Vol. 6
There is a fine line between melodrama and melodramatic. The one can provide a moving experience. The other can result in snickers and snide comments. Sometimes, a performer needs to be able to walk along that fine line as if it were a tightrope above the Chasm of Mocking Laughter. Chris Patton does that ably, and more, in the final volume of Kanon from ADV Films. For his character, Yuichi Aizawa, is often called upon on to cope with situations that deal heavily in melodrama, but which would elicit more laughter than tears had they been over-emoted. Walking that fine line, Patton manages to inject a strong emotional presence into his character without going too far, to the point where it would become parody.
When Yuichi is heartbroken over the situation involving Ayu Tsukimiya, you can sense his depression in his breathy delivery and plaintive tones. As changing events force him into the role of the one who must comfort others, when his cousin Nayuki retreats into a shell, Patton restores a more confident air and tone to his voice, while ably expressing his character's sincere concern for his cousin's well-being. Over the course of six volumes, Patton has managed to thread this fine needle time and time again, giving his character the right amount of emotional depth without overdoing, as might occur with a lesser performer. A fine performance that will reward a listener even for a second or third viewing.
Best Dub of October 2008: Ouran High School Host Club Season 1 Part 1
Ouran High School Host Club was one of the more highly anticipated shows of this current release season, and the dub was going to be carefully scrutinized. It was well known that Caitlin Glass, who was tapped both to direct and to play the lead role of Haruhi Fujioka, was personally a great fan of the show, and her personal enthusiasm had rubbed off on many fans.
The result was a very well crafted dub featuring a solid combination of established veterans (Vic Mignogna, Luci Christian, Greg Ayres, Monica Rial, and Glass herself) and rising stars (J. Michael Tatum, Todd Haberkorn). Glass' own performance as Haruhi was especially notable, being a serious departure from her previous work. Ouran is a very good example of a highly polished, professional FUNimation dub, and definitely one to check out if you want to know where the current standard of English anime dubbing is.