Well here we are again. I said the last time that if I ever did another one of these it would be shorter, and what’s shorter than a 5 episode OVA? I figured something like this would be pretty simple enough to plow through, so let’s take a look at the dub for Planetarian
Dub Rating Scale
Bad– Really horrible voice direction and cringeworthy performances or scripting. Perhaps a couple of decent performances in the mix but an overall bad product to the point where even if you aren’t particularly concerned about acting it’s immediately apparent how awkward it is (ex. Revolutionary Girl Utena, Penguindrum, 4KIds One Piece, Guin Saga)
Serviceable– A dub with a mix of performances ranging from good to mediocre. The good mostly outweighs the bad and the scripting and voice direction are workable. Not particularly good by any means but okay sounding enough that if you ignore the existence of the Japanese version and just want to listen to the show in English, it’ll do the job though it may not have much in the way of rewatchability (ex. Majestic Prince, Prince of Tennis, Gatchaman Crowds)
Good– A solid and competently put together dub. The majority of the performances work with only at best a couple of dull sounding ones and a possibly a few that are outstanding. Scripting and voice direction hit the right marks and even if the Japanese version is more technically competent in a few areas it’s a good enough production that you can stick with it and not miss out on much. Worth revisiting every now and then (ex. Gargantia on the Verderous Planet, Psycho-Pass, From the New World)
Exceptional– An extremely well made dub. A lot of really outstanding performances, great voice direction and a well crafted script. Can be perfectly comparable to the Japanese version in terms of technical competence and in some rare instances can stand out as the superior product. Definitely worth revisiting and recommending to others (ex. Cowboy Bebop, Fullmetal Alchemist, Death Note
Synopsis: Much of the world has been destroyed after a mysterious war, and some of those who survived have staked out a living in collecting whatever valuables they can find, earning the title of “Junkers”. One such junker travels into an abandoned city and discovers a robot girl named Yumemi, who works at a long forgotten planetarium. Yumemi invites him to stay and see one of their shows, and while the Junker is initially disinterested in the idea, his curiosity gives way, and by growing closer to Yumemi, he soon rediscovers his own long-forgotten love for the stars.
Intro: Of all the shows Funimation managed to snag for the summer 2016 simulcast season, this was definitely one of the most surprising as shows based on works by the company Key are generally more associated with Sentai Filmworks in the west (or Aniplex in the instance of Charlotte, but that’s it’s own animal). What wasn’t surprising though was them deciding to pick it as one of their Broadcast Dubs for the season as Key works also have a pretty much perfect track record of being dubbed and between the two Key shows this season (the other being Rewrite whose first episode was so terrible I couldn’t even last 15 minutes) it’s the stronger one by far, so it was a pretty sensible decision. But how good is the dub?
So between the general high reception for Key shows, and their reputation for being incredibly melodramatic, when I heard Funimation was going to dub this one, I was kind of expecting it to be in the hands of one of their more high profile ADR directors like Colleen Clinkenbeard or Christopher Bevins. Instead it was put in the hands of Clifford Chapin (Damidaler: Prince v.s. the Penguin Empire, Divine Gate) who’s a little fresh when it comes to the field of ADR work. Having only seen his work on Divine Gate (with the show itself being an utter travesty) I didn’t have too much to go off of in the way of expectations, but he manages to deliver here. The direction is solid, albiet a little subdued, and manages to fit the needs the show pretty well. There’s not really much to highlight on in this area, but it’s more than enough to get the job done and for what’s relatively one of the biggest things he’s solo directed, it’s a nice effort and I’m curious to see if he’ll be handed larger projects some day.
Script wise there isn’t really a whole lot of note here. Given the nature of the show itself, I wasn’t particularly worried about the idea of the script not being tight enough, and it does the job of being faithful to it’s source without being too much of a direct translation to sound unnatural, which for me is all most dubs really need to accomplish, and it’s certainly preferable to having to go on a tirade about it. The most interesting here though is the identity of the script writer itself, Emily Neves, who’s know primarily for her voice work and directing (specifically at Sentai) with this being her only writing credit besides a couple of episodes on The Rolling Girls. For her first full writing credit, this is a pretty good start and while it’s not exactly memorable, it ideally shouldn’t be in most instances, so I’m on board for her doing more stuff if it means lessening the odds of getting some of Funimation’s more…liberal translations.
Casting and Performances
As Planetarian is a show with only two real characters there’s not a whole lot to talk about here either, but I was pretty surprised at the casting of the Junker as it turned out to be none other than David Matranaga (Clannad’s Tomoya, My Hero Academia’s Todoroki) who’s probably best known for his work on Clannad, the most well known of Key’s work. I suspect that was probably the reason for his casting here, and it seems to have been a pretty good call. While it feels a little strange to go from Daisuke Ono’s baritone to David Matranaga’s slightly lighter voice and I somewhat prefer the former, it still sounds gruff and weary enough to fit the nature of the character, and his delivery during the show’s big climax manages to hit it’s mark. On the other end of things we have Jill Harris (Three Leaves, Three Colors’s Sakura, The Disastrous Life of Saki K’s Chiyo) cast as Yumemi, and for my first time having actually heard her work, it’s a solid performance. It’s decidedly less robotic than Keiko Suzuki’s in the JP track (and definitely less filtering being used to disguise it as a robot voice) but I think it’s mostly to the dub’s benefit, as melodramas such as this one rely heavily on giving the audience an emotional reaction to the material, and that’s easier to achieve when it sounds more human. While neither of the main two performances were exactly groundbreaking, they both struck a pretty good chord with me, and for Jill Harris in particular, I’m looking forward to seeing more of her work in the future.
Final Thoughts: All in all this is a humble little dub for a humble little melodrama. Not much sticks out here aside from David Matranaga’s casting, but it’s perfectly fine, and there isn’t much in the way of negatives here either. As far as comparing it to the other Key dubs I’ve seen, I’d say it’s not as good as what I remember from Angel Beats (though that was a Steven Foster dub so I’m not sure how reliable my memory us on that one) or AiR, but it’s a whole lot more consistent than Clannad’s was so it’s certainly not a step down when it comes to that legacy. This might be a low-key effort, but for a show like this one it’s perfectly sufficient, and if you haven’t seen the show yet, you certainly aren’t missing out on much by checking out the dub.
And there’s Planetarian. See that was much shorter than the first one. Feel free to let me know what you thought about the dub if you’ve seen it and if you’re curious about my general metrics for critiquing dubs, you can take a look at that here. Till next time.