Sunday, August 01, 2010

Otakon 2010: Bandai Announces K-ON! dub

At the "Bandai After Dark" panel on Saturday night, Bandai not only formally announced the K-ON! dub, but offered the lead role of Hirasawa Yui to voice actor Stephanie Sheh on the spot. Sheh accepted, meaning that we will more than likely hear her interpretation of the world's spaciest lead guitar player soon enough. As if that wasn't enough, the panel continued with Cristina Vee bursting onto the show floor in a K-ON! costume to sing a bunch of the shows better known songs, including the popular ED track Don't Say Lazy. It was announced that Vee will be playing the role of Akiyama Mio, which she called "a dream role."

How is this relevant to Sailor Moon? Well, if you've been living under a rock for the past few years, you might not know that the prognosis for anime dubbing has not been particularly good of late. With the decline of the anime market in the United States in particular, and sub-only releases selling to an increasingly picky enthusiast market, we're long past the boom days when any show that was even moderately popular would receive an English dub. While a dub for a show as popular as K-ON! may seem like a no-brainer, it was still nice to see the enthusiasm everyone at the Bandai panel seemed to have for the project.

One audience member even asked during the Q&A whether or not CDs would be released with the English voice actors performing the K-ON! songs, as Vee had just done; the answer from the panel was "I don't know," which surprised me, because I was expecting an unequivocal "uh, no," for an answer there. The dubbing will be done by Bang Zoom! Entertainment, which, if you recall, did do some song dubbing back in the day, such as with the early Rurouni Kenshin openings and endings. I was under the impression that they had stopped doing that sort of thing for legal reasons, but who knows- the industry has certainly changed in the ten years or so since then.

Vee did a fine job with the K-ON! tracks, and personally I'd be keen to hear her tackle some Sailor Moon songs- either the original Japanese songs, or the sometimes simplistic, but often surprisingly good, songs from the original dub.

While we're on the subject of Bandai, they also took the opportunity to announce their forthcoming releases of Sora Kake Girl, or The Girl Who Leapt through Space (not to be confused with The Girl Who Leapt Through Time), and a My Otome prequel OVA (to be released together on one disc). Interestingly, they also announced that K-ON! will be released simultaneously on Blu-Ray and DVD.

Other events at the panel included a The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya sound-alike contest, an exclusive clip from the second episode Gundam Unicorn (which is SO not my thing, but at least some people there were very excited) and the exclusive premiere of the Season 2 dub outtakes for that series, the hilarity of which made me wish that Crispin Freeman would be cast in any Sailor Moon redub in some capacity if only to produce quality outtakes. Freeman for Tuxedo Mask: WHO'S WITH ME????

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