The war between subs and dubs has been fought for decades with both sides having equal merit. While dubbing anime does have its fair share of risks, it also comes with getting performances from legendary actors and actresses. When it comes to Studio Ghibli, they go all out for the dubs.
More often than not, they’ve gotten A-list celebrities to voice their characters without some people even knowing it. Fans of these classic films might even be surprised when they learn that these celebrities have dubbed a Studio Ghibli film.
10 Ashley Tisdale
Ashley Tisdale is best known for her numerous Disney Channel roles on Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Phineas and Ferb, and High School Musical. What most people don’t know is that she had a minor role in Whisper of the Heart as Shizuku’s freckled friend, Yuko Harada.
Yuko is constantly seen prying into Shizuku’s love life while looking for help with her own romantic problems. Tisdale brings the character to life and sounds like she is having as much fun as her character. Once she starts singing their rendition of “Country Roads”, fans can pick up on a bit of Candace and Sharpay in her singing.
9 Cary Elwes
The world will always remember Cary Elwes for his performance as the dashing rogue Westley in The Princess Bride. It’s no wonder that he was chosen to dub Baron Humbert von Gikkingen for Whisper of the Heart and The Cat Returns as well as Donald Curtis in Porco Rocco.
As the Baron, he is the charming hero of Shizuku’s story and helps rescue Haru from the Cat Kingdom before she turns into a cat permanently. As for Curtis, his Southern drawl is thick as molasses but he sells the hot shot’s smarmy overconfidence. He brings the right amount of charisma to both roles in such distinct ways.
8 Tim Curry
Just as the Baron needs someone suave to voice him, his antagonist the Cat King needs a contrasting sinister voice. What better celebrity to call upon than the fiendishly fun Tim Curry? After Haru saves his son from being hit by a car, the Cat King showers her with gifts and decrees that she will marry his son regardless of if she consents.
He’s a cruel, clumsy oaf of a king that is as devious as he is bumbling. At least Curry managed to bring a regal, albeit slimy charm to his performance.
7 Liam Neeson
If there’s one thing Liam Neeson is good at, it’s playing intimidating father figures that will do anything to get their kids back. Making him perfect for the role of Fujimoto in Ponyo. After all, Fujimoto does all he can to bring his daughter back home and keep her from the boy she’s fallen in love with.
While this isn’t his best performance of his career, it suits Fujimoto’s brooding personality and audiences should be able to feel the frustration as he tries to pacify his rebellious daughter. At the end of the day, he’s just a dad that wants to protect his child and keep the world in balance.
6 Mark Hamill
People tend to associate Mark Hamill with Star Wars but tend to forget that he is an accomplished voice actor. He’s had the pleasure of participating in not one, but two different Studio Ghibli dubs. His first role was as the Mayor of Pejite in Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, a man determined to exact revenge on the Tomekians for destroying his kingdom.
His second role as Colonel Muska in Castle in the Sky is spectacular; perfectly capturing the calm, collected nature of the villain as he schemes to conquer Laputa. Of course, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he knows how to voice a great villain.
5 Michael Keaton
Whoever said pigs can’t fly clearly hasn’t seen Porco Rosso. The story follows the eponymous Porco, a WWI pilot cursed with a pig head, as he struggles to repair his plane after getting shot down while being paired with a bossy, doe-eyed aircraft designer. The smooth-talking pilot is voiced by Michael Keaton who does a fine job playing the introverted pig. While not his most dynamic role, it suits the purpose considering Porco is a reserved character that keeps people at a distance.
If the film ever gets a sequel, it would be great to see Keaton reprise his role.
4 Susan Egan
Just as a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet, Rose Quartz will sound just as sweet no matter what role her voice actress Susan Egan plays. Whether that be the enchanting Gina in Porco Rosso or laid-back Lin in Spirited Away.
Her performance as Gina is as captivating as her character and unlike other VA’s, she does her own singing. She shows off her range as Lin, who isn’t as elegant but still a helpful, supportive figure in Chihiro’s journey. That’s what you get when you hire Disney alumni to dub your film.
3 Tom Holland
Before anyone points out that Tom Holland was never in the English dub of The Secret World of Arrietty, it’s worth noting that Disney wasn’t the only company to dub the film. Studio Canal also dubbed the film and they cast Tom Holland as Sho long before he ever donned the spider suit.
Sho is a sickly boy who can’t play with other kids due to his heart condition that discovers and befriends Arrietty. His dub was only part of the UK and Ireland release of the film while American audiences got David Henrie. So anyone looking to hear Holland when want to keep an eye out for the UK version.
2 J.K. Simmons
Pom Poko is a bizarre yet tragic environmental story about a pack of tanukis attempting to ward off humans attempting to demolish their forests for construction. Along with legendary voice actors Clancy Brown and Tress MacNeille, J.K. Simmons also lends his voice to this film as the tanuki Seizaemon.
His character serves as a contrast to Brown’s hot-headed Gonta serving as the rational one of the group. It’s a small role but Simmons gives it his all along with the rest of the cast. Though should you check this movie out, get ready to see a lot of tanuki “pouches”.
1 Daveigh Chase
Most people won’t recognize the name Daveigh Chase but when they hear her voice, two characters come to mind. That being Lilo from Lilo & Stitch and Chihiro Ogino from Spirited Away. When her parents are turned into pigs, Chihiro must go on a magical journey and encounter bizarre creatures to change them back to normal.
Just like with her performance as Lilo, she does an excellent job voicing the ambitious, friendly, considerate girl. If there’s one thing she is good at it’s playing strange little girls.
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About The Author
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Jackson Brueheim is a writer, editor, riffer, and animation lover that lives out in California. He’s written articles for the defunct site Nerdcrave, worked on numerous short films, served as a PA on two feature films, developed a Mystery Science Theater 3000-inspired web series called What a Riff Off, and currently writes list articles for CBR. He graduated from St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga, CA, where he receved his BA in English and currently attends a vocational film program for adults on the Autism spectrum called Futures Explored in Livermore, CA. When he’s not making up lists, he listens to film and comedy podcasts, listens to Let’s Plays while playing video games, enjoying modern cartoons, anime, and films, writing the occasional fan fic or spec script, and trying to get better at drawing.
Original posted at www.cbr.com