I decided to watch the dubbed version of Howl's Moving Castle tonight, just to compare it to the subtitles. But a I only got a few scenes in, then I couldn't handle it anymore and switched back to Japanese with subtitles. So to all of you anime watchers out there: you were right. Subtitles beat dubbed versions anyday. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, the meaning changes. It's hard to tell how far this holds true when you have to rely on translated subtitles anyway, but I watched some in English with the subtitles on and compared. The gist was usually the same, but the sense was different. The dubbed version in places seemed to be trying to sound more hip and modern, which for me spoilt some of the innocent feel to the movie. Maybe 'cos I was brought up reading old fashioned kids books. But the language was borderline inappropriate some of the time. Well, for really young kids that is. Maybe for 4 year olds. The best example of the difference I can give is where at the end (I watched bits afterwards to compare again, also I wanted to hear Billy Crystal as Calcifer) *spoilers* she says "I love you Howl!", in the dubbed version she agrees with Howl that her hair looks like starlight. Most characters in the dubbed version sound ruder.
Secondly, the voice acting. It just didn't seem to fit as well in the dubbed version. I didn't really like young Sophie's voice, nor Howl's. Calcifer was cuter in Japanese. Everything seemed to have a different meaning when said by the different casts. I really wish I could speak Japanese, and not have to rely on translations and stuff. Oh well, I guess that'll never happen.
Also, I got a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers DVD box set for my birthday! All the way from the USA! So we all watched Top Hat this afternoon. Finally, after me wanting to for years. Yay! Very enjoyable, I like my 1930s romantic comedy musicals. Or just romantic comedies in general. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers seem to have access to a limited range of plots, all involving amusing misunderstandings and mistaken identity, but they do it well so I don't care at all. In fact, I love it! And I got to watch them sing and dance to Cheek to Cheek, which was a definite plus.
I never thought I'd see the day when I would get so excited over anime and musicals.