A Review of “Toradora!” English Dub

Hey guys, Samurai here! About three years ago, I reviewed the wildly popular romantic comedy anime Toradora. If you recall, I gave this anime a very high grade, hailing it as being one of the greatest anime of our time. I also lamented the fact that there was no official North America release in the works, even though it was very popular in the fan community, and remains so to this day. Well, fast forward three years, and it looks as though someone finally listened, as Toradora not only got a North America release on DVD and Blu-Ray, but it’s also been dubbed. Does the dub enhance or degrade the awesomeness that is Toradora?  Let’s find out after the break.

Series Availability (UPDATED):

Wal-Mart

Negative for both in store or online.

Best Buy

Negative, once again, for online and brick and mortar stores.

F.Y.E

And again, NO!

Target

No love here, guys. Sorry.

Other Purchasing Sites

Finally! Some hope! Because Toradora was released earlier this month, you can find the physical media just about anywhere online.  All you have to do is shop around for a good price and ensure that you’re getting the real deal.

Online Streaming

The original subtitled version of Toradora is still available for streaming on CrunchyRoll and, just a few days ago from the time of printing, the dubbed version is also available on CrunchyRoll!

Since I already reviewed Toradora, and my thoughts on the Story, Characters, Animation and Music are the same, I won’t waste time with re-reviewing it. Just go back and read the original review up to the last section. Cool? Cool. Let’s get it on.

Performances and Production –
Toradora was directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai in Japan. He’s worked as Associate Director and Storyboard artist for quite a few shows including Mushi-Shi, Honey and Clover, Chobits and Witch Hunter Robin. Here in the US, Toradora was licensed by NIS America and dubbed by “Bang Zoom! Entertainment” with director Alex Von David at the helm. He’s been involved in quite a few of the more well-known anime of the last few years including Blue Exorcist, Lucky Star, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, and, for better or worse, Sword Art Online. Let’s take a look at our new English dub cast!

Characters

Japanese Voice Actor/Actress

English Voice Actor/Actress

Ryuji Takasu

Junji Majima

Erik Kimerer

Taiga Aisaka

Rie Kugimiya

Cassandra Lee

Yusaku Kitamura

Hirofumi Nojima

Johnny Yong Bosch

Minori Kushieda

Yui Horie

Christine Marie Cabanos

Ami Kawashima

Eri Kitamura

Erika Harlacher

Yasuko Takasu

Sayaka Ohara

Karen Strassman

Inko-Chan

Saori Goto

Wendee Lee

So, here’s our dub cast. It’s your typical “Bang Zoom!” production all stars. If you’ve watched English dubs at all during the last 10 or so years, you’ve heard them before, day in and day out, in different roles spanning dozens of shows. And if you’re a follower of this blog, you no doubt know my thoughts on V/A recycling. I’m sorry, but the talent pool at “Bang Zoom!” is shallower than a kiddie pool on a hot summer day in Louisiana, and with the amount of dubs they have out there, it’s easy to get real tired of certain voices real quick. Take a look at some of the shows on “Toonami” since they’ve come back on the air; Bleach, Blue Exorcist, Tenchi Muyo GXP, Eureka 7 and Sword Art Online are “Bang Zoom!” dubs, and many of them have had the same V/A in multiple shows as main characters. *Heck, at the time of this printing, Bryce Papenbrook and Johnny Bosch have always had at least 2 shows on the Toonami timeslot in which they are the feature character. It can be extremely distracting.

* Bryce Papenbrook is currently Eren on Attack on Titan and Yuki Rin in Blue Exorcist. He also played Kirito in Sword Art Online. Johnny Bosch is currently playing Ichigo on Bleach and Rin Yukio in Blue Exorcist. He also played Renton on Eureka 7 and Vash the Stampede in Trigun. [Thanks to andrewblackswordsman for correcting me! You are awesome!]

That being said…this dub is awesome. This cast of actors and actresses are all perfectly cast and preform their roles on par with the original Japanese cast, matching each emotion stride for stride, note for note. I intentionally went into this production, searching out the more dramatic and comedic moments of the show to hear how the English actors approached the scene. Each scene I picked out was approached with the same levels of awesomeness as the original Japanese.

Toradora_08.jpgErik Kimerer does a great job as Ryuji, giving the character his own voice. He doesn’t try to outperform the original Japanese; he makes the role his own.

The same goes for Cassandra Lee as Taiga. Her English take on the Palmtop Tiger is absolute perfection. It’s rare when a voice actress plays a Tsundere character as good as she does; blending all aspects of Taiga’s multi-faceted personality perfectly. She doesn’t sound like a complete witch-with-a-“B”, nor does she sound emo and brooding.

Johnny Bosch as Kitmura is…almost unrecognizable…in a good way. He has a very distinctive voice, and with notable exceptions [Renton in Eureka 7, and more recently Nobita in Doraemon], you can pick him out in a crowd. This time around, however, he sounds very different and, with regards to the role, he brings his usual “A” game which has kept him in the industry for so long.

Christine Marie Cabanos as our little genki girl Minori Kushieda really shines in the role. I admit I was annoyed with her voice in Episode 01; I thought it was too high and I thought she played it a little too annoying…then I watched Episode 02 and it got much better. It’s like she heard her performance in the first episode, took notes, and came back with a better performance. I’m willing to let this slide, only because she improved by leaps and bounds, and because she does a great job during the dramatic moments her character has.

Toradora_02.jpgRounding out our group is Erika Harlacher as Ami, and guess what? She’s awesome. She has matched the tone and attitude of the original voice actress flawlessly and really plays the role of the outside observer who enjoys stirring the pot perfectly.

Other performers, such as Karen Strassman playing Ryuji’s mom Yasuko, and Wendee Lee as our long suffering bird Inko round out the cast very well. As I said above, this anime was perfectly cast with a group of actors and actresses who know what they’re doing with the characters they’re told to play. Another contributing factor is the script, which stays honest and true to the original Japanese every step of the way. Sometimes with English adaptations of productions, the dialogue can sound a little awkward, especially with regards to Japanese puns and cultural references. This script handles such instances well, and the dialogue flows naturally.

With regards to the Christmas song in Episode 19, I think this is a case where it was for the best that it was not dubbed. While I’m certain the English actresses would’ve done a good job performing the song, I’m not as confident that the writers would’ve been able to come up with something that would sound as sweet as what was in the original Japanese, or make it flow the way the original did.

So, yeah, overall, you just can’t get better than this dub, unless you feel like reading and/or understand Japanese. And because the production staff knew to leave well enough alone and NOT dub the Christmas song, I’ll break my own rule this one time and award one extra point. Restraint has its own rewards. [25/25] + [+1 Bonus]

The Main Cast of "Toradora!"Scoring Summary:

Story Breakdown – 24/25
Characters – 25/25
Animation – 12.5/12.5
Music – 12.5/12.5
Performance and Production – 25/25 [+1]

Final Score – 100/100 = 100% – (A)

So, as you can see, the English dub of Toradora actually enhances the show and brings it up to a perfect 100 points. Even though it’s a small addition to an already great anime, the English dub of this show truly enhances the enjoyment factor. If you like English dubs, then this one will reaffirm your love. If you aren’t a fan of English dubs, I understand and respect that—but you owe it to yourself to give this one a TRY. What have you got to lose except your dislike of dubs?

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4 thoughts on “A Review of “Toradora!” English Dub

  1. Great review! I very much enjoyed this show English dubbed and think that you brought up some great points in comparing it to the original version.

    The only thing I can say that are incorrect are naming Bryce Papenbrook and Johnny Yong Bosch’s role’s in Blue Exorcist (you have them reversed). So Papenbrook plays Rin and Bosch plays Yukio =).

    Once again, great review! Thanks for posting this!

    1. Thank you so much for your reply! I really appreciate your feedback. Admittedly, when I first heard the trailer for the English dub, I didn’t really like it, but when I got a chance to listen to more of it, especially the more dramatic moments of the show, I quickly withdrew my initial thoughts and fell in love with the dub!

      Oh, and thanks for the catch! I’ll correct it immediately! I’m not sure how the heck I missed that one!

  2. I love this show!

    I’m a big sub guy, looking at how English also isn’t my native language, so going with Japanese audio isn’t so bad. I’d definitely give this a try to see if the dub holds up to the show’s awesomeness.

    Last dub I’d watched was ADV’s dub of NGE.

    Thanks for the heads up, cheers from Manila

    Joe

  3. I know this is an old article, but I wanted to comment to say that this review is amazingly fair and very professional. I got so hooked on Toradora a couple weeks back (binge-watched the entire thing) and I’m sure if I saw this review sooner, I would have watched it sooner as well.

    Kudos!

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