Really, it’s not. It’s a sub vs raw post. “But you can’t- they’re not- You, sir, are a retard.”
Ok, the two aren’t substitutable or even comparable, by the standard of any anime fan who’s not fluent in Japanese. My Japanese is only at a level where I can understand 83% of any written passage even with a dictionary, and my listening is so bad that watching raw is pointless for me. Yet none-the-less, I’ve been doing it lately. The thing is, I watch the raw after the sub.
I started watching raws because I realised that I often get distracted by the subtitles.
I only noticed it very recently, when watching Eve no Jikan. I watched the first two episodes with subs, then went browsing for other people’s opinions on each episode because it is really fucking awesome. Reading through them made me realise that I didn’t notice a lot of the intricacies in the animation and direction. A truly excellent film or anime has a lot of the details placed through-out that the average person would never take note of without having it pointed out for them, but are nonetheless important things that elevate the show above all its contemporaries. A film example would be The Sixth Sense, where there are clues scattered through-out the entire movie pointing to the twist ending, yet most people never notice them on their first watch.
After reading about them, I went back to watch the first two episodes of Eve no Jikan with the subtitles turned off (I really want to thank whoever popularised soft-subs), and I managed to pick up on a lot of the things that were noted in other posts. Of course, I have the benefit of hindsight now, but I also have the benefit of being able to focus my eyes on things that are not words.
Thing is, I suck at multi-tasking. Being a man, my brain is at a natural disadvantage when it comes to processing multiple streams of information, and I’ve never managed to learn to handle multi-tasking. Once I even missed a turn while driving because I was talking to my friend (don’t distract the driver kids!). When I played The World Ends With You on the NDS, I never mastered the skill of managing both front of the battle – generally I spam block on the top screen and have Neku deal all the damage. Similarly, when I have to focus on and process the subtitles, my eyes don’t have time to wander around the rest of the screen picking up the details. I get the big picture, but details tend to go unnoticed. And so, I missed out on a lot of important things.
Ever since I started watching a show twice – once with subtitles and once without – I realised just how much the subtitles get in the way of focusing on the visuals. Little details in animation or background or direction, things that I never really picked up on before, started to become apparent to me. It’s like a whole new world just opened up to me. It’s all really frustrating, because now I feel like I’ve been missing out all these years. Which of the older shows that I didn’t like could’ve benefited from the extra attention that is taken away by the subtitles?
Conclusion of this post: I’d rather watch anime without subtitles, but considering the options available to me are “Watch it twice” or “Dubs”, it’s clear which is the lesser of the two evils.