I think Japanese dubs get a bad reputation. It originally started with the old Japanese/Chinese movies that were dubbed poorly into English with mismatched mouth movements. While dubbing has improved on the technical side since then, there is still a negative connotation that you lose the emotion and character created by the original performers.
So dubs = bad? No. Get ready to see how Japanese dubs will rock your world.
Japan takes voice acting very seriously.
Japan produces more anime/cartoons than any other country in the world. A lot of anime is more adult and meant for a much wider population than in America. This means the voice actors must be good. To make an anime that causes people of all ages to laugh and cry, you can’t have weak voice actors. Voice actors often are on the same caliber of regular actors, achieving quite a high level of fame.
And yes, while there are some great animated films in America (ex. Shrek, anything Pixar), don’t forget that the voices in these movies are normally done by famous actors, not voice actors.
Movies are given a second chance.
Ever see a movie that you felt would’ve been good, but the actors kind of ruined it? Replace those actors with top voice actors from Japan. All of a sudden there is a new infusion of emotion and energy that is brought in. I’ve seen a number of Japanese dubbed movies that were improved versions of the original.
You become a voice actor fan. If that voice actor appears in a movie, you may enjoy it despite it being an actual bad movie.
I saw “Predators” dubbed recently, a fairly lackluster movie to say the least. But the main hero was voiced by the very popular voice actor 井上和彦. He’s been in 100s of movies, and has done the voice of Tom Hanks and John Travolta in their various movies, the voice of Jack in Lost, and for those who follow anime, the voice of カカシ先生 from Naruto.
All of a sudden, the main character from Predators was more fun to watch.
Voice actors are consistent.
Often a voice actor will dub for the same actor throughout his movies. This creates in essence a Japanese version of an American actor. Occasionally when the voice actor who dubs for a particular American actor changes, people are very disappointed.
Keep up with your own culture.
Sometimes you get so caught up with your own Japanese immersion environment that your own modern knowledge of your culture starts to suffer. Even if you don’t care about knowing the most recent movies or TV shows that are released in America, it is important to remember that Japanese are heavy followers of American TV and movies. Keeping up with these will actually improve your Japanese conversations.
Watching Japanese dubs of American movies/TV you’ve seen before is a very effective study method.
If you’ve already seen it in English, you can fully enjoy the Japanese dub even if your Japanese level isn’t high. You are more likely to pick up Japanese phrases since you can sometimes remember what they said when you saw it in English.
Japanese dubs are easy to find.
Almost all new movies and TV shows are dubbed into Japanese these days, and they are very easy to find or purchase on the internet. Use a search with either 吹き替え or 吹替 (Japanese for dubbed) in the search area to bring up best results. Try both because depending on the service, they will be written in one of the 2 above ways.
Combining your favorite movies with your new favorite language equals a winning combination. Don’t ever look down at Japanese dubs again!