You can easily, and legally, stream anime for free from services like Crunchyroll, Hulu, directly from the licensing companies (such as from Funimation), and whatnot.

But the catch to that free access to the content is that it is subbed, not dubbed; you have to pay an actual fee if you want to watch the anime dubbed.

Why is dubbed anime considered a "premium" that you have to pay for?

I ask this because a fairly substantial amount of the anime fan population actually prefer to watch subbed anime anyways, even to the point of inciting some ridiculous subbed vs dubbed arguments in Youtube comments sections and other internet forums...

Why charge for just dubbed anime when you can also charge for subbed as well? What makes dubbed so special that you have to pay for it, but not for subbed?

  • 4
    Because the Japanese companies who made the anime already did all the work of putting the voices in subbed anime. It's cheap to put subtitles, you only have to pay translators and editors. For dubbing you have to hire a voice cast.
    – giraffesyo
    Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 8:18
  • No Dub For You has some pretty good points on it
    – Dimitri mx
    Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 8:25
  • it costs money to hire voice actors and have them dub the series, but adding translated subtitles to a series costs very little in comparison, some people even do it for free for fun, called Fan dubs.
    – Ryan
    Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 16:35
  • Fansubs (which are free, not inordinately difficult to obtain, and frequently of superior quality) are near-perfect substitutes for officially-produced subtitles. But they are imperfect substitutes for dubs. Simple economics suggests that this substitution effect should depress the price of official subs more strongly than the price of dubs.
    – senshin
    Commented Mar 11, 2016 at 4:56

1 Answer 1


Creating anime costs a lot of money. I admit that the numbers in that answer are more than likely ballparks, but you get the gist - per episode numbers are in the neighborhood of 11M yen (or ~$97,200).

Add on top of that the work that has to go into localization for release:

  • Certain scenes may have to be omitted, cut, shortened, censored or removed due to the difference in what is acceptable to broadcast in that country. (I'm thinking of DiC for their creative dub of Sailor Moon, and 4Kids for just about everything they touched. There were also scenes from various other series that had to be removed; you can read more about that over here.)

  • Certain jokes just don't translate well, no matter what you do.

The cost to do this adds on top of the original production costs, since there is the very strong likelihood that it's not just voice actors and actresses coming in and doing the work.

Above all, the series actually has to be doing sufficiently well in order to earn a dub, or there has to be sufficient demand to deem it profitable to do one. One of the best examples that comes to mind is Toradora!, which had its original version broadcast and released back in 2009, and had its dub come out about five years later. It's safe to say that yes, there was enough demand for this series to come out with a dub.

Suffice to say, the cost to produce the non-dubbed, often subtitled series is sufficiently less than hiring more staff to do essentially the same thing. This is why dubbed anime is definitely at a premium - because the work being done is a premium service for non-native Japanese speakers.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .