There are some scenes in anime which show language barriers. For instance, one character speaks fluent English (because he/she has lived in a foreign country and has recently came to Japan) and another character(who is listening) is having a difficult time comprehending it. Some examples include Kiniro Mosaic (the anime is all about characters dealing language barriers), Azumanga Daioh etc. Now, how are these scenes dubbed in English? How do dubbers deals with these scenes? Are these scenes even dubbed? Or is the plot changed conveniently to match with the English dub?

Consider the following scenes:

How are these scenes dubbed in English?

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    Azumanga Daioh, for the most part, didn't use much actual English in the original Japanese if the first place (the "blah blah blah" scene is pretty much directly translated). The few instances of Yukari speaking English in the school ended up getting switch to Spanish (with an accompanying TL note) - which essentially fits how English is handled in Japan (that is, similar to Spanish here). Otherwise, it's going to vary pretty heavily by show. May 14, 2020 at 23:43

2 Answers 2


The answer for Kiniro Mosaic is that ... the anime was never dubbed in English so they never had to worry about it.

More generally, it will depend a lot on the way the dubbing company chooses to localise it, which in turn often depends on the expected audience for the dub. In the case of Azumanga Daioh, for example, the English jokes were made into Spanish ones instead, capturing the same general idea of the joke.

Another example I wanted to dig up was Excel Saga, which has a couple of scenes with notoriously (and, given the nature of the show, almost certainly deliberately) bad English (e.g. "General, she got it!" which in the English subtitles of the Japanese subtitles is translated as "General, I think she understands what we're saying"). The ADV dub treated these in different ways in different scenes, which feels quite on-brand for the show - some of the lines were just dubbed with proper English, losing that part of the joke; other lines were switched into another language, like in Azumanga; one line is given a complete non-sequitur joke that actually refers back to the Japanese version; and one section, where the joke in the original is that the English doesn't even relate to the scene (and is mostly made up of clichéd sentences that Japanese speakers might recognise, like "Give me chocolate") is left in its original form with the original voice actors.


I know Assassination Classroom had an issue with this.

In the original Japanese the plot has the characters facing off against American foreign exchange students in a sports festival game. The US students are explained to have a very basic grasp on Japanese. As part of their education the main students have been learning English and so one of the smarter kids switches to English to taunt the foreign exchange students out of formation.

In the English Dub the character throws on a thick, southern accent and uses local slang like "pardner" and "y'all". The joke kinda falls flat in the dub because the US students respond in much the same way as the original Japanese dub (in which the kid insulted their intelligence because they're mono-lingual) which doesn't make sense when in the English Dub he just tries to goad them by saying "Why don't y'all come over here pardner" or something similar.

Overall it varies from company to company.

Another one I've recently watched was Kabanari of the Iron Fortress which has a character that frequently switches entire lines in English or Japanese. The show did well enough so I imagine it'll get a dub in a few years time, but for now I'm left wondering how they'll handle that character.

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