The Kitchen analyses the evolution of Anime dubbing

Romulo Bernal, The Kitchen’s Lead Anime Director talk about his experience with the anime, his love for the content and details the hard work of the studio in the sector.

31 AUG 2022

Romulo Bernal

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The Kitchen has been successfully dubbing and subtitling anime for nearly 18 years. Romulo Bernal, The Kitchen’s Lead Anime Director has been an anime fan since he first saw “Dragon Ball Z” back in the early ‘90’s. “And back then, there were no dubbed or subbed versions to watch. I was just infatuated with the look. Back then, I was watching with my friends, and we were in awe. It was certainly some crazy stuff. I watched those rudimentary anime productions incessantly, and was hooked,” Romulo explained. “It was different than the Western type of Saturday morning cartoons we were all used to,” he added.

Brad Strickland, The Kitchen’s Director of Production, added, “Rom is a true anime fan. That is why he is so very good at what he does. He scours the anime fan sites and is up to date on every aspect of the genre. Dubbing anime is a true art form, and one that The Kitchen loves to cultivate and grow with each new project.”

Romulo is now the Lead Anime and Musical Director at The Kitchen Worldwide and has been helming the team in dubbing anime series for broadcast, streamers, internet and feature films for over ten years. "Anime is a not a cartoon, however you will find adult themed anime and anime for kids. There is anime featuring everything from slice of life, to cooking, to murder mysteries and of course, there are the super-heroes", he explained.

Anime today is an enormous market worldwide and gets bigger every year. “It was all very small niche, now it is definitely more mainstream, all media, TV, streaming and features see the financial benefits of excelling in presenting first-rate anime dubs and subs. We recently finished a feature, 'My Hero Academia World Hero’s Mission', for Funimation/Crunchyroll in Neutral Spanish”, Romulo said.

Romulo also detailed that he looks for good actors. "I look for actors that can do a cold reading. We don’t get the luxury of getting a script in advance. There are no rehearsals. You come in and it’s go time. So, using true acting talent is an enormous benefit.”

On the other hand, The Kitchen’s Lead Anime Director believes that an anime director must have a sense of the culture, must understand the emotional execution, and have a true sensibility for it. “I compare our anime casts to stage acting. On a stage, you can deliver your lines and visually add to your performance with over emphasized body movements, for example. That makes a good stage actor. With dubbing, you can only use your voice to convey an emotion. You don’t have a physical tool, and that takes talent,“ Romulo concluded.

Today, anime is dubbed and subtitled in every language. "Images are more sophisticated…we’re seeing a nice balance between CGI and pencil drawing. In the old days, anime drawings were all done by hand. In anime, CGI is kind of frowned upon. It’s often seen as an easy way out when done alone", indicated Romulo. "The better anime animators today marry the two: CGI and those original hand-drawings in a nice, nuanced way, where you can see where one begins and the other takes over. It’s a truly perfect marriage,".

Romulo also asserted that the voices of many anime actors are known and recognized around the world. "Actors working in anime take it very seriously and the ages range from kids to senior citizens. Anime is technically a cartoon. It is very Asian. It’s a particular style and Western artists do not draw like that," he said.

The Kitchen now dubs anime series and features in all languages. Anime is recognized around the globe, with LATAM still on-top in the number of hard-core anime fans.