Subs versus dubs, it's one of the oldest and most heated debates in anime fan communities—some arguing that the original Japanese voice acting with subtitles is the superior way to watch anime, while others say that the dubs are just as good, if not better. As time has gone on, both sides have gained an even amount of support from fans, but more interestingly, the debate has evolved. In most cases, the argument of "subs or dubs" has shifted from being about all anime, to being about specific anime. The debate is no longer about how one watches all anime, but about how one watches a specific series or film. As such, we decided to throw our hat into the ring and list off all of the anime we think work better subbed, and all the ones we think are better with English dubs.
But, keep in mind, we are by no means the official authority on this subject, we just wanted to recommend our viewing preferences when it comes to these 26 anime series. Everyone can watch anime their own way, that's what's so great about subs and dubs and all the new streaming services that give us access to massive anime libraries. So, take these recommendations as exactly that, recommendations, not hard pressed rules on how to watch these anime series. With that said, let's take a look at some of the most popular, most interesting and most awesome anime so we can recommend which version to watch, the sub or the dub.
26 BETTER SUBBED: MY HERO ACADEMIA
Starting us off, we have what is perhaps the current most popular ongoing mainstream anime, My Hero Academia. My Hero is, in our opinion, better with its original Japanese audio. All props to the dub team and VA's, but there are two reasons why we prefer the subs.
For one thing, acting is phenomenal, and since the dub seems to make a point of casting the characters with VA's similar to their Japanese voices, we're going to have to go with the originals. Second, and this is the bigger one, you can watch it earlier as a sub!
25 BETTER DUBBED: FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST BROTHERHOOD
Next up we have Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. The series follows brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric as they seek to find the philosopher's stone so they can restore their bodies back to normal.
The series' setting is part of the reasons why we think this anime worked better dubbed; the country of Amestris, was inspired by industrial Europe, so hearing these characters speak English fits very, very well. Not that the characters can't speak Japanese, it is a fantasy world after all, but the dub cast really brought their A-game, making for the, in our opinion, superior version of the series.
24 BETTER SUBBED: KILL LA KILL
Kill La Kill is another anime where the dub cast did a fantastic job, and since it features a wide range of English VA's filling the role, all of whom who put out some great work. Because of this, we were tempted to put it in the "better dubbed" category. However, when comparing the dub and the sub, the sub still wins.
The main reason for this is that the Japanese cast really brings some amazing performances with poignant deliveries for both comedy and drama. Additionally, since the main setting is a Japanese school, the series' original language fits better.
23 BETTER DUBBED: TIGER AND BUNNY
Tiger & Bunny is a superhero anime about an old veteran of the game and a rookie who he is forced to partner with, creating a buddy cop superhero series with the added twist of the heroes competing on a reality show.
The reason why we think this series works better as a dub is, once again, the setting, taking place in a multi-cultural, melting pot city known as Sternbild. Though the country of Sternbild is never stated, the fact that the city is so diverse and is based on New York really makes the English dub work.
22 BETTER SUBBED: ATTACK ON TITAN
Not every anime in a Euro-esque setting works better as a dub, as is the case with Attack on Titan. Though this series has lost a bit of steam as it entered its second season, the first season is explosive and brutal and amazing all at once, and it is best enjoyed with its original Japanese voice acting.
The reason for this is that the yelling and dramatic acting hit much harder in Japanese; we can't quite put our fingers on why, but there is something much more devastating about the dramatic high points in the sub than in the dub.
21 BETTER DUBBED: TRIGUN
Trigun is easily one of the coolest anime series of all time, standing as one of the best space western stories in all of pop culture. The series followed Vash the Stampede, a gunman with a huge bounty on his head for how much destruction he leaves in his wake.
We highly recommend watching this series in whatever way you see fit, but if we had to suggest which version, we'd probably go with the dub, since it's much funnier and Johnny Yong Bosch is a delight as Vash, as is the rest of the dub cast in their roles.
20 BETTER SUBBED: DURARARA!!
Durarara!! follows several characters as they deal with the goings on of Ikebukuro, a city plagued by crime, gangs and supernatural happenings. What makes this series so interesting is that the perspective changes with each episode, as though the plot is the character that encounters other characters as it unfolds.
One might think that this would result in a confusing series were one to watch it in Japanese with subtitles, but this really isn't the case. Not only is the sub of Durarara!! not confusing, it is also a great way to watch, and our recommendation for the series.
19 BETTER DUBBED: FAIRY TAIL
Fairy Tail is a series about Natsu Dragneel, a fire wizard of the Fairy Tail guild. He and his friends adventure and quest across the land, saving the world along the way. The series is a whole lot of fun and worth checking out if you want a magic-heavy One Piece.
As for which version to check out, we recommend the dub for two main reasons. First, the cast is great, each character feels unique and fun. On top of this, the dub makes the series easier for English-speakers to binge watch, which is necessary with its massive episode count.
18 BETTER SUBBED: BLUE EXORCIST
We've described Blue Exorcist as "Hellboy in high school" before, and that description still holds up. The series follows Rin, the spawn of Satan who aims to become a demon-fighting exorcist, and we recommend watching it with its original Japanese cast.
The harsh truth about why we prefer the sub is that the casting fits a lot better—each character's VA fits perfectly in the sub, their voices pairing nicely with the characters they're playing. In the dub, the VA's are very talented and put out some great work, but something about the casting choices don't quite fit to the characters.
17 BETTER DUBBED: 91 DAYS
Do you like gangster movies? Then 91 Days is for you. It tells a tale of revenge during prohibition, following Avilio Bruno/Angelo Lagusa as he infiltrates the gang that murdered his family in order to deliver justice to those who orphaned him. The acting is phenomenal in both the dub and the sub, but we're going to have to side with the former in this case.
Where other anime taking place in America might include some over-the-top accents, 91 Days dub is subtle, wonderfully acted and overall just top notch, the English VAs bringing the characters and setting to life.
16 BETTER SUBBED: FOOD WARS!
Food Wars! was the sleeper hit of the last few Anime seasons, coming out from under the radar to become one of the best series of all time. How should you watch this cooking-based Shonen series? We recommend the sub over the dub.
For one thing, the descriptions of and reactions to the food—which is a major comedic element of the series—work better in Japanese, and second, the acting in general seems to be a bit better in the sub, hitting all the right comedic and dramatic beats.
15 BETTER DUBBED: PANTY & STOCKING WITH GARTERBELT
Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt was designed after 90s Cartoon Network shows, coming off as a much dirtier version of them. As such, we think that the dub of the series is the superior version, since English is more fitting to the art style, which captures American cartoons perfectly.
Additionally, the dub gets a bit more creative with all the swearing and language that comes in this absurdly obscene and obscenely absurd anime, the voice actors giving hilarious performances that blow the sub out of the water.
14 BETTER SUBBED: LITTLE WITCH ACADEMIA
We were a bit torn on this one, since Little Witch Academia is wonderful in both Japanese and English, but we're going to have to go with the sub in this case. Though the dub of Little Witch Academia is just as wonderful, adorable and fun as the sub, the original fits the animation better.
You could say this about any anime since the animation is made for the Japanese dialogue, but with Little Witch Academia, which had Trigger's signature style, something just cliques better with the original voice tracks.
13 BETTER DUBBED: BLEACH
As we mentioned in our Trigun entry, Johnny Yong Bosch is a fantastic dub VA, and it's his voice that was the primary reason we decided that Bleach is better watched in English. Not only does Bosch have great range while portraying Ichigo, there are also a lot of other great cast members of the dub.
In addition to the great cast and acting, the Bleach holds a bit of a nostalgia factor for many fans, since it was a first broadcast on Adult Swim in America as a dubbed series.
12 BETTER SUBBED: DEATH NOTE
This was another tough decision, since the dub cast of Death Note gave a stellar performance, coming close to the quality of the dub. However, at the end of the day, the dub just can't compete with the sub, which has some wonderfully tense and emotional dramatic performances.
Perhaps the best example of this comes in comparing the final scenes of the dub and sub, Light's tragic cries of pain and his evil speech feel so much more guttural and hit much harder in Japanese.
11 BETTER DUBBED: NARUTO
How many of you Naruto fans grew up watching the dub on Toonami? This nostalgia factor played a bit of a part in our decision to say that the dub of Naruto is better than the sub, but there are a few other things that factored in.
For one thing, Naruto's English VA, Maile Flanagan, is a much better fit for the character, mainly because she captures his stubborn but friendly nature in giving him a grating but powerful voice. The voice of Sasuke, Yuri Lowenthal—who played Spider-Man in the PS4 game—is also a win for the dub.
10 BETTER SUBBED: ONE-PUNCH MAN
Though it has a superhero motif, One-Punch Man is a parody of the Shonen battle genre of anime and manga, subverting strong protagonist tropes by making Saitama too powerful to have fun fighting, which tends to be a Shonen protagonist's favorite thing to do.
Because the show is such a satire of anime and manga as a whole, the original Japanese dialogue seems much more fitting, not to mention the gags, comedic high points and satirized drama hit harder in the original version of the series.
9 BETTER DUBBED: SOUL EATER
Soul Eater is like Harry Potter, but if it was about a school that trained grim reapers rather than young wizards. As such, this anime is a great gateway series to get people into the medium, and if you're trying to get English-speaking newcomers to watch anime, dubs are much more accessible and palatable ways to introduce them.
In the case of Soul Eater, the dubs are well done and do a good job of bringing the same energy from the sub into the English dialogue, improving upon it with diverse voices and great performances.
8 BETTER SUBBED: JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE
JoJo's Bizarre Adventures is weird, and unlike the previously discussed Soul Eater, it isn't really a gateway anime. But for those who love to watch anime and are looking for a crazy series to obsess over, we highly recommend checking out JoJo in its subtitled format.
The main reason for this is that the crazy nature of the series feels more unique and fun in Japanese. However, another good reason to watch the sub is that characters with names based on American trademarks aren't forced to have their names changed, thus more is preserved in the original.
7 BETTER DUBBED: GURREN LAGANN
The two main characters of Gurren Lagann, Kamina and Simon, are reason alone to watch it dubbed, since in English, they are voiced by Kyle Herbert (voice of adult Gohan) and Yuri Lowenthal (the voice of Ben 10 an PS4's Spider-Man). The rest of the cast is just as great, and the English dub in general is the superior version of the fantastic series.
The cheesiness of the English dialogue actually works to the dub's advantage, since the series is an over-the-top subversion of cheesy mecha and Shonen anime, putting a lot of heart behind the insane, ridiculous action.
6 BETTER SUBBED: ONE PIECE
When discussing Fairy Tail earlier, we said that the dub was better for new viewers, since it was the best way to bing watch the series, which has an impressive episode count. Naturally, that would mean that One Piece, which has way more episodes, would also be better as a dub, right?
Well, yes and no. The dub is a bit more accessible for those trying to get into the series, but it's also inconsistent. By this we mean that after 4Kids stopped dubbing the series, new VAs were brought in, so if you want consistency, the sub is for you.
5 BETTER DUBBED: SPACE DANDY
Space Dandy was directed by the creator of Cowboy Bebop, Shinchiro Watanabe, and it reads like a more comedic, more outlandish version of it. Even more interesting, however, is that this series first aired in America before Japan.
Yes, the dub aired before the sub, a rarity that inclined us to choose the English version of the series. Additionally, the humor of the series worked better in the dub, and overall the English cast did a great job with the characters, which is why we recommend watching the dubbed version.
4 BETTER SUBBED: DRAGON BALL
Dragon Ball was more adventures and comedy-focused than Dragon Ball Z, thus, it wouldn't be that farfetched to assume that the Japanese VA's were cast with the intent of filling those comedic adventurer roles. Regardless if this is the case, the Japanese cast of Dragon Ball seems much more fitting to the early comedy-adventure days of the series.
This is why we recommend watching the original Dragon Ball series in Japanese, though both versions are great. Another reason to watch the subs is to get some variety in watching entries in the franchise, since we recommend watching DBZ dubbed.
3 BETTER DUBBED: DRAGON BALL Z
When it comes to the more popular entry of the Dragon Ball franchise, Dragon Ball Z is, without a doubt, much better in English. Sure, you can get the subs much faster, but the English voice actors fit the hard action and dramatic shift that Z marked in the story of Goku.
In other words, where the Japanese voice actors were cast for a comedy adventure, the English VAs were cast for an action series, and that's why their voices fit so well. Plus, we'd be lying if nostalgia didn't play a bit of a factor in this recommendation.
2 BETTER SUBBED: DRAGON BALL SUPER
Dragon Ball Z was pretty serious, but when Dragon Ball Super came around, comedy made a return to the franchise. As such, the original Japanese VAs felt right at home in the newest Dragon Ball Series, but that's not the only reason why we recommend the sub of Super.
For one thing, the series is finished in Japan; you can go watch it all now instead of waiting for the dub, which has only just begun the final saga. Another reason to watch the sub is to see just how dramatic Goku's Japanese voice, Masako Nozawa, can get in the role.
1 BETTER DUBBED: COWBOY BEBOP
Last, but certainly not least, we have Cowboy Bebop, an anime that is much more popular in American than in Japan. Because of this popularity, the dub is a much more fitting way to watch the show, but if you need more convincing, there are plenty of other reasons to watch the English version.
For one thing, the Quality of the dub is top notch, despite it being produced before our current golden age of dubbing techniques and the like. Second, there is just absolutely no beating Steve Blum's cool-as-ice portrayal of Spike Spiegel.