Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Catgirls in English Dubs + SWC Update!

Richard J. here! In honor of all the cats I've had as pets over the years and in the hope that the dogs trying to kill my last two will be caught soon, I decided to do an article on Catgirls in English Dubs. (It's okay to laugh.)

But first, a brief update on the Strike Witches Contest. The number of entries so far is low and the chances of winning are quite high, so get your entry in soon! Just click here to enter! Include your name and address, one entry per person/per address please!

Remember, I bought these with my own money just to give them away to YOU!

Now, back to the Catgirls!

What is it about Catgirls? Why are they so popular? Google gives us 220,000 hits for just the word Catgirls. Nothing to sneeze at. There are numerous websites dedicated to Catgirls and both and fan and official art enjoys depicting non-Catgirl characters as Catgirls. Even cosplayers love to throw on the neko mimi (cat ears) for fun and profit.

So why are they so popular? Perhaps it has to do with the legends of the Nekomata or the fact that many anime and manga fans worship Osamu Tezuka, who created one of the earliest depictions of a true cat girl in the 1950s. Or maybe we're drawn to them because they are related to the harbinger of political and economical doom, the dread Demon Cat. Perhaps it is just a sign of the love of cats in general. Did you know that in 2001-2002, there were 73 million owned cats in the US, with 3 out of 10 households owning at least one?

Regardless of the reasons, Catgirls are popular. And in English dubs, they require a special performance to really work right. A quality of feline virtue is needed to do them justice. Here, I will talk a bit about some of my personal favorite Catgirl performances.

First, I'll start with an old favorite.

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Aisha Clanclan is an example of the more Western ideal of a Catgirl. She's a wild, troublesome girl capable of ferocious violence but also playful. Hungry for adventure, emotional and very willful, Aisha brings a lot of spunk to the cast of Outlaw Star from the moment she's introduced. This 18-year-old Ctarl-Ctarl officer never hesitates where battle is concerned, displaying strength that Gene Starwind describes as that of ten men. Aisha even claims to be "immortal" at one point, though she's probably exaggerating the immense physical power of the Ctarl-Ctarl race.

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Aisha is voiced in the English dub of Outlaw Star by Selece Zan

Zan gives Aisha what is, in my opinion, a voice that will either grate your nerves or win your instant praise. She brings the sometimes childish Aisha to life in a way that many voice actors today never quite manage. Aisha NEVER sounds low-key or like her lines are just being read off a page. Every single line has force behind it, from her initial appearance where she tries to appear to be a strong-willed officer of the Ctarl-Ctarl Empire in charge of finding the Galactic Leyline, to her later appearances as a semi-destitute demoted officer to her incredible battles with the space pirates after the Outlaw Star, never do you doubt that the actress is enjoying herself. The performance Zan gives for Aisha never feels dull and ALWAYS adds a feline feel to her as she frequently adds purrs, growls, hisses and even the popular nyaa sound found in Japanese onomatopoeia. While her pitch can bother some, her emotional investment in the character is simply beyond question.

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If you don't already own Outlaw Star on DVD, consider picking up a copy! This is a classic series.

Next, let's look at a zany comedy series' answer to proper maid service.

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No one comes close to beating Ms. Sanada for employee of the year. Taking a scene-stealing role in the UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie franchise (they changed it from Princess due to Best Buy's request) Ms. Sanada is the Head Maid for the Valhalla royal family and a self-described lover of Valkyrie, the sometimes buxom adult, sometimes little child runaway princess of Valhalla. She never fails to squee over Valkyrie, even displaying a love for the fake Valkyrie Ghost in the second season and going to extreme measures to protect her princess. Ms. Sanada transformed an untold number of innocent girls into Catgirl Maids with her Cat-Girl Ray Gun in her first appearance and generally makes everyone wish they had such a dedicated servant working for them. She does however display signs of insanity.

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Ms. Sanada even dressed up like a super hero to try and help little Valkyrie. Bringing the crazed Catgirl Head Maid to vocal life is Christine M. Auten. The performance of Ms. Auten is a combination of devotion, insanity and pure motivation to do the best job possible. From the supportive side of Ms. Sanada, shown in her devotion to Kazuto, Valkyrie's beloved fiancé' to her rampages against anyone who dares to threaten the princess, Christine Auten gives Ms. Sanada a strong performance. The UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie franchise just wouldn't be the same without her. The delivery of lines, especially Ms. Sanada's frequent moans of woe and squees of joy just work so well. Though my personal favorite scene comes in episode 8 of the second season, when Ms. Sanada is trying to make it through a snow storm and has visions of little Valkyrie, adult Valkyrie and even Valkyrie Ghost in a what is both a strangely sweet scene and one hell of a les yay moment.

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All viewers should beware, Ms. Sanada will not only transform you into a Catgirl maid, brainwashed to love Valkyrie, she'll also forget your name. Still, you've got to admire her absolute devotion. Consider taking her home today.

Next up is a cat in a hat that could give Dr. Seuss's creation a heck of a fight.

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Blair the Witch, identified as a target for Soul and Maka in Soul Eater's first episode is quickly revealed to be just Blair the Cat. Although she does have "a ridiculous amount of magical power!" Providing a sizable portion of the series fanservice as well as showing off her magical powers of destruction when necessary, Blair's Catgirl quality comes through in her clearly catlike nature when in her human form. While not the most important character in the series, Blair's supporting role helps to add a bit of fun to otherwise deadly serious story arcs.

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Leah Clark voices Blair in the English dub and while lacking many of the more vocal components of a typical Catgirl, she delivers every line with a playful selfishness that many a cat owner can nod their head at. Blair comes across as a very aloof cat, very self-oriented. In human form she thinks like a cat and generally displays a cat's quality of sheer arrogance and seductiveness. Leah Clark's ability to deliver Blair's lines with a general playfulness and a teasing quality helps to make the character more likable despite her flaws.

Also, there is something about Clark's voice that really adds a feeling of depth to her roles.

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All in all, Blair is a sexy, arrogant and relatively dangerous Catgirl who shouldn't be taken too lightly. Hurting those she cares about, even if she only cares for selfish reasons, will get you smashed by pumpkins. Soul Eater is a series that revels in it's strange magical world, consider embracing this series soon.

Last by not least, let us take a moment to remember something.

There are Catboys too. Despite even government forms frequently listing "Catgirl" as a race, Catboys do exist.

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Oberstammführer Schrödinger significantly appears in the fourth Hellsing Ultimate OVA and rapidly proves to be almost unique in the series as a villain that actually survives contact with Alucard! More than that, he gets what seems like a certain death scene that actually can be a bit shocking, only to appear later with his cute shotaro face in an expression of evil glee. Dressed as a Hitler Youth, displaying a twisted loyalty to the Major and a taste for bloodshed that is truly disturbing coming from someone who looks so young and sweet, Schrödinger is an enemy with great potential. Holding the rank of Oberstammführer, roughly the equivalent of a warrant officer, in Millennium's Werwolf forces, Schrödinger enjoys sitting underneath the Major's throne like a pet. He appears in the Hellsing Organization's conference room to deliver a message in his role as envoy, flirts with Seras and gives Alucard a rare chance to fail to kill someone. His ability is self-described as being "everywhere and nowhere" making him a truly exceptional threat to London's defenders and a physics reference.

Now, if only someone could cut through the red tape and we could GET MORE HELLSING ULTIMATE!

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Not exactly helping male viewers avoid falling for a trap, Schrödinger is voiced by Laura Bailey in the English dub. Though frankly she sounds so different in this role I wouldn't have believed it was her if I hadn't read the cast list. The playful and perversely cruel personality, the sheer audacity of this Nazi Catboy, are given a decidedly wicked life by one of my personal favorite voice actresses of all time. Schrödinger's evil and humorous nature are just deliciously voiced by Laura Bailey who makes him utterly irredeemable yet somehow lovable. Every moment Schrödinger is around, he gives off the feel of a content cat, revelling in his love of war shared by the Major.

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Cute yet horrific, evil but affable, Schrödinger's smirk of cruelty reminds me of a cat that plays with a mouse. Fear him but respect him on DVD today.

Well, that's it for me! I hope you've enjoyed my look at Catgirls (and one Catboy!) in English dubs. Please take a few moments to consider entering my contest by clicking here and providing the necessary info! Stay tuned for a review or two before the end of the month!

Bye-ni!

7 comments:

  1. Catgirls are indeed quite fun! Sanada and Blair were both fun additions to the casts of their respective series'.

    I watched Outlaw Star back when I was a kid, and Aisha may have been the very first cat girl I ever saw, lol.

    I'll see if I can find someone to enter your Strike Witches Contest. Though I won't enter myself since I already got it. ^^

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  2. I haven't been watching any anime at all recently. It's a shame, I know. I swear that one of the shelves on my bookshelf is starting to bend from the amount of manga I keep adding to it. I will enter the contest though, as I remember Strike Witches received a glowing review, and I should at least give it a chance if I ever turn on my TV again.

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  3. @ Brazzlefrazz: That's the nice thing about this contest, even if you end up completely disagreeing with me about the series (entirely possible) you didn't spend any money! Works out great for everyone.

    Well, except me. My wallet, she suffers.

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  4. ExcelGenerationsJune 2, 2010 at 11:31 PM

    Yeah I can't enter the Strike Witches contest my brother owns it and I plan on getting it on Blu Ray when it comes out.

    My fav cat girl is Aisha by far :)

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  5. Selece Zan played another catgirl. Tigra from the 99'-00' Avengers cartoon. The Avengers: United They Stand. But shes created as Lenore Zann.

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  6. @ Andrew: I wonder if the casting director for The Avengers ever saw Outlaw Star? It would be so cool if that role helped her land Tigra.

    It's interesting how VAs, especially if they do both non-union and union dubbing, end up credited multiple ways. Sometimes it's just due to thinking a different name will land them more roles and sometimes it's so they can earn a living without having the union bosses come down on them like a ton of bricks!

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  7. @Richard: Doubt it. Outlaw would've been recording after the Avengers aired their first episode. I think. Or maybe around the same time.

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