Canadian Anime Dubs

canadian anime dubs

Ah Canadian television, particularly Canadian animation, what’s not to love? Gravitating to animated shows as a kid, I was greeted with many iconic Canadian-animated shows; reboot, 6teen, just to name a few. Amongst the slew of canadian-produced shows, created with the purpose of satisfying the CRTC’s (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) Canadian content law, I also got to enjoy many Canadian-dubbed anime shows, shows which are also eligible to satisfy the Canadian content law, generally, due to their dubs being produced in Canadian studios.

Perhaps it is my childhood bias, but I have always preferred Canadian dubbed (typically shows licensed through Viz Media and Bandai Entertainment) anime over Funimation’s studio dubs. Some famous Canadian dubs include, but are not limited to: Inuyasha, Death Note, Hamtaro, Dragon Ball Z Kai. Definitely some significant names here, additionally, you can check out this list of Ocean Productions studios’ works (and the Alberta studio, Blue water studios), for more.

While googling if, in fact, Canadian anime dubs satisfied the Canadian Content Law, I came across many interesting discussion across the web, primarily from the early 2000s, about Canadian anime dubs, YTV, and the like, and I intend to archive them for everyone’s viewing pleasure (and just to keep the information alive, as well).

Prior to Bionix TV block, on YTV, it seems like one of the only anime to be enjoyed by Canadians, at the time, was Inuyasha, which had still aired later in Canada than it’s earlier US air date, despite being dubbed within Canada. Of course, there was a time before 2004 and Inuyasha that anime had it’s time on TV in Canada, but I distinctly remember the post-Inuyasha era, so that is what I will be focusing on.

Following an article, from the anime news network, explaining that Inuyasha was the most searched term on Google in April 2004, a discussion forum (arc) sparked conversation between Canadians, that were tuning into Inuyasha, whilst wanting more anime on TV. They noted the various anime dubs produced in Canadian dub studios, how Inuyasha was helping YTV meet the Canadian content Law quotas, and suggesting airing more anime would both help out the network to meet those quotas and satisfy a growing audience for the medium, looking for more anime on TV. The forum discussion moves to a user, who now appears to run the anime podcast Zannen, Canada, suggesting that everyone suggest shows on the teletoon website.

forum post screenshot, a user suggests recommending various anime to the teletoon network

The forum post in question, suggesting that people can potentially help get more anime on TV by suggesting shows to license, to teletoon.

What’s interesting about this is that Gundam SEED and Fullmetal Alchemist, specifically, ended up being amongst the shows played on the Bionix TV block, which would debut on YTV, that same year, following the forum discussion, that fall. I would like to believe these efforts, by animenewsnetwork user “Pepperidge”, and others, are the reason I was able to enjoy FMA and many other anime on the Bionix TV block, as a kid. For better or worse, I got into anime at a young age.

I’ve learnt a lot about the history of Canadian anime dubbing throughout the years, mostly just through googling shows I watched on TV growing up, and pondering about the CRTC regulations (no different from this evening), and think articles, such as this one, do a good job covering the basics. The known benefit for companies choosing to use Canadian dub studios is that it is cheaper. The Canadian dollar is cheaper than the US, amongst other things. While this advantage is what motivated most companies, financially, it seems that the dub studio’s, Ocean Productions, owner, did not think the economic benefits were good enough, and decided to find loopholes in differing provincial laws to open up a studio in Calgary, to find a way to pay the voice actors less.

a forum post discussing the reason for the opening of Blue water studios

Discussion over at the kanzenshuu forums, discussing Ocean Productions’ studios. In addition to this discussion forum, there are many other places that discuss this reasoning for the opening of the Calgary studio.

In more adventures from the 2000s web, an article exists for YTV on The article brings up YTV’s shift in branding, upon being acquired by Corus, stating “YTV began to use a Nickelodeon-style "gross-out" factor in its branding, with much less slime, with its mantra (and former slogan) being ‘Keep It Weird'.” A youtube channel, with the name Keep it Weird, seems to have it’s origins with this post, and it seems to be a project archiving YTV content from the early-2000s era, bumpers and the like.

Unrivaled Nostalgia

It seems that YTV embraces this nostalgia themselves, with it’s nostalgia based merch line being called the “Keep it weird collection”

YTV nostalgia aside, the DBZ YTV page also mentions YTV’s attendance at Animenorth “Live action show hosts have also done interviews in Anime North, most of the guests being voice actors for popular animated shows on the channel. “ This likely refers to Anime north 2003 and 2004, as a similar thing is mentioned in the animenewsnetwork forum discussion from earlier. “YTV did seem to be at ANorth this year, I think I recognized one of their VJs -- but it wasn't Sugar. At least they weren't shoving themselves in people's faces this year. *phew!*” I wonder who the host was, possibly Carlos Bustamante (Beloved YTV figure) as he was often on TV in 2004. YTV seems to have been further involved in hanging around at Anime North, as this clip from their sunday morning block, Crunch, features a bit on cosplay. In addition, Carlos and Sugar attended AniRevo 2016.

Anyways, Canadian Anime dubs are a fascinating topic, especially since companies creating media under the CRTC for Canadian Content Law quotas are often eligible for government grants, leading to a great question, did the Canadian tax dollar not only go to Inuyasha, but also for the short-lived Gintama dub? Truly, much to think about.

I enjoy discussing everything in this article, and am especially interested in talking about 90s-2000s Canadian animation, so feel free to reach out to me if you want to chat, or have any questions I *might* be able to answer. This article was fun to write so I definitely intend to write more on YTV, Canadian television, and the “Canadian anime industry” in the future. If you are interested in further places on the web discussing the Canadian anime industry, I recommend, the aforementioned, Zannen, Canada and I Miss Bionix.