Watching the new Zelda trailer live on the Switch presentation was pretty incredible.
The art, the vistas, the explosions, the new character designs.
Yep, Zelda has voices now. That’s new.
Some fans have been crying for voice acting in Zelda for years now. Others — myself including — were skeptical. Zelda had a style. I liked that style. I’m an old decaying lump of flesh and I’m resistant to change, but when I first heard that voiceover during the Switch presentation I fell in love. Yes, this adds a sense of drama and scale. Yes, this adds weight and a new layer of top notch production values.
Now my body (my ears at least) is ready for voice acting in a Zelda game.
But then something funny happened. I was so excited about Breath of the Wild that I wanted to show people — my wife, my family, my friends — the trailer. And that’s when I noticed.
That’s when I noticed that the Japanese voiceover had been replaced with an English voiceover.
That’s when I noticed that the English voiceover sounded, um… bad. Really bad.
Actually it’s more complicated than that.
When I watched the trailer for the first time — with the Japanese voiceover — I was floored. The aesthetic, the art direction, the dialogue, the voice acting… it all suggested this sweeping, Ghibli-esque adventure with an unparalleled production values for Nintendo.
Crucially, I found myself really moved and affected by the section towards the end, where Zelda is crying and where the King is pleading for Link to rescue his daughter. This is what I had hoped for — great performances, impact, drama.
Then I watched it in English and it had all the drama of a damp fart.
It’s almost certainly because I’m a complete Weeb. I make my goddamn CHILDREN (who are too young to read) watch Ghibli movies with the subtitles. That’s how out of place and painful English voice acting is to me when it comes to anime. The interesting thing about Breath of the Wild is that it’s so Ghibli-esque similar feelings seem to apply. I wouldn’t play Final Fantasy with Japanese voiceover and English subtitles, but Breath of the Wild inspires the same instincts in me.
If Nintendo provides an the option, you’re damn straight I’ll be playing Breath of the Wild with it’s Japanese voiceover.
I know, I get it. 100% it’s the end result of decades of cultural conditioning and snobbery, but I can’t help myself. The connections in my brain exist and I can’t listen to the English version of Breath of the Wild with cringing involuntarily.
It sounds worse. I don’t know why. It just does.
It makes the dialogue worse. It makes the drama seem less impactful. It makes the writing seem corny. I know that makes zero sense, but it’s in my bones.
Am I alone here in this weirdness?