In 2004 I had been a dedicated dub fan for some six years, starting around 1998 with titles like Slayers and Ranma ½—and, sure, Pokemon. For a dub fan that year, it was not an unusual resume. Others may have come in with ADV’s Neon Genesis Evangelion, or Animaze’s Cowboy Bebop and other titles on Cartoon Network’s Toonami and adult swim blocks. Some were dub true-believers still rolling from the 80s or early 90s. This was still a period of rapid growth in the fanbase, corresponding with the boom of the domestic market beginning from the turn of the decade and the introduction of DVD. That exploding DVD market—when a single anime release could encompass both language tracks—and that influx of fans new and old, as well as Internet technology, saw phenomena like The English Track forum, forming in 2001. One of the first of its kind online, by 2004 it was a crucial resource for the veteran, the newly minted, or the curious dub fan to meet others—as well as industry personalities—and to share and hype and help sort through the glut of titles coming out every month.
It’s an environment not likely to be seen again in the anime marketplace, or anime fandom. There was good and unique material coming from nearly all corners—when there were, in fact, more than only two or three corners. One year into its golden age, and one year from the peak of the domestic industry, and the dubbing industry it supported, it was a very good year.
On the following pages Kory Cerjak, Christopher Homer, Greg Smith, Mastilo von Plume, Darius Washington, and myself offer takes on many different titles, from many different dubbing studios, to form a snapshot of what was happening during that time, from the vantage of ten years later, in a landscape now very much different.