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Playing Kingdom Hearts in Japanese is Just Kinda...Different

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As I've been working my way through Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix this past week, it occurs to me just how much I dislike the Japanese cast of the games in the collection—which, given how bad English dubs can be, is pretty surprising. But it isn't that the Japanese voice actors aren't good, rather it's that I miss the Disney voices I grew up with as a kid.

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One of the main reasons Kingdom Hearts is so successful is that it is driven by childhood nostalgia—be that Disney nostalgia or Final Fantasy nostalgia. Watching how these Disney worlds diverge from their usual stories because of the inclusion of the Heartless and our main characters is a good 50% of the series' fun. But without the voices we've come to know and love, everything seems more than a little off.

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Some characters, like Mickey and Donald—and to a lesser extent Goofy—sound remarkably like their English language counterparts. And yes, Donald is just as hard to understand in Japanese as he is in English.

Of course, when playing the Japanese versions, these similar voices only serve to make the completely different voices of other characters seem all the more jarring

Many characters just end up with generic voices. Scrooge McDuck, for example, sounds like a stereotypical old man in Japanese with no hint of a Scottish brogue.

And as for the original, non-Disney Japanese cast, while none of them are bad, none of them quite live up to the big Hollywood names attached to the English version of the game. I personally love Haley Joel Osment as Sora, and the inclusion of Christopher Lee as Diz is a real treat.

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Of course, as these are the normal Japanese voice actors for these Disney characters in Japan, I'm sure the English voice track would sound just as strange to Japanese. But, you don't have to take my word for it. Check out the video above to see for yourself.

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DISCUSSION

Timnicebutdim
Timnicebutdim

Okay, Christopher Lee as Diz is pretty damn cool, but the JP voice actor has a great voice (very similar) as well. Also, the JP voice cast for Organization XIII TOTALLY blows the entire English voice cast out of the water, so I don't agree with your assessment about the non-Disney voices.

As for the Disney ones, I think they've found really great sound-alikes for a lot of the characters (Hades being one of my favorites) and they're generally close to the original English voices.

So yeah, the Disney voices win in English, but the non-Disney ones are better in Japanese. Overall, I'd say the JP voice cast takes the cake.