A friend of mine has been extolling the virtues of Ajin for a long time now. At last, I decided to give this Netflix Original a shot. Prior to this, I had watched Kuromukuro on Netflix and played around with the language options. (As my dear readers know, I love foreign languages.) The German voice actors performed decently–not that well, but it interested me enough to give the German dub of Ajin a shot from the very first episode.
Now, my experience listening to an anime in German is probably different from the way most of my dear readers would experience it. I know several dozen German words and have practiced the language on a beginner level. The overall effect is that German does not sound like gibberish to me–like pera-pera-pera or bar-bar-bar. (Pera-pera is the Japanese gion or onomatopoeia for speaking another language fluently. The Greeks thought that the words of foreign tongues sounded like bar-bar-bar, hence the word barbarians.) I can understand certain phrases and pick out various words.
I must say that I’m really enjoying the German dub. They do a great job. Whoever plays Mr. Sato, the sociopath struggling to create a separate state for Ajins, really hits it out of the park. Part of the reason I think he plays a good villain no doubt derives from the history of Americans having to fight Germans from the Hessians of the American Revolution to the World Wars. (My own ancestors were German Catholic immigrants from Hamburg who moved to Baltimore around the turn of the 18th century and took the side of the Patriots in the Revolution. But, due to Washington’s Crossing of the Delaware and the Battle of Trenton, the Hessian mercenaries rate higher in Americans’ historical consciousness than German Catholic Marylanders.) So, Germans–and, for that matter, Russians because of the Cold War–as easily fit the role of villains from the perspective of Americans as the Japanese would for the Chinese.
The other German dub actors who really excel are the ones who play Izumi Shimomura and Kei’s sister, Erika–I mean, Eriko. It’s rare to find voice actors in any language able to convey so much emotion in each word. Conversely, Dr. Ikuya Ogura is such a laid-back character that–as hard as the voice actor tries–I have trouble meshing the German language with his character. I’m sure that lackadaisical Germans exist–people having that character flaw can be found within any culture, but that attribute does not strike one as German.
German even fits the mood of the story very well–dark and focusing on the evils within human nature. The last anime to give me the impression of fitting so well with a language outside of Japanese or English was Claymore. (If you guessed that the language was French, you hit the nail on the head.) So, here’s my recommendation for you to watch Ajin in German or at least to try it out that way.
Have any of my dear readers come across anime which seemed to fit another foreign language more perfectly than Japanese?