*I have decided to do episode reviews of Laughing Under the Clouds in honor of Funimations new program, Broadcast Dubs. This is similar to the simulcast they did with Space Dandy, except the dubs are coming out a few weeks behind the original Japanese release. For the record, I watched this episode first in Japanese and then again in English, so I could compare the two.*
When I was looking at the list of new shows and deciding which ones I wanted to watch every week, I sort of dismissed Laughing Under the Clouds. It’s not that I thought it sounded bad, but it wasn’t something I wanted to watch week by week. I would rather watch it after it was aired. However with the advent of Funimation’s Broadcast Dubs, I decided to watch it airing.
Personally I find first episodes a little hard to judge. They always try to do a lot all at once and it can really mess up a person’s view of the show. Laughing Under the Clouds is just like any other show. It wants to show us it can do seriousness, but with comedy, one liners, mixed with a little character background.
I thought it did alright. It gave us a believable story. Japan, in the midst of westernization, is trying its hardest to clean the streets up and get the people in order. As a means to this end the government built a large prison in the middle of a lake and use the Kumoh family to ferry the criminals over to the prison. Laughing Under the Clouds does one thing extremely right: provide mystery. It raised questions about the prison, the Kumoh brother’s parents, and even about the relationship of the brothers to Shirasu, the not-servant-kinda-servant guy. I liked the characters, my personal favorite being Chutaro. Sora and Tenka are alright but I expect more growth from them will allow them to become very relatable characters.
I went into this English dub hoping for good things. Funimation has been doing pretty well in its dubs as of late and I was hoping this one would be no different. However, I didn’t find myself all that pleased with what I saw. At first I didn’t like any of the brother’s voices. Sora’s was the most off in the beginning and Tenka’s went back and forth the entire episode. I’m hoping it’s just a matter of settling into a role and they will get better as the series goes on. For example, Chutaro’s voice wasn’t that good at first but I believe it improved as the episode went on and is actually pretty descent. Sadly, Chutaro’s voice in Japanese is perfect so it was hard to like anything other than Tsubasa Yonaga (the voice of Nagisa from Free!).
Another thing I noticed about the dub was that they changed some dialogue from the original in a weird way. I know it won’t be taken word for word from the Japanese but some scenes felt completely different, and wrong, because of the changes. One example is the narrated part near the beginning where the narrator sets the time period for the show. In Japanese this part feels very optimistic about Westernization; however in English this part seems very worn down and unhappy with the changes occurring in Japan. Changes like this were few in number and really only near the beginning so I’m not too worried, but I will keep an eye on it from now on.
I’m looking forward to watching Laughing Under the Clouds each week. (And I do intend for reviews to come out every week) It has a rather interesting premise and a pretty relatable cast of characters, so far. It will be interesting to see how the show develops week by week.
Rating: Two wooden protecting swords up!