Naruto episodes can be subbed or dubbed, or they can be both.
With its not-so-humble beginnings in the Shonen Jump Manga, Naruto is an anime created in Japan–in other words, a Japanese cartoon. Since Naruto is both written and animated in Japan, the character voices are performed in Japan, as well. Thus it is not surprising that the original character voices are recorded in Japanese.
Before Naruto episodes are aired for viewing on television networks, on on dvds in the United States, the characters are re-voiced by English-speaking voiceover actors. These episodes are now called dubbed because new voices have been dubbed over the originals.
If you are new to Japanese anime and unaccustomed to the Japanese language, as I was when I first started watching Naruto, then you’ll probably prefer to watch the dubbed episodes. That way, you’re hearing it in your own language, and there’s no communication barrier.
Subtitling is done for two main reasons:
- to enable persons who are hard of hearing to understand what the characters on the program are saying, and
- to enable persons who speak a different language from that of the characters on the program to understand those characters.
This second reason is why Japanese anime are subtitled–so that English-speaking fans can understand what the characters are saying even when the characters are speaking in Japanese.
Although not necessarily a main reason for its development, subtitling can also be useful for individuals who want to watch movies or television programs at a time when their partner or children are sleeping.
Sometimes Naruto fans enjoy watching the program with the original character voices–in Japanese. If they don’t understand Japanese but don’t want to wait for the dubbed episodes to be released, they will probably want subtitling for the show.
“Subbed” is the term that is short for “subtitled”. When a film or television program is subtitled, the words spoken by the characters are typed into a graphics generator that makes the words appear as text on the bottom of the television screen when the program is viewed.
The website for Viz Media–the U.S. liscensor for Naruto–releases subbed episodes for fans to view as streaming video. This is done the Thursday following their release in Japan. It is interesting to note the difference in translation / subtitling between this official Viz Media episodes and fan-subbed episodes, which tend to be less “bland,” for lack of a better term.