Minority representation for minority characters in Voice acting

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Re: Minority representation for minority characters in Voice acting

Post by Sadala Elite » Sun Jun 28, 2020 4:46 pm

I thought that when it comes to dubbing foreign shows anything goes when it comes to casting.

There definitely should be more non-White VAs in the American voice acting industry, however, casting becomes a practical issue when dubbing a show/movie into a certain language for a certain country.

For example, lets say you're trying to dub an American tv show with a mostly Black & White cast (but no Asians) into say, the Korean language for South Korea. If VAs should only portray characters of their own race, how would you handle the casting? Just how many professional Black & White actors that are fluent in Korean are out there?

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Re: Minority representation for minority characters in Voice acting

Post by Sadala Elite » Sun Jun 28, 2020 4:47 pm

jjgp1112 wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 11:10 pm
Ringworm128 wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 10:57 pm
The problem with the "It takes away roles" argument is that it implies minorities are only able to voice characters that represent how they are in real life.
You are missing the forest for the trees here. Minority actors have trouble finding roles, period - and casting white characters to play someone of color makes it even doubly worse. Even the roles that 100% align with a black person are being taken by a white person, oftentimes doing a caricature of how that ethnic group generally talks.

Like it's hard enough for a nigga to get a job here but now a nigga can't even play a nigga, neither?

chill, I'm black
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Re: Minority representation for minority characters in Voice acting

Post by TheBlackPaladin » Sun Jun 28, 2020 5:05 pm

Sadala Elite wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 4:46 pm
I thought that when it comes to dubbing foreign shows anything goes when it comes to casting.

There definitely should be more non-White VAs in the American voice acting industry, however, casting becomes a practical issue when dubbing a show/movie into a certain language for a certain country.

For example, lets say you're trying to dub an American tv show with a mostly Black & White cast (but no Asians) into say, the Korean language for South Korea. If VAs should only portray characters of their own race, how would you handle the casting? Just how many professional Black & White actors that are fluent in Korean are out there?
Historically speaking, one's ethnicity hasn't been taken into account in dubbing projects. That's starting to change a little bit, and whether or not that's an issue depends on which dubbing company you ask. Netflix tends to prefer actors portraying characters of their own ethnicity in their dubs, whereas other companies don't care as much.

As far as more non-white VAS in the American voice acting industry...oh, trust me, there are plenty of 'em! You just don't hear their names because the biggest challenge they face--as I have been coming to learn over the past few weeks--is that they don't often even get auditions unless the audition specifically requests non-white voices. The unofficial ("implicit bias") default for many casting directors has been to ask for white actors. In other words, these casting directors aren't deliberately excluding POC, they're just used to requesting white voice actors unless they've been instructed--or are instructing--otherwise.

And you're absolutely right, casting is going to be trickier now, even in dubs. If I were the casting director in the situation you described, here's the stance I would take. I would be OK auditioning actors (including white actors) for characters that are not of their ethnicity if four very specific conditions were met:

1) It has to be a dub. In a dub, you're translating one culture's story for another culture anyway, which I feel gives people some leeway with regard to ethnic casting. It's not like a German dub is being racist by casting German actors in their German dub of a show featuring non-German characters. I feel the same logic applies to an English dub. On the other hand, anything that is domestically-produced, like a domestic cartoon or video game, a much stronger effort would need to be made to cast the appropriate ethnicity.
2) The ethnicity of the character would have to not be of particular importance in the context of the story. So, like, no white voice actors playing a real-life Asian historical figure in a dub of a show about that historical figure's life. Fictional characters whose ethnic background isn't of importance to the story are fair game.
3) Other colored actors have to have been given the opportunity to audition. No automatic exclusion of non-white actors for the audition process.
4) The scripts cannot call for the actors to put on an accent that isn't their own, or perpetuate a racist stereotype in how they speak.

If all those conditions are met, I don't see the problem in casting actors who are not necessarily of the ethnicity of the characters they're playing. Otherwise, the far bigger takeaway here is that way too many non-white voice actors are getting shut out of auditions for roles that they'd be perfectly good at performing, and a far greater effort needs to be made to include them.
A "rather haggard" translation of a line from Future Gohan in DBZ, provided to FUNimation by Toei:
"To think of fighting that is this fun...so, it was pleasant fight, as many as, therefore is a feeling which is good the fight where."

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Re: Minority representation for minority characters in Voice acting

Post by WittyUsername » Sun Jun 28, 2020 5:34 pm

When I stop to think about it, I’m pretty sure a lot of voice actors would be put out of work if anime and video game dubs were to only allow actors who happen to match the ethnicity of the characters they play. I’m not so sure that would be the proper way of addressing inclusion in the field of voice acting.

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Re: Minority representation for minority characters in Voice acting

Post by JulieYBM » Sun Jun 28, 2020 5:45 pm

WittyUsername wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 5:34 pm
When I stop to think about it, I’m pretty sure a lot of voice actors would be put out of work if anime and video game dubs were to only allow actors who happen to match the ethnicity of the characters they play. I’m not so sure that would be the proper way of addressing inclusion in the field of voice acting.
You're giving more Japanese and Asian American actors work. White people can take the hit for once.

Hell, this is why we need a UBI.
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Re: Minority representation for minority characters in Voice acting

Post by WittyUsername » Sun Jun 28, 2020 5:51 pm

JulieYBM wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 5:45 pm
WittyUsername wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 5:34 pm
When I stop to think about it, I’m pretty sure a lot of voice actors would be put out of work if anime and video game dubs were to only allow actors who happen to match the ethnicity of the characters they play. I’m not so sure that would be the proper way of addressing inclusion in the field of voice acting.
You're giving more Japanese and Asian American actors work. White people can take the hit for once.

Hell, this is why we need a UBI.
I mean, are anime voice actors usually known to be well off? If not, then I don’t think it’d be fair if all those people lost one of their major sources of income.

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Re: Minority representation for minority characters in Voice acting

Post by TheBlackPaladin » Sun Jun 28, 2020 6:05 pm

WittyUsername wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 5:34 pm
When I stop to think about it, I’m pretty sure a lot of voice actors would be put out of work if anime and video game dubs were to only allow actors who happen to match the ethnicity of the characters they play. I’m not so sure that would be the proper way of addressing inclusion in the field of voice acting.
Indeed, most of the responses from POC voice actors has been that they just want more opportunities. Most of the POC voice actors I've seen have said, in light of the Cleveland re-cating for Family Guy, that that's not what they meant. One went as far as to call it a hollow gesture that will not meaningfully address the challenges they face in the industry. Rather, what POC voice actors have wanted are the same auditions--not even necessarily the roles, but the auditions--that are going to white actors by default. Sure, going the route of 100% ethnically correct casting would put white dubbing voice actors out of a fair deal of work and create more opportunities for Asian voice actors, but it would also put black voice actors out of a fair deal of work. And Latino voice actors would be borderline-unemployable for anime dubbing since there are very few Latino characters in anime.
Last edited by TheBlackPaladin on Sun Jun 28, 2020 6:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
A "rather haggard" translation of a line from Future Gohan in DBZ, provided to FUNimation by Toei:
"To think of fighting that is this fun...so, it was pleasant fight, as many as, therefore is a feeling which is good the fight where."

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Re: Minority representation for minority characters in Voice acting

Post by JulieYBM » Sun Jun 28, 2020 6:06 pm

WittyUsername wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 5:51 pm
JulieYBM wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 5:45 pm
WittyUsername wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 5:34 pm
When I stop to think about it, I’m pretty sure a lot of voice actors would be put out of work if anime and video game dubs were to only allow actors who happen to match the ethnicity of the characters they play. I’m not so sure that would be the proper way of addressing inclusion in the field of voice acting.
You're giving more Japanese and Asian American actors work. White people can take the hit for once.

Hell, this is why we need a UBI.
I mean, are anime voice actors usually known to be well off? If not, then I don’t think it’d be fair if all those people lost one of their major sources of income.
No, corporations dodge paying their workers a living wage. Everyone is getting fucked, but that is a separate issue.
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Re: Minority representation for minority characters in Voice acting

Post by ABED » Sun Jun 28, 2020 6:20 pm

TheBlackPaladin wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 6:05 pm
Rather, what POC voice actors have wanted are the same auditions--not even necessarily the roles, but the auditions--that are going to white actors by default.
This is a great concrete idea. We know the problem but what we need now are solutions or at the very least ideas for solutions that we can debate.
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Re: Minority representation for minority characters in Voice acting

Post by MyVisionity » Sun Jun 28, 2020 6:22 pm

ABED wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 8:01 am
Given that the audience likely won't know who is voicing the characters of the shows they watch, I think that gives good reason to make opportunities for minorities more readily available.
I'm not sure if I follow exactly. How is that a good reason to make more opportunities for minorities? How does the audience knowledge factor in?

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Re: Minority representation for minority characters in Voice acting

Post by WittyUsername » Sun Jun 28, 2020 6:29 pm

JulieYBM wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 6:06 pm
WittyUsername wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 5:51 pm
JulieYBM wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 5:45 pm


You're giving more Japanese and Asian American actors work. White people can take the hit for once.

Hell, this is why we need a UBI.
I mean, are anime voice actors usually known to be well off? If not, then I don’t think it’d be fair if all those people lost one of their major sources of income.
No, corporations dodge paying their workers a living wage. Everyone is getting fucked, but that is a separate issue.
Still, since that’s the case, I think it would be counterproductive to just get rid of 90% of the anime and video game voice acting industry, specifically because they aren’t Japanese/Asian. Besides, I’d imagine that quite a few lawsuits would result from such a thing.

I will repeat that I absolutely do agree that more diversity in the field of voice acting would be nice, but the answer isn’t to just clean house to the nth degree. If the people who worked at places like FUNimation and Bang Zoom were Hollywood celebrities who could live comfortably without having to do anything, then maybe it would be a different story.

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Re: Minority representation for minority characters in Voice acting

Post by JulieYBM » Sun Jun 28, 2020 6:45 pm

WittyUsername wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 6:29 pm
JulieYBM wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 6:06 pm
WittyUsername wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 5:51 pm


I mean, are anime voice actors usually known to be well off? If not, then I don’t think it’d be fair if all those people lost one of their major sources of income.
No, corporations dodge paying their workers a living wage. Everyone is getting fucked, but that is a separate issue.
Still, since that’s the case, I think it would be counterproductive to just get rid of 90% of the anime and video game voice acting industry, specifically because they aren’t Japanese/Asian. Besides, I’d imagine that quite a few lawsuits would result from such a thing.

I will repeat that I absolutely do agree that more diversity in the field of voice acting would be nice, but the answer isn’t to just clean house to the nth degree. If the people who worked at places like FUNimation and Bang Zoom were Hollywood celebrities who could live comfortably without having to do anything, then maybe it would be a different story.
Honey, you're still passing up Japanese American actors for the sake of White people. Weird, status-quo sustaining decisions isn't going to get shit done. Demanding shit without compromise gets shit done.
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Re: Minority representation for minority characters in Voice acting

Post by TheBlackPaladin » Sun Jun 28, 2020 6:54 pm

JulieYBM wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 6:45 pm
Honey, you're still passing up Japanese American actors for the sake of White people.
Again, it's worth considering that white people wouldn't be the only demographic sealed off from that work if dub casting was 100% ethnically accurate. Black actors would be barred from it, as would Latino actors. For that matter, if we're going to be as specific as saying that they have to be Americans of Japanese origin, that also excludes Americans of other Asian origins (Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, etc.)...which goes against the inclusion that most POC actors are seeking. I don't mean to speak on their behalf, of course, but the one phrase I keep hearing over and over again is that they just want to be able to audition for the same things white actors are auditioning for.

Plus, if 100% ethnic accuracy became a requirement for dubs, then that leaves plenty of other countries in a super-awkward position.

There's nothing wrong with at all with an ethnically diverse cast, and clearly a greater effort needs to be made across the board for that. However, from the feedback I've observed from POC actors, becoming 100% politically correct about ethnic casting goes against the very thing that POC actors are asking for.
A "rather haggard" translation of a line from Future Gohan in DBZ, provided to FUNimation by Toei:
"To think of fighting that is this fun...so, it was pleasant fight, as many as, therefore is a feeling which is good the fight where."

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Re: Minority representation for minority characters in Voice acting

Post by jjgp1112 » Sun Jun 28, 2020 6:57 pm

When the alternative freezes out most people from a pretty big section of what is already not the greatest paying profession, compromises would have to be made for anime.
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Re: Minority representation for minority characters in Voice acting

Post by JulieYBM » Sun Jun 28, 2020 7:15 pm

TheBlackPaladin wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 6:54 pm
Again, it's worth considering that white people wouldn't be the only demographic sealed off from that work if dub casting was 100% ethnically accurate. Black actors would be barred from it, as would Latino actors. For that matter, if we're going to be as specific as saying that they have to be Americans of Japanese origin, that also excludes Americans of other Asian origins (Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, etc.)...which goes against the inclusion that most POC actors are seeking. I don't mean to speak on their behalf, of course, but the one phrase I keep hearing over and over again is that they just want to be able to audition for the same things white actors are auditioning for.

Plus, if 100% ethnic accuracy became a requirement for dubs, then that leaves plenty of other countries in a super-awkward position.

There's nothing wrong with at all with an ethnically diverse cast, and clearly a greater effort needs to be made across the board for that. However, from the feedback I've observed from POC actors, becoming 100% politically correct about ethnic casting goes against the very thing that POC actors are asking for.
I don't think it's inappropriate that we hold corporations--even in Japan--to the slightly higher standard of asking themselves "is it really appropriate to be casting a White actor as a Black character?" I'd like the same thoughtfulness placed into casting other types of minorities, after all. Minority images, words and voices are always unduly influenced by the cishet and able-bodied White-controlled capitalistic system that mainstream media is already produced under, the have that bore down not just to the executive level but down to the actor cast yells yikes to me. Decoupling minorities from their representation in media just sounds on face value extremely insulting.
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Re: Minority representation for minority characters in Voice acting

Post by TheBlackPaladin » Sun Jun 28, 2020 7:35 pm

JulieYBM wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 7:15 pm
TheBlackPaladin wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 6:54 pm
Again, it's worth considering that white people wouldn't be the only demographic sealed off from that work if dub casting was 100% ethnically accurate. Black actors would be barred from it, as would Latino actors. For that matter, if we're going to be as specific as saying that they have to be Americans of Japanese origin, that also excludes Americans of other Asian origins (Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, etc.)...which goes against the inclusion that most POC actors are seeking. I don't mean to speak on their behalf, of course, but the one phrase I keep hearing over and over again is that they just want to be able to audition for the same things white actors are auditioning for.

Plus, if 100% ethnic accuracy became a requirement for dubs, then that leaves plenty of other countries in a super-awkward position.

There's nothing wrong with at all with an ethnically diverse cast, and clearly a greater effort needs to be made across the board for that. However, from the feedback I've observed from POC actors, becoming 100% politically correct about ethnic casting goes against the very thing that POC actors are asking for.
I don't think it's inappropriate that we hold corporations--even in Japan--to the slightly higher standard of asking themselves "is it really appropriate to be casting a White actor as a Black character?" I'd like the same thoughtfulness placed into casting other types of minorities, after all. Minority images, words and voices are always unduly influenced by the cishet and able-bodied White-controlled capitalistic system that mainstream media is already produced under, the have that bore down not just to the executive level but down to the actor cast yells yikes to me. Decoupling minorities from their representation in media just sounds on face value extremely insulting.
I agree in principal that we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard when it comes to being sensitive to what minorities want, but what most of the minority actors that I've heard speaking about this issue have said is that they want more opportunities, not just opportunities restricted to their specific race. Black actors don't want to just be able to audition for black characters, Latino actors don't want to just be able to audition for Latino characters, etc. That approach is more exclusive than inclusive and appears--from what I've heard and observed, at any rate--to be the opposite of what they're asking for. So it appears to me that, if we really want to be sensitive to their inclusion, that means letting them audition for characters that don't necessarily 100% line up with their ethnic background.

Admittedly, certain actor ethnicity/character ethnicity combinations make me uncomfortable, with the white actor/black character easily topping that list. However, there are plenty of black, Latino, and non-Japanse Asian voice actors who would love to be in anime dubs, and they wouldn't be allowed to do that if the casting process was 100% literal about the ethnic background of the characters.

We also have to take into account that minority representation in dubs is a particularly trickier subject, since we're already crossing cultural barriers by creating an alternate-language version of a foreign show that has been localized for the...well, local audience. Like, take the Disney movie Pocahontas for example. There's literally only one area of the world where the tribe of Native Americans that Pocahontas belonged to are found, and that's the United States. So I don't think it's racist, at all, for other countries, when it came time to record the various different dubs of Pocahontas, to not have realistic access to Native American voice actors who also fluently spoke the various different languages the movie was dubbed in.

So, all that to say, when we're talking about minority representation, it's worth considering that most minorities are asking that we be less literal about all this so they can have the chance to have voice acting roles that they are normally not considered for.
A "rather haggard" translation of a line from Future Gohan in DBZ, provided to FUNimation by Toei:
"To think of fighting that is this fun...so, it was pleasant fight, as many as, therefore is a feeling which is good the fight where."

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Re: Minority representation for minority characters in Voice acting

Post by ABED » Sun Jun 28, 2020 7:42 pm

MyVisionity wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 6:22 pm
ABED wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 8:01 am
Given that the audience likely won't know who is voicing the characters of the shows they watch, I think that gives good reason to make opportunities for minorities more readily available.
I'm not sure if I follow exactly. How is that a good reason to make more opportunities for minorities? How does the audience knowledge factor in?
Because they don't know who's voicing the character. All the audience knows is what they hear and if they are responding to the character. Opening up the potential talent pool is nothing but beneficial.
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Re: Minority representation for minority characters in Voice acting

Post by jjgp1112 » Sun Jun 28, 2020 7:45 pm

Yeah, I think casting minorities to their corresponding roles is merely the first step in the current climate - a correction, basically. But I think once we're in a place where people are getting their foot in the door more fairly, from there people should be able to mix things up. The beauty of acting period, but especially voice acting, is anybody can dive into a role and do the necessary work and research to excel at it and make it their own. It's acting, after all!

But when white people are such a default that they're being considered first even for characters of color, the first fix is phasing that out for a while.
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Re: Minority representation for minority characters in Voice acting

Post by JulieYBM » Sun Jun 28, 2020 8:14 pm

TheBlackPaladin wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 7:35 pm

I agree in principal that we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard when it comes to being sensitive to what minorities want, but what most of the minority actors that I've heard speaking about this issue have said is that they want more opportunities, not just opportunities restricted to their specific race. Black actors don't want to just be able to audition for black characters, Latino actors don't want to just be able to audition for Latino characters, etc. That approach is more exclusive than inclusive and appears--from what I've heard and observed, at any rate--to be the opposite of what they're asking for. So it appears to me that, if we really want to be sensitive to their inclusion, that means letting them audition for characters that don't necessarily 100% line up with their ethnic background.

Admittedly, certain actor ethnicity/character ethnicity combinations make me uncomfortable, with the white actor/black character easily topping that list. However, there are plenty of black, Latino, and non-Japanse Asian voice actors who would love to be in anime dubs, and they wouldn't be allowed to do that if the casting process was 100% literal about the ethnic background of the characters.

We also have to take into account that minority representation in dubs is a particularly trickier subject, since we're already crossing cultural barriers by creating an alternate-language version of a foreign show that has been localized for the...well, local audience. Like, take the Disney movie Pocahontas for example. There's literally only one area of the world where the tribe of Native Americans that Pocahontas belonged to are found, and that's the United States. So I don't think it's racist, at all, for other countries, when it came time to record the various different dubs of Pocahontas, to not have realistic access to Native American voice actors who also fluently spoke the various different languages the movie was dubbed in.

So, all that to say, when we're talking about minority representation, it's worth considering that most minorities are asking that we be less literal about all this so they can have the chance to have voice acting roles that they are normally not considered for.
I don't argue that minority actors can't play, say, White actors. That's punching up if anything. I think it is concerning when you're casting Phil LaMarr as Samurai Jack, though, unless I'm missing something about the character and performer here.

I know as a trans person I would be upset if a cis person were to voice a trans character. Hell, the main character in Yuu Yuu Hakusho sexually assaults a trans woman (played by cis actress Mayama Ako) and misgenders her. Would that kind of bullshit be allowed if the character wasn't played by a cis person? What if we applied that question to other types of minorities?
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Re: Minority representation for minority characters in Voice acting

Post by TheBlackPaladin » Sun Jun 28, 2020 8:38 pm

JulieYBM wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 8:14 pm
I don't argue that minority actors can't play, say, White actors. That's punching up if anything. I think it is concerning when you're casting Phil LaMarr as Samurai Jack, though, unless I'm missing something about the character and performer here.

I know as a trans person I would be upset if a cis person were to voice a trans character. Hell, the main character in Yuu Yuu Hakusho sexually assaults a trans woman (played by cis actress Mayama Ako) and misgenders her. Would that kind of bullshit be allowed if the character wasn't played by a cis person? What if we applied that question to other types of minorities?
It's absolutely a question we should be asking minorities, and we should listen to their answers. Some of their answers can be surprising, though. Personally, as a white guy, I'm not comfortable with the existence of a baseball team named the Redskins and figured that most Native Americans would find that horribly offensive...but by many accounts, most actual Native Americans don't care. I also thought the term "African American" was more respectful than "black," but I'm hearing more and more that "black" is preferable for numerous reasons (not the least of which is that not all black people identify as being African in origin).

In other words, it's a continued dialogue we should be having, rather than going off of assumptions of what they do and don't find offensive. If most don't find something offensive, that's also something we need to keep in mind. So, as someone who hasn't watched the show, I can't say whether Asians have found it offensive that a black man plays Samurai Jack--maybe they do, maybe they don't--but I'm more than willing to listen to them about that if they want to have the conversation, because listening and having a dialogue are probably the two most immediately appropriate things that white people can do at this point in our history.
A "rather haggard" translation of a line from Future Gohan in DBZ, provided to FUNimation by Toei:
"To think of fighting that is this fun...so, it was pleasant fight, as many as, therefore is a feeling which is good the fight where."

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