Friday, 20 January 2017

The Dutch Donkey Kong Country dub, or On Voice Acting

For the longest time I have been obsessed with voice actors and their work. As my boyfriend shares the passion, perhaps even more than I do, the passion has been re-ignited. He focuses on the English ones, I on the Dutch ones. Of course, the Donkey Kong Country show, being an object of a very long obsession for me, is a main object of research.

Voices can make or break a movie. Notable are the various versions of Disney films - as far as I know, Disney films sound great in any language. Dutch dubs are a lot better than most people give them credit for. Even if there are obvious budget cuts in certain placed (Cartoon Network kind of seems to cheap out, not translating or even dubbing songs, changing actors out every few episodes, randomly changing character names after a season, etc... though that might just be a certain few shows.) The acting itself, however, is usually of high quality, or at least good quality.

Donkey Kong Country in Dutch is a mixed bag. Sometimes it's good, other times it's bad. But the voice actors definitely put in a good amount of effort. But since the VHS tapes are very, ridiculously hard to get ahold of... it's hard to determine it fully. I will be talking about some characters whose English and Dutch voices are both known to me.

Above; all the Dutch-released Donkey Kong Country TV show material I have thus managed to find. This picture is gonna be used in internet memes... I just feel it.

The ones that stand out are Donkey Kong (Bart Bosch) and King K. Rool/Koning Wreed (Jan Nonhof). These two actors appear quite regularly in animation, especially in the late 90's and early 00's. (The former is also a singer - which isn't too weird when you consider Donkey Kong sings a lot) and the latter had roles in a lot of cartoons I watched in my youth. But more on him later! Join me after the jump to learn more of this vaguely interesting subject...

Diddy Kong, in Dutch, presumably voiced by Stan Limburg (determined by ear) proves a good performance but it lacks the pep that Andrew Sabiston from the English dub has. In the Japanese he's voiced by a girl (Megumi Hajashibara) which suits his youthful vigor, and in the French version he was voiced by what sounds like a little kid (Hervé Grull, apparently... I'm just working with what this graph gives me;)

Though I ask myself one thing - why didn't the English dub have such credits?! There's so much uncertainty about who voiced whom in the dubs, it drives me bananas! Ah well.. I am planning once to watch a bunch of other cartoons which starred the English voice actors and figure it out from there. As... soon as I find the time and am not lazy as all heck...

But anyway, Diddy appears to sound different in every language. The exact opposite is Bluster, who sounds exactly the same everywhere. Bluster's voice is pretty easy to get right. Diddy's, however, is not.

DK, in the English dub alternating between Richard Yearwood for his speaking voice and Sterling Jarvis for his singing voice. The latter fact only surfaced quite recently -- the difference is subtle. Yearwood's DK is one of my favourite DK portrayals. He has a relaxed, nice guy attitude among him. Jarvis' performance is usually hailed even by people who hate the show as a saving grace, for his singing voice is really, really good.
In Dutch, his voice is provided by Bart Bosch, a frequent face in 90's animation. He gained notoriety as Aladdin in all of Disney's material starring him (yep, all of it.) Early episodes has him sounding a bit forced but he gained some footing later in the show (from the six episodes I have, that is.)

Bluster is a character who rose in popularity as the show gained notority. Applauded for his Canon Foreigner traits and the fact that he's just really dang funny. He, together with Eddie, also has the honour of having two action figures in his likeness.

I don't usually want to meme, but here's a meme.

In English he's allegedly voiced by Donald Burda, a man who otherwise mainly plays in very serious live action material and some other cartoons. Why they chose mr. Burda for such a role is a big question mark for me, but he gives a good performance anyway. His Bluster is pompous and bratty but still suave at times, which suits the character. In Dutch he is almost quite definitely Fred Butter. I determined this by noting that he sounds almost exactly like Melman the giraffe in Madagascar, who was voiced by this man. The Dutch dub gives him the same pompous voice, but does not really possess the suavity as much. Since Leo Luster came after the show got dubbed, I guess Suave Dutch Bluster will always be a thing of dreams.

King K. Rool, my favourite character as a Weird Teen, voiced by Ben Campbell in English and Jan Nonhof in Dutch. Campbell is a fairly recurring voice actor who has a very deep voice, suiting K. Rool fine. This particular portrayal of the villain is more petty than in the games, and he has a sense of childishness in his acting at times, which really complements the character.
In Dutch, he sounds similar, but even more pompous. The voice suits him perfectly. If you're Dutch, you've heard Nonhof before. He's a very common voice actor, mostly known as Squidward from Spongebob fame (he sounds more nasally than the English one but this is not about Spongebob sorry) and Meowth from Pokémon, until he gave up the role after creative differences. (video in Dutch)

Klump and Krusha, also amusing bad guys, are a subject of much dispute. Many people believed the late Len Carlson provided the voice of Klump but after a long time of research, my boyfriend found out that Carlson actually voiced Krusha. Comparing Ganon from the Legend of Zelda cartoon with Krusha, especially in the episode Speed, found out an unmistakable similarity between the voices. So it'd only make sense! Yet many sites still seem adamant in crediting Carlson as Klump. As well as believing the show has 2 seasons while it actually has 3... ah well. As for Klump, I'm not sure who voiced him in English. Shame on me.

There are more but these stood out most to me!

I plan on posting more about the cartoon in the future, so keep your eyes and ears and other body parts peeled for ramblings of the DK sort!

Also, will perform morally unambiguous tasks for Dutch Donkey Kong VHS tapes. Like what? I dunno. Plumbing or something. They earn way too much money.

Gezocht; Donkey Kong Country videobanden. Ben bereid goed te betalen. Beschadigingen geen bezwaar.

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