About

zack

Zack Davisson returned to Seattle, WA after several years of living abroad in Osaka, Japan, where among other things he trained as an Izakaya cook, worked as a teacher and translator for Osaka University, wrote articles and reviews for two national magazines.  He also completed his Master’s Degree in Japanese studies, writing his thesis on Japanese ghosts.

He has also served as a “pop culture expert” for National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” and was selected as one of six reviewers selected for Amazon.com’s Holiday Customer Review Team for 2008.

He currently works as a freelance writer and translator.

Some of Zack’s articles:

Some of Zack’s other work:

Zack’s page for Translated Japanese Ghost Stories

Zack’s Column on Comics Bulletin

Zack is also a Top 50-ranked Amazon Reviewer:

If you’d like to have your Japan-themed product reviewed here on Japan Reviewed, you can send an e-mail to me at:

 zack.davisson (a) gmail.com

 . Please do not send any unsolicited review copies.

Zack’s and other Japan-related blogs can be found at Japan Blog List

14 Responses to “About”

  1. Kristin Says:

    Hi. I saw that you reviewed the DVD “Christmas Cartoon Classics” on Amazon and I was wondering if that DVD has any kind of copyright on it. Thanks!

  2. Zack Davisson Says:

    Hi Krisin,

    Yeah, as far as I know those cartoons are all public domain without copyrights. The DVD itself might have some sort of copyright, but the cartoons don’t . That is why they appear on so many different collections.

  3. Kathleen Says:

    Hi Zack-
    I see you reviewed Paranoia Agent on Amazon.com. I love that series and am considering purchasing the rather pricey box set… but wanted to ask someone first – Is it dubbed? If so, was the dubbing done well? The bar was set high by Spirited Away — the fine actors who did the dubbing. I’ve only seen PA with subtitles. While I can deal with that fine — I would love to be able to sit back and enjoy the visuals instead of reading the subtitles…
    So what did you think?
    Thanks in advance for your advice.

  4. Zack Davisson Says:

    Hey Kathleen,

    Honestly, I never listened to the dubbing, so I can’t really answer your question. I know there definitely is a dubbing on the DVD set, but I can’t comment on how good it is.

    Sorry!

    ZACK

  5. Kaz Says:

    With regard to dubbing – what *is* your position on that? I can’t watch dubbed anime; I’ll buy some of the DVDs to support bringing more and better (not solely what is perceived to be mainstream) anime to this country, but the subs on an “official” sub are often mere dubtitling; the English dub written out – CC’ed if you will.

    Subbed, at least genuine subtitles, are different, they adhere to the Japanese and don’t dumb it down for the North Americans or cut whatever out that doesn’t fit – I genuinely can’t watch dubbed anime; I know I’m not seeing the real thing, and even something like Miyazaki’s Spirited Away (not really the title but that’s what they call it in English) is so much more in Japanese, or at least a good subtitling – fansubs are typically much better because the studio producing the dub is spending their money on the DUB – their audience is comprised of the people who “don’t like to read” – there are those who can’t and that’s an entirely different thing, but the dubs are made for those who prefer to not read while they watch.

    Even if ruins the anime and turns it into nothing more than a “better” cartoon.

    Kristin, the “fine actors” and the ones who did the original audio. Try to get a good subtitle and watch it again. Some passing familiarity with Japanese helps, but even without it, you should be able to enjoy it so much more – voice actors are chosen very carefully in anime; it’s on the same level in terms of “quality” as live action – some of the highest grossing movies in Japan have been anime rather than live action.

    What’s your take on this, Zack? Why should we pay for dubs we don’t want – why don’t the companies who do this understand that 100’s of thousands of people here just want a good sub; provide that on a per episode basis and I’ll pay for it without any complaint.

  6. Zack Davisson Says:

    Well…without (hopefully) sounding snobby or anything, because I can speak Japanese I don’t tend to pay too much attention to either the subtitles or the dubs, unless it is out of curiosity about how certain phrases were translated. I do tend to leave the sub track running, and I never watch the dubs unless it is just to check them out for a review.

    Things are always going to get lost in translation, and I don’t personally consider the subtitle track to be more “pure” than the dubbed track. As long as they convey the plot and intentions of the story they are successful. The only problem comes when they are badly done. If they put care and attention into making the dub then that is just as good as a well-done sub. I see it as a matter of personal preference.

    There will never be a perfect translation. This is just as true when English films are translated into Japanese. Sometimes I get a laugh at the Japanese subtitles because they fail to completely convey the spoken English, but realistically subtitles have to be flashed at a certain reading rate which means some information is going to be lost.

    That said, I think the company Animeigo does the best job in the business with subtitling. They use two subtitle tracks, an upper and lower, to convey both the spoken dialog and the cultural clues that might otherwise be lost. They have mostly gotten out of the anime game though, and concentrate on live-action nowadays.

    Also, I must confess I don’t really know what you mean by “just a “better” cartoon.” Cartoons are all anime are. There is no real different between Japanese and American animation. There are good and bad productions from both countries, and I watch and enjoy both. I am just as happy putting on “Samurai Jack” as “Samurai Champloo,” or “The Venture Bros” or “Batman: The Animated Series” or any number of excellent American animations.

    You also mention that “Spirited Away” is not the “real” title. What do you consider the real title? “Sen and Chihiro Spirited Away?” It’s not really a huge difference, and the one is shorter and catchier. They do the same thing in Japan, re-title American movies to appeal to a Japanese audience.

    I do agree with you that I don’t want to pay for a dub I will never watch, but packing them both together obviously makes sense for the DVD producers. All Funimation DVDs default to the English dub, so I assume that must be their target market. I don’t know about these “100s of thousands waiting for a good sub.” There is a much wider audience for dubs than subs I would imagine. A lot of people come to anime from the Cartoon Network and such, and they are more used to hearing the dub.

    Either way…I still think it is just a matter of personal preference. If someone wants to watch the dub instead of the sub, more power to them! As long as they are enjoying some cool anime, I don’t see that it matters how they are enjoying it!

  7. Taka, Sushi and Passion, Atlanta GA « Food Near Snellville Says:

    […] loud crowd in a tiny eatery. Further, it hearkens to the tendency in Japan to very small eateries. Zack Davisson, for example, is open about the lack of personalized eateries, so often seen in Japan. So yes, Taka […]

  8. Dogeza Risa Says:

    Hi,
    I was moved with your great review about Kewpie Mayonnaise at Amazon.
    And I ask you your understanding and cooperation
    about this big problem:

    The huge LIE on Midori Ito
    http://midoriitos.blog133.fc2.com/blog-entry-31.html

    I respect lots of experiences you had in Japan.
    Thank you very much.

  9. tanya broadbent Says:

    I’m relieved to see your review of the Toshiba sdk 1000 dvd player with 1080p upscaling (!!!) specifically that it WILL play Japanese Region DVD’s. (For real and for true? It will?!?)

    So maybe you can help me again? How can i find a Japanese Language DVD of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland? Not just subtitled howsomever, but in the language?

    Your site is fascinating. I’m happy to have found it.
    tanya

    • tanya broadbent Says:

      Nevermind…i just grew a brain. I CAN get it on amazon but with shipping it’ll be $46.76. A little out of my league. Drat my baltic luck. Still loving your site though.

  10. Zack Davisson Says:

    Hi Tanya,

    Where did you read my DVD review? I haven’t reviewed a Toshiba model. My review is for the “Philips- DVP5990 – Multi Region DVD Player 1080P – upscaling.”

    http://www.amazon.com/review/R6LEJRIWC7ERD/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm

    That is the only DVD player that I own, and yes, it plays Japanese DVDs just great. People have had varying experiences with it though, so be careful. I have had mine for over two years with no problems, others have had theirs for a few weeks and had them break.

    Also, since Philips does not “officially” make a region-free player (meaning someone has hacked this one) they don’t offer any technical support or returns for breakage.

    And getting a copy of Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” dubbed in Japanese is really simple. Just buy it off of amazon.co.jp!

    http://tinyurl.com/2wyopkq

    Ordering DVDs from amazon.co.jp is pretty pricey, mainly in the shipping costs which can be as much as the DVD itself. But I don’t know of any other cheaper method of getting them, other than taking a trip to Japan and coming back with a suitcase full of DVDs!

  11. Nic Says:

    Hey Zack, just wanted to say what a great site this is. I just can’t believe where you get the time to churn out so many quality reviews. Enjoyed your take on Hetalia which was introduced to me by some students who are into cosplay. Keep up the great work. Cheers, Nic

    P.S. Can you suggest any good sites for picking up Japanese DVD’s? There’s lots of stuff that I like that never makes it out of Japan.

    • Zack Davisson Says:

      Thanks Nic! I really appreciate your comments!

      Japanese DVDs eh? Most of the time I just use amazon.co.jp…the shipping is expensive, but just like American amazon you can’t beat their selection and often their price. I have looked at yesasia.com before, but I have never ordered from them.

  12. Jon Says:

    Zach,
    I am saddened to hear you are no longer at Quorum! I for one will miss you. Mayhaps we can keep in touch and discuss Comics, Japan, Movies, and Pop Culture.

    Take Care,
    Jon


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