This is a legitimate question. I'm not trying to mock anyone's opinion. I'm looking for a serious answer.
I play a lot of Atlus games, and one of the things I hear most often is something along the lines of "I wish Atlus would include a dual audio option. I want the original Japanese voices."
Now let me ask something. What exactly does that mean? Does it just mean the first voices recorded? To explain further, let me use two Atlus games as an example. Devil Survivor: Overclocked and Catherine.
Devil Survivor: Overclocked is a very rare case (the first for Atlus, I believe) of a game that came out in the states first. Granted, only by a couple days, but the game was released in English first. Do you prefer the English voices because they would be the original voices, or would you still prefer Japanese voices because these are all Japanese characters and it would be more realistic?
On the exact opposite side of the coin, we have Catherine. Catherine was released in Japan first and so the Japanese recordings were first and would be considered the original. But these are all American characters who realistically would be speaking English.
Or do neither of those points really matter at all and some people just automatically want Japanese voices because they think they sound better (I've noticed even acting considered pretty bad in a foreign language is still often praised by English audiences)
Thoughts? (from anyone, not just people who prefer Japanese acting)
My experience is less with games, and more with anime, but I think the reasoning will hold firm in both cases.
I don't much care for subtitles; they draw my attention away from the action on screen, even if only briefly. Sometimes, though, they're a necessary evil, especially in games, where you'd rather not play through the whole cutscene again just to clarify a word here and there. That said, I really, really hate English dubs, and very much prefer the original Japanese, subtitled. It took me a long time to figure out why -- embarrassingly long, in fact, as the answer really is there in plain sight, if you give it a moment's proper thought (which I guess means that my thoughts weren't proper or something. wut).
Japanese game makers make Japanese games for Japanese people.
"Yeah, no shit."
No, hold on.
Japanese doesn't sound like English. It really couldn't be further removed from the Latin and Germanic conventions that form our language base. The syntax is almost exactly backwards ("That kitten is adorable," versus, "As for that kitten over there, adorable, to be."). Aside from the 'n' sound, there's not a single consonant in the language that doesn't come with a vowel attached to its ass. The cadence is a much more pronounced staccato that pretty much any western language with the possible exception of pure German and some of the harsher Slavic languages.
But it doesn't end at the language barrier -- the idealized archetypal heroes of Japanese history and myth are revered as powerful warriors as well as
verbose poets and learned philosophers. This comes across plain as day when you watch many of their action flicks, where the hero and the villain have themselves a calm gloating match just before laying into each other with their gimmick weapons of choice, and pause frequently in the heat of battle to recap, in brilliant detail, why each is the cleverer or stronger, and sure to win.
The language and culture barriers are deep and wide in those two senses, and while there have been a few examples lauded as triumphs of translation, it really is a monumental task to take such disparate styles of dialogue and try to make one sound like the other. What you usually get instead is a stumbling mess of failed lip synch, whose clumsiness is only made more starkly obvious when there are plethorae of "named techniques," and the dubbing company decides to leave the original Japanese names in there.
EKUZIBITTO NAN-BA WAN: A memorable scene from a popular anime about samurai ghosts:
Do it. Sit through the whole thing. [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdsAVqx75rA]
Isn't that a clumsy mess of Japanglish? Of course, in the original Japanese, "full release" and "a ten thousand cherry blossoms" translate to, well, "full release" and "ten thousand cherry blossoms," but in that dub, the listener is jarred by the sudden use of alien words: words that are likely alien even to the poor guy saying them. They don't make sense, because they're taken out of their natural context, and to make things worse, they still come out smoother than the almost necessarily Shatner-esque delivery of the badass boast [http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BadassBoast] coming from the calm antagonist.
Now, of course, for some folks reading is just not their strength. For others the actual properties of spoken word are a non-starter. For those folks dubbing is just fine, but me, I'm a language nut (SPOILER), and so listening to some poor schmuck -- who might do fantastic voice work in a more conventional setting -- stumble over terrible lip movement in the source material and nigh-arbitrary language changes in the script, makes me cringe. Games or TV, doesn't matter: dialogue is dialogue, and the same hurdles to translation exist in each.