I was really looking forward to this. A Japanese historical drama based on one of the great Chinese historical novels, what could go wrong? How about the English language dub where they didn’t have the Japanese scripts to adapt, just a synopsis? How about white actors dubbing over with exaggerated ‘Asian’ accents? How about a huge cast where it becomes difficult very early on to get the list of names straight in your head?
With the last one, I had this issue with Game of Thrones, but the show was good enough for me to persevere and end up learning them through osmosis. With the other two on the list… well that made The Water Margin pretty hard to watch to the point where some of it was more than a bit cringe. I guess this was done with good intentions, but now it just feels racist and incredibly misjudged. Shame how it seems to show that this wasn’t written using actual scripts, it just compounds some of the issues that I had.
Maybe the fact that, even with these problems removed, there is still a chance that The Water Margin would still not grab me. Like with movies, I am so used to modern television doing these big ensemble television shows well (even if Game of Thrones ended incredibly poorly) that this show just feels inferior. It is interesting to see a drama like this from another country, I just wish that 1970s Britain did more justice to it.
I know there is one more English dub I have from this list – Saiyuki which is based on Journey to the West. I am hoping that a decade of social progress and a smaller more concentrated cast list will make it more palatable than The Water Margin. This also hasn’t put me off, one day, reading the books or from playing the Suikoden computer games based on the same story. At least those won’t have the affected accents.