Thanks to Sohtak for the inspiration!
Japanese all the way.
I’m going to sound like a mega weeb…but fuck it whatever.
Japanese VAs put WAY more power and emotion into their acting! It makes scenes far more powerful. Take for instance Noctis’ meltdown
Noctis is full of RAGE and FRUSTRATION and you can feel that.
Or take (Oh boy here we go) this scene from LR.
English – https://youtu.be/_7YUbIFweUE?t=2m56s
Japanese – https://youtu.be/TjGk8up7M4Q?t=3m04s
Or the scene between Snow/Hope in 13.
English – https://youtu.be/SOimFY_yjYo?t=3h19m26s
Japanese – https://youtu.be/uTYHhncnTKc?t=8m52s
Or 13-2 when Noel confronts Caius
English – https://youtu.be/Zy0co_tk_z8?t=5h44m28s
Japanese – https://youtu.be/bM3flNT-lUI?t=15m11s
I mean, can you really say the Japanese speech isn’t more impactful? I suppose you could but it’s not even about understanding the language as much as the TONE. You don’t have to SPEAK Japanese to hear anger, sadness, frustration or happiness.
English VA’s tend to phone it in “Aaaaaa I’m angry” vs Japanese VAs who like….fucking SCREAM to display anger you know?
Do the Japanese put way more “power” and “emotion” into their voice acting? I agree with Sohtak that, yes, they definitely have more oomph in their voice when they act. There’s a lot of ham in the Japanese versions. The English version sometimes sounds flat.
But there’s a reason for this. Square Enix is a Japanese company and makes the game for the Japanese first. It’s what they know. Using their models to match their voice acting is why Square Enix has Western localization teams instead of Japanese ones.
Once the localization team translates a Final Fantasy game to English, the voice actors have to match their lip movements. Japanese, when translated literally, can have words with multiple syllables spoken very quickly. English localization team, for example, have to devise a script that’ll match the mouth flaps. The voice actors have to read the word at the appropriate time to match the lip flaps.
To our ears, the English voice acting sounds stilted. Same for Japanese ears.