JEDDAH: A team of three Saudi men in their early twenties have come together to put their passion for the Japanese language to use through dubbing projects, where they record over original Japanese material in Arabic, or vice versa.
Talal Abdullatif, Faisal Hamood and Amer Abdulrahman began Nabra Dub when Hamood suggested to his friends, who had all worked as individuals, to start a single platform.
In 2017, the three launched their YouTube channel, then moved to share their clips on Instagram.
“We started Nabra because we loved dubbing, or doing voice-overs, and we wanted to contribute and introduce something different to the world,” said Abdullatif, a 23-year-old electrical engineering graduate from Hail.
The trio have worked on dubbing projects for three years now, and have bonded over their love of Japanese animation and culture.
Their passion began during childhood as they discovered dubbed-over anime on TV channels like KSA 1 and Spacetoon. That introduction garnered their curiosity, and they began to research dubbing of their favorite anime series on popular forums and YouTube.
Abdullatif began taking online Japanese lessons, but he admits anime has helped him and his friends build their vocabulary. Through watching new episodes, they’d exchange new words together. “I’m still not fluent, and I’m learning every day through watching anime and educating myself on Japanese culture, simply because I love it,” he said.
Nabra Dub’s main focus is to provide anime content for Arabs, having created dubs for famous shows like One Piece and Noragami, while focusing on what is called ‘Alammiyah Albayda,’ a mixture of colloquial and formal Arabic that can be understood by many in the region, not just Saudi Arabia. They also enjoy diverting from anime and dubbing other works like video games and drama.
Most recently, one of their works circulated the web and was shared on social media. The dubbing group worked on a funny short clip from the infamous Syrian drama “Bab Al-Hara,” and Saudi audiences adored the well-executed result.
The mastermind behind the idea revealed himself to Arab News. “I’ve always been a fan of Mustafa Al-Khani’s acting and his quirky ad-libs with his character Al-Nims, especially his added lisp. I practiced on perfecting that way of talking, and transporting his mannerisms, and even the Syrian dialect, to the Japanese language,” Abdullatif said.
The group discussed trying out new things, specifically changing the dubbing process from Japanese to Arabic to the opposite — Arabic to Japanese.
After a short while, Abdullatif came across the “Bab Al-Hara” clip in Arabic and felt it was something that he had to do.
“To be honest, I expected people to like it, but I couldn’t imagine it would blow up to this extent,” he admitted. “This reaction from the audience who retweeted and shared the clip gave me motivation to continue dubbing, and I really hope we keep surpassing our own expectations in the content to come.”
Nabra Dub is admittedly a small collaborative effort between three young Saudis who work together during their free time — Abdulrahman and Hamood are each only 22, based in Qassim and Al-Kharj Province respectively, and are still students majoring in English studies.
Working hard amidst their other obligations, they try to upload three to five clips every month by majority rule, picking their favorite shows and scenes.
Abdullatif said that they were currently working hard on dubbing a full-length Japanese animated film, but he claimed it might take some time.
The group aspires to develop their team and reach higher levels in the future. “We want to partake in spreading Arabic content and Arab dubs in particular. We would love to collaborate and work with dubbing companies in the region, and together achieve that goal,” Abdullatif said.