Every once in a while, the kids and I watch local productions of animated shows (AKA Malaysian cartoons). The ones we watch are Boboi Boy and Upin & Ipin, so keep this in mind when reading the rest of this post. I might be unaware of other cartoons that don't have the issues I'll talk about here. Also, keep in mind that I'm talking about the English-language versions of the shows.
First off, I have to commend Las Copaque and Animonsta - EXCELLENT graphics. Proof? The kids will sit for an entire half hour, completely riveted. I also like the injection of Malaysian elements like the kampung settings and the multi-racial characters.
My one beef?
The voice acting.
I'm cringing as I write this. Mostly because I don't want to discourage people from watching - we should support the local art scene! But I have to mention this weakness in our animation industry so that they can improve. Some of the voice acting is amateur at best, and pretty much unintelligible at worst.
I get that they want to inject some "Malaysian spirit" into the characters' speech, but overdoing the accents is NOT the answer.
I also get that they want to save on their budget (my father noticed the voice actors are the directors themselves - but they're no Seth McFarlane!). However, voice acting is not something to be scrimped on! That's just not the best way to cut corners, especially when the animation goes regional or international.
I think we should look at Dora the Explorer and Handy Manny as examples. They manage to introduce Spanish culture and language without resorting to heavy Spanish accents. Instead, they introduce Spanish phrases throughout the show, with English translations. My kids learned to count in Spanish, thanks to Handy Manny, who, incidentallu, is voiced by Wilmer Valderrama...a legit TV actor in his own right. Clearly the casting for Handy Manny was a big part of the budget, and rightly so. That cartoon is hella famous now!
All I'm saying is, there is room to improve when it comes to this area of our animation industry. The standards need to be higher. Maybe hire people with acting or voicework experience? I'm thinking comedians like Harith Iskandar, or radio announcers like JJ & Ean.
I won't stop watching, though. And I know a lot of Malaysians won't. We'll continue to support our local productions. But when it comes to showcasing these shows internationally, it would be great to have productions with international standards on all aspects.