The recent anime I’ve been watching is HunterXHunter, because the dub came out and I got a recommendation from a friend to start watching. It’s been airing on Toonami, and I’ve been enjoying the show a lot, but the slow crawl of a week to week watch schedule has never been my jam, and considering it’s a long running shounen anime, not much has happened during it’s air run. So my friend who got me into the show asked the other day if on Netflix, subtitles could be read with my screenreader, and I was like “I don’t know, let’s see!” and went to test it out, and it works!
I realized after testing this, that I had seen subtitles being read by my screenreader before: It was when I was watching Daredevil, and sometimes when I would scroll on a certain part of the screen, it would read some subs. It was super annoying to me then because the show was in English, so I dismissed it, but now seeing that it also reads on Japanese anime with English subtitles, I’m super stoked! Now I can watch anime that hasn’t been dubbed over yet, or like I’m doing now watch ahead in anime I’m watching that’s dubbed, and never in my life have I been able to do that! I legit am beyond excited that technology has advanced to the point where the blind and visually impaired can watch things along with their sighted peers, if they want to!
There are a few cons to the system, in my opinion: It doesn’t automatically read the subtitle on the screen, and you have to keep scrolling up and down, up and down, and check to see if the subtitle has moved. I’d really like for Netflix to have a function where you can somehow turn automatic reading of subtitles with a screenreader on, or something, but that’s a minor thing that’s easy to deal with. Once I got how the cadence of the Japanese language went, it was easy to tell when one phrase, or sentence finished, and I could pretty easily approximate when the next subtitle would come up. So I didn’t have to just keep on scrolling up and down, up and down, and re-reading the same sub three or four times during viewing. Another minor complaint of mine, is that sometimes the longer subtitles don’t appear on one line, so you also have to scroll down to see if the sub is split up between two lines, or one. Not sure if that’s normal for subtitles when you’re sighted, but it’s a tad annoying when you miss what someone said because the sentence is split between two lines.
You have to stay on the tab to and just watch, which is a little meh to me but I know that that’s just par for the course with anyone who is watching a subtitled show. For me, I like to watch anime while I’m doing other things, so not having the option to have it on and have the reader automatically read the subs, once again I think would solve that issue.
All in all though, I’m glad this option for watching anime has been brought to my attention. It’s just so so so so exciting that subtitles can be read with a screen reader, when way back in the early 2000s, and heck, even sooner than that blind anime fans just had to wait for the dub of the show to come out. The fact that this is on such a major streaming platform as Netflix, is also very exciting: I really hope that Crunchyroll will follow Netflix example, and make it’s site more accessible to the blind. I guess I need to hop over there and try it out though, you never know what’s accessible out there!
Right now I’m eight episodes ahead of the broadcast dub of HunterXHunter, and it’s just such a cool feeling to be able to watch the dub to catch things I may not have caught in the subbed version, and enjoy the show in both ways. I’ve typed exciting in this post so many times, because honestly AHHHH it’s so amazing to be able to have subtitled anime be available for me to stream!