Anime Voice Actors: Eight Facts About the Industry
One of the great joys of watching anime is enjoying the incredible performances of the voice actors that bring the characters to life. Here are some facts about your favorite anime voice actors.
- Japan’s voice actors are incredibly talented, and it can be quite hard to tell who is voicing which character. Did you know the voice of Takagi-san is also Megumin from Konosuba, and Emilia from Re:Zero? (Rie Takahashi) Or that Kirino, Azusa, Yuzu from Citrus and Hotaru from Dagashi Kashi are the same voice? (Ayana Taketatsu)
- Japanese seiyu often give up much to become professionals. At an event at Anime Expo, Haruhi voice actress Aya Hirano talked about how she had to attend a special high school for the entertainment industry, not getting to go to school with her friends. Could you give up years of your life for a dream like this?
- Japan’s voice actors are “talents” (a term that describes all actors, models, singers and so on), and are represented by talent agencies with names like Production A and 81 Produce. The idol agencies from Idolmaster accurately reflect the way this industry works behind the scenes, managing every facet of their members’ careers.
- While anime is a fun world, it’s not the best industry to work in, and according to a graphic I translated, the only people in the industry making high salaries are seiyu. Of course, this is only top-name stars who can do events and concerts, not the less-famous names.
- Actually, a professional voice actor has to work basically for free for years before they make any decent money. One of the top seiyu today is Saori Hayami, who exploded in popularity by voicing Ayase from Oreimo. Because she’s was still a relatively new face (and thus low on the payment scale), she earned just $27,000 for voice acting in 2015, though other income sources like drama and music CDs pushed her total income up to $80k for the year.
- In the industry, there’s a big line drawn between mainstream voice actors and those who perform in hentai anime and games. Mainstream seiyu sometimes do adult voice performances, but always under a different professional name. For example, I’m not allowed to tell you that famed voice actor Norio Wakanori plays the role of the father in our outstanding game Family Project, because that’s not the stage name he did that game under. So I totally wouldn’t tell you. Nope, my lips are sealed.
- There are a lot of anime series to watch if you want to learn more about the seiyu world, including Shirobako (five cute girls break into the anime industry) and Girlish Number (a rather cynical look at the industry). Another great show was Sore ga Seiyu!, a show in which real voice actors appear and give advice on how to make it in the industry.
- Anime voice actors are very nearly national treasure. The entire nation grieved when the voices of Lupin III (Yasuo Yamada) and Zenigata (Goro Naya) died. Similarly fans around the world came together in sadness when Hiromi Tsuru, voice of Bulma from Dragonball, passed away,
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