#71 – Seiyuu castings, earnings & everything in-between

I read Otsuka Akio’s book Seiyuu Damashii recently. It’s not so much a tell-it-all on the industry as it is a primer for wannabe seiyuu on what they should and should not do to survive in the business, but it does reaffirm a lot of my general thoughts & opinions about the industry.

There are a lot of misconceptions people – not only fans, but aspiring seiyuu themselves, have about the seiyuu industry. These cover everything from salary expectations to the casting process to the role of agencies & managers. I am by no means any expert nor do I have any juicy insider information to impart, but here’s getting down in writing stuff that is swimming in my brain.

Warning: Extremely tl;dr, Unorganized Great Wall of Text follows. My thoughts, not necessarily yours.

Casting & Auditions
・Let’s go through the casting process, roughly:

1. Preliminary consultation meetings involving authors, producers, sponsors, director & sound director
2. Sound director contacts agencies to let them know about auditions (if any)
3. Auditions are held
4. More meetings held to discuss & finalize casting
5. Agencies are notified of the decision

・Auditions can take place any time from more than a year before, to just a couple of months away from airtime. In most cases, auditions are only for the main characters. Supporting roles are usually left to the sound director’s discretion.

・The most important considerations in casting seiyuu for anime: budget constraints & keeping those damned producers & sponsors happy. In an ideal world directors would cast experienced, top-ranked seiyuu, but not every show has a budget the size of One Piece’s. Hence the trend of casting ‘popular’, fresh seiyuu who are still within junior ranks and earning peanuts.

・There are two main ways to determine seiyuu castings – the ‘hard-coded’ castings demanded by authors, sponsors and producers, and those that are done through the traditional audition system. Sometimes, the cast can already be in place before a sound director is even hired.

・The author does have a big say in casting. Hata Kenjiro for example, specifically asked for Shiraishi Ryoko (and possibly also Tanaka Rie, Ito Shizuka & Kugimiya Rie) in Hayate no Gotoku!. Takahashi Rumiko anime will always feature Yamaguchi Kappei. And so on.

・Sponsors and producers have a bigger and bigger say in seiyuu castings. Aniplex & SME famously love exerting their powers over anime castings by way of shoving in the Music Ray’n girls in exchange for production dollars yen – package deals, basically. It used to be the case with Tomatsu Haruka, and now it is so with Amamiya Sora. I’m wondering by this point how many roles Amamiya has actually ‘won’ through auditions. You could probably count the number on one hand.

・Increasingly, producers and sponsors want to cast ‘popular’ seiyuu. This refers to both male and female seiyuu who have a considerably large number of fans, whose names can help sell event tickets, merchandise and so on. They can also be employed to do cheap PR for the show through radio, magazines, events etc.

・These ‘popular’ seiyuu usually have a short shelf life; once they’re out of junior ranks times will be tougher. Not to mention (kuso-DD) fans these days tend to have short memories where ‘popularity’ is as permanent as a cloud drifting by. In this respect male seiyuu tend to do better as the rabid fujoshi fanbase’s loyalty is not to be underestimated.

・Before auditions even take place, the sound director will place calls to agency managers and get them to send their seiyuu along. Not all agencies will get a call. The smaller agencies will probably get very few calls. Sometimes, the sound directors will ask for specific names. Auditions are by no means a level playing field, which is why budding seiyuu will always try to get into one of the big agencies to maximize their chances.

・Sound director Hamano Kazuzo has mentioned that he has conducted blind auditions before, where the auditioning seiyuu’s face is not shown and their info withheld to prevent preformed opinions of the auditioner’s ability. He however, notes that such a move can backfire as the committee becomes too fixated on playing a “guess the seiyuu” game instead of assessing a candidate’s suitability.

・Someone like Aketagawa Jin doesn’t really bother with cattle call auditions. Instead, he’ll call up the managers he’s friendly with and they’ll send along seiyuu he likes or might like. Aketagawa tends to cast from within a selected group of seiyuu, getting them to try out for multiple roles until they find one that suits them – this is how casting for something like Shokugeki no Soma, which is a roll call of Aketagawa favourites, went.

・Off the top of my head, casting for recent things like Punchline and Kyokai no Rinne went similarly – call a selected bunch of seiyuu in, have them try out for everything. Chiranosuke (the cat) was hard to cast – there was no gender limitation set, so both male seiyuu and even Kugimiya Rie tried out for the role but all failed ‘til they found Yoshida Yuri.

・Voice samples found on the agency websites do actually play a bigger role that you’d think. In the past, agencies would have to send sample discs along to sound directors for consideration but nowadays, directors just browse the websites to check out potential castings, especially for juniors of whom little is known. That is why even a dinosaur agency like Osawa Office has had to get with the times and put up profiles for all their talents.

・Getting into a reputable agency doesn’t mean the roles will roll in. This is why building a good relationship with your manager is paramount. Most of the time, it’s the managers who decide which seiyuu to send once they receive news about casting calls. So if you don’t get along well with your manager…

・When I see that a seiyuu has left their agency, is switching to another one or is going freelance, the first thought that comes to my mind is that they are not satisfied with their management. If not, then the seiyuu must be following their old manager that has left their current agency.

・When I see seiyuu not getting any roles for X period of time, what goes through my mind:
1) They’re not getting along well with their manager, who doesn’t bother to send him or her along to auditions
2) They suck at voice acting so they keep failing their auditions
3) They’re ill or pregnant

・Freelance seiyuu who actually remain freelance (as opposed to just temporarily being ‘unemployed’ before joining another agency) are rare. You might not have to give a cut of your earnings to your agency as before, but it’s harder to get jobs that way unless you have a great relationship with the right directors and producers, or you are very good at what you do. Examples of seiyuu who have been freelancing for at least a year – Arai Satomi, Kobayashi Yumiko, Takagi Wataru, Narita Ken, Yuki Hiro, Asakawa Yuu, Yusa Koji, Takahashi Chiaki, Yajima Akiko. Hosoya Yoshimasa, Shimizu Ai and Goto Saori are also approaching their first anniversary of freelancing in the next couple of months. Nazuka Kaori used to be managed by her mother when she was a child but now handles her activities herself. These guys have all built up respectable banks of work and staff members know and trust them well enough to give them jobs.

Seiyuu earn peanuts
・The ‘peanuts’ seiyuu earned formally referred to as ‘guarantees’ (gyara), amounts to around 15,000yen per 30-minute episode for the lowest-ranked seiyuu, no matter the amount of dialogue they get. The difference in earnings between a junior-rank seiyuu and seiyuu of a higher rank is not that much, give or take a couple of thousand yen per episode, but the costs do build up over the 1-2 cours.

・Seiyuu are ranked as juniors for the first three or so years after they debut. After that they climb a ranking ladder starting at rank 15, which signifies 15,000yen gyara. They slowly move up the ranks to 16 (16,000yen gyara) and so on. The highest gyara earned by a ranked seiyuu is apparently 45,000yen per episode. Anything higher than that and the seiyuu is deemed ‘no rank’, where they are free to negotiate their own pay levels. As a reference, someone like Kaneda Tomoko, who has been in the business for 15 years, apparently receives gyara of around 30,000yen per episode.

・Junior seiyuu are (apparently) not entitled to other fees such as TV broadcast fees, secondary usage fees (fees when your show gets released on DVD/BD), time premium fees (an additional premium paid to seiyuu on top of their basic gyara if a show runs longer than 30 minutes), and so on. If you’re interested in seeing the fee and percentage provisions for different media, please refer to the Japan Actor’s Union page (in Japanese, of course).

・Thus, rough calculations for a Rank-15 seiyuu whose anime show gets broadcast on TV, they will earn 15,000 + 15,000 x 80% initial utilization rate (初期目的利用料) = 27,000yen. From that, the seiyuu’s agency get a 20% cut and the taxman gets a 10% cut, leaving the seiyuu with a take-home pay cheque of 18,900yen.

・You can see why producers are reluctant to hire ranked seiyuu if they’re low on budget. Also, thanks to the need to pay seiyuu rebroadcast fees, some TV stations can’t be bothered to show reruns of older anime.

・Estimations by seiyuu themselves – only 10% of seiyuu (Otsuka Akio), or around 300 seiyuu (acc. to Namikawa Daisuke) can make a living from voice acting. The rest only get by with supplementary income from part-time jobs. And of course, no banks will give them loans because of their unstable income, though this is not exclusive to seiyuu but to the entertainment industry in general.

・Some basic numbers – average rent in Tokyo 23-ku is 97,000 yen/month, Saitama is 68,000yen/month & Kanagawa 66,000yen/month. Adding food, travel & living expenses, the average junior seiyuu would need at least 3-4 regular roles in anime shows per season to survive, not taking into account any other earnings from games, dubbing etc.

・Part-time jobs pay around 1,000 yen per hour on average, with a maximum of 29.5 working hours per week (if people work more, companies have to pay their health insurance).

Seiyuu schedules & the actual work
・A bit on seiyuu work schedules – I like to think of them in ‘blocks’. 3 potential blocks of work per day – morning, afternoon, night, any day of the week. That’s 3×7=21 potential blocks of work. If you’re a popular/idol seiyuu, weekends will mostly be taken up by events, so that’s 3-6 blocks gone.

・Afureko will take biggest priority on a seiyuu’s scheduling as you can imagine how hard it is to assemble a cast of X number of seiyuu at the same time. All other work revolves around those schedules. Afureko can take place at night as well if that’s the only time everyone is available. Game lines are recorded solo in a booth, so they can be done whenever the seiyuu is available. I suppose most seiyuu would prefer not to work at night so that they can spend time prepping (script check etc) or resting, but c’est la vie.

・Article 61 of Japan’s labour laws prevents under-18s from working between 10pm and 6am, so that’s late-night TV & radio appearances out of the question for young seiyuu idols and child actors.

Besides anime..
・Dubbing work doesn’t require auditions, the TV station, producers and audio directors will decide the castings. Games do sometimes require auditions, particularly if it’s a big title from a big maker.

・For drama CDs adapting manga/ranobe, most of the time the author of the original work can pick their own cast (within limits). The reason why anime casts can differ from drama CD casts is simple – different production companies, different directors.

・I’m actually quite conflicted when it comes to seiyuu radio shows. One the one hand it’s an opportunity for the seiyuu to show off their personalities and good fun for the fans to get to learn more about them, on the other hand they get paid next-to-nothing for such work, if at all. For every Suzakinishi there are 20 other shows with barebones listenership and they’re just taking a block out of seiyuu’s schedule which could be spent more productively.

・Instead of thinking about what type of jobs pay seiyuu the highest gyara in raw numbers, let’s think about a ratio: pay per hour. In this case, CMs would give seiyuu their biggest bang for buck. Game recordings are tiresome, but little preparation is needed – you’re just reading a phone directory-sized book of scripted lines. Anime requires a bit more thinking, especially if you’re voicing a major role where interaction and dialogue with other characters is important. Western film and TV dubbing is the least rewarding due to the amount of prep work needed – having to repeatedly check the source material to make sure your performance is as close to the original’s as possible.

・There is no hard and fast rule for earnings from things like gravure/PBs, solo DVDs, events & merchandise. Figures thrown around: for college festival events – 50k+ for higher rank seiyuu, 30k for junior/newcomers. For CDs – if it’s a solo release under your own name you get royalties amounting to maybe 1% of total sales, more if they wrote lyrics or music (+ more royalties if the song gets on karaoke machines). If it’s an anime-related one (charasong) you just get paid a flat fee based on your rank. If the charasong is recorded on the same day as afureko you get paid 0.5 gyara, if it’s on a different day then you get paid full gyara.

・Event fees depend on the scale of the event and what type of event it is. Promo events could pay nominal or even no gyara, large scale live concerts will obviously pay more. Don’t worry, the frontline iM@S & Love Live seiyuu are making enough out of these things. At least someone like Nakamura Eriko, whose anime work is almost non-existent, made/makes enough to survive.

・Something vaguely related – I always bought merchandise like T-shirts etc for all the indie band lives in clubs & livehouses I went to cos that was the only way they’d make money since they’d be in the red from the get go thanks to the noruma system. I’m pretty sure the same rules apply to any of the anisong artists playing venues such as the Shibuya-O groups (O-East etc), Duo Music Exchange, Liquid Room & Zepp…so please buy the merchandise!!!

Future expectations of seiyuu
・For a while I was actually quite angry about mainstream talent agencies muscling their way into seiyuu management *cough* HoriPro *cough*. I see the way these guys ‘manage’ their idols and talents and I really don’t like the idea of such practices being imported into the niche seiyuu industry.

・Nowadays I’m just resigned to the fact that the seiyuu/aidoru/tarento worlds are all converging and there’s no point getting all worked up about something I can’t stop. Whether or not Horipro exists, the seiyuu of today all need to be entertainment machines well-versed in the art of public appearance or they won’t get hired.

・Obviously, more and more kids are getting into voice acting before they’re truly ready – they’re still in school and haven’t even received proper training which inevitably means that some of them will crash and burn fairly quickly. We used to only see the truly talented ones like Sawashiro Miyuki and all the Himawari kids (Miyano, Irino etc) coming through but these days all you need to get by is a pretty face or an entertaining personality.

・If all a seiyuu has is a pretty face and an entertaining personality to go along with their very average voice acting, I am almost 100% certain that they’ll have faded into obscurity within 10 years. Talent doesn’t guarantee you a solid, long-term career either. I’m thinking of the early to mid-00s, of people like Shimizu Ai, Nogawa Sakura, Mochizuki Hisayo, Chiba Saeko, Kuwatani Natsuko, Matsuoka Yuki. The likes of Hoshi Soichiro, Toyoguchi Megumi, Orikasa Fumiko, Ueda Kana and heck, even Ito Kanae, aren’t getting as many roles as they used to.

・Even if you have a ‘good’ voice, the chances of making a lifelong career out of seiyuu work are slim. Examples of people who are still working steadily into their 50s and 60s – Tanaka Atsuko, Koyama Rikiya, Otsuka Akio, Ishizuka Unsho, Fujiwara Keiji, Inoue Kikuko, Yamadera Koichi. How many of today’s seiyuu do you think will survive in the industry until their 40s?

Tomatsu Haruka & her future career path
・I’ve been following Tomatsu Haruka since her debut in Polyphonica in the spring 2007 season. At the beginning she was rather obviously being gorioshi-ed by MuRay and unsurprisingly, gained a lot of haters. She was MuRay’s test seiyuu idol guinea pig, being pushed into anime, dorama & everything in between to see what worked and what didn’t.

・Hardly anybody bought Tomatsu’s first single naissance and it wasn’t until Kannagi that same year that people started paying attention. Her success gave Sphere the platform for success, though it was K-ON! that really cemented their status.

・Sphere itself is reaching a plateau as a group, no thanks to all the new kids on the scene including their juniors Trysail so I don’t foresee MuRay putting too much money or effort into them for much longer.

・On an individual level Tomatsu remains the most successful of the first-gen MuRay girls and has steady, diverse income streams – there was that series of ads for Furuta chocolates she did last year, she has her photobooks, voicing the PR mascot character for NHK’s 2015 taiga dorama Hana Moyu and most importantly, she has Youkai Watch (and Precure). At the very least, I am no longer worried about whether she’ll be earning enough to feed herself in 5 years’ time (discounting the fact that her dad is most likely super rich…).

Everyone wants to appear in kids’ shows for a reason
・Forget about that boring line seiyuu feed you in interviews about ‘wanting to give children dreams’ when they talk about why they became seiyuu or what type of shows they want to appear in. The true reason anyone wants to be part of big-name franchises like Precure, Doraemon and Shonen Jump adaptations is that involvement in such shows means they can pay their bills for many years down the line. TV series, movies, games, merchandise, rebroadcasts, CDs, Blurays, events – the potential earnings are mind-boggling. That is why I’m happiest when my favourite seiyuu land big roles in kids’ anime – happy for their bank account.

・What you see happening in SHIROBAKO is the cattle call audition where dozens of seiyuu from dozens of agencies try out for specific roles over a span of many hours – sometimes auditions can even stretch on for days, if there are a significant number of leading roles that need to be filled. The process is both tiring and tiresome for the audition committee and too often by the end of the day, everyone sounds more or less the same, which makes it difficult to make a proper judgment. Hamano Kazuzo also notes that it’s not necessarily true that the seiyuu who audition first will have an advantage over those who audition later on during the day – sometimes, an amazing performance will snap the audition committee out of a lull.

・And yes it can be intimidating to see the other seiyuu who come in to audition for the same role that you’re trying out for. Look at this talk about auditions between Ueda Kana & Shimuzu Kaori back in 2008….
・That one episode where different parties with different interests duke it out over the seiyuu casting? Maybe exaggerated a bit, but it’s a good illustration of how castings aren’t made based on who fits the role best. They might not fit the role at all, or even be fit for voice acting in the first place (Hi, Denpa Kyoushi).

The people
・Anal directors who have doubled up on duties as sound director – Sato Junichi, Ikuhara Kunihiko, Matsumoto Rie, Mochizuki Tomomi, Chigira Koichi, Mizushima Tsutomu, Oizaki Fumitoshi, Inagaki Takayuki.

・Prolific sound directors whose names you’ll see appearing again & again in anime season listings – Aketagawa Jin (much more on him later), Tsuruoka Yota, Iwanami Yoshikazu (the SHIROBAKO parody guy!), Kameyama Toshiki (Shaft’s chosen sound director), Mima Masafumi, Iida Satoki, Wakabayashi Kazuhiro. I’m actually working on a sound director spreadsheet so maybe that will see the light of day…some time before I expire.

・Seiyuu-turned sound directors: Inoue Kazuhiko, Chiba Shigeru, Tsujitani Koji, Fujiwara Keiji, Goda Hozumi, Mitsuya Yuji, Nakajima Toshihiko, Shioya Yoku.

・It goes without saying that sound directors play favourites. They like certain types of voices, they like to work with certain people who they know can get the job done. Nothing galls sound directors more than having recording slowed down by hapless, inexperienced seiyuu who mess things up & force retakes. Though, as Otsuka Akio points out – if a director doesn’t ask for a retake it doesn’t necessarily mean the seiyuu did a good job. It could also mean that the director thinks that that is the limit to a particular seiyuu’s ability and it’s a waste of time and resources to ask for retakes when they won’t get better performances out of them. Tomatsu Haruka has also mentioned that early on in her career, a (director) sent her home early from the studio as he didn’t think she’d be able to produce anything better than what she’d done that day.

Aketagawa Jin
・Let’s talk about Aketagawa Jin. He’s 43 years old, the son of Aketagawa Susumu, a veteran sound director and one of the founding members of the now-defunct Group TAC studio. He started working in anime in the mid-90s on shows his father had a hand in such as Those Who Hunt Elves and in 1999, broke out as a sound director in his own right.

・As Jin started his sound directing career at a young age he has always been close to his seiyuu. Many of them treat him as a personal friend – Iwata Mitsuo addresses him as Jin-kun and even today, someone like Matsuoka Yoshitsugu refers to him as Jin-chan.

・Aketagawa’s casting patterns are fairly predictable. Within a certain window of time (let’s say 2-3 years) he fills his main cast with his favourite junior talents. When they’ve moved up ranks and their guarantees get too expensive, he’ll move on to another batch of young seiyuu. That doesn’t mean Jin will cast aside his past favourites – when there are side characters or guest roles he needs to fill, he’ll give his ex-faves a quick call and into the studio they come.

・When Aketagawa plays favourites, he really plays favourites. You can do a quick google of the keywords ‘Aketagawa Jin’ and ‘pillow business’ and come up with plenty of hits and supposed examples of seiyuu that he literally ‘favours’. Of course the list also includes plenty of male seiyuu.

・Aketagawa loved/loves Tomatsu Haruka. He was the sound director of her first ever anime Shinkyoku Sokai Polyphonica in 2007 and continued steadily casting her – in 2009, 9 out of 18 of Tomatsu’s roles had Aketagawa as sound director. By 2014, this was no longer the case – only 1 out of her 17 roles was directed by Aketagawa and she was being hired equally by people like Mima Masafumi and Iwanami Yoshikazu.

・Let’s look at another recent example. Around 2013, Taneda Risa was accused of engaging in pillow business with Aketagawa. Of her 24 anime roles that year:

Aketagawa Jin 16
Iwanami Yoshikazu 2
Tsuruoka Yota 1
Fujino Sadayoshi 1
Ishibashi Rika 1
Kikuta Hiromi 1
Mizushima Tsutomu 1
Motoyama Satoshi 1

・However you play it – that’s just a crazy amount of roles being handed out to you by the same guy.
The tabloids covered the ‘scandal’ too. Whoopee.

・Coincidentally or not, Taneda’s Jin-chan ratio dropped to 4/14 in 2014 and so far this year, it’s been 4/11.

・Aketagawa has been casting from within a larger pool lately – Ishigami Shizuka is quite obviously a new favourite of his with her count at 7/18 for 2014 & 5/10 for 2015, including 2 upcoming lead roles (in Shimoseka & Rakudai). He also likes Ozawa Ari and Kimura Juri and for the guys, Hanae Natsuki & Kobayashi Yusuke are his golden boys of 2015.

For 2014 he had 13 shows:

10 Nakamura Tomo
9 Yamamoto Itaru
8 Murata Taishi, Yamamoto Kanehira
7 Ishigami Shizuka, Sakurai Hiromi, Soma Koichi, Suwa Ayaka, Yanagida Junichi, Saito Hironori
6 Hikasa Yoko, Kakuma Ai, Minase Inori, Ishiya Haruki
5 Kawamura Rie, Kayano Ai, Furukawa Makoto, Nogawa Masashi, Kanemoto Ryosuke, Matsumoto Shinobu
4 Taneda Risa, Takahashi Minami, Sakurai Takahiro, Koyama Rikiya, Onishi Saori, Kido Ibuki, Noto Mamiko, Tezuka Hiromichi, Yamagishi Haruo, Dendo Rina, Kawanishi Kengo, Nose Ikuji

And for 2015 so far he has 13 shows, 1 of which he had little control over casting (Grisaia):

8 Furukawa Makoto
6 Sakurai Hiromi, Murata Taishi, Hashimoto Chinami
5 Ishigami Shizuka, Hanae Natsuki, Nose Ikuji, Kakuma Ai, Yamamoto Itaru, Kayano Ai, Kimura Juri
4 Taneda Risa, Kobayashi Yusuke, Onishi Saori, Takahashi Minami, Matsuoka Yoshitsugu, Hosoya Yoshimasa, Nishi Asuka, Muranaka Tomo, Nogawa Masashi, Ozawa Ari
3 Tomatsu Haruka, Uchida Maaya, Hikasa Yoko, Noto Mamiko, Sakurai Takahiro, Miyake Kenta, Suwa Ayaka, Minase Inori
2 Ono Kensho, Komatsu Mikako, Ono Yuuki, Suzaki Aya, Koyama Rikiya, Hidaka Rina

Not full data, but just some of what I picked up by looking at cast lists. You haven’t heard of some of those people? That’s ‘cos they only voice mob characters.

Ozawa Ari
・Yes I’m totally biased towards Ozawa-chan, but I’m not the only one who loves her. At the very least, I’m Enterprise + her manager loves her enough to get her tons of jobs. And sound directors love her enough to keep casting her. Look at her stats for 2015 thus far:

Total roles: 19
Of which are leading roles: 6
Sub-leads: 4
Anime-related radio shows: 4 (Monmusu, Aquarion, Gakkou Gurashi, Classroom Crisis)
Other radio shows: 2 (Ozanari, Nairaji)
Sound director breakdown:

Aketagawa Jin 6
Motoyama Satoshi 2
Okuma Akira 2 (1 joint with Urakami Yasuyuki)
Iida Satoki 1
Morishita Hiroto 1
Shimizu Yoji 1
Fujita Akiko 1
Hata Shoko 1
Inagaki Takayuki 1
Oizaki Fumitoshi 1
Yamamoto Koji 1
Tanaka Akiyoshi 1

Incidentally, one of her mob roles was in Doraemon.

I guess I think about stuff too much. But then, I always worry about whether my favourite seiyuu
Okay this post has been sitting in my drafts for way too long. It’s not finished but I think this is as far as I’ll get at this point in time (ok I’m just lazy).

On a somewhat unrelated note, Sore ga Seiyuu! starts airing next week. Please do watch it!


37 thoughts on “#71 – Seiyuu castings, earnings & everything in-between

  1. mina3kotori

    Thanks for the great writeup and sharing all that! Some questions/comments I have, sorry if they are obvious ones ><:

    1) What are the incentives of doing a radio show in this case? Is it just to interact with current fans and gain some new ones, since you don't earn much?
    2) For live events in big places (e.g. on the scale of 10,000+ people, like Budokan and SSA), presumably the nomura system isn't there so how does the payment work? If you sell tickets at let's say 8k per person, does that only cover the venue rental and profit only comes from selling goods? I did hear that the Love Live seiyuu were paid 1mil+ each for their live.
    3) Regarding pay from games, has the increasing popularity of social mobile games changed this in any way? There are plenty of games with new characters added every couple of weeks and try to use big name seiyuu to attract people to gacha, as well as a couple cases where there's a recurring cast (Touyama Nao and Kugimiya Rie in Granblue Fantasy is one example I had in mind since they are "main characters" and appear in every story episode). Compare this to console games where you have many lines but it's a once off thing.
    4) I was wondering about Sphere plateauing for a while since their live tickets have been fairly easy to get recently, which surprised me. Do you think that everyone will go this way after reaching about 5-10 years in the industry? Mainly concerned about Nana/Yukarin/Hocchan here.

    1. admin Post author

      Thanks for nice comments m(_ _ )m

      1. It’s not just about the fans – it’s self-promotion for the seiyuu, and a chance to build a good relationship with the radio staff, producers & sponsors.

      2. For concerts there will usually be a promoter/company that handles all the things like arena bookings, equipment, transport, getting sponsors and so on. That would be people like Kyodo Tokyo, Bandai Namco Live Visual and so on. http://www.acpc.or.jp/members/regularmember50.php has a full list. Like all other promoters, they make their money from ticket sales, sponsorship, a cut from the goods & DVD sales. Ticket sales for arena lives are already ridiculous, in fact – anisong lives/general popular jpop acts overcharge for tickets. I used to go to a lot of J-indie lives because tickets cost anywhere from 1.5k to 3.5k (for livehouses) to maybe 4-5k for halls/arenas.

      There is one way I know Japanese promoters are saving money – by not taking insurance. Paul McCartney’s cancellation of his tour due to illness brought up these issues —> http://www.japantoday.com/category/kuchikomi/view/mccartney-concert-cancellations-leave-promoters-penniless

      Profit margins are thin for promoters so if people are getting paid big bucks I assume that the concerts are really earning loads. The fees that seiyuu receive for concert participation, which their agencies will have negotiated for in a contract beforehand, will normally cover not only the performance fee for the event itself but also fees for rehearsals & other expenses. It would also cover payments for any merchandise to be released (DVD/BD, books, any other goods).

      3. I would assume that the seiyuu involved in mobage would get paid a flat fee for their initial work depending on their rank and the amount of time they spent recording. Any additional fees incurred from recording further dialogue would be calculated in the same way. Just think of it as actors having to come back and refilm scenes – it would probably have been covered in the original contract.

      Also, I’ve noticed mobage tend to hire younger, cheaper seiyuu rather than FF or DQ with its big names – look at DQ Heroes with its movie stars Matsuzaka Tori & Kiritani Mirei.

      4. For me, Sphere’s problem is that they’re being managed by Music Ray’n who keep a tight control on their projects, their image rights, their private lives etc. I see Nana, Yukarin and Hocchan all having much more freedom in their activities – look at Hocchan with Kurobara Hozonkai & Miss Monochrome or Yukarin with Kagurazaka Yuka. Generally, the seiyuu who have been with their agencies and managers for long periods are allowed greater creative control over time. I’ll use Chihara Minori as an example since I am more familiar with her background and what goes on behind the scenes – she has always had a great relationship with her manager Seno D., departing Avex to join him under his newly set-up agency. And now Minorin is CEO of her own company M-Peace. Isn’t it awesome?

      I think a lot depends on the individual seiyuu – their outlook, vision, relationships. Some will make it, some will not. We shall see!

    2. Penelope

      Thank you for giving such useful and helpful information! But I’d like to question that if a seiyu can be an international one (has fluent Japanese), thx!

      1. admin Post author

        thank you for commenting. re: whether foreigners can be seiyuu in Japan, we already have a fine example in Jenya (Garupan etc). Also, Vinay Murthy is doing an amusing turn in Sakura Quest as the Sandal guy!

        1. Penelope Ng

          Thanks ^_^ I am happy for having a chance of becoming a seiyu!! I’d like to voice over the anime characters and singing songs!!

          But is it true that Japanese agencies would consider the local ones more? And will the international ones have a smaller chance of being popular?

          I am a bit worried but I still want to achieve it by studying in the University of Tokyo, then after I finish my studies, I’d like to ask should I go to some training courses?

          And it would be very helpful if you give me some advice of how to equip myself now for being a seiyu?

        2. Penelope

          Thanks for letting me know I have a chance of being a seiyu! Voice over anime characters and sing awesome songs! But I am still a bit worried that if Japanese agents tend to consider the local ones more? Is it true that local ones have a smaller possibility of being popular?

          I’d like to achieve it anyways, it would be great if you give me some advice of equipping myself now for being a seiyu, please? (But it’s hard to find training courses in Australia?)

          I planned after studying the university of Tokyo, I will start my dreams, I’d like to know what should I do after that? Enter the seiyu academy? Or…….?

          Thank you for reading my comments^_^

          1. admin Post author

            Hello again. First step towards becoming a seiyuu would obviously, be to master the Japanese language as best you can! I am not in a position to comment about training in Australia but anything related to acting would be a good start.

            As for entering a seiyuu/training academy in Japan, it’s like applying to any other school basically so you gotta interview to get in, and it’s like any other academic interview – the usual ‘why do you want to be a seiyuu?’ etc + conversational topics etc.

            For the major seiyuu agencies (Arts, I’m Ent, Sigma, Osawa etc), I can’t say for sure on their hiring policies. For those oriented towards anime, games etc, they would definitely prefer native Japanese or at the very least, someone who was brought up in Japan [someone like https://www.aoni.co.jp/search/christelle-ciari.html for example].

            Also, https://twitter.com/Crimsondramon <— is someone whom I know of from Twitter, who's from Singapore and is now in seiyuu school in Japan. So it does happen! Work hard & go for it!

            1. Penelope

              Thank you very much!!!! But it’s still a bit risky that if I fail, I can’t afford a living(?) I don’t know whether I can be successful like the native ones, but I believe I can strive for it anyways as you give encouragement and enlighten me a lot! Thank you very much!!! ❤️❤️

  2. Otokage

    Thank you for the most informative seiyuu post I’ve read in a while. I also have a few questions:

    1. Do MuRay girls have to compete among themselves for the Aniplex-backed roles? For example, would a production agreement give a role ‘specifically to Amamiya Sora’ or a broader ‘to one of the TrySail members who audition’?

    2. Was there an individual who was responsible for Kayanon’s meteoric rise that took place around 2011-2012?

    3. Is “Anal directors” a term for chief directors? wwww

    1. admin Post author

      Thanks for your kind words!

      1. I don’t believe that MuRay would resort to that kind of Battle Royale tactic of deliberately making them face off against each other…in any case, all of the girls have different vocal colours and styles so I can’t really imagine that MuRay would send them to audition for the same role (imagine for example, Tomatsu doing K-ON? that would scare me www).

      I would say casting is specifically decided from the start. Amamiya has mentioned that Akame was actually her first-ever lead role in terms of casting (IIRC she was cast a year before the show aired) even though Isshukan Friends aired earlier. SME was part of the Akame production committee, and I believe it was part of their overall marketing strategy to have Amamiya voice the lead role, and let her début as a solo singer through the show. SME/MuRay has probably established Tenchan as being the most sellable of their 2nd gen girls, the way Tomatsu was for Sphere so it would make sense for them to push her first.

      2. ….Aketagawa Jin, haha. He was the one who cast her in her breakout role Menma in AnoHana and he continues to favour her – in 2013 Kayanon was second to Taneda Risa in Aketagawa Jin castings (13).

      Also, Kayanon is very close to her (female) manager, whom she followed when she left Pro Fit for Office Osawa.

      3. I was thinking of how most directors can’t be bothered to turn up at afureko since they have so many other meetings & issues to oversee…so they must be anal if they want to handle sound directing as well w. But it does work, someone like Sato Junichi for example, is very close to the girls of ARIA.

  3. omo

    Just a few cents on the post and in the comments. But first thank you for writing it down. I definitely would not have had even tried because the time it takes and the truth is, there’s no one view to all this, so sometimes I’m not even sure what I would do even if I have the information swimming in my head. So…

    1. While a lot of what’s said in this post is good info, some of it is also opinion and it’s not always easy to tell what is what. I don’t even differ from your opinion in some of these but I am definitely, uh, less cynical lol. I hope it doesn’t give people the wrong idea.
    2. The point behind radio shows, as I’ve been listening to more recently, is that it’s a job. That’s why people do it. By the time a seiyuu is turning down radio jobs that person is doing something right and can afford turning down work that can further one’s career. Most people doing the radio shows have no choice in the matter. It is also often, as labeled, as training.
    3. In the grand scope of things, the seiyuu we cover as anime otaku is just one part of the overall voice-acting industry. It is also something that fits into part-time work for a more well-rounded entertainer (much like how it is overseas). The rise of the seiyuu idol in the 80s and 90s is what really changed things and gave us a focusing point as fans to follow today, but when it comes down to “making a living” or “union” there’s a bigger picture that I feel a lot of what you and I call seiyuu otaku don’t really even care about, and that can lead to people getting the wrong idea about these kind of things.

    Anyway, thanks again.

    1. admin Post author

      cheers for the comments bro. I was hesitating on pushing the publish button on this one as I was pretty sure that what I had to say wasn’t stuff that people necessarily wanted to read (or it sounds like “whining”, as someone described to me ww). I did preface everything by saying “my thoughts” but well…people will always interpret things however they want. Maybe they’ll get the “wrong idea”, but hopefully they’ll actually start “thinking” instead of “assuming”.

      I guess you could interpret the cynicism as bitterness w. Pretty much everything that appears to be my opinion is a reflection of Otsuka Akio’s book ie. the parts about agencies & managers, and how he sees the current, traditional seiyuu industry as being unsustainable.

      It’s true that most seiyuu otaku don’t care about any of the bigger picture stuff, which is why I ripped out chunks of this post that would’ve talked about depression (Yurishii, Hayashi Saori). Or what I think the seiyuu industry will be like in 10-15 years (more & more MuRays) as a subset of the overall entertainment biz.

      In some ways, I’m just trying to give a (different) perspective to the industry. Really, all i’m hoping for is for people out there to know that it’s not all glitter & rainbows for their favourite young seiyuu. Know that they’re 1 of the 300 who can make a living out of this job, and to appreciate & keep on supporting them in whatever way.

      1. Pedro

        If anything, the reality is probably way more grimy and nasty than even your somewhat sober observations. The Japanese entertainment industry is a fucking moloch and I shudder to think what’s hidden in its underbelly. This is no place where impressionable and financally dependent young women and men should try to eke out a living.

        Good read though, thanks for the post.

      2. omo

        That helps to clarify. I think the sustainability aspect is one thing we could go into more details. It’s like when people talk about how animators are poorly paid, it’s not really the perspective producers have in mind. Or in practice, for every PA Works or Kyoani production there’s several God Eaters out there. So it’s not even so clear what it means when the seiyuu industry has changed the past couple decades and how it has changed, what it means to be sustainable, and to who and for what ends.

        What would be more interesting to see is what the future holds. I think in the past 5 years or so we’ve gone through another inflection point, with Muray and now HoriPro doing their thing, so needless to say I’m curious to see how it’ll play out in the longer run, for starters.

  4. Rocoloco

    I’ve really been noticing the SME and Tomatsu/Amamiya connections of late and how historically Tomatsu has been cast as a main female lead in virtually all the shows they or Aniplex have been on the production committee for and now lately almost all her lead roles have been from them and she apparently just has to be in anything they produce that they can possibly fit her into. I wonder how long she has left before she’s dropped for a newer up and comer. It seems like Tomatsu still gets roles but that she’s slowing down after a peak with SAO as Amamiya takes her place as the new pet favorite and her career is pretty much entirely in the hands of SME/Aniplex where she gets almost all of her roles from in 2015 it seems. It’s a shame because I like her and like to think she got her roles because of her bringing something special and particular to them, but I kind of realize now that the only reason she’s Asuna or Morgiana or Anju is because of Aniplex and that they’d have found a way to work her into those shows one way or another even if she didn’t play those particular characters.

    I have a couple of questions regarding certain other seiyuu whose careers I’ve seen curiously go full throttle in the last couple of years or so. Ai Kayano you’ve already answered (I didn’t even know who she was up until late last year and suddenly I noticed she was everywhere now) the question for elsewhere and ditto Risa Taneda who I knew something had to be going on with as her casting suddenly went nuclear, but what about Ayane Sakura and Saori Hayami? I notice both are connected to the same agency I’m Enterprise so are they just talents that the agency sends out a lot or pushes particularly strongly? For male seiyuu lately I notice Yoshitsugu Matsuoka and Kaito Ishikawa kind of everywhere and the former I notice is also with I’m Enterprise while the latter remains a total mystery to me.

    Other than that do you see the talent pool kind of continuing to shrink and a few industry powers like Aniplex and this Aketagawa fellow continuing to have more and more influence to the point where all shows coming out virtually have the same rotation of 30 or so cast members or is something going to give like Ootsuka seems to think? What does he mean specifically when he says he thinks the model is unsustainable? That fans are going to revolt against it? That the seiyuu are going to develop fatigue and problems of depression or that maybe people are just going to see what’s going on with the favoritism and figure they’ll never get roles such that you’ll see less prospective seiyuu trying to enter the industry maybe?

    Anyway thanks for writing this. Personally I find this sort of stuff fascinating lately and that you seem to be seeing more and more industry veterans from seiyuu, to writers to voice actors speaking out about what they see as an unsustainability of a lot of the current production committee models and how they love to strong arm and play favorites in exchange for funding and influence. Personally I think it puts a pretty huge cap on the industries potential when you have these big shots controlling virtually everything to suit their own commercial interests instead of working together to try to make the best content they possibly can. Lot of what looks like cost cutting, consolidation of “popular talent” and just homogenizing and streamlining how anime gets made throughout virtually every aspect of production. It’s getting to be so obvious and transparent that I’m amazed more people don’t seem to notice and become at least a little alarmed, though as one commenter said it’s possibly because most people just don’t care, but it seems like at some point it’s just going to reach an impasse where people have no choice but to take notice if it continues this way much longer and if they become fed up with the status quo maybe then we’ll see what these veterans like Anno, Ootsuka, Tomino and Dai Sato mean about unsustainability and the need for the anime industry to consider things other than just rolling with whatever is immediately popular commercially. Personally I just think they mean unsustainability of status quos myself, not of the anime industry as most seem to think when they dismiss them as bitter crackpots.

    1. admin Post author

      Thanks for your comments and questions!

      Re: Sakura Ayane etc, it’s I’m Ent’ power: they’re one of the largest & strongest agencies around and are very good at producing ‘popular’, idol-oriented talents. Their track record speaks for itself – from Yukarin, Kugimiya Rie & Saito Chiwa to people like Hikasa Yoko & Uchida Maaya, they’ve managed the best of the best over the years.

      For Ishikawa it’s just typically, he’s young, good-looking and has a decent female fanbase thanks to Haikyuu. The only other notable senior he has at Pro-Fit is Okamoto Nobuhiko who’s moved beyond the junior phase so I suppose they had to find a newbie to push.
      Re: size of the seiyuu industry – honestly, no idea. Things like Love Live are putting the anime/seiyuu biz into the mainstream spotlight, front & center right now so it’s hard to tell whether, or rather, how big things will blow up in the near future. Mainstrean entertainment agencies will probably look at how well LL is doing and want in on a slice of the pie, like HoriPro have done. I don’t think the talent pool will shrink for a while yet – in fact, i think we’ll see in a few years’ time a whole new group of new gen idols who got interested in becoming seiyuu because of imas & LL.

      My personal opinion is that with the death of the traditional seiyuu – “people you hear but not see”, the traditional seiyuu agency as it is (with seiyuu schools etc) too, won’t survive for much longer unless they evolve to adapt to the market. So yeah, we’ll probably see more Muray-type models producing all-around entertainer/seiyuu idols.

      As for Otsuka’s views – he doesn’t care who is hired for a voice acting job as long as they’re good at it (he praises Kimura Takuya in Howl, for example) – he’s a bit like Miyazaki Hayao in that he hates the cutesy, conformist voice actors that seiyuu schools produce (to meet the demands of the industry endlessly churning out moe anime). Most of what Otsuka says is from the viewpoint of the individual seiyuu and he doesn’t mention anything specific about the future of the industry nor does he offer any suggestions about what can be done to improve the situation. Examples of his comments:

      1- the amount of anime/game media being produced is not (and won’t ever be) increasing fast enough to accommodate the number of people who are currently thinking/working towards becoming seiyuu

      2- seiyuu are at the mercy of the creators, that their livelihood depends on producers and anime makers, that there isn’t much they can do but sit and wait for that phone to ring

      Otsuka considers himself an actor rather than a mere “seiyuu” & is mostly concerned about the horrible standard of voice acting nowadays rather than any of the big picture stuff. Of course, his first recommendation is for people not to even consider becoming seiyuu. But if one must chase that dream, he recommends that people don’t go to seiyuu school because it puts them in a box & limits their growth – he notes out that amongst the veteran seiyuu of today, none of them went to seiyuu school. He doesn’t think the younger seiyuu of today have enough life experiences and that is why their performances are just textbook boring. This kind of ties into the Seiyuu no Wa series of interviews that I’m translating – if you look at Q16 (To the people who are aiming to become seiyuu, please give them a word of advice) you’ll see that most of them answer “experience more things in life” , “increase your knowledge of the world” or words to that effect.

      Ok tl;dr and totally off topic at this point…In truth, if you asked me what the ultimate point of Otsuka’s book was, I’d say that it’s his (futile) attempt to stem the floodgates of young seiyuu coming in to snatch jobs away by pointing out the worst of the industry, hah.
      Thanks again for the comments. I too, am trying to figure out the overall picture of the anime industry. The industry vets are obviously bitter about the way things are going right now – about how anime is being made. It also reminds me of the UTD Kickstarter that was originally supposed to break free of the traditional production committee format of making anime, and has now turned into…something that is just so ridiculous I don’t even know what to think of it any more (except “Please can I have my money back”).

      1. Rocoloco

        Love Live seems like it’s going to potentially be a huge game changer in a lot of ways simply for how deep it seems to have penetrated into the Japanese mainstream consciousness as well as the entertainment industry. I heard Muse was something like the 5th most popular music act in Japan period over the course of the last fiscal year and it just seems to do well in just about every area of media. In a lot of ways it’s sort of not really a surprise though considering Sunrise seems to have an anime they produce that changes the course of the industry at least once a decade and that others try to emulate. In the 80’s it was Mobile Suit Gundam, in the 90’s you had Cowboy Bebop, in the 2000’s it was Gundam Seed and Code Geass and now it seems to be Love Live.

        Ootsuka seems like a very outspoken veteran who has put in his time and gets to talk about those kinds of things and be blunt without fear of any sort of career damage. He broke the news that apparently Konami has kicked Hideo Kojima out as of today as well which just seems like something you don’t just get to talk about like that unless you have a lot of clout. I also heard Yoshiyuki Tomino has been critical of the modern seiyuu schools saying they don’t give the industry enough talent who can do natural dramatic sounding performances and that when working on his most recent Gundam show he had to sort of beat out of his cast the things they’d learned to get a performance that he was accepting of. He cited similar reasons like too cutesy and phony sounding. One recent seiyuu that I kind of have felt really just seems to outclass her peers when it comes to giving dramatic performances is Saori Hayami. I don’t know how she was trained or if she went to seiyuu school but she always manages to stand out somehow no matter what she’s in and feels like she’s giving more than what is typically asked of most leading seiyuu.

        That surprises me that he says that those things aren’t being produced fast enough because if anything I feel like there’s too much anime being produced lately and a focus on quantity over quality or just flooding the market exclusively with titles that production committees think will sell well as opposed to the kinds of shows it feels like creators genuinely want to work on. I hear about a lot more murmurings on twitter than I can recall hearing historically to this effect too.

        A couple more things, I’ve heard Miyazaki make that comment about too many people in anime with not a lot of life experience and I kind of see what he means in how characters get written a lot of the time now with unnatural developments or just improbably placed talents and circumstances for the sorts of stories they are in. Not a lot of natural interactions either and I’m not talking about realism either, just sometimes in a lot of recent popular anime it feels like the dialogue and course of events is off somehow in a way that I can tribute with lack of insight on how to write about the things that should be happening. The second thing is that Under The Dog fiasco seems like it has the potential to kill any future attempts at such things dead. Shame as it’s not necessarily a bad idea, but if people are afraid that their money is just going to get stolen in some sort of scam then they’re really better of just trusting in the production committee model because at least it’s not good honest people taking the risk for potentially nothing.

        1. admin Post author

          Ah, I don’t think Otsuka meant that anime/manga should be produced faster or in larger quantities – more that with the increasing number of people wanting to be, or already are becoming seiyuu, there will never be enough jobs being created to accommodate them. Something in the demand/supply equation has got to adjust to the equilibrium, and it definitely ain’t gonna be the anime products.

          As for Hayami, this brings me back again to Otsuka Akio. He mentions seiyuu who are “geniuses with undeniable, unparalleled talent”, people whose performances make him shiver in awe when he listens to them in the studio (he names Hayashibara Megumi & Takayama Minami as examples). I’d like to think Hayami will be/is already part of this group as well, along with Sawashiro Miyuki (Otsuka’s junior whom he also praises) – capable of pulling off the natural, the dramatic, the expressive, without sounding like an over-exaggerated cartoon character.

      2. someone

        “(to meet the demands of the industry endlessly churning out moe anime)”

        I wonder if it’s even possible to read anything about anime these days without someone bringing up the moe bogeyman, a completely manufactured “problem” with no basis whatsoever in reality. Not to mention that there’s only a couple of these “moe” shows per season.

  5. Kisiel

    Can I ask how do you know about all these things? Did you ask people, read articles/books etc. Can you give titles or links to them?

    1. admin Post author

      You’re being a bit too vague as to which parts you’re looking for links to so unless you have more specific examples….

      Anyway as mentioned, Otsuka’s Seiyuu Damashii is a major reference point. Other points of reference already have links where necessary. The rest, unless analysis, observation or opinion, is stuff you hear from radio shows, read from magazine interviews, is common knowledge etc.

  6. 24354

    This was a really good read. I never paid much attention to this side of the anime industry, part of it is because I didn’t watch a lot of anime. Until I’ve got to know a few people recently and they seem to be more or less seiyuu otakus. However my discussion with them never went beyond a few certain seiyuu works and how good looking they are. So this post is both refreshing and an eye-opening for me who can barely name 10 seiyuu, all males, and have voiced more than 1 anime within 1 season.

    I guess what I wanted to say is that your post has a good insight on how anime industry has been trying to increase sell and seiyuu have become part of the scheme. People don’t know anime characters and only their voice anymore but they become more aware of the real people whom they’re supporting, which is a good thing. Until the only things that are added in are pretty faces and the “right” personalities, then it’s just like what you mentioned above.

    Is it required to attend a voice acting school? Would they be able to get into an agency without attend one?

    I must confess that I accidentally came across this post after finding out about OnoD leaving his agency and becoming a freelancer. But he’s pretty well-known so I guess there’s not much to worry about?

    1. admin Post author

      Hi, thanks for reading as well as your comments!

      -regarding voice acting school – it’s not always necessary, but it depends on the individual’s background & experience. Increasingly more seiyuu are coming from other areas of entertainment – the stage, music & acting, as well as through public auditions & competitions. People like Miyano Mamoru, Ono Kensho & Uchiyama Koki are examples of those who started out as child actors & gradually moved into seiyuu work without attending acting school. Some of those who won public auditions (ie Music Ray’n girls) also didn’t attend voice acting schools, but would’ve received other forms of training provided by their agency.

      Training school is the traditional route taken for those with no showbiz background, mostly to build up acting basics. As most schools are affiliated with or run by the seiyuu agencies – Aoni with Aoni Juku, 81produce with its Actors School etc., there is the impression that by attending said training school, one will have a better chance of getting into the associated agency. Can’t say for sure how high the success rate is, but I would guess that less than 50% of voice training graduates find agencies to take them in.

      As for someone like OnoD he can pick & choose wherever he wants to go. As a freelancer he can get a bigger slice of pay but since he has so many things going on I can only imagine that the admin/management side will be a pain, so I see him either signing up with an agency or setting up his own.

  7. Chi

    Thank you for this! This is super fascinating. I’ve always wanted to know more about seiyuu, I love them (though I have to admit, I’m one of those basic girls who drools over the popular male seiyuu, though I’m a fan a few female seiyuu as well – but like I said, I want to know more). It pains me that to know all of the details, I have to know Japanese and find them on Japanese websites or through Japanese articles or interviews, as very few of them are translated. Hopefully I can someday get to that level (I’m studying Japanese at my university right now). I know this post was from a year ago, but I thank you for taking the time to write it. I’m gonna check out your other posts now. 🙂

  8. めぐめぐ

    Thank you very much for this entry. It’s the first time I read something complete and it’s also the first time I read this blog.

    I knew that being a seiyuu was difficult, not only because of the little money they could make, but also nowadays they need to be amazing: nice face, nice voice, nice acting, loved by everyone. Seems more like idols. Sadly.

    Once again, thank you very much for this ♥

  9. Annabel

    Halo thankyou so much for the information. It is really helpfull and knowledgable. Is there anyway we can know which seiyuu is No Rank, A rank and so on?


    1. admin Post author

      hi there, thanks for your comment! regarding your question – no, there is no way to know what rank a seiyuu is. it’s only for the rookies that you can roughly tell their status by looking at the agency websites – whether they are ジュニア (juniors), 預かり or 準所属 or if they’re full 所属 (affiliation).

      As for the top ranks, you can safely assume those veteran seiyuu who get offered jobs (instead of having to attend auditions) would be there. People like Hayashibara Megumi, Tanaka Mayumi and so on.

  10. Hart W.

    Hi, thx for the effort writing this. It was a good read. I’d like to ask some questions if you don’t mind.

    1. Do you think producers are more concern about budget lately? Lots of recent anime casts new/junior seiyuu as the main characters, and more famous seiyuu only ended up as side characters. Even lots of famous seiyuu got less and less role(some of them even didn’t appear in a whole season) while some of new name keep getting roles (I think this is what you mentioned as ‘new popular seiyuu’). Is this trend purely caused by budget concern? Or is there another factor like ‘agencies wanted to advertise their new seiyuu’ or ‘the said seiyuu’s manager did a good job’?

    2. What’s your personal opinion about the boom of new seiyuu lately? Personally I don’t like this trend (I’m still not sure if it’s purely budget concern). Inexperienced seiyuu stealing jobs from their seniors. On the other hand, those junior seiyuu need to get roles or else they will be working part time on McDonalds lol. Man, I’m conflicted. But if I had to choose I’d still say that I don’t like this condition.

    3. How much is gyara for movie anime? Do seiyuu got extra payment when it hits cinemas? What about VN with many dialogues?

    4. Do you happen to know what happened about the rise of MAO, Oonishi Saori, and Takahashi Rie?

    5. Do certain studios have a tendency to use experienced seiyuu? Looking at DEEN’s Rakugo and Sakamoto desu ga, also Shaft’s everything.

    Thank you very much XD

    1. admin Post author

      hey there, thanks for reading. sorry for the late reply!

      1. individual members of the production committee are only interested in the return on their investment (ROI) ie they wanna make money back above & over whatever they contributed to the budget overall. you’ve got the record labels, the Bluray distributors, the source material publishers, the merchandise guys and so on. They want to make profit from whichever segment they’re handling. Yes, budget constraints may contribute to the choice to select young, cheap seiyuu. But you’ve got the producers, especially the record labels like Lantis/PonyCan etc who want to hire idol-type seiyuu so they can sell their CDs. And other producers may also want those seiyuu to sell more event tickets so that money can be made that way even if the series bombs sales-wise.

      2. I used to care a lot more in the past…maybe about 6-7 years ago, just at the start of the latest idol seiyuu boom. Used to get angry about those things too (seniors not getting jobs etc). Nowadays I’m more relaxed about the whole thing – there are just too many new people coming into the industry that I honestly can’t be bothered to learn their names or faces since they most likely won’t be around in 4-5 years’ time, unless they’re really something special off the bat (like say, Taneda Risa or Saito Soma). The industry will just weed them out naturally and only the strongest will survive…though I must admit I am kind of sad that Ozawa Ari seems to be getting shuffled out a bit too quickly, hah.

      3. Gyara would depend on the length of the movie. If seiyuu gets paid X for a 30-min show then they’ll get paid roughly 4X for a 2-hr show. No they don’t get extra pay for the theatrical release, but they might get secondary usage fees from the DVD/BD release. For games/VNs/mobage seiyuu get paid a flat rate per ‘word’ (or rather, phrase – ‘konnichiwa’ and ‘oya ni mo butareta koto nai no ni’ would both be considered a single ‘word’ either way). Juniors might get a pittance of 30-50 yen per word, higher-ranked guys can get more, anything up to 200yen or so per word. Eroge can pay higher flat-rate fees of 100-150yen per word for pro seiyuu who are willing to do eroge using a pseudonym.

      4. No real hidden agenda about M.A.O, she is a true pro who directors really like. She works very hard, does her job well; if I’m to be rude, she’s like Hayami Saori except with good looks. She gets hired for all sorts of things and is really versatile, she’s not much of an idol but can fulfil that role if required. Quite a rare type. For Onishi, it’s been a slow & steady rise. No real push from I’m Ent on her, but Aketagawa Jin took a liking to her, she got a couple of jobs that way. She’s got acting talent and has good value as a personality but it’s taken some time for that to get noticed. I think her future is even brighter now thanks to her fantastic radio show with Sakura Ayane – bright times ahead for that one. As for Takahashi Rie, I’d say it’s a combination of talent and luck – being in the right place at the right time. Yeah she is pretty okay at what she does and is kind of stepping into the void left by Sato Rina who I think she’s so similar to voice-wise, and bonus – Rieri is favoured by Aketagawa as well. Re-Zero was great stroke of luck for her, as was being cast as Taneda’s replacement for Masyu.

      5. It’s not so much the studios themselves, but the staff involved at those studios as well as the series in question. Shinbo Akiyuki + his usual sound men Kameyama Toshiki or Tsuruoka Yota have their typical favourites, just like Bones which is always likely to have Wakabayashi Kazuhiro sound directing. Deen does a lot of shows across the spectrum but those 2 shows just happen to have veteran casts. Probably more to do with the staff there as well – Rakugo with Tsujitani Koji who is a seiyuu himself, and Sakamoto with Takamatsu Shinji who often does directing-sound directing double duties. These guys tend to have more control over the seiyuu selection process and like to work with people they trust again & again, compared to say, relatively younger soundguys like Iida Satoki & Motoyama Satoshi

      1. Hart W.

        Thx for your reply and answers 🙂

        This is a very interesting blog about seiyuu. Guess I’ll read lots of your posts, haha. Keep up the good job.

  11. Penelope

    From your information, I know a junior seiyu earn about 15000 yen for each episode, but what if a seiyu who has albums and cds? It would be helpful if you tell me the approximate amount please.🙏🏻

  12. Pingback: Tout savoir sur les seiyuus – Japan Vrac

  13. Pingback: LE guide ultime pour tout savoir sur les seiyuus – Japan Vrac

  14. Chris

    Is agency play big role in hiring seiyuu ? I mean did sound direction or production committee consider someone agency before hiring him/her ?


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