Seiyuu Premium [Mook]
Subtitle: The Light and Shadow of the 90s Female Seiyuu Boom
I got hold of this mook when it was released at the end of March, having found out about it through the Radio no Jikan Twitter. There was little publicity about it back then but word of mouth has slowly spread and the issue has now gone off for a second printing, so it’ll take a bit of time ‘til Amazon has it back in stock.
Seiyuu Premium is not a typical seiyuu magazine like all your Seiyuu Animedia and what nots, it’s really just a book filled with interviews (10+ pages each) and some photos (in black-and-white), featuring seiyuu and staff from the 90s. My intention is to translate the entire mook, but it will probably take some time. Funnily enough, just as I was editing the first article I saw that ANN posted about it, albeit with some…strange, out-of-context translations. Oh well. Not that I’m claiming that my translation will be anywhere near perfect either…
I won’t say that I got the mook because I particularly loved the seiyuu featured; if anything, I only caught the tail-end of the boom in the late 90s. I did want to learn more about seiyuu like Hayashibara Megumi, Ogata Megumi and Kingetsu Mami though; they were people I knew of, yet knew nothing about. I hope reading these articles will similarly be a source of knowledge for you.
In 2016, seiyuu have achieved remarkable success.
Providing voices for animation, film dubbing, narration work for TV programmes and commercials; in essence, that was what a seiyuu’s job entailed. Despite the fact that many had dual careers on the stage in addition to voice work, few of them appeared in public and preferred to remain behind the scenes.
However, it has now become natural for seiyuu to have artist activities.
Many of the music CDs seiyuu release light up the charts; they hold concerts at Tokyo Dome-class venues and what’s more, they’ve caught the eye of the public by participating in the traditional year-end event NHK’s Kohaku Utagassen.
Voice acting and radio work often go hand-in-hand, and there are many seiyuu who serve as hosts for multiple programmes.
No matter what genre of tarento you look at, you won’t find any who have as much presence as seiyuu do.
Their speaking skills have also improved dramatically.
There are many seiyuu magazines in circulation in addition to visual-oriented publications thanks to the rise in numbers of attractive and adorable seiyuu whose looks could put idols to shame.
Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to see seiyuu appear in mainstream media such as male or female-targeting magazines.
The term ‘seiyuu’ has largely ceased to refer to ‘craftsmen’ who ply a specific trade; instead, they are now ‘artists’, ‘tarento’ and ‘idols’. It may not even be an exaggeration to describe seiyuu as all-around entertainers.
The popularity of seiyuu has grown in line with their achievements.
With the walls between Japan’s mainstream pop culture and subcultures collapsing, there is a decreasing proliferation of stars that everyone has to ‘know’, ‘see’ or ‘hear’, and the result is that seiyuu who possess proven skills and a stable level of popularity are held in increasingly high esteem.
It goes without saying that the platform on which the seiyuu of today stand did not just materialize overnight.
The starting point of it all was with the female seiyuu boom in the 90s, a period of time during which tastes and genres fluctuated.
It was an era when seiyuu were still considered ‘craftsmen’, people who worked ‘behind the scenes’.
CD débuts under a seiyuu’s own name, public performances, the development of anime radio culture, the launching of seiyuu-focused publications, the evolution of gaming hardware that allowed the utilization of in-game voices, the growth of the Internet and mobile phones usage, the establishment of popular otaku culture, the cold eyes of the preceding generation of seiyuu and the passionate gazes of the succeeding generation of seiyuu; with all this came an explosion in related businesses as well as a rapid increase in fan numbers….
Back then, there were never any definite answers to any questions one had; there would be days of hurt, days of getting carried away, days when one fell into despair, yet there was no other solution than for one to carve his or her own path.
It is only because of the existence of such endeavours and struggles that the seiyuu ‘genre’ of today can shine as they do.
The female seiyuu who remain as active on the frontline now as they were then.
On that day, at that very moment.
What were they thinking? What were they feeling?
Next: Hayashibara Megumi