I know what you’re thinking – Kōda Yume-who? If anyone is familiar with her name at all, it is probably more for her fledgling idol/solo singing career rather than her voice acting, which has been limited to a couple of bit-parts and supporting characters.
Born 1992, Kōda made her voice acting debut in 2009 at the age of 17, in the anime Kiddy GIRL-AND and also released 2 singles with the Lantis recording label since 2014. She originally wanted to become a singer, but changed to voice acting after passing auditions for the Production Ace voice acting agency, which she was signed to until the end of 2016.
So what is making more people get interested in Kōda is this – after announcing her departure from Production Ace, her personal blog suddenly became very interesting. She started to post her opinions and tips on the seiyuu profession and about her experiences, from the viewpoint of an ex-idol-turned-freelancing seiyuu. Stuff like gyara, work scheduling, part-time jobs, friendships between seiyuu etc.
It’s obviously refreshing to get a ‘insider’ view right from the horses’ mouth as opposed to the usual kind of boring management-approved PR blog crap that fans get fed. Of course, Kōda’s views may not necessarily be the same as other seiyuu from other agencies so read into them what you will.
Here’s a sample translation of a post that may perhaps be useful to all of us who like to send seiyuu fan letters and gifts: ‘what unpopular seiyuu want’. I suppose it’s a bit painful and uncomfortable to read about seiyuu not even making enough to buy basic necessities (remember how Hosoya Yoshimasa had to go take showers at other people’s houses?) but it’s hardly surprising when there are just too many seiyuu.
Note: The word Kōda uses is 売れない (urenai, lit: unsellable). My decision was to translate it as ‘unpopular’.
Presents that unpopular seiyuu are grateful to receive
It has become normal for seiyuu to show their faces in public in recent times; there are many avenues that require so-called idol seiyuu, or should I say, seiyuu who can sing and dance on stage.
Those of you who have been supporting me for a long time will know this, but I used to be active in an idol unit in the past.
There were many related events and stage performances that fans would always come to see, and they would bring gifts. In other words, there were many opportunities for me to receive presents.
Today, I would like to talk about those presents.
Presents make me really happy
It’s probably a bit frank for me to say ‘unpopular’
But as I previously wrote about being a seiyuu and working part-time simultaneously, fresh rookie seiyuu mostly don’t make enough from voice work to support themselves.
That’s why it’s really nice, as unpopular seiyuu, to receive presents.
I’m already so glad that you would come all the way [to the events] but on top of that, to spend time and money and choosing a present for me – that makes me even happier.
In my case I often receive fragrantly-scented presents, fancy-coloured items, pouches and accessories etc – gifts from people who are more knowledgeable about femininity than I myself am. Obviously I am continuing to use them right now filled with much gratitude.
I’m deeply moved to know that you would take care to look up what women might like.
There are many good-smelling products, items that may run out and need to be refilled.
I feel like I am learning good things from my fans about how to be a woman lol
Now let’s talk about something more serious.
Partly based on my own experiences,
But also what I have heard from my seiyuu friends, I will introduce to you ‘Presents that unpopular seiyuu are grateful to receive’.
The main point here is ‘grateful to receive’ as opposed to ‘happy to receive’.
Because you would feel happy no matter what was given to you.
Presents to be grateful for
Yes. Food. Haha
Let me be frank, there are loads of unpopular seiyuu out there who find it really hard to feed themselves.
It’s the same for any acting industry, be it voice actors, actors, actresses; a fact that is often publicized by comedians – until you gain popularity, you will live a life of extreme poverty.
(It is even tougher for stage actors)
Surviving on bean sprouts (40 yen) or making tofu-based dishes.
That’s why we’re truly grateful to receive food, especially rice.
After all, there are many people who come to Tokyo from rural areas, living on their own while trying to become seiyuu.
A friend of mine did actually receive a bag of rice but obviously, it’s kind of heavy to bring around and to take home, so maybe it would be better to receive rice coupons lol
It does have quite the impact though, to receive a bag of rice.
A present that would be gratefully received during stage runs would be portable humidifiers.
It works merely by attaching it to a plastic bottle; it’s really great. You can use it all the time throughout stage performances, so we’d be grateful for it.
Many event spaces and stage theatres have pretty dry environments; many seiyuu say their throats go dry as soon as they enter the area.
This is particularly bad as seiyuu don’t only work at events or on stage, they also have regular weekly voice jobs so they tend to do stage performances in parallel with their other work.
So it’s not only their stage performances that they have to get through,
The following day they’ll be back at work normally, or have to do prep work for the stage as well.
For me, I might have to go from training straight to auditions
Or have a job scheduled at 10am on the day after a 3-day stage run – that was quite normal.
This is why we really appreciate presents related to throat care.
Incidentally there are many people who own personal inhalers.
They not only serve as humidifiers, but they also help to soothe the throat more efficiently.
Amazon gift cards
For unpopular seiyuu it’s well, kind of appreciated to receive gift cards.
When seiyuu attend auditions or when it’s determined which character is to be voiced, we’ll have to go out and buy the source material if it exists ie. novels and manga, so we can read it.
If a game is part of a series and we have the time to spare, then we’ll go back and play the previous works.
Previously we could thankfully use library cards to go and hunt down such material but of late, most people seem to be using e-books instead.
As you can look the material up on the spot with a mere click, it’s a very efficient method for seiyuu who don’t have a lot of time to go through such things.
So we are really thankful for Amazon gift cards that allow us to buy such material.
Though of course, we pay for them out of our own pockets most of the time.
Manuka honey, a type of honey that is gaining popularity amongst seiyuu.
It is a honey famous for its highly sterile properties; it isn’t medicine and is merely honey so it’s sweet and tastes good. Having a few tastes of it daily decreases your chances of catching a cold and that makes it the best product ever that possesses the effect of suppressing throat inflammation.
What’s more, it helps to prevent influenza too!
It is a type of honey that has been studied since the 1980s, with its effects not just useful for private therapy but also as a part of modern medicine.
It’s been said that roughly half of Japanese people have been infected with the H. pylori bacteria (thought to cause stomach ulcers, duodenal ulcers as well as gastric cancer).
Apparently you can see benefits merely by consuming a teaspoon [of the honey] whenever you’re hungry, and I do know quite a few seiyuu who take some before they go to bed.
It’s a bit expensive if you buy it normally so unpopular seiyuu usually can’t afford to spend such money.
But we do often discuss it in the recording studio.
I have received it as a gift before.
I really appreciated it…
I have a friend who was really grateful to receive a Starbucks card!
Starbucks is expensive so unpopular seiyuu can’t really afford to go…
I’m pretty thrifty myself so I mostly go for 100 yen convenience store coffee.
Many women love Starbucks though, so it doesn’t matter whether you’re popular or not, anyone who receives a card would surely be happy.
There are many people who get a take-out at Starbucks before heading to work, arriving early so they can do script-checks while drinking their coffee.
Even if you dislike coffee there are plenty of other drinks you could get at a Starbucks.
Nutrition drinks (non-caffeinated)
Presents you’re glad to receive during stage performances – nutrition drinks~
For women in particular, we’re glad to have non-caffeinated drinks.
But they can get heavy if given in large numbers so we’re happy to get just one, and also appreciate it if people try not to give us things during the final day of performance.
This is because we have lots of luggage to take back after our final performances so we’re happy to get smaller gifts instead.
Blue mallow tea
This is herbal tea that was recommended by staff members.
Seems to be a fairly precious item.
I only had it once in a café before – it changes colour when you drip lemon juice into it, making it a visually striking herbal tea.
A non-caffeinated herbal tea that’s effective for soothing sore throats or colds. It’s trendy, yet practical.
A nice handkerchief
I don’t really get chances to buy handkerchiefs for myself,
You’d look fashionable if you were to go to trendy places or meetings with distinguished people with a nice handkerchief in your hand.
But in our daily lives where we can already barely get by, to spend money on something like that is a bit…
Still, it’s the ‘classy’ people who have things like handkerchiefs and shoes that are discreetly fashionable and luxurious.
That’s why it’s great help to get a good handkerchief.
I am saying all of this with honest intentions.
I’m just summarising the kind of presents that I have observed people around me getting,
Purely for reference.
In the end, I am truly happy to receive any presents given with me in mind.
On days off, when I feel down,
I will read and re-read the letters that all of you have sent.
When I am feeling discouraged it is definitely letters that I will turn to in order to cheer myself up.
To all of you who have written letters, I am truly grateful.
If any of you have a favourite seiyuu yourself, I’d be glad if you could take note of that.
Thanks for reading.
I’m still debating whether or not to translate/summarize some of Kōda’s other posts – there’s so much gold in there but it’s a bit personal and private and I’d feel like an awkward stalker translating the entirety of somebody else’s posts without their express permission…