1.2 There are too many seiyuu
“Why are there so many unemployed seiyuu?”
That’s easy to answer – it’s because the number of seiyuu has increased way too quickly. On the other hand, the total number of seiyuu who are currently providing ‘voice work’ is small when compared to the population as a whole. Looking back at the history of the ‘seiyuu’ profession, you can see that an increasing demand for ‘actors who worked solely with their voice’ starting in the 1960s when more foreign film and drama dubs began to be produced. The word ‘seiyuu’ itself was first used in the 1940s but back in the pre-war period, seiyuu mostly worked on radio dramas and were a little different from the type of seiyuu who operate today.
For example, in the 60s you’d have 50 chairs and 50 actors sitting in the seats with no left overs. Seeing a future need for actors that solely provided voice work, the distribution companies would pull in Shingeki stage actors and unpopular TV actors to fill in the gaps, meaning that was never going to be space for other people. Those were the times when people merely saw seiyuu as failed, shunned actors.
Nowadays, you have 300 chairs but at all times, there’ll be more than a 1000 people battling it out for a seat.
Obviously I do think that there has been an increasingly diverse demand for seiyuu’s services compared to 30 years ago. Moving in to the 21st century, we’re seeing ever more numbers of anime being produced, plus it’s not rare to have fully-voiced games any more. Regardless, it is thus. The number of chairs may have increased, but it hasn’t increased quickly enough to enable 10,000 seiyuu to feed themselves. The industry continues to be a game where there is an abnormally high rate of competition which leads to a frenzied scramble for work.
To put it bluntly, when you first become a seiyuu you’ll barely get any work. That evidently means that you won’t be able to make ends meet. Thus, the oft-mentioned rumour that ‘the majority of seiyuu support themselves by working part-time jobs’ is in fact 100% true. I was the same, continuing to work part-time in construction until around my 30s. Fortunately for me, I was able to get out of that situation pretty quickly, but it’s not actually that rare to see people in their 30s and 40s who still have yet to become ‘specialist voice actors’. Obviously, there are also people who will never become specialists, at least not through their own will.
It’s dangerous for one to casually choose this as a future ‘profession’ since it’s so difficult to establish yourself. It is better for you to give up immediately. Unless you’ve got financial support from your wealthy family or you can just take over the family business if your seiyuu dream fails or if you can readily become the bride of a person with a secure corporate job, then the right thing for you to do is to stay far away from the seiyuu industry.