It’s getting harder and harder to survive as a seiyuu in Japan
In the recent industry, more and more seiyuu become idols, and more and more people watch certain anime simply because their favorite seiyuu is involved in the project. The popularity of seiyuus is also increasing among the younger generations, with many even appearing on popularity charts based on the opinion of elementary school children. However, the industry does not seem to be as friendly as it seems.
Only a handful of people manage to survive in an industry as tough as voice acting. Therefore, the medium Diamond Online met with the director takashi otsukawho has directed feature films of “one piece” and various installments of the “Pretty Cure“, about the operation of this industry.
«To become a seiyuu, it is necessary to attend a voice acting training school for at least two years, pass selection exams, then go through probationary periods, and finally join an agency. Although you are not limited to this, most industry members went through this exact same process.».
«Also, many seiyuus belong to the Japan Actors Union, a separate association from talent agencies. When directors and producers search for members for their voice casts, they use a “Prestige List” based on the opinions of the Japan Actors Union. Salaries for seiyuu are calculated as follows: “Base Salary” multiplied by “Premium Issue Fee” (It completely depends on the broadcast block of the anime, the larger the public, the higher the pay), multiplied by “Format Rate” (the format of the project)».
«The “Base Salary” is updated every year depending on the skills and career of each seiyuu. A) Yes, rookies earn a minimal “Base Salary” of just 15,000 yen ($115) per episode for their first three years of active career. After that they can move up to a “Base Salary” of 45,000 yen, and it takes a spectacular career to get off the list. This means that you do not have a “Base Salary”, but you yourself negotiate how much you want to earn».
«The “Premium Emission Rate” corresponds to the block in which the project will be broadcast, or the duration on screen if it is an animated film. Based on a 30-minute duration (x1.0), the rate increases proportionally with the duration of the broadcast block, being x1.5 for a 60-minute block, x1.9 for a 90-minute block, and x2 .3 in a 120 minute block. However, newbies do not have access to this rate».
«Finally, the “Format Rate” is determined by the purpose of the project for which it is being recorded. It is set at x1.8 for TV series and x2.5 for film projects. So, let’s do an exercise. Let’s say a voice actor from “Rank 15” (i.e. 15,000 yen) appears in a television series that is broadcast in a 30-minute block and with a total of 48 episodes (“Premium Emission Rate” x1.0) and (“Format Rate” x1.8), resulting in a total of 27,000 yen ($207) per episode».
«However, an acquaintance of mine explained to me that the seiyuu will not receive this money without losing a part. You have to subtract the commissions for the agency that represents you and other things, so that 27,000 yen will be reduced to less than 20,000 yen per episode. In other words, there are times when the salary of a seiyuu who recorded episodes for a year’s broadcast does not even reach a million yen (just over $7,600)».
«This paltry amount of money is obviously unsatisfactory depending on the seiyuu. It does not matter if your work becomes a trend for having been excellent, your pay has already been made beforehand. According to research articles, the average annual income for a seiyuu is 1.44 million yen for those in their 20s, and 2.04 million yen for those in their 30s. This is due to the voice acting job is not a job that works on a regular basis (8 hours a day, for 5 days a week). Even if the seiyuu will appear in every episode, he will have a low salary because he will work about one day a week for about 3 hours, which is what it takes to record an episode».
«In that sense, it can be said that the pay of the seiyuus is “justified” by the short time they actually work. However, in the anime industry today the balance between demand (animation projects in which a seiyuu participates) and supply (number of active seiyuus who meet certain requirements) is not balancedresulting in an overload of projects for artists, and which inevitably further reduces working hours and, of course, salary».
«The voice acting industry is the same as live-action acting, and it seems that many members end up doing side jobs while they have nothing to do, like performing at events, singing, among other things. Director Otsuka pointed out that low pay for voice actors is not the same as low pay for animators, since they were generated from different causes. The main reason why voice actors earn so little is the fact that there are more and more voice actors and actresses working in the industry. But since anime projects are looking for the most talented and popular, the job offers end up benefiting the old ones and not the new talent. The disparity between veterans and rookies is getting bigger, like a mountain that is getting higher and more impossible to cross.».
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