“ABEMAPrime”, the news program of “ABEMA”, has been broadcast on Jul. 9, 2020. This episode focused on the job career as a voice actor that, while it has always been ranked as a popular occupation for children, nearly 90% of the voice actors are said to have difficulties making a living.
Iwata Mitsuo, who is known for his role as Kaneda Shoutarou in “AKIRA”, and other guests, were invited to discuss along with the comedy duo EXIT about the “reality of voice acting”.
EXIT's Kanechika Daiki spoke to all the aspiring voice actors who have been working so hard to realize their dream despite the difficulties they have encountered in real life, and then giving up on their careers when they hit the barriers of age; “As the voice acting's industry has become saturated, I thought 'It's just like the comedy', it can actually be a great replacement”.
About the “added value” needed for voice actors, he said, “There's no limit to what a comedian can do, especially when it comes to amusement. There's a lot of material you can study, and a comedian's ability to be funny is about the same value. So what is required of you in that situation? To have something more, which could be, 'I have physical skills' or 'I can do sports' or 'I can cook'. That's why I think the voice actor industry and the comedy world are very similar.”
Yamaken, the founder of “Onsen”, an internet radio station featuring anime voice actors, has a deep knowledge of the voice actor industry. He talked about the fact that there are many people who aim to become voice actors while the industry itself got “saturated”; “I think it's not a harder job than others, it's just that it has become a career that many desire to achieve”.
About the current situation of voice actors, he agreed with Kanechika and said, “It's not that it's difficult because it's voice acting. To put it very simply, if you can speak Japanese properly, you can get there. Even if you can't play any instrument, even if you have a bad face, you can still “give your voice”. That makes it seem like a simple thing to do, doesn't it? That's why people want to try it. I think it's similar to being a comedian. It's not about being funny or not as a comedian, good or bad as a voice actor, it is because it's something easy to aim for, that's why the number of people who want to be voice actors is increasing. It's not that it's getting harder to do as a job, it's just that it's not so easy by the standard”.
Iwata, who played the role of the main character, Kaneda Shoutarou in the anime movie “AKIRA”, said: “If we define which type of occupation is the voice actor, it would be 'self-employment'. It is also a 'technical job', which I think is what we call a specialist. It is similar to a craftsman's job, so in a broad sense, it is a place where people who are specialized in a particular skill can play an active role. I think that many people out there tend to have a wrong idea of what actually means to be a specialist in this field”.
On the other hand, he talked about those who have given up on becoming a voice actor for age limits which are required in various jobs as a voice actor, such as “dubbing for foreign films and dramas”, “radio personality”, and “television programs and commercial narration”; “As a profession, there are many different genres of voice acting. I think many people get frustrated in the anime industry”.
In addition, when he was asked the question, “Now that the 'idolization of voice actors' is getting popular, is it necessary to have a good look or be talented?”, Iwata said, “That's one of your biggest weapons. Each characteristic and voice quality is the natural talent to be born with. Whether you are a baseball player, soccer player, painter, or designer, in general words a 'specialist' into something, you feel like you had that talent since ever. Everyone gathers in the ring above it, and only the winners will be able to remain on it”.
He also emphasized on the fact that there are many different genres of voice acting, and finding the right genre for you is the most important thing; “For example, the gold is something valuable, but you can't make a Japanese sword from it. However, there are also other places and things that can be made with the same metal”.
Yamaken also responded to that by saying, “Recently there are more and more voice actors doing things like idol activities. That's what people are aiming for. Singing songs isn't what voice actors are supposed to do, neither is standing at the Budokan nor dancing nor becoming an idol”.
Then, nodding in agreement with Iwata, he said, “It's true when you say that they've given up on their dream, but what they were aiming for is not the actual “voice actor”. The age limit comes when you're trying to do something different from an actor, while acting is something you can do at any age. The hard part is to be able to make a living with that, but that's another story”.
The news reality show “ABEMAPrime” is being live-streamed on the “ABEMANEWS Channel” in “ABEMA” every weekday evening at 9:00 p.m.
The episode on Jul. 9, 2020 is still being broadcast on “ABEMA Video”.
(C) TV Asahi
(C) AbemaTV, Inc.