Kotono Mitsuishi: “The Industry is Dumping Skilled Seiyuu”


Veteran seiyuu Kotono Mitsuishi, known for scores of top roles including Misato, Boa Hancock and Excel, has spoken out against the anime industry’s harsh treatment of seiyuu, saying it has forced them into penury and discards as soon as they become experienced rather than pay them more, causing a dearth of skilled seiyuu as a result.

Her comments were made in a recent interview given to a careers website:

Actually, at the moment conditions in the industry are very harsh.

Production budgets are low, so the only seiyuu who get used are young, cheap ones, and the more experienced ones don’t get called upon at all.

In short, there are no “experts” in place. There aren’t the kind of opportunities I had to experience moving performances by senior seiyuu. As a result, new seiyuu can’t grow.

Even young seiyuu who do manage to improve find themselves no longer called upon as soon as their fee rises a little.

You can’t make a living on such low wages, it’s a vicious circle.


Of 100 classmates, only 1 or 2, if that, are able to make a living doing seiyuu work alone. But even so many keep doing it as part time work. It’s their life and they want to fulfil their dreams.

That seiyuu are paid a pittance is common knowledge, but up to now it seems to have been assumed this has no impact on their actual performing ability…

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  • Anonymous says:

    It’s funny to see western otaku flaming reappearance of young seiyuu/mourning over the lack of veteran seiyuu while most of them dl anime. Big mouths but did nothing to help them, huh? Shut up and go looping Slayer or Sailor moon anime or just buy the whole lots of them.

  • Anonymous says:

    I don’t know.. a skilled Seiyuu for me is someone that can do at least 5 different types of voices..

    There are some veterans out there that keeps one going.. yet all their characters sound the same..

    Inoue Kikuko is a definitive example of this… Since the 90s, all the characters she voiced over sounded like Belldandy.. Well she did add that villain feel in some characters like Lust or Grace O’connor but they still sounded almost like Belldandy..

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Rie Kugimiya would follow the same path.. All her characters sound like Shana..

    Look at the bright side, at least with this kind of turn over rate in the anime industry, no characters would sound the exactly the same..

    Anyway, the important thing is the character, not the voice so I don’t care much about seiyuus..

    • As much as any other factors, the voice creates the character. You shouldn’t talk about things you don’t understand.

      Also, Inoue Kikuko voiced Panther in Saber J whose voice was unrecognizable as her other characters.

      Kugimiya also did voices in Rosario Vampire and Ladies vs Butlers which sounded nothing like her most common roles.


  • I agree with Kotono Mitsuishi. A lot of the skilled seiyuu are being dumped and the ones that are currently in the industry are unskilled and can only be type cast to certain roles or should be.

    But if seiyuus are that concerned on keeping expert talent in the industry then its better to working at the same price the younger seiyuu work at.

    In short its all about money the experienced seiyuu really don’t give a damn about the industry itself but more about the cash in their pockets. A seiyuu who truely loves her work would do it no matter if her pay was low.

  • Anonymous says:

    But i thought it was piracy that kept artists poor and hungry. I mean, that what everyone says, right?

    Seriously, though, it’s my personal experience that many a company to employ artists of any kind will exploit them as shamelessly as it can. Never let your employers know you love your work, or they’ll suck you dry.

  • Anonymous says:

    I’m seeing a lot of why bother w/ older Seiyuu when the “otaku” market is ever after “kawaii/moe”

    Kinda tragic in a way how the industry has pretty much been reduced to the “appeal to the common deniminator” approach now a days. Whats actually worse is this whole “moe/kawaii” obsession is in the end something the industry bought on themselves by practically shifting focus on that spectrum.

    Honestly.. there was a time when Seiyuu work wasn’t just the realm of the new and kawaii voice. It was actually decent acting work w/ more flexibility depending on your talent to work on characters..

    Not one seiyuu these days can ever hold to the flexibility and work from the “ye olde seiyuu” specially the queen of seiyuu – Hayashibara, Megumi

  • Anonymous says:

    Why paying seiyuu more for experience and excellent performace, since otakus have almost 100% visual reception of the world? It is sufficient, that a seiyuu can speak in anime voice is young and has cute, girlish appearance, that’s all. Cuteness is far more important for otakus than excellence in voice acting. They unconsciously receive voice of “kawaii” girl more pleasant, than the voice of the girl not-so-generously donated by nature.

  • Anonymous says:

    The only solution to this would be to form some sort of Seiyuu Union, unless something like that happens she can complain all she wants. In the end anybody with a bit of acting experience can voice act, all industries will take advantage of their respective segments of the labour force, it is natural to them unless of course you monopolise your talent with certain roles, for example aya hirano will forever be known as haruhi and haruhi cannot be made without her neither can lucky star.

  • Anonymous says:

    Sankaku Complex says anime is denying the skilled seiyuu jobs.

    Fumihiko Tachiki is a skilled seiyuu.

    Guess who’s narrating Kaiji season 2?

    Yeah, you’re all misinterpreting Kotono’s words thanks to the headline.

  • this will sound harsh, but when you get better, don’t ask for more money? the whole world wonders why jobs go to foreigner and such, and its simple, they will work for less.

    there are some jobs you do because you love, not because you get bank.

    • Anonymous says:

      Lawlz at obvious trolls?

      Right because hell every “experienced” actor out there like say Dustin Hoffman, Brad Pitt, Lucy Liu and all that are still working for under the piddly sum of what they used to earn from days doing extra work right? =P

      Heaven forbid the industry actually pay for an actors experience xD

    • Anonymous says:

      Okay, smarty… What happens if you start a family? What happens if your parents fall ill? What happens if YOU develop an illness yourself? Do you still keep working your ass like a mule for next to nothing, all in the name of good art?

      • Anonymous says:

        ‘What happens if you start a family? What happens if your parents fall ill? What happens if YOU develop an illness yourself? Do you still keep working your ass like a mule for next to nothing’?

        Well, actually, most humans on Planet Earth work like mules for crap wages, and they can’t even console themselves by claiming that art is involved.

        It does suck that our beloved art form is not treating its vital voice actors well, but the practical question is what are we going to do about it?

        We can make alternative art, we can buy alternative art, and aside from that, I don’t see any practical ACTION.

  • ArKlone01 says:

    It’s exactly what happened with the DBZ Kai dub in Latin America – the old dubbers were asking a decent salary because of their experience, and got dumped and replaced by baseline dubbers which asked less money.

  • That’s capitalism…something so interesting the poorest often enshrine hoping they’ll be rich someday and able to exploit others. Thing is, capitalism left on it’s own degenerates into a brutal uncaring monarchy effectively.

    It’s interesting, the “Industry” pays sh-t to it’s workers and screams piracy, but I’d bet the top guys are very, VERY wealthy.

  • kenshinflyer says:

    Sheesh–and the practice of giving some seiiyu double roles are increasing…

    Heh–a legendary seiiyu finally speaks an eye-opening reality.

    And, yeah, we may slam Hirano Aya for her latest shenanigans–er, ventures, but this could be the reason why. It could also be the reason why Iwao Junko is branching out to singing as well (and seemingly staying there) and her seiiyu appearances getting rarer.

  • Anonymous says:

    This might explain why someone like Aya Hirano has tried to branch out into other forms of entertainment. To have more work.
    She or her agent may have seen the writing on the wall for experienced seiyuu and decided it was in her best interest to not limit herself to doing ONLY seiyuu work.

    I wonder.

  • Anonymous says:

    I think it’s just because ‘seiyuu’ for the Japanese nowadays means that they have to have the complete package: voice, skill and LOOKS.

    Look at all the new young manstream ‘seiyuus’ from early 2000s. They all have decent looks and above, many even start singing, and not to mention those who put up gravure-ish photo albums.

    As a result, the more skilled but less endowed voice actresses had to take refuge in the eroge industry, moaning and screaming fake orgasms for ronery otakus the world over.

  • Anonymous says:

    It’s a general Anime industry strategy.
    And what’s wrong with it isn’t piracy, it’s a problem with the industry itself.
    We could have less anime titles, with a skilled workforce and proper paychecks.
    But since anime is becoming mainstream, the industry is going after spending the least they can to profit the most on quantity.
    But you know, we can’t judge everything by one seyuu standard.
    We do have very skilled seyuus working on several titles from the same season too.
    The renewing cycle on voice actors is also a good thing.
    Personally, I don’t have much to complain about seyuus working on this season titles, for instance.

    • “An anime or game needs to be dubbed to English here in the US? Just get Steven Blum, Crispin Freeman, and the rest of the people we get to do it every time, what else do we need done?”

      Seems to be the attitude of those companies.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s not really skill American voice actors that have a problem of being overused. It’s that they lack flexibility in their vocal abilities. Disney and Pixar are a good example of this, they have some awesome voice actors that can play multiple roles and you’d never notice unless you either read the credits or watched the “making of”. That’s what a real skilled voice actor is, someone that can completely change the sound of their voice to fit a role without sacrificing the tone the character should be conveying.

    • Anonymous says:

      Get some more skilled actors you mean… and now you know why Anime is getting unpopular in America. And they blame it on piracy?! Bullshit. No quality voice actor= no pay. I mean nobody wants to watch an entire anime when the voice acting sucks and the voices are carried over FROM another dubbed anime you watched -_-

      • I think it’s more of an attitude problem. A lot of American voice actors still have the mindset of “it’s just a cartoon it’s good enough”. Perhaps they just don’t pickup on the cultural nuances. Off the top of my head I can think of only three anime where I prefer the English dub to the Japanese sub. Those are “Cowboy Bebop”, “Black Lagoon” and “RahXephon”.

        The anime industry is taking a beating on both sides of the Pacific with the economy.
        I hope things turn around for all our sakes.

        • And rape my eyes with fansubs that drag my vision to the extreme bottom and far left corners of the screen, all while making me try to distinguish some unreadable “anime-fitting” font from similarly-colored backgrounds? No thanks, I’d rather watch anime, not decipher CAPTCHAs.

  • No wonder certain seiyuu that seems to have some voice style of their own which actually can still be polished tend to be stuck on only 1-3 roles. Examples include the voiceactress who did Manabe Nodoka, and Oohashi Ayuru/Nakai Erika who did Eila. Even Kanemoto Hisako (Ika-Musume and Sorami Kanata)’s career has yet to be proven stable at this moment.

    Anyway Kotono still looks hawt in that pic.

    • Anonymous says:

      That would, indeed, be very effective. But it fails with the Japanese not being accustomed on how to strike or fight for their rights.

      Remember, in Japan you’re supposed to be an obedient drone. There aren’t even effective labor unions that can guarantee any form of basic rights.

      • Anonymous says:

        I somehow don’t think that would be particularly effective. There are a lot of voice actors in Japan, so if some went on strike, others would take their place. And who’s going to go on strike? The ones complaining that they’re not getting hired? If you’re not hired, you can’t exactly strike.

        The only real problem is that there is too much competition in the field. The only seiyuu who are arguably “irreplaceable” are those who play a main character in an ongoing series. If you are in such a position, you’re less likely to have a problem with how things are.

        A lot of anime series are rather tight on budget to begin with, so if one’s options are to hire an upcoming, yet decent seiyuu or some marginally better, established one at a significantly greater cost, the lower cost option is likely to be more attractive. The animators are also grossly underpaid and overworked, despite probably having an even greater role in the overall quality of an anime.

        In order for things to change, it would likely require a change in business model for how anime and its related merchandise are sold. In the end, you’d probably end up with many series being deemed unprofitable and not getting made at all. Maybe if Japanese animation companies can find ways to better profit from sales overseas things could improve.

  • Anonymous says:

    It’s good that there’s new talent being given roles, but it’s sad that the more experienced ones are given less opportunities.

    Compare this to say western dubs which have commonly repeated veteran names in the industry.

    That being said, they need to give more roles to Rie Kugimiya

    • Anonymous says:

      What they need to do is give more roles outside the tsundere typecast to Kugimiya.

      The balance between her non-tsundere and tsundere type characters are wayyyy out of whack.

      • I’m with you there. I love Kugyu both for her tsundere and non-tsundere roles, but she’s getting pigeonholed into tsunderes because she’s basically the best in the business at it. She’s done some great work outside of that (Mizore from Rosario to Vampire and Sabato from Dokuro-Chan just off the top of my head) so they should hire her for more stuff.

        As far as the original post, it’s a sad reality of the current production regime. I think it’s a symptom of the industry focusing so much on semi-pornographic harem/moe shows aimed at a ridiculously small audience spending a lot of (what’s likely their parents) money on their obsession, instead of the more wide appeal anime had even 5-10 years ago when there was a more balanced range of shows. You can’t afford to pay for experience when you’re making shows you don’t expect to sell more than 10k in BD/DVD sales, so they get disposable seiyuu who may not be that talented or long lasting, but some of them sure look cute so you can use them to sell a few pictures too.

        Even knowing how exploitative the whole thing is, voice acting’s still something I always wanted to do but never had the chops for.

    • Anonymous says:

      The only real way to support seiyuu directly would be to buy whatever they set out to do themselves, I think. Royalties are very small for the original creators of the manga many series are based on. The quantity of money a seiyuu might see from his or her work in a series could be even smaller.

      • Anonymous says:

        Oops. I should have been more clear.

        Manga artist, voice actors, musicians, etc – will all get better with experience.

        Watching something with BAD voice acting is grating, English or Japanese.

      • Anonymous says:


        They should be paid well for their labor and heart if the publisher is making money.

        Perhaps they should form some sort of union.

        This is a shame… it takes years for these artist to become truly good. Otherwise, the quality goes down and the customers don’t want to buy it.

        Crappy art/stories are not worth buying.

        Compare Wingman to Video Girl Ai – for which I own all the original manga. Katsura was good, but he got much much better with experience and time. Products (dolls, games, toys, etc) are created when something is good and popular. Junk doesn’t usually get popular.

        PS: Kotono Mitsuishi is a rather hot looking.

    • Entertainment industry generally is very harsh and it seems very tough for a seiyuu to have a long career. Economics and competition for few jobs – its got to be difficult.

      Plus so many of the anime are teen boys/girls and they like seiyuu’s to match it seems most of the time. So once a seiyuu hits 25, or god for bid, 30, there aren’t many characters for them.

      I was looking that the lead seiyuu’s for My Ordinary Life (nichijou) most have very little experience….

  • Funny how there’s a lot more money in the merchandising than there is in the actual making of anime. No wonder good shows are scarce, paying for a good scriptwriter is probably too expensive so they hire the rookies, teehee.

    So if you want to make money in the anime industry you should sell toys and useless junk!

  • Anonymous says:

    Call me a heartless capitalist with no appreciation for art, but they sort of have a job that at least half of all literate people could do. Unless a seiyuu has a particular voice and speaks in a very popular anime, so that changing the actor changes that product too much, they really are disposable and interchangeable.

  • Anonymous says:

    Make an english anime next time, because jap is a small country. Only a few people speak jap. And many people speak English or Chink, this will help your animation industry.

      • erochichi says:

        Kikuko Inoue is still working as seiyuu. I guess her income is decent.
        There is also many older male seiyuu doing old men roles which are not scarce in mecha and war anime. Generals & other older officers, politicians and tycoons etc.
        But many excellent female seiyuu have been lost from anime, like Hiroko Konishi, Junko Iwao, Ryoko Shintani, Yuko Mizutani and more. There is probably great numbers of young female voice talent around and, just as Kotoko says, producers are profiting from it.
        No wonder Nana Mizuki & Yukari Tamura are doing many concert tours.

      • They are also well established in those roles, and those aren’t shows aimed at the otaku demographic. The otakus like attractive up and coming girls who are also idols. mid 40s seiyuus aren’t what they are interested in. Basically, by early 30s, you’re done in the industry as a female seiyuu. Its actually a less forgiving industry than pop singers in America, where late 20s is where you are done.

        • Anonymous says:

          I can only wonder how much these idols hate their fans once they become aware of this fact.
          Of course they would never admit or tell their “fans” how they really feel about them.

  • Sad truth is they are no better than any other dime a dozen low wage earner.

    I’ve known friends turfed casually the moment their probationary period arrives all so the company can hire all new not full time with benefits employees.

    Voices actors/actresses they are just voices in a show eh. Sure we get to like some, but, I could likely do this work myself eh.

    It’s not the same as a doctor or registered nurse or fire fighter or anyone else hired for actual real skill that required years of hard training.

    Fast food worker, cash register jockey, phone center worker, you can get anyone to do it eh. Now a skilled plumber or electrician, that’s different.

    • Anonymous says:

      There is a certain cycle.

      Art gets stagnant.

      Artistic innovators take big risks.

      Some of those innovative risks get noticed and take root in the public imagination.

      Currently, IMHO, there is too much moe and not enough serious writing.

      The public will eventually discover some writers who will write serious stories, and those stories will take root. But there’s no guarantee that those stories will be written by Japanese writers, much less by Japanese manga writers.

  • Anonymous says:

    Anime is bullshit.

    The animation is usually cheap-ass (hell, so many of the stereotypical anime visual flourishes are really just shortcuts to save money) for which they pay animators nearly nothing and they apparently conspire to keep actors’ pay down regardless of the effect it has on quality.

    Then they sell two episodes on disc for 5000 yen.

  • Anonymous says:

    “so the only seiyuu who get used are young, cheap ones, and the more experienced ones don’t get called upon at all.”

    Makes it sound like they’re calling a prostitute…

    • Anonymous says:

      She’s doing fine, and the article is poorly translated. The interview has comments for aspiring seiyuu, and how new ones may not be able to learn from seniors. This includes her own experience of having no one to observe. Then again as usual people are posting with little/misguided/no understanding of the article.

    • Anonymous says:

      Kotono Mitsuishi has more talent in here left pinky than all the modern seiyuus combined.

      It’s not that veterans are automatically entitled to extreme wages but rather that the industry, the JAPANESE INDUSTRY is well known for being abusive cheapskates. Most of those talented people only accept these terms because there’s no alternative, even though they deserve a lot more.
      Many times there are still examples where exceptional talents have to work in the hentai and exploitation business to keep things running.

      Japan sucks as it is. It used to be a lot better but it’s getting worse and worse.