Japan Statistics Bureau: Nearly 100% of Anime Voice Actors Without Obviously Accented English Remain Jobless
CHIYODA, Tokyo, Japan — Employment opportunities for anime voice actors with native-sounding English continued to hover near zero in the month of October, according to figures released Friday by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. Jobs numbers remained stubbornly low in spite of government initiatives targeted at the hiring of competent English speakers, including the addition of characters who “basically screamed for someone with better English than a potato,” according to an anonymous source inside the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry.
In one prominent failure, the role of Kouki Saiki, a Japanese returnee from an English-speaking country in this season’s WWW.Working!!, ended up going to voice actor Yoshimasa Hosoya, whose English has a distinctly Japanese flavor. “For this to happen when Saiki’s native language was explicitly changed to English, from the Web manga’s original Korean, is nothing short of a complete repudiation of the program. It’s as if no one in the industry cares,” said Kenzou Takamiya, professor of labor studies at Tokyo University.
The Statistics Bureau expects the hiring of VAs who don’t need a katakana reference for English text to remain low in the coming months, especially given the now-likely demise of the multilateral Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, or TPP. Provisions in the TPP would have lowered barriers to work visas for Japanese Americans seeking voice roles in anime, but the election of the staunchly anti-trade Donald Trump as president of the United States has effectively closed the possibility of the deal’s ratification.
Reaction from English-speaking anime fans has been muted, with some expressing disbelief that voice actors’ Japanglish was ever a concern. “I don’t think I’ve ever noticed,” said 33-year-old Kent Wentworth of Toledo, Ohio. “I mean, it all sounds like Japanese to me. I’m too busy reading the subtitles to really pay attention to their voices anyway.”