An increasing number of “voice actors” have been appearing regularly in dramas in recent years, such as Mamoru Miyano in “Kimi no Hana ni Naru” (TBS) and Kotono Mitsuishi in “Rikokatsu” (TBS).
Voice actors used to have an image of being behind the scenes, but that image seems to have been completely dispelled. Needless to say, the term “voice actor” literally means an actor with a voice. Before television broadcasting began in Japan, those who were called actors were called stage actors or movie actors, and those who appeared in radio dramas, which were the entertainment of the common people, were also called actors.
Later, actors who only performed voices for dubbed animation and foreign films came to be called voice actors, and as the “separation” between actors and voice actors became clearer, it goes without saying that voice actors, whose faces could not be seen, began to be associated with a behind-the-scenes image.
From the late 1960s to the early 1970s, TV stations began broadcasting foreign films on TV, such as “00 Yo-eiga Gekijo” and “00 Roadshow. Because the films were dubbed in Japanese rather than subtitled, the voice actors’ appearances increased dramatically, and they were given more opportunities to be closely watched.
This was due to the fact that the dubbing was done by voice actors who matched the image of each actor, thereby successfully impressing the viewers with the names of the voice actors.
For example, Nachi Nozawa was in charge of dubbing for Alain Delon, Al Pacino, Robert Redford, and Bruce Willis. Many famous voice actors were produced by Western broadcasting, including Goro Natani for John Wayne and Charlton Heston, Michio Hazama for Sylvester Stallone, Yasuo Yamada for Clint Eastwood, and Keiko Toda for Jodie Foster.
However, most of them were “actors” who had come from theater companies or had appeared in movies and TV dramas.
For this reason, some of them feel uncomfortable being called “voice actors. In fact, Toda, Kunio Murai, the voice of Harrison Ford, Shoji Kobayashi, who, like Natani, played John Wayne, and Tsutomu Isobe, the voice of Mel Gibson, were also active as actors.
Then time passed and the anime boom arrived. With the arrival of the boom, the voice actors who performed the voices of the characters began to attract attention.
In recent years, anime voice actors have been rejuvenated and have become more and more idolized. Furthermore, the development of the Internet and the proliferation of social networking services (SNS) have increased the exposure of anime voice actors, resulting in a dramatic increase in the number of fans; it is common to have more than one million followers on SNS. According to Takahiko Kageyama, a former producer at Mainichi Broadcasting System and professor at Doshisha Women’s University’s Department of Media Creation, “Popular voice actors are very popular with their fans.
Popular voice actors are very attentive to their fans and have many devoted fans. I have heard that Hiroki Kaji, who appears in the current broadcast of “Kimi no Hana ni Naru,” is particularly attentive to fan service. And since fans of voice actors are very active on SNS, the production team probably wants to use them if at all possible.”
He analyzes, “I think that the productions would like to use voice actors if they can.
There is no way that TV and radio would leave them alone. They are sought out for variety shows and talk shows, and some even have their own radio shows. And that’s not all. An increasing number of them are also making their acting debuts.
Voice acting requires a very high level of technique in terms of acting only with the voice. Besides, since they originally learned the basics of acting at a theater company or voice-over acting school, they are better suited to acting than idols, models, or other people in other industries. Therefore, the production side has no concerns about having voice actors perform.
Recently, a number of popular voice actors have made their acting debuts. Popular idol voice actress Ayane Sakura, who narrates “Music Station,” appeared in “Izami and Tokyo 03” (NTV), and Sachika Misawa is currently starring in “Forensic Woman Season 21.
A manager at an entertainment agency that has a large number of actors says of voice actors entering the acting business, “There are more and more rivals.
There is a sense of crisis because there will be that many more rivals. Moreover, they already have the basics and acting ability, so they don’t need to study voice training or acting, unlike actors who have switched from being TV personalities or models. In addition, they have a large fan base. I think this is a perfect match for the drama production side.
Recently, on the contrary, there are more and more opportunities for actors to work as voice actors, and he believes that the barriers between voice actors and actors will disappear in the future.
The success of idol voice actors has increased the number of opportunities for voice actors. The day may soon come when your “guess” will appear in a drama.
Text： Hiroyuki Sasaki
Born in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, Hiroyuki Sasaki became a reporter for FRIDAY at the age of 31, reporting numerous scoops during his time with FRIDAY and later working mainly for the weekly magazine. Recently, he has been appearing on TV and radio as a commentator.