Before her salad days, voice of Haruhi Suzumiya says she couldn’t afford actual salad.

It’s becoming common knowledge that the starting pay for animators in the anime industry is pretty abysmal, with many artists either having to blow through their savings or accept financial help from Mom and Dad while attempting to establish their careers. But at the lower rungs of the pay scale, it’s not just the people drawing the characters who have a hard time making ends meet, but the people voicing them as well.

Nowadays, 30-year-old Aya Hirano is among the most popular voice actresses in the industry, having solidified her fanbase voicing Haruhi Suzumiya and Konata Izumi, stars of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Lucky Star, respectively.

▼ Hirano’s singing voice, which she shows off here in Haruhi’s “God knows…,” is also in high demand.

However, Hirano wasn’t always sitting atop the voice acting A-list. As a matter of fact, before her big breaks of the mid-2000s, she was struggling to scrape together enough paying gigs to cover her grocery bills. While being interviewed on brodcaster Kansai TV’s Kaiketsu Emi Channel variety show, Hirano looked back on her life pre-stardom, and told the audience:

“There was a time when I really had no money, so I’d put soy sauce on tissues and eat them.”

The interview itself took place back in 2014, but the limited regional reach of Kansai TV kept many fans from hearing about it until recently.

Puzzlingly, Hirano (who says she was eating tissues while working on Haruhi) didn’t like to settle for the cheapest tissues. While you can often get packets of tissues for free in Japan, handed out on the street by businesses advertising their services on an inserted flier, Hirano says the freebies don’t taste good, and preferred store-bought varieties that contained lotion, adding yet another not-intended-for-consumption ingredient to her meals.

Of course, if you can scrape together enough yen to buy high-end tissues, it seems like you’d have enough to, alternatively, buy some low-end convenience store onigiri rice balls, instant noodles, or snack foods. However, Hirano insists that her budget-stretching strategy was chomping down on tissues.

While it’s hard to imagine that diet was anywhere near nutritious, Hirano survived, and is thankfully now in a position to buy whatever actual food she wants…unless she still finds herself craving tissues.

Source: Sponichi Annex via Otakomu
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