The number of female voice actors listed in the annual Voice Actor Directory has more than quadrupled since the guide was first released 19 years ago. 

Despite the global popularity of anime and video games, it’s hard to pave your way as a professional voice actor (seiyu) in Japan. The money isn’t great as an aspiring star and there’s the cost of vocal and acting lessons. If you manage to break into the big leagues, however, you’ll have packs of adoring fans wishing you happy birthday and lining up to meet with you for crazy reasons.

A new directory has shown that the number of voice actresses in Japan has been steadily climbing over the past two decades, reaching its highest number ever this year. The recently released March issue of Seiyu Grand Prix Magazine included the supplemental Voice Actor Directory 2020–Female Version, which registers the basic profiles of 907 active voice actresses in the industry. Profile information for each actress includes her picture, representative works, birthday, hometown, blood type, hobbies, and special skills.

▼ This month’s Seiyu Grand Prix Magazine with Inori Minase gracing the cover

The first edition of the magazine’s Voice Actor Directory was released in 2001 with a total of 225 registered voice actresses. Last year’s 2019 edition noted 847 voice actresses. The 60 new names added to the 2020 edition include five young voice actress-singers from Music Ray’n’s third generation of idol stars, voice actresses for the popular video game CUE! (which ironically pits you as the manager of 16 newbie voice actresses), and even popular male role actress Nanami Hiroki from Takarazuka theater.

Net users were quick to comment on and speculate about the reason for the steadily increasing number of female professionals:

“Different magazines provide various figures but this magazine with its listing of 900 is really amazing.”

“It makes me wonder how that increase stacks up against the number of currently active male voice actors in Japan.”

“I think it’s worth noting that even if they sell really well for three to five years, many voice actresses then disappear completely.”

“More and more voice actresses are becoming idol singers like Nana Mizuki. I think many young women want to emulate being idols through voice acting these days.”

“There will always be a need for new voice actresses as big names retire or pass away, but with an increase in numbers the question becomes whether they can all manage to find jobs or not.” 

With visible crossover happening in the voice acting industry these days between anime voice acting, video game voice acting, foreign film dubbing, and singing, voice actors must certainly take on a variety of versatile roles. Perhaps the increase in numbers is also partly a reflection of the changing definition of voice actors in today’s Japan.

Source: Oricon News via Otakomu
Top image: Pakutaso 
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