Voice Actress Directory shows explosive growth in numbers since 20 years ago.

It’s no secret that the voice acting industry in Japan is big. The country’s prolific publishing of animation and video games means there’s a never-ending flow of characters who need voices, and Japan also has a very healthy appetite for overseas movies and TV dramas, many of which get dubbed-into-Japanese versions too.

So that means there are a lot of voice actresses in Japan, and the number is getting bigger still. Voice actor magazine Seiyu Grand Prix periodically publishes the Voice Actress Directory, which it says is a comprehensive listing of working voice actresses in Japan. The newest directory, set to be included as part of Seiyu Grand Prix’s March issue (which goes on sale February 9), has profiles for over 1,030 voice actresses, the most ever since the directory started in 2001.

What’s even more startling than the number of voice actresses, though, is how quickly the number has grown.

● Number of listed performers in Voice Actress Directory
2001: 225
2004: 438
2008: 535
2014: 644
2016: 728
2018: 800
2019: 847
2020: 907
2021: 955
2022: 1,003
2023: Over 1,030

There’s also been a tremendous increase in the number of voice actors in Japan over the past 20 years. Seiyu Grand Prix’s most recent Voice Actor Directory, published in 2022, consists of a record-high 655 male vocal performers, compared to just 145 in the 2001 directory. Together, the combined number of voice actors and actresses has increased by roughly four and a half times since 2001.

More performers, though, may or may not be a sign that the industry is experiencing healthy growth. Tight budgets and severely short deadlines have largely come to be seen as the norm in the modern anime production world, and the proliferation of indie games, doujin animation projects, virtual YouTubing, and the like are creating more and more vocal roles to be filled, but usually aren’t flush with cash or offering much in the way of long-term stability, which has been reflected in online reactions to the directory’s record number of voice actresses.

“Can’t see this as anything other than market saturation.”
“No wonder I can’t remember all their names!”
“How many of those voice actresses can make ends meet without a side job?”
“I wonder how much the numbers would get cut down by if they were for the number that can earn a decent living only through voice acting.”
“There may be a lot of voice actresses, but the choice jobs are still concentrated among a small group of them.”
“Only a select few can make a good living. That’s why when they’re casting something high-profile like a new PreCure anime, they get tons of people who want to audition.”

For anyone thinking of pursuing a career in voice acting in Japan, it’s important to remember that it really is part of the show business industry. Much like being a live-action actress or actor, there’s always going to be a ton of competition for desirable and well-paying jobs. Only a few will make it to the top of the industry, and a whole lot are going to drop out of it and have to look for work elsewhere. For those who are prepared for the financial and mental challenges, though, Seiyu Grand Prix’s Voice Actress/Actor Directory numbers show that more people than ever before are willing to take their shot.

Source: Oricon News via Yahoo! Japan News via Otakomu, Twitter
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Pakutaso
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he hasn’t done any voice acting since voicing Piccolo in a high school animation class project.