Crunchyroll has been in hot water over voice actor pay, but how does the US Voice Acting (VA) industry compare to the Japanese VA industry?
In the past few months, the Voice Acting industry has been wrought with payment disputes, including the recent Bayonetta 3 scandal between former Bayonetta VA Hellena Taylor and PlatinumGames. While Hellena Taylor was caught lying about her actual pay, a lot of English voice actors chipped in on Twitter to talk about their work conditions and rates.
On September 21, a shocking expose came from Kyle McCarley, the English voice actor for the lead role of Mob Psycho 100 announced that he will not be returning to his popular role.
Why? Because allegedly, Crunchyroll refused to work with him under a SAG-AFTRA union contract, which would allow actors to have better work conditions, including better pay for the work they do.
This news brought other voice actors to speak up about the poor payment conditions by Crunchyroll, including a tweet from Anairis Quiñones, who voiced Rika Orimoto in the anime mega-hit Jujutsu Kaisen: 0.
Jujutsu Kaisen 0 collected over $31 million at the US box office and became the fourth highest-grossing anime film in US box office history. How much did Quiñones get paid for her role? $150 without any residuals.
I was paid $150 total. No residuals or anything past that. https://t.co/SocaLabbga
— Anairis Quiñones (@anairis_q) September 21, 2022
So how does the pay compare to the Japanese Voice Acting industry?
According to the information from Smart Flash, Japanese voice actors are also severely underpaid. Based on the information from Japan Actors Union, payment per work is calculated by the “basic rank” multiplied by time and then multiplied by 180% (for regular TV shows) or 250% (for theatrical releases).
The “basic rank” starts from Rank 15 which only pays 15,000 yen (approximately US$103). As an actor’s career progresses, they typically go up in rank, with Rank 45 paying a base rate of 45,000yen (approximately US$311), which is still quite low compared to the revenue the anime could make in total.
Even Natsuki Hanae, the Japanese voice actor for Tanjiro Kamado in the super-hit anime Demon Slayer said on a Japanese TV show Shabekuri 007 that he was in the lowest rank in December 2020, which meant that his base pay (at least as of 2020) was only at 15,000 yen (approximately US$103) despite Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train becoming the highest-grossing anime and Japanese film of all time.
In both the US and Japanese VA industries, the consensus is that the voice actors are severely underpaid.
In Japan, a ranking system provides some increase in payment as voice actors climb up the ladder, but such a system seemingly does not exist in the US side of the industry, perpetuating low payment for voice actors in the US.
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