Cult of the voice actor continues to grow
Stepping out from behind their animated alter egos, a supergroup of seiyu (voice actors) made their debut at Womb in Tokyo on Nov 5. Performing tracks from their recent album “Rebirth,” 45-member Peace Love treated fans to a mélange of pop, rock, house and R&B at the sold-out show. Though the popularity of this band owes much to the similarly overpopulated and insanely popular act AKB48, another factor at play is the ever-evolving cult of the seiyu, which shows no signs of abating.
Since the late 1970s seiyu actors have been forming bands or putting out solo records, so the success of Peace Love will come as no surprise to the industry. As seiyu stars became famous in their own right, they began to increasingly appear in the media, so that by the ’90s magazines dedicated solely to seiyu actors started to appear. Despite the flagging fortunes of the magazine industry, in January 2010 Voice Girls, a gravure mag dedicated to female seiyu, joined other established titles such as Pick-Up Voice, Voice New Type, Seiyu Grand Prix and Seiyu Animedia.
Using seiyu talent to provide dialogue for the games industry is also becoming increasingly popular and this month a new title just got released that employs no less than six big name voice actors. “Blue Tears” is an action online fantasy RPG for PC. Those who’d like to hear the dulcet tones of these voice actors before buying the game can access sample sound files on the game’s website.
As the demand remains high for seiyu related merchandise, one canny business has discovered the perfect way to feed the appetites of a hungry fanbase. The Seiyu Cafe in Akihabara opened its doors in July this year. Closely resembling a recording studio, complete with a professional microphone on a small stage, all the serving staff employed at the café are professional seiyu actors. A quick glance at the staff list shows that the café employs actors who’ve worked on such big titles as “Darker Than Black,” “Fairy Tail” and “Death Note,” albeit in rather minor roles. Visitors to the coffee shop can order dialogue from the menu from the staff who then perform their lines. This way starving seiyu actors forced to wait tables are still able to practice their craft.