Legendary seiyuu Megumi Hayashibara has been one of the proponents of the 90’s Seiyuu Boom in Japan, and she is one of the reasons why seiyuus are treated with much adoration in Japan today. However, this anime legend has some stinging words for the industry of today.
The legendary seiyuu recently sat down for an interview with Seiyuu Premium, where she talked about a variety of topics, from her experiences to today’s seiyuu and anime industries. In the interview, the seiyuu behind Evangelion’s Rei Ayanami, Slayers’ Lina Inverse, and Ranma 1/2’s female Ranma said that the 90’s was where the seiyuu industry really became popular, and of course, she was talking about the so-called 90’s seiyuu boom.
The decade saw an increase in the popularity of seiyuu, as they are now featured in more magazine spreads, pictorials, interviews, and many more. Megumi Hayashibara admitted that at first, felt puzzled and apprehensive about. She said
“What’s going to happen when people see how different their faces are from the characters they’re voicing?”
However, she soon admitted to adjusting in her new-found fame, as she saw how “photogenic” some of the seiyuu actually were. Soon enough, fans treated the seiyuu just like how they treated famous actors and actresses, and the distinction between the character and the one voicing that character began to blur, just like how we see actors now.
When we see Robert Downey Jr., we immediately think of Tony Stark or Iron Man, and not the person himself. This is much like how the seiyuu started becoming treated back in the 90’s, as Hayashibara was seen more as Rei Ayanami or Lina Inverse, and not as Megumi Hayashibara herself.
However, this increased focus on the persona of the seiyuu have led to the risk of lessening the importance of that seiyuu’s actual voice acting skills. Hayashibara expressed her concerns in the interview, which she said that she has “a fear that voice acting, which she used to believe was a long-term career, now includes elements for which a performer will only be considered “in-season’ for so long.”
This reason is much like the fears of many in the idol industry of today, and she expressed that her production agency might not give her as much work once her “shelf life” is finally over.
“Because of the fast pace of the industry, it’s common to fill voice actors schedules with as much work as possible, get them up on stage, and build up all the buzz you can. That’ll make you feel like you’re an absolutely essential individual, but in just three years all that could change. I don’t want companies to go chasing after small yet quick and easy, profits, but they don’t really have any intention of developing voice actors long-term.”
But she merely said that such practices are inevitable, and does not even blame the industry. She also has some advice for today’s young seiyuu, where she told them to “be mentally prepared to make the best of a script with stale, clichéd dialogue.” She said that she is often asked how it is best to say a line, and to that, she said her best advice is to ask “How should I get into this emotion?” She added that: “Even if you put all your effort into the reading, [without the emotion, it’ll be clear that] your heart’s not in it.”
She then talked about the direction of the anime industry, and this is where she took out those stinging words, as she pointed out that the anime of today feel more like copies of the ones she was working on back in the 90’s, and that the anime today lacked ambition.
“Anime in the ‘90s was overflowing with ambition…Anime June 6, 2023 which are trying to be similar to previous hits can never be better than the originals. Going forward, I want to be part of projects that aren’t trying to be like “something that came before””.
OUCH! That is one sick burn indeed, and many really agree with her.
So, what about you guys, do you agree with Megumi Hayashibara?
Source: Rocket News 24
Her statement has made my question clear on why new anime not rerun after a year of after. Old anime mostly got rerun year after year.
So very true