If I had to pick one big point of change in my interests over the last year, I would immediately jump to a new sort of “fandom” that I fell into in the early months of 2018. “Fandom” in quotes because it’s a little hard to associate that word in my mind with the kind of generalized thing I’ve now found myself fairly deep into but there really isn’t a better word to describe. That very thing in which I’ve become so invested in for the last 12 months is, of course, seiyuu – or Japanese voice actors.
For those of you that have followed me for long enough, this kind of thing is probably not super surprising considering how much love I’ve shown for Love Live but the difference between caring about the people that voiced the characters I liked and now having a wider interest in the real entertainers that happen to voice characters I like was a real paradigm shift in my mind that still can’t quite put to words.
Maybe it’d be easier to start with a story.
This year I’ve had the pleasure of seeing/meeting in person a surprising number (read: non-zero) of seiyuu. Toyama Nao – one of my absolute favorite voice actresses at her concert in Japan, and Kiyono Yasuno – another great voice actress in her own right, at a local convention. I had known about the latter mostly through her work in Saekano and Macross Delta, but other than the vested interest I had in Walkure’s music, I couldn’t quite call myself a fan of the person known as Kiyono Yasuno. And this was, even more, the case with a friend of mine that lined up with me to get a signature from her for a friend of his.
Two days of convention later, however, the two of us were scrambling to figure out what sort of official merchandise we could get signed by her before the end of the con.
I wasn’t like there was anything special that happened in those two days and I’m sure that a little bit of was that we bought into the atmosphere that the other, bigger fans exuded in during the con but there was just something about the way that she carried herself as an entertainer and a professional that really got to us. Little things like: answering every question as completely as she could, asking to go over the scheduled Q&A time to give away stuff via group Rock-Paper-Scissors, and taking a group photo with the people that didn’t manage to make it in time for the last signing, showed the kind of consideration and kindness of a person that really cares about their fans.
The night before the last day of the con, my friend explained to us that wanted a signature to remember the fun he had at the con and also to be able to thank her in person for the experience that he got to have. Not only was that an amazing thing to hear from a person that didn’t seem very interested at the start of the con but it also spoke to the kind of change that I found in myself over the year.
Voice actors and actresses are often also comedians, show hosts, entertainers, news deliverers, radio personalities, musicians, artists, artists, nerds like us, and so on and so forth. It really makes my head spin thinking about how much work they all need to put in to make a living as freelancers.
Following voice actors and actresses for me, in a way, provides a tangible person to root for in the same way that the Sakuga community has animators and other staff that they can support. It’s a niche that gives us fans a different kind of perspective on the industry while also giving us more reason to care about the real people behind the series that we love.
Thanks for reading,
This is the third of twelve posts that I’ll be publishing as part of the 12 days of Anime event. Be sure to check out all other amazing writers that are participating in this year’s event here.