The voice actor behind Tanjiro’s master Sakonji Urokodaki , the 66-year old Hochu Otsuka, appeared on the Fuji TV variety show Sono Neta, Neta ni Shite Ii Desu Ka? on December 31 and discussed the phenomenon that is the Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba franchise and how much a voice actor makes from being in a popular work.
Otsuka explains that payment to a voice actor is fixed before recording has even started and that each voice actor is paid based on their “rank” in the industry. This rank is determined based on their experience, work they’ve done in the past, how popular the voice actor is, and how long they’ve been in the industry. Otsuka says that no matter how popular the work is, “the salary stays the same”. Even for behemoth works like Demon Slayer, which is now the highest-grossing film in the Japanese box office ever, the payment is fixed and royalties aren’t paid out from the box office.
According to a voice acting school in Japan, payments for a 30-minute TV anime episode are between 15,000 yen (US$145.44) for lower-ranked voice actors to a maximum of 45,000 yen (US$436.16). Anime voice acting is usually the least paying work for voice actors in Japan, with dubbing for overseas live-action films the highest at a minimum of 50,000 yen (US$484.75) per hour of footage.
Though, Otsuka does mention that if a work is popular (such as Demon Slayer), there is a “ripple effect” where voice actors will be booked for more events and other series, which helps the voice actors rise in the rankings as well. Otsuka remarked amusingy, “wish I had known from the start that this would be the situation…” Otsuka is also the Japanese voice for Jeff Goldblum and Donnie Yen, among others.
Daryl Harding is a Japan Correspondent for Crunchyroll News. He also runs a YouTube channel about Japan stuff called TheDoctorDazza, tweets at @DoctorDazza, and posts photos of his travels on Instagram.
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