Can Ero Seiyuu Escape the Sex Industry?

Aiming to become an anime seiyuu? Inspirational videos tend to say you should dream less and work hard to achieve your goals, but those of us with stats in hand can tell you right now more than 99% of try-hards will fail this venture. Kagami-sensei doesn’t think you can make it and neither do I. Too many people want to voice animated cartoon characters, but only so many new vacancies open up in the anime industry each year. Not to mention the competition is fierce!

Zuka-chan
Seiyuu Blues

When Shirobako was still airing, there was the case of Shizuka. The anime avoids the question of erotic voice work, mostly because it had the seiyuu hopeful set up for success. In one discussion, I stated something in the vein of Shizuka lacking resolve, because she didn’t exhaust all her options and just mopped around, thinking success will come flying out the window. Luckily for her, it did.

Seiyuu who desperately want industry experience will try to find work in doujin circles, or try their hand at erotic voice acting, dubbing characters in adult anime or video games. Landing these roles isn’t as easy as it sounds, because there’s competition in this field as well. Obviously, there is a downside to walking down this path. Most notably, people that enter the adult entertainment industry have fewer chances of ever getting work outside of it.

I actually wanted to see Shizuka working there. Obviously, I’m comfortable with the idea, but those that weren’t argued if she ever wanted to work in anime at a later time, she wouldn’t be able to because of her former pedigree. She would have been branded as a sex worker and never allowed to work with Aoi-chan and the rest of her friends.

I doubted this. Getting work in the seiyuu business is already hard enough. If you’re presented with an opportunity to work as a seiyuu in the ero business, with no prior experience, only your seiyuu vocational school certificate in hand, you shouldn’t just dismiss it. There’s no way of knowing when the next anime audition works out in your favor. Meanwhile you’re getting older, thus less marketable, and more depressed. You simply have to take the offer.

The good news is, people exaggerate the social stigma of working in the sex industry. The last two months I had a web scrapper pulling data off VoiceArtist Database. I wanted to verify and disprove that working on erotica really is as damning as people say it is.

I pulled down 5523 seiyuu profiles that were listed on the front page sometime in March or February, so I had a sizable sample population to work with. The best thing about VoiceArtist Database is that its users try their hardest to identify seiyuu who work under pseudonyms. The result is an ostensible database where credits from erotica and R-rated content are joined together under a single seiyuu page. Without such meticulous crowd effort this statistical analysis wouldn’t at all be possible, so hats off to them!

At last, we start crunching numbers.

Ero:R:Both

Most of the seiyuu documented in the database are working outside of the ero industry. As we can see, a smaller portion works exclusively in ero only, while there exists a sizable portion, more than a sixth, that has held roles in both. The big question to answer, how many of them started their seiyuu career working in the sex industry and managed to get work elsewhere at a later time?

From Ero:Others

Only 5.7%? That is a bit depressing, but it’s also a bit misleading. If we take that number and press it against all the people that started in ero but weren’t able to find roles outside of it, the odds look much better.

From Ero:Failed

30.8% of those that start in the sex industry find work outside of it in one form or another. Those are pretty good odds, considering the jobless alternative. Chances are though that that’s gonna be their one and only job outside of it. The median frequency of non-ero jobs after successfully landing a gig outside of the sex industry is ZERO! Meaning most people leave the industry after that or get more jobs in the sex industry, if they’re lucky. The means are more encouraging: 15.4% of subsequent work will be outside the sex industry. The difference between the mean and median is simply a signifier that those who really make it in the seiyuu business, the people that get the most roles, will also have more of a chance for a successful transition to Ippanjin-land.

What to take from all of this? People have voiced anime and other non-ero content even though they started out of the sex industry. Of course, it’s preferable that you land your first part outside of erotica. There are many seiyuu, even famous ones like Wakamoto Norio, who have taken up erotic roles after they’ve established their reputation. Aspiring seiyuu, unfortunately, don’t have that yet. The competition among seiyuu is ramping up each year, and in this climate the gag reflex most people experience when thinking of working in the sex industry is actually increasing chances for those who aren’t afraid to get their voices dirty to fulfill their lifelong dreams.

There’s more to be done with this data than just three miserable pie charts. If you’re interested in any particular stat, the code I used, or the data itself, ask and ye shall receive.

NOTE: Added updated graphs. The percentages in question are a bit lower due to incomplete data being tallied previously. Apologies.

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