Veteran Japanese voice actress Yukana makes an appearance at this year's Pacific Media Expo to talk to her Los Angeles fans about her seiyuu career.
By Kanara Ty
In Japan, unlike other countries, voice actors and actresses do more than what their title might suggest. They are idols. Often referred to as seiyuu (a term for Japanese voice actor) even overseas, having a job as a voice actor in Japan is a lot more than just a full-time job. The celebrity and expectations that comes with this profession often take over their lives.
Japan's dominance in the animation industry is noted by the fact they produce 70% of the animated films and television shows that are released in the world. There also over 130 schools devoted to voice acting in Japan.
Seasoned Japanese voice actress and singer Yukana arrived at this year's Pacific Media Expo with years of experience to share with her fans in America. Yukana's start as an idol in Japan is certainly not humble. In her first audition, Yukana was chosen to voice the title character of popular anime series Moldiver -- the teenager-turned-magical-girl Mirai Ozora. She also was asked to record both the opening and ending theme songs to the anime as well.
Years later, with over 40 roles to date in popular anime such as Bleach, Full Metal Panic!, Chobits, and Inuyasha as well as singing credits to numerous opening/ending anime theme songs, Yukana has showcased her ability to work with a wide range of characters. Her role as Tessa in Full Metal Panic! required her to have a high-pitched voice, while her role as Kotoko in Chobits required her to have a deeper and sultry voice. This versatility is a unique quality that not many seiyuus in the industry offer.
There is a growing interest in pursuing the seiyuu/idol career in Japan. When asked about this trend, Yukana says that she feels that competition is good for the industry. It'll open doors for new faces and new voices which will raise the quality of work that is being produced. The world of anime is constantly changing and developing with new storylines and technology, she explains, so there will always be room for new and refreshing talent to raise the bar.
Because Japan takes voice acting so seriously, Yukana suggests that voice actors in Japan have more intricate challenges than voice actors in other countries. In America, she says, voice actors have individual recording sessions and are given a chance to review material more than once. Seiyuus in Japan, on the other hand, only get to see their footage once, and they must record their voices from there.
Another difference is that in Japan, all the voice actors are together in one session, and they interact more with each other -- as opposed having each individual record their dialogues separately.
Despite having a busy schedule (she is currently working on various anime projects, which unfortunately cannot be disclosed), Yukana was able to make it out for a fan panel at PMX that was well received. In the future, hopefully PMX will bring out other voice actors as well -- as well as open a door for voice actresses from Asia that are not just from Japan.
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