Blogger and seiyuu-otaku j1m0nes dusted off some mad skills and and made a helpful list of all the major (and many minor) voice talent agencies in Japan. They are the companies and individuals who manage, produce and train voice acting talent in Japan. The list is a work in progress so it's missing some stuff, but it is already a very impressive start with over 50 corporate and freelancer profiles.
The list is particularly insightful if you are one of those people who pay attention to the Japanese dub of anime and have favorite actors, or if you are just starting to get interested. Ever hear a voice in some anime that you're curious about? Already got a favorite? Do you know who's in that picture? This list might just be the next step you need to level up beyond looking things up at the good ol' Wiki or Anime News Network Encyclopedia...
If you are a bit like me you might find that list a little too long for casual reading, so let us summarize it for you. Hit that read more link.
There are basically 4 types of voice actor agencies out there--
Larger, established management companies that focus on voice work. 81Produce, Osawa, Baobab, Aoni, Haikyo, among others.
Even larger agencies that have a department that deals with voice actors, often times as part of a development of particular talents. For example, Avex Entertainment.
Small spin-offs, usually the effort of industry veterans trying to cater to a niche in the business. These include agencies that are focused at more holistic development of talents beyond voice acting as well as some of the agencies created from fallout of another, larger company.
Not really agencies, but freelancers. Almost all of these are veterans who are doing it on a more casual basis to compensate for their personal career paths. One notable freelancer is also a professor.
Naturally, there are a lot of cross-overs in the industry with people who started one company then moving on to start another, and actors switching agencies. Still, the impression I got from reading the list was that many of these voice actors tend to stay with one company, and changing agencies is unusual in one's career.
This list is also a great example to see that anime voice acting is just a small portion of the larger voice acting industry in Japan. Many of the agencies handle talents for not only translated dubs, but also narration, radio, advertising and all the other stuff we are familiar with in the West, even if we don't pay any attention to it. Theater and stage acting also seems like something that shows up a lot in some of these agencies' focus.
Another point of interest is the horizontal integration. By that I mean how different companies are tied together in the same field, such as how Toei Animation tend to hire actors from certain studios for their anime way back in the days. Another more direct way to see that is how many of these agencies also run schools for aspiring actors or are parented by the same company as a school for acting. It is a serious career track, despite how poorly it might pay.
There's also a bit of history that the initiate seiyuu otaku has to learn. The ARTSVISION scandal was a big deal, when in 2007 the then-chairman was arrested on charges of sexual assault, or sexually harassing the talents and playing favorites. The alleged victim in the case was a 16-year old prospective voice actress looking for a break but soon the allegation widened to past acts of similar nature. The fallout of ARTSVISION resulted in a mass exodus of talents to other agencies and freelancing. In the early and mid-90s, ARTSVISION was a major voice talent agency with some very popular seiyuu idol types like Megumi Hayashibara, so things have changed a lot for them.
To be honest, the first thing that struck me was the sheer counts of the number of these agencies. Even the older ones like Aoni and Baobob are just two of the many voice acting agencies that has over a hundred talents in their care. And that doesn't include the likes like Avex, which is a large record label and publisher in Japan that dabbles a little bit in managing voice actors.
The list itself is formatted by corporate age, history, estimated capital, CEO, size, and any affiliates (such as a subsidiary or parent company, or an affiliated school). Each entry also include some notes and some notable talents who works for that agency.
That's pretty much it without going into the nitty gritty shop-talking details. Which company does your favorite seiyuu work for? That list is a work in progress so hopefully it can turn out to be a good resource for you curious geek-types.
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