Voice acting in Japan has far greater prominence than in most other countries. Japan's large animation industry produces 60% of the animated series in the world; as a result, Japanese voice actors, or seiyū (声優), are able to achieve fame on a national and international level.
Besides acting as narrators and actors in radio plays, as well as performing voice-overs for non-Japanese movies and television programs, the voice actors are extensively employed as character actors in anime and video games. Popular voice actors — especially voice actresses — often have devoted international fanclubs. Some fans may watch a show merely to hear a particular voice actor. Some Japanese voice actors have capitalized on their fame to become singers, and many others have become live movie or television actors.
There are around 130 voice-acting schools in Japan. Broadcast companies and talent agencies often have their own troupes of vocal actors. Magazines focusing specifically on voice acting are published in Japan, with Voice Animage being the best known and longest running.
The English term character voice (or CV), has been commonly used since the 1980s by such Japanese anime magazines as Animec and Newtype, for a voice actor associated with a particular anime or game character. Conversely, the Japanese term seiyū is commonly used among English-speaking anime and game fans for Japanese voice actors.
In anime and gamesEdit
A voice actor's role in anime consists of reading the lines before the production is finished. In Japan, the most popular method is to perform before the anime has already been completed. The artist then later draw in every expression to the key of the seiyu reading it off. This is the more popular way of prerecording in Japan. Famous and young voice actors are used in both the anime, OVAs. However, in fan-oriented productions and products they use famous voice actors, famous voice actors are often used as a selling point. In English dubs however, they use young voice actors to keep on budget. It is easier for them to do it this way because hiring famous voice actors are hard and can over blow their budget. Also in engish dubs, they read the lines by matching up their voice with the character talking on screen.
Dubbing into JapaneseEdit
In the case of foreign dramas, movies, cartoons, news and documentaries, the localization voice-over requires more exact timing in relation to what appears on the screen. In order to perform voice-overs, the volume of the original language voice track is lowered, leaving only a faint sound remaining or, in some cases, no sound at all except for the music-and-effects tracks. Voice-over work is primarily performed for news and original foreign dramas. Auditions are held in order to determine who will take on the roles.
Unlike in anime or dubbing roles, in a video game the voice tracks are often recorded separately due to the way individual voice tracks are selected and played depending on a player's progress. Typically a voice actor uses a script with only a single part's lines and matches it to the timing of the recording. Because of this, many collaborating voice actors in a production may never see each other in person. Popularity rankings may play a role in video game casting, but it is also possible to negotiate fees when a client requests a particular cast.