Japan’s voice acting industry has grown so much in these past few years, with many seiyuu getting much recognition and international exposure through events like AFA – Anime Festival Asia and Anime Expo in Los Angeles. However, much like the Japanese idol industry, there seems to be a lot of discrimination when it comes to age.
In more recent anime series, there has been a trend to cast younger seiyuu, as compared to the aging veterans of the industry. In a recent tweet, veteran seiyuu, Yuuko Nagashima, expressed her thoughts on the matter:
ネット上で 劣化 や BBAという言葉が乱用されてること。
— 永島由子 (@yuppi0703) September 3, 2016
Best known for her roles as Magic Knight Rayearth’s Caldina and Nadesico’s Erina Won, and even Hotaru’s mother in Non Non Biyori, the 46-year-old seiyuu said this in that tweet:
“Something I’ve been feeling recently: Lately on the net, people have been throwing around phrases like ‘degradation’ or ‘old hag.’ Especially aimed at women, even though getting older is something that happens to everyone. In Japan… especially in this industry.
In the past, a co-worker I used to date told me, ‘you’re past your prime as a voice actress.’ Not doing anime voice acting = past your prime? I don’t get it.”
There seems to be a trend, or a belief that when you do less voice acting jobs in anime, that usually means that you are already past your prime, and Nagashima seems to be hitting that belief.
While that belief is still prevalent in the industry (and not just the anime and voice acting industries), there are still many who defy the norm. One such example is the legendary Masako Nozawa, who is voicing about FOUR characters in Dragon Ball Super alone, including Son Goku himself… at the age of 79! As for Nagashima, she has been dubbing foreign works lately, and is noted for voicing Carrie in Sex in the City’s Japanese dub.