In a recent episode of late night Japanese TV show Jikkuri Kiitarou (Listen Carefully), adult video star Cocona Yuzuki talks about which entertainment gig she says has the darkest of dark sides: anime voice acting.
Yuzuki made her adult video debut earlier this year. She’s had a variety of jobs in the entertainment business, such as modelling, acting on TV and on stage, and doing voice work. On Jikkuri Kiitarou, the majority of her interview was explaining why women working in fuzoku (prostitution) appear in adult videos and how doing so can increase their rates as well as how even being a minor celebrity can result in a bigger payday for an adult video debut.
During the conversation, however, she revealed what she knew about the unseen side of anime voice acting. The show’s narrator described her comments as a “huge revelation” and onscreen text disclaimer told viewers to take what Yuzuki said as her own opinion. So, when asked if unpleasant things had happened while working as a voice actor (seiyuu), Yuzuki replied, “I think it’s the number one deepest darkest industry.”
“You start in a vocational school (for voice acting), enter a talent agency and become a voice actor,” she continued, adding that many of the young women entering this field don’t know much about the world and end up on the casting couch. In Japanese, the casting couch is called makura eigyou (枕営業), which literally means “the pillow trade.”
“These old producer guys say, ‘Next time I’ll give you a job,’” continued Yuzuki.
One of the hosts, comedian Jun Nagura, said, “I’ve been in the entertainment industry for a long time, and it (the voice acting business) isn’t that bad of a place.”
“Perhaps it’s better I didn’t say this, but I have a friend who is part of a group in a nationally-known idol anime,” Yuzuki said. “Everyone in the younger generation is doing makura eigyou.”
[Note: Yuzuki described this anime in Japanese as 国民的アイドルアニメ (kokuminteki idol anime) with kokuminteki literally meaning “national.” When used to describe things, however, it carries the nuance of being something that everyone knowns, hence translating the word as “nationally known.”]
“You haven’t seen this with your own eyes, right?” Nagura said.
“I’ve been invited to a party where lots of people were been all over me. My breasts were grabbed by everyone like it was no big deal. One producer was drunk and —” Nagura then told Yuzuki to “shut up.” His remark was followed by everyone on the set laughing, so I guess that was his inappropriate attempt at a joke? (Prior to that, the show’s two male hosts told Yuzuki that she “sure talks a lot” and asked her if she had just come to complain).
Jikkuri Kiitarou is broadcasted by TV Tokyo, which also shows a slew of iconic anime.
At the end of her comments about the seiyuu industry, the screen flashed with text that read this was her experience.
Manami Izawa, another adult video star on the show, said she had never experienced the casting couch in the porn industry. Yuzuki agreed, also saying that there was “definitely” not a casting couch for the Japanese adult video industry. Yuzuki then said she had experienced difficult things and began to cry. The show’s hosts tried offering words of encouragement, before moving to the next segment about women taking part-time jobs in pornography to make ends meet.
Jikkuri Kiitarou often allows guests to reveal the society’s underbelly — here, the dark side of being a seiyuu. However, the way it was handled certainly doesn’t bode well for any others who might want to step forward in the future.