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"Th'ell?... Ohh nooo.... Ohhhhhh noooooooo.... It's gonna be one of those topics about something Japan, isn't it?" Yes it is, because the appearance of a third nerd in the form of Ragna (who requested this topic) has made me geek out a little too much at there potentially being more of you around, or potential fence-sitters I can turn. So here I hoist upon you one of the most niche interests I've ever garnered. Advance apologies. Just what the hell is a seiyuu? Seiyuu is the Japanese term for "voice actor;" in a western sense, it refers only to voice actors of Japanese origin, similar to the terms "manga" and "anime." Okay, why the topic when we already have one for voice actors? Beyond any perceived Japanophile tendencies, Japan's voice acting industry is highly unique, so much so that it's pretty much its own subculture and thus a topic onto itself: First, Japan produces an exorbitant amount of animation, the majority in the entire world annually. Thus, their voice acting industry has grown ridiculously to meet the demand, including the formation of specialized schools. Second, business deals in the 60s and 70s between studios limiting the avenues that seiyuu could pursue in their field coupled with the meager pay grade forced them to find other entertainment work. Along with the creep of Japan's idol culture and theater troupes, you get the beginnings of what we see today in the industry. Basically, seiyuu have risen to become celebrities themselves, far beyond the normal social standing of voice actors in any other country. Seiyuu produce music albums, music videos, and are in or have been in singing groups. Many also do live theater work, theatrical films, CD dramas, pen their own comics and visual novels, do some directorial work, and are a formidable force in promoting the media of which they're apart of through television and radio appearances, as well as special shows called "seiyuu events" where script readings, skits, games, and ridiculous off-the-cuff shit happens in front of a live audience. The fad of anime call-ins during the 90s, as well as the advent of the Internet and social media, have also allowed seiyuu great opportunity to become a little more personable with their fan bases as well as showcase themselves better as individuals. Radio shows, blogs, as well as professional seiyuu magazines complete with highly fashionable photo shoots, are ubiquitous. Basically, you come for the knowledge of who has voiced who and eventually stay for the personalities and the massive amount of derp. Since I'm still here reading this, clearly I find it interesting. Any names should I know? Um, a veritable shitload. The industry's explosion has led to a ton of noteworthy people all having a significant hand in the field in some way, and several rise through the ranks of popularity every few years or so that it's difficult to keep up with who's the absolute most notable. TVTropes has a massive list of noteworthy seiyuu, although it may be a bit outdated considering some of the hot new blood is not on there. If I had to pick just a few folks though, it would be these: Chikao Otsuka: Aside from being the ever-lovable Dr. Eggman, he's an earlier contributor to the first era of Japanese voice acting, having essentially worked in the field before the term "seiyuu" even became a thing. Toru Furuya: Probably best known as Pegasus Seiyaa from Saint Seiyaa, Yamcha from Dragon Ball, and Tuxedo Mask from Sailor Moon, he is one of the three of the first seiyuu to form a band and perform live. Megumi Hayashibara: She's Faye from Cowboy Bebop, Jessie from Pokemon, and Female Ramna from Ramna 1/2, and one of the first and most popular seiyuu during the 90s to take advantage of the fad of using radio to receive sponsorships for DJs and concerts. Takehito Koyasu: Well known as Bobobo-Bo Bo-Bobo, he is, as far as I'm still aware, the seiyuu with the record of most voice acting credits; also responsible for helping elevate the popularity of my avatar dude through a popular media franchise called Weiss Kreuz. Anything else? Uhm... they made a seiyuu movie not too long ago! Yep, the movie pretty much solely exists as a vehicle to showcase seiyuu together in a live-action setting, or at least a few good friends in the business with extensive connections with one another. It's called Wonderful World, and as far as I know, it's about a potentially-apocalyptic conflict that takes place between the planes of our reality and a secret dream world called HEM. For context, it stars Light Yagami, Joseph Joestar, Domon Kasshu, and Wolverine.... Yep. No sub as far as I know, if you were that curious. ... Alright, time to go!