Anime productions have been baffling audiences with stunning scenery and gripping voiceovers for decades, and it’s no secret that these titles take some crazy talent to create. While writers and artists deserve loads of respect, the voices behind our favorite anime characters can end up going unheard – with many fans wondering just how much anime voice actors are actually getting paid.
Highly experienced anime voice actors get paid around $500 per episode, while experienced actors get paid between $140 and $300. However, this excludes extra fees such as agent commission and tax, and most anime voice actors get paid between $35 and $75 an hour as needed, while most voice dubbing actors get paid between $60 and $80 per hour, usually for 2 to 4 hours.
The difference between expected versus received earnings has been a hot topic among many professionals and anime enthusiasts for quite some time, and recent updates have only fueled the flames of speculation. Stick around to find out everything you need to know about how much anime voice actors and dubbers actually get paid for their work in 2022.
How Much Do Anime Voice Actors Get Paid?
Considering how successful the anime industry is, anyone involved is expected to make a reasonable income – particularly the cast! Anime voice actors embody the hearts and souls of our favorite anime characters, breathing life into each protagonist we’ve come to know and love – and most assume the actors’ pay would reflect their talents.
But, most anime voice actors do not get paid what one might expect. According to Latest News, a standard anime voice acting role on CastingCallClub pays around $40 for each short job, while a professional and experienced anime voice actor could be paid around $540 per episode.
Still, this will depend on numerous factors, and the amount is usually different – being either higher or lower than the average payouts recorded. For example, Masako Nozawa (Goku in Dragon Ball) earns $360,000 per year, while Megumi Hayashibara (Rei Ayanami in Evangelion) earns around $630,000 a year.
Anime Voice Actor ‘Ranking’
The way anime actors get paid in Japan may also be influenced by additional aspects, and the way they record is more conversational – as opposed to the ‘studio’ recording often seen in the West. According to enthusiasts on Quora, Japanese anime voice actors (known as “Seiyuu”) are ranked from A to F, with A being the highest and pay rates being affected by ranking.
But, ranking is not simply affected by experience – it’s affected by countless factors such as natural talent, the role, and much more. For example, voice actress Kaneda Tomoko, who’s been in the industry for about 15 years, revealed that she gets paid approximately 30,000 Yen (around $295) for one anime episode.
It apparently takes a long time for actors to climb the ranks (no less than 3 years on average), with junior ranks getting paid 15,000 Yen (about $147) to start. The anime voice acting industry seems to be pretty tough, no matter what region you choose to start in.
How Much Do Anime Voice Dubbing Actors Get Paid?
Most decent anime voice dub acting positions pay lower than semi-experienced anime voice acting positions. Anime voice dubbing jobs typically pay between $60 and $80 per hour, with a standard recording session lasting approximately 2 to 4 hours.
Anime Voice Actors are Getting Underpaid
Several anime voice actors and dub voice actors have started sharing accounts and experiences on social media after a Mob Psycho 100 voice actor decided to leave his position due to a union dispute. Various anime voice actors came out to join the conversation on Twitter, in which voice actor Anairis Quiñones stated she was paid only $150 for voicing Rika Orimoto in the English dub of Jujutsu Kaisen 0.
While she is one of many voice actors adding to the discussion, she has made some rather interesting points. According to her personal experience, her payment ended up being far lower since she still had to pay agent commissions and taxes, as seen below:
In addition, her Jujutsu Kaisen 0 contract was non-union (the possible reason for her lower-than-expected payment), and she also did not receive residuals or additional payouts after the film’s release in the United States thanks to Crunchyroll. On the other hand, the movie managed to rake in around $30 million in the United States.
Plenty of talented anime voice actors and dub actors have begun sharing their personal experiences within the industry as well. Marin M. Miller was only paid a reported $35 for dubbing on Fullmetal Alchemist in 2007, while others confirmed they are still seeing the same rates in 2022.
Some translators reported being paid only $90 per anime episode – generally seen as inadequate given the labor-intensiveness of translating hundreds of lines. Japanese-English translator Katrina Leonoudakis also shared her experiences translating for Funimation – stating that translators don’t get raises due to “freelance status”.
Leonoudakis even revealed that discussing payment and company treatment publicly could result in the individual being blacklisted by major anime distributors. Although every anime voice actor has a different experience, the following have become almost clear to the community so far:
- Anime voice actors and dubbers usually get underpaid.
- Few anime voice actors get paid well, depending on experience, talent, and other factors.
- Anime voice actors with non-union contracts usually get paid less.
- Anime voice actors with union contracts get paid more and receive additional benefits, such as healthcare.
On the topic of Crunchyroll and Funimation, the debate surrounding the average payouts for anime voice actors and dub actors is actually nothing new – this has been going on for quite some time now. As recently as March 2022, numerous voice actors on Twitter began highlighting the low wages for their talent and efforts.
This movement began after the announcement that Funimation would merge with Crunchyroll (now a Sony-owned subsidiary since Sony’s Funimation Global Group acquired AT&T-owned Crunchyroll in 2021). Another experienced anime voice actor named Sara Secora shared her own account as well in response to Hong, stating that dub actors were only getting paid between $35 and $75 an hour in her experience.
With that being said, Quiñones did confirm that there are anime voice actors getting paid well – although still not as high as many expect. Quiñones stated that some anime voice actors end get paid approximately $240 per episode, but this only represents a small fraction of those in the industry.
Considering how much debate this topic has, and taking into account the differences between how the profession is conducted in various regions, numerous anime voice actors have now begun advocating for unions within the industry. This has also been in motion for some time, gaining traction amongst anime voice actors such as Stephanie Sheh and Ben Diskin back in March 2022.
The point made by Quiñones, concerning the low pay combined with the lack of additional payments upon the production’s success, was also confirmed by Japanese voice actor Hochu Otsuka during an interview with Fuji TV in January 2021. According to We Got This Covered, Otsuka stated that voice actors are paid using a base rate – before revealing that actors don’t receive royalties when a show becomes popular.
“The salary stays the same. Even for behemoth works like Demon Slayer, which is now the highest-grossing film in the Japanese box office ever, the payment is fixed and royalties aren’t paid out from the box office.”
Anime fans have been shocked to discover many of the talented professionals behind our favorite anime characters have not been getting paid their worth. Since having unions will ensure far more stability through timely and appropriate wages, plus additional benefits such as healthcare, the hope is that this debacle will see a silver lining sometime soon.