Monday, June 04, 2007

Seiyuu Agency "Casting Couch" Scandal

The big news in the Japanese voice-acting industry these days is a huge scandal involving one of the most important men in the industry, Matsuda Sakumi, who has been arrested on a charge of "lewd behavior toward a minor" in regard to a 16-year-old aspiring seiyuu.

Matsuda is the head of two of the biggest seiyuu agencies, Arts Vision and I"m Enterprise and of the most famous seiyuu training school, Nihon Narration. The charges concern incidents during the final acceptance interview in April of a 16-year-old girl who had passed an audition last December.

The arrest has led to a wave of fury from fans, who say it damages the reputations of other seiyuu and demand something be done about "sexual harassment, power harassment, and 'pillow business'" in the industry.

All three companies' websites have been shut down, with messages apologizing to fans and saying that Mr. Matsuda's resignation has been accepted. The messages make a point of saying the incident does not concern any other seiyuu. The messages name new managing directors and say they will work to "raise all employees' consciousness about following laws and regulations."

The rosters of Arts Vision and I"m Enterprise read like a who's who of voice acting. Arts Vision: Asano Masumi, Horie Yui, Fujita Saki, Kuwatani Natsuko, Mizuhashi Kaori, et al. I"m Enterprise: Ueda Kana, Tamura Yukari, Saitou Chiwa, Takahashi Mikako, Nakahara Mai, Yamamoto Maria, Yahagi Sayuri, Honda Youko, Morinaga Rika, Kugimiya Rie, et al.

There is a wiki in Japanese, collecting information about the situation. There is an article in English on Anime News Network. The situation is also being discussed in English on AnimeSuki.


Nemo_N said...

This whole case makes me sick, honestly. I hold no banner of morals, but that's how I feel. I can only hope this is one isolated incident.

In your opinion, what do you think might follow? I mean, are there repercusions that might escape the foresight of your average non-japanese fan?

hashihime said...

I don't know what may follow. I can only hope that it does not cast a pall over so many great careers. I think everyone knew secretly that this kind of thing was happening and just tried not to think about it. Now that it is out in the open, I don't know what will follow.

I hope this is only one of a few isolated incidents, rather than a common practice. I have some confidence that Japanese anime fans can compartmentalize their knowledge in this regard and, after a while, go on as before.

tj han said...

It certainly does affect the others' reputation in some way. I mean, now that I know for sure there's a casting couch, would I not suspect other seiyuus gained an advantage through it/ been taken advantage of? And it also helps explain why there aren't any really ugly ones.

But take actors for instance, there are a lot more confirmed cases of CCs but still, everyone's fine with it. Takes a while to get used to.

hashihime said...

I'm inclined to think that they choose seiyuu on the basis of ability -- since they want them to be hireable as seiyuus -- and just convince some of them that they need to do other things. One report suggests that this was improper touching rather than anything more. I hope that's true.

I really never had any doubt that such things happen, since seiyuu are at such a low level of the entertainment industry in Japan, so it doesn't take me long to get used to the idea. I just wish it weren't so.

Rather than thinking some seiyuus gained advantage through this, I am more inclined to think that some have been unfairly victimized because they didn't go along. Ochiai Yurika is one whom I always expected to get more roles, as is Honda Youko.

The list of top seiyuu in my post is not where I would look for women who have felt they had to go along with this. It would rather be among the names we hardly know.

Kaioshin Sama said...

With the appearance of many people accusing Yui Horie of being involved in this I'm wondering what happened to Presumption of Innocence. The President admitted Guilt so he is guilty, but Yui Horie has openly denied involvement, why then have I seen people accusing her of being involved in the scandal. If the Japanese courts want to take her to trial to prove this and can, fine, but until that point we have to respect hers and other protests of innocence since they have not been proven of any illicit or illegal acts to gain an advange in the industry.

This also comes from a fairly big critic of Yui Horie and what she stands for to me personally in the industry if that means anything.

Overall there have been way to many scandals in the industry lately revealing corruption and a lack of solidarity among the companies both in terms of internal affairs, and forthrightness with the fans. Starting lightly with the Code Geass Bikini Contest for selecting Seiyuu (which was insulting to both the Seiyuu and the audience watching the special), their was then the Kissdum debacle, the Gainax/2-Chan affair, The Lucky Star directoral change, The Darker Than Black Script Theft, This Incident (which threatens to shake the foundation of the industry with it's not to surprisingly revelation that the industry is using female Seiyuu as tools), and just a couple of days ago the use of Mamiko Noto as a script writer for Touka Gettan (based no doubt on her popularity, which means there is probably some aspiring writer out their who is actually qualified, but isn't getting the job because he isn't marketable).

Overall the industry is showing it has little respect for it's female Seiyuu other than... I don't really want to say it, but they are pimping them out almost, and just as little respect for its viewerships expectations of honest and top-notch production ethics. I personally don't want to see this blow over without some realization of a problem and hopefully some change in the way the industry produces and nutures its creative talents.

hashihime said...

I want to agree wholeheartedly with Kaioshin's talk about "presumption of innocence." I'm not much of a Hocchan fan either, but her talent means there's no reason to suspect she had to do anything untoward to get her roles. Anyway, I don't think the women should be blamed for succumbing to power-harassment. But that's just me.

However, Kaioshin went a little off the rails in his last para. It was Maria Yamamoto who wrote an ep of Touka Gettan, and she did a decent job of it. To criticise her for being smart and capable is totally wrong.

And I don't know anything about the Kissdum, Gainax and Darker incidents, but the I don't see anything wrong with the LS director change.

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