While Crunchyroll monopolizing the anime streaming industry hogged the news spotlight on Wednesday, a section of artists in the anime dub industry tried to shine some light on the issue of low wages meted out to them.
The artists came forward on twitter complaining about the “pathetic” budgets that were set by studios like Crunchyroll and Funimation for dubbing an anime.
Michael Schwalbe, who voices Kawaki in the English dub of Boruto: Naruto Next Generations, said that Funimation had a history of exploiting voice actors, paying bare minimum wages without employee benefits.
Voice actress & casting director Sara Secora also pointed out that anime dubbing is notoriously the lowest paying genre for VAs when compared to video games, prelay animation, commercials and other sectors.
Voice actors currently get paid $35 to $75 an hour to dub anime, which according them is “incredibly low” in terms of voice acting.
Secora was of the opinion that a trained and skilled actor definitely deserved a better rate.
“Being a full-time voice actor often takes years to break into. It also requires expenses with classes, home studio equipment, and more. A higher hourly rate is paying for a trained and skilled actor who honed their craft. It is NOT just reading in funny voices,” she said.
Actor Stephanie Sheh, who is known for voicing characters like Hinata Hyuga (Naruto) and Orihime (Bleach), put forward the need of union dubs so that actors can earn minimum wages and get other benefits like medical insurance and a retirement fund, which is currently not a norm.
Ben Diskin, another voice actor, too was of a similar opinion, pitching in with the benefits that a union like SAG-AFTRA (The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) would offer a voice actor.
“With the merger of your two platforms finally happening, please use the new 2021 Dubbing Agreement from @sagaftra. Union work is how we actors get healthcare and every job that goes union helps actors inch closer to qualification,” Diskin tweeted.
When fans raised doubts about what exactly union dubs are, fellow voice actor Marin Miller pitched in explaining the concept.
“Unions are basically a group of like-minded people who agree we all want certain minimum rates, as well as health and pension covered, but still want to operate as independent contractors so they can work for lots of different clients,” responded Miller to a fan question on Twitter.
Other artists too put forth similar demands, saying there was no excuse to continue paying meagre wages to voice actors, scriptwriters and other creators now that the merger had taken place.
Fans followed suit and agreed that the sway Crunchyroll now had on the industry should enable them to offer better rates to all actors involved in their productions.
Some also pointed out that it’s not just voice actors, but all artists who work behind the screens that need better rates.
Schwalbe in particular urged fans to write to Crunchyroll customer service and ask them to increase the production budgets so that artists can get a better pay.
“If you’re a Crunchyroll subscriber, write to their customer service and tell them that as a paying user, you want to see Crunchyroll increase production budgets so that actors, engineers, directors, and writers are all paid what they should be,” Schwalbe wrote in his tweet.
On March 1, 2022, Crunchyroll announced that the entire catalogue of Funimation, Wakanim, as well as Crunchyroll’s VRV — including shows, movies, and previously exclusive forthcoming simulcast debuts — will be available under the Crunchyroll brand, making them own the largest anime library.
In regard to the merger Colin Decker, CEO of Crunchyroll shared a few words in the press release saying, “Unifying all of our brands and services under the Crunchyroll brand globally enables us to offer more value than ever before as we combine subs, dubs, simulcasts, library, music, movies, manga—all into one subscription. The new Crunchyroll is the realization of a dream, and we are grateful to the creators of anime and the millions of fans who have joined us in making the community what it is today.”