From mecha to moe genres, seiyuu events are almost a guarantee for every anime title in Japan. These special occasions allow fans of a specific series to gather and socialize together, buy exclusive merchandise, and participate in a large panel with popular voice-actors. Events will vary in size, depending on the success of its respective anime. While some are held within a humble capacity, others have managed to cater to the tens of thousands. The idolization of seiyuu in Japan has led to the expansion of these events; however, anime production companies are definitely using them to their commercial advantage as well.
One season of an anime is generally paired with one major event. Although held within the span of a day and at one location (usually somewhere in Tokyo), the event is often split into two sessions – afternoon and evening – to allow more fans to attend. Tickets are commonly priced around ¥6000-¥8000, depending on the seats. It is practically impossible to purchase them at a ticket window or through general sales, so people try to win tickets through official raffles. More information on tickets can be found HERE. Before the actual event begins, booths are set up around the area that sell exclusive merchandise. Fans also have this time to meet and mingle with other fans. Basically, events become mini-conventions for a specific anime.
The main attractions, however, are the seiyuu. Each voice-actor is wildly welcomed onto the decorated stage by thunderous applause and screaming fans. To begin, the seiyuu are given time to talk about the series and their roles. Afterwards, they might participate in some sort of activity relating to the anime (like a quiz game). Then, they demonstrate their skills by enacting popular scenes from the show or performing an original event-exclusive skit. This is the common formula of seiyuu events. Below is a sample of the event for “Osomatsu-san”.
Events are held because voice-actors are popular, but this is not the only reason. Anime production companies actively push seiyuu events because they create an alternate form of easy income. Iwata Mitsuo, a famous “veteran” seiyuu, stated in a recent interview:
This is an era where things just don’t sell. In the past, it was natural for an anime DVD to sell 10,000 copies, but now, it’s lucky if it even sells 3000. That’s where events come into play. Production companies try to recover their lost DVD sales by holding seiyuu events.
As stated before, tickets to events can be pretty pricey – ranging up to ¥8000. And the average event is held at an arena that holds approximately 2500 people. If you do the math, this adds up to quite a hefty sum. But that is not all! Secret codes to win tickets in a raffle are sometimes included as bonuses to anime DVD and Blu-rays. This motivates more consumers to buy said products. Additionally, most seiyuu events are recorded and later released on store shelves, creating more revenue for production companies as fans scramble to purchase a psychical copy.
Seiyuu are treated like idols in Japan, but they didn’t reach that pinnacle alone. Anime production companies have definitely had a hand in popularizing them.
(Post by Gina)
Interview with Iwata Mitsuo (in Japanese).