On a recent episode of the TV Tokyo talk show Jikkuri Kiitarou ~ Star Kinkyou (Hi) Houkoku, veteran voice actor Akira Kamiya (Kenshiro in Fist of the North Star, Kinnikuman in Kinnikuman / Ultimate Muscle, Ryo Saeba in City Hunter) spilled the beans about his experience earning a living as a seiyuu.
Specifically, the 70 year old Kamiya related his experiences working on the original Kinnikuman TV anime. Back in 1983, Kamiya said, voice acting operated under a graduated pay scale system so that less experienced actors started off with smaller wage rates that increased over time. When he first took the leading role as the titular character in Kinnikuman, Kamiya earned only 3000 yen per episode! That was only about $12.46 US, according to the 1983 yen-to-dollars exchange rate.
Gradually, Kamiya’s wages increased to 37,000 yen per episode ($153.66 US in 1983), although Kamiya admitted that he admired today’s system, where rookie voice actors can expect to start at 15,000 yen ($128.25 US) per episode.
Kamiya also revealed where the real money for experienced voice actors can be found: pachinko machines. For his voice work for pachinko machines, Kamiya revealed that he usual makes at least 500,000 yen ($4725.15 US) per job, and that obtaining a commission of a cool million yen ($8550.30 US) for such work would not be out of reach.
Paul Chapman is the host of The Greatest Movie EVER! Podcast and GME! Anime Fun Time.