It is not very uncommon to see seiyu[voice actors or actresses] releasing CD nowadays. It’s not even necessarily character songs starred by each seiyu, but they do release CD for their own. In my generation(around 90’s), this didn’t happen a lot. If I have to recall one, probably I might name 椎名へきる[Hekiru Shiina] since she is outstandingly pretty. Incidentally her fans were called へきる星人[Hekiru seijin], or Hekiru mankind. At that time, the most famous and popular seiyu was definitely 林原めぐみ[Megumi Hayashibara] who voices Ayanami Rei. Or else, 桜井智[Tomo Sakurai], 菅原祥子[Sachiko Sugawara], 金月真美[Mami Kingetsu] or so. Even though they used to be quite popular, they didn’t seem to be recognised as an idol. They mostly released character songs which means songs starred by the character whom the seiyu voices, but not so many CD for their own. If any, there was not so much.
A while ago, I found a headline on the gossip magazine saying “Five Hot Idol Seiyus[アイドル声優]!” There were some nice pictures of 平野 綾[Aya Hirano], 小清水亜美[Ami Koshimizu], 水樹奈々[Nana Mizuki], 田村ゆかり[Yukari Tamura], and…darn it, I can’t recall the last one! Sorry! But as you know, these seiyus are amazingly pretty so that they can even be recognised as an idol. Even if they don’t feature certain characters, they can make CD and sell…but why has it become like this? Of course they sure work as a seiyu well, though.
Come to think of it, there has been such pretty seiyus 2000 onwards. Nowadays, seiyu’s job is not only voice a character, but show on TV or reception, do a concert, or even publish a photo album. So inevitably, they have to be good-looking. Same seems to go to male seiyus. Again back to my generation, I can think of 草尾 毅[Takeshi Kusao], 緑川 光[Hikaru Midorikawa], 置鮎龍太郎[Ryoutarou Okiayu], 堀内賢雄[Ken’yu Horiuchi], 堀川 亮[Ryo Horikawa] or so. Back more, there would be 古谷徹[Toru Furuya], 池田秀一[Shuuichi Ikeda], 野沢雅子[Masako Nozawa], or 神谷 明[Akira Kamiya]. These seiyus are veterans so that their works are unforgettable. However, they didn’t do idol so that we were not shown their real faces like now. However, we have seen such handsome seiyus like 小野大輔[Daisuke Ono], 岸尾だいすけ[Daisuke Kishio], 福山 潤[Jun Fukuyama], 神谷浩史[Hiroshi Kamiya], 高橋直純[Naozumi Takahashi] 2000 onwards. Well male seiyus don’t seem to be treated as an idol, but if I have to name one, it might be 宮野真守[Mamoru Miyano]. He is very handsome and stylish, and has voiced some lead characters.
Meanwhile, some people say the value of seiyu is getting poor comapring to the old days. How many of them can survive for so long as a seiyu? How many of them could make such a legendary work? Isn’t seiyu a well-paid job, so is that why they have to work as an idol? In order to be a seiyu, should he/she be handsome/cute? Why does Studio Ghibli always use entertainers as a seiyu?
So if a seiyu has to be an idol, would an idol have to do seiyu like Tsukishima Kirari in the future? I sometimes think of what will happen in seiyu industry from now on.