Recently fans of Mob Psycho 100 were treated to some unsettling news from Kyle McCarley voice actor behind the main character. Due to Crunchyroll’s stance on unions they did not want to dub season three of the show as a union contract but still wanted to retain actors like Kyle with their current rate of pay. Normally this would be a deal breaker for actors that prefer union contracts, but Kyle saw an opportunity to help bridge the gap between Crunchyroll and Sagaftra, the voice actor’s union. Kyle made the very reasonable request that if he does season three of Mob Psycho 100 on a non-union contract that in return Crunchyroll sits down and has a meeting with the union and simply converse. No commitment was required beyond some time to sit, chat and try to foster a mutual understanding at the very least. A very reasonable request but one that Crunchyroll seems to have refused as they have informed media outlets that members of the cast will change for season three.
Now before I go any further I want to make it clear that I’m not going to argue for either pro or anti-union here. That is a conversation that I frankly don’t want to have as it tends to generate a lot of heated discussions. However, regardless of your stance concerning unions, this does show a clear mistake that is going on that will have very real consequences for the English-dubbed anime industry. The voice actors have needs to make their employment for these roles viable for their day-to-day lives but those needs are not being met.
It’s very clear that not only is Crunchyroll not listening to the needs presented by the actors that work hard to bring so many characters to life, but they also have no intention of listening to them. This is simply not going to end well at all as we are already seeing several problems that are nearing a boiling point in this industry.
The first is going to be the big one and that is pay. The reason why so many actors support the union is that the pay and the benefits are just so much better. In an industry that is seeing one of its greatest heights in popularity with movies consistently taking high spots at the box office, it’s clear that anime is a well-beloved aspect of the lives of so many fans. So much so that fans are actually paying the actors far more to appreciate their work than the people who pay to have them create it. For example, Anairis Quinones confirmed that for her work as Rika in the Jujutsu Kaisen movie she was paid a grand total of $150. I had the privilege of meeting her last year, and she is a wonderful person to talk to. I was one of four people in line at the time and she made more money selling autographs to us than she did for the entire movie where she played one of the main characters. Acting is a job and as such people do it to earn a living and that kind of income does not cut it. If Crunchyroll wants to continue to employ actors who have spent years developing and perfecting their craft they have to pay them a wage that makes the job worth the actor’s time. This is why so many actors have left the anime voice acting field to focus on video games which pay far more.
The second thing Crunchyroll needs to pay attention to is the family atmosphere that the voiceover industry has. This is an industry where a lot of the people involved are very supportive and empathetic towards one another. When it was revealed that Kyle was not going to be in the next season of Mob Psycho 100 what followed was an incredible series of responses from other actors adamantly refusing to audition to replace him out of respect for Kyle’s passion for this project and out of respect for defending the stance that actors deserve ideal working conditions for the roles that they play. The fact is that if Crunchyroll continues this mindset that they can just replace actors who don’t immediately accept what is offered to them they will very quickly find out that those very actors will replace Crunchyroll.
The final thing is working conditions. Crunchyroll has taken a stance against the idea of remote recording. Now I do understand that due to the difficulties of working remotely some people just simply cannot do things that way. However, in today’s environment, the same is also now true of in-person recording. Since the pandemic, remote recording has opened some interesting doors that allowed people outside of Texas and California to record for various animes and so it really created an opportunity to diversify the cast while keeping them safe from the pandemic itself. Even if the lockdowns have greatly eased up some people feel like the risk of in-person recording is far too great, and some just prefer the work-from-home environment. Since this is something that clearly works as we have seen in the past two years it’s clear this is something that can be accommodated; however, the shift back to in-person recording shows Crunchyroll has no desire to do so.
So with the status quo as it is now actors are saying they want better pay, better working conditions, and better treatment from Crunchyroll. These are all reasonable requests, especially seeing how well the anime industry is doing. However, all Kyle wanted to do was have Crunchyroll sit down with Sag-Aftra just to hear why these concerns are so important and they said no. The current conditions of this industry simply are not feasible for actors to continue working in and we are nearing the point where actors will take their work elsewhere and rightfully so. People who worked hard to make their talent something that is beloved and adored by fans all over will not belittle themselves in conditions where either they or a fellow actor they respect are devalued. At the very least Crunchyroll, have the meeting and start the process of understanding why the actors feel the way they do about their current working conditions because at this rate the actors will simply find better conditions to work in.