Commenting on Koebuta Rush

So Paranda describes what many seiota have been observing for the past, oh I don’t know, 5 years? I quote:

Seiyuu ended up being divided into two factions by fan opinions. The “jitsuryoku” camp contained seiyuu with true voice ability that get casted based on their own strength. The other camp contained seiyuu tainted with various unflattering speculation: they’re just idols, failed mainstream wannabes, casted from the couch (makura eigyou = pillow trade), they have a monotone voice (bouyomi), they’re only popular because of the agency’s monstrous PR power (gorioshi = Gorilla Push), and so on.

Within all of this bubbling resentment, the word “koebuta” ended up getting thrown around to describe fans that entered into the fandom because of the latter group. What it implies is that they like the idol aspects of seiyuu more than the voice acting.

The ones on the receiving end of the word took it in stride, and some even began calling themselves the term with pride, considering the detractors as elitist old farts. Besides there’s nothing wrong with liking seiyuu for other reasons so who cares?

I tried to leave a comment but his aging blogging software can’t handle the spam so it’s difficult. Besides, blogging the comment instead lets me rant on a little more.

(Let’s just say when I started blogging with this set of categories in 2008 or whatever, the category name “Seiyuu, Idol, Pop” existed, as is, for a reason. Also, all of this applies only tangentially to the other gender side of the fandom, although it isn’t too different. It’s a different can of worms I guess.)


/cracks fingers

The big picture in regards to seiota, at least as a reflection from marketing and fandom, is actually more complicated. Having seen in person more 90s seiyuu idol types in the past few years, it’s very clear that many seiyuu are general “personalities” in the entertainment industry sense of the term. People like Hisakawa Aya or Mitsuishi Kotono can fully be normal idols if they got the right break or if they won their respective gene lotteries; they carry themselves like showa idols. That’s because back then if you are a female and you work this business by acting or singing or whatever, there is just that one way to do things.

[As an aside, massive prop to the original 17yo because she’s able to continue to play the game.]

Today’s seiyuu idol is different than 90s style seiyu idol because what goes for “idol” has changed drastically. Think AKB48. A lot of people in the mainstream don’t think much of the average AKB48 girl, because they are basically simple, hard working entertainers, with as much talent as a girl next door. But that is just a perception–it’s not necessarily the reality of the situation. It’s both a matter of perceived talent (I think Ootsubo, TKTT, Ohashi and Ogura are all very talented entertainers and maybe even voice actors for example, FWIW) and the medium they express themselves, or play out their idol-job-ness-whatever. Today’s seiyuu idol is more down-to-earth, closer to the koebuta touch, but at the same time it shows off their weaknesses and quirks, because after all they are girls next door as far as charm goes. At the same time, because the demand for the overall package is higher, the talent doesn’t have to excel in the primary disciplines as long as she can make it count in other areas. And the more demanding you are on your idols while exploiting them in more facets via more media, more venues to produce the idol, odds are you will get idol talents who are well-rounded but may not excel in the core disciplines of anime voice acting. Well, it’s not to say they can’t do a good job–it’s just a matter of what fans perceive as good.

I mean for every Iwao Junko or Kouda Mariko you have a Satsuki Yukino or Mayumi Tanaka. To me the gap between those people as voice actors are pretty narrow, but some simply just got idol appeal so they got to go a step further career-wise. It’s just how things have always rolled.

Today’s seiyuu idol reflects today’s market reality. In the age of koebuta I don’t really think it is a problem, you know? It’s the same as saying there is nothing wrong with liking Hanazawa Kana or Hikasa Yoko as idols or singers. It’s the same with liking Tomatsu Haruka or Takagaki Ayahi as entertainers, because they are actually good at something, and voice acting is one of those more forgiving occupations where even if you can’t make the cut with RL acting (yeah sorry Kotobuki, you just can’t act), you can still do all right. And it is a great marketing vehicle for these people on the side.

But for the Hasshiis out there, well, good luck.

At the same time, there’s a lot of room for hard stats and context. I wrote what I did with what little that I do know. I think the way the voice acting industry plays out is part of that, as far as seiota factions go. It’s easy to be a certain type of seiota just because there are people, historically, who did it just on the side and you can follow them. But today’s mix media franchises and idol production systems complicate the picture. It’s okay to go all idol on a voice actress I guess, but it’s always a little bit weird to hear a Shindou Kei story or stumbling upon Shikaco’s gravure pics. Or deal with the Hirano Aya nonsense. And I guess that’s the hurdle we have to get over with. I also want to know how these seiyuu idols are typically cultivated. I guess part of that is how seiyuu schools do in terms of admissions and auditions, the pure seiota stuff.

Also, it’s a matter of technology too. Not many showa idols tweet. It’s like the one BIG thing I left out in my Madoka Rebellion write-up: the first 5 minutes of the screening was my favorite 5 minutes of the movie, as the seiyuu cast introduced themselves and the film to the oversea viewers. Giant AIPON OMG HNNNNNG. I bring this up also because thanks to high definition theatrical projection, and my 2nd row seat, I can see the bumps and skin imperfections on these girls with high zoom details. You ain’t gonna get that on your NTSC TV set back in 1989. Not even if you splurged for LD.

To answer Paranda’s question, if he is 60-40 then I’m probably like 90-10, but at the same time I enjoy all the koebuta stuff too, even if it’s to a lesser extent. I mean, HUGE AIPON OMG HNNNNG. The real difference is that I generally don’t like idols in the Momusu or AKB48 sense. I’m more about the White Album style of idols!

Bonus question: what the heck does this mean in the context of Million Live and Cinderella Girls? I mean, it’s like accidentally meta.

One Response to “Commenting on Koebuta Rush”

  • Author

    Cinderella Girls, 2 full years after it started, suddenly turned into an AKB-like igol grooming machine. I think the original idea was to throw cartoon girls on the wall and see what sticks. Even Rin, Mio, and Uzuki didn’t have voice actors when the game debuted. Now they are throwing 6 real people on that wall every month! I may be wrong, but I think Anya and her generation debuted voiced and had CD in like 2 months if not sooner. Now they watch who’s buying what CDs.

    Also, I’m wondering if the game itself peaked. On my original team, I had to buy performance to make progress all the way to 250 (I keep attack and defence levels same). After the restart I hit a 100 and suddenly nobody wants to fight me anymore, although I know that there’s still a number of very overpowered players out there, just take a look at productions into which I’m enrolled.

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