Considering how much Toonami in the US and Cheese TV in Australia impacted our childhood with an amazing line-up of anime such as Dragon Ball Z, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Naruto, One Piece, Digimon, Pokemon and Sailor Moon to name a few, you would assume that the American voice actors would be well compensated for their efforts. However, anime is bigger and that comes as no surprise, as Japan is where anime originates. Yet, which voice actor is more important?
We must also take into account that the employment benefits, currency value, and costs of living in both countries are vastly different. The average price of petrol in the US is roughly $0.64 per-liter and in Japan, 119.90 JPY ($1.11 USD) at the time of writing this. We must also take into account that the minimum wage in the US, which was last recorded during the 2016 census is $31,099 annually while in Japan, it’s $37,800 after converting to USD based on statistics taken in 2020.
So, now that we can see that it’s slightly more expensive to live in Japan, which voice actor do you think gets paid more? Well, it’s America. The Simpsons voice actors in Dan Castellaneta (Homer), Julie Kavner (Marge), Nancy Cartwright (Bart), Yeardly Smith (Lisa), Hank Azaria (Moe), and Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns) made roughly US$300,000 per episode in 2017. With most one-year Simpsons episodes consisting of about 22 episodes, which then works out to be roughly US$6.6 million a year.
However, Japan’s highest-paid anime voice actor Megumi Hayashibara (Evangelion’s Rei Ayanami, Slayers’ Lina Inverse) earned roughly US$630,000 in 2017. Meanwhile, Masako Nozawa’s (Dragon Ball’s Goku) US$360,000 and Ryo Horikawa (Dragon Ball’s Vegeta) weighs in at US$270,000. This a massive difference and especially, when you consider that it’s statistically more expensive to live in Japan than in the US.
However, we must also take into account that the Simpsons is one of the largest, if not the most successful, animations to ever come out of the US. In addition, these voice actors didn’t get paid anywhere that much when they first started either. Less successful shows inexperienced voice actors would be on much lower incomes than the Japanese voice actors I mentioned before. However, in saying that, the Simpsons voice actors supposedly did start on roughly US$30,000 per episode while in Japan, the aggregator website Kyuryo Bank states that the positions start at US$540 per episode for beginners. American voice actors make roughly 55 times more than that of Japanese voice actors.
If you want to get more of an insight into the world of voice acting for US anime voice actors for both One Piece and Dragon Ball Z you in the exclusive interview with myself and R Bruce Elliott linked in the video below from Nerds4Life.