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How to Become a Voice Actor in Anime

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Anime is Japanese animation. When anime enters the American market, the language is changed to English -- which is otherwise known as dubbing. Dubs are performed in small chunks of perhaps a single line. Interpretations must match completed animation, including mouth movements. Breaking into this field can be as challenging as the work itself, and performers generally work alone. Award-winning voice actor Vic Mignogna comments, “It’s tricky delivering a moving, honest performance. It’s trickier than they think.” Mignogna is probably best known for playing Edward Elric, the main character in the “Full Metal Alchemist” series and movies.

Acquire acting training. Anime, unlike American animation, is not limited to an audience of mostly children and their parents. Sophisticated and nuanced drama and comedy are the norm, demanding strong acting ability. College courses and workshops are worth the effort.

Perform. Participate in productions at school. Become a part of community theatre. You need real experience and material for your resume.

Expand or develop musical abilities. Some voice acting parts call for singing, and musical training may help for speaking roles as well. Mignogna says qualities like rhythm, tempo and musicality enhance voice acting ability. Besides acting, Mignogna is a musician who boasts musical credits in anime. For instance, he sings the opening theme song to FUNimation’s “One Piece.”

Practice your craft, recording yourself onto a computer through a good microphone. Listen to the result objectively, noting articulation, tempo and other characteristics that might need improvement.

Experiment with the qualities of your voice, its range and tones. Experimentation will help in auditions, as the director may ask you to deliver lines in different ways and as different characters.

Create a one-page resume that focuses on acting experience and training. Don't forget to Include musical experience and training, too.

Record a one- or two-minute demo CD on your computer, using the microphone and audio software. Show off your acting and vocal versatility with a variety of samples that make it easy for whomever is listening to imagine you in different parts. Label CDs neatly, including name, email, phone number and address.

Relocate to a city where you can get work. Production companies are situated in New York, California and Texas. Mignogna recommends trying to break into nonunion productions first, so consider Texas. As a right-to-work state, union membership is not required for acting work.

Audition often. Be prepared to take direction during the audition, which will likely consist of reading five to seven different lines from one character’s part. Be ready to adjust your voice to prove your flexibility.


For the demo CD, choose an isolated area where no extraneous sounds will be picked up.

If you need help improving the characteristics of your voice, ask your acting instructor for exercises.

Don't fear rejection. Through trial and error, each one will carry you closer to the role you will actually land.


Beware of talent agencies that offer to market you for an up-front fee. Legitimate agents don't receive commissions for finding actors work until the actors themselves get paid.

About the Author

Sophie Johnson is a freelance writer and editor of both print and film media. A freelancer for more than 20 years, Johnson has had the opportunity to cover topics ranging from construction to music to celebrity interviews.

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