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Fruits Basket Director’s Alleged Sexual Harassment Cost Voice Actor Roles

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Voice actor Hiroko Konishi’s refusal to join the director of Fruits Basket in a mixed hot spring has left her losing out on voice acting roles.

Voice actor Hiroko Konishi’s sexual harassment experience demonstrates the bleak and harsh reality of voice actors saying “no” in the industry.

Konishi, whose voice fans will recognize from Fushigi Yûgi, Digimon Adventure and Jubei-chan, spoke up about her experiences during the height of the #MeToo movement on June 1, 2018. As reported by Unseen Japan, Konishi refused to join Daichi Akitaro, the 2001 director of the anime adaptation of Fruits Basket, in a mixed bathing hot spring resort. Akitaro reportedly often went on “pleasure trips.” Mixed bathing resorts do not allow people to wear any swimsuits or towels to cover themselves. Her act of saying “no” consequently resulted in her losing out on a number of acting roles.

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As reported initially by Anime News Network, Konishi’s manager “lured” her to accompany Daichi to “‘thank’ him for all the assistance he had given her.” The production team removed Konishi from her role in Jubei-Chan 2: The Counter Attack of Siberia Yagyu, directed by Daichi. Moreover, Daichi reportedly hid her involvement in developing the role of one of the characters, based on the voice actor, in Jubei-Chan The Ninja Girl – Secret of the Lovely Patch.

Harassment Faced by Women in Japan

Konishi heard from other female voice actors that merit wasn’t good enough anymore. According to Anime News Network’s translation, Konshi said, “none of the women could truly consent to the actions they performed in that setting [of a hot springs resort] because they feared they would lose work if they did not comply.” She continued, “I’ve released keenly that women in Japan face harassment on a different level compared to the West due to women being in a weaker position.”

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Voice Actors Have Quit After Receiving Death Threats

Harassment in the voice-acting industry is not uncommon. The voice actor for Attack on Titan’s Mikasa also endured death threats against her, her family and the director of Kemono Friends. The police arrested the suspect in June 2020. Haruhi Suzumiya voice actor Aya Hirano suffered years of death threats from the anime community starting in 2010, which persists today. Due to these death threats, Hirano has stepped away from voice acting to focus mainly on stage productions. According to Unseen Japan’s translation, Hirano Tweeted, “I want to help preserve these wonderful works for future generations and popularize them abroad as part of our culture, but at the same time, I don’t think it’s healthy to work in situations where I feel my life is in danger because of a faction of radical fans.”

Konishi’s last anime-related role was in 2000 when she voiced Misao Sakimori in Gatekeepers. She voiced Lilith in 2004’s Darkstalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower.

Source: Twitter, via Unseen Japan, Anime News Network

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