アイドル

アイドル - aidoruidol or pop idol. This is a complicated topic that deserves its own place but has to be mentioned here because idol culture has become a significant part of seiyuu culture that one eventually encounters it or has gotten into seiyuu because of it.

Traditionally, “idols” are entertainers in a very broad sense. Usually presented as fresh-faced hopefuls with huge dreams of stardom, they would grow over the years aiming to fulfill their potential with adoring fans following their journey (and of course with the backing of a media entity). They bring smiles to people, perform shows, hold outreach events, host gigs, interact with fans, appear in merchandise, and do all sorts of things in much the same way some seiyuu have been doing lately but in a more specialized manner. In seiyuu circles, they tend to be discussed in two ways — 2D and 3D — where the emphasis is either on the idol character they’re voicing (2D) or the seiyuu themselves (3D), who usually embody the character. It could also be both.

There is also a hybrid type that is booming in popularity — the seiyuu-idol unit or group (or idol-seiyuu, depending on the group and who you ask). These groups prioritize idol activities but since the members are trained seiyuu, they also pursue individual or solo (ソロ; soro) careers if their schedule allows. They’re different from regular seiyuu groups in that they undergo rigorous training in song, dance, and acting, usually right from the start. Due to that scheduling priority, it is often difficult for seiyuu in an active unit to branch out and the sudden loss of work when the unit eventually disbands can be tough to recover from. On the other hand, they get consistent work and a strong support system if they get along with the members, collaborators, and staff that can carry them through their solo careers.

One key thing worth noting is that “idol” is a role, much like how a musician is called an “artist”. Regardless of if it’s solo or in groups, being an idol comes with expectations that aren’t present if they’re a seiyuu who is simply being idolized. It projects a certain kind of image that makes one and their activities idol-like (アイドルっぽい; aidoruppoi | アイドルみたい; aidorumitai) and much of idol culture revolves around those themes.

That said, because of the blurring lines between seiyuu and idol, one could say a seiyuu has reached idol status once they have debuted as a singer. This is further compounded for groups, which could merely be seiyuu groups or seiyuu-idol groups.

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