Stories about underpaid animators and struggling manga authors have been pretty prominent in the last few years, but until now we hadn’t heard much about these problems extending to other parts of the industry.
Aya Hirano is among the more successful voice actors in Japan, popularized in the mid 2000s by her roles as the titular star in The Melancholy of Haruhi Susumiya as well as Konata Isumi in Lucky Star. Since then she’s become something of a staple, playing characters in everything from Fairy Tail and Black Butler II to Girls Und Panzer, Parasyte, and Dragon Ball Super.
However, Hirano wasn’t always so successful. In a 2014 Kansai TV interview which suddenly began making the rounds on Japanese blogs and social media last week, she described her early days in the business, struggling to get enough roles to buy groceries. She was poor in fact, that she says:
“There was a time when I really had no money, so I’d put soy sauce on tissues and eat them.”
Reportedly she was even eating tissues at the time The Melancholy of Haruhi Susumiya was being produced. Strangely enough she says she didn’t settle for cheap tissues either, springing for the more expensive brands containing lotion and fragrances. Many of these more expensive tissues can run close to the price of low-end instant noodles and rice, so it’s on odd cost-saving measure.
Whatever the case, at least Hirano managed to survive on such a penny-pinching diet, and her struggles on Haruhi soon led to recognition and more than enough gigs to put normal food on the table.