Crunchyroll is under fire for allegedly refusing to sign union deals for voice actors

Kyle McCarley, the lead voice actor in the English dub of Mob Psycho 100, probably won’t return for Season 3 of the hit anime show. Breaking this news to fans on YouTube, he explained that he was leaving the show because Crunchyroll rejected his application for a SAG-AFTRA union contract.

That internal conflict has since expanded into a broader backlash against Crunchyroll, with anime fans widely criticizing the streaming service for its treatment of workers.

In the first two seasons of Mob Psycho 100, the English dub was recorded remotely. However, the show is switching to in-person recording for Season 3, resulting in several characters being recast due to their voice actors being unable to record in Texas. This sparked a conversation about unionization centered on Crunchyroll’s monopolistic role in the American anime market. Many voice actors fear losing their jobs if they can’t record in Texas, and some hope actors’ union SAG-AFTRA could help get better working conditions.

Crunchyroll, a Sony subsidiary, is the main streaming distributor for anime shows and films in the United States. Many of its top titles are simulcast shortly after their release in Japan, so translators and voice actors sometimes have to work extremely quickly to translate new episodes for surprisingly little pay.

Kyle McCarley tells kotaku that he wanted to return for season 3 but that Crunchyroll would not agree to a union deal. He explained that the conflict was not about money, but more about workplace safety (such as setting policies to avoid damaging actors’ vocal cords) and health insurance contributions. He also said he offered to “non-unionize this job in exchange for a meeting with SAG-AFTRA representatives,” a request Crunchyroll declined.

After McCarley posted about this conflict on social media, it escalated from a workplace dispute within baseball to a controversy for anime fandom in general, with some fans canceling their Crunchyroll subscriptions in protest.

Other anime insiders tweeted complaints about Crunchyroll’s unique power within the industry, including allegations that voice actors were paid tiny amounts to dub the hit film Jujutsu Kaisen 0, and that other workers such as translators were similarly underpaid. Actress Anairis QuiΓ±ones confirmed that she was paid $150 (before taxes) to do a voiceover Jujutsu Kaisen 0‘s main characters, with co-star Xander Mobus said he received the same salary.

Crunchyroll has not publicly responded to this controversy other than to release a statement kotaku say they plan to proceed with recording Mob Psycho 100 English dub as planned in Texas. With the new season due out in early October, Crunchyroll hasn’t yet announced who will replace Kyle McCarley in the show’s lead role.

The Daily Dot reached out to Crunchyroll for comment.

*Initial publication: September 22, 2022 at 12:55 p.m. CDT

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in science fiction films and superheroes, she also appears as a film and television critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she is the co-host of the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw Crunchyroll is under fire for allegedly refusing to sign union deals for voice actors

Jaclyn Diaz

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