January 5, 2009

Age cults

Since Tanaka Rie's birthday passed over the weekend, she is now eligible to be 17 years old, a concept she once lampooned (in character as Maria) during an episode of Hayate no Gotoku.

The age 17 sect is probably the most well known club in the seiyuu industry, with a motto that embraces eternal youth with an sense of bittersweetness. The criteria for membership include being a female seiyuu, being 17 years old plus a minimum of 156 months, and being personally recognized by the cult leader Inoue Kikuko. Members can usually introduce themselves using their name followed by a proclamation that they are "17 years old" which gives the crowd an opportunity to call out a response or cheer depending on the person.

Although Kikuko did not proselytize much, the movement gained momentum in 2006 when notable seiyuu Tamura Yukari was officially initated into the club. Horie Yui followed Yukarin's example shortly after. Although many seiyuu after have adopted this line of thinking, the list of actual members remains small due to the strict membership requirements.

Due to broad appeal but surprising exclusivity, a number of interesting situations have arisen in response to this organization.

For those supporting the movement, some seiyuu seem to have earned a transitional status in the club where they are implicitly endorsed, but do not hold official membership because they do not meet all eligibility requirements.

There are also power struggles and resistances. Lately, as anyone who has seen the last DVD can tell, Yukari (supposedly bored with the central tenets) has injected some sarcasm in her declarations as opposed to deadpanning the usual lines. Then again, with the release of Meron no uta~Yukari Oukoku Kouka (Melon song~Yukari Kingdom's National Anthem) her religious heresies have been more or less retconned into a very blurred dual personality explanation.

My own theory is that the highly disparate modes she can switch into implies there are actually two Yukaris: One being the normal witty professional voice actor Tamura Yukari, and the other being her delusional alter-ego, an eternally 17 princess who believes she lives in a castle on a pink moon, has magical staff powers activated by winding herself up and then spinning in circles, and is also simultaneously married to Horie Yui and Mizuki Nana (presumably fantasies created as some sort of defensive mechanism to cope with the reality of the soul crushing seiyuu business). This kind of tongue and cheek cheating is still diverging quite a bit from Oneesan's original vision though. Still she remains an official member to date.

Additionally, the 17 brandname has faced the threat of dilution with various spinoffs such as the 10 years old cult formed by Kaneda Tomoko, and the 23 years old cult formed by Takahashi Chiaki, and even radical resistance movements. Team 30, an underground counter-cult originally formed by ARIA seiyuu during a radio broadcast, has declared that veteran seiyuu should embrace the reality of being over 30, and as such have marked the 17 age sect to be its sworn ideological enemy.

Posted by Paranda at January 5, 2009 11:54 PM


LMAO! Nice job writing this in a scholarly manner when the subject matter is just made for LULZ.

Posted by: Gatou at January 6, 2009 9:34 PM

Momoi has been calling herself "eternal 7 years old" a few times lately!

Posted by: mandi at January 13, 2009 10:35 PM

momoi should die in peace :(

Posted by: BĂ©vue at February 27, 2010 8:57 PM

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