It has been a year of ups and downs in the anime industry after Sony’s Funimation Global Group completed the purchase of Crunchyroll from AT&T. With the pandemic slowly easing, many studios, including Crunchyroll, have decided to move back into studio dubbing versus the remote sessions they had been doing since 2020. Today Kyle McCarley, the voice of Shigeo “Mob” Kageyama, revealed in a video on youtube that he was likely to be recast in the upcoming third season of the popular show. And it wasn’t because he wouldn’t do the role again. It turns out Crunchyroll does not want to work with union contracts.
McCarley is a member of SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists), upon speaking with Crunchyroll to prepare for the new contract for the upcoming season, it became clear they were not going to do it under a union contract. In his video, he stressed his desire to work with Crunchyroll on a good faith compromise that he would work this season non-union under the promise that Crunchyroll would meet with union representatives to negotiate a potential contract for future productions. Here is what Kyle had to say.
Why are unions so important to so many in the dubbing industry? McCarley points out his case in a Twitter thread
Unions protect the workers they represent chiefly by giving them collective bargaining power, meaning that instead of negotiating the terms of your employment individually, one-on-one, the union negotiates baseline minimums for everyone all at once.
This generally leads to better terms for all workers, because as a collective, you have sway in these negotiations. How much you get paid, how long your hours are, how hard those hours are, how often you get breaks or time off, what safety precautions are taken, etc.
Just one example of how SAG-AFTRA helps voice over performers, specifically, is by negotiating terms that protect us from vocally stressful work. We often have to do a lot of screaming/shouting on the job, but our contracts ensure it’s never for too long a time
Beyond Mob Psycho 100 III, it is unclear how many additional returning series could be affected by Crunchyroll’s aversion to union contracts. The anime dubbing industry has been a historically under-unionized industry that has resulted in underpaying of talent, lack of healthcare, and other benefits. As McCarley pointed out in his Twitter thread, they are freelance workers, which without their union contract, results in a lack of basic benefits. McCarley is also not the only member of the cast not returning. ADR director Chris Cason confirmed on Twitter he will also not return for the third season of the show.
Many have feared the merger that Sony created by its purchasing of Funimation and Crunchyroll would result in negative changes for the industry long term. Many have complained about Crunchyroll’s apps not working properly or the lack of an app on many TV platforms. Perhaps the most glaring issue to come out of the merger is the lack of options now for voice actors when it comes to dubbing studios with the monopoly-type nature that Sony now has in the industry. Much of the voice acting community has come out to support McCarley and his efforts to help the community. McCarley has also stated he doesn’t begrudge anyone who is willing to work non-union on dubs, stating each has to make the decision that best fits their situation. However given McCarley’s position with the union, he felt his role was to push for better treatment overall, even though it has cost him some of his more iconic roles.
We reached out to Crunchyroll for comment on Kyle’s video and any changes to other shows coming this fall but did not receive a comment back in time for our deadline. Crunchyroll did, however, provide this response to Kotaku’s Isaiah Colbert:
Crunchyroll is excited to bring fans worldwide the dub for the third season of Mob Psycho 100 III as a SimulDub, the same day-and-date as the Japanese broadcast. We’ll be producing the English dub at our Dallas production studios, and to accomplish this seamlessly per our production and casting guidelines, we will need to recast some roles. We’re excited for fans to enjoy the new voice talent and greatly thank any departing cast for their contributions to previous seasons.