Kyle McCarley is a Los Angeles-based voice-over artist who has appeared in multiple anime series English dubs. A few of his accolades include him reprising valued roles in Nier; Automata Video Game, HBO’s Infinity Train, and Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, etc. But what really hooks the crowd is his reprisal of the primary character in the Anime adaptation series of Mob Psycho 100 originally by ONE. Yet it seems due to certain conflicts of interests, Crunchyroll has decided to recast the Mob Psycho 100 Season 3 cast after both parties broke out in disagreement over a union contract.

Crunchyroll Mob Psycho 100 Kyle McCarley
Kyle McCarley addresses Mob Psycho 100 fans, via McCarley’s Youtube

Crunchyroll is an American distribution, production, and licensing streaming service and has over the generations covered many notable Anime productions. But the truth of the matter is that licensing Anime episodes are no easy task. For multiple reasons, Crunchyroll has displayed behaviors that seem to shrug off as anti-union. 

Mob Psycho 100 III Shigeo ‘Mob’s voice actor appeases fans on Youtube

Kyle McCarley who does voice-over-acting of Shigeo ‘Mob’ Kageyama in the famous hit Mob Psycho 100 series about the world’s strongest esper, found himself in a conflict with Crunchyroll. McCarley reached out to his fans over Youtube and begins his video – “I was super excited about this, I love playing Mob and I love you guys” and mentions that “there have been talks between the casts of this show and Crunchyroll who are producing this show about potentially producing this show on a SAG-AFTRA Union contract”. He then goes on to mention that he will no longer be reprising his role as the protagonist of the famous Japanese anime.

What’s the Scene with Union and Crunchyroll?

Image Courtesy of Nintendo

What is SAG-AFTRA?

Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists is an American union that protects and brings together behind-the-screen/on-screen freelancing artists of the nation. Kyle McCarley in addition to his video described the benefits that artists receive in a Union in his Tweet thread. 

Amongst the major benefits, McCarley mentions, the one that stands out are health insurance and retirement plans. America does not have universal health insurance schemes, and any coverage is paid for by the doer himself. Unlike corporations or companies which are employed artists/workers permanently, freelancers have to fend for themselves.

Freelancing voice actors like Kyle McCarley often are hired by multiple different organizations and production companies. There is no one single employer for them and hence issuing health insurance becomes impossible.

Kyle McCarley describes that SAG-AFTRA union comes-in in this aspect. They provide health insurance and retirement benefits to all the artists under them. McCarley himself is a union member and sits as a member of SAG-AFTRA’s dubbing steering committee. 

The Deal with Crunchyroll

Crunchyroll Mob Psycho 100 Kyle McCarley
Sean Schemmel in LA premiere of Resurrection of F, through Natalie Japan’s YT Channel

The way SAG-AFTRA compensates for such schemes is by collecting a small fee on top of the artist’s usual payment. For this, the companies usually have to make a deal with the union’s contract. Otherwise, the artists would have to sign contracts all by themselves. The union defines some uniform contract agreements for all artists, which serve as a base foundation.

Crunchyroll was ready to Pay McCarley the otherwise raised fee of a Union Contract

  • According to Kyle McCarley, the demanded percentage that goes towards the union isn’t ginormous or anything that the production companies should feel pressed by.
  •  McCarley approached Crunchyroll to sign a contract under the Union’s contract base.  McCarley said Crunchyroll was ready to pay him the amount that a union contract would otherwise demand.
  • Remember the union contract for fee contains artist fee + union percentage. Kyle McCarley mentions that this isn’t about money. Crunchyroll was hesitant given that Kyle McCarley demanded a small percentage that would wee towards the union’s health scheme.

Crunchyroll Dubs simultaneously with the Japanese dubbing

Kageyama in Mob Psycho 100 season 3 release when?
courtesy of Youtube Official trailer (via Anitv Channel)

Kyle McCarley told Kotaku that Crunchyroll usually records the English dub simultaneously when the actual Japanese dubbing is going on in the native studio of the Anime. McCarley said that Crunchyroll only approached him on September 8th, which really confused him given that the release date of the Anime was so close.

Crunchyroll disagrees to sit in a meeting with the casts 

Kyle McCarley wanted to negotiate. He said he had a meeting with all the casts in a Zoom meeting and all of them decided to talk to Crunchyroll. McCarley talked to Treslyn Williams, the voiceover department head of SAG-AFTRA, and wanted to simply talk with Crunchyroll about finding a middle ground.

The entire cast backed him up on this and gave their support. McCarley tweets #JustaMeeting on Twitter over the fact that he didn’t demand long-term union-backed agreements or anything of that sort, all he wanted was a chance at negotiating something that will help both the artists and still pay for the company. Crunchyroll outright declined, according to Kyle McCarley.

Finding a middle-ground

  • The Shigeo Mob Kageyama’s voice actor’s point was that he wanted to find a middle ground in which SAG-AFTRA along with himself could negotiate with Crunchyroll to find some potential mid-point where both the parties got what they needed.
  • One specific example of that is Netflix voice-actor contracts. Netflix had signed a deal with SAG-AFTRA to appoint under their contracts but with the say that Netflix gets to modify the contract depending the contract upon the demand of the show.

Why companies are hesitant toward Unions

Sean Schemmel and Masako Nozawa crunchyroll
Sean Schemmel and Masako Nozawa in LA premiere of Resurrection of F, courtesy of Natalie youtube channel

The scene with production/streaming companies like Crunchyroll is that it is often a political battle with unions.

  • Companies are often willing, ready even to compromise or pay much more than usual with voice artists if it the contract is individually signed. But when there are unions involved, companies probably fear them.
  • There are plenty of reasons why but the one that stands out is the loss of agency over the individual. It may come to the point that even to schedule a recording session the company will have to request the union.
  • Plus the Union has a lot of say in how much the voice actor can be ‘strained’. While we know of examples such as the voice actor of Dragon Ball Z Sean Schemmel screaming for minutes on end, unions such as SAG-AFTRA put a lot of emphasis on not straining the vocal cords. This probably makes it complicated for the company to sometimes demand things when required.

It isn’t always possible to get permission on documents to push the voice artist over the limits. Pushing the artist too much is wrong, of course. But sometimes difficult Anime dubbing does require some serious prima-facie effort which should not be ignored.

Concluding 

As things are, McCarley is not returning for Season 3 of Mob Psycho 100. Now, this should not make you vilify Crunchyroll. They aren’t some dark-honed pedophiles hiding behind a rugged black curtain with smiles on their faces. Neither are they corporate multimillion giants who have a lot to screech from the artists. It’s not easy being Crunchyroll with Anime episodes (especially demanding ones like Mob Psycho 100) costing thousands of dollars in just one episode.


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