Indie Voice Actress Phan Masaki Recounts Tales of Unwanted Sexual Attention from Fans
posted on by ANN Interest Team
Content warning: this article contains recollections of sexual assault, self-harm, suicide, and depression. If you or someone you know needs help, and are within the United States, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or use its chat service.
Freelance voice actress Phan Masaki, who is best known for voicing adult doujin games, published a lengthy blog post on January 31 recounting various troubles she had experienced throughout her over 10-year-long career. The post, which describes in detail tales of unwanted sexual attention from fans, is titled: "Why Phan Masaki Became Boring."
Masaki describes herself as an independent voice actress who began voice acting and cosplaying for fun while she was still just a teenager. She wrote that she used to upload her cosplay photos online until she received an email on her work address with the message: "I jerked off to your photos."
Masaki said that a friend told her that the url to her cosplay site was posted on the anonymous message board 2ch. At the time, Masaki had no understanding of what 2ch was, or even the colloquial meaning of the phrase "jerk off." Upon being told that strangers were masturbating to her photos, Masaki wrote that she "felt afraid of a strange man for the first time."
Masaki immediately changed her cosplay name in order to disassociate her real-life face from her voice acting work. However, she notes that the photos that were already uploaded are still on the internet, and that this incident was a harsh reminder that nothing can ever truly be deleted from the internet. Ever since that incident, Masaki has never uploaded a photo of herself under the name of "Phan Masaki."
Immediately after that incident, however, Masaki wrote that she had to deal with unwelcome messages. Her Skype ID was flooded with calls of people "breathing heavily," as well as "disgusting" videos and photos. Masaki quit cosplay and stopped interacting with fans for a while. She also admitted that she stopped enjoying her voice actor work and other otaku activities.
The incident touches on why Masaki chose to stay within the indie scene for so long. She explained that voice actors these days can't make a living just through their roles. They have to cultivate a personal following by showing their faces and attending events and concerts. But she found it hard to live like that.
In the world of indie voice acting, Masaki managed to get by without revealing her face and built a fanbase who followed her just for her voice. She became successful at ASMR, which involved using her voice to relax listeners and put them to sleep. As a result, she gained fans who loved her voice, but also fans who loved her voice so much they would profess romantic feelings of love towards her.
According to Masaki, many fans would message her and ask her out on dates. She even had to establish boundaries with her clients, because some people would message her asking to meet up for work-related reasons, but it was actually a date.
Masaki recounted an incident where a client "confessed love" to her. She blamed herself, saying she should have given more than a soft refusal when she realized that the meeting was not "just work." She did not name the client, but did mention that the incident sparked "Twitter drama" at the time. It is possible that she was referring to the doujin voice circle "Voice Lover", which was accused by several indie voice actors in 2013, including Phan Masaki, of harassing and manipulating the voice actors who worked for them.
Masaki mentioned that the man who did this also had a reputation for preying on other girls, and that the voice actresses had a whisper network to keep each other informed about predators in the industry. "Thus, the voice actresses in their weak position would secretly establish contact with each other, in hopes that none of their fellow actresses would become victims."
Masaki wrote that whenever she rebuffed messages of love by fans, she would get harassed and those people would tell her to die. When she blocked them, they would make a new account to say "sorry" but would then continue to tell her to die. Some fans would send her things via her Amazon wish list that she didn't ask for and tell her she had to date them because of what they did for her. Others would send her videos of themselves saying, "If you don't go out with me, I'll die," while cutting their wrists.
For years, Masaki never mentioned such things publicly, nor did she even tell her fellow actresses. She wrote that she just cried by herself. This went on for some years.
However, Masaki said that she also drew inspiration from fans. When she was feeling at her lowest, she got praised by an eroge fan purely for her skill at acting and nothing else. This made her want to continue acting, so she briefly attended voice acting school and joined an agency. Nevertheless, this did not solve all of Masaki's problems. The blog post also recounts in great detail various personal issues Masaki dealt with outside of her voice acting life, including friendship troubles, bad investments, and an attempted rape by a former classmate. The latter experience prompted her to stop doing roles with rape scenes for a while, which made her lose work at her agency.
Nowadays, Masaki states that she feels isolated. At the end of the post she says: "I want my world to change. One day, a miracle may come falling out of the sky. It's the only thing I'm hoping for, as I live while dead inside."
In a follow-up post published on March 30, she wrote that she didn't just want everyone to think that this was a "sad story" and end it there. She reaffirmed that she was not going to quit her work, and stated that she still draws hope from her fans.
"The voices of haters are loud. They always end up reaching the target of the hate. But the messages of support feel silent in comparison, and there are many times when I'm worried that they're even really there. So don't assume that everyone else will send messages of support, so your voice doesn't matter. I want to hear your impressions of the games I'm involved with. Tell me all about it! At the very least, fan messages make me happy."