COMMENT: Genshin Impact's voice actors deserve better from the community
HoYoverse’s Genshin Impact is a great game with a gripping story featuring a colourful cast of characters, who are brought to life by a fittingly talented host of voice actors.
Unfortunately, these voice actors have not been getting the treatment and respect they deserve from some parts of the Genshin Impact community.
Some of the game's voice actors have been caught in the crossfire of recent uproar online about the lack of diversity in the new region of Sumeru released in version 3.0.
It’s not a new issue, as fans have previously voiced concerns about the lack of variation in skin tones and colours in the game.
A vocal segment of the Genshin Impact community, especially on Twitter, have constantly brought up that there are not enough darker coloured characters in the game.
These complaints continued even with the release of Sumeru, a region that features rainforest and desert biomes.
Other complaints were being directed at the misrepresentation of the cultures that Sumeru was inspired by.
Although not explicitly confirmed by the developers, Sumeru seems inspired by Egyptian, Middle Eastern, and Indian cultures. It’s evident in how the region looks, the names of its inhabitants, and the references to Hinduism and spirituality found deeply rooted in Sumeru's culture.
And while the Internet has given a chance for those who have legitimate concerns to voice them, this good cause has been unfortunately marred by issues of online bullying and harassment against the voice actors... whose only apparent crime was bringing the characters of Genshin Impact to life.
The community's continued pursuit for representation in Genshin Impact took a drastic turn for the worse after voice actor Anjali Kunapaneni was harassed on their Twitter account and forced to close their messages off to the public.
Kunapenani voices Dori, the 4-star Electro Claymore user and one of the new Sumeru characters making their debut to the game in the second half of version 3.0.
We started off okay since I announced Dori but unfortunately that didn’t last long. DMs are closed, you guys. For folks who’ve been kind throughout, I appreciate you. Actors are not their characters, at the end of the day.
— Anjali Kunapaneni (@hereliesanjali) August 25, 2022
Dori has received a lot of flak upon the release of Sumeru, as some claimed her design gave off an orientalist view towards the culture she was inspired from.
Others purported that Dori seems to echo the stereotypical caricature that Disney had propagated with the 1992 movie Aladdin. Some have pointed out that her outfit is a typecast of the traditional Arabian dress, and her characterisation as the trope “greedy” and “money-hungry” portrays a negative perception of Arabs.
These design choices were quickly called out by the SWANA (Southwestern Africa and North Asia) fans, who raised their concerns and criticism to HoYoverse and how they went about designing Sumeru and Dori.
A person’s cultural heritage constitutes their identity, and to be portrayed in the media as a harmful stereotype only furthers some of the tropes and notions that have plagued both former colonies and the countries that colonised them for centuries.
A person of colour (PoC) has every right to demand for proper representation that does not disrespect their culture and identity.
But the blatant harassment of Anjali Kunapaneni by some fans dissatisfied with Dori’s design is another issue in itself.
Because the mere fact that a PoC voice actor is getting spammed with hate messages simply because of the character they voice is a great disservice to their cause of respect and representation.
And while it’s probably only a small faction of the community who are openly harassing the voice actor online, it’s still a blatant display of hypocrisy that not only harms Anjali Kunapaneni, but also the people uninvolved with this fiasco who are campaigning for better representation in a non-violent manner.
A lot of fellow voice actors who have been involved in Genshin Impact have aired support and solidarity for Anjali Kunapaneni.
Jenny Yokobori, the voice actor for Yoimiya, defended Anjali in a series of tweets, highlighting the fact that voice actors should not be hated on for simply performing the job given to them.
Yokobori added that sending hate and abuse towards Anjali proves how performative the backlash has become.
If you have nothing better to do than attack a queer, POC over simply doing their job then you’re pathetic. Full stop.
Don’t go on performative rants about representation and then attack a real living, breathing POC whose only crime is nailing their role. Get a life.
— Jenny Yokobori (@JennyYokobori) August 25, 2022
Anne Yatco, who voices the Raiden Shogun, echoed this sentiment, emphasising that voice actors are not their characters, and any issues and complaints about the game shouldn’t be blamed on the person who simply voiced the character.
For those in the back who don’t seem to have gotten the message the 6,298,145 times it’s been said before, ACTORS ARE NOT THEIR CHARACTERS. https://t.co/faasxqjbW0
— Anne Yatco 🔜 Anime Impulse OC (@annejyatco) August 25, 2022
Ratana, the voice actor for Yae Miko, also made it a point to remind fans to treat voice actors kindly.
Actors are humans and artists. They deserve your kindness and respect.
They are not their characters. (No matter how much you would like us to be.) Kindness, please.
I’m thrilled to welcome @hereliesanjali to our Genshin fam. We are lucky to benefit from their talent! https://t.co/wDL3ZxNuUX
— Ratana 💎🎙 🔜 Anime Impulse OC (@VoiceofRatana) August 25, 2022
It's not a complicated situation. Why are people demanding accountability from a person who only provided the character's voice and in no way designed, created, or even thought up the character in question?
People are allowed to dislike Dori, people are allowed to complain, and people are allowed to demand accountability from the publishers, but it isn’t right to verbally abuse a voice actor who only did their job.
Members of the Genshin Impact community harassing the game's voice actors is not a new story.
The English voice actors who hosted the 2.1 livestream back in August 2021 were continuously verbally abused in the comments section on Twitch.
Aether’s voice actor, Zach Aguilar, notably expressed his disappointment at the treatment he and his coworkers received from the fandom, as well as the general hate that voice actors have to live with for simply doing their jobs.
I’m frustrated. Voice actors don’t know everything about the projects we’re in. We’re normal people with jobs that we do our best on.
People make all these assumptions about us and our work, esp with English VAs. There’s a lot we can’t clarify. But mentally, it’s draining.
— Zach Aguilar 🔜 Fan Expo Canada (@airzach) August 20, 2021
Safe to say, we can kind of get why HoYoverse now only allows emotes in the chat of their Twitch channel.
Chinese voice actor Gui Niang, the voice of Sangonomiya Kokomi in the game's Chinese dub, also received unwarranted backlash during her character's debut.
Players at the time believed that Kokomi was one of the worst playable characters released by HoYoverse, though I’m sure they have eaten their words as Kokomi is now considered one of the strongest characters in the game.
Nonetheless, the verbal abuse Gui Niang received during Kokomi's debut was so extreme that she had to limit her livestream comments.
And it’s not only Genshin Impact’s community that is notorious for harassing voice actors, as it's something very prevalent in the anime community as well. Voice actors receive the brunt of backlashes, criticisms, and just blatant hate, though undeservedly.
With all that said, voice actors deserve better than the terrible treatment they receive from angry fans who are personally dissatisfied with their performance or character.
It's honestly baffling how they want to make their dissatisfaction known by choosing to be entitled and expressing hatred and disdain for the voice actors over things they don’t even have control over.
It shouldn’t even have to be asked that they must be treated with decency and respect. We may know them as the character’s voices in the game, but they are human too.
Yan Ku is a full-time dog parent, part-time (gacha) gamer, and part-time writer. The views expressed are her own.
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