Monday, May 21, 2007

Hirano Aya -- Lucky Star interview

Here's an interview with Hirano Aya 平野綾 (Konata) from the Lucky Star らき☆すた official site. Posted there on Saturday 19 May. This is the third interview in a weekly series. The first two were with Endou Aya (Miyuki) and Shiraishi Minoru. The banner says: "Lucky Channel Weekly special interview -- Hirano Aya."

Konata fans -- and Hirano Aya fans -- throughout the country, sorry to keep you waiting! It's time for Hirano Aya, who plays our heroine Konata.

Question: What were your feelings when you read the comic?
Hirano: "I hadn't really read 4koma comics, so when I first read it I was surprised. The characters were so individual, and it was full of things that really happen. I really enjoyed it. Before we started, I asked the director what the anime was going to be like, and he said: 'Just like the comic.' So I practised the voice while I read the comic. In 4koma, the stories change abruptly, and the characters' feelings change every time, so it's hard to get the flow of the characters' emotions. And the anime can cut suddenly to a new subject. Practicing with the manga was helpful in learning how to manage that. As for the character's voice, all the director said was: 'more sluggish,' and 'slower.' (laughs) He accepted the voice I came up with by intuition from the comic and the setup. I'm actually a bit like Konata in my leisure time.

Are there ways you are like Konata?
Hirano: "I love manga and can't stop talking about them. That's like Konata, I think. When people ask me what manga I like, they often don't know the ones I mention. Sometimes people have been shocked and said: 'That's so subculture.' But I've hardly played games at all. There are lots of scenes where Konata is playing net games, so you really have to say the terms she uses smoothly, but when I started I was like 'what's a net game?' (laughs) But at the last photo session for Comp H's magazine, they gave me a DS and a PSP to fool around with, and I've gotten into the PSP. Konata reads manga and plays net games all the time, and I read manga and play games, so it feels like there's some similarity. (laughs) Once when I was muttering about what manga I like now, my manager joked: 'You sound just like Konata.' (laughs)"

What do you think of Konata's father?
Hirano: "I love him. (laughs) Konata's relationship with her father is really something. Konata got her interests from her father, so their shared interests make for family harmony. (laughs) I think they will be interacting more from now on, and that will be fun. If he were my father, maybe I would have the same detailed knowledge of anime and games (laughs)."

What's the atmosphere like during recording?
Hirano: "The cast were pretty well all meeting for the first time, but before the recording, we said: 'We have to convey the feeling of classmates who are close friends and are together every day.' So we made a point of spending our breaks together, talking about this and that. Since I'm the youngest, they had to force me to use casual language. Now we're beginning to do more and more ad libs. (laughs) In places where there is no script but the characters are moving, it's like 'can we think of an ad lib for here?' And we're trying harder and harder things."

What were your feelings about the OP?
Hirano: "I loved the high-tension feeling of the OP, but since it's like the lead-off hitter, I was quite nervous. It was the first time I'd done a tune like that. And I wanted to sing in character, but we had only just begun recording. Seeing the broadcast really surprised me. It got you dancing."

You sing various songs as the ED.
Hirano: "Because we sing so many songs, and got so much material all at once, I was really flustered and thought: 'I'll never remember all this.' I couldn't even find the lyrics for some of the older songs. They gave us lyrics when we recorded, but I had practised at home just by listening and making my own notes. I made a lot of mistakes! (laughs) Then I was told: 'Since she's an otaku, Konata would sing the songs with all the same breathing and vibrato as the original. Please do it like that, Hirano-san.' It was really tough. I apologize to people who know anime songs. I hope it was okay. I.... (cries)"

What do think of one of this anime's special characters, Shiraishi Minoru?
Hirano: "I think I feel the same as the other cast members. We envy him for having a character modelled after him. It's really mortifying. (laughs) It would be fun to do characters with your own name. Shiraishi is Konata's classmate, but they don't have much to do with each other. We leave it to Akira to mess with him."

Finally, do you have a message for the viewers?
Hirano: "The cast members enjoy doing this show a lot. We will keep doing our best to communicate that feeling. Konata is a kind of character I've never done before, and I have to study a lot. I would be really happy if it's a show that remains popular. Thank you so much for your support in that. (laughs)"

Nice little interview. As usual, she makes a point of doing background work on her character and practicing what appears to be a fair amount. She is serious about her work, proud and yet insecure. That "cries" at the end of the question about the EDs is pretty amazing. You'd think it was a joke, but I think she may really have been feeling that she didn't do a good job. The fact that she hasn't mentioned Lucky Star much on her blog also makes me think she's insecure about her performance.

I hope she gets to see how much praise people are giving her for both the character and the EDs she's sung. Even some of her doubters on 2channel have good things to say about her performance in this show. And AnimeSuki posts are extremely positive. She shouldn't feel embarrassed about one of the most memorable seiyuu performances ever. I have long liked her work, but I had no idea she could be this good at comedy. I think she has put off going to college for a while and is devoting herself to her profession, in which she is learning now constantly and getting better all the time.

I'm not sure what manga she's thinking of when she says her friends found her taste "subculture." I believe Japanese usage is a little different than Anglo-American usage. Japanese Wikipedia says that the word is often used to refer to otaku culture in manga, anime and games. She has previously said that when she was younger, she preferred shounen manga, and that she was good at arcade shooting games.


Rudy said...

holy smokes... she cried because she thought she is not good enuf? she sure has high standard... damn..good example just damn 19 but so pro... God..

kurogane said...

Wow, I actually went moe while reading the interview. I have to hand it to Aaya-chan for her efforts. She has no doubt, a great talent for seiyuu work.

Sadly, I still don't approve of her blond hairdo... just feels out of place :P.

hashihime said...

@kurogane: Lol. I still don't get why so many people don't like her "tea-colored" hair. Maybe it's because I really didn't know her that much before it. I think it's part of her personal declaration of semi-independence, since she did it without final clearance from her agency, during the time when she was incapacitated by illness. In the past, I didn't like the "Westernization" aspect of coloring your hair away from black, but now I think it doesn't feel like that to the people who do it, so I don't mind.

Asuka said...

From this interview, it does seem like she is a perfectionist in nautre. I have a feeling she is like that due to the competitive nature of her job. As a (somewhat) new artist in the field, she has to constantly worry about pleasing the managers and the fans in order to receive more roles, and without constantly pushing yourself you simply cannot move ahead. I do wish that she would relax a little though, because we all know that she is human and not a superwoman. :)