Stairway to 20, the Hirano Aya photo book that came out last week, is selling well. According to Seiyuu Watch yesterday, it topped the 7andY weekly chart for idol photo books, and was number one in sales to males, females, people in their 20s and people under 20. And in the Amazon Japan hourly charts for sales of books of all kinds, it is hovering around #20.
Above left is a photo of Aya with the book, and above right is a photo of her feigning surprise at some of the pics.
The book contains the sexiest photos yet of Aya, but none in which she is not fully clothed. There are apparently not even any swimsuit shots -- although there is one that features her in shorts and a T-shirt, lying in a bathtub full of water, exposing a lot of thigh. Here are the shots published a couple of weeks ago in the mass-circulation men's weekly Friday:
Some otaku are horrified that she is going even this far: it contradicts their virginal image of her, and shows her aiming for a world beyond voice-acting. There is a new thread on 2channel called "Hirano Aya-san has turned into a gravure idol," which contains views both for and against the change.
The sales to girls confirm some of the things said on 2channel, by otaku who see this as a negative trend. They see Aya in her blog talking about things of interest to girls and women rather than male otaku and see her estranging herself from them. In the best-seller lists, Aya's book is near books of idol photos of Korean male drama and film stars, and I can't help wondering if some people are buying both.
Finally, here are a couple of recent shots from Aya's blog. First, one of her in a new hat she likes. Second, one of her with the comedy duo Nankai Candies, who interviewed her for Japanese Playboy.
The 96-page photo book is available for about US$25 from YesAsia and Amazon Japan, among other places. YesAsia has free shipping on this item to most countries, including the US and Europe.