Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hirano Aya Attacked Mercilessly on 2channel

Maybe otaku really are the scum of the Earth. Whatever, some people on 2channel have been directing salacious personal attacks against Hirano Aya 平野綾 for the past week, following her publication of a couple of shots of her with Taniyama Kishou after his concert a week and a half ago. People both for and against Aya leaped to the conclusion that she and he were an item.

The Hirano Aya threads on 2channel have been wrecked by a constant flow of salacious ascii art, insults, and blocks of repeated statements such as "they're crying, lol" (about her fans) and saying she's a loose woman.

<<-- Photo: Aya with a signed copy of her photobook "H," at the autograph session two weeks ago.

Aya has not updated her blog for four days now, the longest time it has fallen silent all year. I imagine she hardly knows what to say or feel, if she has seen any of the disgusting sh*t being posted on 2channel.

The photos, which I posted a few days ago, show her not-quite-hugging Taniyama after his concert. Kiiyan (his nickname) is a rough-looking 31-year-old seiyuu/rocker who is supposedly very successful with women. He and Aya probably first met when they both had roles in Kiddy Grade several years ago, and then again in Busou Renkin last fall. I believe their real relationship is most likely that of senior/junior. In her blog, she has previously thanked him for his help.

But an anonymous blog post added fuel to the fire, claiming that the author had seen them together in Shinjuku, holding hands and flirting. This unsupported testimony goes with the spurious list of quotes from Aya that has been going around for the past year or so, appearing to show her having little respect for otaku and voice-acting, and wanting to be an all-round entertainer. Most of the quotes have been shown to be false or taken out of context, although none of them seems unrealistic to me. If I were her, I would probably not want to date an otaku, either. And I think it's legitimate for an 18-year-old to say she has too much self-respect to voice ero-games. But she probably didn't say any of these things, except as a joke on a radio show, or in character.

<<--The young Aya some fans miss.

On the one hand, I am worried for her state of mind. It must be very difficult to ride out such a storm of personal attack without suffering emotionally. On the other hand, it is interesting to speculate just why a group of otaku hate her so much.

Certainly, fans of established stars resent her success, especially since her voice work is not as professional as theirs. I personally prefer it, but it is not as smooth or sure, and people clearly both resent her popularity and do not think she deserves it.

She does give off an "ojou-sama" sort of aura, as if she comes from a privileged world. Her family appears to be well-to-do, and she went to a prestigious private high school. To some, she is like the child of privilege who gets too many advantages.

And in her blog, she is fairly open about her ambition to be a singer, and her pictures of herself in various outfits and poses can be seen as exhibitionistic and self-absorbed. But people don't seem to criticise Tanaka Rie for her cosplay photos, and many of us love Aya's blog. Perhaps she is a bit American, after all.

<<--The mature Aya some people hate and call a "dekob**ch."

She is certainly not hiding her love of flashy clothes or of ojousama-like afternoon teas, and by showing her real preferences may be attempting to woo female fans, rather than faking maid costumes aimed at otaku. Some otaku clearly feel insulted that she is not their creature and has ambitions beyond just having them as fans.

Largely, I suspect the 2channel capers are the fevered responses of inexperienced young men whom anything sexual turns mad. The hint of her with Kiiyan both excites and disappoints them. Some dream of being with her themselves and go all potty-mouth when their dream is shattered -- either their dream of her purity or their dream of being with her. The same thing happened to Horie Yui, whose 2channel threads became a festival of gross innuendo after the head of her agency was arrested for sexual interference with an aspiring seiyuu.

I can almost sympathize with fans who began as fans of Aya as a purer-than-the-driven-snow mid-teen ingenue, and can't adjust to her as a real adult, who may even have actual physical desires. This is why, as she herself said at Anime Expo, it is forbidden for a seiyuu to have (or admit they have) a boyfriend. But I personally like her better as the maturing wannabe rocker and near-adult she has become.

It is true that she has brought some of this on herself by her declared intention of becoming "sexier" this year. The change has attracted many people and repelled others, who are now taking out their frustrations in 2channel. I don't really blame otaku in general, just the group who have gone crazy on 2channel. I imagine they are largely the same people who have hated Aya since I've been aware she existed. There is a constant undercurrent of hatred for her on 2channel that has just now risen to dominate her threads.

In any case, her photobook continues to sell well, and a second printing has been announced. And any CD associated with Lucky Star seems to sell, sell, sell, perhaps in part by association with her.

96 comments:

bbovenguy said...

People are going bananas over those photos? Um, why? They look pretty innocent to me. It's not like we're in Paris Hilton territory or anything.

I guess the problem of being a media star is common across the oceans, borders and cultures. Fans get a certain image of the star in their heads, and they start expecting the star will always be that way. The star is no longer allowed to be a human being who has feelings and goes through changes.

When I worked for You Can't Do That On Television, our 13-year-old star's mother was very grateful that the show wasn't very popular in the city where they lived, because it gave him a certain degree of protection. I wonder how things might have been different if they'd had the internet back then.

omo said...

GIFT. Nothing scummy about 2ch besides that it's probably no different than humanity in general.

Also, again, Hirano is still a kid. Hopefully all of this will not wreck Hirano but make her a better person in the long run.

Hinano said...

So she's headed on the same fanpath as Britney Spears? O.o

And to the person above, wow you worked for You cant do that on television?? *bows to you* XDDD

Also - fans in asian countries seem a bit extreme....(you should see Johnny's fangirls in Singapore)

Mike said...

Sad. Leave her alone, people should. Though this kind of fan possessiveness, interestingly enough, doesn't just exist in the otaku world. In the contemporary Christian music world (I grew up in this subculture), a lot of fans had the same reaction when Amy Grant, who started singing inspirational songs as a young teen, started "crossing over" into secular pop and making videos that had her in a shorter skirt than usual. "She's sold out!" the hue and cry went, with the implied whisper that she was turning slutty too. Especially after she got married you could no longer imagine her as the pure virginal ingenue, singing songs about Jesus.

It sounds like Aya-chan is going through the same thing's anime equivalent. It's a very adolescent response really. Makes all the stuff in the recent Megatokyo arcs and Perfect Blue seem truer than I thought.

hashihime said...

@mike -- This strip from Megatokyo really got my attention in this regard.

omo said...

@mike: LOLOL I know what you're talking about. BTW, Hillsong United ftw.

Megatokyo is really 2ch through the rose-colored lens, BTW.

Matrim said...

"But people don't seem to criticise Tanaka Rie for her cosplay photos"

Could this be because Tanaka Rie is one of the best saiyuus while Hirano Aya is merely one fo the most famous?;) Sorry, I just couldn't resist - I am not a fan of Hirano Aya at all but still I have to comment on this because it doesn't take a fan of hers to see the wrongness of the situation.

Seriously, the kind of attacks on 2ch would actually have been quite hilarious, if it wasn't for them being so pathetic. Personally, I have never understood the people who care so much about certain celebrities' private life. I may like someone a lot as a seiyuu, writer, actor, footballer, whatever but I almost never feel the urge to know anything about his or her private life (not that there is anything wrong with simply wanting to know that, as long it doesn't turn into an obsession fed by papparazzi and rumours). And even if I come upon some info, usually the last thing I will do would be to bash him/her just because reality differs from the preconception in my mind. Not least because "reality" is quite a strong word to use when one relies on rumours and tabloids. :)

Fans turning against Hirano Aya because she looks like a woman, not a child, is like some sick version of Peter Pan. Why should they care so much what a seiyuu looks like in the first place? I hope the majority did it not because they like lolis that much but because her looking good on photos could make her stop work as a seiyuu and become an actress or something.

"This is why, as she herself said at Anime Expo, it is forbidden for a seiyuu to have (or admit they have) a boyfriend."

That's crazy! And here I was thinking, it was me who was too much into seiyuus, I guess I have a a lot to do until I can become an otaku like these ones. I hope I never live to see the day when I will bitch simply because my favourite seiyuu found herself a boyfriend.

RJ said...

While I have my own thoughts about Kiiyan, I'm disappointed at this. It seems like they're just bitching because Aya-san is maturing and having ambitions other than what people expect of her.

"Fans turning against Hirano Aya because she looks like a woman, not a child, is like some sick version of Peter Pan. Why should they care so much what a seiyuu looks like in the first place? I hope the majority did it not because they like lolis that much but because her looking good on photos could make her stop work as a seiyuu and become an actress or something."

This logic is true.

JP said...

Yeah totally, omo. Just read the comments at a site like Perez Hilton or TMZ. How is it any different?

Anonymous said...

Over exposure equal backlash. Always. Regardless of the talent, regardless of the fans. That's the first thing I thought of when I saw the photobook and diary. I can't say I predicted this but it's a pretty common pattern. Not that she deserves any of it though. I've never understood why the law treats celeb's like public figures and allows the press to stalk them.

hashihime said...

@Matrim -- "I may like someone a lot as a seiyuu, writer, actor, footballer, whatever but I almost never feel the urge to know anything about his or her private life...." I can't make this claim. I find some celebrity lives quite interesting.

For one thing, it enables me to understand a bit what a seiyuu's life (for example) is like, and that background to the anime is interesting, for me. But mainly I think celebrities fulfil a role something like the Greek gods, playing out their human strengths and weaknesses in an unscripted tale on a big stage.

However, the last thing I would want to do is get a hate on for someone. If they start to do things I don't like, I just lose interest.

And I'm not going to badmouth Tanaka Rie, who's great, but I think Aya's becoming great in her own way. Layla, Haruhi, and Konata are her way: three absurdly different roles and two different voices. But certainly part of my interest in her is connected with my understanding of the person herself, mainly through her blog.

There are some interesting posts showing up on 2channel now, including one that says people who accomplish little in their lives tend to find meaning by criticising others; others that say it's a case of people being jealous of others' happiness; and another that says it's due to the summer heat.

And as anonymous (K?) says, overexposure can lead to backlash.

scarface said...

Fans can be so mean sometimes. I was sad when i first heard about the rumours due to the vicious disease of fanboyism. But Aya doesnt deserve the negative comments. Reading your post made me reflect and think about Aya's feelings. If she cried like she did on that youtube video my heart would break

Dries said...

I must agree with what bbovenguy said

"I guess the problem of being a media star is common across the oceans, borders and cultures. Fans get a certain image of the star in their heads, and they start expecting the star will always be that way. The star is no longer allowed to be a human being who has feelings and goes through changes."

But still, if she is together with that guy, who cares? Silly kids falling in love with cute Japanese girls they don't even know.. kinda pathetic.
Too bad about the comments, hopefully she won't colapse again or anything like she did last year.

houkoholic said...

About Tanaka Rie - people do criticise her, you just do see it that often. There are post about how she likes to give a lot of "service" in her cosplay photos.

OTOH why so little people complain about Tanaka Rie cosplaying is also because she is HARDCORE otaku, and not using the cosplay as a means to futher her image, and that she is "one of us" (this is according to otaku logic btw). In fact she is so hardcore, that once I showed some co-workers in the game company I worked for her blog with Final Fantasy 11 and Monster Hunter entries with how she is progressing with her game, one of my co-workers commented that "part of my manhood just died a little" because she has all these ultra rare items and equipments that he never managed to get, and this is a guy that takes sick days off for new game releases who works for a game company. Think about this one. ;)

hashihime said...

@houkoholic -- Fascinating comments. Thanks. I'm coming to realize that the "one of us" is the key component in why a large group of otaku have such a deep loathing of Hirano.

I do think most of the anti-otaku Aya quotes going around are fairly bogus, but also think she must actually think somewhat that way. As would I, in a similar circumstance -- maybe that's why I find her blog endearing rather than off-putting. I do think she is aiming for the larger audience rather than a purely animephile one, and that estranges her from elements of her potential core audience. I'm not talking about reasonable differences opinion about her work, just about the extreme feelings.

In any case, your story just increases the already great respect I have for Tanaka Rie. I love the story about her having a guy molest her on a train and just calling him on it and dragging him off at the next station, where he ran away before she could call the police.

When I saw the other Tanaka Rie credited for sound in some show, I even thought it was plausible that she would have that talent, too. She seems a bit of a superman -- er, I mean -woman.

NegativeZero said...

No one criticizes Tanaka Rie because they know she's not quite sane, and deep down they're afraid that she'll flip out, hunt them down, and kill them in their sleep. While wearing a Suigintou costume. And doing that evil laugh.

hashihime said...

@anonymous (the most recent one, whose post I deleted) -- Please don't use swear words, especially the disgusting one you did use. Here is your post without the word in question:

"[She] has been getting too much makeup and all this "i'm so cool now, i'm a pop idol" people liked her cuz she didnt act so stuck up. now look at her."

I disagree completely, but it's a fair point, and it's what lots of 2channelers are saying, too. I read her blog, and she seems humble enough to me. But then again, I'm not Japanese, and especially not a Japanese otaku. I think they feel badly when anyone tries to get beyond their world. But since it's hard for an anime seiyuu to make a decent living, I don't blame anyone for trying to branch out.

Kaioshin Sama said...

This is why I generally prefer Male Seiyuu, you get less of the geeky fawning and competition as well as less mudslinging between the fans and I often see more of a focus on the technical merit of the actors performance as well as the lack of an incentive to do the racy photoshoots and for people to whine about them. Hashihime, you need to get into the world of male Seiyuu, I still think it'll do you good.

hashihime said...

@kaioshin -- As I was enjoying the symphony of male voices in Zombie Loan, I was mentally thanking you again for getting me interested at least somewhat in male seiyuu, which you did in a discussion early this year on AnimeSuki. And the interest gradually grows as I get to know more of them. Not to the level of the women, but at least I can hear them better now.

The Aya thread on 2channel continues to be just about unusable, with a small group of idiots posting the same statements and the same ascii art over and over again. They have invaded the Taniyama Kishou thread, but not to the same extent.

breakandcooldown said...

That's the good strategy for the time being... Aya Hirano should take a break from being a seiyu, singer, and an actress as well.
Probably spend time with her family, that's the best solution to reduce all stress towards her and make those Otaku stop their attacks on her. Maybe a year would do and only take lighter projects for the time being (Truth is....I want her to focus on Haruhi Suzumiya season 2)

And for.......
Britney Spears become what she is right now lots of bad things happened due to breakdown since she is working everyday of her whole life for earning money and gaining fame.

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