Monday, February 12, 2007

Asano Masumi -- Literate Seiyuu Blogger

Among seiyuus, Asano Masumi 浅野真澄 is one of the real pros. She has a strong, flexible voice, and is often the dependable supporting character who holds an anime together. In 2001, Masumin was Sara Bergman in Little Snow Fairy Sugar, but I first noticed her as Manatsu in the underappreciated 2004 show Uta~Kata. She was Momono in Mahoraba, Izumi in He is My Master, Ayuki in Kashimashi, and Mariya in Otome wa Boku ni Koi Shiteru. And she will begin starring later this month as Hakufu in Ikkitousen: Dragon Destiny.

She is one of the most popular seiyuu radio personalities in Japan, one of two hosts on the A&G Anisupa radio show, and she was nominated for "best personality" in the Seiyuu Awards that will be given out next month. She is a real comic, and can play the fool, the straight man, and the aggressor with equal ease. She is famous for blurting out the unmentionable, and is a somewhat dangerous person: it was she who gave her co-star in Uta~Kata, Honda Youko, the nickname "Yoda," a play on her name and on the character in Star Wars. The problem is, Youko actually does look a bit like Yoda. Masumin's April Fool's Day mass phone messaging has been classified by her phone company as spam.

She is 29, and comes from Akita, in northwestern Japan. She grew up there and in Saitama, nearer Tokyo. She is smart and educated, a university graduate in Japanese literature. She had no particular interest in voice work, but went along with a friend to an audition during third year and was given a scholarship to Yoyogi animation college. During her final year of university, she was studying voice acting on the side.

Her blog reflects her education. This is not a simple cell-phone photo blog with a few comments, like many other seiyuu blogs. She produces a literate prose piece almost every day -- along with a photograph that is sometimes fine art. Here are translations of two of her pieces.

The first is a piece from October about sending her grandmother a DVD of the PV (promotional video) of "Love Power" (YouTube), the OP for Otome wa Boku ni Koi Shiteru, which she sang as part of Horie Yui's group Aice5 (photo at right, click to enlarge; clockwise from front left: Kanda Akemi, Asano Masumi, Takahashi Chiaki, Horie Yui, Kimura Madoka).

Love Power

On the day "Love Power" was released
I got a text-message from my aunt in
Akita:
“I watched the video with your Grandma.
She really enjoyed it!”
There had been no video machine in my Grandma’s house,
so several months before,
after all kinds of difficulties, I made her a present of a portable DVD player.
Portable, because I thought she could loan it, if necessary,
to neighbors who didn’t have players, to show them DVDs.
“Everyone watched it!
Whenever you appeared on-screen, there was a tremendous uproar.”
Ev…everyone…?
That means definitely that person, and that person, and….
Just thinking about it, my face turned red.
But if Grandma enjoyed it, that’s good, I thought.
Our performances
do make me feel shy sometimes,
but if they bring some joy to the people close to me,
that really is something to be happy about.
If we end up doing live events,
maybe I’ll invite my Grandma down from
Akita.
With that thought still in my mind, I replied to the message.

The second piece is from this past Sunday, and is about eating dinner with seiyuu Kanda Akemi (Asuna in Negima!?), another member of Aice5:

Women’s Chige-nabe Stew

After work,
I suddenly thought of messaging Kanchi
“Are you free tonight? How about going out to eat somewhere nearby?”
Not to conceal anything, this is Kanda Akemi, another member of Aice5.
At the end of last year, she moved
to a place within a bicycle ride of me, and we became neighbors.
So we
met in front of the local train station.
“I want to have nabe [Japanese winter stew] at your place.”
Kanchi immediately agreed to my wish.
So the two of us set about shopping for the ingredients...
even though neither of us actually knew how to make nabe.
“So for nabe, you need konbu [a seaweed] for the stock?”
“No, that’s for boiled tofu, isn’t it?”
“If we make chige-nabe [Korean nabe], the spiciness will cover up our mistakes.”
“Okay. Maybe we can buy a package of chige-nabe stock mix and imitate the picture on the package.”
We were just fumbling around.
We bought Chinese cabbage, shallots, tofu, udon noodles, green onions, bean sprouts, wheat gluten, and some meat.
(My request for mushrooms was completely rejected.)
The Kanchi who is all business in the studio
today was in local mode, with bunches of green onions poking up out of her supermarket bag.
It was something fresh and new.
And I was wearing my Uniqlo [a mass-market clothing store] down coat and sneakers, which I only wear around here,
with my hair just tied up casually.
And in my bag I had a jersey, so I could relax to my heart’s content in Kanchi’s apartment.
Local style,
completely.
Everything relaxed.
We were
exactly like college students, heading off to my friend Kanchi’s apartment.
In Kanchi’s stylish white apartment,
we set about energetically and by pure guesswork making chige-nabe together.
The nabe that we produced a while later was much tastier than we expected,
and nursing the plum wine she had in the apartment, we got into a wonderful mood.
In the end we completely finished
both the wine and the nabe:
talking, eating, drinking,
then making some more, eating, drinking again.
Dinner in a fine restaurant is nice,
but two women eating local, home-made nabe,
with their jersey-sleeves rolled up,
is a special pleasure.
I had drunk too much plum wine,
and on the way home, I couldn’t stop hiccupping
like some low drunk. It was embarrassing,
but somehow I found myself getting home.
I want to spend more time like this together....

Finally, here is Masumin's photo from last Sunday. Scroll down to see her poem below it:



Half outside the fence,
Half inside the fence...

Seen in the local neighborhood, a narcissus.