Saturday, March 03, 2007

Seiyuu Awards Ceremony -- winners

Paku RomiThe First Annual Seiyuu Awards ceremony was held in Tokyo Saturday night. Paku Romi won for best female lead, and Fukuyama Jun for best male lead. Hirano Aya, Koshimizu Ami, Morita Masakazu, Gotou Yuuko, and Kano Yui were among the other winners. (mouseover photos for captions; click to enlarge)

The ceremony was held at the theatre of the Tokyo Anime Center in Akihabara. It was no accident that it was scheduled for the week after the Academy Awards. Awards were for performances in 2006.

award winners: partial key at bottom of pagePaku Romi won the best female lead award, for her portrayal of rocker Nana in the smash hit NANA. Best male lead was Fukuyama Jun, for his role of Lelouch in Code Geass.

Because of the difficulty of deciding, according to promoters of the event, two names were chosen in each category apart from these two top categories.

Best supporting females were Koshimizu Ami, for Karen in Code Geass; and Gotou Yuuko, for Mikuru in Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu. Best supporting males were Ishida Akira, for Athrun Zala in Gundam Seed Destiny; and Miyata Kouki, for Yoshinaga Kazumi in The Gargoyle of the Yoshinagas.

Kano Yui (left) and Hirano Aya, before the ceremonyBest new females were Hirano Aya, for Suzumiya Haruhi; and Kano Yui, for Momoko in Sumomo mo Momo mo. Best new males were Kakihara Tetsuya, for Mikoto in Princess Princess; and Morita Masakazu, for Ichigo in Bleach. "New" seiyuu means anyone who debuted within the past five years. Aaya just made it, being 19 and having debuted at the age of 14.

Top seiyuu/singer was Mizuki Nana, for her CD Justice to Believe. Best personality was Asano Masumi, host of the A&G Super Radio Show ~Anisupa~.

There were also some special lifetime awards to veteran seiyuus. Tomiyama Kei, who died in 1995, played many roles, including Koudai in Space Battleship Yamato, and was in the first series of Chibi Maruko-chan.

Koshimizu Ami (left) and Mizuki NanaOohira Tooru has done a lot of dubbing, and was the voice of Superman on TV and in film, and of Darth Vader in the Star Wars films. Ohara Noriko is Nobito in Doraemon, and has dubbed Brigitte Bardot, Shirley MacLaine and Jane Fonda in films.

Ikeda Masako was Maetel in Galaxy Express 999, and has dubbed the voice of Audrey Hepburn. This will be particularly significant to people who have seen the anime REC, where Sakai Kanako goes to her films and practices dubbing them. Mukai Mariko was the voice of Marilyn Monroe, and has also been in many anime.

Reaction on 2channel has been predictably mixed. One poster summed up a segment of opinion with the following:
Of course: Fukuyama, Hirano, Koshimizu. (i.e., skill plus looks = shoo-in)
Solid: Ishida, Mizuki, Paku.
Dubious: Morita, Asano, Gotou.
The fix is in: Miyata, Kakihara, Kano.
Too bad: Sugita, Miyano, Sawashiro. (i.e., should have won)
Too old: Horie, Tamura, Matsuoka.

another pic of Hirano Aya, just because I canPaku Romi is older than any of those last three, so that's wrong. But I would have given the award to Sugita Tomokazu rather than Fukuyama Jun; I find Lelouch wooden, and the only thing amazing about the performance is that it is such an unusual role for Fukuyama-san.

And Kano Yui seems a strange choice, when she has only really done two shows, and doesn't seem to have that flexible a voice.
On 2channel, there's talk about the power of her agency, Aoni. She, Morita and Ishida all are represented by them. Baobab had two winners: Fukuyama and Gotou. 81 Produce also had two: Miyata and Kakihara(!). Koshimizu is with Wakakusa, Hirano with Spacecraft, and Nana with Sigma 7. Masumin is with Arts Vision. Sugita, however, is with a small agency, Atomic Monkey.

I'd have given it to Makino Yui, for Misaki in NHK, although she hasn't done any more shows, really. But Kano's voice is totally unique, for sure, and I can just about see her edging out Saitou Momoko, Kobayashi Yu, et al. A 2channel poster said: "I'm a fan of Yui's, but she didn't deserve to win." I agreed at first, but going over the nominees, I can almost see it.
I think the jury (with some public voting involved) generally made good choices that give the event some credibility going forward.

Paku Romi, Kuwashima Houko, and Tanaka Rie would all have been worthy winners of the lead female award.

I hope it is significant that Paku Romi, who is of Korean ancestry, was selected over other equally worthy competitors. Romi's grandparents and great-grandparents emigrated from Korea. She was born in Tokyo and attended college in Japan, but did language study in Korea and is fluent in Korean.

winners walk a red carpet past appreciative fans after the showHere are some reports from the event in Japanese, with more photos: Anime! Anime!, Akiba Kakaku, and AV Watch.

Here is a list of the nominees.

I can't identify everyone in the group shot above. Please e-mail me with corrections or more identifications if you know them. The fact that the new seiyuu are in the front row is interesting. 2channel and I both suspect that their looks had something to do with that. I would add that Hirano Aya's short skirt might have been a further factor.

Group photo: (front row, l-r) Morita Masakazu, Hirano Aya, Fukuyama Jun, official, Paku Romi, Kano Yui,
Kakihara Tetsuya. (back row) Mizuki Nana, Ishida Akira, Koshimizu Ami, ?, Oohira Tooru, ?, ?, ?, ?, Gotou Yuuko, Miyata Kouki, Asano Masumi.

EDIT: I have no info about who was on the jury, although I do know that they worked from a list of the public's votes. However, here is some info from 2channel about the organizing committee for the whole process: the chairman is from the seiyuus' association but works for the 81 Produce agency, which represents two of the winners. The vice-chair works for the Tokyo Anime Center (on whose radio show Miyata is a personality) and for Shogakkan publishers. Other members are from: Kadokawa (which publishes Suzumiya Haruhi), Bunka Broadcasting (which broadcasts Asano Masumi's show), Tokyo University of Technology (2), Tokyo Anime Center (3), and one more each from Bunka, Kadokawa, and 81 Produce.

The dance of corporate back-patting was probably involved, but I think they balanced it fairly well with straight merit. Many people associated with all those organizations did not win, too. And I don't see a rep of Aoni, the agency that had three winners.

EDIT: Masumin's radio show broadcast from the ceremony and had comments from all the winners, which are printed here. Most of the comments were fairly predictable. Morita did mention that he was older than the other "new seiyuu," but had not actually been in the business that long. Aaya thanked staff and cast for past and future support and said the award marked ten years in the entertainment industry for her. Kano Yui said she would work hard to live up to the award.

Asano Masumi herself, however, among other things lived up to her reputation for saying the unexpected. She said that she had worked hard on the radio show, once even going so far as to announce to the world the shape and color of her nipples. It was very embarrassing, she said, but obviously it had an effect, so she's glad she did it.