Friday, August 03, 2007

To Help You Sleep, VAs Count Sheep

It's late, but you can't sleep. Why not have Miyano Mamoru or Tamura Yukari count sheep for you? That's the premise behind a series of CDs produced by Honey Bee.

Each CD features two well-known voice actors, with one counting up to 200 sheep, and the next counting 201 to 400. Names featured on CDs already released include Ishida Kei, Houshi Souichirou, Suwabe Junichirou, Suzuki Chihiro, and Itou Kentarou. Next out will be "Can we sleep together?" featuring the voices of Fukuyama Jun and Kishio Daisuke.

Following that, in September, will come the first all-female CD: Tamura Yukari and Saitou Chiwa. They will be followed by Midorikawa Hikaru and Okiayu Ryotarou in October, Miyano Mamoru and Taniyama Kishou in November, and Wakamoto Norio in December.

Lucky Star -- Patty and Yui's VAs Do Dinner

Sasaki Nozomi (Patricia Martin) and Nishihara Saori (cousin Yui) had dinner together Friday night at a pasta restaurant in Shinjuku. They posted pictures of each other on their respective blogs (Nozomi's and Saori's).

Nozomi-chan (24) called Saori her "goddess." and said the meal was a very happy time. Nishihara-san (38) called Nozomi "so cute," and said they talked all through dinner. Sasaki Nozomi made a glorious anime debut last summer, as Nanami in Bokura ga Ita. Nishihara Saori is a veteran of commercials and narration, but Yui-neesan is her first named role in an anime.

Nozomi-chan, a university graduate, has some interesting, somewhat poetic pieces in her blog, which she updates at least daily. Although she also takes some good photos, the one of Nishihara-san is not one of them, so here are professional shots of both women.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Hirano Aya, Jazz Singer!?

I just heard Aya's song on the third character song CD for the anime Sumomomo Momomo. Now she's a jazz singer. She keeps surprising me.

"Flying Horse, Uma Kamen Love Theme" features a lot of English and a male singer/group called LotusJuice. Aya not only has both Japanese and English scat passages, but really uses the full range and strength of her voice. At first, I felt she wasn't quite getting it, but when she started to soar and dive, around the one-minute mark, and then especially after the four-minute mark, I was amazed.

When she said in her blog that she liked Shiina Ringo, I wondered when we'd ever hear it. Maybe this is the beginning. Perhaps she is finding a style that suits her: wild, free riffing. Here and in the very different case of the Lucky Star ED collection, she's at her best when she goes off into wild invention.

I believe the photo above left shows her at the recording session for this song, in May for a June release. In her blog, she profusely thanked the staff for getting her such a "sexy" song. The photo above right is a recent shot of her "as Angela Aki," as she said in her blog.

Sumomomo Momomo Character Song CD3 is available from for ¥1500. You can sample the song on YouTube.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hirano Aya Photo Book Selling to Both Males and Females

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.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Idolmaster Xenoglossia VAs -- photo

It's too bad I-Mas isn't a better show, since it has such a great cast. There was an I-Mas live event over the weekend, and Nazuka Kaori published a good photo of the performers in her blog.

Front: Iguchi Yuka (Haruka). Rear (l-r): Nakahara Mai (Ritsuko), Shimizu Kaori (Chihaya), Koshimizu Ami (Yayoi), Nazuka Kaori (Ami), Horie Yui (Yukiho).

And that power-packed lineup doesn't include other members of the cast like Tamura Yukari, Saitou Momoko, Noto Mamiko, Ono Daisuke, Takahashi Mikako, Sasaki Nozomi, Honda Youko, and Kitamura Eri. But KitaEri was there: she took the photo.

Horie Yui also published some photos in her blog.