This winter, Aaya is hosting a daily 15-minute language-learning show ostensibly for kids called Moegaku 5 もえがく★５. Not something that will keep you glued to the screen, but amusing and useful in its way.
And next April, she will star in a new "action comedy" anime called Zettai Karen Children. In between, of course, she will be in the new one-episode Fist of the North Star OVA that comes out in late March. A new Suzumiya Haruhi series is expected either this fall or early next year.
Moegaku 5 starts with an anime of about 7-8 minutes, set in Akihabara. The anime features foreigners speaking words from a foreign language: Monday English, Tuesday Korean, Wednesday Spanish, Thursday Chinese, Friday French. Aaya voices the big maid character.
Then Aaya sits down with a child who is a native speaker of the language but also knows Japanese and the child teaches her three words or expressions from the anime, correcting her until she gets them right. Finally, there is a session with a team of rope-skippers, in which they and Aaya and the child dance and skip as they repeat the words learned on the show.
Here's Aaya learning Spanish, from YouTube. And here's the anime for the first week's French lesson, including the anime OP.
The words taught seem to be either very idiomatic or direct approximations to Japanese, and not the usual words you see in language teaching. Such as Spanish "hasta la proxima" or Chinese "chuci jianmian 初次见面 (that "ci 次" gave Aaya a lot of trouble）. I think the value of the show could be mainly in making young kids familiar with the idea of a foreign language, and with some foreign sounds. The skipping and chanting in particular, weird as they seem, may be useful.
As Aaya said in her blog when these first episodes were being recorded late last year, the kids can be hard taskmasters. The little Chinese girl in particular wouldn't let her get away with pronunciation that was too bad. In fact, I think Aaya is doing okay -- with everything except pronouncing Chinese. It ain't easy for any non-Chinese, so she can be forgiven.
The kids are not the greatest dancers -- again with the exception of the little Chinese girl, who is clearly a ball of fire.
Especially in the opening, Aaya uses her highest and most artificial voice. I personally can't stand it, but it follows a Japanese norm for manic entertainments of this kind. The manic presentation comes down a bit when she is sitting there actually trying to get the pronunciation right, so there is hope.
Aaya also wrote in her blog that she was exhausted from the rope-skipping and dancing. She clearly takes the easy way out in the little bit of skipping she does on-screen.
In news of a possibly more interesting show, Aaya will star in a new "action comedy" this coming April. It is Zettai Karen Children 絶対可憐チルドレン, which is from a popular manga involving three girls who have super-powers, and the young man who manages them as they solve mysteries and problems.
Aya will be the main girl, Kaoru, who has telekinetic powers and can also teleport herself short distances. The pic is from the manga's official site. No news yet of who the staff will be.
Starring with her will be Kamiya Hiroshi (Zetsubou Sensei), Shiraishi Ryouko, and Kanda Akemi.