Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Hirano Aya -- "Top Runner" TV Interview

Hirano Aya was the guest on NHK's "Top Runner" interview show on Monday night. She came across as a serious, smart, nervous, and fairly proud person and gave some insight into her various roles.

And she showed up wearing her now-trademark short shorts, showing off what 2channel is agreed in calling "great legs."

In any case, this is the latest "best Aya interview ever." It was fascinating, and left me, at any rate, liking and respecting her even more. The most frequent comment on 2channel? "Aaya really is cute!" But one poster said that he had no idea this is what she was like, and gained a lot of respect for her. (click images to enlarge)

The interview, at least for now, is available in four files on YouTube; one, two, three, four. I'll just post links rather than embedding the videos, since I suspect they may eventually be taken down. NHK is getting pretty touchy about posting their shows, and the single-file video has already been taken down from the Japanese video site Nico Nico Douga. Take a look while you still can. Here's hoping that the fact the videos are still there means that NHK is okay with posting things in parts.

This was the new "adult" Aya, with her short hair, moderated voice and serious conversation. She said that she was already playing at voice work as a child, doing all the voices when she read manga. She loved the Glass Mask manga when she was still in elementary school and did all the scenes of Maya and Ayumi acting.

Death Note was another of her favorite mangas, so she was thrilled to get the role of Misa in the anime. In fact, she had voices for all the characters, male and female, ready from her own reading, since it was her normal way of reading manga to read them out loud.

In developing a character, she thinks it's important for her to work intuitively. She does all the background study to give the role a backbone, but then plays it the way it comes out naturally.

Suzumiya Haruhi was a hard character for her at first, since she had always done comparatively quiet characters, and Haruhi was so exuberant. In developing a character, she tries to bring the character out of herself. But she didn't find a lot of Haruhi in herself. She had a strong feeling that she was playing Haruhi rather than being Haruhi. In fact, Haruhi became a bit of a rival for Aya, a voice pointing out all her faults and telling her to shape up. (mouseover images for names of roles)

debut role, age 13: Monkey Momo in Tenshi no Shippo age 14: Lumiere in Kiddy Grade

She did find some of Konata in herself. She remembers going to the convenience store when she was younger and standing there at the magazine rack reading the mangas, as Konata would have done. In a recent blog post, she wrote about buying an Evangelion figure at a convenience store...last week. The little turn or burbling in Konata's voice she modelled on the shape of Konata's smile.

Chiko in Nijuumensou no Musume, however, feels like part of her. In the early part of episode one, where Chiko is barely existing, with no joy in life, she really felt Chiko's pain. She kept thinking about how to solve Chiko's problems as if they were her own. She and Chiko think alike, she said. She agreed that the show had a retro feel, and said it was set in the late 1950s/early 1960s (Showa 30s in Japan). But she added that it also sometimes felt like a dubbed foreign film.

age 18: Suzumiya Haruhi age 18: Layla in NANA
age 19: Konata in Lucky Star age 20: Chiko in Nijuumensou no Musume

She got into show business quite early. That world was always fairly present to her, since her father is an executive with the big advertising and media agency, Dentsu (according to a post on 2channel), and her mother had done some modelling and loved plays (according to Aya). When Aya told her parents, around the age of nine, that she wanted to get into performing, they were enthusiastic, she said.

At first, the dance of the recording studio, where the seiyuu step up to the mics in turn, was quite intimidating, but she got used to it.

Now she is branching out into other activites: TV hosting, TV narration, singing. She wants to bring out all that she has in her. But she always wants to be known as a seiyuu, even when she is doing those other jobs, she says.

She says she has no specific career goal, but just wants to do each project as well as she can and draw more and more out of herself, broadening her range of activity and broadening the range of roles she can play.

She did a live reading from the original Nijuumensou novel by Edogawa Rampo. Most 2channel comments said how good her reading was, and the audience reaction was enthusiastic.

One 2channel poster posted graphs purporting to show a big jump in NHK viewership during the show. Aya said on her blog that she watched the show when it aired and felt very nervous watching it.

Aya's friend, popular TV host/singer/seiyuu Nakagawa Shouko wrote in her blog that she gained even more respect for Aya's professionalism, and said she was "cool" (kakkoii) and "wonderful" (suteki) on the show. The two had a meal of nabemono (Japanese stew) together recently.


Endz said...

What would we ever do without you hashihime. There would be lack of Aya posts ~.

bluemist said...

Yea, props to you yet again. It's nice that you can post snippets of reactions from 2channel, puts things in perspective.

As I stated earlier, I gained more respect for her, especially with her novel narration. At some point I was trying to hear if she would make a mistake in saying the lines but in the end she was flawless. Her stint in Kaitai further confirms that she has extremely good command of her language and voice.

W-General said...

Great post. I didn't realize that the videos are on Youtube - had to watch it on Veoh. Also didn't know Shokotan wrote about her - I'd be interested in asking Shokotan about her friendship with Aaya.

Here's hoping that this good interview will quell those unfounded rumors that she was mere using Seiyuu as a jumpboard to get into mainstream entertainment. She came across as someone who clearly loves Seiyuu and would never leave the job. Props to her for speaking out about this.

peanutbutter003 said...

Thanks for another great Aya update.

Now that niconico has taken down the entire video, where can I find the whole thing in one piece?

hashihime said...

@peanutbutter003 -- I don't know, but maybe try Veoh for streaming, as w-general mentioned. And for a separate file look in the usual places you look for anime. There are links in the links section of this blog. Sorry I feel I can't be any more specific.

blissmo said...

Oh lol she's pretty

peanutbutter003 said...

Okay. Found it. I asked too early, lol.

Shin-chan said...

I actually began liking Aya from her stint as Anezaki Mamori from Eyeshield 21. Sad to see there's no mention of it there ):

hashihime said...

@shin-chan -- Yes, I'm just not very familiar with that show. I should try to find an episode that has her in it. Judging from her blog, she is quite close to some Eyeshield seiyuu: Nakagawa Shouko, Miyano Mamoru, Yamaguchi Kappei, Irino Miyu.

IcyStorm said...

My love for her just exponentially increased by millions.

I don't have a clue of what I'm saying.

But I know that I love her oh so much @_@

Mauru said...

I don't want to sound like a troll and all, but people seem to make a big fuzz over Aya Hirano, when her voice is really (As many people have agree with me) quite nasal. Is very obvious to notice this when she is voicing Konata but she needed her voice to sound like that in that role. but her "nasal sound" in her voice appears in her other roles as well in "Zettai Karen Children" for example and also in Misa Amae, I was surprised in the links of the interview video the first lines she spoke voicing Misa; were beautiful and clear, but then her nasal voice starting coming out like in her other roles. She has some talent of course but she doesn't have a clear voice, I doubt it she will be as great seiyuu as Megumi Hashibara or Kikuko Inoue (Wish have a clear voice).

Aya Hirano is beautiful and people like her for it (and her role of Haruhi) she posses beauty but not vocal beauty, in the aspect of voicing characters and this will not help her, Yuko Goto has more anime roles than her if you check Anime news network.

hashihime said...

@mauru -- I know you're not trolling. Many people -- maybe most real otaku -- feel as you do. I disagree completely. I think otaku have excessively limited ideas of what makes a good seiyuu, and prefer technical announcers to artistic actresses.

I think Aya is a real actress, in the next league down from Paku Romi, Sawashiro Miyuki, Kobayashi Sanae, Takahashi Rieko and such. She is not a common moe seiyuu like a Horie Yui, for example, but operates at a higher level than simply technical professionalism and a pretty voice.

I actually find her more interesting as an actress than either Hayashibara Megumi or Kikuko Inoue.

And watch Special A and tell me if you think Gotou Yuuko voice is clear or pretty. Of course she has more roles, she is at least a decade older. Not that I don't love her in the roles she is suited for, such as Nanami or Mikuru.

I note you didn't mention either Layla in NANA or Chiko in Nijuumensou no Musume. Watch a bit of those and see if you change your mind about Aya at all.

But I will not disagree that many people like her for her looks more than for her performance. I like her looks, too.