Monday, August 11, 2008

Hirano Aya to Work With Morning Musume Producer Tsunku

Tsunku with AyaHirano Aya and music writer/producer Tsunku つんく♂ will work together on the ED to the fall anime Hyakko. (mouseover photos for captions, click to enlarge)

Tsunku (39) is the writer/producer behind Morning Musume and all the Hello! Morning groups, including Berryz Koubou, °C-ute, Buono!, and Canary Club. His happy girl-pop is very unlike the punky music Aya has been tending toward, so it will be interesting to see what they come up with.

The OP will also be by Tsunku, but with Ogawa Mana (15) 小川真奈 of Canary Club doing the singing.

Ogawa Mana, Tsunku, Aya (l-r)Tsunku is one of the biggest names in the Japanese music industry, having risen from being a performer himself to be about the most successful producer in the industry, with his stable of young girls and string of hits. People criticize his bouncy bubble-gum music and gangs of little-girl idols, but he is laughing all the way to the bank.

Hyakko ヒャッコ is a school comedy centering around a group of four misfit girls. The girls will be played by Hirano Aya, Orikasa Fumiko, Neya Michiko, and Ochiai Yurika. This is a very varied cast, with 20-year-old idol seiyuu Hirano-san playing the innocent transfer student Ayumi; top seiyuu Orikasa-san (34) playing irrepressibly happy and aggressive Torako; old pro Neya-san (42, she was Riza Hawkeye in FMA and Melissa Mao in FMP) playing bossy Tatsuki; and tiny-voiced Ochiai-san (26) playing strong, silent Suzume.

Aya at a press conferenceI am happy to see Ochiai Yurika getting more roles. She is a capable voice but has been a pariah in the industry for a few years, probably because of her emotional nature and her popular blog detailing all her misfortunes and complaints, sometimes in several posts a day -- and probably also because of the nude photo shoots she did as a teen.

Orikasa Fumiko's role seems like it could be a variation on her work as Miu in Ichigo Mashimaro. And that can't be bad, since Miu was one of the best comic performances I've heard.


Anonymous said...

Actually, the official site lists Neya Michiko as Tatsuki and Ochiai Yurika as Suzume, which makes more sense. But given that Suzume almost never opens her mouth, I'm not sure how much of an opportunity it is for her seiyuu... Also, three other classmates will be voiced by Kuwashima Houko, Horie Yui and Kaida Yuko, and I think we can expect a few other famous names to pop up later.
I'm quite surprised to see so many big names in the cast (plus Tsunku) for a slice-of life anime adapted from a manga that runs in a web magazine. I've no idea of how popular the manga is, but it's reassuring to see so many good news.
Anyway, if it's anything like the manga and with such a cast, this looks like it could become a good show.

hashihime said...

@anonymous -- Thanks for that. Corrected. Now I'd better let ANN know the two are listed backwards there.

I hadn't been aware of the net comic thing. Here's the FlexComix home page, and here's the Hyakko homepage. It looks as if you pay $3 a month to join "Yahoo Premium" in order to read the comics online. But since I can't find any links for individual chapters, I suspect it's not available online overseas.

Giving Yurishii a role, but not one that requires much speaking, actually makes sense to me, since she is in such illustrious company.

Anonymous said...

hashihime : No problem !
The first and latest chapter (and a couple of random others) are hosted on Yahoo! Comics. Here's the link :
Apparently, it works only with Internet Explorer. Either that or I didn't try hard enough...

savofenno said...

This is not surprising by any means, since Hirano Aya has recently appeared in many Hello Project-related TV shows, such as Midtown (by former Morning Musume Leader Yaguchi Mari).
To me it`s good news, if there will be more later, because that girly poppy music of Tsunku suits to Hirano Aya. She`s done a lot of anime music which is quite similar to girly j-pop. Of course her own records do musically build on to that Enoz sound, punky funky rock style.
Myself i like Morning Musume & other H!P very much since 3 years back.
Hello Project`s artists have already done surprisingly much anime-related stuff, think of Kirarin Revolution where Momusu member Kusumi Koharu is main seiyuu.

hashihime said...

@savofenno -- I like some of Tsunku's groups' music, too. Especially some of the things done by Berryz Koubou, Cute, and particularly Buono's first ED for Shugo Chara. Would you say that the OP and ED for Zettai Karen Children are like Tsunku's style? And maybe even the Lucky Star OP?

@anonymous -- Yes, it seems that only IE works. I can't even get it to work in Firefox with the "IE Tab" add-on. But I can read the first, most recent, and one other chapter in IE.

Emily said...

I quite liked Buono! actually, so I hope this will be a successful collaboration :) I think Aya suits the genre of music quite well.

anonymous--> YAY for Kuwashima Houko xD

savofenno said...

I found at least 3 anime where Hirano Aya has sung girly j-pop
type of songs: Magical Pokaan, Itsudatte My Santa
and Himawari. There is surely more, but that`s not easy to remember by short notice. Please note that Mornining Musume themselves can sing some rock too, and they do it quite well.
I won`t be surprised if Hirano Aya does concerts in the future with Hello!Project artists.
Former Morning Musume Member Goto Maki has appeared with Hamasaki Ayumi, so there is no strict limits beetween styles of music.

anytypeofway said...

Hi, Hashihime. I'm another one of those guys who likes to lurk around seiyuu blogs every so often catching up on the newest information, and I've been reading yours on and off since March of last year (and j1m0ne's since May). But it wasn't until today that I actually decided to finally come out from the shadows and speak my piece.

To begin, I'd like to say that I've always DESPISED all of the hate that Aya Hirano receives, and I honestly consider her an extremely underrated seiyuu. Like you, I have also been hearing Hirano in Daughter of Twenty-Faces lately, and she is becoming absolutely brilliant (while she is definitely not on the same level as an Ayako Kawasumi or a Megumi Hayashibara just yet, she unquestionably/undoubtedly/inarguably has the motivation and drive to shine and climb her way to the top; she's already starting to develop a Rina Satou/Mamiko Noto-esque timbre). Although many people may, sadly, not care for your dedication to her life and history, I genuinely, fully and honestly thank you for it. You, without the shadow of a doubt or its originator, go MANY plateaus higher than some of the other anime sites I've seen that feature NOTHING but all of the "OMFG HARUHI SUXXORZ!!!111" bull that has too long plagued and infected the Internet. You've also helped me keep from becoming one of those ignorant fanboys that bit/rode the Suzumiya bandwagon's jockstrap, not realizing that there's more to her than some three-minute dance phenomenon, and learn to appreciate, understand and be grateful for Hirano's true talents and skills vocally, as well as her worth, purpose, virtue and merit as a human being overall.

I know some (if not most) of you may not particularily care for hip-hop, but I've always felt (especially nowadays) that the progression/advancement/elevation/acceleration of Hirano's J-pop career is quite similar to that of LL Cool J's, for a few reasons (yes, the fact that they're both superstars, although they first came in with the hype and the heat, and THEN started getting all of the accolades, awards and respect, is one, but I'd like to elaborate a little bit further).

Hirano's singing career, as pretty much everyone knows, began with her doing mainly/primarily doing cutesy bubblegum records like "Hare Hare Yukai" and "SOS Nara Daijoubu," but she later on attempted to change up her style with the utilization of more punk rock musical influences (and kind of took a cue from Nana Mizuki, who was also already starting to add more heavy metal drums, bass and guitar sounds to her instrumental melodies as well, probably due to what I always considered one of Japanese pop's several trinities. In this case, Masami Okui laid out some of the original blueprints for singing in a deep, sexy, sultry voice for anime, which Mizuki would expand upon/innovate with her vocalization techniques; Hirano seemed to derive inspiration from both for her eventual methodical evolution), which is apparent in about half of the songs she performed from "Love Gun" onward (including most tracks on the "Riot Girl" CD, radio airplay candidates or otherwise).

As for LL, his situation was that, back in 1989, already two albums deep, he released his third LP, "Walking With A Panther." It, despite ironically enough being his, IMO, BEST album after "Radio," ended up getting many bad/negative reviews from several rap critics, and cost him almost half of his then-current fanbase, only going Platinum compared to its predecessor, "Bigger and Deffer," which came out in March of 1987 and managed to sell over two million copies before the summer was over. The main criticism was that most of the rhymes were about love, romance, and crushing/dominating other emcees lyrically, and hip-hop's focus during that time had shifted to spiritual, metaphysical, Afrocentric topics and subject matters, with the rise of Eric B and Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Kool Moe Dee, Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions (preceding KRS-One's solo career). As a consequence, Cool J ended up becoming considered unrealistic and out of touch with the world's current situations. Adding insult to injury is the fact that some people began thinking of him as an old-school rapper (although his first 12" inch single, "I Need a Beat," came out in 1984, he's been writing rhymes since 1977, and released his first demo tape around 1981-1982 (which is EXTREMELY hard to find)). So, in an effort to try and survive amidst the pressure and pain of the ever-changing world of hip-hop, he reinvented his style for the very first time on his 1990 "Mama Said Knock You Out" album. From first listen, it may not seem like much has changed (other than getting the eternally masterful Marley Marl on the production tip, who would also return for "14 Shots To The Dome" in 1993), but if you really analyze it on a much deeper level, his rhymes have become noticeably weaker (with the exception of "Cheesy Rat Blues," "Eat 'Em Up, L (Chill)," "Farmers Blvd. (Our Anthem)," "Murdergram" and "Six Minutes Of Pleasure").

Hirano might have gotten worried or nervous about possibly getting believed to be behind the times and irrelevant, and kept trying to re-create her image based on what was considered hot, hip, cool, trendy, up to date, popular and a successful formula for the success of her fellow seiyuu to 'stay alive in the game,' so to speak. Or perhaps it was a desire in Hirano to show and prove to her industry reviewers that she's been getting older/more serious/loyal, and refining/improving her abilities (and she has REALLY been giving some demonstrations of those beliefs lately).

With all of this said, I would be EXTREMELY interested to see how Hirano's music would change with Tsunku now commandeering the mixboards. I actually liked his work with Morning Musume and Buono!, but I don't necessarily know if it'll be a good combination, considering Hirano's unorthodox tones and flows.

anytypeofway said...

No, wait... I would like to apologize for some MAJOR mistakes in the first post. I forgot that it is disrespectful to showcase seiyuu names in the American form on a serious forum. So, I am going to correct all of my errors:

Hirano Aya, Satou Rina, Noto Mamiko, Okui Masami and Mizuki Nana.

I am extremely sorry about this, and will ensure that the same careless typos never manifest themselves again through soulless ignorance.