Hirano Aya's first full album comes out on 16 July, and the name of the album will be...Riot Girl.
I can't help but compare this with the original Riot Grrrl movement. To quote Wikipedia: "Riot grrrl...is an underground feminist punk movement that started in the early 1990s.... Riot grrrl bands often address issues such as rape, domestic abuse, sexuality, and female empowerment. Some bands associated with the movement are: Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Le Tigre, Excuse 17, Free Kitten...."
Aya's rock can be a little rough around the edges, but nowhere near as rough as, say, Bratmobile (YouTube). Once again, much as I like Aya's music, she seems a bit of a wannabe at this punk stuff -- which, if you watch the Bratmobile video, might be a good thing.
In any case, the album will feature a number of Aya's old songs (Breakthrough, Bouken Desho Desho, last year's three singles, etc.), as well as some original material. (click photos to enlarge, mouseover for captions)
But this album is far from the only thing Aya is doing these days. She is busier than ever. Besides starring in two current anime -- Nijuumensou no Musume and Zettai Karen Children -- Aaya has been doing live events, appearing on radio and TV, doing PS2 games, has a couple of interesting drama CDs coming up, and is already slated for one fall anime and three summer OVAs.
In anime, both Nijuumensou no Musume and Zettai Karen Children will go right through the summer. A Lucky Star OVA will be released sometime this summer. And Aya appears in Macross Frontier as the Indian crew member Mina.
She will appear in future episodes of the OVA Amuri in Star Ocean as Femina. The next episode of the show will be released on July 25. She will also appear in the OVA series School Rumble 3 as Sasakura Youko, with an episode scheduled for release on 27 July. She will also play, alongside Miyano Mamoru (Light) and Takeuchi Junko (Naruto), in Eguzamurai, an OVA featuring members of the pop group EXILE. Release date will be sometime in July.
In the fall, she will be in the mecha anime Kurogane no Linebarrels, in the supporting role of Mika, alongside an all-star cast including Noto Mamiko, Kakihara Tetsuya, Nakamura Yuuichi, Fukuyama Jun, Sawashiro Miyuki, Ueda Kana, Kugimiya Rie, Nakata Jouji, Ohara Sayaka, Saitou Chiwa, and Shitaya Noriko.
In her work as a "personality" and idol there is her second idol DVD, Love Story, which came out last month. She continues to host two radio shows: Animelo Mix and Say Good Luck.
And she appears every Friday as host of the hour-long film review and interview corner of the Web TV show Midtown TV. Her segment is called "Cinema Renaissance, Princess Aya's Castle." She dresses in a new outfit each week and is co-host with three guys. Her Moegaku 5 kids' show is over, but the DVD of the entire series will go on sale at the beginning of August.
In pure voiceover work, her voice is still heard weekly on the NHK edutainment program Kaitai Shin Show. But I'm not sure if these are new progams or repeats.
And having been one of the subjects of NHK's Anime Giga interview show, on 2 June she will get the honor of appearing on the NHK show Top Runner, which broadcasts features on top performers in the arts. The week before will feature the band Acidman, and the week after will do photographer Ume Kayo. The show's feature from a few years ago on singer Onitsuka Chihiro turned me on to this show.
In live events, she has already been busy. There was a recent Galaxy Angel live event. And she had a mini-live in March connected with the three singles she released last fall. And another in April for the release of her single unnamed world, the Nijuumensou no Musume ED. There will be an event for the Love Story DVD in Tokyo on 22 June. And she will be in Animelo Summer Live 2008, along with Mizuki Nana, Ali Project, Suara, Savage Genius and a long list of other top anime music acts. Let's hope she can do a better job than last year, when she had microphone problems and then was far from her best singing live.
In games, she continues to do only all-ages games. She is in a DS Katekyousha Hitman reborn game that came out at the beginning of May. The PS2 game Akaneiro ni Somaru Saka comes out Thursday in Japan. She will be in a Memories Off PS2 game that comes out in July. A Railway Girls DS game will come out this fall. The PS3 version of Trusty Bell will be out sometime this year. And a Wii version of Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu is in the works.
It's one of her two upcoming drama CDs that interests me most. On 24 July, she will appear with Tai Yuuki, Yamamoto Maria, and Kanda Akemi in Gakuen Sousei Nekoten (学園創世猫天). But before that, on June 25, she will appear in a drama CD version of the popular TV dorama Ima, Ai ni Yukimasu with Ishida Akira and Ogata Megumi. In the story, a boy's mother dies, but he remembers the story she wrote for him, about a mother who died but promised to reappear at a certain time and place. The boy and his dad go there and find her, but she has no memory of her life with them. Aya has the lead role of the mother. I certainly hope this becomes an anime, because the story is moving, and the mainly serious role would give Aya another character to really sink her teeth into.
So far this year, the two best female lead seiyuu performances I have seen are Koshimizu Ami as Horo in Wolf & Spice, and Aya as Chiko in Nijuumensou no Musume. If this show becomes an anime, I have hopes that Aya could reach similar heights again.