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.