Saturday, June 28, 2008

Paku Romi 朴璐美 -- Power Packed

-- played Loran Cehack in Turn A Gundam, Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist, Oosaki Nana in NANA
-- stage actress with Theatre Group En
tough, calm, forceful (both her characters and herself)
-- won first annual seiyuu award as top female seiyuu
-- Korean ancestry
-- 36 years old

Loran Cehack edward elric oosaki nana
l-r: Loran Cehack (Turn A Gundam), Edward Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist), Oosaki Nana (NANA)

near the top of the seiyuu A-list
-- 93 anime roles in a ten-year career:
  • Loran Cehack (Turn A Gundam)
  • Edward Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist)
  • Temari (Naruto)
  • Ueki Kousuke (Ueki's Law)
  • Oosaki Nana (NANA)
  • Teresa (Claymore)
  • Haraken (Dennou Coil)
  • Ayumi (Shion no Oh)
  • Yuuki (Itazura na Kiss)
  • Kuchiha (Amatsuki)
  • Popo (Kaiba)
  • 044 (Ultraviolet: Code 044)

-- won first annual Seiyuu Award for best female lead of 2006, for rocker Nana in NANA
-- has enormous range: plays a ten-year-old boy in Itazura na Kiss, and will play a genetically altered female warrior in Ultraviolet: Code 44
-- but hasn't played any sweet girls in recent years; her characters tend to be tough and forceful, sometimes boys or young men who are mature beyond their years; sometimes tough and aggressive women.

other activities
-- dubs foreign film and TV: 68 roles
-- is the voice of Hilary Swank in most of her films, and of Mila Jovovich in many of hers
-- has acted in 15 stage plays
-- has done over 35 drama CDs
-- has been in 58 games (all all-ages)

Korean background
-- Japanese of Korean descent: father second generation in Japan, mother from Korea
-- went to elementary, middle, and high school at Wayo Konodai Girs' School in Chiba
-- studied drama at two-year college: Toho Gakuen College of Drama and Music
-- studied Korean at Yonsei University in Seoul
-- she lists her special skills as piano, swimming, Shaolin fighting, and Korean language
-- born 22 January 1972

strong determination
-- the day before recording started on Turn A Gundam, she was in an accident, breaking her leg and cutting her lip, but she was determined to show up for work anyway.
-- on the final day of a stage performance, she tore a ligament in her wrist
-- for a Fullmetal Alchemist fan event, she had a high fever, but appeared anyway. it took her several tries to even get out a word.

who she is
-- in Shaman King, she got a chance to work with two of the seiyuu she admired most: Hayashibara Megumi and Takayama Minami (Kiki in Kiki's Delivery Service)
-- she seems forceful and sometimes mischievous, but basically serious and kind.
-- she can be slyly funny and talk dirty with Kugimiya Rie, then be quiet and serious with the interviewers on NHK's Anime Giga.

her name
-- her surname is the Korean "Pak", which becomes "Paku" in Japanese.
-- her given name Romi
璐美 is written with kanji that mean "Jade Beauty"
-- the first kanji
"[beautiful] jade" of her given name is unusual, and isn't available in the most common Japanese character sets for the computer (Unicode does have it).
-- proper way to write "Paku Romi": 朴璐美
-- ways it is written: ぱくろみ, 朴路美, 朴王路美, パクロミ, 朴瑠美, 朴ロ美

charity event
-- she was a guest performer at a charity event last weekend, in support of the blind
-- she and other seiyuu read from the Tale of Genji and other works
-- some other names involved: Kamiya Hiroshi, Konishi Katsuyuki, Seki Tomokazu, Orikasa Fumiko, Taniyama Kishou, Koshimizu Ami

-- has put out several music CDs
-- music video (PV)
-- audio from her "Fight!" CD, put out with Miyano Mamoru
-- cover versions of anime music (uploaded by houkoholic)

TV interviews
-- Fullmetal Alchemist seiyuus (Kugimiya Rie, et al.)
-- Dennou Coil seiyuus (Kuwashima Houko, et al.)
-- conversation with Kugimiya Rie Romi takes control and they spin yuri stories together about her wanting to sleep with Rie and wanting to come home and find Rie wearing only an apron.
They are friends, since playing brothers in Fullmetal Alchemist, and Rie has stayed at Romi's place and eaten her Korean cooking.

-- Paku-san played Desdemona in Theatre Group En's performance of Shakespeare's Othello

-- home page
-- Japanese Wikipedia page
-- English Wikipedia page
-- Anime News Network page
-- radio show with Seki Tomokazu (her ninth radio show)
-- search YouTube for Paku Romi (in Japanese; in English)

Kugimiya Rie conversation
And finally, just for laughs, here are some subtitled screencaps from the Paku-Kugimiya interview mentioned earlier, in which they spin an entertaining yuri fantasy:

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hirano Aya On the Subtleties of Playing Chiko in Daughter of Twenty-Faces

Hirano Aya was interviewed on the website about how she was playing Chiko in Daughter of Twenty-Faces (Nijuumensou no Musume). Here is a rough translation.

Question -- You’re playing quite varied characters in 2008. The character you play in
Daughter of Twenty-Faces has a very quiet air about her. She seems to be different from any character you’ve played before.

Hirano Aya – She has a quiet strength. All the time I’m playing her I think how difficult she is to play (laughs). You find something new in her in every episode.

Q -- It seems difficult to play a character whose feelings rise and fall so quietly.

Hirano – The basic line cannot be broken. Her ups and downs can’t go very far, and when they do, they have to be portrayed very quietly. It’s hard to do.

When they were talking to me about my voice, the director and sound director said: “If you just change the nuance slightly, the changed expression will immediately come out in your voice. You have to restrain yourself more than you think.” And in fact, when I see the show on air, there are still places where I haven’t suppressed the emotion enough. But there are also places where I have suppressed it too much.

After that, you have to bring out the flavor of the times in which the show is set. This was a theme of the show from the start. Daughter of Twenty-Faces is set in the Showa Thirties [1956-65]. When recording started, the sound director brought me a book called something like “Japan in the Showa Thirties.” I really absorbed a lot from the book, about the war being over and Japan’s revival coming on. One of the themes of how we’re playing this is the feeling of how people’s rising power is concentrated in the character.

Q -- How do you show “the flavor of the time” in your performance?

Hirano – It’s in small things. For instance when you hear the way people pronounced the “e” sound in eiga (movies), and the intonation, they were slightly different. I was asked to pronounce the endings of words fully and carefully [….] To be honest, I hadn’t been very aware of the differences in eras up to now [….] In this, too, the show has been a good education.

Q -- It seems that this role requires you to stretch your sensitivity in many ways.

Hirano – That’s why I can’t play other roles while I’m doing Chiko. I have to change completely. In Daughter of Twenty-Faces, there are a lot of scenes that are like a foreign film, but that have to be given an anime treatment. I think we feel those subtle points in all that.

Q -- It seems as if you have to do a lot of learning.

Hirano – Yes, indeed. If one reaction is wrong, you know it. I’ve only dubbed one foreign work, and that was total culture shock (laughs). You have to listen carefully to be sure your voice fits the tone. You really have to have a good ear.
[note: I wasn't aware that she had done any dubbing.]

Q -- Ear?

Hirano – Yes. You have to really listen to the people before you, so you have the same tone. You’re in the same space and you have to produce the same atmosphere. I think you have to develop a good ear, to use in your acting.


I think this is Aya's best work so far, and part of the reason is that she is expressing herself in such a restrained and subtle way in it. Thanks to the advice of the sound director and director, it appears. This is more like movie acting than stage acting or normal anime voice-acting.

The sound director of this show is Kikuta Hiromi, one of the few female sound directors in anime. She has done Kamichu, Emma, the Da Capo shows, Kimi ga Nozomu Eien and many other well-known shows, as well as
Daughter of Twenty-Faces.

I'll just add another couple of photos here, from Aya's blog. The well-known artist Murakami Takashi gave her a piece that is like a big sunflower cushion. She calls it "Hanamaru" (a hanamaru is a flower sticker that is given out in elementary school like a gold star).

She says she comes home after work and dives into it, in front of her small TV.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hirano Aya DVD Release Live Event Today

Hirano Aya held a small event Sunday afternoon for the release of a special Animate edition of her second idol DVD, Love Story.

The picture at left, from her blog, she describes as herself waiting in the wings, looking like an idiot.

She thanked the fans for coming out in bad weather and said it was cold -- as she found out during the question and answer session (below right) when she was in bare feet.

In other news, the set list for her album Riot Girl is out:
1. Love Gun
2. Hero
3. MonStAR
4. Ashita no Prism
5. Breakthrough
(new version)
6. Boken Desho Desho?
7. Aimai Scream
8. Yorokobi no Uta
9. Maybe I Can't Good-bye
10. Neophilia
11. Harmonia Vita
12. For You
13. Hoshi no Kakera
14. Riot Girl

Fourteen tracks, of which five are new songs and one a new version of an old song.

The album will be out on July 17, and she will do a three-city "Riot Tour" in October-November: Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka.

There is a clip from the Riot Girl PV on this page. To be honest, it doesn't do much for me.

But her work as Chiko in
The Daughter of Twenty-faces (Nijuumensou no Musume), just gets better, as we reach episode ten. It's her best work ever, it seems to me.

This last blog photo, left, is of the part of the Sunday event where she signed special CDs for the 200 people there, and talked a bit to each one.