Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Aya and Nana in White Album -- And So It Begins

Here we go. Nana Mizuki and Hirano Aya are getting ready to start recording as the stars of the anime White Album, which will air in January.

They were together at the Aquaplus Festa 2008 last Saturday, and have both posted shots in their blogs of the two of them together. The larger photo is from Aya's phone (click to enlarge even further), the smaller from Nana's.

Aya wrote that she was determined to get a two-shot of them together. She said she will work hard on the show. Nana asked people to please watch the show.

Their acting styles are so totally different that I wonder how it will all work out, but in any case, I look forward to seeing it.

The story involves a star idol (Nana) and a girl just making her debut (Aya). Art imitating life? At least at first, the proud super-idol played by Nana helps Aya's character out. The story is from a 1998 Leaf ero-game that Aquaplus is releasing next year as a PS3 game. There is also a manga, now running in Comic Dengeki Daioh. Dynasty Scans has scanlated the prologue chapter. Aya's character is just finishing high school and beginning college with her boyfriend when she learns that she will debut as an idol. Can their love survive?

Other big names in the cast will be Maeno Tomoaki, Paku Romi, Tomatsu Haruka, and Hayami Shou. Music will be by Elements Garden, with the OP sung by Nana and the ED by Suara, not Aya. But I would be flabbegasted if there weren't some character CDs in the works.

Animation production is by Seven Arcs (Nanoha). Director is Yoshimura Akira, who has not been a show director before, but directed several episodes of Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto, as well as episodes of Idolmaster Xenoglossia, Gundam00, Zegapain, Samurai Champloo, Planetes, etc.

Just for good measure, here are photos of both Aya and Nana from their blogs over the past two days:

Here are some White Album links:

official site
Anime News Network page
Anidb page
post by moi
post by j1m0ne
AnimeSuki thread

Monday, December 01, 2008

Sasaki Nozomi -- One of the Moe-est Voices in Anime

I am addicted to the lovely liquid lisp of seiyuu Sasaki Nozomi (Nanami in Bokura ga Ita). I think she and Hanazawa Kana have the most moé voices in anime.

The problem is, she doesn't get many roles. I heard her most recently last Saturday, when she played Kaede in episode 9 of Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae. Kaede is a girl whose only claim on the admiration of her classmates is her apparent ability to put curses on people. If you know the series, you can see where this is going.

The episode also features Kitamura Eri as a senior girl who gets her to do curses. This series also gives us a chance to hear a couple of other interesting seiyuu we haven't heard much lately: Shiina Hekiru and Sakai Kanako. And, of course, Noto Mamiko is the Hell Girl (Jigoku Shoujo) herself.

Now, I admit there is a reason Sasaki-san doesn't get many roles. Despite being so attractive, her voice is a bit flat. She is 25 and didn't become a seiyuu until two years ago. She is a college graduate, but after being disovered by Bokura ga Ita director Daichi Akitaro, she gave up her jobs as a full-time office worker and part-time shrine maiden to go into the seiyuu business.

She shows in this role that she has taken some training, but she is still far from being an expert seiyuu. Despite her voice not being that mobile, however, she conveys a lot of emotion in this and some of her other roles. Her voice suits this particular character's combination of insecurity, desperation, and determination very well.

She keeps herself in my and others' minds by running one of the more active seiyuu blogs, posting 2-3 times a day, with interesting, sometimes quite artistic, cell-phone photos and some artful nattering. Most recently, she has been walking with a friend, climbing a hill at Takaosan, on the outskirts of Tokyo. She said it took longer than advertised, probably because she's not a very fast walker. But she got to the top, somehow.

One type of photo Nozomi-chan features in her blog is shots of parts of her own anatomy. She has specialized in photos taken in a bubble bath, with demure bits of flesh rising from the foam. The most recent is a vague shot of her knee, which she says got a bad bruise somehow. She bruises so easily that when she wears shorts or a mini-skirt her legs can look like those of a kindergarten child, she writes. That is not the kind of return to youth she wants, she adds drily.

Nozomi-chan has had a limited number of anime roles:
(2006) Bokura ga Ita (TV) as Takahashi
Nanami (debut)
(2006) Winter Garden (OVA) as Aiko
(2007) Les Misérables - Shoujo Cosette (TV) as Charlotte
(2007) IDOLM@STER: XENOGLOSSIA (TV) as Suzuna (plus two other minor roles)
(2007) Lucky Star (TV) as Patricia Martin
(2007) Ojarumaru (TV) - three minor roles
(2008) My-Otome 0~S.ifr~ (OVA) as Tsumabuki
(2008) Yotsunoha (OVA) as Ren
(2008) Telepathy Shoujo Ran (TV) - student
(2008) Lucky Star OVA as Patricia Martin
(2008) Hakushaku to Yousei (TV) as Brownie B (ep 3)
(2008) Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae as Kaede (ep9)

Anime News Network page
Agency home page
Japanese Wikipedia page

She can also sing pretty well, and has done four Lucky Star CDs and two Bokura ga Ita CDs, as well as appearing in a stage play last year and doing some radio guest appearances and a couple of commercials. I'm not sure where her career is going, if anywhere, but at least she has been getting more roles each year. And I love her voice whenever I get the chance to hear it.

If you want to hear some samples of her voice, there is a link on her agency home page. Better still, watch this episode. Or best of all, watch that great romance anime Bokura ga Ita.

All photos are from Nozomi-chan's blog. The bubble-bath photo will enlarge if you click it.