Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hayami Saori and Her Mother

Hayami Saori's mother was mentioned on one of her radio shows in October, and from clues on the show, people on 2channel have found her mother's blog and homepage.

There are pics there of her mother, Matsuo Midori, performing a few songs in a Tokyo jazz club (Ginza Cygnus). Her blog announced a later gig at Akasaka Birdland. A pic of Saori singing with her was posted on 2channel. (Hayami Saori's real name is Matsuo Saori, say 2channel posters.)

Hayami Saori 早見沙織, known as "Hayamin," is a 17-year-old seiyuu/singer who was Momoka in Touka Gettan, Kou in Wagaya no Oinari-sama, and Musubi in Sekirei.

Mother Midori says that her interests are quilting and jazz, as well as dancing and tennis. And shopping. "Well, that is probably my main interest," she laughs. When her radio co-host said her mother seemed interesting, Hayamin said she was very active. She is 48, Hayamin revealed.

Midori talks in her blog about her needlework and quilting -- she teaches and sells both -- and about jazz singing. She also has a website, where she sells her work. In an interview, Hayamin says her mother went to jazz-singing classes a few years ago, and her little daughter tagged along....

As a very small child, Hayamin says in an interview (part 1, part 2), she got up early in the morning to watch Sailor Moon. She decided from an early age that she wanted to be a seiyuu. Hayamin could never quite bring herself to ask to go a school, but she kept buying magazines with ads for seiyuu schools in them.

Midori (left) and Saori
When she was in the first year of middle school, her mother noticed a magazine lying open at the Nihon Narration seiyuu school ad Hayamin had been poring over. She asked her if she wanted to go there. "Uh-huh," admitted Hayamin. And so she started the Nihon Narration junior class, aged about twelve. Her parents have always been open to letting her do the things she really wanted, Hayamin says. They warned her that it wasn't an easy world, but she said she wanted to do it anyway. And from then on, they have supported her -- even pushed her -- all the way.

Ni-Nare (Nihon Narration) has produced many famous seiyuus, including Nakahara Mai, Suzumura Kenichi, Saitou Chiwa, Hayashibara Megumi, Mizuhashi Kaori, Houshi Souichirou, Ueda Kana, Horie Yui, Tamura Yukari, etc. It is the training school for big seiyuu agencies I"m Entertainment, which represents Hayamin, and Arts Vision. The chairman of Arts Vision, who had close ties to all three companies, was the man accused last year of improper conduct with young seiyuus.

Now, busy with her last term of high school, Hayamin is going to the seiyuu school only on Sunday afternoons for three hours.

2channel also has news about Hayamin's schooling. Right from grade-school she attended prestigious Shirayuri Gakuen girls' high school -- a Catholic school that could have been the model for the school in Marimite. But she transferred to a co-ed school in Tokyo because of her work. The girls' school might not even have permitted a student to work, particularly in entertainment. Posters on 2channel comment how good she is with polite speech -- something she would have learned either at home or at that kind of school.

Mako-samaThe latest rumor is that when she graduates next spring, Hayamin will be attending the even more prestigious Gakushuin Women's College in Tokyo, the college established to teach the children of the imperial family and the aristocracy, which now teaches both them and a wide range of well-to-do Japanese and some foreigners.

Some posters look forward to her becoming friends with Princess Mako (right), the daughter of the Emperor's brother. Mako-sama is the same age as Hayamin. If women were allowed to become ruler, Mako-sama would be first in line for the throne.

No problem working while you go there: Inoue Marina is a graduate of the same college.

Lots of interesting thoughts from posters on 2channel: someone wants to hear Hayamin's voice in a boy role. Someone else says her manner is surprisingly like Endou Aya's. Many people say she is natural and quick on the radio, and gives a good feeling. Her talk is cute and "healing."

The photos are from her radio show. She is the current host of a show called "Radio Dot-i," which is a short (seven-minute) weekly internet radio show. Her version of the show is called "Hayami Saori's Positive Review-Meeting." She eats a different sweet each week: Strawberry Daifuku, Tiramisu, etc. Here is the most recent show. And here is a show in which she talks about her mother.

The previous host was Katou Emiri, and hosts over the show's nine-year history have included Yamamoto Maria, Kobayashi Yumiko, Nakahara Mai, Ueda Kana, Mamiko Noto, Itsuki Yui, Kugimiya Rie, Shiraishi Ryouko, Hirano Aya (before Haruhi), Kano Yui, Kitamura Eri, etc. It is a springboard where personable young seiyuu, particularly from Nihon Narration, can hone their skills as "personalities." She is also a regular on the Sekirei radio show.

There is repeated talk on 2channel about her pics making her look "ugly," which is going too far, but guys who went to a live event say that she looks a lot better in real life than in photos. One poster says that in person she is "deadly cute." Another says that her smile, and the way she moves, especially her hands, are "300% charming."

Great composure and communication skills, says one person. She's like a "refined young lady," says another. After attending a live event, says one poster, I am Hayamin's captive: she is totally cute.

Hayamin's picture will be featured in the 2009 seiyuu calendar that comes with the January issue of Seigura (Seyuu Grand Prix) magazine, on sale now.

Here is a pic from a Wagaya no Oinari-sama event, with Yukana (centre) and Takahashi Mikako.

Hayamin has not been announced for any new shows in January. Perhaps she is concentrating on her last term of high school. Or perhaps she is getting ready for a singing debut. Some posters suggest that she will be out of the spotlight for a year or so, while she gets used to college. I think it's more likely that, like some other seiyuus, she will do more work during college than she has during high school.

Finally, here are a couple of photos from the interview quoted earlier:

Monday, December 08, 2008

Seiyuu Awards 2008 -- Nominees List and How to Vote

Paku Romi receiving 2006 best actress awardThank you for your additions to the nominations list for the 2008 Seiyuu Awards. Here is the full list, along with instructions on how to vote.

There are two kinds of awards that you can vote for: the main awards, several categories of them, for which Japanese voters will be voting, too; and the Overseas Fans' Choice Award, a single category, for which only non-Japanese overseas fans will vote.

2006 award winnersFirst, I will list the nominees proposed for the Japanese awards by myself and by readers. I give the names romanized and in Japanese. Even in the romanized version, I give the names in Japanese order, surname first, given name second.

This is not an exclusive list. Feel free to vote for someone not on the list if you prefer. But for the Japanese awards, you have to vote in Japanese.

Second, I will explain how to vote in the two sets of awards. Finally, I will tell you who I voted for myself.


male lead: 主演男優賞
Kishio Daisuke (Kaname-Vampire Knight Guilty) 岸尾だいすけ
Miyano Mamoru (Kurou-Kurozuka, Setsuna-Gundam00) 宮野真守
Kiuchi Hidenobu (Izumida-Ryouko's Case File) 木内秀信
Fujiwara Keiji (Tachibana-Antique Bakery) 藤原啓治
Fukuyama Jun (Lelouch-Code Geass, Lawrence-Spice & Wolf) 福山潤
Nakamura Yuuichi (Tomoya-Clannad, Alto-Macross Frontier) 中村悠一
Namikawa Daisuke (Thobari-Nabari no Ou) 浪川大輔

female lead: 主演女優賞
Koshimizu Ami (Horo-Spice & Wolf, Kallen-Code Geass) 小清水亜美
Paku Romi (Kuromitsu-Kurozuka, Popo-Kaiba) 朴璐美
Kugimiya Rie (Taiga-Toradora, Nagi-Hayate, Kagura-Gintama) 釘宮理恵
Sawashiro Miyuki (Shinkuro-Kurenai) 沢城みゆき
Tomatsu Haruka (Nagi-Kannagi) 戸松遥
Endou Aya (Sheryl-Macross Frontier) 遠藤綾
Saito Chiwa (Kemeko-Kemeko DX) 斉藤千和
Hirano Aya (Chiko-Nijuumensou) 平野綾

male supporting: 助演男優賞
Gouda Hozumi (Hani Meijin-Shion no Ou) 郷田ほづみ
Uchida Yuya (Nijuumensou-Nijuumensou no Musume) 内田夕夜
Mizushima Takahiro (Aihara-KimiKiss) 水島大宙
Kamiya Hiroshi (Michel-Macross Frontier) 神谷浩史

female supporting: 助演女優賞
Toyoguchi Megumi (Kuran Klan-Macross Frontier) 豊口めぐみ
Tanaka Rie (Eriko-KimiKiss Pure Rouge) 田中理恵
Takahashi Mikako (Yoriko-Mouryou no Hako) 高橋美佳子
Sawashiro Miyuki (Tsugumi-Kannagi) 沢城みゆき
Horie Yui (Minori-Toradora, Siesta-Zero no Tsukaima) 堀江由衣
Hirohashi Ryou (Kyou-CLANNAD, Asuka-Kimikiss) 広橋涼

male newcomer (5 years or less as a seiyuu): 新人賞男優賞
Maeno Tomoaki (Doujou-Library War, Gouta-Natsu no Sora) 前野智昭
Kaji Yuuki (Akina-Yozakura) 梶裕貴
Ishii Makoto (Shinichirou-true tears - may not be eligible) 石井真

female newcomer (5 years or less as a seiyuu): 新人賞女優賞
Tomatsu Haruka (Nagi-Kannagi) 戸松遥
Takagaki Ayahi (Noe-true tears) 高垣彩陽
Endou Aya (Sheryl-Macross Frontier)
Itou Kanae (Amu-Shugo Chara) 伊藤かな恵
Ise Mariya (Tanarotte-Macademi Wasshoi) 伊瀬茉莉也

singer: 歌唱賞
Hayami Saori (Wagaya no Oinarisama) 早見沙織
Nakajima Megumi (Macross Frontier) 中島愛
Tomatsu Haruka (Kannagi) 戸松遥
Chihara Minori 茅原実里
Mizuki Nana 水樹奈々
Hirano Aya 平野綾
Kitamura Eri 喜多村英梨
Sakakibara Yui 榊原ゆい

personality: パーソナリティ賞
Takahashi Mikako 高橋美佳子
Hirano Aya 平野綾
Kitamura Eri 喜多村英梨
Nakagawa Shouko 中川翔子
Suzuki Tatsuhisa (Tezuka in Toshokan Sensou) 鈴木達央
Kamiya Hiroshi 神谷浩史
Ono Daisuke 小野大輔
Tamura Yukari 田村ゆかり
Paku Romi 朴璐美
Miyano Mamoru 宮野真守


1. In the Main Awards

In my pieces on the previous two years of the Awards, I made a point of not explaining how to vote. I thought that if you didn't at least understand some Japanese, it might not make sense for you to vote. But I got over that, lol. I don't think foreigners are going stuff the ballot boxes. Not based on my blog, anyway. I don't get that much traffic.

On the Seiyuu Awards website, there is a voting page. On that page are boxes that you use to input your vote: first, you enter your e-mail address (required), then for each category, there is a smaller box to input the name you are voting for, and a larger box for any comments you might want to make, such as what show you liked them in. Write only Japanese and no English, just to be courteous. And also so that we don't upset people at Awards HQ.

The names of all the nominees are given in Japanese at the end of their line in the nominees list above, in this post, so that you can copy and paste to vote. The names of the categories are given, too.

The voting page starts with some explanation. Scroll down to get to the voting boxes. Here is what the first part of the voting section of the page looks like:

There's the space for your e-mail, at the top. Then it says 主演男優賞, which means "Leading Performance Male Actor Award." The box beside that is for you to paste in the name. Copy the Japanese characters carefully and paste them into the box. The bigger box beneath that is for comments (as I said, in Japanese, please).

Next comes 主演女優賞, "Leading Performance Female Actor Award." The long box next to that is for the name, and the bigger box beneath is for comments.

The next category is 助演男優賞, "Supporting Performance Male Actor Award." And so on down the page. My screen capture could be clearer, but you can see the words more clearly on the voting page itself.

Make sure you are copying the right Japanese characters from the nominees' list and that you are voting in the correct category.

When you have filled all the boxes that you want to fill (don't feel you have to vote in categories you have no real opinion about), click the grey "verify" button at the bottom of the page:

That will take you to a page with all your choices listed, so you can make sure you voted as you wished. When you're sure you have, click the left-hand button at the bottom of that page, which sends off your vote. The right-hand button sends you back to the previous page, so you can make changes:

When you have finally voted, a new page will come up, thanking you for your vote, with a button to send you back to the main page of the site:

2. Voting in the Overseas Fans' Choice Awards

Voting in these awards is pretty simple. Just go to this page and follow the instructions, which are in English. You enter your e-mail address (required), then the name of the voice actor or actress you like, then write in the larger box which performance(s) of theirs you liked.

It doesn't say anything about whether it should just be for a performance from this year, but that makes sense to me. In any case, I voted for my favorite performance of 2008, which was Koshimizu Ami as Horo in Spice & Wolf.

I should add that I gave two different e-mail addresses for the two sets of awards, just in case they didn't want to let one e-mail address vote in both. The system said it accepted my votes.

C. How I voted

Male lead: Kishio Daisuke as Kaname in Vampire Knight Guilty. I found him dark, serious and deep in both the original series and Guilty, but especially in Guilty, where we get closer to the heart of the story. Kishio's Kaname is a man of few words, but the words have great effect. Anyway, if I had been Yuuki, there is no doubt who I would have chosen from the start.

Female lead: Koshimizu Ami as Horo in Spice & Wolf. I had decided who to vote for in this year's awards from about episode two of this show, last January. Amisuke's performance as a 500-year-old wolf goddess in the form of a teenage girl was amazing. Some great competitors came up during the year, but none could unseat her: Tomatsu Haruka is wonderful as Nagi in Kannagi, but Ami is more consistent and more dramatic. Paku Romi blows me away as Kuromitsu in Kurozuka, but she won two years ago. I love all the other performances listed in the nominations, especially Hirano Aya's as Chiko in Nijuumensou no Musume, and Kugimiya Rie's as Taiga in Toradora, but none reaches the same level as those first three, for me.

Male supporting: Gouda Hozumi as Hani Meijin in Shion no Ou. He was a looming presence throughout the story in this little-watched show. Kamiya Hiroshi was extremely strong as Michel/Mikhail in Macross Frontier, and I could easily have voted for him.

Female supporting: Sawashiro Miyuki has become a favorite of mine, and her Tsugumi in Kannagi has been a revelation: light, vivid, flexible, emotive, and subtly hilarious. I almost voted for Toyoguchi Megumi as Klan in Macross Frontier. Big Klan is a great character, and little Klan is almost as strong. Two great characters from one voice.

Male newcomer: Maeno Tomoaki is the man. Doujo in Library Wars just rivets your attention whenever he appears. But Maeno also did another haunting character, the taciturn Gouta in the underrated near-masterpiece Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Mono - Natsu no Sora.

Female newcomer: Since I didn't vote for her as top lead, this has to be Tomatsu Haruka (Nagi). I really have never heard a more varied and interesting comic character. She is still learning her trade, but she has such great vocal and comic tools. Her voice is a bit harsh for my taste, but she can leave the soft and pretty to others. If this great performance hadn't come along, I would probably have voted for Takagaki Ayahi, Noe in true tears, who really wove a spell. But I would have no problem at all with Endou Aya winning it either, as she probably will. Her Sheryl was another great character, and she also created something as the voice of Angelique in the new and improved version of that shoujo fantasy series. If Endou-san wins, that will mean that three of the four leads in Lucky Star have won this award: Hirano Aya, Katou Emiri, and Endou. Some may see that as the fix being in, but it seems adequately deserved in all cases, to me.

Singer: I have a thing for Hayami Saori. I think she has one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard. Anywhere. Not only does she have a natural musicality and ability to give a song interest and meaning, but her tonal quality is sublime. She is still learning, and I hope she will come out with an album soon, and start being able to do on stage what she can do on CD. She's an entertaining and capable personality on her radio show, too -- especially for a 17-year-old. Certainly Tomatsu Haruka does a wonderful job with the OP and ED for Kannagi. Mizuki Nana is a great star loved by many. Chihara Minori is a good singer. And I liked some of Hirano Aya's work this year. But I expect Nakajima Megumi to win the award -- and deservedly -- for her fresh and moving singing as Ranka in Macross Frontier.

Personality: This is a tough one for me, since I don't listen to much seiyuu radio or watch too many clips from seiyuu TV -- and my Japanese isn't equal to all the subtleties when I do. I was tempted to abstain. But I voted for Hirano Aya. I am captivated by every appearance of hers I have heard or seen. So sue me.