I knew Ayahime (Takagaki Ayahi 高垣彩陽) was good, but her masterful performance as Niina in eps 2-3 of Chrome-Shelled Regios just blows me away.
Triumph, pain, aggression, weakness, craftiness, strength, crying -- she sells them all, with a strong and mobile voice for which nothing seems a stretch.
I thought she was excellent as Noe in true tears, last year at this time. She also did a great job in the couple of episodes of DC Da Capo II where Otome was featured. But perhaps now she is going to come into her own as a star.
She's 23, and is represented by Music Ray'N, which also represents Tomatsu Haruka (Nagi in Kannagi) and Toyosaki Aki (Amuro in Umisho). Not a bad group of up-and-coming voices.
In person, she is apparently natural, active, unaffected, and fun. Taniyama Kishou, who plays Sharned (the sniper) in Regios, says she is a natural-born airhead, and should represent Tokyo in the airhead championships.
Playing in a game center one day, her cries of joy or pain were so loud that the proprietor had to ask her to tone it down.
Not only does her voice have some variety, but what I love is the fact that she can give it an edge of emotion that really works, at least for me.
She was in three shows in 2006, her debut year. Directors must have been convinced, since she got 12 roles in 2007 and 14 in 2008,including Feldt Grace in Gundam00. She is in two shows this spring season: Regios and Maria-sama ga Miteru, where she plays a character called Miyuki.
Here is a compendium of her roles, from YouTube:
She has a very active blog. Here is her agency home page, where she says she likes singing, opera, musicals, music appreciation, and collecting cute things.
She spent her entire school career, from elementary through high school, at a Marimite-like girls' school campus. Then she studied vocal music in college. It appears that she's a fairly intelligent airhead.
Just checking 2channel, it seems that some people there have reacted to this role as I have. One post says Regios is Ayahime's one-woman show.
EDIT: Here is the interview from YouTube that divine mentions in a comment: