Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hayami Saori's Breakthrough Year?

Seiyuu HAYAMI Saori 早見沙織, 17, is graduating from high school this spring and beginning her seiyuu career in earnest.

Up to now, she has been limited to one role at a time. But in the upcoming spring season she will have three roles, including her biggest role yet.

She began her career two years ago, at the age of 15, as Momoka in Touka Gettan. Since then, her other major roles have been Kou in Wagaya no Oinari-sama and Musubi in Sekirei. These were all important roles, but not necessarily the main roles in their respective shows.

This spring, she has her first real starring role, in Higashi no Eden. She is the main protagonist, and the story is told from her point of view.

There is no word yet on a solo recording contract. Hayamin is a competent seiyuu, but I think she is a brilliant singer and should have a great future on that side of the business.

She turns 18 in May. One rumor is that she will be attending prestigious Gakushuin Women's College in Tokyo. This is the school Princess Mako will be attending, and seiyuu Inoue Marina is a graduate. Another rumor is that she is still trying to get into a college.

at a Wagaya no Oinari-sama live eventThe prestigious college would be no surprise, since she attended a prestigious girls' school from kindergarten right up into her last year of high school. That was Shirayuri Gakuen, a Catholic school that could have been the model for the school in Marimite.

She transferred to a co-ed school in Tokyo a few months ago, probably because of her work, but as you can see from the top photo, she retains the straight posture of a proper young lady.

Higashi no Eden
Higashi no Eden ("Eden of the East"), which airs beginning Thursday April 9, is a mystery-romance in which Hayamin stars as a 22-year-old Japanese college graduate who goes on a trip to the US before beginning her working career.

Outside the White House, she encounters a Japanese guy the same age...who is stark naked and has no memory of who he is. His only possessions are (1) a gun and (2) a cellphone that gives him access to a huge bank account. The story covers eleven days during which she "looks after" him.

This is the new spring show I am most looking forward to. It is from Production I.G.; features character designs by Umino Chika, the mangaka of Honey & Clover; and is directed by Kamiyama Kenji, the director of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Seirei no Moribito. Here is the trailer:

other roles

Hayamin also has supporting roles in two other spring shows: Basquash!, a science fiction anime produced by the developer of Macross and involving basketball played using mechas; and 07-Ghost, a gothic fantasy adventure.

She will also be doing the OP to Basquash!, singing with Tomatsu Haruka and Nakajima Megumi as a new group called Eclipse.

And she will play a major supporting role in this summer's Sora no Manima ni. That show is directed by Takamatsu Shinji, the director of Gintama and School Rumble. Also in the cast will be Maeno Tomoaki, Itou Kanae, Tomatsu Haruka, Takagi Reiko, Majima Junji, and Koshimizu Ami. Looks like a real money-maker (PV). No doubt she will have other roles this year, as well.

Here are images of the four major roles Hayamin has had in her brief career: top (l-r) Momoka (Touka Gettan), Kou (Wagaya no Oinari-sama); bottom (l-r) Musubi (Sekirei), Saki (Higashi no Eden):

These roles don't cover a wide range of voices, but Hayamin gives each of them individual character.

I"m Enterprise's Secret Weapon
From her first words as Momoka in Touka Gettan in 2007, it was clear that she had voice-acting talent. And from the first strains of her ED for that show, it was even clearer that she had singing talent. She is already my favorite seiyuu/singer. Her voice is sweet and fresh and supple, and she has good technique and musical feeling.

Because of her talent both as a seiyuu and as a singer, Hayamin is known as "I"m Enterprise's secret weapon." I"m Enterprise (the crazy punctuation is theirs) is the seiyuu agency that represents her. I"m and Arts Vision were the agencies involved in scandal a couple of years ago when their chairman was charged with sexually assaulting a young girl who wanted to be a seiyuu. Hayamin was even rumored to have been the girl involved, although that apparently was not the case. Now it is Hayamin whom some people see as the savior of the agency.

She is even entertaining as a radio and TV personality, and has already had her own radio show, young as she is. To get an idea of how well she can handle the usual seiyuu banter, have a look at this Sekirei TV feature, in which the 17-year-old Hayamin appears alongside Inoue Marina (23, left), Hanazawa Kana (19, center right), and Endou Aya (28, right):

a performer

I read a post on 2channel that said Hayamin was in the radio club at her school and made regular noontime broadcasts. Many students liked them, but others tried to get them cancelled. Having heard her on the radio, I think she's a performer, and not averse to hearing the sound of her own voice.

She has wanted to be a seiyuu since she was in fourth grade, and she began voice-acting classes at Nihon Narration when she was in the first year of middle school (seventh grade). Her mother is a part-time jazz singer (see previous blog post), and Hayamin took jazz-singing lessons, as well as piano. She used to sing along to tapes in the car, with her mother making sure she stayed on tune.

Mummy has supported -- even pushed -- her all the way, it appears. Hayamin says her parents have always supported her in doing what she wants, but have also always encouraged her to do things well.

Now all that effort is coming to fruition. The producers of Higashi no Eden have put Hayamin in a show with two male co-stars who are actors as well as seiyuu -- Kimura Ryouhei of Himawari Theatre Group and TV actor Miyauchi Atsushi -- and with fine actress seiyuu Tamagawa Sakiko (Onashia in Simoun, Fujitsubo in the new Genji). They must have confidence that she can hold her own. I look forward to finding out if she can.

- born 29 May 1991 (17 years old)
- from Tokyo
- real name: Matsuo Saori 松尾沙織
- height 163cm (5'4")
- blood type AB (cool but sociable, sometimes standoffish, artistic, unpredictable)

info and pics:
- Hayami Saori Anime News Network page
- Wikipedia page
- Japanese Wikipedia page
- agency page (Japanese)
- interview re Nihon Narration seiyuu school: part one, part two (Japanese)
- interview at Wagaya no Oinari-sama live event (with Yukana and Takahashi Mikako, in Japanese)
- interview re Wagaya no Oinari-sama ED (Japanese)
- radio dot i blog (Japanese)

- Touka Gettan ED "Kono Sekai ga Itsuka wa"
- Wagaya no Oinari-sama ED1 "Kaze ga Nani ka o Iou to Shiteru"
- Sekirei character song "Koi Suru Otome Muteki Desu"
- Sekirei insert song "Kimi wo Omou Toki"

Hayami Saori's roles so far (full list from Japanese Wikipedia and 2channel, major roles bold):

anime series:
- Clannad (student #1)
- Touka Gettan (Kawakabe Momoko)

- Shigofumi (lover #5)
- Ghost Hound (pupil A)
- Sekirei (Musubi)
- Monochrome Factor (student #5, student #21)
- Wagaya no Oinari-sama (Kou)

(l-r) Hayami Saori, Yukana, Takahashi Mikako

- 07-Ghost (Razetto, Burupya)
- Basquash (Violet)
- Higashi no Eden (Morimi Saki)
- Sora no Manima ni (Saya)

- Koharu Biyori (Midou Sumire)

- SD Gundam Ggeneration Spirits (Neri Orson)
- Joteiru (Makino Yayoi, Kano Matsuha)
- ♂Motto!! Renai Shugi♀ Boreas (Kinohara Chiho)

- Ranshima Monogatari Leyland Story (Fei)

Hayamin in the radio studioRadio
- Sekirei Radio (2008.05.16 - 2008.12.26)
- Radio dot i - Hayami Saori's Positive After-school Club "Sweets" (2008.10.03 - 2008.12.26)

Radio Drama
- Vomic "Fly High" (Tachibana Meru)

Music CDs
- Sekirei OP, ED
- Sekirei Sound Stage 01 "Koi Suru Otome wa Muteki Desu"
- Sekirei Radio Theme "Tamanai Kiss or Die" (CD in Sekirei DVD 1 Premium edition)
- Sekirei insert song "Kimi wo Omou Toki" (CD in Sekirei DVD 1 Premium edition)
- Touka Gettan OP
- Touka Gettan ED "Kono Sekai ga Itsuka wa"
- Touka Gettan Drama CD "Love Draft Wakiwaki Bugiugi"
- Touka Gettan Music Collection "Saigo no Ai no Tame ni"
- Wagaya no Oinari-sama ED
- Wagaya no Oinarisama song collection "Shiawase no Kotodama"

Drama CDs
- Sekirei Sound Stage (Musubi)
- Soul Kureidoru Drama CD Koutei Majutsushi Youdo no Karei Naru Dai Bouken (member of the Water-dwellers' guard
- DearGirl〜Stories〜Hibiki (Sayaka)
- Touka Gettan (Kawakabe Momoka)
- Wagamama Sentai Bloom Heart (Kazema Sakura - Pink Cherry)

- Meitantei Monku 5 (#5)


Totali said...

Oh man, despite looking forward to Eden of the East the most in the upcoming season, I had no idea Hayami was playing the lead!

.....and I call myself a big fan.... :(

Even more reason to look forward to the spring.

Anonymous said...

I saw the Higashi no Eden PV and I was totally blown away. Completely different than the typical moe/tsundere/ecchi stuff that's been floating around lately, unique plot, and great people surrounding the creation of it. I am dying to watch it.

To think that Hayami Saori is playing the lead is amazing. She really could be one of the next top seiyuu.

I'm curious in regards to JP society - do you need to be super rich to get into those prestigious schools? Or is it mostly based on entrance exams?

hashi said...

@anonymous -- I'm not sure about entrance to those schools. I'm thinking that it's mainly exams, and having enough money for the fees. But I imagine they have places set aside for children of alumni or of people who are important or very rich, or for Catholics (in the case of Shirayuri). Maybe someone else has a better idea.

The fees for Gakushuin University are not that wild: $13K for the first year and $10K for subsequent years (not including living expenses). That's a lot, but not more than many US schools.

dingmajiao said...

wow.. the PV was totally awesome..

think i might, very possibly pick this up..

and lets see how Hayami will do in this lead role..

she's still very very young i've to say..

hashi said...

@Totali -- It's no wonder you didn't know she was the lead, since it still hasn't been announced on the official site. I got the info from 2channel and verified it by listening to the trailer. And put it in my season preview last week.

@dingmajaio -- When I first heard her in Touka Gettan, I had no idea she was just 15. Her Momoka was just good and not great, but it certainly didn't sound like a first-time seiyuu. Her voice is still rather thin, a young person's voice, but it will be interesting to see how she evolves from here on. She does seem to have an idea of acting, of what impression she is trying to make. She is so at ease as a radio personality that I think she is pretty mature for her age, at least as far as self-confidence is concerned.

Andrew said...

She's a Catholic? Interesting. Are any other seiyuus Catholic or Christian? I remember you saying Aya Hirano went to a Christian school. Of course, one of my cousins goes to a Catholic school and none of my family is very religious.

hashi said...

@Andrew -- Hayamin went to a Catholic school, but I have no reason to think she's actually Catholic. Aaya played piano for church services at her school, but I have no inkling that she's Christian, either. I think certain Christian schools simply have a bit of cachet.

@Totali -- They just announced Hayamin's name officially for Higashi no Eden, by running an interview with her and her co-star on the official site.