Hirano Aya has announced that she will play the role of "Aya" in the new little-girls' anime Jewelpet, which is designed to sell a line of jewel-eyed stuffed animals created by Sanrio and Sega.
It's hardly the most artistic kind of anime, but may be among the most profitable. The series is slated for 52 episodes, starting Sunday, April 5. It is directed by new director Sasaki Nanako, and written by experienced writer Maekawa Jun (Prince of Tennis, Fresh Precure).
The show stars singing idol Kamei Eri of Morning Musume, in her first seiyuu role, as the heroine Rinko. The preview TV spot makes her voice sound pretty amateurish, but that was true of her MoMusu colleague Kusumi Koharu when she began the now very long run of Kirarin Revolution.
Aya is likely one of the three human girls who are shown on the show's homepage, among the many jewelpets. But the site only gives names to the jewelpets. The story involves a jewelpet called Ruby who goes missing, and the other jewelpets enlist the help of human girls in the hunt.
I'm not sure if this means Aya's career is in the dumper (not likely) or if she's just fitting in seiyuu roles here and there, while she concentrates on the more profitable singing and idol work. Actually, it seems to me that a secondary role in this kind of long-running show is a very efficient way to make money. Her only other role of the spring season so far is in the ecchi comedy/fighting anime Queen's Blade.
I have to say that although I enjoyed Aya's Riot Tour DVD, I was less than impressed that it took her several songs before she started to hit the notes right on. Not so different from many seiyuu, but I expected better -- and got it from about halfway through the concert on, with the slower and more serious songs. She does have some magic.
We got one of Aya's patented crying scenes, as she thanked people for being there, and expressed the wish that they could be together again and she could perform even better.
Here is a page with links to 14 videos from the show.
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