Last spring, young seiyuu/singer Hayami Saori 早見沙織 was teamed with Tomatsu Haruka and Nakajima Megumi, as the group "Eclipse," for several songs in Basquash.
Now she teams with Yoshida Hitomi 吉田仁美 (left), as "Blue Drops," for the OP to Sora no Otoshimono. Hayamin stars as Ikaros in the show.
Yoshida-san is a 25-year-old stage actress, singer, and seiyuu, and her work here is outstanding. As is 18-year-old Hayamin's. They both have accurate voices and musical talent and skill. They are more like professional singers than seiyuu/singers.
To me, their work is a step up from Eclipse. It certainly is more suited to the clarity and subtlety of Hayamin's voice.
The maxi-single comes out tomorrow: the SoraOto OP Ring My Bell, and another song, Soba ni Irareru dake de ("Just to Be By Your Side"), which was the ED for episode one. Available from CDJapan and Amazon Japan.
There are three versions of each song on the disk: a version with Hitomi singing lead and Saori singing back-up; a version with Saori singing lead and Hitomi behind her; and also the usual instrumental "karaoke" version. The Hitomi version of the OP is used in the anime, and the Saori version on the anime's radio show.
Here are brief samples of both vocal versions of both songs. I prefer the second song, but first here is the Yoshida Hitomi version of Ring My Bell:
Now the Hayami Saori version of Ring My Bell:
Hitomi has a real country-pop voice, to me. Her version has more verve. But Saori has one of the most beautiful and interesting voices I know. It gives me shivers.
Here is the Hitomi version of Soba ni Irareru dake de:
And here is the Saori version:
Saori's warm tones enfold me. But Hitomi gives the song a nostalgic edge that has some of the flavor of a post-war French ballad. Together, their voices just soar.
This is the kind of musical company Hayamin deserves to keep. Hayamin is more than just a seiyuu who sings. Musically, she has something special to give. And so does Yoshida Hitomi, it seems to me.
In interviews, Hitomi says she envies Saori's "mature" voice. Saori says that the smiling energy of Hitomi's voice always makes her smile, too.
They chose the name "Blue Drops" from a short-list of three given them by the record company (Columbia Music Entertainment): "Blue Drops," "Tsubasa" ("wings"), and "Arutaaberu" (I don't know what this last one connotes).
Hitomi said that she wants to do more work together as Blue Drops.
Yoshida Hitomi has a continuing role as Miura Haru in Hitman Reborn. Her other anime roles have been few and minor -- in Koihime Musou, among other shows -- but she has also appeared in 18 stage plays and three films, as well as doing TV ads.
Hayami Saori broke into voice acting at 15, as Momoka in Touka Gettan, and has played Kou in Wagaya no Oinari-sama, Musubi in Sekirei, Saki in Eden of the East, and Ikaros in Sora no Otoshimono. Aliens, goddesses, and priestesses seem to be the roles she is given.
When the duo was getting its name, I wonder if anyone concerned ever thought of the fine yuri science fiction anime from a couple of years ago, Blue Drop. Probably not. I would love to see Hayamin star in a sequel -- as an alien, of course.
Hayami Saori Anime News Network
Hayami Saori hashihime blog post
Hayami Saori jp.Wikipedia (Japanese)
Yoshida Hitomi Anime News network
Yoshida Hitomi jp.Wikipedia (Japanese)
Yoshida Hitomi blog (Japanese)
Japanese interview features: one two
Hayamin was on Hiyama Nobuyuki's radio show last week. (He has played numerous well-known rules, such as Guy in GaoGaiGar, Balmung in .hack shows, Madarame in Genshiken, Kashiwagi in Marimite, etc.)
The fast-talking Hiyama eventually let Hayamin get a word in edgewise, asking her various questions:
If you were an animal, what animal would you be? A chick.
What food do you like? Boiled gyouza (jiaozi, Chinese meat dumplings).
What do you like to do on a day off? Go shopping.
What kind of person do you admire? Adoptive parents.
If you weren't a seiyuu, what would you like to be? A piano teacher or art teacher. Something in the arts.
In her recent interview on Mako's TV show, spread over two weeks, Hayamin said she has played piano since she was four. She has learned swimming, and tennis (how appropriate for her character in Love Plus). But she is not that athletic, and piano is the one thing she has kept up. She took jazz-singing lessons in the same class as her mother.
She cooks a bit, making dinner sometimes, and making sweet things like pound cake and waffles (her family recently got a waffle iron). But she only does more complicated sweets, such as Valentine's chocolates, with her mother's help.