Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Yahagi Sayuri -- Indispensable

When Yahagi Sayuri 矢作紗友里 debuted at 19 as Karin, she knocked me out with her liquid, well-inflected voice.

Now she has been a professional seiyuu for four years. She still has the strong, supple, quite high voice she started with, but the burbling liquidness has been toned down. She has developed a bit wider vocal and acting range and appears to have become one of the indispensables. She had 2 roles in 2005, 7 in 2006, 15 in 2007, 19 in 2008, and so far this year, she already has 13.

Personally I regret her having left some of her unique sound behind, but she is a pro and is making a living by being able to give directors the voice they want.

Her only other real starring role since Karin has been as Kuu in Kyoushirou to Towa no Sora in 2007, in which she was passionate but so ethereal as to almost disappear.

Now, however, like other real pros she is getting more and more second-rank roles, as a classmate or a sister. And she has staked out some profitable territory in squeaky-animal land, with roles like Kyuupi in Otogijushi Akazukin and Suni in Guin Saga.

This summer, you can hear her in Aoi Hana, Fight! Ippatsu Juuden-chan, a ToLoveRu OVA, and the continuing Hayate no Gotoku and Guin Saga.

Here is a compendium of Yahagi Sayuri's anime roles, from YouTube:

I think I hear her expression becoming more natural and her range of convincing emotions and personalities wider. It sounds as if she has worked at her craft.

She is far from beautiful. Kind of homely, really. But homely in a cute way. “Busu” means ugly, and it's hard to forget the surname of her character in Busou Renkin: Busujima (a homonym for "ugly island"). She has an outstanding set of crooked teeth, but I doubt she is thinking of fixing them any time soon, since it might affect her sound.

She's kind of attractive, anyway, isn't she? Especially in motion, displaying her entertaining personality, as she does in this interview with co-star Konishi Katsuyuki from the Kyoushirou to Towa no Sora DVDs:

Like Kawasumi Ayako, she will have to get by on her skill as a seiyuu and her fun personality, rather than her good looks. She and Hayami Saori did a turn together as the sorcerer sisters Ran and Sumire Midou in Koharu Biyori (Indian Summer). In real life, neither one of them is a raving beauty. But they are both prominent young seiyuus working for major seiyuu agency I"m Enterprise, an agency that was involved in scandal just a couple of years ago, but appears to be recovering.

She has also done some dubbing, notably for the Japanese version of Akelah and the Bee.

In her agency profile, she says her interests are reading and watching movies, and that her sport is softball. Her high school had no drama club, so her father suggested she join the softball club. I wonder if she still plays.

Major roles (mouseover for captions):

Karin/Karin 2005 Amano/Gigantic Formula 2007
Maaya/Umisho 2007 Gretel/Otogijushi Akazukin 2006
Haruna/ToLoveRu 2008 Kuu/Kyoushirou to Towa no Sora 2007
Izumi (centre)/Hayate no Gotoku (2007) Lyra/Tytania (2008)

From Japanese Wikipedia:

She comes from Tokyo, but spent part of her childhood up north, in Aomori. Born 86.09.22 -- now age 22.

In high school, her friends made fun of her high voice, saying it was like an anime. But she had no idea anything like a seiyuu existed until she heard it from them.

A phrase she uses a lot is: "Reawwy?" (maji de ka, a cute mispronunciation of maji desu ka? "really?").

Her nickname, oHagi ぉはぎ, was given her by Inokuchi Yuka, Nabatame Hitomi, and Shitaya Noriko, after she said she wished she had one. An ohagi is a kind of Japanese sweet, made with rice flour and red bean paste (right).

She's good at sewing, earning praise from her co-stars in Net Ghost PiPoPa, Shiraishi Ryouko and Satou Rina, for being the quickest among them at sewing a little bag.

Her seiyuu friends include Satou Rina, Konishi Katsuyuki, Shitaya Noriko, Takahashi Mikako, and Nakao Eri. She was making fun of Satou-san on a radio show, and Satou called her a "grade-school old man."

She's a big fan of the Kamen Rider series, has lots of books and goods, and has become friends with the mangaka.

She calls herself a "crazy girl seiyuu." She is apt to come out with odd comments ranging from romantic outbursts to dirty jokes. At an aquarium once, her comment was: "Looks tasty."

with friends from high school with Tamura Yukari
with Voice Crew radio co-host, Fujita Yoshinori with Voice Crew radio co-host, Fujita Yoshinori

with Tomatsu Haruka

Cast in:

(2005) Karin (TV) as Maaka Karin (debut)
(2006) Otogi-Jushi Akazukin (TV) as Gretel; Kyupi
(2006) Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~ (TV) as Fujikawa Yuuka
(2006) Buso Renkin (TV) as Busujima Hanaka
(2007) Kyoshiro to Towa no Sora (TV) as Shiratori Kuu
(2007) Hayate the Combat Butler (TV) as Segawa Izumi
(2007) Kishin Taisen Gigantic Formula (TV) as Amano Utsumi
(2007) Kenko Zenrakei Suieibu Umisho (TV) as Nanako Maaya
(2007) Shugo Chara! (TV) as Mashiro Rima
(2007) Indian Summer (Koharu Biyori, OAV) as Midō Ran
(2008) Yotsunoha (OAV) as Yuki Arisa
(2008) To Love-Ru (TV) as Sairenji Haruna
(2008) Net Ghost PiPoPa (TV) as Sobue Hikaru
(2008) Sekirei (TV) as Mitsuha (No.38)
(2008) Rosario + Vampire Capu2 (TV) as Oniyama Tonko
(2008) Ga-Rei -Zero- (TV) as Izumi Mami
(2008) Nodame Cantabile: Paris (TV) as Puririn (ep 1)
(2008) Tytania (TV) as Lira Florenz
(2009) Sora Kake Girl (TV) as Erika; Satchan
(2009) Asura Cryin' (TV) as Ania
(2009) Guin Saga (TV) as Suni
(2009) Fight Ippatsu! Jūden-chan!! (TV) as Iono
(2009) Sweet Blue Flowers (Aoi Hana, TV) as Yoko Hon'atsugi

Staff in:
(2009) Hayate the Combat Butler!! (TV) : Theme Song Performance (ED)
(2009) To Love-Ru (OAV) : Theme Song Performance (OP/ED)

full list here (English) and here (Japanese).


Anime News Network page
Wikipedia page
Japanese Wikipedia page
agency home page
YouTube videos 1
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current 2channel thread

Aoi Hana -- Main Characters and Seiyuus, with pics

Aoi Hana is a delightful yuri manga, with fascinating characters and moving relationships. Now director Kasai Kenichi (Honey & Clover, Kimi Kiss) has made it into an anime, and the first episode was both excellent and true to the spirit of the manga.

Helping Kasai get it right are lead writer Takayama Fumihiko (Rescue Wings), and top sound director Aketagawa Jin (Ichigo Mashimaro, Shakugan no Shana, Nodame Cantabile, Queen's Blade, etc. etc.)

None of the main seiyuu cast, Horie Yui aside, are stars. But they are all intriguing choices, as I will outline below, and I trust director Kasai to hire good voices and direct them well -- with the help of Aketagawa Jin.

The OP song by Kukikodan and the ED by Ceui are both gentle and pleasant. The OP animation is by Ikuhara Kazuhiko, the director of Revolutionary Girl Utena and many episodes of Sailor Moon. The whirling dance, the nude scene with flowers, and especially the shot of the girls' legs running together are outstanding.

Fumi (Takabe Ai)

Fumi is a shy, gangling girl who moves back into her old neighborhood just in time for high school. She meets up again with her childhood friend Akira. When they were little, they were inseparable. Fumi was a cry-baby and Akira was her defender and comforter.

Fumi is played by Takabe Ai, 2o, who is a well-known photo idol, TV actress and TV personality. She was good as the star of the late-night supernatural comedy-drama Guren Onna.

This is her first role as a seiyuu, but she has little of the dead voice of a first-timer, and does a nice job bringing the character to life. The voice is softer than I expected, if I expected anything, but it seems perfect to me. Takabe-san's voice adds something to the character I know from the manga.

For sexy photos from Takabe Ai's idol shoots, search Google Images.

Akira (Gibu Yuuko)

Akira is a little live-wire who spreads positive energy wherever she goes. She is in the high school of the prestigious Fujigaya Academy for Girls.

Gibu Yuuko, 28, burst onto the scene in 2005 with roles in five shows, including a major role in Koi Koi Seven. She had eight roles in 2008, then dropped back to four in 2007. That year, she and her partner Ninomiya Yoshimi were promoting their singing duo BooNo.

But Ninomiya quit the entertainment business at the end of that year, and Gibu was left at sea, doing only one seiyuu role the next year. Now she is back with a vengeance, with important roles in both this show and Umi Monogatari.

Yasuko (Ishimatsu Chiemi)

Yasuko is a bold and handsome girl who is the prince of Matsuoka Girls' High.

Ishimatsu Chiemi has had a small number of roles in every year since 2003, under this name and that of Misumi. She was Ellis in Triangle Heart and Michelle in Zero no Tsukaima 2.

Kyouko (Horie Yui)

Kyouko is a classmate of Akira's at Fujigaya. She has an unrequited love for Sayoko.

Horie Yui, 32, is the most successful -- or at least the busiest -- female seiyuu of the 21st century, with over 140 roles in her twelve-year career. Her best-known roles are Naru in Love Hina, Toru in Fruits Basket, and Ayu in Kanon. She already has 15 roles this year.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Saki -- Characters and Seiyuus, with character pics

The strange little mah jong anime Saki, with its pleasant touch of yuri fanservice, has an excellent cast: Ueda Kana, Koshimizu Ami, Kugimiya Rie, Horie Yui, Itou Shizuka, Shiraishi Ryouko, Shintani Ryouko, Fukuyama Jun, Saitou Momoko, Morinaga Rika, Saiga Mitsuki, Chihara Minori, Kuwatani Natsuko, Shimizu Ai, Kobayashi Yu.

But I have struggled through 13 episodes only aware of who plays whom for a few of the characters. Finally, as we enter the second half of the show's run, I have cobbled together a quick map of who the characters and their seiyuus are, with pics of the characters. I hope it helps both you and me. Click here or on the image to go to the full table:

-- end of post --