Thursday, October 01, 2009

Fall Season Begins -- list of shows starting in the next few days

Sasameki KotoThe fall season gets going in earnest today, with three shows:
  • Asura Cryin' 2 -- second season of the supernatural mecha romance
  • Kämpfer -- a guy turns into a girl, enabling him to fight in a kind of ongoing tournament; stars Inoue Marina and Horie Yui
  • Nyan Koi -- romantic comedy about a guy who hates cats, but has to be nice to them or he will turn into one. Directed by the director of Hayate 1.

Friday, we have five shows:
  • To -- a pair of 3DCG space fiction stories by the director of Appleseed and Vexille
  • The Book of Bantorra -- shounen fantasy adventure starring Paku Romi, Ogawa Tohru, Sawashiro Miyuki, and Tomatsu Haruka.
  • To Aru Kagaku no Railgun -- spin-off from To Aru Majutsu no Index, directed by the director of Toradora
  • White Album season 2 -- continuation of the romance drama starring Mizuki Nana and Hirano Aya
  • Seitokai no Ichizon -- school comedy adapted by Hanada Jukki from Aoi Sekina's novels.

Saturday, five more:
  • Seiken no Blacksmith -- shounen mediaeval fantasy adventure with a good cast, an interesting-sounding story, and a dubious staff
  • Shugo Chara Party! -- third year of the smash hit shoujo supernatural romantic adventure
  • Tegami Bachi -- heartwarming fantasy starring Sawashiro Miyuki
  • Tentai Senshi Sun Red -- bizarre shounen/seinen comedy
  • Inuyasha: The Final Act -- the final season of the classic shounen adventure series begins

Five more on Sunday:
  • Yumeiro Pâtissière -- a young girl (played by Yuuki Aoi, who was Murasaki in Kurenai) wants to become a top pastry-maker
  • Sora no Otoshimono -- ecchi romantic comedy featuring Hayami Saori as a buxom angel with incredible powers who falls to earth and becomes the servant (sort of) of the shounen protagonist.
  • Kanokon OVA 1 -- ecchi is too mild a word for this romantic comedy featuring a buxom fox-woman, a loli wolf-girl, and a shouta.
  • Natsu no Arashi 2 -- second season of Shinbou's romantic comedy featuring time-travel, Sanpei Yuuko, Shiraishi Ryouko, and Nazuka Kaori.
  • Miracle Train -- bishounen comedy personifies stations on a Tokyo subway line as beautiful boys.

Kimi ni TodokeMonday:
  • Shin Koihime Musou -- second season of the amusing ecchi comedy that turns Three Kingdoms heroes into yuri girls.
  • Anyamaru Tantei Kiruminzuu -- magical girl comedy starring Yuuki Aoi
  • Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu 2 -- second season of the moe romantic comedy starring Noto Mamiko

  • Kyou no 5 no 2 Takarabako -- another OVA for the heartwarming/ecchi grade-school comedy
  • Kobato -- shoujo romantic adventure from CLAMP, starring Hanazawa Kana
  • Kimi ni Todoke -- shoujo romance from an excellent manga, adapted by Kanparu Tomoko (Nodame cantabile) and starring Noto Mamiko, Namikawa Daisuke, Sanpei Yuuko, and Sawashiro Miyuki
  • 11eyes -- fantasy adventure starring Ono Daisuke and adapted from an ero-game

Wednesday 7 October:
  • ToHeart2 adplus -- ep2 of another OVA for the classic moe comedy. A chance to hear Ochiai Yurika.
  • Cheburashka Arere? -- kids show about a stowaway creature, from a Russian story
  • Sasameki Koto -- yuri romance comedy/drama starring Takagaki Ayahi. One of the shows I am most looking forward to.

Thursday 8 October:
  • Darker than Black 2 -- second season of the dark sci-fi mystery adventure starring Kiuchi Hidenobu and directed by Okamura Tensai (Wolf's Rain)

For the remainder of the season, check my weekly schedule and full preview post.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Takagaki Ayahi -- Tiny and Talented

Takagaki Ayahi is opening the door to stardomTakagaki Ayahi 高垣彩陽 is 4' 11" (150.8cm) of talent and hard work. And over the past two years, she has become one of the better seiyuu actresses around.

She brings alive the laconic young killer Ein in Requiem for the Phantom. She made Nina Antalk the emotional centre of Chrome-Shelled Regios. Before that, she helped create an amazing romantic innocent with Noe in true tears.

And the role that first got my attention was the mature Otome in Da Capo 2 SS. Especially her powerful emotional expressiveness near the end of the series. Ayahi can be a bit melodramatic, but the emotion works. (click photos to enlarge; mouseover for captions)

Her ability is being rewarded with more and more roles. She has nine roles this year, and this fall will star in Sasameki Koto and will have an important role in Sora no Otoshimono.

And don't be surprised if she gets a real recording career. She graduated from a music college in Tokyo, with a major in operatic singing (hear her opera voice in the Da Capo 2 interview, below). Sony made her part of their group Sphere, composed of Tomatsu Haruka, Toyosaki Aki, Kotobuki Minako, and Ayahi. I found some of her earlier work rather stiff, but her character song album as Ein from Phantom is excellent.

Personal data
  • born 25 October 1985; 23 years old.
  • 150.8cm (4'11")
  • from Tokyo
  • agency: Music Ray'n (Sony)
  • blood type A
  • nickname: Ayahi, Ayahii, Ayahime
  • she uses her real surname, not a stage name, because she likes it so much. She says it gives a feeling of fighting (tatakau) and energy (genki-ness, like a kid, a gaki).

at an event announing her participation in some pro wrestling showsbackground
  • comes from a large family
  • attended a girls' school from kindergarten through high school
  • in kindergarten, wanted to be Sailor Moon
  • Lina Inverse's incantations in Slayers made her think that seiyuu could be magicians
  • when she was younger she once wrote that her career goal was to be a seiyuu, but she gradually drifted over to a greater interest in music
  • graduated from music college in March of 2008

becoming a seiyuu
  • her interest in seiyuu work revived after she saw Gundam Seed
  • she qualified at a series of Music Ray'n auditions in 2005-2006
  • she only took the audition due to a friend's encouragement, and barely made the deadline
  • she got her first role a month later, in 2006
  • her first named role was Tsubaki in Ouran HS Host Club (2006)
  • her first starring role was Ruchia in Venus Versus Virus (2007)

Video clips of Ayahi's roles:

  • she has a fairly wide acting range, from little kids to romantic teens to gentle weak girls to elder sister types to proper young ladies to boyish girls to serious young women
  • she uses her voice well, but it is not particularly distinctive
  • major roles: Ruchia (Venus Versus Virus), Jasmine (Deltora Quest), Otome (DC Da Capo 2), Feldt Grace (Gundam00), Noe (true tears), Tsubasa (Kyou no Go no Ni), Nina Antalk (Chrome-Shelled Regios), Ein (Requiem for the Phantom), Aresta Blanket (Charger Girl Juuden-chan), Sumika (Sasameki Koto)
Ruchia in Venus Versus Virus Otome in DaCapo2
Noe in true tears Feldt Grace in Gundam00
Nina Antalk in Koukaku no Regios Ein in Requiem for the Phantom

skill and talent
  • very studious, memorizes a script perfectly
  • carries a notebook and writes down things older cast and staff say
  • makes and organizes notes about each production and each character
  • seiyuu usually check a script by whispering through it; she surprises people by speaking it out at full voice
  • other seiyuu say she really gets into her role, becoming one with it
  • Tomatsu Haruka has praised her vocal range, nimble tongue, and pronunciation and breathing
  • Hisakawa Aya has said, rather cryptically, that Ayahi is just what a seiyuu should be
Interview re Da Capo 2. Watch for her singing a bit of opera around the 6:00 minute mark. The interviewer nearest Ayahi is Sakai Kanako, who starred in REC:

  • staff and seiyuu say she is majime (modest, serious, and polite)
  • she gives coworkers presents and cards, particularly for birthdays and Valentine's Day
  • natural and direct, approaches problems head-on
  • a bit of an airhead at times; Taniyama Kishou says she should be the Tokyo representative in the World Airhead Championships
  • she herself admits it's a bit true, but apologizes to the real airheads
  • friends with Chihara Minori
  • easily moved to tears, often crying at events and on radio, and especially at anime wrap-up parties
  • a terrible cook: there are stories about her not being able to peel a boiled egg, and failing at making pancakes; she says she just needs more practice
  • the pancake story got included as part of Nina's back-story in Regios
  • carries a large bag and surprises people by pulling all sorts of things out of its jumbled interior

  • very close to her family, always talking about her mother
  • lives with her mother and younger sister
  • her mother checks everything she writes on her blog
  • her grandmother does her hair
true tears seiyuus: Iguchi Yuka, Takagaki Ayahi, Nazuka Kaori

et cetera
  • she is very concerned with the roles she plays; at a live event, she went on and on mentioning the minor roles that were not included in her Wikipedia entry, and described her feelings about shows she had unnamed roles in.
  • she considers it very important to sing a character song in character: for Regios songs, she had pictures of her character and a script set up in the recording booth.
  • she says she is an otaku for her own shows, getting books, figures, etc.
  • fell in love with the Toyama area, where true tears was set and where the show's PA Works studio is located; other seiyuu call her the "ambassador for sightseeing in Nantou" (a city in the Toyama area)
  • on 2channel, there are almost 12,000 posts in her main threads; but there are also several hundred in anti- threads, criticizing her voice and acting ability, as well as her dark skin and supposed common manner. It's true that her dark skin sometimes makes her look like a tanned Japanese "gang girl." So does the fact that she sometimes seems to use a lot of make-up.
  • she likes to wear her hair piled up high on her head, to make herself seem taller

Sphere (l-r) Tomatsu Haruka, Kotobuki Minako, Takagaki Ayahi, Toyosaki Aki:

  • 2009.2.15, at Music Ray'n Girls Spring Choco Matsuri, formation of Sphere was announced
  • at 23, Ayahi is the group's oldest member: Tomatsu Haruka is 19, Kotobuki Minako 18, and Toyosaki Aki 22.
  • singers Ayahi likes: Honda Minako 本田美奈子, KOKIA. She did Honda's signature tune Amazing Grace at the Music Ray'n Girls Autumn Harvest Festival event, and KOKIA does OP1 and ED2 for Phantom
  • KOKIA wrote the music and lyrics for two Gundam00 character songs Ayahi will release October 21
Sphere's debut event:

Good TV interview with Sphere:

non-anime work
  • dubbing: three roles, including the female lead in the movie 10,000 BC
  • a role in a stage musical
  • ten radio shows, four of which are continuing (Takahashi Daisuke and Takagaki Ayahi's Nightly Hustle, Web Radio Planet Sphere, Phantom Radio, Canaan radio)
  • roles in eight games (none adult), including leading roles in Da Capo 2 Plus Situation, and Dungeons & Dam
  • roles in four radio dramas, including the online voice comic ("vomic") Sugars

on the breakwater at Toyama that was featured in true tearslinks:
official site
Anime News Network
Japanese Wikipedia

video clips

Cast in:
Ouran High School Host Club
(TV) as Female university student (ep 17); Kamigamo Tsubaki
Pocket Monsters: Diamond & Pearl (TV) as Chinatsu (ep 76)
Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori (TV) as Kitazaki (ep 18)

Deltora Quest (TV) as Jasmine
Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight! (TV) as Student (ep 10); Sweets Student (ep 3)
Venus Versus Virus (TV) as Nahashi Ruchia
Toward the Terra (TV) as Altera
Kenko Zenrakei Suieibu Umisho (TV) as Oyamada Asami; Nanjou Karena (ep 8-13)
Baccano! (TV) as Lumiere Sylvie
D.C. II: Da Capo II
(TV) as Asakura Otome
Mokke (TV) as Aida (ep 22)
Goshuushou-sama Ninomiya-kun (TV) as Ninomiya Shungo (young)
Mobile Suit Gundam 00 (TV) as Feldt Grace
Rental Magica (TV) as Female Student; Male Student
Ayakashi (TV) as Natsuhara (ep 6)

true tears (TV) as Isurugi Noe
Allison & Lillia (TV) as Meg (ep 23)
D.C.II S.S. ~Da Capo II Second Season~ (TV) as Asakura Otome
Net Ghost PiPoPa (TV) as Yukiya Karin
Wagaya no Oinarisama (TV) as Hashimoto Shunta (ep 22)
S.A. (TV) as Yamamoto Megumi; Takashima household Maid C (ep 12); Yuki-pon (ep 11)
Slayers Revolution (TV) as Girl (ep 13)
Battle Spirits: Shounen Toppa Bashin (TV) as Suiren
Yozakura Quartet (TV) as Tatebayashi Mizuna
Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae (TV) as Moriyama Jun (ep 3)
Macademi Wasshoi! (TV) as Paltia
Kyo no 5 no 2 (TV) as Kawai Tsubasa
Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Second Season (TV) as Feldt Grace
Skip Beat! (TV) as Miya

Maria-sama ga Miteru 4th Season (TV) as Miyuki
Zoku Natsume Yūjin-Chou (TV) as Sui (ep. 2)
Chrome Shelled Regios (TV) as Nina Antalk
Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~ (TV) as Ein
Charger Girl Ju-den Chan (TV) as Aresta Blanket
CANAAN (TV) as Nene
Zan Sayonara Zetsubō Sensei (TV) as Oora Kanako
Sora no Manima ni (TV) as Minami Sayuri
Sora no Otoshimono (TV) as Satsukitane Mikako
Sasameki Koto (TV) as Murasame Sumika
Kyou no 5 no 2 Takarabako (OVA)as Kawai Tsubasa

2010 Hanamaru Kindergarten (TV) as Hiiragi

Ayahi guesting on Kawasumi Ayako's radio showStaff in:
  • S.A (TV) : Theme Song Performance (OP/ED2)
  • Battle Spirits: Shōnen Toppa Bashin (TV) : Theme Song Performance (ED2)

  • Chrome Shelled Regios (TV) : Theme Song Performance (ED)
  • Hatsukoi Limited (TV) : Theme Song Performance (OP - Sphere)
  • Charger Girl Juuden Chan (TV) : Theme Song Performance (OP)
  • Sora no Manima ni (TV) : Theme Song Performance (OP – Sphere)
(lists from Anime News Network)

Music CDs
  • Venus Versus Virus Character Vocal Album
  • DC Da Capo 2 Character Songs v.6
  • true tears Image Album "Tears...For Truth"
  • true tears Character Image Song CD "Another World" (DVD6 extra)
  • S.A. Character mini-Album
  • S.A. ED2
  • Kyou no Go no Ni BGM Collection Sound Festival
  • Chrome Shelled Regios: character songs 1 and 2
  • "Yasashii Uso" (from Chrome-Shelled Regios)
  • Dungeons & Dam Audio Collection
  • "dear-dear Dream" (Battle Spirits Shounen Toppa Bashin)
  • Requiem for the Phantom character maxi single "Inspired by Ein"
  • Canaan Insert Song "China Kibun de High Tension"
  • Gundam00 Voice Actor Single "Inori" and "Justice"
  • Fight Ippatsu Juuden-chan ED "TeCh=NoloGy"
  • Ragnarok Online 7th anniversary song (Sphere) -- "Kaze wo Atsumete" and "Brave My Heart"
(list from Neowing and 2channel)

upcoming events
  • Lantis Matsuri (27 Sept) - Sphere
  • Tokyo Asia Music Market (23 Oct)
  • Ragnarok Online World Championshiup 2009 (1 Nov) - Sphere
  • Sphere Colorful Concert (10 Jan 2010)
(list from 2channel)

Ayahi sings (streaming audio) the Regios ED Yasashii Uso, as back-up singer to Chrome Shelled (studio musicians).