Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hirano Aya Retuns to Work After Two Weeks of Rest

Hirano Aya's usually active blog had been silent for two weeks until new posts Sunday and Monday.

She reported that she had taken time off, and had cancelled or delayed some upcoming events, including a record release, but was returning now, eager to do her best work.

A full examination revealed nothing physically wrong with her, and she accepts that her problems must be psychological. But she still suffers from insomnia and hair-loss, and is doing her best to solve her own psychological problems: she calls herself an "inflexible blockhead."

I infer from things she says that the problem flared up after a disagreement over something to do with an upcoming live event. She seems to have wanted to change something that couldn't be changed, and it sent her into a depression that left her utterly weak.

During her time off, she visited a temple deep in the Kanagawa mountains with her parents, and said it was a peaceful atmosphere in which to face herself, and try to understand others.

She had her hair cut Monday and asked if it made her look like a monk.

Aya seems more and more like Judy Garland. That puts her in great company as an artist, but it isn't a good sign for her mental or physical stability.

Here are rough translations of her past three posts:

Sorry for making you worry.

I apologize for not updating the blog in so long.

Where to start...? Although there is a lot about my condition I can't tell you, please accept this explanation.

When I left the hospital, I decided that events upcoming in the near future would be delayed or canceled. That announcement was made on the Net. A record release will also be delayed. Although I had made that decision, it wasn't time to announce it until now.

If we had had the environment I wanted, the event would definitely have gone ahead. I wanted to sing, and I wanted to act. But I couldn't do anything. I really felt an utter lack of strength.

I apologize to everyone who was looking forward to it. A live event is always a great motivation for me, and losing that was more than just a shock, it was depressing. So I announced that I would be taking a period of rest and recuperation.

I caused a lot of trouble for the cast and staff at my anime recording sessions. But everyone has been very nice and very concerned. And even though I have done something unforgivable, they have allowed me time. I thank them so much. No mistake, they are the ones who have given me a place.

I just disappeared without any formal apology to all the fans who have been watching over me. But I had no solution for my problems, and under those circumstances, I just couldn't think of anything to say.

As a condition for letting me take this time off, my agency ordered me to get a full medical check-up. I had a full rest and check-up, but they could find nothing wrong. They told me my problem must be psychological. Despite my recent symptoms of hair-loss
[alopecia areata] and insomnia, I can accept that.

From the time I heard that until now, I have been thinking about everything, but I have still not come up with any answers. I've been thinking as hard as I can about how to solve the problem of there being no way to change my environment, but the result never changes.

As I am now, I do have a bit of inner support, but how to increase it from now on? I myself am searching out methods for softening my block-headed inflexibility.

During my period of recuperation, I had to stay inside, and although it meant days of bitter brooding, it helped me in many ways. It's the first time in my life I have had this experience. I think it gave me a clue to how to solve the problem of having a nature that cannot seem to keep calm. Peering in at my own lack of mental health, I will come up with my own solutions.

Although I'm not sure it was a good thing to say all this, I felt I couldn't lie. What I can say may be limited from now on, but I will tell all in the end. Please wait until then.

I want to be a seiyuu.

I want to be an artist.

I want to be someone who expresses herself.


An excursion?

I visited a temple deep in the
mountains in Kanagawa with my family. It had been so long since the three of us had gone anywhere together that it seemed like a vacation trip.

There was rain and hail, but the atmosphere was so peaceful and calm. It was a good opportunity to face myself and to understand other people.

On the way back, we ate
soba [healthy buckwheat noodles] at a place nearby.


Don't worry!

genki [energetic and healthy].

Starting tomorrow, my period of rest is over and I'm going back to work. My acting will be better than ever Ψ(`∀´#)

My feelings are entirely absorbed in my work, and I'll give my all!

My hair's been cut again! It gets shorter and shorter. Do I look like a monk at prayer!!?

This most recent post seems like whistling in the wind. I hope she can survive the trials that doubtless lay ahead. And that she can find the solutions she needs. She has the personality of a real actress: lost, insecure, emotional. It allows her to reach the heights of her best work, but makes life very difficult to live.


RFayt said...

Never really liked Aya from the start... However, thats just only looking at her as an seiyuu/artist/idol (w/e you wanna call).

Just looking at her as a normal person, Really hope she feels better now after the break she took.

- She needs to take it easy from now on too, No need to rush things...

(Wonder if i'll get bashed for my first line XD)

hashi said...

@RFayt -- As one of the likely bashers, not at all. I find your opinion quite understandable. She has her own style, which sometimes can seem like incompetence (but isn't). Lots of Japanese otaku on 2channel despise her work. The rest of your post more than makes up for that egregious error of taste (lol).

I have to admit that, although I like a lot of her work, I probably like her best as a person -- to the extent that I can actually tell what she's like as a person from following her blog. Her apparent honesty in this post doesn't seem out of character to me at all, from how I read her blog.

animekritik said...

It's sad to see this happen, especially when we kinda knew it was gonna happen one, two years ago.. I think she'd much better if she had a love interest going. That would help lots!

bmk said...

I know I say this every time, but I keep growing more and more concerned about Aya's health and well-being. It does seems like the time off might have been able to help her reflect a bit and see her life from a different perspective.

Still, I'm not overly confident another situation couldn't arise in the future. I hope I'm wrong about that.

Really hope that she can get through this and that she feels better, physically and mentally.

Anonymous said...

Very mixed feelings about Aya here.

On one hand, I can admire her passion to deliver. However, I sense that she's driven more by grandiosity than anything. There's such a narrow-minded desperation to reach bona-fide stardom (which admittedly isn't uncommon among people who've been riding fast waves) that the goal is prioritized at the expense of reason. The inflexibility/depression and overexertion certainly point to that kind of issue.

Problem is, there's going to be a lot to regret if that goal is never reached (assuming that she doesn't crack in the process). Statistically speaking, the odds are overwhelmingly against her, so I do hope she reconsiders her approach and priorities in life.

As for blogs, I think there's also a fine line between honesty and attention seeking. Many of Aya's posts are genuine, yet some of them serve no purpose except shameless self-promotion (i.e. the skinny dipping thing that caused a stir, the references to looking fat in photos after she'd obviously slimmed down to improve her image). Guess that just comes with the territory.

Anyway, this is just the opinion of a casual observer who's neither a fan nor detractor (have never watched her concerts or even listened to her albums, although her VA work seems decent enough). While I can't claim to know a lot about Aya, I -have- gone through phases of perceived self-importance and overwhelming pressure. When you're under close scrutiny and are told that you will/should be extraordinary, it just brainwashes you into believing it yourself.

Honestly, I'm not sure how that would help.

Shana-nee said...

Well... at least she didn't disappear for a long time... like last time. I hope Aaya feels a lot lot lot better now. =D

hashi said...

@anonymous -- Interesting points. One of the things Japanese otaku hold against her is that she seems to them to be shamelessly attention-seeking -- when I as a foreigner think of it as being well within the bounds of propriety, for an entertainer, in particular. In fact, she just seems more natural than many seiyuu in their blogs.

I never heard about the skinny-dipping thing. Can you tell me when that was mentioned, and where? I don't read all her posts, nor do I read her 2channel threads that much these days. I can't imagine it offending me, but I should read what she said.

Having some kind of love interest might help her put things in better perspective, I think. But I also think she is too ambitious to let herself get into that, since it could harm her popularity -- or at least that's the common wisdom for seiyuu in Japan.

Personally, I think she has a continuing future as a seiyuu, and also for a few years as a photo-idol, and maybe in the long run as a TV personality. But the singing isn't really quite there.

She is clearly driven, ambitious, a bit crazy, has some degree of eating disorder, is very high-strung, and has a high opinion of her own ability -- as well as being dreadfully insecure. As I say, like Judy Garland, a very fragile but highly artistic American singer between the 1930s and the 1960s, who enjoyed great early success, then struggled with prescription drug addiction through most of her life (mainly to control her weight), married five times (so much for relationships helping), attempted suicide several times, and finally died in her forties of an accidental overdose. I don't see Aya being that much out of control, just being psychologically similar in some ways.

Andrew said...

I thought she did have some actual physical ailment. But really, she should try not to doubt herself and take things a bit more easily. If she does have a full-blown eating disorder, she may need treatment for that.

As I said before, I admire her passion, but Aya really shouldn't feel like she isn't good enough. She's probably the best-known seiyuu outside Japan, she has countless fans from around the world...she is appreciated, and I for one feel like she's a great success as a performer and a human being. But perhaps for a while, she could use a rest, perhaps some exotic getaway. The past four years have probably been pretty grueling for a girl who may have had something of a weak constitution throughout her life (didn't you say she usually sat out her PE classes?) Again, if she does indeed have an eating disorder, that obviously isn't something she can just shrug off.

abandonedfactory said...

"She had her hair cut Monday and asked if it made her look like a monk."

LOL. No, but she looks cute that way.

I'm worried about her, too, because I don't think people just lose hair for no reason. I'm sure going to a temple with her family was a good thing, but I doubt it is something that can be cured with just a week or two vacation. She should find time to get peaceful on a regular basis.

Aiya said...

I hope the best for her. Thanks for all the coverage too.

pmu said...

Thanks so much for this,that's a great work you do