But following K-On, Hyocchi (her nickname) has been getting lots of other roles, and right now she is the lead in two shows (Occult Academy and Seitokai Yakuindomo), one of the leads in another (K-On), and is a regular in a kids' show that may run for a full year (Stitch! ~Zutto Saikou no Tomodachi~).
Now, that's success: within one year, she has gone from her first big role to four significant roles at once. She's a tiger.
And her success is not just in getting roles. On 2channel, she is currently the second-most posted-about name, after Mizuki Nana and ahead of Tamura Yukari. Posts in her thread are running at seven an hour, and she has received almost 40,000 posts in little more than a year.
Of course, some of the other popular names on 2channel right now are from K-On, too: Toyosaki Aki (Yui), Taketatsu Ayana (Azusa), Satou Satomi (Ritsu) and Kotobuki Minako (Mugi).
So where did Hyocchi suddenly come from? Actually, she came up in the most normal way possible for a seiyuu: she works for the big agency I"m Enterprise, and went to famous seiyuu school Nihon Narration.
She was already 22 by the time she got her first role, and turns 25 next Friday, 16 July. Happy Birthday, Hyocchi!
She is from Kanagawa, just south of Tokyo, and as with other girls, the show that got her interested in anime was Sailor Moon. She also loved The End of Evangelion. After high school she enrolled in two colleges at the same time: a dressmaking school, and Nihon Narration seiyuu school. After a while at Nihon Narration, she won a scholarship for free tuition in the advanced course.
She still lists dressmaking as one of her skills -- along with qualifications in calligraphy and aromatherapy. But all through middle school and high school, she was a softball player, starting in center field, but then playing the two positions usually played by the best athletes: shortstop and pitcher. She was also always a mainstay in track and field, anchoring the relay. On the other hand, she was the head of the library committee, as well. She is neither tall nor short, in Japanese terms: 157cm (5'2").
Her debut role was in 2007, in Sketchbook ~Full Color's~, as Minamo, Daichi's little sister, who had a camera with her all the time. She had a couple of minor roles in 2007 and in 2008, then KyoAni plucked her from obscurity to play Mio last spring, and the rest is history.
In person, she seems quite forceful and extreme. She's excitable, but never seems to lose control. She likes to take the lead. On radio, she can be crazy, speaking in various wild voices. And she does imitations.
To give you an idea of just how genki she can be, here is a brief clip of her thanking Seigura magazine for choosing her catchphrase -- which she performs at the end of the clip -- as best catchphrase of 2009:
She's a gamer, particularly playing Monster Hunter with seiyuu friends. She learned to play some bass for K-On events -- playing left-handed, like Mio, despite being right-handed herself.
Her roles are generally more soft-spoken than she is in real life -- as Mio in K-On, as Hattori in Dai Maou, as Maya in Occult Academy -- but she seems to be drifting naturally toward roles with some strength, like Hattori, or Maya, or Shino in Seitokai Yakuindomo.
She has the comic acting ability to handle all these. She was especially impressive creating the strangely likeable yuri masochist Hana in Seikon no Qwesar. All her roles have some flavor and individuality. And a dash of moe.
Another reason she is rising so quickly is that she can actually sing, as the K-On EDs prove, particularly the one that just started this week:
Here is Hyocchi with the whole gang from K-On:
Roles -- Hana (Qwesar), Hattori (Dai Maou), Maya (Occult Academy), Shino (Yakuindomo):
Finally, here is several minutes of an interview on Saitou Chiwa's net interview show, M-Serve Style. It was done in April, and mainly concerns Seikon no Qwesar. Chiwa says that although they work for the same agency, this is the first time they have exchanged more than a few words. Hyocchi talks about how Hana, her character in Qwesar, gets mistreated by Hirano Aya's character -- and likes it: