Sunday, August 08, 2010

Hirano Aya Opens Up About Her Love Life

On a TV interview program this past week, Aya has told, if not all, then quite a bit, about her love life. And it has sent otaku into a frenzy of hatred and rejection.

She says she has always liked older men, and has gone out with a number of them. Right now she is going out with someone about ten years older than she is.

She likes men who are experienced and on whom she can depend. She doesn't like men who are dependent.

She has never gone out with someone she just thought was a good man. Only with people she actually felt something for.

Who usually breaks up a relationship? Usually they do, she said, because I'm too selfish, and don't want to be controlled, and say so. Does that bother her? Not really, since she's an observer type, and just observes what happened and goes on.

The interviewer called her a "strong woman." Aya said that she had decided from early on in her career, which began when she was ten, not to get married. Work comes first, she has to make her own life herself, and become a "terrific woman" who can life her own life. She can't imagine just becoming a housewife.

Here is the first part of the interview, from YouTube:

She was being interviewed with actress/idol Kurashina Kana by Esumi Makiko, a young-looking actress and essayist in her forties who was devastated to learn that Kana's parents were younger than she herself.

Kana had many of the same opinions as Aya -- preferring older men herself -- but was gentler about it. She agreed, though, that she couldn't imagine getting married at this point.

None of this comes as much of a surprise to me. Aya once said she preferred men who looked good in a suit, which clearly meant older men. There were rumors about her going with older rocker/seiyuu Taniyama Kishou. And her preference for harder rock music made me think she is not at all the pristine doll her longer-time fans wanted to imagine.

And she said years ago that she never planned to get married, but would live with someone if she wanted to do that.

I think her fragile mental state shows that these may not be the best choices she could make, but I can understand her making them, especially in the context of Japanese society, where wives are still supposed to be subservient to their husbands. My own opinion is that life is difficult, and hard for anyone to face alone, without a partner of one gender or the other. But it may not seem quite that way to a successful young entertainer who probably has her choice of dashing men in the thirties to go out with.

She says she was very much in love with her first boyfriend, but broke it off because he wouldn't allow her the freedom she wanted.

Was anyone ever unfaithful? Yes. He said: "I'm sorry, I'm in love with someone else." She was surprised, but thought there was nothing that could be done about it and just let him go. She would never try to drag someone back.

Can you imagine going with someone younger? "Maybe when I'm thirty."

She feels all these experiences have helped her in her acting. For instance, when she was doing a scene, she remembered an argument, and thought: "This scene is just like that."

These revelations -- probably even just admitting that she has gone out with people over the years -- have thrown some of her fans into a frenzy of rejection. Sankaku Complex has articles quoting posters to 2channel  telling her to just die, and burning their collections of her work and photos. "She’s turned and become defiant. It’ll be war from here on. Who will die first, us or Hirano? It won’t end until one does." NOTE: Much of the other content on Sankaku is NSFW.

Her blog is currently unavailable, but she apparently responded:
"...all of these romantic experiences helped support me, and I don’t want to continue this shallow, unreal façade.
I don’t want to write songs about some fantasy love. I should be able to show the real me.
Stop making Tweets telling me to “die!” or saying you hate me.
And after we just made a lifeline to each other....
Even someone as strong as me is reeling under this.
So, from here on I hope you wish me well!"
She wants to be an adult, not the plaything of children. Unfortunately, popularity in the entertainment world has little to do with reality, and much to do with fulfilling the fantasies of some group of consumers. We shall see how things go for her from now on, and if there are enough people who want to hear about the real her, perhaps as an exemplar of an independent woman.

However, if otaku can be vicious, I'd say they are nothing compared to the leering invasiveness and cold put-downs of mainstream Japanese TV. I hope things work out.

It would be truly amazing if she didn't realize the kind of reaction these admissions/claims would cause among her otaku fans and enemies. Sankaku, by the way, is one of her attackers, so take what is written there in that light.

But I give her credit for actually wanting to be honest. It would have been so much easier just to keep up the facade. I have always had the sense from her blog of a real person being as honest as she could be, within the limits of her professional situation.

Sankaku directs us to an interesting Japanese page that points out that she began her career at the age of ten as an idol and actress in TV commercials, and that her agency, Spacecraft,  is mainly a actress and idol agency, not a seiyuu agency. Moreover, her personal manager is apparently now someone less connected to seiyuu work than to the other areas she is active in.

Sankaku suggests she is withdrawing from seiyuu work, but I see her in one major role every couple of seasons: Fairy Tail began last fall and is continuing, and Nurarihyon no Mago began this summer and continues to the end of the year. Neither of those could be thought of as real otaku anime. They are more mainstream.

It has been clear for years that Nakagawa Shouko, with whom Aya performed in Eyeshield 21, is someone she wants to emulate. Shouko-tan began as a seiyuu, but is now mainly a singer and TV personality, just taking the odd anime role. Aya is a better and more successful seiyuu than Shouko-tan, so I expect her to do more.

But clearly she is moving toward making singing and TV work her main source of income: and a far more lucrative source it can be than seiyuu work. But now she has to again create an audience for herself, having blown up a significant part of her past audience with these tales. And her tough approach to romance may or may not find much resonance in the more adult TV audience.

Finally, here is the second part of the interview:


Andrew said...

The things people can say cloaked behind the anonymity of the Internet. :P

I'm somewhat proud that she's come out and talked about her love life. To be honest, I never really thought of Aya as some pure, virginal "good girl". Maybe it's a side effect of playing Haruhi, but I've always seen her as having sort of a defiant, independent streak. So these revelations didn't stun me quite as much. With her medical and mental problems in the past year though, it's a good thing that she at least has a boyfriend at the moment.

On perhaps a more vulgar unit, JimOne once showed an article detailing a radio show or something where the host claimed that Aya was "definitely not a virgin." I mean no offense at all, but I'd be inclined to agree there, just given her somewhat brash, independent personality. (But she would be smart enough to insist on protection.)

Anonymous said...

I understand the concept about older men, but I feel like this is starting to become a common stereotype. Assuredly teenage boys and young adolescent boys tend to be immature, but I also know several people in their 40's who are nowhere near mature, likewise I've met people in their 20's who have the presence and maturity of someone in their 30's.

I think the ultimate judge of someone should be a judge of character, and not a judge of age.

Other than that, at least older men could have more money? lol.

hashi said...

@anonymous -- Totally agree. "Older man" and "on whom she can depend" are two separate things. But older men do tend to have more experience of life, and more money. I personally am more into two people of about the same age discovering things together, but that's just me. She is free to choose whom she wishes.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your levelheaded post about this. All the other Aya posts I've seen recently feel like UNBEARABLY LOUD SHOUTING from both the pro- and anti-Aya sides.

I see Aya as someone simultaneously strong and frail. But either way, her independent side has always been fairly apparent to me. Perhaps because, as a heterosexual female fan, my view of her wasn't obstructed by pedestals and fluffy ideals. Aside from her voicework, I'm attracted to her gumption and her ability to poke fun at herself.

Your post made me think of a comparison that can be made here. In a way, the fans who never recognized her independent streak and are now shocked into anger--they are just like the men she doesn't want to date. They are dependent and prone to acts of immaturity. They want to be put first in her life. What they want is submissiveness. Thus, like her first boyfriend whom she loved but had to part ways with in search of freedom, a break-up with that portion of her fanbase was perhaps inevitable. You could also say that the older TV audience is the more mature relationship she is attracted to, though how much stability she can find in that relationship remains to be seen.

While some people found her blog response defiant, I felt moved by her words that she wanted to show her true self rather than a facade. I hope she can find a happy medium between TV and voice work.

Joojoobees said...

It sounds like a step in the right direction to me. You can't live a lie forever, and her recent health problems are sign of that.

Honestly people who refuse to support a talented actress because they want to believe she is still pure for them need to grow up. Other people have lives, too. Aya has been gracious enough to share some of herself publicly, and many people have been entertained and even touched by her talent.

Aya doesn't owe haters apologies.

dingmajiao said...

Personally, I don't get all the fuss...
There's no wrong in idol getting into relationship...

I'm sure Aya will continue to voice for a long long time..

I really love this article, hashi! =D
After reading all those negatives reports and reactions were not fun at all for me.. =D

Anonymous said...

"Stop making Tweets telling me to “die!” or saying you hate me."


I like her.

Viacheslav said...

The more I know about Japan, the more I love the Japanese culture, but hate the Japanese society.

Anyhow, after reading this I gained a lot of new respect to Aya this time not as a seiyuu/idol, but a person. Not that I didn't respect her earlier, it's just that from a person I'd like to work with she evolved into a person I actualy'd want to chat with.
Or build gundam models with. ;)

Vexx said...

The Penny Arcade "Greater Internet F*ckwad Theory" for anonymous losers on the net holds true in spades for a percentage of otaku. They're the kind of people who need to be handled roughly by the other fans. So Aya is a real person with a basket of issues, imagine that. Worse was that damned Kannagi issue where they drove the mangaka (who wasn't ready for the hate blast) into the hospital for stress.

No respect for these otaku twits and they'd really *regret* meeting me in real life.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Hirano Aya fan and I don't find her dating older men and whatnot betraying or whatever. She's a human too and on top of that a woman, not some small girl, she deserves to go out and date guys and have a happy life. Those otakus in Japan are too much. I'm an otaku myself. Why do I not hate her? Those fans who cursed her are not real fans after all. I almost cried when I heard that she quited being a seiyu and after reading about those crazy 'fans'.

Whatever it is, I hope that she will come back to be a seiyu. Hirano is an important person in my otaku life so I wish her luck for whatever she's gonna do in the future.

Andrew said...

Are you sure you want to get into this line of work, Yuuki Aoi? Apparently some of the Akiba crowd are already saying they want to impregnate you.

hashi said...

@Andrew -- Good point re Yuuki Aoi.

But she has been in show business since she was nine, and a seiyuu since she was eleven. Not that that makes her different from Aya.

At least she has never been -- and isn't likely to become -- an idol. Not particularly slim, and probably just an adequate singer.

And she herself is thought of as an otaku, so maybe she can laugh it off. Albeit, the only evidence I know of is some loligoth clothing, playing games, and some manga that were probably yaoi.

Anonymous said...

On one hand, her life methinks of a certain famous daughter of a former president and currently the brother of another, whose lovelife is shaky at best yet her life is totally out in the public eye.

On the other hand, the S****** Complex (damned site reads out like a smut tabloid now) wankers do little except to rouse up some hell by encouraging idiot comment posters to hit on the girl.

Anonymous said...

You know guys, it's all about money and so Hirano Aya is.... I like her voice, her independence, but I hate her lifestyle and now it's like she has always hated anime stuff work and she only took it because she wanted to start the carrer

hashi said...

@Anonymous -- Lots of Japanese otaku think Aya "always hated" anime work, but to me that seems mistaken. Certainly she only started concentrating on it since her idol work was going nowhere when she was a teen. But anyone would prefer to concentrate on other stuff since TV work, singing, etc., can be so much better paid. Seiyuus are near the bottom of the Japanese entertainment earning hierarchy.

Aya is still doing anime work. She's like Mizuki Nana, who continues to do some anime, but makes most of her money from singing.

Aya has previously expressed gratitude for being a seiyuu, since it was something she could do well and it kept her in show business. But you're right it was never her final goal. In her blog yesterday, she even spoke of seeing Paku Romi in a play and feeling she would love to be able to act like that.

Ray said...

Of course single male fans/otaku are disappointed. So what? People need to get over it. Otaku used to be classier and when seiyuu annouce their marriage or whatever, they accepted and moved on. Nowadays these young whippersnappers (lol) are abusive with their comments on the net.
Honestly, Aya-chan can voice act but she can't sing live and she's not that much of a good idol personality. Whatever she chooses to do, all the power to her. But it'll be a rougher road from this point on. What a shame.

Anonymous said...

Did she mention how long she's been going with her current boyfriend? (The one about 10 yrs older than she.)

hashi said...

@Anonymous -- I don't believe she said how long she has been going out with her current guy, or when she started going out at all.

YUKI HONDA said...