Friday, October 01, 2010

Taketatsu Ayana -- Suddenly a Star

Suddenly, over the past year, Taketatsu Ayana has become a star.

In the new autumn season, the 21-year-old seiyuu will be in eight shows: five new series, two OVAs, and a continuing series. Photos of her are spreading through the Web. And she will even appear in a film.

In April 2009, when K-On began, she was almost a complete unknown. In fact, "Aya-nyan," as she is known, did not even appear in the show until episode 8 (she plays Azusa, otherwise known as Azu-nyan).

Ayanyan had auditioned to be one of the four original main girls in K-On, but was picked to play the next-tier character Azusa -- a moe but capable younger student -- and helped turn her into a fan favorite.

At the time she was beginning K-On, Taketatsu-san had already debuted in the first OVA for Kiss x Sis, the very ecchi "incest comedy," which she has also helped make a successful franchise. In complete contrast, since last fall she has been playing a tiny fairy in Yumeiro Pâtissière, a show entirely without that kind of fanservice, and mainly aimed at little girls. It, too, is successful, and is now entering its second year.

Ayanyan's voice doesn't stand out, but her moe tones somehow also convey a bit of strength and attitude, so she can create a character that is moe, but more than moe, like Azusa.

Ayanyan mainly does children and teen girls, but can also do bossy characters (this season as Mio in MM and Kirino in Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai), or tsundere characters (Miria in Jewelpet Tinkle). She did a wonderful job as gentle, docile Nozomi in Mayoi Neko Overrun -- deeply moe, but not the childish kind of moe character that Toyosaki Aki does so well.

Here are pics of some of her roles (mouseover photos for captions):

Ayanyan says the ecchi scenes that she found in the script for Kiss x Sis were a real shock to her, lewder than she expected. But she said to herself, "If I can do this, I can do anything," and just pushed ahead.

She was nervous about showing Kiss x Sis to her mother, but says her mother just critiqued her acting, and said nothing about the lewd content.

As a child, her friends called her voice "anime-ish," and she hated that. But through her enjoyment of Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura, she learned that her voice could be an asset. She also liked Ghost in the Shell.

Taketatsu Ayana facts:
-- age 21, born 1989.06.23 in Saitama, near Tokyo
-- height 149 cm (4' 10½")
-- one of the shorter seiyuus, looking very short beside K-On co-star Toyosaki Aki (169cm+, 5' 6½")
-- nicknames: Ayanyan, Ayacchi (the latter used by friends and acquaintances, more than by fans)

Ayacchi went to the Nihon Narration seiyuu school and is now with its parent seiyuu agency, I"m Enterprise. So are two of the other young stars who are getting a lot of work this season: Hayami Saori and Yahagi Sayuri.

Taketatsu (then 16) and Yahagi (then 19) both appear in a little in-house I"m Enterprise video called I"m Festival 2005, along with other recognizable names such as Honda Youko, Morinaga Rika, Itsuki Yui (now of  the gothic rock group Yousei Teikoku) and Shiraishi Minoru. A plump-faced young Ayanyan appears at about 1:54, just before Yahagi Sayuri. Yahagi was about to get her debut role, in Karin, but Ayanyan had to train for two more years until she got her first anime role.

Ayanyan's work has made her popular, but her appearance and personality have contributed, too. She has cute, babyish good looks and a personality that combines sweet and determined. The first two photos are from a late-night radio broadcast in June of this year: (click photos to enlarge)

With the cast of K-On (right):

In costume for the film "How to Have Fun Writing a Light Novel" (right):

With her co-star on Kiss X Sis, Tatsumi Yuiko (left), and in a photo from a couple of years ago (right):

Ayanyan and Azunyan:

An accelerating career:

She won a seiyuu award last spring as part of Houkago Tea-time, the group made up of the five main girls in K-On. In a clip from the group's live event last December, you can see her thanking fans at the end of the concert. It is clear what a joyous shock the past year had been to her. As she says, she had no idea of all the wonderful things that would happen when she started in K-On.

She calls Azusa her debut role, but it is an index of the complexity that lurks beneath her apparently sweet and simple exterior that in fact the Kiss x Sis OVA was her debut role, the previous year, and K-On was just her first TV series. At one point, I imagine I see Kotobuki Minako tapping her foot impatiently, as Ayanyan's performance -- and I think that is partly what it was -- gets going.

She has a role in the live-action film Raito Noberu wo Tanoshii Kakikata ("How to Have Fun Writing a Light Novel"), which will come out in December. She co-stars as the gentle girl who provides art for the novels her classmate secretly writes. The star is idol Sudou Maasa of Berryz Koubou. Check out the promo video, in which Ayanyan speaks briefly, just before the 1:00 mark.

Ayanyan is a highly engaging radio personality, and this summer was appearing in six radio shows at the same time. She and Hanazawa Kana are excellent together in the radio program for the new anime Ore no Imouto Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai. On radio, she seems cute but not incapable. In fact, she can run a show herself.

Here she is doing a video introduction to her role as Kirino in Ore no Imouto:

From pics you can see that Ayanyan has to work at keeping her weight down. A picture (below left) has surfaced showing that at 14, she was actually fairly plump, at least in the face. You can see the same thing in the I"m Enterprise video. And otaku do sometimes make fun of her fluctuating weight, calling her Debu-nyan ("Fatty-nyan"), and publishing pics like the one below right of a plump Azusa.

I'm probably overanalyzing, but maybe her strength comes from having survived those early years. She fought through and her babyish good looks have made her an otaku sex symbol. The mere fact that it is possible to go from how she looked at 14 to how she looks at 21 makes one feel pretty optimistic.

She says she likes sweets, especially the patisseries from the Tokyo branches of Patisserie Aoki Sadaharu. Aoki-san is the technical consultant on Yumeiro Patissiere.

To get an idea of what Ayanyan sounds like in action, here is a clip from K-On, in which Azusa (Ayanyan) helps Mugi (Kotobuki Minako) try out the guitar:

Here is the complete listing of Ayanyan's work in all forms, from Japanese Wikipedia. It's a long list covering a short time:

TV Anime
Queen's Blade Rurou no Senshi (Witch E)
K-On! (Nakano Azusa)
Sasameki Koto (Amamiya Manaka)
Railgun (bag girl)
Needless (Yua)
Marimite 4 (baby)
Yumeiro Patissiere (Vanilla)

Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu (Shimizu Miharu)
Mayoi Neko Overrun (Kiriya Nozomi, Shinobu, wrote characters in ep5)
Ichiban Ushiro no Dai Maou (Ootake Michie)
Kiss x Sis (Suminoe Ako)
K-On!! (Nakano Azusa)
Jewelpet Tinkle (Miria)
Legend of the Legendary Heroes (Eslina Folkal)
Highschool of the Dead (Maresato Arisu)
MM!(Isurugi Mio)
Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii wake ga Nai (Kousaka Kirino)
Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai (Takahara Ayumi)
Star Driver (Simone Aragon)
Yumeiro Patissiere Professional (Vanilla)

Utawarerumono (Fumiril)
Kiss x Sis (Suminoe Ako)
TP Sakura (Amakase Miharu)
Tamayura (Sawatari Fuu)
Hiyokoi (Nishiyama Hiyori) - special showing at Ribon magazine event Natsudoki Ribonko Party 55 events summer 2010; DVD released with November 2010 Ribon magazine.
Mahou Sensei Negima! Another World Extra Mahou Shoujo Yue (Emily Sevenship)
Detective Conan Magic File 4 - Osaka Okonomiyaki Odyssey (Konishi Kaoru)

Theatrical Anime
* Chou Gekijouban Keroro Sougun Tanjou! Kyuukyoku Keroro Kiseki no Jikuujima de Arimasu (child)

* Soul Cradle - Sekai wo Kuraumono (Piina)

* Ken to Mahou to Gakuenmono (fairy girl)

Killzvald - Saigo no Ningen (Getsujin Parthenos)
Trinity Universe (Tsubaki)
Boku no Natsuyasumi 4  - Setouchi Shounen Tanteitan "Boku to Himitsu no Chizu" (Boku no Imouto)

Quiz Magic Academy 7 (Miyuu)
K-On! Houkago Live!! (Nakano Azusa)
Suki desu Suzuki-kun  4nin no Suzuki-kun (Itou Chihiro)
T.P. Sakura - Time Paladin Sakura (Amakase Miharu)

Live Action
Film - Raito Noberu no Tanoshii Kakikata [How to have Fun Writing a Light Novel] (Ichiko Yuuna)
Taketatsu-Numakura no Hajimete demo Ii Desu ka? (blog DVD)

Drama CDs
* Ore no Imouto Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai (Takasaka Kirino)
* Kiss x Sis series (Suminoe Ako)
    o Kiss x Sis Drama CD Vol.1
    o Kiss x Sis Drama CD Vol.2
* Cuticle Tantei Inaba (Stella)
* Drama CD Barajo no Kiss 〜rose2〜 (student)
* Boku wa Imouto ni Koi wo Suru Drama CD (Gaya, student)
* Mayoi Neko Overrun Drama CD (Kiriya Nozomi)
* Yumeiro Patissiere Kirakira Music (Vanilla - in a mini-drama)
* Ranran Comic Drama CD (Rinrin)

Music CDs
* K-On! series (Nakano Azusa)
    o Houkago Teatime (2009.7.22) TV anime K-On! insert song
    o K-On! Image Songs Nakano Azusa (2009.8.26)
    o TV Anime K-On Official Band Yarou yo!! (2009.9.02) insert song
    o GO! GO! MANIAC (2010.4.28) TV anime K-On!! OP1
    o Listen!! (2010.4.28) TV anime K-On!! ED1
    o Pure Pure waa to (2010.6.2) TV anime K-On!! insert song
    o Utauyo!! MIRACLE (2010.8.4) TV anime K-On!! OP2
    o NO,Thank You! (2010.8.4) TV anime K-On!! ED2
    o Gohan wa Okazu/UandI(2010.9.8) TV anime K-On!! insert songs
* Rio series (Mint)
    o Rio Sound Hustle! -Mint-(2009.12.23)
    o Rio Sound Hustle! -MEGA-(2010.2.10)
* Kiss x Sis series (Suminoe Ako)
    o Balance KISS(2010.4.21) TV anime Kiss x Sis OP
    o Futari no Honeyboy (2010.04.21) Kiss x Sis OVA OP
    o Anata ni kiss‎ (2010.5.26)
    o Endless kiss (2010.6.23)
* Mayoi Neko Overrun series (Kiriya Nozomi)
    o Happy Nyuu Nyaa/Icharabu Come Home! (2010.05.12) TV anime Mayoi neko Overrun OP/ED
    o Mayoi Neko Overrun Character Songs 03: Kiriya Nozomi (2010.06.09)

* Kiss x Sis
    o Kiss x Sis〜radio starting from zero〜(Yahoo! Douga:2009.3.26)
    o Taketatsu Ayana and Tatsumi Yuiko 's Kiss x Sis live public broadcast (Super!AandG+:2009.6.20)
    o Kiss x Sis〜radio starting from zero〜 broadcast marking the issuing with the OVA of the fourth volume of the manga (Animate TV 2009.09.18)
    o Kiss x Sis〜oneesans' radio starting from one〜(Animate TV 2010.02.23 -
    o Kiss x Sis〜oneesans' radio instruction by cellphone (Seiyuu Animate 2010.04.20 - )
* Taketatsu-Numakura Hajimete demo Ii Desu ka? (Super!AandG+:2009.10.5 - )
* Rio Super Carnival Radio (Onsen radio 2010.01.27)
* Mayoi Neko Kiite Goran! (Animate TV, HiBiKi Radio Station, Onsen radio: 2010.3.19 - )
* Radi-On (TBS K-On official site: 2010.4.23 - )
* Tamayuradio (Tamayura official site 2010.07.30)
* Ore no Imouto (Rajio demo) Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai (Ore no Imouto official site 2010.08.13 - )

Radio Drama
* VOMIC Hetakoi (Kurahashi Rena)

TV shows
* Ani Tere presents Presents Anison+ Plus (TV Tokyo, 2009.11 programs)

commercial messages
* Konami
* Ezaki Glico (Glico)

* Pachinko DX SUN☆SUN OCEAN (Yuuki Kirara)

* ♂Motto!! Ren-ai Shugi♀ Bishoujo Game "Ao-iro no Kisetsu" (Izumi Ayane)
* K-On! desktop accessories (Nakano Azusa)
* Toki Doki Dokei (Matsumoto Akari - younger sister)

Anime News Network
Wikipedia (Japanese)
agency site (Japanese)
blog (Japanese)
old blog (Japanese)


Anonymous said...

Is that Mazda 6 really her car or is someone just the most hardcore fan?

hashi said...

@anonymous -- I think it was a car show where a number of cars were decorated in honor of seiyuus and other stars.

Matteas said...

I'm really looking forward to see her in MM! and OreImo to hear how much she is capable to act on the more bossy side. She acted a bit bossy in K-ON sometimes, but that was more of a so-cute-I-want-to-take-you-home bossy attitude. This 2 characters in the upcoming series should be a bit more dark, particularly Isurugi Mio the self-proclaimed God. It's also a great opportunity to hear how much versatile Ayanyan's voice is.

btw. Shiraishi in that video is just awesome. It must have been hard for the parents to bring up such an ass XD

Mercurius said...

Listened to the Oreimo radio, and was very impressed with Ayanyan's commanding voice. She's quickly made the transition from auditioning to lead role. Looking forward to this season full of Ayanyan.

Regarding the K-ON! live 'performance' claim, I'm curious as to what gives it away as part-performance. To me, that doesn't quite add up, as that supposed performance was a lot more spot on than her actual musical performance.

hashi said...

@Mercurius -- I'm not saying it was a fake, more that once she heard the crowd reaction, she let herself go rather than really trying to control herself. But I could just be imagining it.

I'm afraid I'm not that impressed with her yet in MM or OreImo, but time will tell. I'm really happy that she's getting a chance.

Anonymous said...

can careless if she was chubby back then, heck even if she is now, I'd fall for her. she's cute, funny, and reserved. Can't wait to see her work in the K-On movie coming out. lol <3 azunyan. lol

rashid1891 said...

She was nervous about showing Kiss x Sis to her mother, but says her mother just critiqued her acting, and said nothing about the lewd content.

Dakuro said...

OMG! I love her, I want her, I can't believe she's azuza nakano and kirino kousaka, amazing.
Thanks du nice post.

Ayacchi Fan said...

Greetings! I know this post is a bit old, but I only very recently fell in love with Taketatsu Ayana ( really weird since I'm totally in love with Kirino and Azusa).

Ahem. I've been listening to the OreImo radio and I came across this series of videos in NND that had all the Takezawa/Hanatatsu "yuri" lines. (Which is really funny because when I tried searching yuri in NND, this two's combi came up a lot. XD)

Ahem. In this video:
Anyway, do you know where the pics of those 2 came from (the ones that played during the song)?

If I had to take a guess, I'd say it's from that seiyuu magazine that featured the two of them some time ago, but well... this is really embarrassing since I'd rather buy that magazine myself (but can't since I a) don't live in Japan and b) am still a teenager whose parents don't allow online purchasing)... do you know where I could find the scans of those?

hashi said...

@Ayacchi Fan -- Sorry, I don't know where the photos came from or how to get them. I usually find seiyuu photos either through their blogs, or their 2channel threads, or from this seiyuu image board (or this one).

Thanks for the link.

Ayacchi Fan said...

I also browse Ayacchi's blog quite often. XD Thanks for the seiyuu image board, though. :)