Saturday, August 28, 2010

Seiyuu Video: Hayami Saori with Tanaka Rie and Koyama Rikiya

I've been a fan of Hayami Saori since she debuted in Touka Gettan over three years ago. Not only is she a fine seiyuu, but she has one of the sweetest singing voices in the world.

Now she is 19 and has become an accomplished radio and TV personality, too. Here she is as guest co-host of the weekly TV anime interview show hosted by great seiyuus Tanaka Rie and Koyama Rikiya.

And she more than holds her own, demonstrating the modesty, elegance, intelligence, and self-possession that have helped her in the five radio shows she has hosted over the past year.

She started university this spring, and loves it so much she can't stop talking about it on her shows. Posts on 2channel claim she is going to Tokyo University, but that hardly seems possible, and I suspect it is a joke just to say people shouldn't ask.

Despite her college work, this fall will be her busiest anime season yet. She will be in five (5) series and three OVAs. The series are Sora no Otoshimono Forte,  MM, Star Driver, Ore no Imouto Konna ni Kawaii wake ga Nai, and Bakuman. The OVAs are Kaibutsu Oujo, Mazinkaiser SKL, and Fight! Don't disappear!! Shikiso Usuko San. This summer, she is starring in Sekirei Pure Engagement.

Hikasa Youko to Do Narration During 24-Hour Charity Broadcast

Hikasa Youko announces on her blog today that she is doing the voice-over during part of the 24-hour charity broadcast on Nippon Television today and tomorrow.

The full show is called "24 Hour Television." This year's show is subtitled "Love Saves the Earth," and goes from 6:30 Saturday evening to 8:54 Sunday evening (the current time in Tokyo as I post this is around 1:30 am Saturday night). The show is hosted this year by popular band TOKIO. The theme is Thanks: "I want to thank these people now."

Hyocchi will be the announcer for a segment involving an orchestra made up of people with disabilities. The segment is called: "Thanks to my friends...the return of the Setting Forth on a Journey Concert."

She says: "To get to be involved in a traditional 24-hour TV broadcast is a real blessing. It's my first program narration, and even though I won't be good at it, I will put a lot of love into it. I hope to be able to communicate to everyone the bonds among the performers."

She says that the enthusiasm, hard work, and heartfelt words of the handicapped performers pierced her to the heart, and the music was a bonus.

She doesn't know exactly when the segment will be on, and laughs that she herself is recording the whole show.

She doesn't mention if she is being paid for the gig, but I suppose not.

Hyocchi first gained fame as Mio in K-On. She also played Junko in Ichiban Ushiro no Dai Mao. This summer is her biggest season so far. She is starring as Maya in Seikimatsu Occult Gakuen, and as Shino in Seitokai Yakuindomo.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Hirano Aya Speaking A Bit Of English

Hirano Aya is working for Fuji TV's editorial department as the "navigator" on its "Fuji Business" web site.

This week, there is a new video there of her introducing a piece on an English-language education program for young children. She speaks a few words of English for your delectation. The video is the large one about halfway down the page.

Below that is another video in which she helps introduce a Gundam command pod arcade installation that is travelling Japan this summer for free, before going on line -- networked across the country -- in arcades this fall. Interesting to see the views inside the pod.

It appears to me that Aya is at least involved in writing the material she narrates. It's interesting to see her there at a desk in a typical Japanese office at Fuji TV. Clearly not her normal environment, but anyway.

Fuji broadcast Aya's "Hirano Aya-only TV" show over the past year. It is the network whose amazing-looking building was featured in the anime Tokyo Magnitude 8.0.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

New Yumeiro Pâtissière Series to Start in October

The young girls' cooking anime Yumeiro Pâtissière is getting a new series: Yumeiro Pâtissière Professional.

According to the announcement in Ribon magazine (click to enlarge), the new series will be set several years after the current one, when the lead character, Ichigo, is no longer a 14-year-old girl but a young woman, and some new characters will enter the scene.

The original series will reach its 50th episode by the end of September, and the new series will start Sunday 3 October. I expect the new series will be scheduled to last a full year, as well.

A post on 2channel today calls the series worthy of the classic World Masterpiece Theatre animes, and says Japan can be proud of it across the world. That might be going too far, but it is definitely a fine show, and one that I myself look forward to every week. It may be aimed mainly at pre-teen girls, but its quality, intelligence, and cuteness give it broad appeal.

It is definitely clean and wholesome, and has good character educational aspects, as well as giving some culinary education. It is a 7:30 am Sunday morning show designed to help sell a line of baking toys and games to young girls, but that doesn't mean it can't be a good anime, too.

The writing is good, and the voice acting is excellent, especially from the star, Yuuki Aoi, who plays Ichigo, a clumsy girl with no talents but an excellent palate and a love of patisseries. In season one, her palate is discovered and she gets the chance to attend a school for aspiring pastry-cooks, where she meets three "sweets princes," the top students in her year, and finds her "sweets spirit," Vanilla, who with other magical spirits helps her and the others create great desserts.

The show is from a manga running in Ribon magazine, adapted by Yamada Takashi, who has been responsible for Ojamajo Doremi, Onegai My Melody Kirara, Shion No Ou, Marie and Gali, and Heartcatch Precure, among other shows.

The director is Suzuki Iku, who has done shows like DearS, Moonlight Mile, and Weiss Survive. Whether the same staff will continue for the second series is not yet known. Animation is by Studio Hibari, which has done Major, Moonlight Mile, Sumomomo Momomo, and other shows.

There is also excellent seiyuu work from Taketatsu Ayana, who plays Vanilla; from Yahagi Sayuri, who plays Ichigo's rival; from Okamoto Nobuhiko, Hamazoe Shinya, and Yonaga Tsubasa, who play the sweets princes; from Kitamura Eri, who plays the school's top student; and from young Iino Mayu, who plays the sweets spirit Caramel.

New Role for 11-year-old Iino Mayu -- the Next Great Young Seiyuu?

Iino Mayu has been doing a fine job as the "sweets spirit" Caramel in Yumeiro Patissiere. Playing alongside seiyuu from five to 15 years older than her, she has more than held her own.

Now she shows up with a new role in episode 8 of Shiki, the outstanding noitaminA horror anime, where she plays the second dangerous young girl to appear, after Sunako, who is played by Yuuki Aoi (the star of YumePati).

The rise I predicted a few days ago is beginning sooner than I expected.

Here is Mayu-chan, knocking on the door of stardom at the same young age as Yuuki Aoi, who played Yumeno Koto in Onegai My Melody at 11.

And I think Mayu-chan is even more accomplished at this age than Ao-chan was. The slight flatness in her voice her must be intentional, since I don't hear it in YumePati.

Mayu-chan's character, Matsuo Shizuka, is a very weird young lady who appears on the doorstep of protagonist Natsuno's house, speaking only through a large Japanese doll she holds, and demanding to be let in.

Mayu-chan's presentation is at least as weird as her character: aggressive, shrill, and oddly timed. And it is in a kind of old-fashioned Japanese reminiscent of Koshimizu Ami in Spice & Wolf. I especially like her first words, pronouncing sumimasen ("excuse me") as sumimasenu.

The confidence of her performance hardly sounds like someone so young. Watch for more of her. She's on her way.

It's Official: Yuuki Aoi and Miyano Mamoru to Star in New Pokemon Series

If anime seiyuu work has a Promised Land, it's long-running daytime and early-evening shows for kids, such as Naruto, Detective Conan, Dragonball, Pokemon, and One Piece.

These shows go for years, not for 13-week seasons, and consistently rank in the top ten anime TV ratings, territory that late-night anime almost never sees.

And now that's Yuuki Aoi territory. We've known for a while, having heard her and Miyano Mamoru's voices in the preview, but today the show's website makes it official: in the new series Pokemon - Best Wishes, Yuuki-san will be Iris and Miyano-san will play her partner Denton.

The new series starts Thursday, 23 September, at 6:59 pm, in the prime early-evening timeslot. The last Pokemon series, Pokemon - Diamond and Pearl, lasted four years and spawned four movies. This one? Who knows. As a post on 2channel says today, her agency will be tossing her in the air in celebration.

Yuuki's voice is perfect for this kind of show, with its childishness, inventiveness, and force. This is far from being a show that interests me personally, but I will certainly watch episodes from time to time to see what Yuuki is doing with the role.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Yuuki Aoi: Sunako in Shiki as a New Kind of Character, "Scary Cute" (kowakawa)

Yuuki Aoi's latest blog post (posted five hours ago):

2010.08.25 Sunasunasunako

This is Yuuki, who has the character of Sunako in
If I can get across to people the feeling of 

a new "kowakawa" ("scary cute") genre of girl, I'll be pleased ♪
I call her "Sunasuna."
Sunasuna kawaii!
Sunasuna could easily be
Although her voice sounds like that, Sunasuna isn't
yandere but ill...perhaps...?
Sunasuna, a girl with a disease that gives her black eyes!
Anyway, maybe I should play her as a
yandere a bit on the radio?
I think it would be fun to play a
yandere character.

Sunako and Yuuki Aoi:

 Yuuki-san hasn't appeared on the show's radio program yet, but perhaps she will be a guest in the next episode, due to be posted here on Friday. The radio program features Ohkawa Toru, who plays Ozaki, and Okitsu Kazuyuki, who plays Muroi.

Shiki is clearly the best show of the season, for me.  The character design and backgrounds are wonderful, the animation good, most of the voice-acting outstanding, and the script excellent. It is not as directly scary as it could be, but the way the mood and situation are being built up is quite powerful. Episode 8, featuring another of the brilliant conversations between Sunako and Muroi, airs Thursday night in Japan.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Seiyuu Video: Yuuki Aoi, Taketatsu Ayana, Iino Mayu, Okamoto Nobuhiko, et al.

At the end of this week's episode 46 of Yumeiro Patissiere, there is a brief video in which the show's seiyuus promote a new DS game based on the franchise.

Yuuki Aoi, age 18, the star of the show, may be the main attraction, but we also see Taketatsu Ayana, 21, (Vanilla, left), and the show's real seiyuu revelation, eleven-year-old Iino Mayu (Caramel, centre).

We also see the show's three male stars (l-r), the "sweets princes" Hamazoe Shinya (Andou), Okamoto Nobuhiko (Kashino), and Yonaga Tsubasa (Hanabusa).

The new game is called "Yumeiro Patissiere My Sweets Cooking," and the three girls and three boys form two teams for a brief "Grand Prix." Here is the video: