Thursday, October 06, 2011

Kayano Ai -- Big New Little Voice

Kayano Ai (click images to enlarge)
Kayano Ai 茅野愛衣 is certainly the flavour of the moment: she is in four shows this season, more than any other female seiyuu.

Is she a brilliant new talent or just someone being pushed by her agency, as some anti-Kayanon posters on 2channel think?

I was lukewarm about her in her most famous role, as Menma in AnoHana. Defnitely a moe voice, but too extreme for me. However, I thought she was terrific as Ayaka in Kamisama no Memo-chou. She used a more ordinary voice, but her acting was strong.

This season, she is in Chihayafuru, Ben-tou, Last Exile, and Guilty Crown.

Before she became a seiyuu, she was working in a beauty salon, providing relaxation for clients. Kayanon can give massage, and is qualified both as an ear therapist and as a diet coach. "Ear therapy" involves stimulating the many acupuncture points on the ear.

She would often work until late in the evening, and when she got home and switched on the TV, there was anime on. She particularly loved ARIA, which was so calming. In her work, she liked to bring a sense of peace to people, and she realized that anime was another way she might be able to do that. 

She saved her money to pay for weekly sessions at the Pro-Fit agency's seiyuu school. And then in April 2010, at the comparatively advanced age of 22,  she became one of its seiyuus. Kayanon was born on 13 September 1987 and is 153cm tall (5' 1/4"). She is from Tokyo.

Yuuki Aoi is also represented by Pro-Fit, as are Okamoto Nobuhiko and Masu Nozomi. It's a small agency, and I doubt it's one that could push its seiyuus into a market that didn't want them, so I believe the 2channel idea that she is a talentless hack being forced on the market is wrong. I think producers and directors are just enamored with Kayanon and her voice.

I am still undecided how good I think she is, but I'm eager to hear more of her so I can judge. And this season gives plenty of opportunity.

Here is an interview with her from earlier this year:



Hard not to like. She seems calm and pleasant and mature. I believe the interviewer is Fujita Saki.

She has also acted in a TV drama, Crystal, which was on Chiba TV last summer:




Anime roles:
Here are images of some of her roles. First, here she is with Menma, from AnoHana (click images to enlarge):


Now, here are some of her other past roles:
Hibino (Kamisama Dolls)

Roman Saotome (Sket Dance)

Sasana (Nekogami Yaoyorozu)
Isana (Yumekui Merry)

Ayaka (Kamisama no Memo-chou)
And here are the roles she is currently playing:

Milia (Last Exile - Fam the Silver Wing)

Ume (Ben-tou)
Kanade (Chihayafuru)
Inori (Guilty Crown)

Finally, here are more photos of Kayanon, followed by a full list of her anime roles:

Visiting the Animate store in Shibuya and pointing out info about AnoHana




Visiting places in Saitama used as the setting for AnoHana






List of roles:
2010
Maomin (Durarara)
cat (Senkou no Night Raid)
Itsuwa (Toaru Majutsu no Index 2)
Sawawa (Princess Resurrection)

2011
Isana (Dream Eater Merry)
student (Hanasaku Iroha)
Roman Saotome (Sket Dance)
Menma (Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai)
Mishouji (Rou-kyuu-bu)
Ayaka (Kami-sama no Memo-chou)
Ai (Sacred Seven)
Violet L. Bridget (Freezing)
Hibino (Kamisama Dolls)
Sasana (Nekogami Yaoyorozu)
Kanade (Chihayafuru)
Milia (Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing)
Ume (Ben-tou)
Inori (Guilty Crown)

2012
Muginami (Rinne no Lagrange: Flower declaration of your heart)

2 comments:

aeonhan said...

The interviewer is indeed Fujita Saki. This is a clip from Anime TV (http://www.koepota.jp/news/2011/10/06/0202.html)

Raph said...

I suppose her fans might describe her current occupation as "ear therapy" too, lol.

I can't call myself a Kayano fan just yet. I've heard her quite a bit this year but, then, the only shows she's starred in that I've watched more than half of are AnoHana and Kamisama Dolls. For my taste, her work as Menma was rather overdone and her work as Hibino left little impression. Anyway, I'm wondering if her work this season will convert me a bit, as she looks to be playing interesting characters (and hopefully she can do something with them). And I sort of hope I'm converted because I like the timbre of her voice when she's not pushing too hard. I think her voice is pleasantly light and that there's some natural warmth to it.

Thanks for the informative post.