Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Touyama Nao -- Quiet Rise

Touyama Nao (click to enlarge)
Touyama Nao 東山奈央, 21, has snuck up on me. Suddenly this season, she is in four shows, and is starring in two of them: Mahou Sensou and Nisekoi.

Touya-Man started her career with roles in three TV anime in 2010, when she was 18. She had roles in seven shows in 2011, nine in 2012, and then in 2013 she broke out with a full 15 shows. And that’s not counting her roles in OVAs, movies and games.

At first glance, she seems like a shy person. And her soft, round face and short stature make her look about 14. But on stage and on the radio, she can be a ball of fire.

She seems fairly smart, and more than holds her own on the many radio shows she has helped host. In fact, she tends to take over. She is going to university in Tokyo.

She started in 2010 with two solid roles: Tiger in Star Driver, and Kanon in Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai (The World God Only Knows). The latter show, in particular, has anchored her career: three TV series, three OVAs, and various stage shows have identified her with her character, aspiring idol Nakagawa Kanon. (pics below: Kanon left, Tiger right)

In 2011, she starred in Croisee in a Foreign Labyrinth as Yune, the quiet little Japanese girl living in a shop in 19th century Paris. Fans of Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere will remember her as a very different kind of character: Margot Knight. (Margot left, Yune right.)

In 2012, she played the major role of Ako in Saki Achiga Hen, alongside Yuuki Aoi. Then in her break-out year of 2013 she had roles such as Karen in Kiniro Mosaic, Yui in Teen Romantic Comedy Snafu, and Chiho in Hataraku Maou-sama. (pics below, top: Ako left, Karen right. bottom: Chiho left, Yui right.)

Ako (Saki Achiga-hen) Karen (Kiniro Mosaic)

Chiho (Hataraku Maou-sama) Yui (Love Comedy Snafu)

Her special characteristic is to have no special characteristics. She says she wants to be the kind of seiyuu you hear in a show and then are surprised to discover in the end-credits. This high professional ambition may have been part of the reason I didn't really take notice of her work before now. I tend to enjoy seiyuus whose voices do stand out.

Here's a nice video collection of samples of some of her roles: Kanon, Tiger, Isolde (Astalotte), Yuna, Margot, Yuuko (Beelzebub), Noah (Eureka 7 AO), Ako (Saki Achiga), Mana (OreShura), Yuugiri (The Unlimited), Yukiho (Love Live), maid imouto (MaoYu), Peko (Majestic Price), Yui (Love Comedy Snafu), Chiho (Hataraku Maou-sama), Karen (Kiniro Mosaic), Kongou/Atago (Kantai Collection game).

-- born 11 March 1992 in Tokyo. age 21.

-- In middle school, she was just an ordinary girl who liked anime. But in her second year of middle school, she had a friend who wanted to be a seiyuu. They acted out scripts together, and she realized she enjoyed it.

-- During high school, they both went to classes at the Nihon Narration seiyuu school. Eventually, Nao was accepted into Arts Vision, one of the agencies associated with the school. She was studying to do seiyuu work and studying to get into college at the same time. And succeeded at both.

-- Like Yuuki Aoi and Hayami Saori, she is attending university in Tokyo. Strong rumours put all three at the famous Waseda University. Fans are calling them the "Waseda Triumvirate" 早大三羽烏. According to posts on the Japanese message board 2channel, Nao is majoring in English. The same sources say she comes from a well-to-do family and attended a well-known high school (Senzoku Gakuen).

-- Her father had lived abroad as a child, and spoke English. At home, he would speak in English and Nao’s mother would answer in Japanese. So Nao's English has always been comparatively good.

Here she is as the boke in a little comedy sketch with Eguchi Takuya, where she "can't read the atmosphere":

-- She was moved by Paku Romi’s work, especially in FMA. It made her want to move others in the same way.

-- She herself says she is timid. But seiyuu Suwabe Junichi says she is “a kid with a strong heart.”

-- She says neither she nor her agency have a definite idea of what roles she should play. She wants to play all kinds of roles.

-- She was 149cm (~ 4’10”) tall in high school, but by college, she had grown 3cm and was 152cm (~ 5’) tall.

-- Her nickname Nao-bou (“Nao-boy”) she got in elementary school, because she seemed like a little boy. Her nickname Touya-Man she got in middle school, referring to her as a superhero.

-- She learned to play electric keyboard, and took dance lessons. These have come in handy. Here is a clip advertising the Blu-Ray of "Nakagawa Kanon's First Concert":

-- She likes beige, and prefers to wear simple colours.

-- She’s nearsighted and wears contacts at work, but wears glasses at school and in her private life.

-- She couldn’t carry a tune when she was younger, but overcame that by singing in choirs in middle and high school.

Here she is singing a quiet ballad:

-- She’s good friends with Yamazaki Haruka, who is the same age and in the same agency. And she’s friends with Hayami Saori, who also went to Nihon Narration and was in some of the same classes as Nao.

Here's a half-hour interview with anime interviewer extraordinaire Washizaki Takeshi:

-- if you're really sold on her, here is a two-hour concert featuring her, Yamazaki Haruka, Itou Shizuka, and Hayami Saori -- a joint concert for World God Only Knows and Hayate no Gotoku. And here is another long Kanon concert, the full version of the Blu-Ray promo above, featuring Nao, Shimono Hiro, and Hayami Saori.

Anime Roles (important roles bold):

Hiyokoi (special) - Misa
Star Driver (TV) - Sugatame Tiger
World God Only Knows (TV) - Nakagawa Kanon
Senkou no Night Raid (TV)

Beelzebub (TV) - Yuuko
Astalotte no Omocha (TV) - Isolde
Battle Girls - Time Paradox (TV) - Girl
Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san (TV) - High-School Girl; Tourist
Blue Exorcist (TV) - Caliburn; Nee
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos (movie) - Karina
Croisée in a Foreign Labyrinth - The Animation (TV) - Yune
World God Only Knows: Four People and an Idol (OAV) - Nakagawa Kanon
Sengoku Otome - Momoiro Paradox - girl
Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere (TV) - Margot Knight
Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing (TV) - Félicité Collette
Busou Chuugakusei Basket Army (ONA) - Senami Hikari

Senki Zesshou Symphogear (TV) - Terashima Shiori
Listen to Me, Girls. I Am Your Father! (TV) - Luna Fleur
Saki Episode of Side A (TV) - Atarashi Ako
EUREKA SEVEN AO (TV) - Demo Woman; Maeve McCaffrey; Miyu; Noah
Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere II (TV) - Margot Knight
Code Geass: Akito the Exiled (OAV) - Chloe Winkel
Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo (TV) - Girl A (ep 1); Momoko
Eiga Smile Precure: Ehon no Naka wa Minna Chiguhagu! (movie) - Dog
Blue Exorcist (movie) - Nee
AKB0048 (TV) - Vera
Kokoro Connect (TV) - Enjouji Shino
Beelzebub (TV) - Yuuko
Ijime (OVA) - Kimijima Fumikou
Hana no Utame Gothicmade (movie)

MAOYU (TV) - younger sister maid
Oreshura (TV) - Natsukawa Mana
Love Live! School Idol Project (TV) - Kousaka Yukiho
The Unlimited - Hyoubu Kyousuke (TV) - Yuugiri
Hataraku Maou-sama (TV) - Sasaki Chiho

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU (TV) - Yuigahama Yui
World God Only Knows: Magical Star Kanon 100% (OAV 3) - Nakagawa Kanon
Tamayura - More Aggressive (TV) - Tomo-chan
Senki Zesshou Symphogear G (TV) - Terashima Shiori
Kin-iro Mosaic (TV) - Kujou Karen
il sole penetra le illusioni ~ Day Break Illusion (TV) - Meltina Melvis
The World God Only Knows: Goddesses Arc (TV) - Apollo; Nakagawa Kanon
Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru (OAV) - Yuigahama Yui
Ansatsu Kyoushitsu (special) - Nagisa Shiota
Arpeggio of Blue Steel (TV) - Hozumi Shizuka
Galilei Donna (TV) - Karen
Zetsumetsu Kigu Shoujo Amazing Twins (OAV) - Aya
AKB0048 Next Stage (TV) - Vera
Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince (TV) - Yamada Peko, Jane
Ika Musume (OVA) - girl
Code Geass: Akito the Exiled (OAV 2) - Chloe Winkel
Star Driver the Movie - Sugatame Tiger

Robot Girls Z (TV) - Daburasu M2
Nobunaga the Fool (TV) - Himiko
Tonari no Seki-kun (TV)
Magical Warfare (TV) - Aiba Mui
Nisekoi (TV) - Kirisaki Chitoge

Games (number per year):

2010 (3)
2011 (1)
2012 (5)
2013 (14)
2014 (1)

Radio host:

World God Only Knows (series 2011, 2013)
Ikoku Meiro (series 2011)
MaoYu (series 2011-12)
Touyama Nao no Nao no Koto (series 2012)
Saki radio (series 2012)
Nareru SE Moeru SE Soudanjo (series 2012)
A+G Artist Zone Touyama Nao’s 2 hours (2012, one show)
Saki radio SP (series 2013)
Hataraku Maou-sama (series 2013)
Yahari Ore no Seishun (series 2013)
Mahou Sensou (2013-14)

Internet TV:

Horizon (several shows in 2011-2012)
MaoYu (2013)
KinIro Mosaic (2013)

Drama CDs (19)

Music CDs (per year):

2010 (2)
2011 (9)
2012 (12)
2013 (18)


Anime News Network page
Wikipedia page
agency page (Japanese)
Japanese Wikipedia page
more photos
more YouTube

I just found another couple of interesting videos. Nao is the voice of Nanami in a 3DS game called "Study English with Nanami." First, here is a promo for the game, with Nao speaking afew lines of English:

Next, here is a brief interview with Nao about the game. Despite this also being a promo for the game, you get a fairly direct feeling of speaking with her. She has apparently just finished recording the game, and you see the overalls that may be part of her everyday Nao-boy style:


gamesmind said...

Very nice read. As someone that has been following her career from the very beginning it makes me very happy to finally see her taking off. It was quite a lonely first 2 years rooting for her while she remained pretty unknown but that is now changing. Here is hoping that 2014 is another big year for her, she certainly has the talent to go toe to toe with some of the best in the industry and I can't wait to see what the future holds for her.

She is also having a 2nd solo Kanon concert in february. I wanted to go but the tickets were very hard to get ;_;

vic said...

Didn't really take notice of her when she played Kanon in kaminomi. It was her unique role as Karen in kinmosa that got my attention. Is the friend (that she started attending seiyuu school with) Yamazaki Haruka?

hashi said...

@vic -- It seems possible, but I couldn't see it confirmed anywhere. Perhaps her original friend dropped out during seiyuu school, and Haruka is someone Nao met there. I'll update if I find out.

Jikman said...

Interesting and informative post! I didn't really notice her until Spring 2013 when she voiced both Yuigahama and Chiho and her voice just struck me. I also thought her English in Kiniro Mosaic as Karen sounded really good too! I'm excited for Nisekoi and looking forward to her voice along side Hanazawa Kana.

baka~ said...

Is it me or does she look chubby as of late?

Though I can't help but notice how she seems cautious when speaking English, to the point that she doesn't act casually during those lines, I have to applaud her fluency with the language. Not many seiyuu can do it and is good enough at doing it.

Andrew said...

Did anyone else note that in Kinmoza she played almost the exact opposite of her character in Croisee? Yune was the shy foreigner trying to adapt; Karen was the boisterous (half) Japanese girl, basically playing Aoi Yuuki's role from Croisee.

hashi said...

To answer a comment that for some reason has disappeared: thanks for the clip of Kanon comic highlights And unfortunately, as far as I can tell, Touyama-san has neither a blog nor a Twitter account. Her radio shows are the closest we come to her own voice. For those, search on her Japanese name and the tag "radio".

Mazryonh said...


You're welcome. The uploader of the previous video I linked to has some more nice videos highlighting Kanon's antics throughout the KamiNomi anime series. It's too bad she wasn't in much of the recent "Megami-hen" arc, though. Then again, I'm more of a fan of Saori Hayami's character, Haqua, in that series.

Here is a link to Shizuka Itou's blog entry about the joint concert with her, Saori Hayami, Nao Touyama, and Haruka Yamazaki. If you would be so kind, could you translate it into English? I'd like to know what she thinks of her fellow performers:

I bet there are plenty of Haruka Tomatsu fans who are upset that Nao Touyama is replacing Tomatsu for the role of Chitoge in Nisekoi. Still, I'm curious as to how she'll play the role. Tomatsu will be busy with the new season of Sword Art Online and her obligations with her band, Sphere, after all.

Are you going to do a follow-up on "Shizu-sama"? What about her friend Hitomi Nabatame, who recently did a knockout performance in both White Album 2 and DokiDoki Precure? Or Mai Kadowaki, who plays Ilya in the various Fate/Stay Night series and recently became a mother for the first time?

Spike said...

She didn't stand out in KamiNomi but she's seemingly improved each year. Think she's really found a match with genki girls. It seems somewhat a reflection of herself given her change in personality between the original Kaminomi radio and this year's. Even Shimono Hiro commented on how her image is quite different now. Probably just had to do with being shy as a beginner and now starting to come into her own.

I definitely think there's something to the well-to-do family background rumors. During Hataraku's radio program she mentioned not ever having a part time job, and in an audio commentary Ohsaka Ryouta poked fun at her for being an "Ojou-sama." During a Oregairu commentary she mentioned that her family wears slippers around the house, which Eguchi Takuya thought was a sign of rich families.

She's one of my favorite new seiyuu and I'm looking forward to hearing her in even more varies roles.

hashi said...

@Mazyronh -- Thanks for the link and the suggestions. I've been wondering how Shizuka is doing myself, and I was bowled over by Naba-sama's performance in White Album 2.

I just read the linked post from Shizuka's blog last April, and it really didn't say that much (as is true of many of her post, unfortunately). She just thanked the three other performers, without making any special comment beyond the photo: Nao, Hayami, then Haruka. She found the sea of pink in the audience "unforgettable," so I'm guessing that pink is her light-stick colour.

Kadowaki Mai was one of the first seiyuus I was aware of, for her roles in the Futakoi animes and Lemon Angel Project. But it seemed to me that for a while she was concentrating on games (main pseudonym: Anzu Mitsu). Now she seems to be returning to more anime work.

@Spike -- Thanks for your reports about Nao being an ojou-sama. The only thing that seemed strange was Eguchi's idea that wearing slippers at home meant she came from a rich family. I thought almost everyone did that. Maybe it was a certain kind of slipper? Like not fluffy bunny slippers? Lol.

Mazryonh said...

Wow, that's too bad, I was expecting "Shizu-sama" the former "yuri fanatic" to have a few choice words about her concert co-stars. As for the "sea of pink," I take it yellow was for Kanon, blue was for Ruka, while purple was for Haqua? It's too bad we won't get a subbed version of the concert's non-singing parts (the various songs have already been translated) but you can see a recording of the concert here:

Anyway, I think it's much too bad that Saori Hayami and Shizuka Itou didn't sing what I believe is their best duet in the joint KamiNomi and HnG albums, the song called "Feigning/Tsuyogari Sunset," for the concert. I have no idea what it took for the two anime series to get a joint music production going, aside from the fact that I know that the same company, Manglobe, animates them both.

Yes, please make a specific blog entry about White Album 2. I'd like to see you critique the performance of both Madoka Yonezawa and Hitomi Nabatame (not to mention translate some of what they've written about the show in their own blogs). Is Madoka Yonezawa happier now that her fame now matches that of the K-ON! "big five," despite achieving it by working on an eroge? How did Hitomi Nabatame handle the demands of working in three shows that season (White Album 2, DokiDoki! Precure, and Walkure Romanze)?

Did you happen to buy any of Shizuka Itou's music CDs? I like her singing voice, but I doubt she could be promoted as an idol like Nao Touyama and Haruka Yamazaki are--for one thing, Itou-san's out of the typical idol age range, and she's worked extensively in eroge (which works against the so-called "otome fantasy" that idols work within). Anyway, it's usual that eroge voice actresses stop working in those once they get married (I think both Itou-san and Mai Kadowaki stopped once they got married). It's a damn shame that the KoiChoco anime adaptation wasn't an omnibus version, because I would have liked to have heard Kadowaki-san's performance had her route been fully animated.

As for "from a rich family," that's something Shizuka Itou shares with Nao Touyama (if the allegations about the latter are true). Still, despite their backgrounds, I'm glad neither are resting on their laurels.