Today is Tomatsu Haruka’s 20th birthday! At least it is in Japanese time anyway…Which obviously means it’s a good day since she now becomes of legal age and I don’t have to feel so bad ogling her pictures anymore!
The other significance to this date? I’m moving blogs. Naturally most people would think I’m mad to give up on all that Google juice or ego-tripping linkage stuff but I’m not really bothered by that kind of thing to be honest.
I thought I’d throw in a few statistics before I wave adios to atemonai.com. Since I started recording stats in August 2008 I’ve racked up over 522,000 unique visits. Anime Nano has been my biggest referrer followed by hashihime and kurogane (thanks guys, haha). The most searched for keyword is ‘j1m0ne’, then ‘atemonai’, then ‘seiyuu blog’ and then… ‘j1mone’ (sic). I guess people really love me *ego burst*. Twice as many Americans visited the site as Japanese people did, then Canadians and Singaporeans. My fellow countrymen only come in fifth. The most read posts are:
1. Spring 2009 Anime Season Guide
2. Autumn 2008 Anime Season Guide
3. Ultimate 60th Kohaku Guide
4. Ito Shizuka is the Ultimate Yuri Pimp
5. 60th Kohaku Review
6. A Visual Study of Seiyuu Boobsize
7. 2ch Reactions to Chihara Minori Coming to Malaysia
8. Seiyuu Guide for Autumn 2008 Anime Season
9. A List of Married Seiyuu
10. Fixing Fat Faces and Ugly Hair
My Kohaku posts, hahahaha. I only wrote them a month ago… the 100 Seiyu List series is actually doing very well at the time of writing with all accumulating over a 1000 unique pageviews each but naturally, the anime posts all win. Rams home the fact that anime is still big business and seiyuu is small fry in comparison.
Anyway, no time for nostalgia. Apologies for the inconvenience caused, I’d be most grateful if people would update their feed reader subscriptions and links to reflect the move. I will be keeping this blog open since there’s a lot of good stuff in the archives worth looking back upon and laughing at.
edit: I HAVE DISABLED ALL COMMENTS ON ALL POSTS, YOU SPAMMERS PISS ME OFF.
It’s been both enjoyable and amusing to read recent comments and speculation over the possible list of the final 10 seiyuu on the list and I’ve had to suppress the urge to reply until I actually got the whole thing done. So here we are, finally!
More on Nana: Setting and smashing records left and right, Nana is currently the seiyuu industry’s hottest property and its most prominent spokesperson, although she is primarily known for her singing skill rather than her voice acting ability. In training to become an enka singer from a young age, Nana won a couple of local & regional contests when she was still based in her hometown of Niihama, Ehime and got scouted. She moved to Tokyo and entered Horikoshi Gakuen where famous schoolmates included KinKi Kids singer Dohmoto Tsuyoshi and actress/singer Tomosaka Rie. Mizuki also enrolled in Yoyogi Animation’s seiyuu training school at the same time, graduating in 1997. By 1998 she had landed her first voice acting role in the PS game Noël: La Neige and by 2000 had gotten a recording contract with King Records, releasing her fist single Omoi in December 2000. The going was slow at first but the Nanoha series proved a turning point, its opening theme innocent starter earning Nana her first top 10 hit in 2004 and she has firmly established herself at the top of the seiyuu idol stakes since.
Records: The first seiyuu to achieve a No.1 single, album, DVD and on the modern-day Oricon charts, the first seiyuu to play Yokohama Arena & Saitama Super Arena, the first seiyuu to be invited to the NHK’s year-end song contest Kohaku, all achieved before the age of 30.
Best known roles: Hyuuga Hinata in Naruto series, Fate in Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha series, Wrath in Fullmetal Alchemist, Lan Fan in Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, Ogata Rina in White Album, Shinobu in 2×2=Shinobuden, Kirihara Misaki in Darker than Black series, Kururu in Bottle Fairy
Currently heard in: Tegami Bachi (Sylvette), Naruto Shippuuden (Hinata), Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood (Lan Fan)
About Seki: One of the finest and voice actors of his generation, not much is known about how Seki got into the seiyuu industry – most of the tales of his youth revolve around his love for gunpla and figures and he actually observed and learned about garage kit manufacturing after spending time at Kaiyodo during his school days. Seki debuted in 1993 as Tomache Massarik in Mobile Suit Victory Gundam and a year later earned the lead role in Mobile Fighter G Gundam as Domon Kasshu. His screaming ability & hot-bloodedness was much valued and got him cast as many mecha/robot anime heroes, but Seki’s versatility is such that it is impossible to typecast him in any particular role, good or bad. He’s kept up his work rate in recent years, balancing voice acting with stage work as the chairman of Hero Hero Q Company.
Best known roles: Sagara Sosuke in Full Metal Panic! series, Kinomoto Toya in Cardcaptor Sakura, Van Fanel in Escaflowne, Domon Kasshu in Mobile Fighter G Gundam, Chiaki Shinichi in Nodame Cantabile, Chichiri in Fushigi Yugi, Shindo Shuichi in Gravitation, Ryuki Shi in Saiunkoku Monogatari, Gai Daigoji in Kidou Senkan Nadesico, Sohma Kyo in Fruits Basket
What else you should know: People might remember that Seki was ‘dropped’ from the cast line-up of Mai-HiME follow-up Mai-Otome (‘replaced’ by Konishi Katsuyuki) after producers got cross at him for accidentally leaking out an important plot point about the final episode of the first series. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise for Seki since the sequel wasn’t… particularly good.
Did you know?: Seki was originally asked to audition for the role of Doraemon in the renewal of the classic kids’ series, but he couldn’t pull off the voice required and the producers cast him as Suneo instead.
Currently heard in: Nodame Cantabile Final (Chiaki), Duel Masters Cross (Amachi Ryoga), Doraemon (Suneo)
More on Inoue: Inoue went into seiyuu training school after graduating senior high, having previously entertained hopes of being a pro bowler or a chef – he has a chef’s license and worked as a delivery boy while his parents opened a Chinese restaurant. Making his seiyuu debut in 1973 with a role in Mazinger Z, the cool-voiced Inoue describes his early seiyuu days as being tough and a steep learning curve with directors often berating him for his lack of skill. With a few more years’ experience under his belt Inoue got a major role in Candy Candy in 1976, which increased his profile and set him on the road to fame in the 80s where he voiced a string of characters in popular mecha anime. The early 90s were a leaner period for him, although he did become the representative for the Genki Project agency in 1995 (before eventually leaving to start up his own seiyuu school B-Box in 2005). In the late 90s/early 00s Inoue started coming back into prominence with roles in Gravitation and Saint Beast and in 2009, picked up a Seiyuu Award for his performance in Natsume Yujincho. Throughout his career Inoue has released music CDs and in recent years, tried his hand out at sound directing on Tactics and Ueki no Hosoku.
Best known roles: Asuka Eiji/Albatro Null in SPT Layzner, Dusty Attenborough in Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Hatake Kakashi in Naruto series, Madara/Nyanko-sensei in Natsume Yujincho, Anthony Brown in Candy Candy, Yuki Eiri in Gravitation, Yamaoka Shiro in Oishinbo, Jerid Messa in Mobile Suit Z Gundam, Bill Wilcox in Bismark (Saber Rider & the Star Sheriffs)
What else you should know: Inoue has been married thrice – his first marriage was to Candy Candy mangaka Igarashi Yumiko, with whom he had two children and his second wife was seiyuu Arakawa Minako. His current spouse is the actress Ochi Shizuka. One of his seiyuu training classmates was the late Gouri Daisuke (who commited suicide on Jan 18) – the two of them worked part-time jobs at McDonalds and soba shops whilst chasing their seiyuu dream.
Currently heard in: Katekyo Hitman Reborn! (Gamma), Naruto Shippuuden (Kakashi), Detective Conan (Shiratori)
Nonko’s history: The oldest of three children, Hidaka was brought up in the Chiyoda area of Tokyo by her tailor parents and was a child actress in her younger days, attached to Tokyo Hoei. By the age of 18 she had released her first single under the name Itou Noriko – the song was used as the theme for 1980 anime Futago no Monchhichi. Dropping out of junior college, Nonko pursued the idol route under the management of Sony/CBS, releasing numerous CDs, appearing in ad campaigns for Nivea and on NHK TV shows. However her career stalled quickly and by 22 Hidaka was ready to quit showbiz before a listener on one of her radio shows suggested she try out voice acting because she had a ‘unique’ voice. Acting on this advice, Nonko started going to voice auditions and passed an audition for the role of Musica in The Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross in 1984 and a year later she shot to fame with the lead role of Minami in Adachi Mitsuru’s Touch. Subsequent roles in Totoro, Ranma 1/2 and Gunbuster would further cement her reputation, and Nonko continued releasing solo CDs as well as with her Ranma 1/2 castmates as DoCo before putting a stop to her recording career in 2007. Today she focuses on narration works and management, having established the Combination talent agency with her Touch co-star Mitsuya Yuji in 2009. Additionally, her popular radio show Anime Scramble (with Hasegawa Nobita) has been running on Bunka Housou for 19 years.
Best known roles: Kusakabe Satsuki in Tonari no Totoro, Asakura Minami in Touch, Tendo Akane in Ranma 1/2, Takaya Noriko in Top o Nerae!/Gunbuster, Sojiro Seta in Rurouni Kenshin, Kikyo in Inu Yasha, Jean Roque Raltique in Fushigi no Umi no Nadia, Near in Death Note
What else you should know: Hidaka has often spoken of the unpleasant experiences she had to go through in her idol days, including a now-humorous situation where she was required to do a photoshoot in an onsen…. with a bear, much to her horror. The bear unfortunately chose to bite Nonko’s hair – her complaints to the director fell on deaf ears and he told her to get in the onsen again and this time, the bear bit her arm.
Currently heard in: Inu Yasha Kenketsu-hen (Kikyo)
Signature line: AAATATATATATATATATATATATATATATA!!!! AAAAA-CHAAAAA!!!
All about Akira: Kamiya was part of the first wave of male seiyuu ‘idols’ in the ’70s, working extensively on CM and TV work in addition to providing voices for anime characters, in his case – a lot of super robot anime heroes. He got his start in 1970 with Mahou no Mako-chan whilst taking acting lessons at Theatre Echo and by the end of the decade had gained much fame for his roles in the Super Sentai series as well as various anime conversions of Shonen Jump manga. Kamiya’s skill and repuation was so high that mangaka Takahashi Rumiko had personally requested him to fill the role of Kuno Tatewaki in Ranma 1/2 but the director chose the late Suzuoki Hirotaka instead. Due to his seniority and veteran status, the fees his services demand have caused some production companies to drop him from the cast to keep costs down, most notably for Kinnikuman and also rumoured to have been the reason behind him being dropped from his long-running role in the Detective Conan anime in 2009.
Best known roles: Roy Focker in Macross, Nagare Ryoma in Getter Robo, Saeba Ryo in City Hunter, Kenshiro in Hokuto no Ken, Mendo Shutaro in Urusei Yatsura, Kinniku Suguru in Kinnikuman, Mori Kogoro in Detective Conan, Hibiki Akira in Yusha Raideen
What else you should know: Kamiya was the first seiyuu to put on a one-man show at the Nihon Gekijo theatre (now the Yurakucho Marion) and also headline his agency Aoni’s Voice.Voice.Voice event, the first seiyuu-only production held at the same venue. In 1995, Kamiya would also organize a seiyuu charity project in aid of victims of the Great Hanshin Earthquake called WITH YOU, releasing a single and holding various events to raise money.
About Minami: Birth name is Arai Izumi. She joined Gekidan Himawari in junior high but upon graduation from her senior high school in Adachi, entered the workforce as an OL. It was only at 22 that Minami decided to work towards becoming a seiyuu and within a year she earned her first anime lead role in Mister Ajikko. Her big break came with the titular role in Ghibli’s 1989 classic Kiki’s Delivery Service, but it was not all good news for Minami as her association with the role of Kiki made it a little harder for her to find work (a case of typecasting). Her fortunes improved over the next few years, establishing herself in shonen shows such as Moomin, Magical Taruruto-kun and Yaiba before landing her regular gig as Conan in Detective Conan – she’s been voicing the character for 14 years and counting.
Music: Apart from her voice-acting exploits, Minami has an active music career. She teamed up with her Ranma 1/2 castmates Inoue Kikuko, Hidaka Noriko, Sakuma Rei and Hayashibara Megumi to form DoCo & they released 6 CDs before being dissolved in 1994. Minami also used to be in an indie band called RE-X and was introduced to producer Shiina Nagano through a friend – he ended up working with her on her 1992 album Endless Communication and as part of a trio called ES CONNEXION with guitarist Abukawa Osamu. Takayama & Shiina then teamed up to form TWO-MIX in 1995, debuting with JUST COMMUNICATION which was used as the theme song for Gundam Wing. Their second single RHYTHM EMOTION (also for Gundam W) would eventually end up as the second biggest-selling seiyuu-related single of all time with 353,270 copies sold, and they went on to win one of the Best 5 New Artist awards at the 10th Japan Gold Disc Awards in 1995. In recent years, attempts at reviving the TWO-MIX brand through collaborations with Joe Rinoie (II MIX ⊿ DELTA) and ShiinaTactix have yielded mixed results and the project has been put on official hiatus.
Best known roles: Edogawa Conan in Detective Conan, Kiki in Kiki’s Delivery Service, Ajiyoshi Yoichi in Mister Ajikko, Kurogane Yaiba in Yaiba, Moomin in Tanoshii Moomin Ikka, Asakura Hao in Shaman King, Yamamoto Yoko in Starship Girl Yamamoto Yoko, Tendo Nabiki in Ranma 1/2, Dilandau in Escaflowne
What else you should know: Minami married manga-ka Aoyama Gosho in 2005 (she proposed to him) but they divorced after 2 1/2 years. Amongst Aoyama’s works were Yaiba, Magic Kaito and Detective Conan – Minami voiced characters within all 3 anime adaptations of the manga.
Currently heard in: Detective Conan (Conan), Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood (Envy), Nintama Rantaro (Inadera Rantaro)
More on Nozawa: One of the most influential figures in the seiyuu industry, Nozawa has been voice acting since the 1950s while her showbiz history stretches back even further, having made her movie debut at the age of 3. Due to her father’s work, the family was forced to relocate from Tokyo to Gunma and Masako spent her teenage years attending school in Numata while still commuting to Tokyo for acting work during her holidays. After graduating from high school she moved to the capital permanently and mostly took on stage work before trying out voice work, although in those days the dubbing overs were done live on air. Masako’s first anime work was in Astro Boy in 1963 and her first major role in Gegege no Kitaro in 1968, but it is still the role of Goku in Dragon Ball that she is most associated with until today.
Management: Masako, or Mako-chan as she is affectionately called, was one of the founding members of Aoni Production, one of the largest seiyuu agencies today, when it was first established in 1969 but eventually left to join 81produce and then in 2006 broke away to form her own agency Office Nozawa with long-time friend and former seiyuu Yoshida Rihoko. Additionally Masako is the chairwoman and director/producer of theatre group Gekidan Moonlight.
Best known roles: Son Goku in Dragon Ball, Kitaro in Gegege no Kitaro (1st & 2nd series), Kitaro in Hakaba Kitaro, Hoshino Tetsuro in Galaxy Express 999, Esteban in The Mysterious Cities of Gold, Hiroshi in GoLion, Guilmon in Digimon Tamers, Hiroshi in Dokonjo Gaeru, Kaze Daizaemon in Inakappe Taisho, Kaibutsu Taro in Kaibutsu-kun 2, Dr.Kureha in ONE PIECE
What else you should know: Masako’s father Nozawa Ryoshu was an artist while her aunt Sasaki Kiyono was an actress in the 20s. She is married to fellow seiyuu Tsukada Masaaki.
Currently heard in: Dragon Ball Kai (Son Goku), Cross Game (Nomo)
About Yamadera: Yama-chan had a bit of experience appearing in ads and TV shows in his younger days in his hometown of Shiogama, Miyagi but pursued a degree in business studies at Tohoku Gakuin university where he cultivated an interest in voice acting as a member of the rakugo society. After finishing his studies Yamadera went to take voice lessons at Haikyo’s training school, an agency with whom he would be associated until leading an exodus to form Across Entertainment in 2008. His first role was in the Megazone 23 OVA in 1985 but it would not be until getting the part of Hibiki Ryoga in Ranma 1/2 that his career truly got going. Rather than focusing on regular TV animation roles, Yamadera’s CV is filled with dubbing roles for western movies – he has dubbed for a wide range of actors from Eddie Murphy to Jean Claude Van Damme to Jim Carrey and Tom Hanks. He also has a strong association with Disney works – he is the Japanese voice of Donald Duck and has also dubbed for Beast, Stitch and Aladdin’s Genie. Yama-chan is also familiar to the mainstream as the host of TV Tokyo’s early morning programme Oha Suta, which has been on air since 1997.
Voice: Yama-chan’s versatility is both a strength and weakness, on the one hand he can do any role asked of him (he can cover women too) but director Oshii Mamoru once commented that ‘his biggest problem is that nobody knows what his “true voice” is like’. He voices four different characters on Anpanman.
Best known roles: Spike Siegel in Cowboy Bebop, Kaji Ryoji in Neon Genesis Evangelion, Kodai Susumu in Uchuu Senkan Yamato series (replacing late Tomiyama Kei), Hibiki Ryoga in Ranma 1/2, Togusa in Ghost in the Shell series, Cheese in Soreike! Anpanman, Kibagami Jubei in Ninja Scroll
Currently heard in: Stitch (Stitch), Gintama (Yoshida Shoyo)
All about Megu: Megu holds a certificate in nursing, attending college and voice acting school simultaneously and made her anime debut before graduating with a bunch of minor roles in Maison Ikkoku. At the beginning of her career, the young Hayashibara came in for criticism from various corners for her frankness and no-nonsense approach, with her behaviour reportedly disrupting various events that she was involved in – there was an incident during a Ranma 1/2 event where Hidaka Noriko had to step in to smooth the situation over. Megu’s lack of experience also made recording difficult, often fluffing her lines during studio sessions. That naturally did not last long as her talent shone through and by the mid-90s Megu had secured her position as the top seiyuu in the business with an impressive string of iconic roles adding to the current record of 2.5 million singles and 1.3 million albums sold since 1991. She has additionally topped Animage’s Seiyuu Grand Prix poll 12 times between 1990 and 2002, and some of her close friends/rivals in the seiyuu business jokingly described her as a ‘cockroach’ that you just can’t wait to get rid of due to her being ever present in print media, on TV and on the airwaves.
Recently…: Having gotten married in 1999, Megu went on a break in 2004 to give birth to her first child. Since then she has kept a relatively light workload while raising her daughter and gets to pick and choose roles which are specially offered to her, a rarity given that almost all seiyuu have to audition for their roles no matter how famous they are. Megu still however, presents her two long-running radio shows – Heartful Station on Radio Kansai and Tokyo Boogie Night on TBS, the latter for which she was awarded a Golden Mike trophy for long services.
Best known roles: Ayanami Rei in Neon Genesis Evangelion, Faye Valentine in Cowboy Bebop, Lina Inverse in Slayers series, Musashi in Pokemon, Haibara Ai in Detective Conan, Kyoyama Anna in Shaman King, Canal Vorfeed in Lost Universe, Chiba Atsuko/Paprika in Paprika, Female Ranma in Ranma 1/2, Bakabon in Tensai Bakabon
Currently heard in: Pocket Monsters Diamond & Pearl (Musashi), Detective Conan (Haibara Ai)
About Furuya: The son of tofu shop owners, Furuya’s mother enrolled him into Gekidan Himawari when he was just 5 years old, hoping to get her son to carry on her failed dream of becoming an announcer. His seiyuu debut came in 1966 in Toei’s Kaizoku Ouji at the age of 13, voicing the lead character Kid & two years later he would successfully audition for the main role in the anime adaptation of classic baseball manga Kyojin no Hoshi. After that came a 7-year break from acting/voice acting as Furuya pursued his studies, graduating from Meiji Gakuin University having studied Commerce in the economics department. By the age of 22 he was back doing seiyuu work and by 25 he would land the role of Amuro Ray in Mobile Suit Gundam, which made him one of the most famous male seiyuu idol pin-ups of the 70s. The Amuro role has also helped Furuya remain one of the most familiar faces (and voices) in the seiyuu world today with appearances on popular TV programmes (Saku Saku, Utaban, Waratte Iitomo!), ads as well as in pop superstar Amuro Namie’s recent Defend Love PV.
Best known roles: Amuro Ray in Mobile Suit Gundam series, Yamcha in Dragon Ball, Chiba Mamoru/Tuxedo Mask in Sailor Moon, Hyuma Hoshi in Kyojin no Hoshi, Pegasus Seiya in Saint Seiya, Kasuga Kyosuke in Kimagure Orange Road, Shiba Hiroshi in Kotetsu Jeeg, Casshern in Casshern Sins, Narration & Ribbons Almark (under the pseudonym Sogetsu Noboru) in Mobile Suit Gundam 00
What else you should know: Formerly married to seiyuu Koyama Mami, but they divorced in 1983. He is currently married to another seiyuu, the retired Majima Satomi with whom he has a daughter. Some of Furuya’s hobbies include windsurfing and automobiles, and he taught himself basic programming – you can download a few of his apps on his website (for older OS). He also plays the drums and did so for seiyuu group Slapstick, whose other members included Kamiya Akira, Furukawa Toshio, Nojima Hisao, Mitsuya Yuji, Sogabe Kazuyuki and Suzuoki Hirotaka.
Currently heard in: Dragon Ball Kai (Yamcha)
I could spend years listing out the seiyuu that didn’t make the cut, people like Shinohara Emi, Kishio Daisuke, Sakamoto Chika, the Naya brothers Goro & Rokuro, Otsuka Chikao, Oyama Nobuyo, Ogata Kenichi, Natsuki Rio, Yokoyama Chisa, Orikasa Ai, Kikuchi Masami, Morikubo Shotaro, Shiozawa Kaneto, Nomura Michiko, Tobita Nobuo, Ono Daisuke, Nakahara Shigeru, Ueda Kana, Amano Yuri, Nagai Ichiro, Ishikawa Hideo, Okawa Toru, Sakurai Tomo…that’s probably long enough, but I think you get the picture. I’m sure I missed out a lot more worthy names as well, I was already loathe to leave some personal favourites like Iwao Junko, Koyama Rikiya and Kasahara Hiroko off the list.
So many seiyuu who made an impact on the business in their own little ways, but of course I couldn’t look too far back in time or place too much emphasis on the present if I wanted to build a balanced list that had a good blend of old-timers and young ones. Hopefully that’s what I’ve done here and maybe people will have learned a thing or two they never knew they wanted to know about seiyuu they’ve never heard of.
Once again, thanks all for sticking with me and reading through this list over the last three months. It’s been a fun ride!
I can’t believe this whole series is taking me so long to finish, but after 2 1/2 months we’re finally down to the final 20 and here’s another 10 seiyuu knocked off the list! I always enjoy hearing people happy to see their favourite seiyuu being mentioned and here’s hoping that those of you still waiting for your faves to turn up might find a few within this post. Here we go!
About Wakamoto: Even though Wakamoto’s seiyuu career goes back to the 70s, it really wasn’t until the 2000s that he really started popularity thanks to a string of comical and villainous roles that made good use of his distinctly deep voice. A Waseda University law graduate, Wakamoto entered the police force and was assigned to the riot squad for a number of years, and he also signed up as a member of the Consumers Union of Japan. The story goes that Wakamoto was sitting in a train and an ad in the newspaper lying on the seat next to him caught his eye – it was an ad for seiyuu Kurosawa Ryo’s atereko (dubbing) classes. Wakamoto started attending the lessons on a part-time basis, but after a bust-up with a senior member of the Consumers Union he resigned from his job and worked full-time on voice acting. His first officially recorded role was in 1972′s Gatchaman.
Best known roles: Cell in Dragon Ball series, Oskar van Reuenthal in Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Onsokumaru in 2×2=Shinobuden, Vicious in Cowboy Bebop, Shapiro Keats in Dancouga, Charles zi Britannia in Code Geass series, Mechazawa in Sakigake!! Cromartie High, Chiyo’s father in Azumanga Daioh, Winters Zokalo in D.Gray-man, Dracula in Castlevania series
What else you should know: As a member of the riot squad, Wakamoto was on the frontline in the 1968 Shinjuku station riots caused by protests against the transportation of fuel for US forces by rail. To reinforce his tough guy image, he holds 3-dan ranks in Kendo and Shorinji Kempo.
Currently heard in: Duel Masters Cross (George), Kiddy Girl and (T.A.M.A.)
Signature line: Urusai! Urusai! Urusai!
Background: After graduating from senior high in 1997, Rie entered a summer school organised by NichiNare training school and won a prize that was sponsored by I’m Enterprise & radio programme Watashitachi wa Tobimasu (co-hosted by Tamura Yukari). I’m took her on straight away and she made her seiyuu debut in 1998 with a role in PC game etude prologue. Most of her early years were spent voicing imouto-type & soft-spoken characters and it wasn’t until 2005′s Shakugan no Shana that Rie’s career really clicked into gear, going from strength to strength and picking up two Seiyuu Awards in three years for her efforts.
Queen of Tsundere: Somewhat typecast in recent years due to her voicing of that famous quartet of characters all displaying similar tsundere traits, Kugimiya attracts love and hate in droves but you gotta admit it’s quite some feat to scorner the market like she has. Even so, her voice acting talents extend to covering male characters and older types as well.
Kugimiya Disease: The deadly Kugimiya disease (釘宮病) has claimed thousands of victims, or so wiki parody Uncyclopedia claims. Nevertheless, the S, N and L strains of the virus caused otaku to turn into loli-tsundere loving fanatics that Asobit carried warnings on its Shana merchandise and Sofmap set up a stand to explain the origin of the sickness (and peddling Kugimiya-related goods) in its stores.
Best known roles: Alphonse Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist, Shana in Shakugan no Shana, Kagura in Gintama, Aisaka Taiga in Toradora!, Louise in Zero no Tsukaima, Minase Iori in Idolmaster, Iwaki Rizel in Rizelmine, Matsudaira Touko in Maria-sama ga Miteru series
Currently heard in: FAIRY TAIL (Happy), Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood (Alphonse), Gintama (Kagura), Ladies vs Butlers (Daichi Kaoru), Hidamari Sketchx☆☆☆ (Chika), Tamagotchi! (Mameccha), BLEACH (Kurotsuchi Nemu, Kurosaki Karin)
About Romi: Studied at Wayo Konodai Girls School’s junior and senior high sections before doing drama in Toho Gakuen junior college and then doing an overseas progamme at Seoul’s Yonsei University studying Korean (she is indeed of Korean descent). After finishing up her studies, Park signed up with the theatre group En and began acting on stage. It was only around 1998 that she got into voice acting on the invitation of anime director/writer Tomino Yoshiyuki, who had gone to see one of her plays. Tomino cast her in his Brain Power’d series that year, and again in 1999 for Turn A Gundam as Loren despite Park having originally auditioned for the role of Dianna Sorei/Kihel Heim (eventually went to Takahashi Rieko).
Voice: Park’s voice is deep, with a roughness to it (like a certain Ogata Megumi) which makes her an ideal voice for young male characters and tough ladies, roles she has filled time and time again. She’s apt to playing against type as well, voicing weaklings such as Denno Coil‘s Haraken.
Best known roles: Osaki Nana in NANA, Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist series, Hitsugaya Toshiro in Bleach, Loran Cehack in Turn A Gundam, Ueki Kosuke in The Law of Ueki, Regene Regetta in Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Tao Ren in Shaman King, Okamoto Katsushiro in Samurai 7
Currently heard in: The Book of Bantorra (Hamyuts Meseta), Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood (Edward), Higepiyo (Higepiyo)
Signature line: Inoue Kikuko, 17-sai (Oi, oi)!
All about Kikuko: Inoue entered junior college aiming to be a teacher but reportedly abandoned the course after being bullied by students during her training period. She signed with Ezaki Production (now Mausu Promotion) and made her seiyuu debut in 1988 with Hai Akko Desu before gaining her first major role in Ranma 1/2 the following year. Kikuko’s most famous role would come in 1993 when cast as Belldandy in Ah! My Goddess, which helped her become the most popular seiyuu idol during the early 90s boom where she was part of various idol groups such as DoCo, the Goddess Family Club, Idol Project and Osakana Penguin. Her marriage in 1996 and the subsequent birth of her daughter in 1998 saw a temporary drop in activity but by late 2000/early 2001 Kikuko was back working in full flow, leaving Mausu to form her own agency Anemone (managed by her older sister).
Voice: Although not the creator, Inoue perfected the template for the ever-popular ‘arara’ dojikko, sexy onee-san and soft-spoken motherly types. Without Kikuko you would not have an Ohara Sayaka and her ilk.
17-Sai Club: Inoue famously established the cult Forever-17 Club of which the core members include Inoue herself, Tamura Yukari, Horie Yui, Satou Rina and Nogawa Sakura. The whole 17-years old thing started from the time Kikuko hosted a radio show with then fresh-faced newcomer Yamamoto Marina, who would introduce herself as ‘Yamamoto Marina, 16 years of age!’ which Kikuko jokingly copied (Inoue Kikuko, 16 years of age!). When Marina turned 17 Kikuko also changed her introduction accordingly and the phrase somehow stuck. It was however, only in 2006 when the 17-sai Cult started getting stronger when Tamura Yukari was officially ‘initiated’ as a member and from then on the group started gaining in numbers although the official list remains small. In response, other seiyuu age cults (Team 30, Chiaking’s Forever 23, Goto Yuko Forever 29) have gained in popularity.
Best known roles: Belldandy in Ah! My Goddess, Tendo Kasumi in Ranma 1/2, Mizuho Kazami in Onegai! Teacher, Rune Venus in El Hazard, Grace O’Connor in Macross Frontier, Aina Sahalin in Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team
Currently heard in: Shugo Chara (Rikka’s mother)
All about Kotono: Mitsushi attended Katsuta Seiyuu training school after graduating senior high, classmates included Morikawa Toshiyuki, Neya Michiko, Takagi Wataru and Yokoyama Chisa. To support herself during her training period (she also attended Nichi Nare), she worked part-time as an elevator girl in Sunshine 60 in Ikebukuro and also held a regular office job. Kotono’s first official work was in a PR video for a Hokkaido power plant safety video, and her first seiyuu role was in the Ace o Nerae Final Stage OVA in 1989. She finally resigned from her office job in 1990 and earned her first leading anime role in Future GPX Cyber Formula the following year, but the biggest break was to come in 1992 when Kotono bagged the role of Tsukino Usagi in Sailor Moon. This and Evangelion helped make her one of the decade’s most popular female stars, riding on the wave of the early ’90s female seiyuu idol boom. Marriage in 2000 and the subsequent birth of her daughter meant her work schedule had to be scaled down for a while, but starting 2005 Kotono got back into the business with Doraemon. Subsequently she left ARTSVISION after an 18-year association to start her own agency Lazuli Arrow[?] (ラズリーアロー) in 2008.
Website: Like Inoue Kikuko, Mitsuishi runs an actively updated website (albeit on a smaller scale) where she draws her own manga and runs a shop peddling her self-designed T-shirts.
Best known roles: Tsukino Usagi/Sailor Moon in Sailor Moon series, Katsuragi Misato in Neon Genesis Evangelion, Excel in Excel Saga, Celcia Marieclaire in Those Who Hunt Elves, Mireille Bouquet in Noir, Sugo Asuka in Future GPX Cyber Formula, Mine Sayaka in YAIBA, Kanzaki Urumi in GTO
What else you should know: A huge fan of the Ebichu manga, Kotono personally lobbied for the lead role in the anime adaptation which she of course, got. She still cites Ebichu as being one of her most treasured roles, along with Tsukino Usagi.
Currently heard in: ONE PIECE (Princess Boa Hancock), Doraemon (Nobita’s mother), Crayon Shin-chan (Ageo-sensei), Ojamaru (Okamehime)
All about Maaya: Maaya’s start in showbiz came early, joining child troupe Group Komadori in 1988 – many seiyuu such as Hino Satoshi, Iwata Mitsuo and Ikeda Shuichi all got their start there. Her first work was singing a CM song, but throughout the late 80s and early 90s she provided dub voices for many Western films including Fatal Attraction, Lethal Weapon 2 and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Maaya’s first anime role came in 1993 OVA Little Twins but it was when she landed the lead role in Escaflowne at the age of 16 that her career really launched into orbit, establishing her as an anime seiyuu and also bringing about a musical partnership with composer/songwriter Kanno Yoko. Nowadays Maaya still splits her time between film/TV show dubbing, radio, anime work and music and adds to that a regular role in the Japanese production of Les Miserables as Eponine.
Best known roles: Kanzaki Hitomi in Escaflowne, Fujioka Haruhi in Ouran High School Host Club, Ryogi Shiki in Kara no Kyokai movies, Lunamaria Hawke in Gundam Seed Destiny, Ciel Phantomhive in Kuroshitsuji, Alphard in CANAAN, Aerith Gainsborough in Kingdom Hearts/FF series, Lightning in Final Fantasy XIII, Takada Kiyomi in Death Note
Currently heard in: COBRA THE ANIMATION (Secret)
More on Akira: One of the seiyuu industry’s quietest men, whose personal life remains very much in the background compared to his work. Ishida originally had no intention of going on to university and wanted to go straight into acting, but reconsidered his decision at the urging of family members and went on to complete his drama degree at Nihon University. Signed up by Ezaki (later Mausu) while still in uni, his first official role came in 1990′s Mobile Police Patlabor.
Work: Extremely prolific and very versatile, Ishida almost exclusively focuses on doing work in anime, games and drama CDs. For the earlier part of his career he was actively voicing BL drama CDs but by the early 00s such roles he appeared to have stopped doing such roles. Additionally Ishida no longer sings or performs character songs and has also repeatedly refused to do regular radio work, giving him a rather ‘reclusive’ reputation. He left Mausu in 2009 and now works freelance.
Best known roles: Nagisa Kaworu in Neon Genesis Evangelion, Athrun Zala in Gundam Seed series, Cho Hakkai in Saiyuki series, Xellos in Slayers series, Katsura Kotaro in Gintama, Judeau in Berserk, Gaara in Naruto series, Okazaki Shinichi in NANA, Chrono in Chrno Crusade
Currently heard in: Gintama (Katsura), The Book of Bantorra (Mokania), Kiddy Girl And (Un-Oh)
ALL HAIL, ILLPALAZZO-SAMA
More on Koyasu: Born in Yokohama, not in the Evil Demon World as he has once claimed. Debuted in 1988 with a role in Don Don Dommel to Ron (known as Wowser in the States) before breaking through the following year with Ranma 1/2 and Shurato. His deep, often deadpan voice is amongst the most recognisable in the seiyuu business and he is also one of the most prolific seiyuu on record (he tops ANN’s list of seiyuu with most roles). Koyasu started off at Production Baobab but left after 10 years to start his own agency T’s Factory, and is well known as the creator of the Weiß Kreuz series. The Weiss group he forms with Seki Tomokazu, Miki Shinichiro and Yuuki Hiro was the first group of male seiyuu to grace the cover of any seiyuu magazine.
Best known roles: Il Palazzo in Excel Saga, Aiba Shinya/Tekkaman Evil in Tekkaman Blade, Fujimiya Ran/Aya in Weiss Kreuz, Takahashi Ryosuke in Initial D, Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo in Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, Snufkin in Tanoshii Moomin Ikka, Kiryuu Toga in Shojo Kakumei Utena, Fool in Kaleido Star, Kazama Shin in Area 88, Happosai in Ranma 1/2
What else you should know: Koyasu’s catchphrase is ‘Koneko-chan’ (my little kitten), a term he came up with on one of his radio shows that refers to female listeners. It has become something like a running joke in the anime world and this Nico Douga video compiles some of the Koyasu-voiced characters (including Kururu from Keroro Gunsou) that had ‘koneko-chan’ inserted in their dialogue. By popular demand, Koyasu also came up with ‘Bouzu’ to denote his male listeners.
Currently heard in: Keroro Gunsou (Kururu), Gintama (Takasugi Shinsuke), Metal Fight Beyblade (Daidouji), Hanasakeru Seishonen (Quinza Hafez)
All about Kappei: Yamaguchi moved from his hometown Fukuoka at the age of 19 to study at Tokyo Announce Academy, working part-time jobs as a newspaper delivery boy, a sushi shop helper and posing as Goku from Dragon Ball. He officially debuted with a bang in 1989, taking the lead role in Ranma 1/2, the show where he met and formed a close friendship with Hidaka Noriko. Starting off mainly voicing young male characters, he has taken on many different types of roles since and also branched into stage acting as a part of Kimotsuki Kaneta’s 21st Century Fox group. Yamaguchi also set up his own production company Goku in 2004 and for a while, set up a stage group with close friends Seki Tomokazu and Takagi Wataru.
Best known roles: Saotome Ranma in Ranma 1/2, Inu Yasha in Inu Yasha, Usopp in ONE PIECE, Tombo in Kiki’s Delivery Service, L in Death Note, Raimon Taro/Monta in Eyeshield 21, Kudo Shinichi in Detective Conan
What else you should know: Married with at least one child (a son). Yamaguchi’s true given name is Mitsuo, the stage name Kappei was given to him by Kimotsuki Kaneta. A Jimi Hendrix fan, he used to play guitar in a band during his school days and keeps a pretty nifty guitar collection – a 1941 Gibson L-100, a 1968 Gibson J-50, a Paul Stanley Silvertone, a Gibson Les Paul JR, a Talbo Jr (with built-in amp/speaker) and a Fender Telecaster (which is the same model Koyuki uses in the anime Beck). He also owns a ukulele and a shamisen.
Currently heard in: ONE PIECE (Usopp), Inu Yasha Kenkestsu-hen (Inu Yasha)
More on Mayumi: Graduated from Aoyama Gakuin Women’s Junior College and went straight into stage acting, something she had strongly wished to do since her teenage years. In 1978 Tanaka made her seiyuu debut in Gekisou Rubenkaiser but people only really started noticing her in 1982 when she won a role in Urusei Yatsura as reverse-trap character Fujinami Ryunosuke, further enhancing her stock with the lead roles in two high-profile movies – 1985′s anime version of Miyazawa Kenji’s Night on the Galactic Railroad and Ghibli’s 1986 classic Laputa. At the same time Tanaka’s stage work continued, setting up a theater troupe called Oh, Peretta in 1988 with writer Nagai Hirotaka and composer Takeda Eri while she maintained her popularity with roles in Dragon Ball and ONE PIECE. She still maintains a huge presence in the industry and often appears on mainstream TV shows that feature seiyuu such as Waratte! Iitomo in 2008.
Voice: You could think of her as an early example of the female seiyuu who mainly voice tough ladies and young shonen roles, a ‘tradition’ that continues until today.
Best known roles: Pazu in Laputa, Monkey D. Luffy in ONE PIECE, Krillin in Dragon Ball, Ikusabe Wataru in Mashin Hero Wataru series, Fujinami Ryunosuke in Urusei Yatsura, Giovanni in Night on the Galactic Railroad, Mao in Cooking Master Boy, Luckyman in Tottemo! Luckyman, Kirishima Kanna in Sakura Taisen series
What else you should know: Tanaka also regularly narrates TV shows and currently works on Fuji TV’s popular Quiz! Hexagon II programme which features popular tarento and comedians such as Kamiji Yusuke, Tsuruno Takeshi and Yaguchi Mari.
Currently heard in: ONE PIECE (Luffy), Nintama Rantaro (Settsuno Kirimaru)
The next one’s the (not so) big reveal, stay tuned…
So here we are, almost winding down the list. I hope people are still paying attention by this point…
All About Furukawa: The youngest of 15 children, Furukawa graduated from Nihon University’s Arts Department and made his seiyuu debut in 1975′s Yuusha Reideen. Having taken tate (swordfighting) classes before, Furukawa has also ‘appeared’ in tokusatsu shows as ‘the guy inside the monster suit’.
Best known roles: Maboroshi Ataru in Urusei Yatsura, Piccolo in Dragon Ball series, Portgas D. Ace in ONE PIECE, Shinohara Azuma in Mobile Police Patlabor, Yamamura Misao in Detective Conan, Kai Shiden in Mobile Suit Gundam, Shin in Hokuto no Ken, Enjoji Daisaku in Albegas
What else you should know: A rarity amongst seiyuu, Furukawa is a Christian and also teetotal, although the latter is due to the fact he cannot hold his drink. He is married to fellow seiyuu Kakinuma Shino and they have a Shih Tzu called Ataru, named after his Urusei Yatsura character.
Currently heard in: Dragon Ball Kai (Piccolo), ONE PIECE (Portgas)
More on Ohtsuka: Started voice acting after encouragement from his father, the veteran seiyuu Ohtsuka Chikao, debuting in Armor Hunter Mellowlink. Signed to Mausu Promotion, Ohtsuka’s credits stretch across games and dubbing – he regularly provides dubs for the likes of Antonio Banderas, Steven Seagal and Nicolas Cage. He seems to have gained a reputation for voicing the ‘big guy’ with the ‘deep voice’, for example his two signature roles Batou and Solid Snake.
Best known roles: Batou in Ghost in the Shell series, Black Jack in Black Jack series, Solid Snake in Metal Gear series, Kyoraku Shunsui in BLEACH, Captain Nemo in Fushigi no Umi no Nadia, Gwendal von Voltaire in Kyo Kara Maoh! series, Xehanort in Kingdom Hearts series
Currently heard in: BLEACH (Shunsui), Durarara!! (Kishitani Shingen), Baka to Test to Shokanju (Narrator, Nishimura Soichi)
All About Nakata: Nakata was a moderately succesful actor in the 80s, mainly appearing in tokusatsu shows before moving into voice-acting at the start of the 90s on the recommendation of veteran seiyuu Nomura Michiko. His distinctive, deep voice lends itself well to villains and narrations and that’s what you’ll find him doing in many an anime today, though of course he can do taxi drivers and okama perfectly fine too.
Best known roles: Alucard in Hellsing, Folken in Escaflowne, Edmond Dantes/The Count of Monte Cristo in Gankutsuou, Giroro in Keroro Gunsou, Kotomine Kirei in Fate/stay Night, Deithard Reid in Code Geass, Araya Souren in Kara no Kyokai movies
Currently heard in: Keroro Gunsou (Giroro), Dance in the Vampire Bund (Wolfgang)
Beginnings: Born and bred in Kaizuka, Osaka as the daughter of hardware store owners, Aya developed an interest in voice acting from a young age and started taking distance learning lessons in senior high. After graduating high school she moved to Tokyo and entered Aoni Production’s training school, making her seiyuu debut in 1989 with Kiteretsu Daihyakka.
Signature line: Honana!
Voicework: Well-known for her portrayal of characters with Kansai accents. The joke goes that during the recording for Azumanga Daioh (where Aya voices Nyamo-sensei), there was a scene between her character and Matsuoka Yuki’s Kasuga Ayumu aka Osaka where she inadvertently switched to Kansai-ben without noticing, despite the fact that Nyamo-sensei was supposed to speak normally.
Best known roles: Mizuno Ami/Sailor Mercury in Sailor Moon series, Skuld in Ah! My Goddess series, Cerberus/Kero in Cardcaptor Sakura, Sohma Yuki in Fruits Basket, Kaoru Miki in Shojo Kakumei Utena, Chloe in Noir, Natsume Maya in Tenjo Tenge
All about Houko: Graduated high school a year later than everyone else after being held back in 2nd year not having recorded enough days of attendance (acc. to wiki). Upon graduation, she moved straight from her hometown of Isawa in Iwate prefecture to pursue a voice acting career, her first anime appearance coming in 1995′s Sailormoon SS before making a breakthrough with the lead role in Nadesico.
Work: Incredibly versatile with no real character pigeon-holing to her name, able to voice all sorts of roles crossing the genders and ages. Houko was groomed to be a ‘seiyuu idol’ during the earlier part of her career despite an initial reluctance to sing and perform, but has since ‘retired’ from the scene – her fanclub closed down in 2005.
Best known roles: Misumaru Yurika in Martian Successor Nadesico, Sango in Inu Yasha, Yuumura Kirika in Noir, Shurei Ko in Saiunkoku Monogatari, Fllay Alster in Gundam Seed, Stella Loussier in Gundam Seed Destiny, Clare in Claymore, Sakagami Tomoyo in CLANNAD
Currently heard in: Keroro Gunsou (Hinata Fuyuki)*, BLEACH (Soifon)*, Inu Yasha Kenksetsu-hen (Sango), Kobato. (Mihara Chitose), Element Hunters (Homi Nandie)
*temporary replacement for Kawakami Tomoko
Background: The son of rice shop owners in his hometown of Okazaki in Aichi, Sakurai attended the Nagoya branch of Yoyogi Animation’s seiyuu training school, signing for 81produce soon after graduation. Made his debut in 1997′s Bakuso Kyodai Let’s & Go!! WGP.
Controversy: More than 3 years on, Sakurai is still remembered for his plagiarism scandal that resulted in a public apology and temporary suspension of all activities for a few months. Long story short – Sakurai scripted and put on a play that was accused of copying the work of a certain Mitani Koki, notorious for not allowing any of his works to be re-used or reworked in any way. Cue about 5-6 different apologies across his radio shows and agencies, and even now he doesn’t seem to have 100% recovered his reputation – no Seiyuu Awards thus far despite consistently producing winning performance after winning performance.
Best known roles: Cloud Strife in Final Fantasy series, Kururugi Suzaku in Code Geass series, Shibuya Yuri in Kyo Kara Maoh! series, Tentomon in Digimon Adventure, Ukiya Shun in Gate Keepers, Kusuriuri in Mononoke, Kamiyama Takashi in Cromartie High School, Takamine Kiyomaro in Konjiki no Gash Bell
Currently heard in: Cross Game (Azuma Yuhei), Chu-Bra! (Hayama Keigo), The Book of Bantorra (Ruruta), Battle Spirits: Shonen Gekiha Dan (Momose Yuki), BLEACH (Kira Izuru), Bakemonogatari (Oshino Meme)
Background: Entered Yoyogi Animation’s seiyuu training school after winning an open seiyuu audition organised by Sony Music Entertainment. Ayako’s official seiyuu debut was in 1997′s Taihou Shichauzo! (You’re Under Arrest), but the real break came in 1998′s Outlaw Star as Melfina. Has since done almost every type of character under the sun and has amassed an impressive number of lead roles.
Best known roles: Lafiel Abriel in the Seikai series, Noda Megumi in Nodame Cantabile series, Kamigishi Akari in ToHeart, Ando Mahoro in Mahoromatic series, Sakuraba Aoi in Ai Yori Aoshi series, Saber in Fate/stay night, Melfina in Outlaw Star, Ikusawa Ruriko in Gate Keepers, Ohno Kanako in Genshiken
What else you should know: Self-admittedly bad at singing but particularly adept at the piano – she has played since the age of 3 and graduated from Toho Junior College of Music. Wrote all the lyrics and composed the music with Iwasaki Taku for her 2002 piano/pop album Primary.
Currently heard in: Nodame Cantabile Finale (Noda Megumi), Seikon no Qwaser (Tsujido Miyuri), Ladies vs Butlers! (Saikyo Tomomi), Battle Spirits: Shonen Gekiha Dan (Mai Viole)
About Seki: The older of the two most well-known male seiyuu with the surname Seki, sharing the same trait of being incredibly versatile although Toshihiko is of the laidback type.
Work: Started voice acting in radio dramas in 1983, when he was still in university and went on to anime work later the same year in The Mysterious Cities of Gold. Has clocked up well over 200 anime roles to his credit and as a senior figure within his agency 81produce, lectures and gives classes at the Osaka branch of its training school.
Etc.: Married with 2 daughters, Seki has also worked extensively on education and programmes targeted at kids, providing narration for various NHK shows and doing readings for audio recordings of children’s books.
Best known roles: Duo Maxwell in Gundam Wing, Sanzo Genjo in Saiyuki series, Mousse in Ranma 1/2, Legato Bluesummers in Trigun, Hidaka Shurato in Tenku Senki Shurato, Count D in Petshop of Horrors, Rau Le Creuset in Gundam Seed, Kanzaki Reito in Mai-HiME, Momotaros in Kamen Rider Den-O, Shiba Kaien/Aaroniero Arruruerie in BLEACH
Currently heard in: Keroro Gunsou (Urere), ONE PIECE (Duval)
About Megumi: Started showbiz life as a trained musical actress – Megumi applied to Aoni Juku training school after finding out that the theatre troupe she was attached to was dissolving. She attended an audition for Yu Yu Hakusho and was hired on the spot by virtue of her voice – story goes that all Megu had said was ‘Hi, I’m Ogata from Aoni Production’
Voice: Her husky voice lends itself well to male and tomboy characters, also does the occasional sexy female role. Has spent more time pursuing a music career in recent years, usually using the name em:óu (she is signed to Lantis) rather than voice acting, but maintains a fairly huge fanbase – her website is actively updated and her fanclub RED ANGEL is entering its 4th year.
Best known roles: Ikari Shinji in Neon Genesis Evangelion, Kurama in Yu Yu Hakusho, Tsukishiro Yukito/Yue in Cardcaptor Sakura, Muto Yugi in Yu-Gi-Oh! (Toei), Tenoh Haruka/Sailor Uranus in Sailor Moon series, Tia Harribel in BLEACH
What else you should know: I remember that hilarious ‘lolwtf can’t be true, she must be a lesbo’ reaction amongst certain Western female fans to Megu’s 2004 announcement that she had gotten married to a man 13 years her junior. That’s the kind of fandom she attracts thanks to her sexy voice!
More on Hikaru: One of the 90s most popular male seiyuu, at his peak he (probably) had a zillion fangirls swooning and fainting every time he opened his mouth. Those idol days are long past but Midorikawa still maintains a presence across anime, drama CDs (he’s an uke!) and video games.
Best known roles: Tamahome in Fushigi Yugi, Yuy Heero in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Seiran Shi in Saiunkoku Monogatari, Rukawa Kaede in Slam Dunk, Zelgadis Greywords in Slayers series, Softon in Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, Shinjo Naoki in Future GPX Cyber Formula series, Li Xingke in Code Geass
What else you should know: His 2000 marriage to fellow seiyuu Maki Midori (formerly Ito Maki) remains hush-hush – her agency would not authorise either of them to publicise the information and as a result, no formal announcement has ever been made.
Etc: A huge fan of the Super Robot Wars series of games, Midorikawa has done beta testing and provided lines for Banpresto free of charge. He also took on his first sound directing role for Super Robot Wars Z under the moniker Himekawa Hikaru.
Currently heard in: Dragon Ball Kai (Tenshinhan)
Only the final 20 left! I look forward to the inevitable abusive e-mails when people discover ‘so & so’ has been left off the list entirely….
From this point onwards it should be getting easier to predict the rest of the list by way of elimination, there’s really not a lot of ‘obvious’ choices left! I think the next forty seiyuu all possess bodies of work speak for themselves, though hopefully people’s memories will stretch back longer than 4-5 years.
Without further ado.
More on Shigeru: Originally an actor/stuntman in the late 70s-80s, he appeared in various Oshii Mamoru live-action movies before crossing over to voice acting with a bunch of roles in Hokuto no Ken. In recent years Chiba has turned to the production side of things, heading his own talent agency C&O Actors’ Studio as well as working in sound directing on the Sister Princess series and Kirarin Revolution, amongst others.
Best known roles: Kuwabara Kazuma in Yu Yu Hakusho, Pilaf/Raditz/Garlic Jr in Dragon Ball series, Ichido Rei in High School!! Kimengumi, Megane in Urusei Yatsura, Vanilla Varta in Votoms, Yotsuya in Maison Ikkoku, Don Kanonji in Bleach
Currently heard in: Dragon Ball Kai (Raditz), One Piece (Buggy the Clown)
All about Tomoko: Majored in the arts in junior college (Paku Romi was a classmate) while attending Production Baobab’s voice acting class on the side. Made her voice acting debut in Metal Fighter Miku while still studying, although her breakthrough came in 1997 when she voiced Chiriko in Fushigi Yugi.
Illness: Diagnosed with an unspecified illness in summer 2008, Kawakami underwent surgery and has had to limit her workload since then which resulted in some of her long running roles in Bleach and Keroro Gunsou being passed on to Kuwashima Houko. In September 2009 her radio show Usagi no Mimitabu was put on hiatus after an 11-year run, but she recently reprised her role as Amber in the second season of Darker than Black.
Best known roles: Tenjou Utena in Shoujo Kakumei Utena, Kamio Misuzu in AIR, Shindou Hikaru in Hikaru no Go, Fuyuki Hinata in Keroro Gunsou, Athena Glory in ARIA series, Soifon in Bleach, Motomiya Akane in Harukanaru Toki no Naka de series
All about MikiShin: His sister was a huge anime/manga fan and that got Miki aware of the seiyuu business, enrolling in 81produce’s voice acting school in the 80s having previously worked as a pastry chef. He made his seiyuu debut in 1989.
Best known roles: Fujiwara Takumi in Intial D series, Lockon Stratos in Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Allen Schezar in Escaflowne, Kojiro in Pokemon series, Urahara Kisuke in Bleach, Kurz Weber in Full Metal Panic! series, Tsuzuki Asato in Yami no Matsuei
What else you should know: Miki is a well-known car and bike maniac, writing columns for various auto magazines. He has also taken part in the K-TAI karting series in 2008 and 2009 with fellow seiyuu Kawakami Tomoko, Toyoguchi Megumi, Namikawa Daisuke and Mizuki Nana.
Currently heard in: Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood (Roy Mustang), Pokemon Diamond and Pearl (Kojiro)
All about Okiayu: A graduate from the Osaka branch of Aoni’s seiyuu training school, Okiayu made his debut in 1990 with Dragon Quest and remains one of the most prolific male seiyuu in the business 20 years on. An incredible range, a wicked laugh and smooth, charming tones are amongst the many weapons in his arsenal.
Best known roles: Mitsui Hisashi in Slam Dunk, Kuchiki Byakuya in BLEACH, Tezuka Kunimitsu in Prince of Tennis, Treize Khushrenada in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Dark Mousy in D.N.Angel, Jinnai Katsuhiko in El-Hazard, Nueno Meisuke/Nube in Jigoku Sensei Nube, Matsura Yu in Marmalade Boy
My favourite Okiayu role: Shigure in Fruits Basket was just adorable, equal parts cool and hilarious.
Currently heard in: The Book of Bantorra (Seagal), BLEACH (Byakuya)
All about Hiromi: Tsuru made her seiyuu debut at the age of 18 with the titular role in Perinne Monogatari. Most popular in the 80s and early 90s, she was particularly famed for voicing many strong (and sometimes tsundere) female characters. Since the mid-90s Hiromi has worked mostly on narration for variety programmes as well as providing voices for video games, most notably Naomi Hunter in the Metal Gear series.
Best known roles: Kashima Miyuki in Miyuki, Ayukawa Madoka in Kimagure Orange Road, Mikami Reiko in Ghost Sweeper Mikami, Bulma in Dragon Ball, Dokin-chan in Soreike! Anpanman, Kuonji Ukyo in Ranma 1/2
Currently heard in: Dragon Ball Kai (Bulma)
All about Horikawa: Apparently he was a terrible student, so his parents had him try out child acting. He made his seiyuu debut at the age of 26 in Yume Senshi Wingman. Formerly signed to Aoni Production he now heads Aslead company, which also has his wife & fellow seiyuu Oikawa Hitomi on its books.
About his voice: Hailing from Osaka, Horikawa was a popular go-to guy for characters with Kansai accents, including his roles in Detective Conan and Please Save My Earth.
Best known roles: Andromeda Shun in Saint Seiya, Vegeta in Dragon Ball series, Reinhard von Lohengramm in Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Hirono Kenta in Yume Senshi Wingman, Yokoshima Tadao in Ghost Sweeper Mikami, Hattori Heiji in Detective Conan
All about Hiyama: SCREEEEAAMMM!!! SHOOUUTTTTT!! The best modern-day example of a hot-blooded screamer, Hiyama often gets cast in mecha shows, tokusatsu voiceovers and fighting games. His talents are not just limited to those kind of roles – from creepers to heroes to cool bishie types, he’s covered everything in his career thus far… except women (I think).
Best known roles: Hiei in Yu Yu Hakusho, Amada Shiro in Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team, Shishioh Guy in GaoGaiGar, Takamiya Teppei in Bt’X, Senpuji Maito in The Brave Express Might Gaine, Madarame Harunobu in Genshiken
My favourite Hiyama role: Of his two Madarame roles, the ultra-cool Genshiken otaku one.
Currently heard in: ONE PIECE (Mr.3), BLEACH (Madarame Ikkaku), Keroro Gunsou (556)
All about Ikeda: Much to his chagrin, Ikeda will forever be most associated with the Char (Aznable) brand despite the fact that he has built a strong career away from the character. Playing the lead role in NHK drama Jiro Monogatari at the age of 6, Ikeda continued acting in a great number of TV shows but also did some dubbing for Western movies on the side. The late Matsuura Noriyoshi, one of the sound directors he knew from these sessions, got him his first role in an anime in Invincible Steel Man Daitarn 3. Subsequently Ikeda auditioned for the role of Amuro Ray in Gundam, but they had him test for Char and he was awarded the role. The rest is history.
Best known roles: Char Aznable in Gundam series, Akai Shuichi in Detective Conan, Hiko Seijuro in Rurouni Kenshin, Red-haired Shanks in One Piece, Gilbert Durandal in Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny
What else you should know: Formerly married to Toda Keiko, his current wife is seiyuu Tamagawa Sakiko.
(One of her) Signature lines: Ippen shinde miru?
History: Mamiko went straight to Yoyogi Animation school after graduating high school and then onto her current agency Osawa’s voice training school. She worked part-time jobs as a waitress and photographer’s assistant before making her debut as Tonomura Moto in Boogiepop Phantom in 2000.
Voice: Undoubtedly one of the industry’s biggest stars of the 00s, the gentle, breathy tones of Mamiko’s voice have graced many an anime, game and drama CD. Working for Osawa, an agency that specialises in CM narration Mami has provided voiceovers for ads by Toyota, Mitsubishi, Kewpie and Suntory and is also the spokesperson for insurance agency AVOCOM.
Best known roles: Todo Shimako in Maria-sama ga Miteru series, Angol Mois in Keroro Gunsou, Enma Ai in Jigoku Shoujo, Tsukamoto Yakumo in School Rumble series, Ichinose Kotomi in Clannad, Rin in Inu Yasha
What else you should know: Said to be completely machine-illiterate, not knowing that earphones were separated by ‘R’ and ‘L’ (because she doesn’t listen to music) and used to wash all her clothes by hand before learning how to use the washing machine. It is also said that music producer Nakata Yasutaka (Capsule, Perfume) mentioned on radio before that Mamiko is his childhoold friend – they both hail from Kanazawa in Ishikawa.
My favourite Mamiko role: I have a soft spot for Hecate from Shana‘s uruchai, uruchai, uruchai.
Currently heard in: Keroro Gunsou (Angol Mois), Inu Yasha Kenketsu-hen (Rin), Kimi ni Todoke (Kuronuma Sawako)
All about Keiko: Seiyuu work is just one of the many hats that Keiko dons – she’s successfully forged a career as an all-round talento, regularly appearing in J-dramas and movies, does lots of Western dubbing and also sings on the side.
Background: At the age of 16 (1974) Toda moved from her hometown Nagoya to Tokyo, debuting as a young enka singer under the stage name Ayu Akemi. Success was not forthcoming, and she worked reporting & other side jobs before the agency she was signed to folded in 1977. Toda’s saviour was veteran seiyuu Nozawa Nachi, who invited her to join a theatre troupe he was heading and in no time she became one of the group’s biggest stars, putting in award-winning appearances in musicals. At the same time, she debuted as a seiyuu in Invicible Steel Man Daitarn 3 and went on to gain fame with her role in Mobile Suit Gundam.
Best known roles: Anpanman in Soreike! Anpanman, Kisugi Hitomi in Cat’s Eye, Amamori Hajime in Queen Millennia, Karala Ajiba in Space Runaway Ideon, Orihara Kaoru in Oniisama e…, Matilda Ajan in Mobile Suit Gundam
What else you should know: Keiko is the official dub voice of Gillian Anderson’s Dana Scully in the X-Files series and is the official voice of Thomas in Thomas the Tank Engine. She speaks French fluently.
Happy new year folks, Kohaku is over. Once again I sat through the whole shebang (somehow), cheered a lot, frowned a lot, pressed mute a few times. I am sorry to everyone following my Twitter for the spam throughout the night.
Less a review, more a live-blogging-twitter-spamming kind of thing.
8-year old cutie pie Kato Seishiro opened the show. Kid did a good job even if he, like Ohashi Nozomi, messed up a few of his cues. Nakama Yukie and Nakai Masahiro (+Abe Wataru) were good hosts as usual, keeping things moving along at a sprightly pace.
As you would expect, NHK milked Arashi to the fullest, getting them to support for TOKIO and Alice, giving Ohno Satoshi a solo line in Uta no Chikara and having them generally hang around in the background ^^;;
with Youtube links for performances I like NHK move fast so links are gone. Head on over to Jpopsuki for torrent downloads.
1.Hamasaki Ayumi – Like last year, opened the show with a bang. Plenty of power packed in her performance. 8/10
2. EXILE – I was kind of distracted by Taka’s girly hair. The song was bog standard but they were good as usual, vocal-wise. 7/10
3. AKB48 – With the SKE girls, total of 72 on stage. I felt they got way too short an airtime – blink of an eye and it was over. Could barely tell who was who. 6/10
4. flumpool – Decent Kohaku debut. 7/10
5. NYC Boys – It started off terrible and probably got worse. Oh gosh. At least Yuuki 100% made me smile? 4/10
6. Ikimonogakari – Kiyoe totally killed YELL. Incredible performance, backed by full choir. 10/10
Let’s see how long this link lasts.
Kato Seishiro is soooo cuteeeee.
11-year old Sakura Maya was great too. Future enka superstar?
Snow Prince thing was boring, but the kid’s voice is great.
Oh shit ponyo.
And as expected. Katori Shingo declared a draw =.=
7. Godai Natsuko – Happy but slow but happy. 6/10
8. Kitayama Takeshi – Half-naked guys in fundoshi is kinda scary, nearly spoils his performance. 7/10
9. GIRL NEXT DOOR – I went to prepare for dinner while this was on.
10. Jero – Typical Jero performance of Umiyuki. As in, very good. 9/10
11. Mizuki Nana – Haha. My mom walked past and said ‘Is this what you’ve been waiting for?’ She wasn’t impressed and to be honest, when you’re performing in a field this accomplished you’ve got to really kill the song to stand out and she didn’t. This was standard Nana which means stellar, but not a knockout. Better than Music Japan at least. 7/10
12. FUNKY MONKEY BABYS – Lol at the DJ’s getup. But FUNKY MONKEY really knocked the ball out of the park with their performance, excellent debut Kohaku. 10/10
13. Nakamura Mitsuko – Went to eat dinner.
14. Porno Graffitti – Went to eat dinner.
15. Tendo Yoshimi – Oh god, this was really good. Very touching. Ex-tennis star Sugiyama Ai was her supporter… IIRC. 10/10
16. Mikawa Kenichi – Hahahahaha. Crazy as expected, some Bollywood meets enka number with bombastic outfits, backed by Audrey’s Kasuga Toshiaki and with Haruna Ai & Ikko (both transsexuals) dancing around in the background. Weird shit, man. 7/10
17. Sakamoto Fuyumi – Oh my god so boring. Nana was her supporter, looked uncomfortable and could only manage fangirling when asked to say a few words. 5/10
18. Hosokawa Takashi – Guy’s got really good voice control, never looks like he’s busting a lung. Tons of shamisen in the background. 9/10
19. Otsuka Ai – Poodle hair, birdcage dress, out of tune as usual. Still cute! 5/10
20. Remioromen – Fujimaki messed up on a lyric, not sure if he forgot his lines or just choked. Went off-key as expected. 5/10 Video link
21. Kawanaka Miyuki – Went to wash dishes.
22. Mori Shinichi – Went to wash dishes.
Ann Sally + Kohaku performers – Uta no Chikara
Kimura Takuya totally fluffed his lines and SMAP looked bored. Of the solo parts, the girls hit all the right notes – Kiyoe, Hirahara Ayaka and Angela Aki in particular.
Susan Boyle was divine on I Dreamed a Dream. And KimuTaku was total fail, talking to Susan in English and then having SuBo turn to the translator and go ‘Huh?’
23. Yusuke – Excellent, much better than I expected. Nice move to have the whole crowd waving sunflowers during a song appropriately called… Himawari. And oh god, I saw a fan waving one of Nana’s ugly mascot dolls in the crowd during his performance. 9/10
24. aiko – Typical professional aiko. 8/10
25. Tokunaga Hideaki – Heh, he was really good. Song wasn’t as bad sung live. 8/10
26. Hirahara Ayaka – ROLLY guested on guitar! Seriously, this is the best Ayaka performance ever on Kohaku. In previous years she was shaky at times but really hit the target this time. 10/10
27. TOKIO – On target as usual. Lol at Arashi introducing them and asking for otoshidama xD 8/10
28. Akimoto Junko – I was going to go back to washing dishes, but then Miyamoto Emiri comes out to play violin. 7/10
29. Perfume – Haha Perfume. Cute as usual. 8/10
30. TVXQ – Snoozefest. Went to wash dishes 5/10
31. Mizumori Kaori – Washing dishes.
32. Itsuki Hiroshi – Washing dishes.
Michael Jackson tribute – Heh Nakai does his Jacko dance act again. Then led a group sing on Heal the World, which wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be.
33. Kimura Kaela – Rather wooden and dull. 5/10
34. Alice – Ojisans got a lot of crowd support, lively performance. 8/10
35. Nakashima Mika – Ok this was bad. She looked totally out of it, like she was high on drugs. 4/10
36. Yuzu – Supposed to be touching and all but uhhhhh rather boring. 5/10
37. Angela Aki – Not a kids’ choir this time, but adults! God Tegami is always sooooo good live, but I think last year was marginally better. 9/10
38. Fuse Akira – Japanese version of My Way… his teeth are really nice and straight and white 6/10
39. Kobayashi Sachiko – After the shock of seeing horrible mascot Sento-kun on stage I was not even surprised to see Buddha rising from the stage. Equaled Mikawa for weirdness. 7/10
40. Fukuyama Masaharu – Heh his long hair. Obviously a big draw this year, so he popped up at various intervals to promote Ryomaden. Hatsukoi was good, as expected. 8/10
41. Koda Kumi – They let her sing Lick Me♥ hahah. And ooh sister Misono was on as a guest. I’m not a fan of the songs, but she was spot on as usual. 8/10
42. Arashi – And the highlight of the night, depending on who you are. My heart skipped a beat when they appeared with Sho rapping A.RA.SHI, I swear my inner fangirl died. Pink suits!! From A.RA.SHI to Love so sweet to Happiness to Believe, with a velcro costume change (white suits) in the middle. I think I would’ve cheered louder if it was the me of 10 years ago watching, but the boys put on a good show. 9/10
SPECIAL GUEST: YAZAWA EIKICHI
He was strongly tipped to be on this year’s Kohaku for ages, so it was a disappointment when he was not announced on the initial list. Then NHK blew a bombshell earlier today and said he was going to be a surprise guest. Yazawa totally rocked the hall with Jikan yo Tomare & Cobalt no Sora, and had a nice little chat about how he’s the same age as Kohaku (both turned 60 this year!)
43. Kobukuro – Not a fan of the song, performance was decent. 6/10
44. Wada Akiko – I laughed at her face and her dress. I really shouldn’t have. 7/10
45. Hikawa Kiyoshi – Camp, camp, camp! Needed peacock feathers to complete the look, but Kiyoshi was top notch again. 10/10
46. Ishikawa Sayuri – I dozed off. 5/10
47. Ayaka – Oh god, even Ishida Toshiyuki is crying. A perfect send-off for Ayaka… 10/10
48. SMAP – Haiieeeee Yuck. Can’t sing to save their lives, though Nakai was only out of tune once. 5/10
49. DREAMS COME TRUE – I thought Miwa was going to break the mic with her voice, it was so loud. Newton Faulkner on guitar :O And Fuzzy Control didn’t get cut out after all, yay! 9/10
50. Kitajima Saburo – Closed the show, and ermmmm I was more focused on when the rest of the group would turn up than his song.
As expected, White Team beat Red Team, 348,708 vs 213,047 votes. All Hail Johnny’s!! This year’s voting is way up from last year’s which was around 206,000 vs 112,000. Gosh Red Team would’ve beat White Team last year with that vote total.
All I remember from the recap period was seeing the artists laugh at Maekawa Kenichi’s bit and huge applause for Yazawa. Also, during the end bits, aiko + Kaela were giggling together and hamming it up for the camera. And Perfume were playing with the confetti and FMB just looked… weird.
That’s all I can get out of my battered brain at 1am – I need a HQ rip to watch again, so I might edit this post after that. Anyhow, this year’s show was definitely better than 2008′s. Some of the performances are well worth keeping – quickly ranking the ones I enjoyed the most:
1. Susan Boyle
3. Yazawa Eikichi
4. Tendo Yoshimi
5. Hikawa Kiyoshi
6. FUNKY MONKEY BABYS
8. Hirahara Ayaka
10. Hosokawa Takashi
And the excitement’s over til 31 December 2010. See you at the end of the year for coverage of the 61st Kohaku!
Looking back at anisong and soundtrack releases in 2009 and picking out the highlights.
Anisong in 2009
K-ON! was obviously the runaway anisong success of the year, which would be OK by me if the music wasn’t quite so bad. Barring Don’t Say “Lazy” (actually, it was really just Sweet Bitter Beauty Song that appealed to me), the music from the show was pure otaku fodder and barely listenable. At least when it was Haruhi all over the charts a couple of years ago I could nod and go ”Yeah, those songs were good” (referrring to God knows… and all the rest of the chara stuff). Oh well, I guess the only consolation is that the music in K-ON! is better than the trash heard in Lucky Star.
Sales-wise it was a decent year – 8 anisong albums cracking the 100k mark is pretty good though the success of Gintama and BLEACH boils down to the fact that both series are Sony-backed, hence you get all the big name acts like Base Ball Bear, Aqua Timez and Sambomaster contributing tracks as theme tunes.
The success of supercell and fripSide after moving to major labels was also a notable talking point, though both acts still have plenty to prove and the true measure of success will be when both release follow-up singles in 2010. They’re signed to Sony and Geneon Universal respectively.
Interestingly, while we’re still on record labels and stuff, I’d like to point out my amusement at the general lack of Lantis releases on either chart. Pony Canyon was the obvious winner with K-ON!, while Frontier Works (with Media Factory) saw a good return on the Hetalia! CDs, King as usual relied on Mizuki Nana and Victor/flying Dog scored big with every Macross release. Lantis’ biggest selling artist? Hirano Aya.
Charts for the Oricon calendar year (2008/12/22～2009/12/21)
Top Selling Anisong Singles
*1 169,388 Don’t say “lazy” / Sakurakou K-ON BU
*2 150,458 Cagayake! GIRLS / Sakurakou K-ON BU
*3 *81,491 Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari / supercell
*4 *80,696 Fuwafuwa Jikan / Sakurakou K-ON BU
*5 *61,078 Shin Ai / Mizuki Nana
*6 *60,088 Mugen / Mizuki Nana
*7 *55,642 K-ON! Image Song Akiyama Mio (Heart Goes Boon!!) / Akiyama Mio (Hikasa Yoko)
*8 *55,432 only my railgun / fripSide
*9 *53,637 K-ON! Image Song Hirasawa Yui (Gi-ta ni Kubittake) / Hirasawa Yui (Toyosaki Aki)
10 *50,669 Hetalia Character CD Vol.4 England / England (Sugiyama Noriaki)
11 *43,588 Shuketsu no Sono e / Hayashibara Megumi
12 *38,448 Super Driver / Hirano Aya
13 *38,316 pink monsoon / Sheryl Nome starring May’n
14 *38,216 Hetalia Character CD Vol.3 Japan / Japan (Takahashi Hiroki)
15 *35,963 K-ON! Image Song Nakano Azusa (Jajauma Way To Go) / Nakano Azusa (Taketatsu Ayana)
16 *33,078 K-ON! Image Song Tainaka Ritsu (Girly Storm Shisso Stick) / Tainaka Ritsu (Sato Satomi)
17 *31,831 K-ON! Image Song Kotobuki Tsumugi (Dear My Keys ~Kenban no Mahou~) / Kotobuki Tsumugi (Kotobuki Minako)
18 *31,184 Hetalia Character CD Vol.5 France / France (Onosaka Masaya)
19 *28,237 Let’s! Fresh Precure!/You make me happy! / Moie Mizuki & Hayashi Momoko
20 *27,137 Honjitsu, Mankai Watashi Iro! / Katsura Hinagiku with Hakuo Gakuen Seitokai Sannin Musume starring Ito Shizuka with Yahagi Sayuri & Nakao Eri & Asano Masumi
Top Selling Anisong Albums
*1 186,116 Gintama BEST
*2 117,501 BLEACH BEST TUNES
*3 117,132 Macross F VOCAL COLLECTION Nyan-tama / Kanno Yoko (Total Sales) 203,582
*4 110,349 Houkago Tea Time / Houkago Tea Time
*5 106,136 Studio Ghibli Songs (Total Sales) 148,848
*6 105,717 supercell / supercell feat.Hatsune Miku
*7 100,970 ULTIMATE DIAMOND / Mizuki Nana
*8 100,526 GUMDAM00 COMPLETE BEST
*9 *85,319 CODE GEASS COMPLETE BEST
10 *75,583 Universal Bunny / Sheryl Nome starring May’n
11 *58,826 Evangelion Movie Soundtrack
12 *53,246 Kazeyomi / Sakamoto Maaya
13 *51,100 Hatsune Miku Best ~impacts~
14 *47,163 Hatsune Miku Best ~memories~
15 *38,316 Rai Chikyuu Kinen Collection Album Space Bio Charge / YOKO KANNO & SEATBELTS
16 *37,503 May’n Street / May’n
17 *36,934 Keikan Shijin SINGLE COLLECTION PLUS / ALI PROJECT
18 *35,209 Seventh Heaven / Kalafina
19 *33,415 EXIT TUNES PRESENTS Vocalostar feat.Hatsune Miku / Super Producers feat.Hatsune Miku
20 *31,438 Styles / May’n
Pretty good year for anisong, or so it seems to be judging by the amount of CDs stacked up high on my bedroom table! I’m sorry I haven’t covered anime music much in the last quarter of the year due to my packed work schedule, which is a shame as there were many great releases. Nevertheless, here’s my picks for the best of 2009′s anime music releases.
I have a weakness for soppy (poignant?) piano/violins soundtracks, and Hatsukoi’s is the best I’ve heard this year – marginally beating out the Manimani OST by CooRie & Okubo Kaoru. Nijine’s work here recalls parts of Nanase Hikaru’s work on the Da Capo series, and although this isn’t revolutionary stuff it’s still a pretty damn good listen.
Matsumoto’s heady mix of funk, jazz, electro-rock and ambient is fresh and unique – despite being all over the place music-wise it gels together well. The mark of a great soundtrack is being able to stand on its own without the aid of the visuals, and One Outs succeeds, with plenty of b-ball style.
Muramatsu follows up the splendour of the kure-nai music with another potential masterpiece. Although there are plenty of similarities between the two soundtracks, his approach in arranging each of the main themes in 3-4 different ways brings a new dimension to the songs.
Bossa nova supergroup consisting of guitarist Sasago Shigeharu (Choro Club), violinist Eto Yuki and clarinetist Kurokawa Saeko craft fantastic chill-out soundtrack, music to relax to with a cup of coffee while watching the world go by. Vocal tracks by Komine Lisa and Kiyoura Natsumi complete the lovely lounge experience. Not quite the usual sort of anime soundtrack fare but if (the hotchpotch of) names like Gontiti, Baden Powell and Astrud Gilberto set your pulse racing, then musica paradiso is one for you.
The first time I can truly say I enjoyed Ayahi’s singing, and it has to come for a bunch of joke songs! Nene is a legend, and my only wish is for a Taxi Driver version of the three tracks here.
Despite the shittiness of Endless Eight the Haruhi character CDs were still quality, all the way from Haruhi to (lol) Taniguchi. Even Kyon’s was amusing! The pick of the bunch is once again Itsuki’s disc, Ono D getting to sink his teeth into some very fun and lively songs.
Released on Christmas Day 2008 which was outside the Oricon calendar, so rolled over to this year. Still as engaging 12 months on, music that reminds you why Ga-Rei made us all laugh, cry, sit there in shock with mouth wide-open, or want to fling the mouse across the room.
Take all the best bits of Yousei Teikoku and Asriel + a pinch of AliPro and transform eroge singer into blazing hot rocker chick, voila! Best character compilation CD of 2009. End Prophecy (collection of Chaos;Head songs) is epicness unrivaled.
Amongst the mass of male seiyuu scrambling for a slice of the fangirl market, Takahashi stands tall. His songwriting partnerships with Nonaka ‘Masa’ Yuichi and U-Ken really pay off on ColorS, which represents his most mature work thus far, including the beautiful Ano Oka e which featured as a theme song for the Youjuu Mameshiba movie/dorama series that he had a small role in. As always, Takahashi’s vocals are nothing less than fantastic and now he’s got the songs to match his talents. I hope Nao-nii comes back for Animelo next year!
Slow-burning album that takes time to reveal its charms, if you give it a decent chance. Almost one year on since its release and I’m loving Kazeyomi a lot more – even Peanuts.
STARGATE is a whole different ball game from the themes Kanako does for anime and games, with ample room for experimentation. The result is a diverse record that runs the gamut of the pop spectrum from electropop to jazz, all courtesy of the good folks at 5pb.
You’d be forgiven for having a few jitters over Shimotsukin’s follow-up to Tindharia, but rest assured Griotte does not disappoint and in fact, often trumps its predecessor in with the sheer beauty of the arrangements and instrumentation. Anisong world needs more ambitious projects like this, thank God for Haruka and Shikata Akiko.
10 random songs from various anime, video game and anison CDs I really liked but don’t quite fit in on any of the other lists. When I think about it, these songs are all likely candidates to be covered on my next album…links to Youtube samples where possible.
1. Pub de GO!!. Sugiyama Noriaki (Hetalia character song) [song]
Sugiyama’s hilarious song for England from Hetalia, with lyrics covering all things British from tea, fish and chips to fairies, unicorns and Her Royal Majesty. Though seriously, if I hear another English fandub of this I’m going to scream.
2. Dokkyun Heart. Inoue Marina (Umineko anime insert) [full versh]
Annoying happy hardcore, hyper rap techno etc. Everyone secretly loves this song.
3. Fuwaffuwahho Maple Magic!!. ave;new project feat. Yuzuki Ryoka [CM edit]
Apt to turn brains to mush.
4. Kimi ga Iru Kara. Sugawara Sayuri (FFXIII theme song) [PV]
Lolololol at international version of FFXIII having Leona Lewis as theme song.
5. Occultics no Majo. Ayumu (Umineko Chiru 5 OP) [Umineko 5 OP]
Strange to have a Jrock singer (Ayumu from Zwei) do an Umineko song. Still kicks plenty of ass.
6. You & Me. Tamura Yukari [short PV]
Rubbish para-para, strangely addictive.
7. Starting Over. Okui Masami (Final Approach2 1st priority Portable OP) [full song]
Overlooked, under-rated. Makkun’s best single in years.
8. platonic syndrome. Duca (Natsu no Ame OP) [Demo PV]
Best eroge theme song in 2009.
9. Fake me. Ito Kanako (Chaos;Head Noah OP) [OP]
So many great Chaos;Head songs, this is the pick of them.
10. Yami ni Saku Hoshi no Youni. CooRie (Sora no Manimani ED2) [full song]
More like an insert really. Better than the actual ending song.
And that wraps up another year for anime music. Moving along….
I consider 2009 a pretty fruitful year as far as actually watching anime goes – the summer season for example, was the best I remember from this decade. I watched a lot more shows to completion though on the whole, I retained my tendency to drop things like a hot potato as soon as I spot something I don’t like. Oh well, any year I finish watching more than 10 anime series is a good year in my book!
Usual arbitrary awards follows.
I was thinking of holding back on watching Rakkyo until all 7 movies were out but I caved in around March..and burned through the first 5 within 2-3 days. My life will never be the same, damn you Haagen Dazs.
Filler can be entertaining, but it is starting to get a little tiresome folks. This isn’t ToAru Fumoffu no Railgun.
Excellent first episode followed by eleven rubbish ones. Only plus point – Ogata Rin > Ogata Rina.
I prefer Wandaba Style.
Saving for later – Hetalia, Aoi Hana, Nyankoi!. They all seem like shows I should watch, anyhow.
Shows that failed the 5-episode litmus test
Maria Holic – Hirano Aya was in it.
Akikan! – Juice cans not erotic enough.
Miracle Train – Train men not erotic enough.
Basquash – Iceman Hotty not hot enough.
Regios – Not even a million Fellis can save the day.
WHITE ALBUM – Toya is a tuckfard.
Valkyria – Like watching milkmaids go to war.
Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou – Yoku wakaranai yo.
Polyphonica Crimson S – At least better than Season 1.
FMA Brotherhood – No Toyoguchi Megumi as Winry makes me qq.
Asu no Yoichi! – Waste of seiyuu talent.
Asura Cryin’ – Shameful waste of seiyuu talent.
Umineko – Supreme waste of seiyuu talent.
Kampfer – Ultimate waste of seiyuu talent.
Pandora Hearts – Like bad early 00s shonen anime.
NEEDLESS – See Pandora Hearts.
Natsu no Arashi! – I can’t appreciate SHAFT, apparently.
Umi Monogatari – Not ARIA.
Endless Recursion of Time – Denwa asides, unwatchable.
Isekai – Where are my Tenchi DVDs?
Shangri-la – When the okama becomes the highlight of the anime, it’s time to bail out.
Ristorante Paradiso – I like young girls not old men.
Higepiyo – Jokes are only funny once.
Hayate no Gotoku!! – Too much Hinagiku (sorry, Maria fan).
GA Geijutsuka – My nutbladder still feels fine.
Tegami Bachi – Not Kino.
SeiZon – I have no sense of humour, apparently.
SoraOto – When flying pants become the highlight of the anime, it’s time to bail out.
Kobato. – Clamp’s dry run continues.
Sasameki Koto – Too slow.
Kuchuu Buranko – I can’t appreciate creativity, apparently.
Cross Game 1 (+30) – If I watch this ten times, I’ll cry ten times.
Aoi Bungaku 9-10 – Adaptation of Dazai Osamu’s Hashire Melos! is stunning.
Kanamemo 4 – Song and dance!
Eve no Jikan 6 – Androids need love too.
Rakkyo: Mujun Rasen – This counts, right?
Oshino Meme (Bakemonogatari)
Most people like stapler girl, I prefer the Medicine Seller. Errr I mean, Oshino.
Seiyuu Performances I’ll Remember
I wasn’t really paying much attention this year, or maybe there weren’t really any standouts.
Saito Chiwa as Senjogahara Hitagi (Bakemonogatari) – ‘Because her voice-actress is excellent’.
Tanaka Rie as Liang Qi (CANAAN) – This is fairly standard unhinged RieRie if we remember Tomoe Marguerite and Suigintou. But nobody does it better.
Horie Yui as Nishida Haruka (Kanamemo) – Peron~
Fukuyama Jun as Leopard (SoraKake) – Some feat to outdo Lelouch in the bombastic stakes. Nonaka Ai‘s Imo-chan also made me laugh.
Ito Kanae was good in everything – Shugo Chara, Manimani, Taiyaki, Railgun. My favourite seiyuu in 2009.
Soft spot for whatever Nakamura Yuuichi did as well.
The Seiyuu Performance I’ll Remember For All The Wrong Reasons
Sakai Masato (Aoi Bungaku)
Sakura no Mori no Mankai no Shita was the worst offender but generally Sakai was terrible, failing to connect with any of the characters – Noto Mamiko probably would’ve done a better job. Even his creepy face that greeted the start of every episode was completely off-putting.
Favourite Character Name
Senjogahara Hitagi, aka S.Hitagi. Aoi Sora from Aki Sora also wins points for ‘sharing’ a name with a pr0n star.
Fave Yuri Pairing
This is going to be weird. Probably Hazuki x Youko in DtB, even though one of them ended up toast. I wish it was Hazuki x Misaki, but meh. Also, Kuroko x Mikoto from Railgun is kinda fun, as is Tomoe x Anybody from Taiyaki.
Worst Yuri Pairing
Saki x Nodoka was nauseating. Same goes for Canaan x Maria.
After considering the merits of the ahoge of Araragi-kun, Ryuumonbuchi Touka and Minami Chiaki, I conclude that Touka‘s electric hair wins ‘best ahoge’.
And that’s all for 2009. May we be bestowed with fewer moeblobs in 2010…
2009 in Review: Top 12 Anime Theme Songs
NHK’s annual new year’s eve 4 ½ hour countdown extravaganza is just a few days away and I trust Mizuki Nana’s appearance this year will pull in the otaku crowd, most of whom probably never even thought of watching it before. I have been watching it every 31st December for the last 10 years, even though it’s mostly terribly cheesy entertainment with very little musical merit on display – I keep coming back, and I can’t explain why.
I’m sure there’s a lot of first-timers with regards to Kohaku so I’ll do a long-winded, down-and-dirty guide to get you up to speed with the whole event. Perhaps you might find it useful when trying to explain to your mom why you’re watching 5 hours of middle-aged ojisan and obasan wailing as if they’re constipating.
Kohaku Uta Gassen (紅白歌合戦) literally means Red and White Song Battle. In theory, the show invites that year’s most popular singers and they do battle by…you guessed it, singing. Performers are divided into two teams - Red for the girls, White for the boys. For the groups/bands, they usually take whatever gender the lead singer is, which is why Ikimonogakari get lumped in with the Red team even though there’s more guys than girls in the group.
SMAP’s Nakai Masahiro and actress Nakama Yukie (most famous for playing Yankumi in live-action Gokusen) will be hosting for the third year in a row. I really like this pairing so no complaints, their banter is amusing and Nakama is hawt, in an ice queen kinda way. Abe Wataru, a four-time Kohaku host, will be mediating this year.
There’s always this arbitrary voting game to determine which team wins every year - currently it’s based on a combination of audience and home-viewer votes. The White team has triumphed for the last 4 years and I’m backing them again this year - the power of Johnny’s fangirls should see the boys easily winning.
Where to watch?
If you have cable TV with the NHK World channel then you can watch Kohaku live. I’m informed that TV Japan in America will be screening it too, but please check with your own cable providers for confirmation. Failing that, Kohaku usually gets upped to BT within a day, check the usual places for downloads.
The show starts on 31 December around 7:15pm (+8GMT) and goes on until 11:45PM. I’m in the +7GMT timezone which means I would have had to get home from work before 6pm to watch the show (which is impossible) so I… TOOK LEAVE JUST TO WATCH NANA ON KOHAKU LOL. Not gonna take any risks and miss such a historic moment for both Nana and seiyuu in general.
Songs always get shortened unless you’re a major-league superstar (like SMAP or Mr.Children), so expect Shin’ai to get chopped down to a verse, bridge and chorus. It won’t be as bad as on Music Japan though. Also NHK picks all the songs to be performed - the artists don’t really get a say in proceedings, which is why you sometimes get people performing the same bloody song 3 years in a row (hello Hitoto Yo, Natsukawa Rimi!!). The only exception was 70s super idol Yamaguchi Momoe who sang Hito Natsu no Keiken in 1974 despite its risque (for NHK) opening lyric of ‘I’m going to give away the most precious thing a girl has…’.
Some things don’t always go right… being a live show, you’re going to get your fair share of LOLWTF moments and mistakes – some of these include a series of mishaps for WaT in 2005 – broken guitar strings and falling mic stands lol, and who can forget the DJ Ozma naked bodysuits in 2006 which drew a record number of complaints. Check around the 2:20 mark for the beginning of background dancers’ striptease.
Personal complaints – lack of stars
Well you’re never going to get a line-up that pleases everybody. No Amuro Namie comeback this year, I wonder if NHK even made an effort to get her or if she declined. Kuraki Mai has her own countdown live so there was no question of her being on, KinKi Kids are likely swapped out for the privilege of having Arashi *mope* and Superfly will probably have to sell her soul before she gets invited – biggest female artist this year, 480,000 albums sold but not on Kohaku harhar. Maybe she turned them down… I’m sure the usual people said no though – B’z, Southern All Stars, Mr.Children (already on last year), Utada Hikaru never say yes. And what happened to Hirai Ken this year???
Stuff to note
- It’s a great opportunity to see a lot of tarento, sports stars, singers and actors in full kimono garb.
- Each performer on Kohaku gets an introduction from a ’supporter’ before they go on stage to sing. I’ve been LOL’ing at interwebs suggestion that Hirano Aya will be the surprise guest who turns up and says a few words in support of Nana XD Methinks it will be Ito Terry and Sekine Mari though.
- Please don’t turn on the TV just to see Nana sing and then turn it off! There’s a couple of game segments throughout the programme where random members of the White and Red teams face off and she might be in one of them. I don’t know if her role as one of the Support Team will get her more airtime on the actual Kohaku though.
- Otagei-ing in your living room? Don’t forget the white lights for Shin’ai!!
And remember, performing on Kohaku is a big deal even with declining ratings - some artists have rocketed to fame because of the one performance, like Akikawa Masafumi’s Sen no Kaze ni Notte in 2006 and Akimoto Junko’s Ai no Mama de… in 2008. Both went on to be mega-sellers in the months after Kohaku.
Performance order is already out so I’ll cover the artists from opening act to show closers. Personal recommendations in red.
1. Hamasaki Ayumi (浜崎 あゆみ)
Ex-superstar Hamasaki is on every year, this time she’s opening the show with Rule. God knows what that sounds like, haven’t listened to her in 5 years. Ayu also opened Kohaku last year despite doubts she would make the show after injuring her right hand. I like her as a person, just not her music.
Oh gosh this joke of a boyband. 14 members but only 2 (+2 occasionally) sing, with the rest prancing about in the background like monkeys. I used to be a fan when they were still a 5 piece and SHUN was part of the band, but since he left I haven’t bought any of their CDs. They used to make pretty decent r’n'b/blues music, probably still do but I’m not sticking around to find out. Anyhow EXILE are the second biggest group in Japan after Arashi, surprised that they’ve decided to be top batter for the White Team, I think they were actually on the shortlist for final performers.
I guess they need no introduction. Akiba-idol group with predictably, 48 members. It’s interesting to see NHK are bringing back large-scale idol groups to Kohaku this year - in 2008 they cut out both AKB48 and Morning Musume, tiring of the tuneless singing and hopeless dancing H!P tends to be associated with. I hope none of the girls trip and fall over…
Generic rock band, sell quite well. Not my cup of tea, but I guess I’ll forever remember them for those ass shots on the cover of Unreal. Hoshi ni Negai o is their most popular song, probably picked to appease the (non-existent) rock crowd.
5. NYC Boys
For the shota lovers, Johnny’s presents to you NYC Boys!! Featuring members of Hey! Say! JUMP and other Jrs… and ugh I’m sure Kitagawa made NHK take NYC as a condition for having Arashi. NYC Boys are crap, go make tea or eat dinner when they’re on.
6. Ikimonogakari (いきものがかり)
Pop-rock trio fronted by the lovely Yoshioka Kiyoe, who possesses one of the strongest, sassiest voices in Jpop. Anime fans should find them familiar with a few of their songs used in anime like Bleach, Ookiku Furikabutte and Naruto Shippuuden. Their latest album Hajimari no Uta is scheduled to hit No.1 with well over 100,000 copies sold in 4 days so far. YELL is the song they’re singing this time, it’s a big moody ballad that should go down well with the crowd.
7. Godai Natsuko (伍代 夏子)
Enka singer, don’t know much about her except she’s on Kohaku every year I’ve watched it.
8. Kitayama Takeshi (北山 たけし)
35-year old enka singer. He’s not bad, Kenzan is a decent song. Good looker too.
9. GIRL NEXT DOOR
Like an off-key EVERY LITTLE THING meets DAY AFTER TOMORROW. Hate them.
10. Jero (ジェロ)
aka black enka singer who weats hip-hop clothes. Last year his mom was in the crowd and there was a crying fest, this year he gets to repeat it as he’s singing Umiyuki again.
11. Mizuki Nana (水樹 奈々)
2-3 solid years of sucking up to NHK finally pays off with an inaugural performance at Kohaku for Nana. Shin’ai is the perfect choice for her with its wintry, big ballad feel which could get the enka crowd hooked in too.
12. FUNKY MONKEY BABYS
First Kohaku for the three piece hip-hop group, who are like Ketsumeishi-lite. HERO is a great choice for their debut on the show, it’s a nice arms-aloft, lights-waving anthem to celebrate the sacrifices a father makes for his family’s sake.
13. Nakamura Mitsuko (中村 美律子)
Enka singer, Osaka-stylee. Uhhh I like her smile more than her songs really.
14. Porno Graffitti (ポルノグラフィティ)
Hey here’s one that anime fans will know. As far as I’m concerned their music has been shit since Tama (bassist Shiratama Masami) left in 2004, but they keep selling records anyway. Anima Rossa is the current opening theme for Bleach and I hate it.
15. Tendo Yoshimi (天童 よしみ)
One of my favourite enka singers, Tendo is hard to miss – her plus-size figure, plus she sings bright, happy songs. Which is a change from most enka songs which are more suitable for funerals.
16. Mikawa Kenichi (美川 憲一)
…OKAMA ALERT. Mikawa is… an acquired taste, he should swap places with Wada Akiko - they’re definitely batting for the wrong teams here. He and Kobayashi Sachiko are always fighting for the ‘Weirdest, Stupidest Costume’ crown on Kohaku. One of them is going to fall flat on their face someday for wearing shitty clothes that render them unable to move a step.
17. Sakamoto Fuyumi (坂本 冬美)
Enka singer, likes to sing depressing songs. Nice voice, and Mata Kimi ni Koi shiteru is one of her more light-hearted songs, so it shouldn’t be too bad.
18. Hosokawa Takashi (細川 たかし)
Probably my fave enka singer, or at least the singer of my favourite enka song (Kita Sakaba). He’s doing Boukyou jonkara this time.
19. Otsuka Ai (大塚 愛)
The cutesy Jpop singer who writes excellent songs but can’t sing live to save her life. She’s been on Kohaku every year since she became famous… I hate Is (a mid-tempo ballad with no tune), I wish she’d do aisu x time with Su from RIP SLYME.
20. Remioromen (レミオロメン)
WOOHOO Remioromen’s first Kohaku. Well actually they’re quite crap now that they’ve gone mainstream and Konayuki was the last of their truly great songs. It was used as an insert in the weepfest dorama 1-litre no Namida and the live version will most likely feature vocalist Fujimaki Ryota screaming completely out of tune.
21. Kawanaka Miyuki (川中 美幸)
Enka singer, the only song I know from her is Futari-sake which she sang on last year’s Kohaku. She’s singing that this year too!! I really like the song, very lovely.
22. Mori Shinichi (森 進一)
Mega popular enka singer, 42nd Kohaku in a row. I’d rather his son’s group (Moriuchi Takahiro’s ONE OK ROCK) appear on the show instead of him really. He’s singing Hana to Chou, the song he sang on his first Kohaku.
This is where the heavy-hitters start coming in.
23. Yusuke (遊助)
aka Kamiji Yusuke, mega popular tarento. He was on Kohaku last year as part of baka trio Shuchishin, who actually drew the biggest ratings of the night. Himawari is a decent song that apes the rap-pop that is popularised by groups like GReeeeN.
Pixie-like singer-songwriter - very popular, especially amongst young women. Singing Anoko no Yume this year, theme song for NHK morning drama Werukame.
25. Tokunaga Hideaki (徳永 英明)
Boring old-man ballad singer. He’s singing Kowarekake no Radio, a song on which he’s duetted live with Hamasaki Ayumi and Koda Kumi before. Admittedly Tokunaga has a refreshing iyashikei voice, shame it puts me to sleep most of the time.
26. Hirahara Ayaka (平原 綾香)
I used to like Ayaka a lot, her rich alto vocal is very different from the other Jpop singers out there. Lately she’s been singing a load more traditional classic stuff which just doesn’t appeal, but I guess she’s still trying to reclaim the glory days of her Jupiter single (based on Holst’s The Planets).
A proper Johnny’s ‘band’ in that they play their instruments even if they rarely write their own material. The members are all famous in their own right but I guess Nagase Tomoya might be forever known as Hamasaki Ayumi’s ex, although he’s also a decent seiyuu - he voiced the lead Nanashi in BONES’ 2007 movie Mukoh Hadan (Sword of the Stranger). TOKIO make pretty good pop-rock though, Taiyou to Sabaku no Bara is very fun to listen to.
28. Akimoto Junko (秋元 順子)
Kayokyoku singer (NOT ENKA), hit it big after performing Ai no Mama de… on Kohaku last year, which went on to reach No.1 and sell upwards of 500,000 copies. Will be singing the same song this year, and the next, and the next, and the next….
Probably who I’m most looking forward to. Autotune lip-sync whatever, the girls always put on a good show and they’re doing One Room Disco which was my ringtone for half of 2009. NOCCHIIIIIIIIIIIIiiiIIIIiiiIIIII xD Spastic dancing FTW!
30. TVXQ aka Tohoshinki (東方神起)
My least favourite Korean boyband. Can I have Super Junior or Big Bang instead?
31. Mizumori Kaori (水森 かおり)
One of the younger enka singers (mid-30s) out there. Sings happier-type enka, pleasant on the eyes. Aki no Miyajima is a very nice song!
32. Itsuki Hiroshi (五木 ひろし)
Enka singer who’s found a new lease of life in recent years, his 2006 single Takasebune reached top 10 which is quite unusual for someone his age (60s).
33. Kimura Kaela (木村 カエラ)
Debuting this year, she’s well known as a style/fashion icon and also for her eclectic songs. But NHK chose Butterfly ugghh. It’s one of her cheesy ballads that was written by SUEMITSU & THE SUEMITH. She’s not a great live singer to be honest. FYI, Kaela is the source of inspiration for Sayonara Zetsubo-sensei’s Kimura Kaere.
34. Alice (アリス)
A 70-80s folk group that keeps breaking up and reforming to play on Kohaku lol. They’ve split and reformed about 4 times now. Champion, which they’re performing this year, is their biggest hit.
35. Nakashima Mika (中島 美嘉)
The woman who always looks like she has a big chip on her shoulder is singing another big crappy ballad (Nagareboshi) this year. I wish she’d do Candy Girl but oh well, Kohaku. Anime fans may remember her as the one who played rocker Nana in the live-action NANA movies.
36. Yuzu (ゆず)
Granddad folk pop duo. OK they’re not old and as nice as Aitai is, their songs all sound the same… I prefer Kobukuro.
37. Angela Aki (アンジェラ・アキ)
Meganekko half Japanese, half Italian-American piano playing soul singer. She performed the touching Tegami on last year’s Kohaku backed by a children’s choir (the song was originally written for a NHK choral competition). And I think she’s going to be singing this every year until she has another big hit…
38. Fuse Akira (布施 明)
Enka singer. He sang some songs for the Kamen Rider Hibiki series a few years ago, most notably Shounen yo!.
39. Kobayashi Sachiko (小林 幸子)
Probably the most well-known female enka singer right now. Famous for the elaborate costumes she wears on Kohaku (even though they tend to suffocate her).
40. Fukuyama Masaharu (福山 雅治)
The next biggest draw on the list after Arashi, this is Fukuyama’s first Kohaku in 16 years which is probably only coming because he’s the lead in NHK’s 2010 taiga drama Ryomaden - usually he holds his own countdown show for his fans. He’s a multi-talented dude with acting, photography and of course, music amongst his many interests. Also regularly voted most eligible bachelor, best jeans wearer, sexiest voice etc etc rubbish in Japanese magazines. Hatsukoi is his best ballad since 2000’s mega-smash Sakurazaka and has been doing well on the charts in recent weeks.
41. Koda Kumi (倖田 來未)
The origin of ero-kawaii. If you don’t know her (you live under a rock?), just imagine a ganguro Takahashi Chiaki. She sang the Final Fantasy X2 theme songs and also did an excellent cover of Cutie Honey for the live-action movie. This year Kuu’s doing a special Kohaku medley - I haven’t listened to her music for 2 years so I’ve no idea what she’ll put in there, hopefully Butterfly.
42. Arashi (嵐)
This year’s superstars, the numero unos, the ones NHK probably sold off a kidney to get on Kohaku. They’re by far the biggest group in Japan at the moment, occupying 4 of the top 5 best-selling singles of 2009 slots. I won’t comment about the quality of the music, but they’re doing a special medley which has A・RA・SHI and Believe (not sure if there’s other songs included)…. ZOMG A・RA・SHI!!!! It was their debut single from 1999 and I’m not ashamed at all to say I loovveddd that song when I first got into Jpop. And LOL at Arashi being 42nd on (around 11pm), how the hell they gonna make it to Tokyo Dome for the Johnny’s Countdown show ROFL. Teleport?
43. Kobukuro (コブクロ)
This folk-pop duo are big business in Japan, and will perform big ballad STAY this year. I love them but not this song. The most memorable Kohaku performance from them was the collab with Ayaka in 2007, singing WINDING ROAD. Some may recognise them for their Cross Game opening theme SUMMER RAIN.
44. Wada Akiko (和田 アキ子)
Well it’s Kohaku, and Kohaku ain’t Kohaku without Akiko. I remember the first time I watched her on NHK and thought WOW this guy really can sing like a woman!!! Uhhhhh….. well Wada sure can sing, but I’m no fan of her music. As far as I’m concerned the best performance I saw of her was during 2005 Kohaku when she collaborated with m-flo on HEY!, but then I’m an m-flo fan…
45. Hikawa Kiyoshi (氷川 きよし)
Camper than Elton John at the Mardi Gras he may be, but Hikawa puts some fun into a boring old genre and Tokimeki no Rumba is an example of that. Spanish music + enka is hahahalol no matter how you look at it.
46. Ishikawa Sayuri (石川 さゆり)
Enka singer, Nana fans may recognise her as the singer of Amagi-goe. Apparently this will be her sixth time singing Tsugarukaikyo Fuyugeshiki at Kohaku.
47. Ayaka (絢香)
Big-voiced ballad singer. Minna Sora no Shita will be her last live performance before going on hiatus as her Graves’ disease symptoms have been worsening. Expect a few tears and actor-husband Mizushima Hiro to be in the crowd somewhere.
Their star has waned somewhat in recent years, which is just as well since they can neither sing nor dance. They’re singing a medley of some song called Sotto Kyutto and the dreaded Sekai ni Hitotsu dake no Hana. On the plus point, leader Nakai is an excellent host, and his ‘did they-didn’t they’ romance with Koda Kumi is always an interesting talking point.
49. DREAMS COME TRUE
I love DCT, or more specifically I love Yoshida Miwa’s booming voice. They’re performing Sono Saki e this year, which was a single collaboration with their proteges Fuzzy Control, a 3-piece rock group. FC aren’t credited so I guess they’re getting cut out for Kohaku lol. This is a really good song, one of the most different I’ve heard from them in a while.
50. Kitajima Saburo (北島 三郎)
The father of all enka singers, this will be his 46th Kohaku appearance. I’m not a fan, but he’s a lovely respectable oji-san.
After last year’s successful performance, 10-year old Ohashi Nozomi (Ponyo girl) will be co-hosting a special ‘Kids Kohaku Uta Gassen’ corner with 8-year old tarento Kato Seishiro. A bunch of kids will be singing 4 songs with SMAP’s Katori Shingo (dressed as his KochiKame police character) judging. Lolicons and shotacons take note?
Ann Sally will be performing the Hisaishi Joe-written theme song Uta no Chikara, which will intro the Kohaku performers.
Susan Boyle is singing I Dreamed A Dream. If you don’t know her you haven’t been on the planet in 2009! 2008’s special guest was Enya by satellite.
Michael Jackson tribute – SMAP will be performing songs from the King of Pop’s back catalogue such as Beat It and Thriller. I was thinking this was an ewwww choice until I remember that I watched that episode of SMAPxSMAP in 2006 when Jacko surprised the group by appearing as a guest. I just hope they won’t kill the songs too much with their hideous singing…
Just 4 more days to go, I’m feeling excited already!! I really shouldn’t, because I usually end up bored and annoyed by 10pm on New Years’ Eve. This year should be much better, there’s Nana after all…. fingers crossed.
Hopefully the Nana wota crowd in Japan will tune into the show in their numbers to get her ratings up so that NHK will take notice and the chance of her being re-invited to perform in future Kohaku will be higher! People do take notice of the ratings for each individual artist every year, like how Shuchishin beat SMAP in 2008.
2009 celebrates the nice little milestone of 7 years of Nana fandom for me, which began back in 2002… and oh wait just go back and read this crazy rambling post, saves me a bit of time.
For the past 1 1/2 years or so I’ve taken a backseat with regards to Nana coverage so that the hardcore fans (you know who y’all are *cough* danie~) can take front and center. Honestly this is a great time to be a Nana fan (although I do feel sorry for everyone’s wallets…), what with her firmly entrenched on the seiyuu pop idol throne and making inroads into the great boiling cauldron of mainstream Jpop. It’s been great fun watching her journey throughout this decade, rising from seiyuu idol wannabe to bona fide superstar.
Although my fanaticism has settled down a lot from my peak craziness (3-4 years ago) I’m still totally in love with her music and that’s something that’ll never change. Since it’s the end of the decade I thought it’d be fun to compile a list of 77 favourite Nana songs as of this very moment (24 December 2009). My tastes tend to fluctuate over time, which means sometimes I can suddenly take to a song I never really liked (like Shin’ai) but generally I think my top 10 is pretty consistent. Hopefully I won’t be too redundant with my comments as I find 77 ways to describe 77 Nana songs…
List format goes: Number. Romanised title (kanji title) [release on which you can find the song]
In case anyone needs reminding, Nana’s albums so far are titled Supersonic Girl [SG], Dream Skipper [DS], MAGIC ATTRACTION [MA], ALIVE & KICKING [AK], HYBRID UNIVERSE [HU], THE MUSEUM [TM], GREAT ACTIVITY [GA] and ULTIMATE DIAMOND [UD].
Top 77 Favourite Nana Songs
77. Uchi e Kaerou (うちへ帰ろう) [Tales of Symphonia Disc 3 Bonus CD]
Yeah I know it’s a nursery rhyme but it’s… kinda cute you know.
76. Yuuyakegumo no Mukou ni (夕やけ雲のむこうに) [HAPPY LESSON character image single]
One of the earliest Nana songs I heard. Although her singing here is still quite rough, there was an obvious quality to her voice.
75. New Sensation [DS]
IIRC this was one of Nana fans’ top 10 picks in a poll of favourite songs 2-3 years back. Sometimes I think the arrangement is overcooked, other times I love it to bits. A song I tend to like depending on my mood.
74. Akai Sweet Pea (赤いスイートピー) [Rosario + Vampire Character Song 1 Akashiya Moka]
I think this gets a placing because of how much I love the song itself (original by Matsuda Seiko) rather than Nana’s cover, which is just a little bit too bouncy and happier than it should be.
73. TRANSMIGRATION [SG]
The only decent song on Supersonic Girl. If you can’t tell, I still detest that album with a passion.
72. BE READY! [DS]
As per the title, a song that really gets you going.
71. Kanransha (観覧車) [four seasons Binzume Yousei~Image Album~]
It was weird how Kanransha sounded like Nana was on autotune when she actually wasn’t. I actually really like the kind of light vocal approach she takes her, which makes the song all cute and fluffy (like bottle fairies should be).
70. Take a chance [GA]
One of the finer examples of Nana doing trance pop. Or should that be the only example?
69. Hoshizora to Tsuki to Hanabi no Shita (星空と月と花火の下) [HU]
A strange kind of ballad for Nana to tackle. Slow but with marching drums, sombre mood yet happy tune.
68. HONEY FLOWER [NS c/w]
This is probably my guiltiest pleasure, it’s just so much of a ‘Look at Me I’m a Girl in Love!!!’ type of song. Love whistling along to it.
67. Take a Shot [AK]
Yabuki Toshiro’s most successful attempt at channeling Elements Garden.
66. Watashi Dake no Melody (私だけのメロディ) [Shinkyoku Sokai Polyphonica Character Song Album Meta-morphose]
Utterly, utterly cheesy yet so much <3
65. refrain -classico- [DS]
Actually a very good ballad but I don’t quite like either arrangement of the song. I’m thinking something more epic, and perhaps a bit of drums thrown in would improve the song tenfold.
64. White Lie [DS]
This would’ve ranked higher a few years ago, but now sinks and gets lost amongst the many similar Nana songs of that period.
63. Koishiteru… (恋してる…) [SITG c/w, DS]
The shape of happiness This mid-tempo ballad sounded awesome at the time but Nana’s had tons better ‘I love you’ type songs since.
62. Etsuraku Camellia (悦楽カメリア) [UD]
Successfully mimics the Angura-kei/heavy metal stylings of Onmyouza, the heaviest and loudest song Nana’s recorded yet. Sounds especially great on bass-heavy earphones, fantastic to headbang along to.
61. Blue Moon [Meikyuu Butterfly c/w]
Tons better than Meikyuu Butterfly.
60. Soradokei (空時計) [SCEP]
I don’t hear a lot of love for this song, unsurprisingly. Simple, effective Jpop with a slightly restrained vocal by Nana… except for that glory note in the bridge.
59. Brilliant Star [S~M~ c/w, MA]
The production on this is so dated, Nana sounds like she’s singing in a chamber. That doesn’t mask the fact that there’s a great song buried in there.
58. I’m in Love [Itazura na Kiss OST]
Sickly sweet love song, as you would expect from a shoujo show like Itazura. Actually when I listen to this I’m strongly reminded of how dense Kotoko is, the song reflects her earnest stupidity pretty well.
57. deep sea [MA]
deep sea isn’t mentioned too often when fans talk about their favourite Nana songs. I love her controlled vocal during the chorus, not overpowering it with endless shrieky vibrato.
56. JET PARK [DS]
This was probably her best LET’S GO!!! type pop song until Power Gate arrived.
55. Gin’iro no Hane (銀色の羽根) [Mushiuta DVD 6]
The violins here are really nice! Uhhhh yeah I like the way Nana whispers those vocals in the bridge part. Somehow I find a song that’s supposed to be sweet, sexy instead. Urrkkk.
54. Panorama (パノラマ -Panorama-) [AK]
Truth be told this song is so damn cheesy and predictable, but that just means a chorus that is easy to hum along to.
53. Sora ni Naru Tsubasa (空になる翼) [Allison to Lillia Drama CD1]
Character songs allow Nana to indulge in shameless bubblegum pop like this and I for one, am glad.
52. Orgel to Piano to -holy style- [MA]
Ohira Tsutomu’s arrangement >>>>>> Isoe Toshimichi’s. The guy has a good grasp of how to structure a ballad and he’s done it time and time again over Nana’s career.
51. DISCOTHEQUE [Trickster c/w]
Churu-churu-churu-payappa….actually this has some of the most hideous, high-pitched squeaks I’ve heard from Nana but that’s OK, the song is cute. And of course this song is so addictive because the guy who wrote it probably injected subliminal drug messages into the lyrics. Hi Sonoda Ryoji!!!
50. Hikari (光) [SG c/w]
I so wanted this to be the A-side instead of Super Generation If the song has any fault it’s that totally ghey synth.
49. SECRET AMBITION [GA]
I keep thinking like I should love SA more than I actually do, but every time I listen to it there’s this nagging feeling at the back of my mind that it’s not quite as great as it could be. Any way you look at it, it’s always going to play second fiddle to innocent starter for Nana’s best Nanoha theme (and come January, it might be pushed to third by PHANTOM MINDS).
48. Yakusoku no Katachi (約束のかたち) [Allison to Lillia Drama CD2]
Both A+L songs are delightful, even if the anime kinda bombed.
47. Mr.Bunny! [UD]
WHERE OH WHERE IS MY NANA PERFORMING MR BUNNY IN PLAYBOY OUTFIT.
46. Tenkuu no Canaria [天空のカナリア]
The only song worth buying Mugen for.
45. Daisuki na Kimi e (大好きな君へ) [AK]
I have a soft spot for any song with the word Christmas in it that doesn’t have jingling bells.
44. Taiyou ga Niau yo (太陽が似合うよ) [Shugo Chara Chara Song Collection 2]
Easily the best of all the Shugo Chara songs she’s done so far.
43. Shounen (少年) [UD]
Hah, the song that everyone loves to hate. I heart it for the power chords that I can bang out on my air guitar.
42. still in the groove [DS]
For some reason I always imagine Oku(N)i Masami singing this, must be something about the way the song’s phrasing that reminds me of Makkun’s songs.
41. Soyokaze ni Fukarete (よ風に吹かれて…) [AK]
Like feeling the wind blowing through your hair while standing on a hill, staring into the distance…
40. Nocturne -revision- [DS]
Ohira’s arrangement >>>>>> Isoe Toshimichi’s.
39. Open Your Heart [is c/w]
This is so happy, bright and breezy. It’s telling you to SUMAIRU, so do it.
38. Lightning Arc [Twinkle Saber Nova: Hirusagari no Whisper drama CD]
There’s something about this song that really gets me, eventhough it’s really just a very generic anisong - that bit at the end of the chorus where the melody suddenly takes a turn from minor into major key. I lol when I know this song is written by Funta, it sounds more like something Shikura Chiyomaru would do.
37. Mirai Travel (ミライトラベル) [Minami-ke Character Album Minami-ke Biyori]
As a character song Mirai Travel is fail in that it’s nothing like Touma at all but by itself, is a fine piece of pop-rock with a punchy arrangement by Kawai Eiji.
36. Futari no Memory (二人のMemory) [MA]
Severely underrated song, fun to sing along to. Despite Yabuki’s horrible decision to stick male background vocals in.
35. Aoi Iro (アオイイロ) [JTB c/w, GA]
34. Gozen Reiji no Baby Doll (午前0時のBaby Doll) [Shin'ai c/w]
So old-school Jpop, of the horribly cheesy kind that Nana likes (I mean, lol Takahashi Hiro). Which meant I was destined to fall in love with it from the word go.
33. Shinobu Ondo (シノブ音頭) [2x2=Shinobuden Original Soundtrack & Songs]
Nana’s voice is made for the enka stylings of ondo songs, even if they’re rather jokey ones (shurikens, choco-bananas) like this.
32. PERFECT SMILE [UD]
I just love how this song builds towards the epic chorus as well as the way the tune moves from low to high and back. All with that heavenly piano-led arrangement bouncing along in the background… and jeebus this song is hard to sing.
31. Takaramono (宝物) [DS]
Lovely ballad, the Budokan live version makes it even better thanks to her lol mistake on the piano.
30. Mirai Kono Hoshi de (未来この星で)
Like most of the Memories off songs written by Chiyomaru this sounds like it’s stuck in the 90s but the strong melody still hooks me in.
29. MARIA&JOKER [UD]
Experimentation is a good thing, especially when it results in a film noir-esque piece like this. Smokingly sexy.
28. Justice To Believe
Strictly NOT the re-arranged version found on The Museum, which sucks balls for cutting out the piano + acoustic guitar intro. Production on the single version is slightly overdone and bombastic but it’s still trademark Nana + EG epicness.
27. Promise on Christmas [GA]
Love for this song tends to heighten every Christmas season. It was refreshing to hear her take a different vocal approach on PoC but I don’t think many people would nominate this as a favourite. Doesn’t anyone know how hard it is to sing r’n'b with a Koda Kumi-type warble???
26. Last Scene (ラストシーン) [GA]
I have this thing for break-up songs and Last Scene always makes me tear a little with its ‘I knew from the start it was going to end’ lyrics.
25. Kaze no Fuku Basho (風の吹く場所) [Kiba Original Soundtrack 2]
Nice sweeping arrangement courtesy of Fujima Hitoshi, only downside is that it was for some garbage anime nobody watched.
24. Shin’ai (深愛) [UD]
I wasn’t entirely fond of Shin’ai at the start with its odd three-part structure (verse, bridge, chorus all in different keys) but I slowly began to appreciate just how hard to damn hard the song was to sing after seeing that one girl massacre it.
23. Ano Hi Yume Mita Negai (あの日夢見た願い) [MA]
Live studio version *sob *sob
22. WILD EYES [HU]
Hi NANA IN LEATHER YUM. Also, best lyrics she’s ever written, or at least the most impressive sounding.
21. Replay Machine -Custom- (リプレイマシン -custom-) [NS c/w]
This song has fallen out of favour with me a bit - I ranked it top 5 last time but I just don’t listen to it that much at the moment.
20. Trinity Cross [Trickster c/w]
Chiyomaru song + Fujima arrangement = LOVE.
19. STAND [MA]
It finally hit me a few months ago that the intro to Takahashi Naozumi’s Muteki na Smile sounds a lot like STAND. Doesn’t detract from my enjoyment of the song, thankfully.
18. Thermidor -Vingt-Sept- (テルミドール -Vingt-Sept-)
Fantastically grand rearrangement of the bleepy, snoozeworthy original - thank you Agematsu! Nana’s vocal also powers up by a great amount here, much more mature than when she first started out.
17. Violetta [HU]
Best of all Nana’s self-penned tracks thus far - it has a robust, varied structure while still managing to maintain a nice flow to it.
16. You have a dream [HU]
The trance-y intro is rather deceiving since it quickly dives into regular dance-pop. It’s oh-so-very fun!
15. Heart-shaped chant [SA c/w]
The song I once thought ‘Gosh so boring’ still ranks among my favourites. I think it’s down to Agematsu Mika’s heavenly harp.
14. FAITH [HU]
COME ON FEEL MY FACE~~~~~ never fails to make me laugh. At the same time never fails to get me bopping my head to the beat.
13. cherish [Panorama c/w, AK]
I love Nana songs that convey a strong sense of nostalgia and that’s what cherish does very well.
12. NAKED FEELS [HU]
How I wish the song was called FEELS NAKED 8D
11. Independent Love Song [AK]
As of late ILS has risen to be my favourite Nana ballad. As usual, Ohira is at the helm and he produces an understated, poignant piano and acoustic guitar arrangement.
10. Crystal Letter [TM]
The wobbly synth, the tinkly piano and oh, the epic strings. Probably the best strings arrangement in any Nana song yet.
9. Trickster [UD]
I like Nana getting out of her comfort zone and doing something different, and the hard rock riffs of Trickster are a perfect example.
8. Inside of Mind [EB c/w]
Bad, bad Engrish but the beats are evil. Love this song to bits still.
7. Hime Murasaki [WE c/w]
Sloooow-burrrning rock ballad fits Nana so well, why doesn’t she do it more often?
6. innocent starter [AK]
This was the point when Nana started to gain more fans and I started to not feel quite so alone ^^; On the other hand I now feel like I’m getting trampled underfoot by a stampede of insane fanboys… Oh yeah Inosuta, legendary song that everyone knows and loves… right?
5. Nostalgia [GA]
My love for this keeps growing stronger and stronger by the day. Still a shame that it doesn’t go on for longer, 2 minutes 52 seconds is just way too short for a song as good as this.
4. POWER GATE [MA]
A sentimental pick, fan favourite etc etc
3. Tears’ Night [AK]
There will always be a very special place in my heart for Tears’ as it’s the first collab with EG and it is just SO FREAKING AWSM AND MADE OF WIN. Acoustic version is awesome too.
2. Astrogation [SCEP, UD]
So if we ever get to live on the moon I would like to adopt Astro as my love song (to whoever). Honestly, this should’ve been the one named ‘COSMIC LOVE’ what with lyrics about ‘wanting to synchronise (with you)’ and how ‘your smile is blinding like the jewels of Andromeda’. Nana and dance-pop perfection at its best - too bad these kind of hi-energy songs tend not to translate well to the stage.
1. PROTECTION [MA]
No matter how much time passes, no matter how many songs Nana sings, come rain or shine PROTECTION will always be my No.1 Nana song. I find it hard to explain why but really, the songs I first heard when I discovered Nana are the most precious and meaningful to me.
Yes you’re reading the list correct. ETERNAL BLAZE isn’t on because I detest it. I don’t like Super Generation either HARHARHAR. What other Nana songs don’t I like? Plenty actually, but here’s 7 I really want to throw on the ground and trample upon, pour lighter fluid on, blow them up and throw the ashes into South African dunes. In simple Engrish, LOLWTF HATEHATEHATE.
7. NANAiro no Youni
Actually you can swap out this song for anything on SG (except TRANSMIGRATION), they all suck in equal measure.
6. Ano Ne~Mamimume☆Mogacho
No no no this is not cute it’s just bloody annoying. YOU’RE NOT YUKARIN DON’T SING YUKARIN SONGS.
5. MASSIVE WONDERS
Uggghhhhh as much as I loved Yabuki during his 90s heyday, he’s still writing the same bloody song over and over again 10 years later (only works about 10% of the time). MW showed why Nana should try NOT to regress into using his songs as singles.
Nana tries to write a song that sounds like Elements Garden. Predictably the result is FAIL.
This song totally blows. Nothing about it was right, from the shitty ‘hey let’s stick 20 million different instruments in here!’ arrangement to the clichéd lyrics (PLEASE SEE WHO I REALLY AM) to the dreadfully freaky PV.
2. COSMIC LOVE
The best thing to come out of the Sonoda scandal was this song being stripped off ULTIMATE DIAMOND \[^o^]/
1. HEAVEN KNOWS
Ummm seriously is there anyone out there who likes this? Screw that Flashdance rip-off melody and arrangement, this song needs to burn in hell.
*rage mode over
At this point I’m probably supposed to put up some nice Nana pictures or something but I don’t think there’s any image of her out there that hasn’t been raped and used by every blog and fansite known to man. I’m still feeling ill at the moment and the one thing that caught my eye while cycling through my folder of Nana pics was…. LEGS. Iyashikei for the pervert soul.
Thanks Nana for rocking my world in the noughties - may you continue to do so next decade and far beyond.
And thank YOU for skimming through this tl;dr post. Merry Christmas, happy watching Nana’s LIVE DIAMONDxFEVER.
Got my copy of the album in the post today and given the CD and DVD a quick spin. I’ve been kinda looking forward to it, mostly for the DVD footage - I feared the music would be awful beyond comprehension but I am relieved to report that’s not quite the case.
The vocals are split evenly between all four girls on all the tracks. They sound pretty decent on record, Kotobuki Minako is the obvious standout vocalist but their harmonies are pretty decent. Toyosaki Aki also manages to keep her squeak in check. Style-wise it’s the upbeat galpop similar to their three singles released so far (FUTURE STREAM, Super Noisy Nova, Kaze o Atsumete) with very little deviation.
Briefly whipping through the tracks:
1. FUTURE STREAM
Lyrics: Hata Aki Composition/Arrangement: Yamaguchi Akihiko
First single, opinion of it hasn’t changed much. It’s OK, not a particular favourite of mine. Decent way to open the album.
2. Hontou Dakara Komarunda (本当だから困るんだ)
Lyrics: Hata Aki Composition/Arrangement: Watanabe Kazunori
Fun, upbeat track with a nice bouncy beat.
3. PRINCESS CODE
Lyrics: Kodama Saori Composition/Arrangement: Hashimoto Yukari
I hate the Lalalala intro of the song. It sort of got better by the chorus but doesn’t really grab me. The arrangement is rather annoying too.
Lyrics: Hata Aki Composition/Arrangement: Kurosu Katsuhiko
c/w for FUTURE STREAM. Nothing special but not particularly terrible either.
5. Kimi no Sora ga Hareru Made (君の空が晴れるまで)
Lyrics: Hata Aki Composition/Arrangement: Watanabe Kazunori
OK I’m running out of ways to describe the songs without using ‘fun’ or ‘upbeat’. So…. this is upbeat and fun.
6. Rakugaki Dictionary (らくがきDictionary)
Lyrics: Hata Aki Composition/Arrangement: Kurosu Katsuhiko
Song has been doing the radio rounds as promo for the album and it’s not hard to see why. While not quite a ballad, it’s slower than most of the other tracks and has a very pleasant melody line that somehow reminds me of…. FEEL MY BREEZE by V6. At this point in time, my favourite track on the album.
7. Dangerous girls
Lyrics: Hata Aki Composition/Arrangement: Kurosu Katsuhiko
Still hate this song. How could I ever like something with the lyrics ‘Huli Huli dance’ I don’t know.
8. Dream sign
Lyrics: Hata Aki Composition: Kurosu Katsuhiko Arrangement: Nijine
Ughhhh. Shit attempt to rock out. Skip skip skip skip.
9. Super Noisy Nova
Lyrics: Hata Aki Composition: rino Arrangement: Nijine
The song has grown on me a lot after watching Sora no Manimani. No complaints here.
10. Joyful x Joyful
Lyrics/Composition: rino Composition/Arrangement: Okubo Kaoru
Written by the CooRie team, I guess this is the only song that qualifies as a ballad on the album and it’s not bad. A bit of a Christmassy feel to it with the ‘Joyful’ theme.
11. Sayonara SEE YOU (サヨナラSEE YOU)
Lyrics: Kodama Saori Composition/Arrangement: Yamaguchi Akihiko
……it has horns. It’s fast-paced. It’s nondescript.
Lyrics: Hata Aki Composition: Kurosu Katsuhiko Arrangement: Nijine
The lead promo song for the album, with its own PV. I didn’t like it at first but on second thought… the chorus is actually very catchy.
The real meat of the package, the 45-minute DVD covers the A.T.M.O.S.P.H.E.R.E. PV and a segment called ‘Road of Sphere’, which is split between behind-the-scenes footage from before the girls formed Sphere right up til today and the play they performed at the Shake x Sphere event in August.
The PV is very fun, with underwater and safari themes - what’s more interesting is the stuff going on in the background, you can see Tomatsu Haruka mock fishing and fooling about with fishing nets and floats half the time.
Also features a load of elevator scenes, the best one where Tomacchan shoves Takagaki Ayahi off the screen
Part 2 is behind-the-scenes footage beginning from the early days before the announcement of the formation of Sphere. The image above was probably taken around mid-2008.
What I love about all this footage is that…. Haruka wears shorts a lot
I mean look. Ayahi’s wrapped up like a goth, Mina-chan is in jeans, Aki-chan wearing black tights and she’s… wearing shorts
I like how Aki-chan is always living in a world of her own - while the rest of the girls are crying after coming off the stage she’s clapping her hands away happily, which seems like something (Hirasawa) Yui would do.
Before 1st Stream, the girls walk past the camera saying GANBARIMASU!! except for Mina-chan who goes…’Food, food. I want to eat food’.
MEGANEKKO TOMATSU KYAAAA!!! And zomg Mina-chan dimple XD
I would love this shot more if their kimonos were shorter.
Part 3 (sort of), is the segment from Shake X Sphere. Strangely enough their live singing isn’t as bad as I’d feared - they were trying to sing Super Noisy Nova while doing the lame dance and it was actually fairly OK.
The play was lol stupid and featured random stuff like the girls rewriting SNN with hilariously dumb lyrics (cows giving birth, celery that tastes terrible) and in-jokes (MOTTO HADE NI NE). It was rather amusing, though you’d obviously have to know Japanese to understand it.
Overall… I probably wouldn’t buy A.T.M.O.S.P.H.E.R.E. solely for the music. I’m rather surprised Kaze o Atsumete was left off the album since it’s their best song IMHO, but overall it’s a decent purchase if just for the DVD. Oh and the B2 poster that came with the CD is just the promo pic that’s being used on Sphere’s site:
Uhhhh my camera (literally) broke so I had to use my phone :/
Anisong has always been a huge part of my fandom, it’s what got me into anime in the first place so it seems natural that I should draw up a list of the albums that I’ve loved most over the past 10 years. Unfortunately the industry isn’t really album-driven so looking for a good CD is like trying to find that elusive needle in a haystack. As such, it didn’t take me too long to make the choices for this list - most of them were really obvious in that they’ve been on my iPod rotation for forever.
Not in any particular order or ranking.
Calling Dream Field the most important anisong album of the decade may seem like a bit of an exaggeration but just look at all the Kalafina and FictionJunction projects we have to put up with now - the sad thing is that none of them hold a candle to See-Saw. The Kajiura Yuki-Ishikawa Chiaki partnership was one that worked so well and in fact, I daresay no other vocalist has grabbed Kajiura’s material by the neck and sung the hell out of it the way Chiaki did. Every single track on this one is a classic.
Choice Cuts: Sen’ya Ichi’ya, Tasogare no Umi, Yasashii Yoake
Having to ‘go back to the drawing board’ is not something most artists would contemplate, but angela did so and this sublime album is the result, ending a four-year dry run after being dropped by their first major label. Sora no Koe is epic pop perfection, backed by a retooled orchestral sound and a new, powered-up vocal approach by Atsuko.
Choice cuts: Asu e no brilliant road, Pain, Kirei na Yozora
Kajiura Yuki working with Sae-chan was a strange kind of exercise, as if she plundered the best of 90s bubblegum pop era See-Saw, infusing it with the new-found dramatical sounds of the latter-day See-Saw. everything does tone down on the sickly sweetness of their first record melody, throwing out the cutesy crap (no Castella!) in favour of mature ballads to fit Sae’s voice. This CD contains some of the best mainstream pop material Kajiura has ever written - from the pure Ice-Cream to the effervescent Daiya no Genseki.
Choice Cuts: Ice Cream, Daiya no Genseki#brilliant covered, Wednesday Morning
MAGIC ATTRACTION used to be my favourite Nana album, but I’ve been rethinking that stance over the past year and come to the conclusion that MA may have that killer tune (Power Gate) but as an album, ALIVE & KICKING is a better overall listen. You could consider A&K the transition album that still loosely holds on to the old-school Yabuki sound while beginning to embrace a newer Nana sound that fans of today are more familiar with, starting with the kick-ass Tears’ Night.
Choice Cuts: innocent starter, Tears’ Night, Independent Love Song
Fans still mourn Maaya in her Kanno Yoko days and it’s easy to tell why when you listen to this album. Some of her earlier efforts tended to be messy affairs but no such problems on Shounen Alice, eschewing random r’n'b tracks and fluffy Jpop for a tight, focused acoustic-based sound while. The perfect swan song for the Kanno-Sakamoto partnership.
Choice Cuts: Uchuu Hikoushi no Uta, KINGFISHER GIRL - The Song of “Wish You Were Here”, CALL TO ME
Note: The Shounen Alice unplugged session is absolutely worth checking out, songs like Yoru, Uchuu Hikoushi no Uta and Hikari Are sound even more gorgeous live than on record. And of course, Kanno Yoko talking about cookies and apples!
Tindharia is probably the most ‘out-of-place’ choice on this list and my only doujin pick. Shimotsukin’s first fantasy album has her working with Grandia composer Iwadare Noriyuki and it is a thing of beauty; packed with lush orchestration, gentle melodies and some of Haruka’s best, most emotional vocal performances on record.
Choice Cuts: Konya no Tsuki ga Nemuru Made, Shinjitsu no Honoo, Mamoribito
tiaraway has achieved somewhat legendary status for being the best seiyuu pop idol unit this decade, or at least they seemed so to fervent fans like me. Marrying the singing ability of Chiba Saeko and Nanri Yuuka with the songwriting chops of a then-not-yet-quite-famous Shikura Chiyomaru, TWO:LEAF is an oddly compelling album that is not quite like any other seiyuu idol album out there…probably because Chiyomaru stamped his ‘cheap video-game synth pop’ sound all over the songs. That’s not a bad thing, mind you - the guy did write a bunch of stuff for Mizuki Nana after all.
Choice Cuts: Omoide good night, Your Shade, From silent sky
Her final album proper before her untimely death in 2004. Those familiar with Okazaki’s style will no doubt warm up to the material found here (which is actually a Sister Princess Re:pure image album) immediately - a mix of cheerful pop and gentle and heartbreaking ballads that might make you shed a tear. Listening to her songs now, I wonder how many of them were written during Ritsuko’s times of poor health - she was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2003 before suddenly passing away from septic shock due to a blood infection. Five years on I still find it hard to take that she’s no longer with us but her songs will live on forever (oh god, cheese!) - and life is lovely. is arguably the strongest body of work she has to offer.
Choice Cuts: Serenade, Mamoritai Hito ga Ite, Sore wa Atashi no Kokoro nano
Listening to the music Makkun made during her prime was like getting high on a drug, never to come down again - the exhilarating hot-blooded female rocker awesomeness (can you say GAR?) was unparalleled. This album was a bit of a landmark in that it was her first work away from the production hands of Yabuki Toshiro (as well her final Starchild release) and at the time, seemed to indicate that her second coming would be even greater than her first glory run in the late 90s (the Rondo -Revolution- period). Things haven’t quite worked out that way but DEVOTION is still one of Makkun’s most fun albums and has stood up well to the test of time.
Choice Cuts: Sora no Kakeru Hashi, lotus, Train
The bulk of the material here is from ARIA with a couple more from Tsubasa, although strangely there’s a count of 1-1 for Kajiura Yuki-Kanno Yoko songs (Yume no Tsubasa vs Omna Magni) as well. Yui truly benefits from having such established writers (Kitagawa Katsutoshi, Kubota Mina, Kouno Shin) fashion songs for her and she holds her own vocal-wise, making an album that is like the ARIA series she is often associated with, pure iyashikei.
Choice Cuts: Modokashii Sekai no Ue de, Undine, Amurita
Pre-dating the breakthrough Suara made with Musouka from Utawarerumono, Amane Uta is an album of sweet love songs that touch on first love, separation and break-ups, all in that exquisitely pristine and delicate voice of hers. Somehow I feel like crying when I listen to something like Hajimari no Yakusoku…
Choice Cuts: Hajimari no Yakusoku, Tooi Machi, pray
Downbeat, dreary and depressing are the keywords that normally come to mind when thinking of Arai’s music but Eden is not quite the same - it’s a warm, organic album with more feel-good factor to it than past works and as always, her seductive whisper hooks you in easily. This makes for great listening on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Choice Cuts: Nijiiro no Wakusei, Roundabout Drive, Vanilla
Hocchan’s sound has always been unapologetically bright and breezy galpop and it is best captured on this album, for which her fanclub also happens to be named after. Some of these songs are so catchy (Aitai-ai-ai-ai…) they should be quarantined. Yes my jokes are lame.
Choice Cuts: Kono Yubi Tomare, Love Destiny, Tsuki no Kikyuu
Iizuka may get credit for penning all the lyrics but the strength of STORIES lies in the material. Sometimes great songwriting and production can help mask even the thinnest of vocals, as is the case here. And boy does it do it well.
Choice Cuts: Sincerely, Wasurenai., Ashita Hareta nara
Incredibly talented, terribly underrated - it took three years for Atsumi to release this, her major label debut, after her first single Mou Sukoshi…Mou Sukoshi… Acoustic female singer-songwriters are a premium in the anisong world and she’s one of the best. Tokyo Clumsy Days proves as much, a collection of love songs that are both earnest and charming.
Choice Cuts: Osanai Bokura, Ashita ni Nareba, Mou Sukoshi…Mou Sukoshi
Best of the Noughties: 25 Favourite Anime
The second half of the 100 list.
Why you should know him: The clown of the seiyuu world.
Signature line: Love and peeeeaccceeeeee!!
More about Onosaka: Less known for his voice acting (although he is actually very good) and more for his comedy antics which make him a particularly sought after TV and radio personality.
Best known roles: Vash the Stampede in Trigun, Cerberus (big) in Card Captor Sakura, Mantaro Kinniku in Kinnikuman series, Don Patch in Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, Momoshiro Takeshi in Prince of Tennis, Zelos Wilder in Tales of Symphonia
What else you should know: Frequently accused of sexual harassment (thanks to his constant, public discussions of the anatomy of female seiyuu colleagues), Onosaka is also responsible for some rather legendary memes - turning Geneva lake (レマン湖) into Lé Manko, talking at length about the word ‘opanpon’ (female equivalent of ‘ochinchin’) as well as popularising the usage of ’senzuri’ and ‘paipan’ (onani terms).
Currently heard in: Hetalia Axis Powers (France), Dragon Ball Kai (Burter)
Why you should know him: He’s a hot-blooded hero!
More on Kusao: Kusao attended Aoni’s training school - his first piece of work was as Chiba Shigeru’s corpse in Oshii Mamoru’s live-action movie The Red Spectacles, while his first voice role was in AKIRA as Kai.
Best known roles: Sakuragi Hanamichi in Slam Dunk, Lamune in NG Knight Lamune & 40, Trunks in Dragon Ball, Parn in Record of Lodoss War, Ky Kiske in Guilty Gear, Fukamachi Sho/Guyver in Guyver, Moteuchi Yota in Video Girl Ai, Sanada Ryo in Ronin Warriors
What else you should know: The popularity of the Ronin Warriors series saw the formation of seiyuu group NG5, of which Kusao and Sasaki Nozomu were a part of. CD releases and live events followed, and they were even the subject of a documentary by mainstream broadcaster MBS.
Currently heard in: Keroro Gunsou (Dororo)
Why you should know him: The man formerly known as Hayashi Nobutoshi, one of the ’90s most popular male seiyuu.
Background: He was a child actor, appearing in commercials as early as 3 years old but dropped out of showbiz to concentrate on his studies. Re-emerged on stage after graduating high school, he made his seiyuu debut in 1991’s Dragon Quest anime as Prince Frank.
Best known roles: Nekki Basara in Macross 7, Guts in Berserk, Mido Ban in Get Backers, Yakushi Kabuto in Naruto, Tasuki in Fushigi Yugi, Knuckles in Sonic the Hedgehog, Lancer in Fate/stay night
What else you should know: A talented guitarist/singer, he was part of the E.M.U seiyuu unit back in the 90s and also forms one half of FukuJin (福神), a side project with Fukuyama Yoshiki (who actually performed the singing parts for Nekki Basara in Macross 7).
Why you should know him: He’s currently one of the industry’s most bankable actors, and well on his way to being a superstar.
Signature line: ZETSUBOU SHITA!!!!!!
All about Kamiyan: Kamiya’s career got off on a very, very slow footing - he actually debuted in 1994 but it wasn’t until he got the lead role in Honey and Clover that things really took off. Since then he’s not looked back and has amassed a long list of credits and Seiyuu Awards to his name, being one of those Men With A Thousand Voices that can pull off just about any role with class and style.
Best known roles: Takemoto Yuta in Honey & Clover series, Tieiria Erde in Gundam 00, Itoshiki Nozomu in Sayonara Zetsubo-sensei series, Natsume Takashi in Natsume Yujincho, Araragi Koyomi in Bakemonogatari
What else you should know: I’m sure a lot of people will remember that he was involved in a motor accident in 2006 which landed him in hospital for a few weeks, leaving Nojima Kenji to take over his role for the last episode of Honey & Clover II.
My favourite Kamiyan role: Kaji Tetsushi in Ultra Maniac would seem a strange choice, but I prefer hearing him in softer roles like Takemoto & Natsume rather than talk-nineteen-to-the-dozen Itoshiki.
Why you should know her: That cosplaying seiyuu.
Signature line: JUNK NI SHITE AGERU (WA).
All about RieRie: Abandoning a nursing career (she likes kids) in favour of voice acting, Rie attended Yoyogi Animation school and won an open vocal audition
Best known roles: Lacus Clyne & Meer Campbell in Gundam Seed series, Suigintou in Rozen Maiden series, Chii in Chobits, Maria in Hayate no Gotoku!, Yomi in Azumanga Daioh, Mariel in Hanaukyo Maid series, Sanada Mitsuki in Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure
What else you should know: Is as well-known for her looks and extra-curricular activities as her voice acting feats - she’s a staple in the print media, on TV and on the airwaves. Adding to that her RPG playing skills and cosplay work, Rie is one of the most recognizable names/faces amongst the younger generation of seiyuu today.
My favourite RieRie role: Matsutaka Hiroko in Hataraki Man is a understated, under-rated performance by Rie.
Currently heard in: Asura Cryin’ 2 (Kurosaki Shuri), Katekyo Hitman Reborn! (Bianki)
Why you should know her: One of the decade’s biggest seiyuu idols, part of the forever 17 clan.
All about Hocchan: The most prolific amongst the current crop of seiyuu idols, both in voice-acting and singing. In addition to the dozens of lead roles she’s accumulated throughout her 12-year career, Hocchan formed two successful musical projects - the now-defunct idol group Aice5 and goth band Kurobara Hozonkai.
Best known roles: Narusegawa Naru in Love Hina series, Honda Tohru in Fruits Basket, Tsukimiya Ayu in Kanon, Sawachika Eri in School Rumble series, Yuki Cross in Vampire Knight, Shirakawa Kotori in Da Capo series, Kushieda Minori in Toradora!
My favourite Hocchan role: Takako/Mikage in Pretear was the first time I heard an evil Yui and she pulled it off pretty well. Shame that she tends to get bogged down in irritating genki roles most of the time.
Currently heard in: Umineko no Naku Koro ni (Ushiromiya Maria), Natsu no Arashi Akinaichu (Yamazaki Kanako)
Why you should know him: Lulu.
All about FukuJun: Had a relatively inauspicious start to his career, mainly voicing support characters and bit-part roles after graduating from Aoni Juku and then joining Production Baobab at the turn of the century. It wasn’t until he got the part of Lelouch in Code Geass in 2006 that his career launched into the stratosphere and
Best known roles: Lelouch Lamperouge in Code Geass series, Viscount Albert d’Morcerf in Gankutsuou, Watanuki Kimihiro in xxHOLiC, Kraft Lawrence in Spice and Wolf, Kawahira Keita in Inukami!, Mutou Kazuki in Busou Renkin
Currently heard in: Tegami Bachi (Gauche Suede), Nyan Koi! (Tama), Hanasakeru Seishonen (Carl), Kiddy Girl-and (Tweedledum),
My favourite FukuJun role: Over-the-top is his forte and SoraKake’s Leopard is perhaps the best example of his talents.
Why you should know him: Acclaimed 90s seiyuu, not to be confused with Sasaki Nozomi.
All about Nozomu: Despite never intending to become a seiyuu (he was dragged along to an audition by a friend), Sasaki has built a solid career, coming into prominence with a major role in the classic AKIRA movie in the late 80s. The height of his popularity came in the 90s, and it’s said that he’s topped more Animage Seiyuu Grand Prix rankings than any other seiyuu in history.
Best known roles: Shima Tetsuo in AKIRA, Urameshi Yusuke in Yu Yu Hakusho, Johann Liebert in MONSTER, Mello in Death Note, Olba Frost in After War Gundam X, Eriol Hiiragizawa in Cardcaptor Sakura, Aotsuki Ushio in Ushio and Tora
What else you should know: In recent years he has mentioned that the condition of his voice has deteriorated as a result of taking on roles that ‘require a lot of shouting’ as well as constant live performances.
Currently heard in: Element Hunters (Rodney)
Why you should know her: One of the ’80s great veterans.
All about Sumi: Originally an actress, Shimamoto moved into voice acting after guesting on an episode of Zenderman. Having appeared in many popular anime in the 80s, she was a regular winner of annual ‘favourite female seiyuu’ polls conducted by Animage throughout the decade. Less active from the 90s onwards as she focused on bringing up her daughter, Shimamoto has nevertheless taken on occasional roles - most recently as Konata’s mother in Lucky Star.
Best known roles: Nausicaa in Nausicaa Valley of the Wind, Otonashi Kyoko in Maison Ikkoku, Asaka Rei in Oniisama e…, Sarah Crewe in Shokojo Sera, Kudo Yukiko in Detective Conan, Mizunokoji Asuka in Urusei Yatsura, Lady Clarisse d’Cagliostro in Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro
What else you should know: A Ghibli/Miyazaki Hayao favourite, Shimamoto released a CD covering Ghibli theme songs in August 2009.
Why you should know her: Woman of a 1000 voices.
All about Oririn: Not a whole lot is known about Orikasa outside her professional life, she tends to shun the spotlight and lets her work speak for itself. The second daughter of a single-parent family, Orikasa did not attend college and spent the first few years of her adult working life living in a cramped apartment (with communal toilets) while working odd jobs, including stage acting before making her voice acting debut in 1999 as the heroine Fuyutsuki Azusa in Great Teacher Onizuka.
Best known roles: Kuchiki Rukia in Bleach, Seras Victoria in Hellsing, Chise in Saishu Heiki Kanojo, Ciel in Shingetsutan Tsukihime, Saori Kido/Athena in Saint Seiya: Hades, Matsuoka Miu in Ichigo Mashimaro series
My favourite Fumi role: Yagyu Kyubei in Gintama in a bokukko who also happens to be extremely sexy. And rather tsundere.
Currently heard in: Kobato! (Okiura Sayaka), Gintama (Yagyu Kyubei), Bleach (Rukia), Inazuma Eleven (Kino Aki), Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood (Riza Hawkeye)
Reflections on the decade begin.
Here we are at the end of the 00s and what a good 10 years for anime it’s been! I suspect that’s probably because it’s the first full 10 years I’ve actually been actively following shows by the season. I think my choices are fairly obvious and similar to many of the lists other people have done (refer to Kitsune’s post for a compilation) - a good show should always be a good show no matter the subject matter and the intended audience.
Without further ado!
Juuni Kokki is always one of the first series I recommend to friends looking for a good fantasy anime. Although it remains an unfinished work with at least two story arcs left hanging, the depth of the storytelling along with well-fleshed out characters and a rich historical background in the parts we do get to see make this an absolute joy to watch.
While the first part of the series (Crest of the Stars) was all about building up the characters and backstory, Banner of the Stars is pure action and dialogue with many intriguing, intricate battles of wills and egos - it was like watching an animated tactical RPG at times. The Abh universe and its rich cast of characters are never better portrayed than in this installment of one of the best sci-fi stories of all time.
Learning to enjoy the little things and to appreciate the small moments in life, that’s what ARIA is so good at doing. Bringing as much warmth as a sweet baked potato treat on a freezing December afternoon, the series consistently delivers powerful and meaningful tales wrapped in simple, sweet packages. Afforded three seasons and 1 OVA (total 54 episodes) to develop its story(?) and characters, the ARIA universe is so well illustrated that Akari, Alicia, Aika etc feel like a part of our own lives that we laugh and cry along with every success and failure. Iyashi-kei anime at its finest.
The original Sunrise ‘trainwreck’ - by the last 8 or so episodes, things had descended into such chaos that I no longer knew what the hell was going on and who was going to get green-sparkled next. Whatever one might think of the execution, Mai-HiME was a barrel-load of fun and laughs with every viewer having their own favourite HiME (mine is inevitably Natsuki) and Child (Mega-Duran). Oh, and this is the show that gave birth to the legend that is ShizNat.
As crazy as the notion of a middle-school girl turning into a minor god (along with all the other minor tofu and tyre gods) sounds, Kamichu! manages to make it work in the most wonderfully whimsical and charming kind of way, successfully aping the Ghibli format to bring wholesome family entertainment to the small screen.
Deceptively bright, ABe Yoshitoshi’s masterpiece doujin-turned-anime Haibane Renmei is dark and depressing beneath the surface, giving plenty to ponder with its abstract religious symbolism and themes of loneliness and redemption. Despite explaining very little of its mysterious world, you’ll never find yourself scratching your head wondering what’s going on - instead you’ll get gently sucked into the lives of the haibane and it’ll be plenty hard to not be moved by the events of the last couple of episodes. A few more plus points (as if you need them) - Haibane Renmei contains some of the most beautiful art and music work seen in an anime.
Although Hunter X Hunter actually started at the tail-end of the last century the strongest parts fell within this decade - namely the latter half of the TV series and OVA 1. As far as shonen shows go it was a cut above the rest with brilliant storytelling (the Celestial Tower and Genei Ryodan arcs in particular) as well as a cast of compelling characters. Now only if Togashi will pull his thumb out of his ass and finish the Chimera Ant arc so we can get more episodes of this wonderful series.
Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu may have a lost a lot of goodwill with that sorry excuse of a ’sequel’ but at the time of airing it was such a marvelous breath of fresh air with its wrongly sequenced episode order, sharp dialogue and exquisite animation. Over-rated is obviously the wrong phrase to use to describe a series that nobody had any expectations of beforehand. In all likeliness Haruhi is the series that people will most remember the 00s for, and rightly so.
Like most people who watched and loved Honey and Clover during its run, I could identify with the ‘what is the point of studying, what is the point of falling in love, what is the point of life?’ phase every college student goes through, because that was what I was going through. I could share in the joys, the fears and the pain of rejection that Takemoto, Mayama and Yamada experienced, because I know what it felt like. What Hachikuro shows us is that there is meaning in all those experiences - they’re what make us human.
The best reverse harem anime of all time? It’s not just that though, Ouran High School Host Club is arguably one of the best harem anime of all time. Unusually for a shoujo-pandering series Ouran has break-neck pacing, is stuffed full of wit (the recurring light bulb joke!) and has genuinely lovable characters that you can totally root for, from the obnoxious Renge to Haruhi’s flamboyant okama father to the loony Lobelia girls.
On paper, a 75-episode story about a boy playing a board game shouldn’t be as interesting as Hikaru no Go turned out to be. Though the focus is squarely on Go with plenty of matches and tournaments (those damn cliffhangers!), there is also lots of room for character development - the rivalry between Hikaru and Akira throughout the years was fascinating to watch. Like many others, I had zero interest in the game going into the series but found myself getting caught up in the fever as I was following the show through its run - I even bought a plastic Go board in a (failed) attempt to learn to play. Oh the crazy things people do.
Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu is slapstick comedy at its best. Plucking the characters from the overly serious (and frankly incredibly silly) FMP! series and throwing them into a string of ridiculous random comedy situations chock-a-block with furry fanservice was an act of genius. Pretty much the only anime in recent history where I laughed from the first minute of episode one to the last minute of episode 12.
Anime such as RahXephon is probably the type of mecha show made for people who abhor mecha shows (like me) in that the mecha parts are the least important thing about it. Instead, the writers decided to pour on layer after layer of confusion in an excruciatingly slow setting with characters who just turn up randomly and spout meaningless phrases (Hi Quon and Mishima Reika!), which sounds just like my kind of thing. Somehow, the series managed to move me in a way Evangelion failed - maybe that had something to do with the fact that protagonist Ayato behaved normally and most importantly, did not whine.
Azumanga Daioh was my first experience of the 4-koma manga-to-anime format and it remains the funniest and best example of the high-school girls comedy genre for me. “It is said that most Japanese have a unique character of shame”. Yukari-sensei, QFT.
I watch Tokyo Godfathers every Christmas to heighten the festive mood - nothing like a good old yarn about a bunch of homeless misfits (drunkard hobo, okama, runaway teenage girl) who embark on a quest to find the parents of a baby they stumbled across in the trash. Great way to warm the soul during the blustery winter nights.
Attempting to watch the Boogiepop Phantom anime by itself will probably be an incredibly confusing ordeal for most people - it can be very trying to process the messed-up, overlapping timelines, the huge cast of characters and the seemingly unconnected events of each episode without suffering from information overload. I actually only managed to get through the show on my second go, in one sitting and with a notepad at my side. What you will find when you do take the time to explore the world of Boogiepop is a richly rewarding study of the darkness found within each human soul and its desire to escape from reality. Best consumed with the light novels, manga and the live-action movie.
A visual feast with a great story to boot. Millenium Actress is Kon Satoshi’s journey through the history of cinema from the classic era to modern age. Its non-linear approach can be a tad befuddling at times with the constant shift from flashback to present time and back, but you do get used to it - especially when you’ve watched it more than 5 times. It would be worth watching for the nifty cinematography and soundtrack alone, but this little glimpse into the life of a big-screen idol is genuinely poignant and funny, wringing both tears and smiles out of me.
Human drama disguised as baseball anime. I don’t think I’m jumping the gun by choosing a show from this year that’s not even approaching its end yet - but I’m not gonna wait ’til 2019 to decide that ‘Hey actually Cross Game was one of the best anime of the last decade..’. It’s quite refreshing to see the characters here behave like real teenagers do with all the awkwardness and 素直になれない-ness (not being honest with oneself), the unsaid words and the unseen actions. Adachi Mitsuru may like recycling his themes and plots repeatedly, but when it works as well as in the case is here, why bother fixing what isn’t broken?
Not the first nor the best shoujo-ai anime made, but Maria-sama ga Miteru S1 was instrumental in opening the floodgates (literally) for other yuri shows. A beautiful girls’ ‘love’ story that was fluffy and emotional but most importantly, not nauseating. Unfortunately the series has gone terribly stale in recent installments, which probably has something to do with the fact that Sei is no longer an integral part of the storyline.
Lots of tits and ass in Ichigo Mashimaro, only problem (or delight, depending on your preferences) is that they’re all flat as a washboard. Loli jokes asides, this was simply one of the funniest, cutest shows around that you’d have to be an ogre not to like it. Cuteness is Justice!
The world is ugly, thus it is beautiful. Kino’s Journey provides food for thought for its viewers every episode as Kino and her companion, the talking motorrad Hermes encounter all kinds of strange beings on their travels, making for an absorbing study of the human psyche and social behaviour. The Coliseum and railroad episodes are particularly memorable for me, being brilliant examples of the ‘What drives people to behave the way they do?’ kind of story that is the driving force behind the Kino series. I’m sure that a lot more people spent their time wondering whether Kino was a boy or a girl though.
Youkai/spirit of the day isn’t a new concept, but Natsume Yujincho wins by successfully marrying that otherworldly element with the healing properties of ARIA while injecting a healthy dose of humour for good measure. Nyanko-sensei probably edges Aria-shachou for the ‘Coolest cat of the decade’ award.
Typical shoujo manga adaptation on the surface, Fruits Basket is much more than that. At turns hilarious and at other turns, heartbreaking but always heartwarming and with a little life lesson to tell. The characters and their interactions are just great fun; from Tohru’s protective Yankee and denpa friends, the restless Kyo and his rivalry with Yuki and the cute kid couple of the Juunishi, Kisa and Hiro. Too bad the anime is left with an unsatisfying conclusion (the usual ‘we’ll make shit up cos we ran out of story to animate’ syndrome), but it is still a great adaptation of a great manga.
Never judge an anime by its first episode? Gintama had one of the worst 1-hour openers I’ve ever seen but after that little blip it’s gone on to be the smartest, funniest shounen show still gracing our screens. Where else can you find an anime with giant penguins, Chinese aliens and the shinsengumi? Certainly Gintama is one of the few anime that makes good use of filler episodes - thoroughly creative and parody-laden with the most important thing being that they’re actually funny.
The world of Mushishi is one that is colourless, dull and drab yet the characters that inhabit it are anything but. In many ways similar to Kino no Tabi with its subtle yet vivid approach to story telling (you might as well dub this ‘Ginko’s Journey’ with bugs instead of a talking bike), every standalone tale in Mushishi leaves a very strong impression, often moving and always enthralling.
While compiling this list I have come to the conclusion that I like:
There’s still quite a lot of anime from this decade I want to but have yet to watch though (Gankutsuou, Mononoke, Katekyo Hitman Reborn!) and God knows I’ll want to revise this list in 4-5 years’ time. For now though, I have a firm belief that these 25 anime are shows I’ll continue to treasure and re-watch well into the future. Here’s hoping that the 10s will be just as memorable!
It’s that time of the year again! Errr not quite Christmas, I was thinking more that December is the time when people start waxing lyrical and reminiscing about their favourite favourites and generally stroking their own lovely egos and shouting ‘Screw you, my faves are better than your faves!!’. I’m not gonna pretend to be any different so expect a series of these over the next month or so.
Right! Kicking things off is a look at my favourite anime theme songs in 2009.
Overall, 2009 was a pretty good year in terms of memorable themes or at least it seemed so cos I bought a good damn sight more anime CDs than I have in past years (or could it be I just earned more money in 2009?)
Aoi Hana. Kukikodan (Aoi Hana OP)
This song was the only thing that kept me awake past the 2-minute mark every time I fired up an episode of Aoi Hana (I’m still stuck on ep 4). So wistful…and it’s such a pity that the full version clocks in below 3 minutes, the song is over before I’ve started to enjoy it. Oh well, the repeat button is always useful for that kind of thing.
Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari. Supercell (Bakemonogatari ED)
It would be criminal to compile any sort of Best Anisong 2009 list and not put this song on it. To put it simply, Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari is the simply the most breathtaking, exhilarating pieces of piano pop I’ve heard in my brief 25 year existence on this planet so far. To not like it is to not like life itself, or something like that. One of the best anime songs ever, not just in 2009.
violet. marble (Umi Monogatari OP)
Without an ARIA this year I feared I would be deprived of an iyashikei anime theme, but marble (of all people) stepped up to the plate and gave me what I wanted - a song to wash away all my troubles and set my mind at ease. Some other people may read that as ’slow and boring’.
Orange. Kugimiya Rie, Horie Yui & Kitamura Eri (Toradora! ED2)
The most under-rated of the Toradora! themes…or rather, I think the other three are vastly over-rated. I find that Orange has a quaint little charm to it, it does try to bring together the three vastly different voices of its leads without beating the song to death by autotune after all.
Kanjite Knight. ULTIMATE LAZY for MAZINGER (Shin Mazinger Shogeki! Z-hen OP)
One of the few instances I find myself liking something Jam PROJECT is involved in. An unexpected super collaboration with J-rockers Okuda Tamio and Saito Kazuyoshi, Kanjite Knight is the sort of song I imagine the GAR ‘concept’ projects with its wild wailing vocals backed by blazing guitar riffs. At least there’s no constant shouting of MAZINGER(!!!) here.
mind as Judgment. Faylan (CANAAN OP)
What I said in July:
Although mind as Judgment is not quite as good as AROUSING SOUL, it still does kick quite a lot of ass, from the countdown at the start to the rushing guitar/strings combination throughout the song, culminating in an explosive chorus
I think I may not quite agree with myself anymore, I would put mind as Judgment and AROUSING SOUL on the same pedestal now. There’s so many layers and parts to its arrangement; again, the countdown parts, the rapid-fire vocals etc. I do acknowledge that watching Faylan perform the song live may have influenced my opinion somewhat. It’s also pretty versatile, check out the excellent ballad version on the CANAAN Inspired Album.
Kimi ni Todoke. Tanizawa Tomofumi (Kimi ni Todoke OP)
The song mirorrs the anime perfectly - it’s a cheerful pop-rock ballad that evokes the kind of feelings you get when you take a walk through the park on a breezy autumn day with the sunshine streaming through the trees, just as Sadako does in the opening animation. A neat combination of a gentle piano line and Tanizawa’s earnest, soaring vocal reminds me of some of Spitz’s finer moments.
Sokujin no Pandora. Nogawa Sakura (Slap-Up Party -Arad Senki- OP2)
Slap-Up Party dished up some of the more ‘traditional’ anisong offerings this year - both this and the first opening PARTY PLAY are songs that hark back to late ’90s anime themes though it’s kind of typical of (songwriter) Shikura Chiyomaru’s ‘epic’ style.
Sky chord ~Otona ni naru Kimi e~. Tsuji Shion (Bleach ED18)
SHHHH don’t mention the similarity to YUI. This is a HAPPY song okay?
only my railgun. fripSide (Toaru Kagaku no Railgun OP)
I barely had time to mourn Nao’s departure from the fripSide project when Sat announced that Nanjo Yoshino was on board as new vocalist and that they would be launching with the theme song for Railgun. And what an explosive start they’ve made. From the word go only my railgun is pulsating and electrifying, in-your-face catchy and terribly, terribly addictive. 44,000 people agree - aren’t you one of them too?
Atashi dake ni Kakete. Omokage Lucky Hole (Natsu no Arashi! OP)
Fun retro-rock is made even more fun when accompanied by images of an animated silhouette touching itself.
Light Infection. Prague (Gintama OP8, ep 183 version)
BEST ANIMATION EVAH, WHO CARES ABOUT THE SONG.
Other personal faves from this year: Kimi e to Tsunagu Kokoro by Toyosaki Aki, Mizuhara Kaoru & Kugimiya Rie (Kanamemo), HANAJI by Kobayashi Yu (Maria†Holic), Hotaru no Hikari by Ikimonogakari (Naruto Shippuuden), Shin Ai by Mizuki Nana (White Album) and etc.
I like these lists cos they give me a chance to write about old and dead people. Hah!
Why you should know her: The most recognisable female shonen anime character specialist today.
Signature line: (insert phrase) DATTEBAYO!!!
More on Junko: While studying at Nihon University, Junko joined fellow acting enthusiasts in forming theater group Gekidan BQMAP. She was still working part-time as a political secretary when she got signed up by Love-Live (now YMO Entertainment) and she’s still there more than 10 years later.
Best known roles: Uzumaki Naruto in Naruto, Gon Freecss in Hunter X Hunter, Toramizu Ginta in MAR, Lambo (child) in Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, Endo Mamoru in Inazuma Eleven
My favourite Junko role: Gon is calm-headed, rational, resourceful and 10000x less annoying than Naruto.
Currently heard in: Naruto Shippuden (Uzumaki Naruto), Katekyo Hitman Reborn! (Lambo), Inazuma Eleven (Endo Mamoru), Jewel Pet (Tata), Gokujou!! Mecha Mote Iinchou (Kenzaki Rei)
Why you should know him: One of the ‘royalty’ of the seiyuu industry.
History: Nozawa never received formal voice training - he had wanted to be a stage artist or writer instead, but never quite made the grade. Instead he turned to acting, eventually setting up his own theater troupe but a combination of mismanagement and incompetence landed him in financial trouble with debts of 37,000,000 yen. Forced to sell off his apartment, Nozawa struggled to stay afloat before a friend recommended he do dubbing work as a part-time job. After halving his debt within a year, he decided to focus more on the seiyuu profession and took on extensive work in Western movie dubbing, anime, stage production, radio and theatre work.
Best known roles: Cobra in Space Adventure Cobra, Hans Axel von Fersen in The Rose of Versailles, Hyakkimaru in Dororo. He mostly worked in dubbing - he is the Japanese voice of C-3PO and also dubbed for Alain Delon, Bruce Willis, Robert Redford and Al Pacino.
What else you should know: Talent runs across the Nozawa family, with his father the late writer Kuga Naojiro, his niece Nozawa Naoko a comedian and his son Nozawa Sou an actor. Nachi is also the head of his own agency Office PAC, and he received a Merit Award in the Second Seiyuu Awards.
Why you should know her: She is (was?) the go-to person for loli imouto-type characters throughout and is the second most famous exponent of the Forever-17 culture club.
Stuff about Yukarin: Doesn’t need much introduction I think. Yukarin hails from Fukuoka, attended the local branch of Yoyogi Animation on the side while still working and after finishing the course, resigned and moved to Tokyo to enroll in NichiNare. First official role was in radio drama Macross Generation in 1997, for which she also sang an insert song Yuuki o Kudasai - which also happens to be her first ever CD release.
Best known roles: Ranpha Franboise in Galaxy Angel, Takamachi Nanoha in Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha series, Furude Rika in Higurashi no Naku koro ni, Yoshino Sakura in Da Capo series
Recently…: I guess it seems rather depressing that her anime voice work has decreased in recent years while her former partner-in-crime Horie Yui goes from strength to strength…. oh wait. Katanagatari’s Togame may get her back in the spotlight. Her January 2010 release My wish My Love happens to be her 17th official single… should she stop at that number XD
What else you should know: I swear she has the most rabid fanbase on this planet. Also happens to be the third seiyuu to play live at the Budokan, before her (maybe not so) beloved Horie Yui did.
My favourite Yukarin role: Ichigo Morino from the Onegai series, a loli who is actually an oba-san (with a sinister laugh). Where have I heard that description before, ufufu…
Currently heard in: Kampfer (Seppuku Kuro Usagi), Gokujou!! Mecha Mote Iinchou (Touri Marin), Umineko no Naku Koro ni (Bernkastel)
Why you should know him: People say he’s the Casey Kasem of Japan.
All about Mori: Mori got his start in the entertainment biz when he joined a children’s theater troupe at the age of 10. It was only after working on Speed Racer (1967) that he decided to make a switch to full-time voice acting, thanks to the influence of co-stars Omiya Teiji, Tomiyama Kei and Aikawa Kinya. Mori was most active in the 70s-80s period, although he was cast as the lead in Shirow Masamune’s Real Drive in 2008.
Best known roles: Mifune Go in Speed Racer, Shimamura Joe aka 009 in Cyborg 009, Washio Ken in Gatchaman, Minami Joji in Tekkaman, Jean Pierre Polnareff in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Garma Zabi in Mobile Suit Gundam, Haru Masamichi in Real Drive RD Senno Chosashitsu, Hayami Seiji in Cutie Honey
Currently heard in: If you live in Japan and wake up particularly early, you can hear Mori narrating Mezamashi TV on the Fuji TV network.
Why you should know him: I HATE SHINN.
All about SuzuKen: Went into voice acting school straight after graduation and debuted in Macross 7 in 1994. SuzuKen’s style of speaking is typically rather laidback (or lazy), and he seems to get more than his fair share of loser roles but is actually a more capable seiyuu than most seem to think.
Best known roles: Shinn Asuka in Gundam Seed Destiny, Kokuto Mikiya in Kara no Kyokai series, Tohno Shiki in Tsukihime, Hitachiin Hikaru in Ouran High School Host Club, Ryutaros in Kamen Rider Den-O
What else you should know: The poor guy has drawn plenty of ire for his role as Shinn, getting plenty of hatemail (I hate Shinn.) for his troubles. He can no doubt still console himself with his horde of crazy, screaming fangirls…
My favourite SuzuKen role: Know-it-all Rakushun (the rat) in Twelve Kingdoms.
Currently heard in: Umineko no Naku Koro ni (George Ushiromiya), Kemono no Soja Erin (Ial), Kara no Kyokai movies (Mikiya), Gintama (Okita Sogo)
Why you should know her: Only the second most popular, second most best-selling seiyuu idol of today.
All about Aaya: A member of the child acting troupe Space Craft from a young age, Hirano appeared in commercials, was a member of a short-lived girl group SpringS and appeared in a bunch of anime in the early part of the decade (Tenshi no Shippo, Kiddy Grade) without garnering much attention until the phenomenon that was Haruhi hit. Since then she’s pretty much established herself as one of the strongest players not just in the seiyuu industry but as a multi-media talento with interests in music, TV presenting and gravure.
Best known roles: Suzumiya Haruhi in Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu, Izumi Konata in Lucky Star, Amane Misa in Death Note, Lumiere in Kiddy Grade, Serizawa Reira in NANA
My favourite Aaya role: Manabi Straight’s Etoh Mei is perhaps the finest acting performance I’ll ever hear from her, a subtle combination of tsundere and tsukkomi that is neither overbearing nor annoying like many of her other roles (hello Konata).
Currently heard in: Kimi ni Todoke (Kurumi), Fairy Tail (Lucy), Queen’s Blade Gyokuza o Tsugu Mono (Nanael), Dragonball Kai (Dende), Jewel Pet (Garnet), WHITE ALBUM 2 (Morikawa Yuki), Kiddy Girl-and (Lumiere)
Why you should know him: Sephiroth.
Voice-wise: Badass? Bishonen? Seme? Uke? He covers them all.
Best known roles: Griffith in Berserk, Sephiroth in Final Fantasy series, Naraku in Inu Yasha, Conrad Weller in Kyo Kara Maoh!, Shagia Frost in After War Gundam X, Tekkaman Blade /Aiba Takaya in Tekkaman Blade
What else you should know: His drastic weight loss in recent years has been the subject of much talk even in the seiyuu circles. Seems to have gained a new lease of life lately with his embarking on a rock music career with his band Black Velvet. Oh and er, he used to be in the American Football club in high school.
My favourite Morimori role: The cool-as-ice Captain Alex Rowe from Last Exile.
Currently heard in: Hanasakeru Seishonen (Lee-leng Huang), Inuyasha Kenketsu-hen (Naraku)
Why you should know him: Yet another Jack of all trades with tons of tricks in his bag.
About his voice: Although he has a very distinctive voice Ueda is very hard to pigeonhole and oh wait this description is probably too similar to Morikawa’s. He’s got an lazy drawl that he uses to good effect with free-spirited characters like Morita in Hachikuro and Prince Hakim in Emma but he can also be very, very creepy (Daimon in Nazca).
Best known roles: Tenkawa Akito in Kidou Senkan Nadesico, Urashima Keitaro in Love Hina, Sagara Sanosuke in Rurouni Kenshin, Morita Shinobu in Honey and Clover
What else you should know: He comes from a musical family and can play the violin (he did so on a Violinist of Hameln CD). Apparently also a very good cook - his wife must be a very lucky person…
My favourite Yuji role: He sings death metal as Krauser in Detroit Metal City, what’s not to love?
Currently heard in: Pokemon Diamond & Pearl (Takeshi), Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood (Jean Havoc)
Why you should know him: The voice of calm.
All about Hirotaka: Born and bred in Nagoya, Suzuoki moved to Tokyo to further his studies in his late teens and ventured into acting after joining a theater troupe led by Nozawa Nachi. His seiyuu debut came in 1978’s Invincible Steel Man Daitarn 3 after a friend had recommended he try out voice acting as a part-time job, and it eventually turned into his dayjob after joining Haikyo in 1981. Suzuoki continued working steadily throughout the 3 decades leading up to his diagnosis of lung cancer in July 2006. His condition deteriorated rapidly and he died little over a month later, at the age of 56. His final role was a reprisal of his signature Bright Noa character in Mobile Suit Z Gundam: III Love is the Pulse of the Stars.
Best known roles: Bright Noa in Mobile Suit Gundam, Dragon Shinryu in Saint Seiya, Saito Hajime in Rurouni Kenshin, Tenshinhan in Dragon Ball, Yellow Belmont in Mospeada, Kuno Tatewaki in Ranma 1/2, Hyuga Kojiro in Captain Tsubasa
What else you should know: Furuya Toru was one of Suzuoki’s best friends in the business, while Shiozawa Kaneto and Ikeda Shuichi were regular drinking buddies. A bright and optimistic person, there was an incident during the 90s when Suzuoki had suddenly collapsed when riding in a bullet-train. Dragonball co-stars Furuya and Horikawa Ryo paid him a visit in the hospital out of great concern but were instead amused to find Suzuoki declaring to them that ‘the nurses here are really cute’.
Why you should know her: The voice of Doraemon’s owner.
All about Noriko: Noriko may have been overshadowed by a certain Oyama Nobuyo throughout most of the 26-year stint on Doraemon, but she built a very credible career away from the show with strong credits in timeless series such as Yatterman and Macross. The daughter of a lawyer, Noriko was enrolled in a child theater troupe from an early age but the group was disbanded due to the ongoing war. Refusing to follow her father’s footsteps, she went into broadcasting after graduating from high school and gradually progressed towards dubbing and anime work (circa 1955).
Best known roles: Nobi Nobita in Doraemon, Doronjo in Yatterman, Conan in Mirai Shonen Conan, Claudia LaSalle in The Super Dimension Fortress Macross , Miime in Space Pirate Captain Harlock, Go Hiyoshi in Voltes V
What else you should know: Around the 90s period, Noriko began to concentrate more on lecturing and giving national fairytale reciting workshops and runs her own production company Stage One geared towards that end. Her son is the animator Tobe Atsuo, who has worked on shows such as Inu Yasha, Kekkaishi and Turn A Gundam.
The progress being made on this series is sloooow, I keep getting distracted by other stuff…
Another seiyuu off the market - Ohara Sayaka has announced that she registered her marriage today, 6th December 2009 to an unnamed actor 1 year her senior. It also happens to be her 34th birthday today! Saaya has voiced many popular characters over her 10-year career so far, including Alicia in the ARIA series, Layla Hamilton in Kaleido Star, Ichihara Yuko in xxxHOLiC and Milly Ashford in the Code Geass series. She can currently be heard as Beatrice in Umineko, Erza in Fairy Tail and Melfi in Queen’s Blade.
The first time I noticed Saaya was in 2003 when she got three major roles at the same time - in BONES’s Scrapped Princess as Raquel Casull, in Kaleido Star and in Popotan as Ai. At that point it struck me that she sounded so similar to Inoue Kikuko with her ‘Ara-ara ufufu’ motherly manner of speaking, although I prefer her in the tougher, sexier roles like Layla, Yuuko and Moyashimon’s Hasegawa. And she’s good at insulting and putting down Fukuyama Jun xD
おめでとうございます、さぁやさん！Saaya got married like Alicia-san did but I hope that doesn’t mean she’s going to retire too >_<
A few days ago, anime producer Murakami Koichi (村上恒一) announced on his blog that he was engaged to a person of ‘renowned standing’ (人気商売 is the phrase he uses, it literally means somebody whose job is dependent on public popularity) but due to the nature of her profession, he was unable to mention her name.
Murakami did not explicitly state what field his future bride works in, leading to speculation and predictably the internet masses have decided that she is likely to be a ’seiyuu idol’. Which leads to even more asinine speculation about the identity of Mrs. Murakami - all sorts of names have been thrown into the ring, ranging from the usual suspects (Mizuki Nana, Hirano Aya, Tamura Yukari etc etc) to the hilarious (Ochiai Yurika, Kuribayashi Minami).
Typically the discussions surrounding the whole fuss go something like ‘if you really can’t say who it is why bother to announce it in the first place? To create controversy? Gain attention?’ And so on.
Here’s the info I’ve collected so far:
1. Murakami is an ero-anime producer. ANN conveniently tells me some of his credits include Sexorcist and Sexy Magical Girl…. charming. Supposedly his bride is likely to be someone with links to the ero-anime industry in some capacity.
2. Most of Murakami’s projects have been for an animation studio called Pixy (NSFW), and trust 2ch to come up with a convenient list of seiyuu who have been involved in their works. Discounting the exclusively ero-seiyuu (who presumably have nothing to lose by being married to Murakami), the already married girls and the nobodies, the condensed list is made up of:
浅川悠 (Asakawa Yuu)
石松千恵美 (Ishimatsu Chiemi)
岩居由希子 (Iwai Yukiko)
浅井清己 (Asai Kiyomi)
河原木志穂 (Kawaragi Shiho)
小野涼子 (Ono Ryoko)
高森奈緒 (Takamori Nao)
百々麻子 (Dodo Asako)
中島沙樹 (Nakajima Saki)
中村繪里子 (Nakamura Eriko)
本井えみ (Motoi Emi)
力丸乃りこ (Rikimaru Noriko)
If we were to further eliminate those that only hardcore fans know, that would leave just Asakawa Yuu, Nakamura Eriko and maybe Kawaragi and Nakajima. However Asa-nee just got divorced from Morikubo Showtaro this year and is currently probably too busy playing Pocky game and sucking people’s faces off. Nakamura is too busy rabu-rabu with Mingosu so that leaves just Kawaragi and Nakajima -.- neither of whom whose potential marriages would send hysterical fanboys into committing mass suicide… so it can’t be them right?
3. Some posters point to hints Murakami gave on a radio show - the person is from Ibaraki. Errrr the only popular seiyuu I can think of from there are Nakajima Megumi and Minagawa Junko. Unless Murakami is gay for Maeno Tomoaki that is.
4. Somebody claims it’s Toromi. I don’t think it’s implausible, though I don’t even know how many people have heard of her. No idea if she’s from Ibaraki either (sources seem to indicate Tokyo).
5. Future wife is probably not even a seiyuu. Could be a singer or AV actress - in fact, an earlier blog entry seemed to allude to the possibility of the person being a singer (あの歌手の方です。)
6. Other lol suggestions include Sakakibara Yui (ero-seiyuu), KOTOKO (popular singer), Fujita Saki (I guess Miku qualifies) & Goto Yuko (she sings..if you can call it that).
Conclusion - he’s probably married to a piece of natto.
By the way this is Murakami Koichi.
Pic borrowed from Uratan. Feel free to participate in the poll below~~Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
A bit of an unintentional intermission between posts after time spent celebrating birthdays and bounding around conventions but nevertheless, rolling on with Part 4 of the (not so great) countdown! This time, there’s a fair lot of GAR and just a little bit of moe.
Why you should know him: The noisiest, rowdiest seiyuu this side of the moon.
All about Nakai: Nakai used to be a civil servant but took voice acting classes at Aoni’s training school at nights and on weekends hoping to break out of his mundane life. Landed his first major role in After War Gundam X as Witz Sou and has barely looked back since.
Best known roles: Roronoa Zoro in One Piece, Mugen in Samurai Champloo, Hijikata Toshiro in Gintama, Domeki Shizuka in xxxHOLiC, Date Masamune in Sengoku BASARA
Favourite Nakai role: Karasu/Noein in Noein is one of his darkest and most complex roles to date and I enjoyed the change from his rowdier roles.
Currently heard in: Asura Cryin’ 2 (Kagakagari Takaya), One Piece (Roronoa Zoro)
Why you should know her: A major Major iron lady.
Signature line: ネットは広大だわ。(Netto wa koudai da wa).
All about Atsuko: A latecomer to the business, Atsuko actually spent 5 years after graduating from university working as an OL (office lady) in the computing industry. Having taken dance lessons on the side, she eventually signed up with a stage company and eventually went into seiyuu work on the recommendation of a colleague. Her first work was in newscasting, and her debut anime role was as Yuca Meilasch in Mobile Suit Victory Gundam.
Best known roles: Kusanagi Motoko in the Ghost in the Shell series, Caster in Fate/stay night, Atelia in Mahou Shoujotai Arusu, Konan in Naruto
My favourite Atsuko role: Karura in Utawarerumono typifies the ’strong lady’ roles she excels at.
Currently heard in: Nyankoi! (Nyamsas), Toaru Kagaku no Railgun (Kiyama Harumi), Umineko no Naku Koro ni (Ushiromiya Kyrie), Queen’s Blade~Gyokuza no Tsugumono~ (Claudette)
Why you should know her: ONEE-SAMA!!
All about Miki: In recent years Miki has developed a reputation for voicing motherly/sisterly types but before her mid-90s marriage + kids hiatus she was known more for her tough-talking, sexy ladies.
Best known roles: Android #18 in Dragon Ball Z, Mineva Lao Zabi in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, A-ko in Project A-ko, Ogasawara Sachiko in Maria-sama ga Miteru series, Shigure Asa from Shuffle!, Gally/Alita in Battle Angel Alita
Favourite Miki role: This is probably going back ages, but Sumeragi Hokuto in Tokyo Babylon.
Currently heard in: Umineko no Naku Koro ni (Ushiromiya Eva)
Why you should know him: One of the most prolific seiyuu you’ve probably never heard of.
All about Genda: Musically-inclined (and also took ballet lessons), the gruffed-voiced Genda started out on stage and only began dabbling in seiyuu work after fellow veteran actor Nozawa Nachi introduced him to sound director Shiba Shigeharu.
Best known roles: Slegger Law in Mobile Suit Gundam, Umibouzu in City Hunter, Go Daijiro in Voltes V, Reietsu Go in High School!! Kimengumi, Takeda Shingen in Sengoku BASARA
What else you should know: He’s the official Japanese dub for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. Also does voiceovers for Batman, Optimus Prime and Tigger (from Winnie the Pooh).
Why you should know him: The voice that defined GAR.
All about Junichi: A fangirl favourite due to his cool/suave/manly voice, Suwabe shot to fame at the turn of the century with roles in X/TV and Prince of Tennis and has since covered every role in the book from soft-spoken mages to perverted bishops to insane test tube babies. I hear he makes a good seme…
Best known roles: Atobe Keigo in Prince of Tennis, Mono Fuma in X/TV, Grimmjow Jeagerjaques in Bleach, Archer in Fate/Stay Night, Sting Oakley in Mobile Suit Gundam Seed DESTINY
Favourite JunJun role: I best remember him as the voice of the rather silly Seymour Guado in Final Fantasy X, though Archer also left a huge impression on me.
Currently heard in: Hanasakeru Seishonen (Zao Monchen)
Why you should know her: One of the current generation’s brightest stars, huge SHAFT favourite.
All about Chiwa: The strange tale of her reason for wanting to become a seiyuu - Chiwa asked her mother to buy her the fashion magazine ViVi but she mistakenly got her a seiyuu mag instead. One thing led to another and Chiwa ended up on the books of I’m Enterprise whilst still in university, landing her first lead in Kokoro Toshokan (as Kokoro) at the age of 20.
Best known roles: Lavie Head in LAST EXILE, Hinata Natsumi in Keroro Gunsou, Hazuki in Tsukuyomi -MOON PHASE-, Aika S. Granzchesta in ARIA series, Rebecca ‘Becky’ Miyamoto in Paniponi Dash!, Louise Halevy in Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Senjougahara Hitagi in Bakemonogatari
My favourite Chiwa role: Recency bias means Senjougahara sticks very strongly in the mind (after all, her voice actress is truly excellent!), though pretty much all of her SHAFT roles have been made of win - even that green thing (Motsu) in Negima!? and the soundless Otonashi Meru in Zetsubo-sensei.
Currently heard in: Sasameki Koto (Taema Miyako), Keroro Gunso (Natsumi)
Why you should know her: The embodiment of moe. Her voice anyway.
All about Sakura: I think everyone pretty much knows the story - popular 90s idol retires from voice acting in 2000 to focus on singing and makes a return nearly a decade later with a role as Kobayakawa Rinko in popular dating-sim Love Plus. With that, a few thousand fanboys (and this fangirl) rejoice.
Best known roles: Kinomoto Sakura in Card Captor Sakura, Hinano in Trouble Chocolate, Maico in Android Announcer Maico 2010, Izumi Kozue in Infinite Ryvius
My favourite Sakura role: Need you ask? Sakura for sure, a character that has the ability to turn just about anyone into a loli-pedo (regardless of whether you fit the demographic or not).
Currently heard in: Anyamaru Tantei Kiruminzoo (Hatori Kanon)
Why you should know him: The silver-haired super-robot show screamer.
Signature line: YATTE YARUZE!!!
All about Yao: Some might describe him as a poor man’s Kamiya Akira, but Yao can shout with the best of them. Although he tends to voice bumbling, incompetent fools more than actual heroes.
Best known roles: Fujiwara Shinobu in Dancougar series, Judau Ashta in Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, Da Cider in NG Knights Lamune & 40, Hamel in Violinist of Hameln, Guibu in The Heroic Legend of Arslan, Jango, Franky & Bon Clay in One Piece
Currently heard in: Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood (Lieutenant Yoki), One Piece (various)
Why you should know him: The best purveyor of deadpan currently in business. Possibly one of the industry’s most eccentric and charismatic stars too.
All about Sugita: A nice stroke of luck in landing the ‘lead’ role in Haruhi catapulted Sugita into the spotlight - before that he had mostly been identified as ‘the guy who talked to the cow’ in the anime adaptation of CLAMP’s Chobits.
Best known roles: Kyon in Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu, Sakata Gintoki in Gintama, Aizawa Yuichi in Kanon (TV2), Motosuwa Hideki in Chobits, Ragna the Bloodegdge in Blazblue (game)
Favourite SugiTomo role: Sumeragi Subaru in X served as my introduction to Sugita and remains my favourite role of his. The alien from Pani Poni Dash! runs a close second.
Currently heard in: Umineko no Naku Koro ni (Ronove), Natsu no Arashi 2 (Shioya), Miracle Train (Tocho Saki), Gintama (Gintoki)
Why you should know him: Quiet heroes who suddenly suddenly start screaming - Hoshi’s your man. Amongst the noughties’ most popular leading men.
Signature line: OYAKATA-SAAAMAAAA!!!
All about Soichiro: Hoshi has a distinctly whiny, high-pitched voice that like Sakaguchi Daisuke, makes him particularly well-suited for male teenage leads. I hear he makes a good uke..
Best known roles: Yamato Kira in Mobile Suit Gundam Seed, Son Goku in Saiyuki series, Kusanagi Kei in Onegai Teacher, Maebara Keiichi in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Aiba Yuuki in Infinite Ryvius, Akizuki Souma/Xero in Shining Wind
What else you should know: After working together with Hayashibara Megumi on Lost Universe back in 1998 Hoshi was hired as Megu’s assistant on her Heartful Station radio show in July 1999 - 10 years later, he is still holding the position.
Favourite Soichiro role: Oh dear. What to pick from his extensive list of credits… I’d probably go for Hanabishi Kaoru in Ai Yori Aoshi, the all-around nice guy and ‘zomg not annoying!’ male harem lead. I like him as Lio in the Kara no Kyokai movies as well.
Currently heard in: Sora no Otoshimono (Sakurai Tomoki)
Coming up to the halfway mark next!
Got back this morning after a quick weekend break in Singapore on a personal trip - I hadn’t been there in almost 10 years and AFA09 seemed as good a reason as any to make a stop.
Orchard Road hasn’t changed much in the interim, although Phoenix Hotel is now gone and that new ION place is open - all the other familiar haunts like HMV in The Heeren and Kinokuniya in Taka are still correct and present as I remember them. The Christmas decorations are rather cringeworthy though, like those 4 Santas near The Heeren - how fugly are those things? I should’ve taken a pic of them, but I was scared my lens would break…
Anyhow, I don’t have too much to say about the AFA09 experience - I’m not much of a con goer nor am I into figurines, merchandise or cosplay - so I spent most of the time wandering around in circles (somehow repeatedly ending up in front of the meido cafe). Ended up not taking many photos as usual, preferring to just walk around taking in the sights and…. absorb the otaku atmosphere? While rinerei was busy snapping away, I was busy… looking at stuff. Snapping pics of moving legs can be quite hard (sorry, Yuuko from xxxHOLiC cosplayer)…
Briefly, my AFA09 experience.
9 things about AFA09
1.Translator for Kaname panel was fail.
Not to be mean or anything, but translating 執事 (shitsuji) as ’servant’ is pretty much fail in anyone’s book. You should’ve heard the collective gaggle of fangirls groaning when Mr. Translator described Kaname as ‘working part-time at a servant cafe’. HAYATE THE COMBAT SERVANT!!! Plus he wasn’t really translating, more like reading the answers off a piece of paper. The other translator… er… Reiko was it?? was much better at on-the-fly translation and I was thankful that she was in charge of the K-ON! stage event.
2.Meido cafe was pretty much what I expected…
…a cafe with waitresses who coincidentally happen to dress somewhat like maids. Not like my own maid though, who’s a grandma. Skirts aren’t short enough, necklines too long, moe moe kyun chants were tee-hee-hee but not that moe. Let’s not talk about the quality of the food…. Incidentally, a couple of the meido were on stage on Sunday dancing along to Perfume’s love the world and that was 100000000 times better cos they wore really short pants. Yeap.
Oh, and HI AGAIN, bj0rn! I hope the maids gave you some moe moe kyun power-up to keep you going throughout both days….
3.Can I have that guitar please?
I saw a K-ON! cosplayer using a genuine Epiphone Les Paul as a mirror to fix her hair/make-up…. Like, can I have the guitar please, I can barely afford a new acoustic, sob…
I suppose ignorance etc means I got to enjoy the long-lost art of queuing (which as far as I know, doesn’t exist in Malaysia). Around an hour just to get my entrance ticket on the Saturday morning which meant I missed the Summer Wars thingy, whatever it was. Queued for Moe Moe Kyun cafe, queued to get into the K-ON! event, queued to pay for my stuff in Kino, queued for my frigging dinner in Taka. Lovely. Guess I’m too used to living in a tiny town in a tiny state in a tiny country where the roughest and rudest in the toilet queue win (ie me).
5.Hi Black Rock Shooter cosplayer!!
You know, I think I may have completely missed the point with this photo. I’m sure anyone who went to the event would’ve seen her in her full glory - I spent a good half an hour staring at her costume and weapon (yes I swear it was like that!!) from the top floor…
6. I❤AniSong was….
….PROBABLY AWSM, for the people who went (hint: I didn’t). I had never planned to go cos well… HELLO, the whole shebang costs around the price of one day of Animelo and I know which one I’d rather save my money for. Though I do kinda wonder how the autograph session with Shoko-tan turned out, saw people queuing for that one (remembers kowtow/shikishi rage from last year).
7.Kept my wallet in my pocket.
Not much to buy to be honest, both in terms of books or merchandise (not forgetting the fact that most of my spare cash goes on seiyuu stuff anyway). Conveniently joined rinerei near the end of her 2-hour journey towards the KKnM shop and grabbed a couple of shitajiki and clear folders, but otherwise didn’t get much - not even manga or light novels. I did got some reading material from Kinokuniya to last me ’til spring 2010 (ie my next Japan trip) - the 3 tankoubon of Umino Chika’s 3-gatsu no Lion, the newest volume of Kino no Tabi, volume one of Usotsuki Mi-kun to Kowareta Ma-chan (just to check it out) and a few books.
8.The people who were there…
Wut, Hibiki Reine (Marimite illustrator) was there? Gee did anyone know? I certainly would’ve tried to get her autograph if I did, but I didn’t have an internet connection for the duration of my stay. Oh wells. Ah yeah, Danny Choo was all over the place, went to watch the first bit of his stage event but left after he took off his stromtrooper headgear.
You brought out the shotacon in me!!!
K-ON! seiyuu pic recycle is necessary cos I’m too lazy to find another one. Anyway, I passed on camping at Changi at 1am to greet the girls - was way too sleepy, and I heard they were wearing face masks too so I guess… I didn’t miss much.
I didn’t know, and didn’t think that many people would be queuing up for the event; I guess I have zero idea how popular K-ON! is in Singapore. I arrived at 10.15am and the queue was the length of the hall already - I think only a handful were actually queuing for Kaname at 11am (K-ON! was at 1.15pm). So to get a decent seat, I ended up sitting through a snoozefest screening of InuYasha Kenketsu-hen (while reading manga and listening to Nana on my iPod), facepalming through the bad translations of the Kaname panel and laughing at the Joysound karaoke/afureko machine thing.
Of course, I was rather bemused that of all the 5 K-ON! members to not come, it had to be Hikasa Yoko, voice of the most popular(?) character Mio. I had to slap myself when I saw Taketatsu Aya-nyan walking out instead of Hiyocchi, but was entirely grateful that Kotobuki Minako did make it over after all. Photography and video at the session wasn’t allowed, which wasn’t totally unexpected, but hey - at least I could 100% focus my attention on the seiyuu that way.
Anyhow I had a pretty awesome view from 5th row centre and spent most of the time staring at Mina-chan, occasionally stealing side-glances at Toyosaki Aki - their images are more or less permanently imprinted on my brain already. Honest to God, the girls were much, much cuter in person than I thought they would be - Satomi in particular came across as very warm and friendly while Mina-chan was constantly smiling (dimples!!!!) and waving at random members of the crowd…. oh to hell with it, I’ll just say Mina-chan is so bloody #$%#$^$ pretty omg hyperventilating….
I apologise to the people around me I may have bothered with my constant screaming as well as imposing myself upon their space & obstructing their view while trying to get a good glimpse of the seiyuu during the dubbing session. There appears to be a serious shortage of seiyuu fans in Singapore, definitely not enough people shouting for anybody except maybe a few for Aki-chan (and that’s only cos she voices Yui…)
So you got all the girls coming out one by one introducing themselves in terrible Engrish - HELLO!! I AM AKI TOYOSAKI!!! I AM DOING YUI!!… and so on. Seriously when Aki first said HELLO!!, the crowd was silent for a split second before responding HELLO!! - I was like HUHHHH, Hello what? It was a LOL attempt to engage the crowd that almost failed.
They did three scenes but without Hiyocchi along for the ride they had to pick Mio-less parts. My memory is really vague when it comes to the latter episodes of K-ON! and I don’t have them on hand to check - my descriptions are pretty vague, haha.
1.Azu-nyan trying to encourage the group to practice (and them feeding her cake in return), from ep 9.
2.When the group go to fix Yui’s guitar at the shop, from ep 11
3.The group walking in the snow (lol I cannot remember this in the anime at all)
It was a shame that most of the lines went to Yui and Azu-nyan, without Mio they couldn’t do too much involving Ritsu while Mugi-chan… didn’t say much (like in the anime). Also there was a part in Scene 3 that Aki-chan(?) inserted a line about ‘wanting to go to a warm country like Singapore!!!’ but fantastically it wasn’t subbed, leaving most of the crowd in the dark as to what they were saying. I kinda felt bad about it, since I was ha-ha-ha-ing by myself like a fool while nobody else laughed. Anyhow, I ended up watching the seiyuu more than the screen - the expressions Aki-chan made when saying her lines were pure comedy gold and way too good to miss.
The Q&A section was pretty standard, boring stuff. I’m not sure I can remember all of it, there were some questions that were quite similar and the order is probably messed up, not sure which came first. Salient points anyway:
Do you think you’re anything like the characters you play?
Aki-chan (Yui): Her unfashionable bedroom clothes, her my-pace attitude…
Satomi (Ricchan): I was actually a pretty quiet person, but since I played Ritsu I’ve become a bright, energetic person!
Mina-chan (Mugi): Mugi likes bringing sweets for the rest of the K-ON! members, and I like to do the same.
Aya-nyan (Azu-nyan): I’m not as serious as Azu-nyan, but like her I’m really weak when faced with sweets - just give me one and I’ll be happy. And like Azu-nyan, I’ve grown to like taiyaki.
Please tell us your character’s favourite line.
Aki-chan: Untan! Untan! Untan! from (castanets moment, ep 1) —> see youtube, everyone rofl and cheered at this.
Satomi: That promise we made…. was it all a lie!? (’Ano toki no yakusoku wa… uso datta no ka!?’ to Mio, ep 1)
Mina-chan: Cheaper!!! (’Mou hitokoe’, when Mugi was bargaining for Yui’s guitar, ep 2)
Aya-nyan: N—nyan (when Ritsu made Azu-nyan say ‘Nyan’ with the cat ears, ep 9) <--- Ayana got Ritsu to say the preceding line.
Do you think the character you voice resembles yourself in your younger days in school?
Aki-chan: The parts where me and my classmates would sit around in the club room after lessons but just sit around and chat without actually doing any activities…
Satomi: Like Ritsu, there was a point in high-school when I started getting jealous after a friend started getting closer to somebody else…
Mina-chan: I’m still in high school…(note: I can’t remember the rest. Something about passion and Ritsu being sick.)
Aya-nyan: I didn’t participate in club activities and spent more time going to karaoke, shopping with friends etc - those normal daily activities that the girls in K-ON! did too.
If you weren’t a seiyuu what job would you like to have?
Note - they all said ‘it was my childhood dream to be a seiyuu’, or words to that effect before adding on to their answers.
Aki-chan: Something that is related to my voice?
Satomi: If not a seiyuu then… maybe a storyteller at a library…. but I like animals so maybe a pet shop owner, or perhaps a childminder etc etc. I think I would keep changing jobs…
Mina-chan: I would like to have a job that’s creative & related to the industry - maybe doing make-up or a stylist?
Aya-nyan: A detective!! I used to read Sherlock Holmes when I was young, and also because of this detective manga that’s been going on for 60+ volumes that I used to love (note: this was actually a reference to Detective Conan but it didn’t get translated).
One of the questions was Was it difficult to portray the characters with your voices? I must admit I wasn’t paying much attention to the answers, it’s the sort of thing that gets asked in every single friggin’ anime/seiyuu interview so I errrr…switched off and can’t recall what they said. Oops. Oh well, I’m sure someone out there has a better transcript of the session than I do anyway.
They gave away four pre-signed shikishi at the end of the event, before their final messages. Each of the girls called out a random seat number to determine the lucky winners - obviously I wasn’t one of them….
Oh, Satomi briefly mentioned the event in her blog today…. accompanied by a picture of the Merlion (or Maa! Lion as she called it rofl).
What can I say really? I went to AFA09 in hopes of seeing Aki and Mina (and maybe some cute girls etc) and got exactly what I wanted, so I was a happy seiyuu fan. Others were probably disappointed by the non-appearance of a certain Akiyama Mio seiyuu, I was totally OK with it. Hey, I may even come for next year’s AFA if they get some decent seiyuu in (or I’ll just save my money to go catch Sphere next year zomg Mina……..)