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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Saori Hayami:

It's about time to admit another voice to my great anime voices lineup.  Deviating a bit from the cast of Railgun, I'm going with Saori Hayami, who seems to have a role in virtually every good series ever made.

Saori Hayami seems to be having a busy career, as she's more often a main character than a bit character, and is starring in several shows that are still being made or slated for a sequel.  Her record almost speaks for itself -- Ikaros from Sora no Otoshimono, Ayase from Oreimo, Leviathan from Leviathan, Sawa from Tari Tari, Haqua from The World God Only Knows, Miho from Bakuman, etc, etc.

Saori seems to specialize in 'the girl next door' roles.  She doesn't have a distinct voice that typecasts her easily, nor does she try to steal the show with every word she says.  Instead she has a normal, steady voice you would expect to find in the real world.  As a result she comes as a more trustworthy, reliable character than the oddballs around her and you end up liking her more than the girls who are directly angling for your attention.  However, I think my favorite example of this role is Saori's Sachi from Sword Art Online.  A girl of no particular qualities, except that she's lonely and afraid, who accomplishes nothing in her life before dying a pointless death.  Her specialty in having a 'normal' voice for this role is perfect, because Sachi is a completely normal girl.  But even this normal girl has rights and feelings, and that's why her goodbye speech to Kirito, without any frills, and her almost tuneless humming of Red-Nosed-Reindeer to Kirito before she signs off, is such a powerful voice acting performance only Saori Hayami could do.

Currently Saori is working hard as Anya Hepburn in Soul Eater Not! and Ashisu in Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to.  She's also Aoyama in Is the order a rabbit? Kagura in Fairy Tail, Miyuki Shiba in Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei, and Ikaros in the upcoming Otoshimono movie.  How she manages to do all these separate roles every week is currently unknown, but it just goes to show how much every studio wants her to be in their show.  The world has completely fallen for Saori Hayami's voice, so it's about time I took notice of it too.

In other news, Hunter x Hunter's manga will be continuing in June.  Since there's no way the author can finish an arc in time before the anime catches up with the manga, though, this won't be of much use to anyone.  If only it had continued a year ago or so, this would have been more reason to celebrate.  Oh well, it's good news for manga fans even if it's a poke in the eye to the anime.

In addition, Da Capo III's first true sequel, Platinum Partner, came out a few days ago.  Someday, we'll see a translation of Da Capo III R, thanks to the company Manga Gamer, who specializes in these games.  However, since Manga Gamer never picked up any of the sequels to the other games, even the wildly popular D.C. II sequels, Platinum Partner will most likely never have an English release.  In addition, since none of the previous D.C. spinoffs were fan translated, we can bet P.P. will never get a fan translation either.  All we can hope for is, someday, machine translations working at the level of human interpreters, at which point all the bounty of the Da Capo franchise will become ours.

Tales of Hearts R will be localized for North American markets this winter, the best Tales game that so far hasn't had an English release.  This is a great correction of a previous tragedy, but unfortunately it will only be released for Vita owners.  It would have been nice if they'd had it come out for both Vita and PS3, but oh well.  For those dozen or so people who own a Vita in the USA, your era has come.

Sailor Moon Crystal has revealed the casting of its Sailor Scouts.  The original Sailor Moon is redoing her voice role in this production as well, which is a nice nod to the original series.  However, the other Sailor Scouts will all be helmed by more modern talents in the industry, which in my mind is a great decision, because the quality of voice acting recently is well above what it used to be.  There is far more glamor, competitiveness, and training going into seiyuu these days than there was in 1992 when Sailor Moon was first coming out, and every seiyuu they got for these remaining heroines is phenomenal:

Sailor Jupiter = Ami Koshimizu (best known for her role as Kallen in Code Geass)
Sailor Mercury = Hisako Kanemoto (best known for her role as Cure Peace in Precure)
Sailor Mars = Rina Satou (best known for her role as Misaka Mikoto in Railgun)
Sailor Venus = Shizuka Itou (best known for her role as Hinagiku in Hayate no Gotoku)

Wow.  Two of those girls are in my rankings, and all four have great resumes full of famous roles.  From the looks of this, Sailor Moon is going to be a huge upgrade from its ancient, low resolution, low animation budget, mostly filler past.

Other notes of interest, Google's self-driven cars have graduated from freeway driving to neighborhood street driving.  They are well on their way to exceeding the capabilities of human drivers and should be ready by 2017 to revolutionize the entire world.  The benefits of self-driven cars to the US economy have been measured at $4 trillion a year, about 1/4 of the entire current GDP.  With that kind of additional money, the economy can work miracles for rich, middle class and poor alike.  Heck, if we distributed just these new four trillion dollars in increased economic savings/productivity as a citizen's dividend every year, that would mean $12,618 could be given to every American every year for free.  We could eradicate poverty at the push of an automated button.

Meanwhile, Space X successfully launched a recoverable rocket.  If it had landed on land instead of the sea, it would have represented a 70% cost savings compared to current rocket launches.  In other words, cheap spaceflight is already technically possible and the only thing left is to get through a few regulatory hurdles.  With the discovery of a nearby 'cousin Earth' that has the same temperature as Earth and is the same size as Earth, I can already think of a great use for a new cheap way to put massive amounts of material into space.  Why not build a truly massive space station, strong enough to block out all harmful space radiation, and with enough air and water to supply the passengers with thousands of years worth of stock, and just go already?  An entire world is waiting for us, which requires practically nothing to be terraformed perfectly to our needs.  Who needs the wastelands of Mars anymore?

To top it all off, the cast of the previous Star Wars movie is all returning for episode 7.  The music is by John Williams, the script is written by Lawrence Kasdan, and the story was provided by George Lucas.  In other words, this is as absolutely authentic as Star Wars can get.  Episode 7, and presumably 8-9, is just as much 'canon' Star Wars as 1-6.  In fact, the makers of Star Wars have now made clear that the only canon content of Star Wars is movies 1-6, the upcoming films, and an upcoming cg television series that's in the making.  Everything else can be tossed aside as fevered daydreams and ignored.  We're about to enter a new era of pure canon Star Wars, where we don't have to rely on books and comics and video games any longer, because all the old stars are coming back for more.

The Hobbit is a truly terrible series of movies, which makes by default Star Wars the best movie franchise ever made.  Episodes 7-9 will make that clear to everybody.  Even a century from now, everyone will still be talking about Star Wars.  Why?  Because it's already been 30 years and I don't see any drop in the hype surrounding the series so far.  The real question you should be asking yourself is 'why not?'  What, exactly, is going to stop Star Wars on its demolishing path of greatness?  The past, present, and future all belong to Star Wars.

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