It’s been more than a month since I went to STGCC for the express purpose of seeing/hearing Shizuka Itou live and now I finally have some time to do a quick write up of the experience. First, I owe many thanks to SaiNano for getting me into the VIP area; we were literally just within single digit metres of the main stage.
Going for live events can be risky for one’s fandom. When you normally experience the product of a performer, it’s usually been gone over, prior to consumer release, by production staff with all their technical wizardry to make a product that could be quite different from what a live performance or appearance can deliver. I’m glad to say that I’ve come away from this encounter as an even bigger fan of Shizu-sama.
The first surprise was how pretty she was in real life. Her publicity shot for this event and even the cover photo of her mini-album, Devotion, seems to over-emphasize the oblong longness of her face. Maybe it was her bright smile. Or maybe it was her blue yukata with yellow flower prints. Or maybe her solid voice performances. In any case she came across, right from the moment she walked on stage, as a performer with quite a lot of charisma and stage presence.
The second surprise, also noted by sentinel011, was how long the live dub session was. Almost ten minutes of the birthday present finale in Hayate no Gotoku!! Ep 13 right from the moment Hinagiku woke up to the balcony scene. I particularly enjoyed seeing how she ran through the gamut of facial expressions as she worked her way through this very popular climatic scene without a hitch.
There were no surprises during the Q&A session; it was obvious that her management and staff would weed out all the questions that were potentially provocative or reveal anything that could constitute breach of contract (e.g. non-disclosure of forthcoming roles or really juicy insider gossip). Nonetheless there was still some of the wit and mischievousness that filters through into her more interesting characters that was on display that afternoon – like when she expressed surprise that she had been sent down to Singapore to do this event and was really worried that no one would turn up to see her. To which some members of the audience called out: Masaka! (No way!) and Arienai! (Impossible!) Like me, they’d probably had shown up (and had been camping in the audience area since two sessions ago) just to see her.
Another answer that tickled me was, in response to a query about what kind of future roles she’d like to do more of, her preamble went along the lines of: “For some reason, I’ve been doing a lot of tsundere school council types lately…” Not that she wasn’t grateful for them or didn’t enjoy them but, for a change of pace (and probably to expand her CV), she’d love to be more successful in her singing career (ooh my favourite anisong ever by Shizu-sama has to be PROCESS sung as Momiji Miyabe in Wagaya no Oinarisama Ep 13) and do more silly, happy-go-lucky, bimbo-type characters.
Speaking of such, her final single line request was for Amagami SS’s Haruka Morishima-senpai’s nyaning. Verily she nearly caused a moe massacre of the audience as many of us struggled to stuff our souls, escaping through our mouths, back into our bodies. There was, of course, a request for a line from Hinagiku and another popular character that I can’t recall. If I had the presence of mind to put in a request beforehand, I would have asked for something along the lines of: “Mumumumu de arimasu” from Wilhelmina in Shakugan no Shana. There were also requests for lines from Okamisan’s Ryoko and Saki’s Takei Hisa – to which someone in the audience loudly wisecracked that these shows aren’t even licensed and not available on Animax which is the main medium by which most Singaporeans watch anime from offline sources.
Despite her popularity, the anime industry can be pretty unforgiving towards seiyuu. Besides having to tread carefully so as not to trigger the numerous hostility switches of the otaku fanbase (*coughAyaHiranocough*), Shizu-sama also talked about how she continues to work hard to audition for roles. The good news is that she’s got at least two roles in the upcoming seasons so I’ll be looking forward to that. The bad news, from my perspective, is that I could not enjoy her leading roles in a supposedly major anime (Hildegarde in Beelzebub) simply because the anime was just unbearable bad and I couldn’t watch it beyond the first episode. I also grumbled out loud about how she was dropped as the voice of Akiha Tohno and replaced by Hitomi in Carnival Phantasm. (To which, a member of the NK-DS staff sitting next to me replied: “That’s because there’s NO Tsukihime anime!!” LOL)
In sum, I had a great time and MOAR POWAH to Shizu-sama! And on a final note, here’s photos of the crowd just before and about five minutes after Shizu-sama’s STGCC Spotlight: