The Legacy of Haruhi Suzumiya ~ Interview with voice actress Aya Hirano @FanimeCon2019
Aya Hirano skyrocketed to international stardom as the iconic voice of Haruhi Suzumiya (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) in the mid 2000s. Along with her voice acting prowess, she also contributed her musical talents to various singles to the series such as Bōken Desho Desho?, God Knows, and Hare Hare Yukai, the latter of which became part of a viral dancing sensation world wide.
Since then she’s voiced other unique characters such as Misa Amane (Death Note), Konata Izumi (Lucky Star), Lucy Heartfilia (Fairy Tale), and even Dende (Dragon Ball Kai). She’s also done voice work in popular video games franchises such as Yakuza and Danganronpa.
CFG had the pleasure of chatting with Ms. Hirano during FanimeCon 2019 about her career, hobbies, and her Game of Thrones fandom.
Interviewed by William Hong Translated by Nita Lieu
Transcribed by Davies Green and Vincent Lai
You are best known in the West as Haruhi Suzumiya. Were you overwhelmed by the global popularity of the show?
I went to an event in LA in 2007 right after the show became popular in Japan. I was really surprised by how popular it was here. Now it’s been more than 10 years and it’s still going strong and it’s still really popular. So I’m also surprised by that.
Out of all the characters you voiced, is there one that stands out to you?
The roles that I get called out for a lot overseas are Haruhi and Lucky Star and also Fairy Tail because it’s still airing.
What about in Japan?
I think Haruhi. (laughs)
Is there a certain type of character you enjoy doing voices for the most?
When I was young I actually had a lot of more mature roles. But now that I’m older, I actually get more younger characters and younger roles. So now I’m able to play a big variety of characters and it’s really fun.
Recently I’ve played the last boss a lot. Or an alien. (laughs)
What was the most interesting or memorable scene you performed in? Either as a voice actress or stage actress.
It would be hard to go with all of my stage roles and voice acting, so I’m just going to go with voice acting. For the 12th episode of Haruhi called Live Alive, during the cultural festival, when I sang God Knows and Lost My Music, they actually recorded me while I was singing and animated from that. So I like parts of how I was singing and recording came out in the anime.
What was the strangest or funniest gift you have gotten from a fan?
Hmmm, something like moon dust or like moon rocks.
There was a certificate with my name written on it and so I have like a piece of land that’s about as big as a soccer field on the moon. So they bought it in my name. So when I can’t live on Earth anymore, then I’ll move to the moon and build a huge mansion there! (laughs)
If you had to describe your career in three words, what would they be?
Can I talk about the theme that I live for? So it’s four characters. But it means to “carry out to the end my original intention.”
My dream and the reason why I became an actor was to star in musicals. Now that I’ve been able to do that, I’m thinking about how I should act. Then I think back to my original intention and my original dream and I look back on that and it keeps me going.
Of all the albums and singles you have done, is there one you are most proud of?
The recording company that I worked with while I was doing Haruhi, Lantis, put out albums and singles that I worked on during that time. They let me write the lyrics for some of the songs. So I was really able to put my own messages in those songs. And then when I sing them at concerts, the fans would really respond to that. So everything that I put out during that time.
What sort of music do you listen to? And do you have any favorite American musicians?
I pretty much only listened to like western music. (Checks Spotify on her phone) Mostly Game of Thrones right now! (laughs) Recently, I’ve been listening to a lot of like Bruno Mars songs. Panic! At the Disco. I like them. They’re a lot of western artists that I like.
When I was in high school, I liked listening to Avril Lavigne. Because of that, I started learning how to play the guitar. In college, I started to like P!nk and she does really powerful concerts. I wanted to do that, too, but I’m not that strong. (laughs)
I have two cats at home. So I like to play with my cats at home… Or watch Game of Thrones. (laughs) So I actually watched videos of people watching Game of Thrones together at a bar.I was like, I want to be there too!
Have you finished the series and what did you think?
I thought that maybe it ended in a way that was different from what everybody was hoping for. I read the books and so I was looking forward to the original, like the book ending.
If you could go back in time, like 10 years ago, and you could give your younger self advice, what would you tell yourself?
Back then I was working so much and had so much work. I think I would tell myself that you don’t have to work so hard. You can be confident in what you’re doing and give yourself a little bit more space to breathe.
Do you have a favorite place to visit the United States?
I always go to New York so I’m kinda happy this time that I’m able to go somewhere in America that’s not New York.
What kind of manga do you read?
I read a lot of different genres. I read a lot of different stuff. So maybe Kingdom and Conan. I really read like a lot.
In terms of roles, Is there one you are looking forward to playing in the future?
So like I said earlier, I keep playing these last bosses and so I want to play like a normal cute girl. (laughs)