Ah, Aya Hirano… one of the most popular and talented seiyuu in Japan with many awards under her belt, until she fell from grace and, as of this writing, she never recovered. There are lots of stories surrounding her that it’s hard to tell which ones are facts or straight out fiction—but one thing is a fact though—Aya Hirano was caught in a sex scandal and that cost her career and earned the ire of fans. Aya is still singing and is still doing voice work, but outside her legacy roles, Aya hasn’t voiced a leading character for many years.
Still, it’s disrespectful to overlook her accomplishconments in the Japanese entertainment industry, so with that said in mind, Honey’s Anime will highlight 5 anime roles Aya Hirano did in her heydey. Having a role as supporting character or one of the main characters doesn’t matter on this list, but what matters is the roles she did help boost her career to become one of the most talented seiyuu ever.
This is Honey’s Top 5 Characters Voiced by Aya Hirano!
5. Lumière from Kiddy Grade
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: October 2002-March 2003
Lumière, despite her age and appearance, is more mature like her personality, her tastes for the high class, and the clothes she wears. Bearing no enhanced physical strength like her partner Éclair, Lumière excels in intelligence, the power to control computer systems using her Puppet ability. Even with all her military-grade abilities, Lumière still remains a dignified lady striving for elegance.
While her role of Lumière isn’t her first voice acting role, it is her first in voicing a lead character. What’s important about voicing a character is their voices match. Obviously, it’s strange to look at a character who looks in her pre-teen and sounds like a mature woman, but the then 15-year-old Aya nailed it giving Lumière a very calming voice to match along with her equally reserved personality and intelligence. However, it’s kind of silly to think Lumière sounded more mature than her partner Éclair with a more childish voice paired with a well-developed body. You can’t really comprehend anime sometimes, like, what does Kiddy Grade actually mean?
4. Amane Misa from Death Note
- Episodes: 37
- Aired: October 2006-June 2007
Misa is an up-and-coming model, favoring the goth lolita fashion, and an ardent supporter of Kira after the murderer of her family was killed by him using the Death Note. Later in the story, it is soon discovered that Misa has the same shinigami powers Kira has and has been executing criminals, causing confusion to the murder investigations. Yagami Light, secretly known as Kira, has established contact with Misa and eventually used her for his own gains like deception and murder.
Ask anyone who has seen Death Note about Misa and chances are they’re gonna comment she’s the most annoying character in the anime. Which is kind of understandable because Misa is a complete fangirl towards Kira/Light in every episode. Maybe the intent was to give the already serious anime some comic relief, but unfortunately, to some, Misa’s presence is more of a nuisance than someone to laugh at.
Regardless, Misa is an integral part of the series and Aya Hirano did a great job voicing her. Aya may have found it natural to voice a character sharing similar tastes and personality as her. In case you haven’t forgotten--Aya Hirano is a career singer who has sung a lot of rock music.
3. Ekaterina “Katja “ Kurae from Seikon no Qwaser (The Qwaser of Stigmata)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: January 2010-June 2010
Katja is an extremely cute and innocent little Russian girl with long blonde hair, blue piercing eyes, and smooth young skin that she looks like a doll. Her innocent demeanor, however, is just a facade, hiding her true cruel and malicious personality who will do whatever it takes to get what she wants. Katja uses her childlike innocence to seduce girls for pleasure and for extracting Soma, a power source for Qwasers. As a Qwaser, Katja can the element copper, melding it to whatever form she desires. She’s too young to fight, but she can summon a powerful marionette, whom she calls her mother, to battle against other Qwasers fit for close quarters combat.
This is perhaps Aya’s last high profile role before the sex scandal happened, and the role that showcases her experience in changing tones from a cute little girl to a dominatrix who takes pleasure in whipping her slave Hana. In her dominatrix persona, it’s very easy to tell Katja is voiced by Aya Hirano as her tone quite resembles a certain character we will mention in #1 of the list.
2. Izumi Konata from Lucky Star
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April 2007-September 2007
Izumi Konata is an otaku who loves anime, video games, and TV, and she is the sort-of leader among her friends. Konata is very eccentric, outgoing, friendly and surprisingly smart… if given the motivation. And lastly, she is a big fan of the anime Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu, and its lead character Suzumiya Haruhi.
Arguably Aya’s 2nd most popular role and perhaps the role she had the most fun doing. Lucky Star pokes fun at popular culture, but if you squint your eyes a bit, Lucky Star has made a ton of references to the anime Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu, or rather, Lucky Star is a 24-episode long advertisement to the anime Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu. And it’s for good reason too because Konata and Haruhi are both voiced by Aya Hirano.
Not only Lucky Star has made jokes linking Aya to the aforementioned characters (Konata cosplaying and acting as Haruhi), Lucky Star shows off the singing talent of Aya by letting her and her co-voice actresses sing various anime songs in the show’s ending theme. Dragon Ball Z OP theme by Aya Hirano, everyone?
1. Haruhi Suzumiya from Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya)
- Episodes: 14
- Aired: May 2006-September 2006
It’s not really a surprise Haruhi is number one on this list because this is the very anime that boosted Aya’s career to almost legendary status. Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu is a smash hit in Japan and in the West with its interesting story of a girl reshaping the universe as she sees fit, and her group of friends are doing whatever it takes to convince the incomplete god Haruhi not to destroy it.
At first glance, Haruhi is very good at everything from sports to any extra-curricular activities, but she is also antisocial and refuses to talk to anyone or do anything because she finds them boring. However, Haruhi has a fascination towards the supernatural and with her sort-of-friend Kyon, they founded the SOS Brigade--a club dedicated to finding aliens, time travelers, espers and have fun with them. Little does Haruhi know that the members of the SOS Brigade are aliens, time travelers and espers. But there is a reason why they approached Haruhi--she has god-like powers and if Haruhi is in a constant state of negativity, her emotions can wreak havoc on the fabric of the universe and eventually destroying it.
Haruhi is very hyperactive, antisocial, insensitive, egotistic, and has unpredictable mood swings, and you know what? They all perfectly fit Aya Hirano’s pompous personality. Aya is very vocal about certain things during talk shows and she some things too much that it got a lot of her otaku fanbase upset. So much so some otaku has posted pictures of their destroyed Aya Hirano merchandise and even sent death threats. Aya, for the most part, didn’t flinch and didn’t care for any of these because she’s already doing things she finds interesting. Much like Haruhi is--she’s not interested in boring people.
A scandal can ruin someone’s career and this is so true of Aya Hirano’s sex scandal. Personally, we don’t care what celebrities do in bed or care what they do in their private, but seiyuu in Japan are seen as idols—forever pure and innocent. What happened to Aya sparked a wildfire of angry otaku and the backlash is still being felt today. Aya never recovered from the scandal and it’s unlikely she’ll get a lead role ever again. Which is completely understandable because it’s hard for any company to promote someone who is a deviant among children and young teens.
But one can hope though, Aya Hirano is a talented individual and she can breathe life into any character she touches. Currently, Aya is doing voice work in anime and video games, and when the dust settles, let’s cross our fingers for Aya climbing back up to greatness! Like, come on! The second coming of Haruhi (season 2)? Lucky Star season 2?!