Saku-nyan was one of the more popular seiyuu idols of the 2000s, actively releasing music, DVDs and hosting numerous radio and TV programmes since she made her debut in 1999 after winning an open audition organized by Enix. She had been a long-time host of the Anime Paradise! (Anipara) and it was as a result of her links with the show that she began her idol career with Kageyama Hironobu as her producer. Over the years Sakura has voiced popular characters such as Nemu in the Da Capo series, Kaorin in Azumanga Daioh, Erica Hartmann in Strike Witches and Hina-ichigo in the Rozen Maiden series. She is also a member of Inoue Kikuko’s 17-sai cult, recruited by Tamura Yukari.
In March 2013, Saku-nyan left the RAMS agency that she had been associated with since her debut. Two months later she set up a ‘supporter’s club’ called Sakura-gumi through community site BEWE, and announced a new single for July 2013, titled TWINKLE☆CHERRY PINK. On 1st August 2013, Sakura officially signed with the Retreat agency that is also home to her good friend Tanaka Rie. However, just as she was gearing up for promotions for her single, an official notice was given on 16th August that all of Saku-nyan’s voice acting and singing activities would be put on hold due to her “poor health”.
Many fans doubt that Saku-nyan is sick at all – there has been no news on her condition for almost a year now, plus she continued to voice Hina-ichigo in last year’s Rozen Maiden anime despite her “illness”. Coupled with the fact that she chose to sign up with the similarly inactive Rie’s agency, the natural conclusion has been that she secretly got married and/or became pregnant. Other seiyuu who used the “poor health” reason to go on hiatus only to be found out later that they had in fact, taken time out to have children include Ohtani Ikue, Imai Yuka and Sakurai Tomo.
Personally, I have always been fond of Saku-nyan’s girlish voice even if I watched very few of her shows (she tends to do a lot of ren’ai game adaptations). With her name appearing on the cast list for Strike Witches: Operation Victory Arrow which hits cinemas in September this year, I expect that she will remain semi-active regardless of her personal circumstances.