#9 – Chiba Saeko

Sae-chan was and remains one of the seiyuu closest to my heart; I have been following her since her debut anime role as the cool, sporty Sakura Tsubaki in KareKano (one of my favourite manga). You can check out her brief history on Wikipedia (parts of which I translated & wrote). My love for her largely stems from her musical career and her connections to her agency colleagues Kajiura Yuki, the writer and producer of Sae’s songs, and Nanri Yuuka, with whom she formed the unit tiaraway. She also has a very solid CV, particularly within the 2002-2008 period with numerous leading and supporting roles in anime and games, as well as 2 full albums.

In August 2007, Sae-chan announced on her blog that she had gotten married on her 30th birthday (Aug 26). There were already signs of scaled-down activity by the time of her announcement, with her fanclub S.C.Club Happy Ground having been shuttered at the end of 2006. Nevertheless Sae remained active as a voice actress, until around 2010 where it was made known that she would be replaced in the 2nd season of the Strike Witches anime (voicing Sakamoto Mio) by Seto Saori. It later emerged on an episode of noitaminA radio that Sae-chan had given birth to a baby girl in February 2011.

Since becoming a mother Sae has remained largely in the background and only resurfaces for guest spots in shows like Conan & Crayon Shin-chan, as well as reprising long-running roles, namely Minami-ke’s Hayami, Geass’s Nina Einstein & Chiba Nagisa, Tales of Hearts series’ Beryl and Mai-HiME’s Kuga Natsuki. This looks likely to be the path that her career will take for the foreseeable future, but I’m glad that Sae-chan isn’t completely stopping her voice acting activities and will be content with her juggling motherhood and work the way Hayashibara Megumi has done.

My 5 recommended Saeko roles:
1. Kuga Natsuki in Mai-HiME
2. Itou Chika in Ichigo Mashimaro
3. Dokuro-chan in Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan
4. Adachi Momo in Peach Girl
5. Hasebe Ai in Noein

Blast from the Past:
Back when Sae-chan was still part of the Minami Aoyama Shoujo Kagekidan group, she was placed in a unit named FEEL with Hirohashi Kai and Iida Hidemi. The group featured in the Sega Saturn action RPG game Omakase!! Savers, for which they also released a theme song CD (Otoko nara). Clips of the game are available on Youtube and show the then 18-year old Sae-chan in various embarrassing live-action cut-scenes.


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