Back in 2005, open auditions were held to find a voice for the heroine Tennozu Kagura for Gonzo’s new anime SPEED GRAPHER. From a total of 2056 applicants, 10 girls were picked and put through two rounds of judging – a public vote, and a final judgement by a ‘panel’. The results of the public vote were as follows:
Name (no of votes):
Nakai Erika (2319)
Kimoto Orie (2149)
Miyazaki Ui (1698)
Soda Miho (1514)
Kodaki Izumi (1068)
Ikeda Sayaka (769)
Saitou Tomomi (467)
Fujita Sakiko (462)
Iguchi Yuka (242)
Saitou Kei (187)
FYI, the role went to Saitou Kei.
Almost 10 years on, what are these 10 girls doing? Let’s take a look at who made it and who didn’t.
1. Nakai Erika – Signed to the Toritori Office agency, Nakai’s most well-known role is as Eila in the Strike Witches series. In 2009, Nakai changed her stage name to Ohashi Ayuru and has since signed a recording contract with Wisetone, releasing 1 album, 7 mini-albums and in July 2014, a best of compilation. She has also landed supporting roles in the Saki series (Sawamura Tomoki), Love Live! (Yuuki Anju), Girls und Panzer (Nogami Takeko) and Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon (Adele).
2. Kimoto Orie – She had already done seiyuu work before auditioning for SPEED GRAPHER, but was mainly a stage actress. Kimoto has a solid if unspectacular CV, with the Precure series’ Hyuuga Saki/Cure Bloom/Cure Bright being her biggest role. In 2010 she announced her marriage and pregnancy on her blog. Kimoto hosts the annual Yoninde SUPER☆TEUCHI☆LIVE events with her Precure Splash Star colleagues Enomoto Atsuko, Gojo Mayumi and Uchiyae Yuka, and in 2012 and 2014 she surprised fans with the announcements of the birth of her second and third children.
3. Miyazaki Ui – Miyazaki went on to sign with RAMS agency and had a productive period both as a seiyuu and a singer, solo and as part of the unit Clover. She left RAMS in 2013 and signed up with 81 Produce, but very little has been heard from Ui since with her blog and Twitter both strangely silent which has led to fans speculating on her possible marriage and pregnancy as a reason for the inactivity.
4. Soda Miho – She was signed up by Avex Planning & Development alongside the likes of Chihara Minori and Hirama Juri, the former of whom Soda is good friends with. After only a handful of minor roles in anime and games, Soda retired from voice acting in 2007 and became a psychotherapist.
5. Kodaki Izumi – Did not pursue voice acting.
6. Ikeda Sayaka – Now a tarento doing CMs and acting after winning an audition for a Tokyo Seleccion Deluxe stage play in 2009. You can see a video of her in a 7-Bank ad here.
7. Saitou Tomomi – Did not pursue voice acting.
8. Fujita Sakiko – Fujita was already an active rookie seiyuu when she auditioned for the role, having won an award in Pony Canyon auditions while still attending Nichinare voice actor training school. She changed her stage name to Fujita Saki in September 2005 and started winning roles in shows such as Tsuyokiss, Tokimeki Memorial and Manabi Straight!, but it wasn’t until in 2007 when she was hired as the voice of VOCALOID2 Hatsune Miku that her career truly exploded. Saki now appears in many anime and games with the most recent standout title on her CV being the Kantai Collection series. She is scheduled to voice Akagi in the anime next year.
9. Iguchi Yuka – I don’t think I really need to say much about Iguchi. She was already active as a seiyuu, albeit a very young one, by the time she auditioned for SPEED GRAPHER having already won a role in Di Gi Charat a couple of years earlier. Needless to say, Iguchi went on to bigger and better things despite not making the grade for the Gonzo production and today, she is one of the finest seiyuu in the business and is still only 26 years of age.
10. Saitou Kei – The eventual winner despite picking up the lowest number of public votes, she changed her stage name to Shindou Kei in October 2005. She has continued to work steadily with some popular roles including Kodomo no Jikan’s Kagami Kuro and Hanamaru Kindergarten’s Anzu, while recent roles include Galilei Donna’s Hazuki Ferrari and Wizard Barristers’s Hotaru Natsuna. Her career has never really hit truly great heights though.
I do find it amusing that the three seiyuu with the least public votes are the three that are most active nowadays. Goes to show you that our untrained opinions mean nothing at all 😛