I might not have given TRUSTRICK, performers of the opening theme FLYING FAFNIR for currently-running generic harem anime Juuou Mujin no Fafnir, a second look had I not already known who they were. Their set-up is similar to that of angela, fripSide or Jyukai – female vocalist, male musician, but their background, or at least that of frontwoman Kanda Sayaka, is somewhat more intriguing.
Let’s talk about Sayaka. She’s only 28 years of age but has 16 years of showbiz experience, officially making her début in the short movie Bean Cake, which won a Palme d’Or award for best short film in 1999. Adopting the stage name SAYAKA, she appeared in a bunch of CMs including one for Glico before making a musical debut in 2002 under Sony. Her first single ever since performed well on the charts (peak: No.5 on Oricon) thanks in part to its usage as a theme song for the Nagase Tomoya-fronted Fuji TV drama Big Money. Further singles did OK, but by 2005 Sayaka had announced a hiatus from all entertainment activities after a bust-up with her mother over her relationship with musician Kitano Masato led to her leaving home. At the time the blame for the split of Kitano’s group day after tomorrow was planted squarely at Sayaka’s feet though the authenticity of the rumours, as you’d expect, was never proven.
A bust-up with her mom…big deal? Not when that mother happens to be one legendary singer named Matsuda Seiko. Matsuda certainly made her feelings over her daughter’s choice of boyfriends obvious with public disapproval of both Kitano and actor Ishigaki Yuma, despite having a rather chequered love life herself. Mother and daughter appear to have made up somewhere along the way and are on much friendlier terms these days, often performing on stage together.
For a couple of years Sayaka’s activities were fairly limited. She apparently resurfaced as an actress using her birth name in 2006 and also participated in a couple of low-key music projects. In 2011, she released LIBERTY, her first full album in 6 years to celebrate her 10th anniversary in music.
The following year, I noticed Sayaka for a different reason – she had been cast in the anime Bimbougami ga! as Adenokouji Nadeshiko. In an interview in July 2012, she revealed that she had been attending voice acting training school for a year and that her #1 dream in life was to be a seiyuu.
Last year, Sayaka landed the voice acting gig of a lifetime – she was picked as the Japanese dub voice of Anna in Frozen. She has subsequently spoken of her shock and how she thought it was all an elaborate practical joke when her agency staff wheeled in a cake for a surprise party to celebrate her casting.
As Sayaka’s fame grew, she started to mention anime more often in her interviews – that she was a fan of Sailor Moon as a child, that she watched late-night anime, bought anime magazines and collected figures. Some of her recent favourite series include Inu x Boku SS, Yuru Yuri, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, UtaPri, AMNESIA, Guilty Crown, Macross Frontier and Danganronpa.
Oh yes, Danganronpa. Sayaka was part of the cast for the stage play last year, playing the role of Enoshima Junko.
In July 2014, appearing on mainstream variety show Shabekuri 007, staff brought in veteran seiyuu Hayami Show, her former voice acting teacher (which I suppose means that Sayaka attended dwango creative school?) to surprise her. Hayami was fairly complimentary of her..but he would have to be, right?
At the end of 2014, another one of Sayaka’s dreams had come true – her newly-started unit TRUSTRICK (with musician Billy) had landed an anime tie-up in the form of the opening theme for Juuou Mujin no Fafnir, and Sayaka composed and wrote the lyrics for FLYING FAFNIR herself. She has also in the past, featured as a guest vocalist for the sasakure.UK project UK rampage on the track 二息歩行.
A lot of people still continue to doubt whether Sayaka is a “true otaku”, noting that “Danganronpa isn’t even an anime”, “she probably just picked a bunch of random anime names to sound cool”, or that she’s “just trying to appeal to the otaku crowd”. I’ll leave it up to you to make up your mind – listen to her talk about anime with Shimono Hiro when she guested on Bimbougami ga! radio.
By coincidence or by fate, I happened to walk past TRUSTRICK performing at their album release event in Ikebukuro Sunshine City in June last year. All I knew of them then was that “Anna from the Japanese Frozen” was the vocalist, and I only realized belatedly that it was actually Kanda (I had liked her back in her SAYAKA days). I wish I had paid more attention then but…I was too busy shopping ;(
TRUSTRICK’s new album TRUST is due out this week. Just don’t expect anything too anisong-like on there – I’m sure Sayaka has to keep that otaku side of hers in check if she wants to continue to land prestigious gigs like performing with Idina Menzel on NHK Kohaku XD
Note – This post was originally intended for my music blog but I thought it might pique the interest of some seiyuu fans, so here it is.