#43 – Kanda Sayaka: Anna from Frozen is an otaku?

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

Follow Sayaka on Twitter, Instagram or her blog.

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.


6 thoughts on “#43 – Kanda Sayaka: Anna from Frozen is an otaku?

  1. zhu2

    “Some of her recent favourite series include… Guilty Crown”
    Clearly fake, no one mentions Guilty Crown as a show they like.
    Joking aside, I don’t think there’s any reason to doubt her claim of being an otaku (she’s probably a casual fan so ‘otaku’ might be too strong of a word here). I mean, what is there to gain by saying so? Almost nothing.The stigma associated with otakus/late-night anime means mentioning you’re a fan might actually be a detriment to your career, especially if you were aiming for the mainstream.

    “#1 dream in life was to be a seiyuu”
    Not sure what to think of this… Considering she’s been in the entertainment business so long as an actress and singer, why would she have this dream? I’ve heard it’s actually very easy to become a seiyuu so I’m somewhat confused by those words. Not to mention, a successful career as an actress or singer is much more lucrative.

    “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 Juuou Mujin no Fafnir”
    What the heck kind of dream is this? Having your song be the opening theme for a harem/ecchi show like this sounds far from dreamy (I know, it’s about the tie-in but that doesn’t change the reality).

    She seems to be a great singer; no wonder she was cast in the dub for Frozen. Great control and technique, it’s obvious she’s had singing training.

    1. admin Post author

      > re: being a seiyuu
      “becoming a seiyuu” is just as easy as becoming a singer i suppose? being successful/making enough money to eat off either job is a lot harder though. i’d argue that the seiyuu industry is tougher to succeed in since it’s such a niche market with a finite number of anime and dubbing productions.

      as for dreams…well. isn’t passion the factor that drives dreams, and not money or fame? maybe one just doesn’t have the talent or luck to be a (insert ideal job) but it doesn’t hurt to dream. you could look to sato amina as someone who dared to give up the lucrative mainstream idol life for her seiyuu dream 😉

      1. zhu2

        I should clarify: her dream in life was to be a seiyuu and she’s been in the business for 16 years, but currently only has two voice acting credits to her name (having a second look at her work portfolio tells me she’s a person who enjoys trying her hand at all kinds of different entertainment-related activities so voice acting may be her newest endeavour). The part about ‘becoming a seiyuu’ was more referring to the ease of breaking into the industry as newbies are frequently chosen for main roles over veterans (likely due to the pay-ranking system).

        I’ll have to read up on this Sato Amina as I have little knowledge about AKB48 past their monstrous fan base and sales.

        1. admin Post author

          i guess we could look at sayaka’s case as being a bit different – her mother’s status likely opened all the doors for her to become a child actress and it was only later in life that she maybe discovered what she really wanted to do? maybe the incidents in 2005 when she temporarily quit the business did force her to rethink her priorities etc..of course, there are too many other factors involved & we can only speculate…

  2. XOF

    I wonder what happened to the supposed casting of Sakamoto Maaya/Ishikawa Yui as Elsa/Anna in the Japanese dub of Frozen? Was it only a rumor or did they get replaced by more mainstream celebrities?


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