Sakurai Tomo…singer, actress, seiyuu. ^-^

While my ventures into anime are quite modest escapes for me, over the years one seiyuu (voice actress) in particular has always been able to capture my attention. Sakurai Tomo (written as both: 桜井智 & 櫻井智 the former being used earlier in her career while a switch in kanji was chosen for the latter part of her career) is best known for her work in anime (she has quite an impressive anime resume!) and radio dramas but she also released quite an extensive music catalog and interestingly her works can be found on several major labels including Pony Canyon, Warner Music Japan, Pioneer, and Victor who all represent large players in the market. Sakurai Tomo made her music debut in 1995 and her first album is titled "T-mode."

When you really think about it the transition from seiyuu to vocalist seems like a natural venture but while in general all seiyuu have voices that can easily captivate an audience it does not necessarily guarantee a well projected voice in music as well. I've always thought of the talent that voice actors/actresses embody to be quite remarkable as their ability to portray an on screen personality with such convincing feelings and nuances seems to always convincingly connect them with that particular character in a way that the viewer could possibly see the two as one in the same. And then there usually comes the day that an anime fan will finally see the seiyuu behind their favorite anime features and on some accounts perhaps a bit of the fantasy of the seiyuu and on screen character's marriage can be diluted a bit..but really how is a person in real terms supposed to mirror that of a perfectly drawn anime dream character? While this intention may have never been the point, it's really just a nice daydream of sorts to imagine your favorite wide eyed anime characters as having these captivating voices in…um reel ("real") life.

Sakurai Tomo however is a bit different in this regard, and while okay she isn't a perfect translation of anime perfection brought to life she does have a remarkable charm and personality about her which embodies much of what is loved in the genre. Viewing her "Tomo Natsu '96" concert is somewhat like watching what an anime character would be like on stage if one had the ability to bring one to life…and really this isn't an exaggeration as her excelled vibrant demeanor and charisma are not unlike the charm that attracts fans to their favorite on screen animated characters both in a physical and audio sense.

My Sakurai Tomo collection consists of twelve of her albums a single….

…and two concert releases. Unfortunately the majority of her music releases are now out of print and her "Tomo Natsu '96" live was never re-released to DVD to my knowledge….I would just love to present a few performances from this aforementioned concert in particular as it really is one of the most entertaining, energetic and cute performances that I've seen over the past 15+ years of collecting J-Pop…..it's just so sad that it's not available on DVD.

And just like any other idol, Tomochan has her share of shashinshuus as well….the one above is titled "Ripple."

Sakurai Tomo's voice may be best known for her voice acting roles and she as a singer is a perfect extension of this but in some regards her musical vocals even more impressive as her musical genres include everything from cute J-Pop, rock, jazz, and adult contemporary.

Here are just a few of my favorites which can be found on her albums "Cherry" (VICL-762) and "Can-D~Musical Selection~" (WPC7-10018)….for if I were to include much more of my favorites this post could go on forever. 😛

"My Town" is a really cute mid tempo pop song and her vocals here really reflect that of a seiyuu…great cute intonation and the chorus is pure ♥…and I really love the sound of any J-Pop with bells in it! 🙂

Ah one of all time favorite Disney movies!!!…and Tomochan sings it beautifully here!! I love how the lyrics were re-written in Japanese! "Beauty and the Beast" is from her "Can-D~Musical Selection~" album which features various show tunes and a very mature side of Tomochan. ^-^

This next track is a real fan favorite in her concerts and even in her later performances you just had to have a performance of…

…"Waracchau kedo suki!"…one of Tomochan's fun and upbeat rock/pop songs!

Tomochan also released a Christmas themed album which is largely an audio play type of production and I was thinking about including a Tomochan Christmas song here but really….Christmas in July?! :P…so instead next is my most favorite Sakurai Tomo song. ^-^

Tomochan's "Aitakutemo aenai" is about as beautiful as songs come and here you'll really here Tomochan the vocalist as the strength, intonation, and range of her vocals are all on full display. ^-^ The final audio track I want to share here before a couple of live clips is another show tune from her "Can-D~Musical Selection~" album titled "Over the Rainbow"…

…I'm sure many know this one! 🙂 Again I love the Japanese lyrics re-write!…and while Tomochan can emulate a voice as cute as anime itself, here she shows her ability in an elegant setting which is so so different!

While I'm not able to present any of her performances from her "Tomo Natsu '96 Live" as I only have it on VHS here are two performances from her live at Akasaka Blitz Tokyo three years later, "Tomo Natsu '99 Summer Special Stage" recorded on August 20th, 1999. A much much much tamer Tomochan is seen here even though it's only 3 years later and that's quite an understatement!!…and while she isn't in her bubbly "anime" mode in these clips here you can see a mature side to Tomochan's performances instead. Maybe one day I'll be able to get her '96 concert VHS transferred to a DVD so that I can share wild Tomochan too! ^-^ But until then enjoy these clips starting with "Summer Holiday" which I thought was appropriate for the time of year! Gotta love her pink microphone too!

Sakurai Tomo "Summer Holiday" live

 

Sakurai Tomo "Watashirashiku" live

…Whew!..doesn't looking at this photo of Tomochan make you want to sleep?! :) 

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About MorningBerryz

Lover and free spirit who's interests in Japanese culture and the like are insatiable. I am of pure Japanese/Okinawan descent, love my cats, sleep and am a bit naughty at times :).
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12 Responses to Sakurai Tomo…singer, actress, seiyuu. ^-^

  1. Ah~~ Sakurai Tomo! If it wasn't for her stint in Macross CD dramas and Macross 7, I wouldn't have been introduced to her. I was surprised to see that she was one of the very few "full packages" – model, singer, seiyuu, actress~ The only other I've seen make as huge a mark in recent years is Aya Hirano (of Haruhi Suzumiya/Lucky Star fame).

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  2. It's amazing how universal the Macross series is!! I have several friends who have interests and favorites that I can link this series to…some of them aren't even particularly interested in J-Pop or anime but they still know the Macross! series! ^-^ Sakurai Tomo really is a 'full package' of talent as she's crossed over into most of the main entertainment streams. I just really love her voice so much and I'll never forget the first time that I heard her speak and then sing…just so precisely cute! Haha I know that's an odd description! 😛 Hopefully I can find some Hirano Aya clips to watch/listen to…you've got me curious. :)That's a perfect assessment of Tomochan's voice…I couldn't put it any better! ^-^

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  3. I think Macross was one of the first to really connect major fandoms into one singular series – the mecha and the idols. Not to mention it became the basis of "Robotech" – which most kids in the 80's grew up with. XD (Including myself)

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  4. I have some friends who loved the Robotech series!! My familiarity with the mecha genre is pretty minimal but I do own some of the Macross series CDs.I was just looking at Hirano Aya's history and she has a really impressive seiyuu career and it looks like she's gaining even more popularity now with recent roles. I'm looking forward to hearing her sing! It's always even more impressive when an artist writes their own material and a lot of times that translates into musicianship as well. The three albums that I own are from '87, '89. and '93 being "Coquettish Blue", My Heart in Red", and "Different Worlds" as well as a Macross 15th anniversary tie in single. I first heard of Iijima Mari when a customer one day asked to order a large portion of her catalog after browsing through one of those telephone directory sized Japanese music catalogs…I think I still have a few of them somewhere in storage..but when her albums arrived the customer ended up only buying a small portion of them but before putting them out onto the sales floor I decided to see what she sounded like and that's how I came to own these few albums. Eventually I think we did sell all of her albums. ^-^ That's interesting that she lives in LA now and for quite some time it sounds like. Breaking into the American market can be rough though I imagine. I think the customer ordered something like 10 of her albums and with him buying 3 and me buying 3 of them at least 4 should have made the sales floor at Tower back then in town.

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  5. Ah~ I didn't know that customers were able to make special orders~ I used to shop there somewhat regularly – when I actually had money. XD; My husband and I really miss Tower in its hey-day. I was really impressed with the selection they had in the late 90s-early '00s.

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  6. I started to do the J-Pop ordering there sometime in mid '95 if I remember correctly and I continued to learn about J-Pop and experimented with many artists until late '99 when I moved to another job. We really should have had a sign saying that we took special orders….I guess it just never dawned on any of us at the time. 😛 Ah their strong accents are so hard for them to get around when it comes to singing in English! My brother now tells me…I don't know what they're trying to say!…when he realizes that it's supposed to be in English. 🙂 That's why I love that Sakurai Tomo does her English language songs such as "Beauty and the Beast" (posted above) in Japanese instead. Still some Japanese artists are able to sing perfectly in English although many of those singers lived in the U.S. at some point in their lives. Nishida Hikaru is another favorite singer of mine and she grew up in LA. She sings perfectly in both languages which always has impressed me so much! She has a Japanese accent but yet when she sings in English she has no accent. Thank you so much for the song suggestions…now I'll listen more with a purpose. ^-^

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  7. Do you remember Nishida Hikaru's Hawaiian Foremost commercials that used to play on Kiku? I used to get such a kick of out them~ XD Back then she spoke English quite well~ :DWhen I was in Japan in '02-03, Kuraki Mai was pretty big at the time and I found she had her own English-language album – which wasn't too bad when you compare to many other singers. Definitely not fluent, but you can tell she was living in abroad for a little while to study the language.

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  8. Ah "Foremost Fresh!!" Yes actually a friend tracked down some screen shot but they're on my old pc right now. Hikaruchan on the punching bags…pushups, ah so cute!! It's amazing how her career evolved and both I and a friend here zdorama really got into her music and personality when we discovered that she was quite the established J-Pop artist! We've collected most of her works over the years and I really should cover her here with a post but I'm a bit hesitant as Pony Canyon, her label throughout her career has frowned upon the representation and sharing of their works….and that's even including Buono! right now. Ah I'd love to share though…including Buono! which I've tried to keep to a minmum thus far….just so difficult to restrain myself really! :PI have all of the initial releases by Kuraki Mai but I haven't followed her music since. I really love her voice as it really attracted me initially. Just so much J-Pop to follow and she became one of the artists that I had to let go of…regrettably so? I've only heard the name 'Love psychedelico" through new releases but I'm still yet to hear what they sound like. British rock can be great so hopefully I can find some clips of them.

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  9. denadel says:

    the cover for Sakurai Tomo "Can-D~Musical Selection~" is an incredibly one. I rarely see these nice covers no a days. Her voice is also really sweet, and the songs you posted are nice. I havent had the chance to hear them all yet, but the one she sings is concert is something i really like. I am gonna listen to them all later 🙂

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  10. That's some good unko!

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  11. I love that cover too and it's one of my favorites from Tomochan! That album is really filled with great show tunes too and she really shows the elegant side of her vocals there. Ah thank you!…these are some of my favorites by her, especially her Japanese version of "Beauty and the Beast" and "My Town." ^-^ Absolutely love her voice!!…really shows how her seiyuu talent can bring so much to her songs as well!! I hope you enjoy all of her songs posted here! ^-^

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  12. LOL! that's one way of putting it!! 😛 Love your avatar too. 🙂

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