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