Aloha~♥ Friday ヾ(＾∇＾)♥！！、for tonight’s Unzipped we’ll take a little look into the musical side of one most talented idol who’s primary work held many a anime lovers’ heart with not just her voice but also her cuteness, endless energy and Okay…that voice!
Sakurai Tomo….singer, actress, model and seiyuu…the complete package.
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 as it really is one of the most entertaining, energetic and cute performances that I’ve seen over the past 17+ years of collecting J-Pop…..it’s just so sad that it’s not available on DVD.
Still just a bit later in this post I’ve included through the wonders of VHS~~>DVD transfer a few live performances from this awesome concert!..along with a few more performances from her Natsu ‘99 DVD.
And just like any other idol, Tomochan has her share of shashinshuus as well….the one above is titled “Ripple”…however its bindings are a bit fragile so I decided not to try to scan it for fear of loosening any pages.
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 are 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. 😛
~Sakurai Tomo “My Town” mp3~
“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! 🙂
~Sakurai Tomo “Beauty and the Beast” mp3~
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 for 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…
~Sakurai Tomo “Waracchau kedo suki!” mp3~
…”Waracchau kedo suki!”…one of Tomochan’s fun and upbeat rock/pop songs!..and this one always gets the audience going~!!
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 May?! :P…so instead next is my most favorite Sakurai Tomo song ever!
~Sakurai Tomo “Aitakutemo aenai” mp3~
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”…
~Sakurai Tomo “OVER THE RAINBOW” mp3~
…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!
First here are a three live performances from Sakurai Tomo’s “Tomo ‘96 Live” VHS….just love~love~♥~this concert!! (and keep in mind that these are VHS to digital transfers so the video isn’t of the highest quality but I think it turned out okay =) ).
~Sakurai Tomo “Chotto HAPPY” (from Tomo ‘96 Live)~
She’s so cute and genki~* here…and sexy!
~Sakurai Tomo “”Aitakutemo aenai” (from Tomo ‘96 Live)~
Again my most favorite song by Tomo~chan and it’s the most lovely of ballads and her vocals here…immaculate.
~Sakurai Tomo “My Town” (from Tomo ‘96 Live)~
Another fave~♥!…love this melody!
And here are three 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 starting with “Summer Holiday” which I thought was appropriate for the time of year as it’s already warm like summertime here =P. And gotta love her pink microphone too!
~Sakurai Tomo “Summer Holiday” (live from Tomo Natsu ‘99)~
The title track to one of her latter album releases.
~Sakurai Tomo “Watashirashiku” (live from Tomo Natsu ‘99)~
Something about this chorus always has grabbed me and Tomo~chan so perfect here.
~Sakurai Tomo “Waracchau kedo suki!” (live from Tomo Natsu ‘99)~
A live fan favorite! Tomo~chan may be a bit out of breath from the prior song but nonetheless a great performance and such a cute song!