October 24, 2012

Mikami Shiori

I wasn't planning on writing mini profiles for all 4 Gorakubu members, but since I did writeups for Rumirumi and Yukachin already I figured it's only natural to write something for Mikami Shiori. She's the one who convinced me to watch YuruYuri in the first place and plays my favorite character, Akaza Akari.

Mikashii is the kind of person who's actually kind of hard to describe, yet at the same time you can see something and instantly recognize "that's something Mikashii would do." She calls herself relaxed and easygoing, always doing things at her own pace, however it's clear she has a very strong and memorable personality. This can be seen from the fact that almost every single other seiyuu who has ever worked with her has their own variation of eerily accurate Mikami Shiori impressions, and nary a day goes by where another castmate will not namedrop, imitate, or refer to Mikashii in some way. They talk about her so much that she's the central point of most shipping rumors. These rumors are fueled by the fact that Mikami LOVES touching hands (she names "hands and glasses" her own two fetishes on her blog), and doesn't hesitate to get touchy feely with everyone.

Her bubbly kindness and strong sense of responsibility naturally attracts the friendship and respect of everyone around her. But another reason she's so popular with her peers despite her relatively short career is that Mikami skillfully inserts herself into people's way and gets to know them. Both Rumirumi and Yukachin have said that early on in their careers, Mikashii who had slightly more experience, always took the initiative in teaching them and and giving out advice as a mentor and friend. I already mentioned the story about how Rumi got forced by Mikashii to call her using her nickname, but Tsuda Minami has nearly the same story about meeting her. Mikashii simply did not accept being anything less than friends with her colleagues.

In one memorable story told by Keitai Kanojo+ director Tsukikawa Sho, he says he was originally unsure about having a seiyuu act in a live action role, but by the end of filming, Mikashii had charmed the entire cast and crew. In fact, she was a little too friendly and given her role in that production, it became a running joke that her friendliness was far too unnatural and she must have been hiding a traumatic past.

Actually, since Mikashii is so easygoing and naturally becomes friendly with everyone, she's a tempting target to tease no matter where she goes. Especially at YuruYuri events. Mikashii denies being similar to Akarin (she always complains "I'm noooot fubin na ko"), but that doesn't stop the constant comparisons. The popular saying "Mikashii Owata" (Mikami is finished) in fact comes from the famous YuruTen streaming event, where cast members competed against each other to pick names for the songs on the YuruYuri season 1 soundtrack, and scored points whenever fans voted for their name. Just as you'd expect from Akarin's voice actress, Mikashii lingered in last place all the way till the final song, leading to the nico comments being filled with "Mikashii is finished" condolences. "No I'm not!" she begged the audience as she read the screen. Eventually she looked as if she had accepted her fate and even started giving a "goodbye speech" while other members reminisced like she died, but in a surprise move she actually submitted the song name "みかしいオワタ" in a desperate comeback to break her losing streak. This of course won in a landslide, and since then "Mikashii Owata" has been engraved into YRYR lore. True to their word, PonyCanyon kept the title in their soundtrack.

In another incident, Rumirumi recalled how Mikashii disappeared at an afureco session. In Japan, afureco for TV animes are done in a group, and tends to be run in order of the scenes, so even if you only have one opening and ending line in the whole episode, you still need to be there for the whole duration. This situation of course, exactly describes several episodes where "main character" Akari is practically invisible. Mikashii originally waited with everyone at her microphone, but felt so awkward just standing for long stretches in silence that she sat down behind the group to watch them instead (her earlier attempts to adlib some unscripted lines were also shot down by the directors). The 3 remaining cast members did their recordings, took feedback, chatted between takes, and laughed together for ages until Mikashii suddenly commented "You guys seem to have having fun ;_;" from afar. "It felt like she really WAS Akari" the other cast members later recalled.

Live action acting isn't a problem with Mikashii as you can see here. Her "S" is quite cute and convincing.

Examining Mikashii's past, you can see the kind of life that helped shape her. Mikashi was born and raised in Aomori and naturally speaks her native Tsugaru dialect (she coached herself to hide the accent when she moved to Tokyo). When she was 10 years old, she watched Saber Marionette J at her grandmother's house and became interested in the series. Prior to that, she didn't really watch anime. Once she started buying magazines of the series, she learned more about seiyuu and starting getting interested in voice work. By the age of 14, she had narrowed down her future career choices to either daycare worker, piano teacher, or seiyuu. Eventually deciding on seiyuu, she started buying voice magazines like Seiyuu Grandprix, but kept it a secret because she was a little embarrassed about others knowing she wanted to pursue it as a career. In highschool, she was pretty active and played in her school's tennis club. To prepare for her voice career, she also joined the school's broadcasting club and became its president. At the start of her senior year, she attended a summer camp at Tokyo Announce and made her final decision to become seiyuu. Her parents were against the idea but she clutched stubbornly to her dreams and eventually persuaded them to let her go. To Mikami "my pace" also means "my pace, and I'll do it no matter what."

Once she graduated highschool, she moved to Tokyo and enrolled in Tokyo Announce Gakuin's seiyuu school. To avoid annoying her new neighbors, she used to practice her lines and voice drills outside in a public park. She preferred nature anyway and was a bit afraid of people in the big city. It was only after an old lady cheered her on at one of her outdoor practice sessions that she realized urban Tokyo wasn't so scary after all. At the school, she went through a full performing arts curriculum that involved not just voice acting, but also theater, and even stage fighting with wooden swords.

Within a year, she had landed at a role as a member of 7th generation assistants in the weekly radio program "Big Bang" that specialized in cultivating young seiyuu prospects. Previous notable alumni from the program include Imai Asami, Fujita Saki, and Satou Satomi. That made her pretty famous on campus and by her second year, even brand new first year classmates including Ookubo Rumi already heard of her. After graduating from Tokyo Announce Gakuin in 2009, she had a successful Seiyuu Award newcomers audition and was immediately signed by Aoni Production (rumor is that several agencies actually fought over signing her). Her first appearance in an anime was for an uncredited performance in Shugo Chara, but her hard work and personality quickly earned her more roles and more contacts. In 2010, she began hosting one day of the now popular Lady Go series along with fellow graduate Rumi. She is now that troupe's leader.

As a country girl, Mikashii is an active and outdoors type. Unlike Rumi who prefers staying home, Mikashii will go out with friends, play tennis, go shopping, driving (she has a license), eat at restaurants, or sightseeing each weekend. She says she spends a lot of times in parks because she grew up in Aomori and always gets the urge to get away from the urbanness of the city and see nature. However, she doesn't swim in the ocean without a floatation device because she had a traumatic experience where she almost drowned in middle school.

For indoor stuff, she loves cats and dreams of opening up her own kitty cafe some day once she has saved enough money. When she watches movies, she says she enjoys fantasy genre, citing Narnia and Pirates of the Caribbean series as examples. On food, she says she is a huge meat eater who eats yakiniku far too often that she needs to watch her weight. She especially loves fried squid which is common in her hometown, but hard to get in Tokyo. She also likes eating desserts and prefers parfaits and chocolate in particular. She can also play piano, and hopes to get more involved in singing in her future career. Besides those interests, she is apparently officially certified as 2 kyu rank in Kanji, 1 kyu in Abacus, and 1 kyu in Mental Arithmetic.

Only 23 years old but already with a few major series under belt, and having won a "best rookie" seiyuu award, Mikashii may shape up to be among the top 3 personalities who have made it in the last 5 years. Mikashii may not be as spontaneous as Yukachin, or as sly as Rumirumi, but in what matters most, voice, her's is uniquely outstanding. The range isn't great, but it's the type suited to do a few specific roles extremely well. Combined with her sociable personality and networking acumen, she has attained a solid level of career stability that is likely to last years - fans to jokingly refer to her as "immune to scandal." As nico commenters frequently say, Mikashii is a person who "as soon as you see her, you feel from your heart that you want her to be happy and successful."

Posted by Paranda at October 24, 2012 11:02 PM


i really enjoyed read this entry
can't wait to read about minami tsuda

Posted by: danni at December 14, 2012 2:56 PM

Thanks. I appreciate the feedback. I still need to collect a few more Tsuda-nyan anecdotes before I have enough info for a bio, but she has some good stuff, like the origins behind T-kemen

Posted by: paranda at December 15, 2012 12:39 AM

ilike her to be successful this coming year
more roles to come, :)

Posted by: mikashiifan at December 30, 2012 9:00 AM

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