October 9, 2012

Ookubo Rumi

I started getting into A&G Lady Go recently, but just like Hashihime who had the epiphany before me, Ookubo Rumi, has very quickly jumped several tiers into my must-follow list in just a few short months. Hashihime provides some great introductory info in this post and hits on most of the points, including her voice acting, general cuteness, and decent singing ability.

IMO she is probably the strongest singer among the 4 Gorakubu seiyuu at least. She also rivals Yukachin with her quick wits, but combined with a sense of maturity. After personally seeing her charm offensive when I attended the Yuruyuri 39fes event last month, I decided at some point I should also contribute to the Rumirumi bandwagon, as she surely is worth the effort just as Yukachin was.

To start with some history, Rumirumi (who just turned 23 two weeks ago by the way) actually never had plans to become a seiyuu until her second year in highschool. Although she liked anime and voice actors, she originally didn't decide what to study and was just planning to go to a normal college to figure it out later, until suddenly one day she had the desire to be a voice actor. She discussed this with her parents who gave their blessing surprisingly easily, and then she enrolled in the seiyuu program at TOKYO ANNOUNCE GAKUIN Performing Arts College. As she had more classes in the vocational school, she gradually became more determined. In her second year, at age 19, she participated in the 3rd annual audition held by 81 Produce where she won an award. During the audition, she sang Shoko-tan's "Snow Tears." It was also at this audition where she made a strong impression on the young Ootsubo Yuka who also happened to be there, although they wouldn't work together until much later.

Since then, her career has been on a fairly smooth trajectory. When she had her first debut role in Sasameki Koto, she was guided by her senpai Katou Emiri from the same agency and she has held immense respect for her ever since.

In late 2010, she began hosting Thursday (now Wednesday) night episodes of A&G NEXT GENERATION Lady Go!! web series along with Mikami Shiori, Komatsu Mikako, Teramoto Yukika, and Takamori Natsumi (Sumipe didn't replace Yukika until 2011). Mikami was one year ahead of Rumi at the same seiyuu school, so when they met at Lady Go, Rumi originally started out calling her Mikami-senpai and only switched after Mikami insisted on using her nickname Mikashii. Later when Rumi used "Mikami-senpai" again at the start of YuruYuri S1, she got scolded by a very scary Mikashii ("Rumirumi-chan, I thought I told you to call me Mikashii from now on" *death stare*)

You may notice that fans and Rumi will sometimes greet each other on nico broadcasts and radio using "Happy!" But what they're really saying is "Ha-P!", an abbreviated term for 腹黒ピンク (Haraguro Pink) which a neologism referring to certain pink haired characters with a heart of darkness. Of course if asked, Rumi will strongly deny her particular character is evil - rather she's a pure angel who's simply honest with herself. A "Harashiro Pink" character if you will.

Since fans identify her most strongly with her Chinatsu role, she ended up getting a reputation for being evil and crafty. A running joke was that fans would intentionally spin her words and actions as ominous and try to look at the hidden meanings even if she said something completely nice and innocent. At one point in time it was so widespread even her own staff heckled her about it. The "evil" jokes have mostly been played out and gone away, but she still gets called "azatoi" (sly/cunning) all the time, a label she seems to have accepted (or at least doesn't complain when she reads it in the mails anymore). Fans call her "azatokawaii" as praise for her unfair ability to act sickeningly cute. She is a lot like Yukarin with regards to this aspect.

The "azatoi" moniker is well deserved. Rumi can be mischeviously cute (although she's still not good at giving winks) and is a rather fast thinker who can adlib humor quite well. Corners like るWみH really highlight this, as she is required to act out ridiculous roles based on completely nonsensical who/what/when/where/how combinations. In one episode she was throwing handseals around while playing a "ninja ordering gyudon in an izakaya."

When asked to compare her qualities with Chinatsu, she responded she's similar in that she gets very excited about things she likes. However, at the same time she is totally ignorant and incurious of topics that don't interest her, and thus has a rather myopic knowledge of the world. But she doesn't like to admit when she doesn't know something and will often try and bluff her way through. The Lady Go corner "Rumirumi Bijutsukan he youkoso" is actually based entirely around her well practiced ability to do this, and her unscripted commentary while trying to draw obscure/foreign objects is often hilarious. Her bluffing and boasting skills are also frequently seen in other areas, where she loves to say "oh yeah, I'm good at this" whenever she's challenged to anything. Sometimes it's true, sometimes it's not.

As a child, she was pretty mature for her age, as she tried hard to imitate her older sister, whom she admired her ability to fit in naturally with adults. Even now she's mostly an easygoing and casual person. In fact, she says her friends might even call her boyish. Tsuda Minami went so far as to call Rumirumi an "oyaji" in one interview. She does indeed have a remarkably strong ability to act out on caricatures like that. To this day, her legendary "ikemen" act still persists by popular request. It's funny that in older interviews, Mikashii originally thought Rumirumi was the most feminine out of all 4 Gorakubu cast members.

When Rumi was in the cheerleading squad in highschool, her favorite part was dancing and she practiced it a lot, although she was a bit afraid too since her small stature meant she would be the top half for any aerial routines. The experience proved valuable when she was at dance practice for Yuruyuri events. The physical skill gap vs her castmates was so large at their first practice session that a staff member immediately singled her out and asked if she danced before.

Her favorite food is karaage with soy sauce. However, her friends think she's weird for adding soy sauce when karaage is already salty.

Rumi is a big Digimon fan, and has a tradition of rewatching the series at the start of every new year. In last week's Lady Go, she announced she had actually landed a part in the upcoming Digimon Adventures game slated for release in 2013. Apparently her staff knew she loved the series a lot, so they hooked her up with a role.

Rumi says because she's so short and Yukachin was so tall, she was flustered when they met, but now thinks of Yukachin as the adorable little sister she wish she had. Meanwhile, Tsuda is a person she really gets along with, as they are the same age and also usually on the same wavelength (though everyone says this about Tsuda-chan). If Yukachin is her little sister, then Tsuda is her wife.

She's not really much of an outdoors person, and in her spare time off she'd rather stay at home and read novels than go anywhere. Often, she'll buy entire box-sets in one go at the bookstore and spend a day reading them all. Manga is fine too, but if a series has both novel and manga, she'd rather read the novel.

Even though she has been playing a lot of cute girls, she said she would enjoy doing big variations in characters, such as playing a serious adult, or a totally evil role (like straight up hitler-evil), or an Akari-like angelic role, probably to avoid being typecast.

Posted by Paranda at October 9, 2012 1:47 AM

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