The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya follows the story of high school student Haruhi – and her reluctant partner Kyon, who is dragged into Haruhi’s quest for bizarre and supernatural phenomena.
As well as voicing the main character, Aya Hirano performed opening theme ‘Bouken Desho Desho’ and the insanely popular ending theme ‘Hare Hare Yukai’ which was performed by Aya alongside Minori Chihara and Yuko Goto. For later episodes, Aya performed ‘Super Driver’ as the opener and ‘Stop!’ as the ending theme. The single releases proved to be equally popular, with ‘Bouken Desho Desho’ in particular selling all copies of the CD single on the day of its release.
Aya had originally been part of the theatrical troupe connected to the Space Craft Group towards the end of the 90’s, which lead to acting opportunities including voice-acting roles. But Aya had also dabbled in music as part of the idol group SpringS. When she later landed the title role in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Aya was a natural choice to also perform some of the songs for the show. She also contributed insert songs for Haruhi, such as ‘God Knows…’ and ‘Lost My Music’.
Her public profile soared after the success of the series and she followed up with roles in Lucky Star, Death Note and Nana. Meanwhile, her music career also took off with her debut album ‘Riot Girl’ reaching No. 6 in the Oricon charts in 2008.
Much of Aya’s non-anime musical ventures saw more of a rock-orientated direction, which is evident on releases such as ‘Love Gun’, ‘Speed Star’ and ‘Hysteric Barbie’. But she demonstrated that she could keep a good balance between an edgy guitar sound and a fine pop element to her tunes.
Aya’s career hit a rocky patch when in 2010 she announced that she had suffered from a pituitary gland tumour for many years. The tumour caused pressure which occasionally resulted in symptoms including loss of vision and slurred speech. However, Aya decided against surgery as this would likely modify her voice. As a result, she was prohibited from taking on any new anime roles. She later also announced that she was discontinuing her musical career and left record label Lantis.
But in 2012 Aya bounced back and announced that she was releasing new material under the Universal Music label. The new album Fragments features collaborations with artists such as KZ, Yano Hiroyasu, Maeyamada Kenichi, Nirgillis, Kubota Masahiko and Novoiski.
Fragments shows Aya pursuing a more classic J-Pop approach, particularly on the energetic ‘Stargaze Love’ which is a superb slice of pop goodness.
Clearly Aya Hirano is keen to get her music career back into action again – and ‘Fragments’ may well be the album to do it.
Fragments is released in Japan on 23rd May.