You might not recognise Satomi Satou in the street, but you have heard her voice. She’s probably got the most attention in the UK as Wendy Marvell, the 12-year-old dragon slayer in Fairy Tail, but Satou has played literally scores of anime roles since her 2009 debut in Kamichama Karin. A lot of them have been kids – she has the kind of voice that still sounds childlike, which is prized like gold-dust in anime voice acting, because producers can get a junior performance from someone without having to worry about making the kids stay up late for that 2am recording session.
She was also Ritsu Tainaka, the short-haired, forgetful drummer in K-On, an anime series about an afterschool rock band. She’s taken the usual anime starlet route of idol-singing and public appearances, so the K-On songs have stayed with her repertoire, alongside her own songs – her solo singing career has taken off in the last year… Now she’s graduated to full-on pop star status, with her very own stalker, 39-year-old Jun Yasumoto from Osaka, arrested on 25th July by the police because he threatened to hurt her at her next concert. On Twitter.
I’m guessing this is why the Japanese media seem to have thrown innocent-until-proven-guilty out the window, and are happy to report his identity before he’s even made it in front of a judge. While Twitter might feel like you’re thumbing around with your phone and mouthing off to your mates, it can be inconveniently public and traceable if you are planning on, you know, making any death threats in a cheap real-life knock-off of Perfect Blue.
Another day, another nutter giving anime fans a bad name, although this one is going to have extra traction over here. Back when the movie was debuting in the UK, I went ten rounds with one of K-On’s producers over the amount of access to the director. We practically had a three-day fight about it, with me demanding Q&A’s with actual questions and actual answers, and him trying to micro-manage every single moment. He wanted every event to be little more than a curtain call with a homily, and had conniptions at the thought of members of the audience actually being able to interact with the guests. I said he was over-reacting and paranoid. Now I’m looking at my inbox every couple of minutes, wondering when I’m going to get the “I told you so” email.
I shall continue trying to make anime events actual events rather than glorified identity parades, but really, fandom, you don’t make it easy for me. Or for Satomi Satou.
Jonathan Clements is the author of Anime: A History. This article first appeared in NEO 141, 2015.