Sally Amaki: Not Your Average Japanese Idol

Real quick clarification: I swear on my life I didn’t mean to make this blog post title similar to the article from the Around Akiba website you see when you search up “Amaki Sally”. I know I steal shit from the internet, but plagiarizing is a big no-no in my book lmao


Hello, it’s been a while since my last post (and I apologize for that) but I just wanted to discuss something real quick that I found was interesting! I have no idea how long this post will be but regardless, hopefully this will be something that sparks your interest as well.

As you may already know, Japanese idols and seiyuu (Japanese term for voice actor/actress) is something I talk about a lot on this blog, as well as on my various social media accounts. Whether it be something Love Live related or just general anime, you can see that I’ve garnered a pretty big interest in the seiyuu and idol craze throughout my time as an aniblogger.

(these kinds of voice acting videos really fucks with my ears, they give you a weird feeling lol)

However I recently discovered an idol, and idol group, that isn’t something you usually see as a fan of the phenomenon… well, I guess I can’t really generalize, but it’s something I myself have never seen before.

But first, let’s talk about the idol group 22/7 real quick.

22/7 is a “digital seiyuu idol group” collaboration project created in 2016 by Akimoto Yasushi, studio Aniplex, and Sony Music Records. Akimoto Yasushi, if you didn’t know, is a well-respected music producer and was in fact the creator of one of the biggest Japanese pop idol groups, AKB48, and it’s numerous sister groups like JKT48, BEJ48, etc.

aramajapan.com-227-idol-group.jpg

22/7’s motto is “idols who transcend dimensions”. Essentially, it’s a group of female seiyuu who depict their various characters (surprisingly designed by different well-known anime character designers like Koyama Hirokazu of Fate/Grand Order fame, and Kimi no Na wa’s Tanaka Masayoshi), not only with their voice, but also motion capture… interesting. As you can see in the music video of their first single, “Boku wa Sonzai Shiteinakatta”, the motion capture animation style is put into full effect.

While I’m not too fond of the songs themselves, what I’m more impressed by is how nice the motion capture animation is. Maybe this particular MV doesn’t look that good, but their newer animations honestly blow my mind how smooth it is, compared to other things I’ve seen.

And if you still think this looks bad, trust me, there is MUCH MUCH worse.

1ec.gif

Well to be fair, the Love Live! series has definitely improved it’s CGI animation with it’s spin-off series Love Live! Sunshine!!, but I think it’s safe to say that motion capture is easier on the eyes than computer generated imagery like the GIF above… and I’m pretty damn sure the MV for “Korekara no Someday” is all CGI, not motion capture. Anime studio Sunrise seem like they would never go the extra mile and spend more money to do motion capture animation for some 1-minute 30-second music video.

But back to the topic at hand, that’s 22/7’s “charm point”. They’re an idol group, with it’s characters portrayed by seiyuu, that is both represented in 2D and 3D. My opinion on them so far is that they’re definitely unique and have potential (they’re even getting an anime series at some point), I’m just not digging their songs that much.

That being said, one of the members of 22/7, Amaki Sally, is one interesting person I learned about recently.

If you’re into the idol/seiyuu craze, you might’ve seen a viral tweet last year circulating around Twitter of Sally suddenly revealing on one of her Japanese live streams that she can speak fluent English:

I remember seeing this video and genuinely being blown away by that “reveal”. It’s not everyday you see a Japanese seiyuu idol suddenly come out and speak like she’s from the United States…

…well, that’s because she is from the United States! Sally was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, after her Japanese parents met and got married here. Thus, you can suspect that she got to learn both Japanese and English at the same time as a young gal. I don’t want to get too into the whole biography of Amaki Sally, as the 22/7 Wikia explains it pretty well in one place but she definitely has an interesting backstory behind her, being a Japanese-American person who adored otaku related things to the point of her developing a serious interest in becoming a seiyuu in Japan.

Because Sally is bilingual, she was chosen to play Sakura Fujima in the 22/7 idol group, a young girl who has lived overseas and can speak fluent English. You can also consider her as one of those “virtual YouTubers”, just like the insanely popular Kizuna Ai.

I bring up Amaki Sally, essentially to just show you how intriguing this particular Japanese idol is. As I mentioned, you really don’t see someone like this on an everyday basis and the closest thing I have ever seen to this is with the Love Live/Aqours seiyuu, in which some of them have pretty decent English-speaking skills. But obviously, they’re significantly different from the American-native Amaki Sally. It’s funny because while in Japan, she also uses her advanced English-speaking skills to her advantage, playfully making fun of her fellow idol members while they have completely no idea what she’s saying.

View this post on Instagram

RIP chiharun’s phone

A post shared by 天城サリー(Sally Amaki) (@sallyamaki) on

However what puts icing on the “Amaki Sally is interesting” cake is the fact that she pretty much juggles two personas/personalities at the same time; one as a cute Japanese idol, while on the other hand, a culturally-educated American. The latter personality really shines when she talks to her foreign fans about things millennials/Generation Z kiddos/people who go on the internet a lot know about such as internet memes/slang, how Japan doesn’t have Chipotle or Girl Scout Cookies, and even having secret “anime trash” Tumblr accounts which she’d rather not talk about in the mainland of Japan.

It makes me chuckle when she talks about these things because it’s strange to realize that she’s a legit Japanese idol, but I could totally see someone like her walking on the street, being a normal person in the American society. Even her tweets can be relatable on some level.

And while I’m no business and marketing expert, having someone like Sally on a Japanese pop idol group is pretty beneficial, as she can obviously appeal to and gather fans from the foreign/English-speaking folk. As a matter of fact, it seems like Sally has more overseas fans than Japanese ones and as you can see in this heart-warming video message, she’s very grateful to have supporting followers like that.

I think that’s all I really want to talk about today. It’s nice to actually see a J-idol be so unique from other ones I’ve seen, and I just love how Sally is pretty damn relatable, coming from a fellow, young American adult who also likes otaku related hobbies. You also have to appreciate how interactive she is with her fans, especially the foreign ones, on her social media accounts. At least for me, I don’t really see idols engage in online conversations with fans for reasons like strict management or things of that sort.

Let me end it off with probably my favorite tweet from her, which is just incredible:

(also the fact that there is an actual chance she can come by this blog post after I @ her on Twitter, it’s a little surreal lmao)


So yeah, this post was kinda out of the blue (like most of my posts on this blog) but hope you thought this was pretty interesting to learn about.

Also, if you want to check out a new review on #moe404 by me, talking about the slice of life Non Non Biyori, click here!

Thanks for reading!! 😀

-al

  1. I have to disagree… That GIF looks far, far better than either of the motion capture videos. The motion capture videos are noticeably wooden and have, well, not the best CGI ever laid on top.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    1. Hmm, I dunno, even after going back and watching the rest of that music video in the Love Live anime, I still find that it’s not really smooth enough for my standards. And while I’m not saying that 22/7 is the best motion capture/animation I’ve ever seen, it’s definitely at least a good attempt at making something like a dance sequence/scene look natural and pretty appealing.

      But it seems like both have the problem of not having the best looking CGI on top of the animation lol

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

      1. Yeah, it’s a two part process… 1) smooth out your animation so movements don’t look wooden and choppy, 2) refine your CGI model so that it doesn’t look like something out of a game cinematic from the 90’s. Love Live’s advantage in both is slim, granted, but to me it’s definitely there.

        Liked by 1 person

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