Aya Hirano (平野 綾; born October 8, 1987, in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture) is a Japanese actress, voice actress, and J-pop singer who has had roles in several anime, visual novels, and TV commercials in Japan. She was previously a member of the U-15 idol group Springs.
Aya Hirano spent a few of her very early years of life in America before returning to Japan. Her favorite artist is Avril Lavigne, and her hobbies are reading, calligraphy, and playing the piano, and learning guitar. In 1998, she joined the Tokyo Child Theatrical Group division of the Space Craft Group company. Eventually, she began to appear in commercials and got her first role as a voice actress in Angel Tales. From 2002 to 2003, she was a member of the band SpringS. After graduating from high school, she began seriously pursuing her voice acting and solo singing career. Her big break came in 2006, when she was cast as the voice of Haruhi Suzumiya, the title character of the anime series The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. The series' public success has greatly enhanced her popularity and career in Japan. Her CD single Bōken Desho Desho?, containing the opening song of the show, sold out in Japan the very day it was released. This success was followed by her voicing two lead characters in anime based on popular manga (Reira in Nana and Misa in Death Note). Her popularity was confirmed at the first Seiyu Awards, where she won "Best Newcomer (female)", for her role as Haruhi Suzumiya; the same role also won her a nomination as "Best Main Character (female)". At the same awards, she was also nominated for "Best Supporting Character (female)", and earned two nominations for "Best Single" (One of which is a solo, Bōken Desho Desho?; the other was a group nomination for the single Hare Hare Yukai). In 2008, she won the "Best Main Character (female)" award at the second Seiyu Awards.
She performed at the "Animelo Summer Live" concerts between 2006 and 2008, as well as the "Suzumiya Haruhi no Gekisō" concert on March 18, 2007. Hirano was a guest at Anime Expo 2007, along with other cast members from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Minori Chihara and Yūko Gotō. In 2007, she continued to enjoy great success in her career, landing the role of Konata Izumi in the anime version of Lucky Star and launching three separate singles back-to-back monthly at year's end. She voiced Dende in Dragon Ball Kai and Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods. She also performed her own rendition of "Cha-La Head-Cha-La" whilst in the character of Konata Izumi from the popular anime Lucky Star. One of the show's quirks was to have Konata (an otaku) perform a different anime opening for each episode's ending theme, with Dragon Ball Z's being the most "mainstream."
In November 2010, Hirano posted a message on her Twitter account that she has had a pituitary gland tumor since junior high school. While not malignant, the tumor exerts pressure on certain motor functions, resulting in temporary memory loss, loss of vision and slurring of speech. She decided against elective surgery because the surgery would alter her nasal cavity and permanently modify her voice. To facilitate her care, she announced in April 2011 that she had been prohibited from taking on new voice acting roles in anime since some time the previous year. She still continued voicing characters for anime that received additional seasons or extended runs. In May 2011, Hirano announced via Twitter that she was no longer performing music for Lantis and has discontinued her music career until further notice. On August 2, 2011, Japanese magazine Bubka confirmed that Hirano was dismissed by Lantis due to a sex scandal involving her sleeping with several band members. Citing a need for a new agency that was more ideal with her career wishes, Hirano announced on August 12, 2011 that she left Space Craft Entertainment. On August 21, Aya Hirano moved to the voice acting agency Grick. Days later, on August 27, Aya Hirano posted a message on her Twitter account confirming that she has resumed new voice acting roles in anime.
Aya Hirano was contracted to Space Craft Produce, a branch of the Space Craft Group, for her voice acting career, and for her singing career, she was signed under Lantis. She left both Space Craft and Lantis in 2011, and moved to the voice acting agency Grick in August 2011, and into Universal Sigma in 2012. Aya Hirano returned to music in 2012 and was signed to the record label Universal Sigma. Her first release on the label was the mini album Fragments on May 23, 2012.