One of the intangible factor that floats seiyuu-idol pop group Sphere is its classically-trained vocalist Takagaki Ayahi. Ayahi (or Ayahime) is gifted with a decent singing voice and majority of Sphere fans probably concur that hers is the best, even if hers may not be their favorite. Indeed there are probably the fewest Ayahi fans out of the whole group, especially given her relatively few otaku roles on her relatively short CV. She gets outshined by her groupmates, who are popular on their own in a lot of ways.
I think Ayahime works great in these PA Works T_T anime projects, Tari Tari being the latest. It’s a bit like her gig in Fate/Zero–the earnest girl that laughed and cried within the same episode. It’s what she did in Tari Tari 6. It isn’t that her acting is actually that great, but in a way Ayahi’s voice is something you just don’t hear very much of, partly because she’s just not in so many shows and her voice has enough of a uniqueness to it to take note. Enough for a lead character, enough for a cappella 5-piece, enough to stand out between a Noto-and-Hayami manzai gag (how many times has that happened anyway?), and enough to delight Noe supporters throughout the ages.
Which in retrospect plays to all of her strengths, and it’s a pretty tall list to stand up against. Then again my favorite Ayahi performance is still the brat from Mitsudomoe, so what do I know?
I certainly don’t follow her solo vocalist career, or what little bits of it. Thing is, even when you up the ante and play with operatic stuff, Ayahime comes across as, at best, a delightful, if pedestrian, passer-by who is best known for her seiyuu idol status, and not because she lights up the ball. Yes, we know she can sing, but is she any good? More importantly, does she have what it takes? She may be able to wrestle a standing fan (something most opera singers have not done, I imagine), but how about a whole bunch of them? I think the jury is still out on this, even after the third Sphere album. At least, I don’t really know.