When I first read about Hitomi Suzuki in or around 2016, it was a line item under the concept of “NOW ON AIR,” a seiyuu idol unit produced by Lantis with agency Office PAC. It didn’t stick. The second time I read about Hitomi Suzuki, it was looking up which color Yuki Tanaka was in NOA when she was added to IDOLM@STER Shiny Colors as Asahi.
I’ve not really seen NOW ON AIR at all, as they were low profile, and other than two of their anime tie-ins I have barely heard them either. Still, that was enough for me to “get” what it was like once I connected the dots. In 2021, NOW ON AIR was put on indefinite hiatus.
Reading about Hitomi Suzuki recently, it was the news of her passing from cancer at the age 26. It seems she was part of Office PAC during her entire seiyuu career. At first I didn’t even realize she was formerly of NOW ON AIR. Then the realization came. Cheers to Crunchyroll calling it out in the headline.
It’s so weird how that little bit of context adds so much–because you can now imagine how a Hitomi Suzuki tanoshi’s life is like? Can you imagine the feelings the NOA cast and staff had to deal with the last 18 months? Your struggling seiyuu dreams crushed by COVID and the rest of your future robbed due to terminal illness? That just seems way too much.
Since NOA disbanded in 2021, Momoe, Misako and Mina have left the agency as well. Momoe seems to have completely retired from show biz. Misako and Mina found out about Suzuki’s passing through social media and it’s rough to see their now-freelance reactions on social. Here’s also a shout-out from Aira Yuuki who worked with the group in the past. The remaining members were still connected via their agency, and they work together in the agency’s vocal unit, “Coe-mony.”
What’s really tragic isn’t so much of all of the hang-wringing I’m now reading up on, but that “Coe-mony” has a live show on Jan 15 2023. Hitomi Suzuki is listed as a cast member still for that show. I’m assuming “Coe-mony” has a regular program and they talk about this throughout, and have some kind of plan to put everything in perspective given that Suzuki’s agency should be in the know throughout her health journey. But I’m just guessing.
To me, the most memorable thing was finding out that NOA participated in Machi Asobi one year and did the race within the city. Was it a half marathon or something? It was pretty amusing to see seiyuu idols go through it, which is why it stuck. I’m just hoping everyone affected by Hitomi Suzuki’s passing can find some solace in these pretty harmonies.