Actress and singer Sayaka Kanda was found dead on Dec. 18 at the hotel she was staying at in Sapporo. The circumstances as far as I am aware of come down to these two articles. Since it is an ongoing investigation, I’ll refrain from inferring from the fairly well-known set of circumstances surrounding her. It’s kind of on brand that ANN just namedrops Sayaka’s parents without any footnote–Seiko Matsuda is one of the most popular Japanese idol ever, and Sayaka’s relationship with her star-lit parents had been turbulent (and public). But first, I want to extend my condolences to her family and all her friends, colleagues, and fans…especially the fans of her characters. Well, as one of those, I’m writing this to cope, partly.
Sayaka Kanda was a geinokai royalty, who most recently got on my radar from her work in Idoly Pride. Recently she was on a live stream to celebrate Mana’s birthday–the “ghost” character who were later on implemented into the mobile game. It’s not the first time I’ve seen or known her, but as I don’t follow Sayaka’s musical roles, it’s the first time I’ve seen her perform in character as such. Well, yes, also Idoly Pride staff put her name on the little chocolate name plaque on Mana’s birthday cake, because she was Sayaka Kanda, she was somebody?
It turns out Sayaka played a lot of roles in other pop culture notables even before 2021. Her biggest role might had been Frozen’s Anna in the Japanese dub, but she nerded out in Danganronpa, who she provided a character voice to as well as sang a song for as TRUSTRICK. Like others of her age, she was into vocaloids, which you can see her covers on her Youtube channel. Her music career went along these routes, probably because she had an affinity to it?
Needless to say, Sayaka was a talented, multi-role sort of a performer. But, the reality is, does it matter? Personally, I am emotionally hit by waking up to this news today–a tragedy that a popular 35-year-old dying is bad enough, but that she played a character I like in Idoly Pride means this character fundamentally will now also be impacted. It’s a reminder when people passes away, it creates a figurative hole in the world bigger than the size of that person’s direct impact. All of this hit on me is for an IP that’s almost a year old. It only took a year for me to attach so strongly to someone who plays a character I like. It’s really about the distance in your head, and there are few ways to shrink that faster than doing that idol routine.
I’m not sure if I can still play or look at Idoly Pride the same way. I don’t know how the cast feel about Sayaka’s passing, but I hope the best for them. As a fan and player I just hope the management of the game do her contribution justice and do so respectfully.
Me? I’ll probably continue to put off that newsletter, LOL. I have some post ideas lined up and I just want to throw them up as soon as I can.