Pony Canyon reports that the final round of the female singer audition for the theme song of the upcoming theatrical animation film “DEEMO THE MOVIE” was announced during “DEEMO THE MOVIE – UTAHIME AUDITION FINAL” (*utahime = diva/songstress), an official program of the online event “Anime Expo Lite”, with 14-year-old Japanese girl Hinano Takashima being selected as the grand winner, guaranteeing her with a debut-release of that film’s theme song from Pony Canyon.
The audition which began this January attracted over 1,400 participants from across the globe, but due to effects of COVID-19 the qualifying rounds were held online via Zoom, and six finalists were selected after three rounds.
“Anime Expo Lite” is the online version of “Anime Expo”, the largest Anime convention in North America that is held annually in Los Angeles. This year the event was carried out as a two-day live-streaming event on July 3rd and 4th due to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 crisis.
Five judges oversaw the final round online: Theme-song writer Yuki Kajiura, music producer Yasunori Mori, Pony Canyon producers Toshihide Nishinaka and Mitsuyasu Yanagita, and Anime Expo Senior Director Azusa Matsuda.
“Although it ended up being a rather unique audition, the basis lies in the ‘song.’ Since we were selecting someone that would have to make singing their livelihood, it was about finding the one that can display the charm of a beautiful music performance through the power of the ‘song,'” said Kajiura. Similarly, Mori stated “the deciding factor was the winner’s vocal ability and future potential”, applauding the potential of the grand winner. “This audition was inspired by this Japanese anime theme song, and it was revolutionary that it opened the door for people all over the world to participate. I look forward to the film and to the future of this young diva,” said Matsuda, summarizing this half-year audition with a comment while also recognizing its global significance.
Grand winner Takashima performed the three songs that were tasked during the qualifiers. “It’s still dreamlike, I can’t believe it. I’m feeling all fluffy (laugh). I accomplished the first step in my dream of becoming a singer that can reach the heart of audiences worldwide. I’d like to continue singing with all my heart so that people who listen would tell me ‘I’m glad I chose Hinano Takashima!'” said Takashima with a shy smile on her face.
This program can be viewed on the Anime Expo Lite official channel on YouTube and Twitch until July 5th (Sun) 12 am, PST. Furthermore, the final round of the audition will be made available on DEEMO THE MOVIE’s official website after the program airs on BS Nippon Television on July 5th in Japan.