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From Fandom to Stardom

Last year’s Anime Festival Asia (AFA) attendees may pick out some familiar faces from the I Love Anisong concert line-up – these 4 girls went from greeting customers in frilly maid outfits to performing on stage together as homegrown J-pop band Sea☆A.

True to the Japanese idol group style, Sea☆A’s members all have distinctly different personalities: Beryl’s the bashful beauty while the sweet Valerie sounds just like an anime character. Cheerful and perky, Wynnie’s the one who best embodies the “moe” aesthetic. Finally, the sporty Estelle’s the youngest member of the group.

Sea☆A’s name comes from the special connection the girls share. According to their official website, ‘SEA’ stands for South East Asia – Wynnie is Malaysian, while the rest are Singaporeans – while the ‘A’ stands for anime, the girls’ common love, and which led to the formation of the band. The star in their name represents the stars they hope to become.


From humble beginnings

The girls started off as part of AFA’s very own Moe Moe Kyun Maid Café, and were later discovered and invited to be a part of Sea☆A.

“It’s almost surreal, because we never expected it to happen to us – normal Singaporean girls!” Estelle exclaimed, as the other girls nodded approvingly. “We started out with just our pure love for anime. For us to go to the next level is extremely exciting and very hard to believe.”

So far, they’ve currently released 2 singles for animes – ‘Dream Shooter’, which is the 3rd ending song for the Jan 2011 ongoing action anime Cardfight!! Vanguard and ‘DELI-DELI☆DELICIOUS’, the 2nd ending song for the gourmet comedy anime Toriko, released in Apr 2011 and also ongoing.

Venturing into Japanese

The girls impressed fellow Singaporeans with their Japanese pronunciation when their first single, ‘Dream Shooter’, was released. Most didn’t realise until later that they were actually from our sunny island.

“We learnt basic Japanese mainly from watching anime,” Valerie revealed. “We’ll watch the original Japanese version and pick out certain keywords that we really want to learn, then we learn according to the English translation. We’ve gotten very used to the pronunciation from that.”

When asked to rate their level of expertise from 1-10, the group voted almost unanimously, “Just 5!”, while Wynnie’s modest side shone through when the other girls complimented her with a rating of 7 over their own 5s.

“We can understand most of it but communication wise, we’re still learning,” Beryl explained.


Still fans at heart

As you’d expect from the band’s name, the girls of Sea☆A leaped at the opportunity to talk about their favourite anime characters and who best represents themselves – or each other.

Right off the bat, Wynnie pointed out Misaki, the main character of the 2010 romantic comedy Kaichou wa Maid-sama! to Estelle, causing the latter to show her fangirl side.

“I want to be her but I want to be Sakura too! I would probably relate to Misaki-chan,” Estelle shared. “In school I was a prefect, and that was the point of time I joined the maid café. So when I’m in school, I’m very proper but when I go to work I always go ‘okaeri’ (“Welcome home”).”

When it came to Wynnie, Estelle eagerly described the One Piece fan as a possible female version of lead character Luffy, with the former agreeing enthusiastically and adding, “Or Naruto!”

The demure Beryl than spoke up, surprising the other group members with her unexpected answer: “Cagalli from Gundam Seed. Although our characters are totally different, I want to be like her because she has a very strong personality.”

Valerie took a different route with her answer, mentioning the ditsy, caring, and smarter-than-she-looks Menma from AnoHana. “But she’s more like Beryl!” she laughed.


Price of fame

With all the girls in their early 20’s, they talk about what they went through in pursuit of their dreams.

“The downside is that we have less time to spend with our families. Half the time we’d be in Japan and half the time we’re in Singapore, so sometimes we tend to miss them a bit,” Valerie shares.

As the only member of the group who lives across the border in Malaysia, it’s even more difficult for Wynnie to see her parents. “Within these 3 months, I’ve been in Malaysia maybe 10 days. My parents miss me a lot so they watch my videos on YouTube everyday.”

“Right now, some of us are still studying so to be able to cope with this job and studies is kind of challenging,” Beryl added.


Home away from home

The opening act of the I Love Anisong Day 2 concert, Sea☆A shared the stage with artistes like Ichiro Mizuki, who’s regarded as the king of anime music, rising star LiSA, and popular rock band Flow.

Performing at AFA also marked their official debut on home ground. Decked out in their vibrant ‘DELI-DELI☆DELICIOUS’ music video outfits, they performed their 1st single, which was also picked to be this year’s official AFA theme song.

When asked about their thoughts on this, the girls chirped in perfect unison, “We feel very honoured.”

“AFA is where we started so we feel really thankful for them giving us this opportunity,” Beryl said.

Almost in amazement, Valerie exclaimed how unbelievable it was to be working in the maid café one year and performing on stage at AFA the next.

“We feel like AFA is our home. We know all the staff and the organisers – they’re like our close friends and our family,” Wynnie finished, with the other girls nodding simultaneously.

In addition to ‘Dream Shooter’, the band sang their B-side track ‘Soda sound fountain’ and their 2nd single ‘DELI-DELI☆DELICIOUS’ while on stage for their I Love Anisong performance.



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