Voice of Faye, Rei, and Lina is saluted for denim excellence, takes stage in unique jeans with a Pokémon connection.

The festivities took place a little later than usual this year, but on Thursday in Tokyo the Best Jeanist Awards ceremony was held. The annual awards are given out by the Japan Jeans Association to luminaries who, aside from looking good in a pair of jeans, radiate the “jeans spirit,” which the association defines as “Inexhaustible energy for pursuing grand dreams with a strong hope that never fails.”

The five honorees for 2021 include some members of fields you’d expect for a fashion award, such as boy band member Ren Nagase and movie/TV actress Yuko Araki. But joining them on stage, to the surprise and delight of her many fans, was anime voice acting legend Megumi Hayashibara.

Hayashibara, whose roles include Slayers’ Lina Inverse, Evangelion’s Rei Ayanami, Cowboy Bebop’s Faye Valentine, and far too many other iconic characters to list, was surprised herself to be receiving the award. “Even though I love denim, I never imagined I’d be receiving this award, so this is an uplifting, very, very, very happy moment.”

This year marks the 38th iteration of the Best Jeanist Awards. Hayashibara was given the Council’s Selection Award, the winners of which are chosen directly by the Japan Jeans Association. Also receiving the Council’s Selection Award was comedian/media personality Koji Higashino, while Nagase and Araki were the winners of the open-voting general election and gold medalist skateboarder Yuto Horigome was given the Global Special Award.

As a voice actress, the majority of Hayashibara’s work takes place behind the camera, so to speak. However, she’s also one of the best-selling anime vocalists of all time, and in promotional photos for her most recent album, titled Vintage Denim, she appeared wearing this distinctive skirt.

In fact, you could say that the pair of jeans Hayashibara is wearing in the video isn’t really just a single pair of jeans at all. “There’s a shop I go to, and they take the material they trim off of other jeans, then sew them together to make a complete pair of pants, like this,” she explains.

▼ Hayashibara explains her jeans

While she doesn’t give the name of the shop, apparently it’s popular among her anime industry colleagues. “Inuyama Inuko, who voices Meowth, my Team Rocket teammate in Pokémon [Hayashibara is the Japanese voice of Jessie/Musashi], and also Masafumi Mima, Pokémon’s sound director, have jeans like these too.” She also says, “Some of you watching this may be wearing the rest of these jeans right now,” so if you’re a Hayashibara fan who’s also a jeans fan, you just might have a wardrobe connection to the star.

Sources: Oricon News, Japan Jeans Association
Top image: Japan Jeans Association
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s also a big fan of Hayashibara’s work as Nuku Nuku and Momiji.