Friday, January 01, 2010

Hanazawa Kana -- More Than Just Moe

Hanazawa Kana 花澤香菜 has the moe-est voice in anime.

As Shiika in Mushiuta, Sora in Sketchbook (2007), and Sora again in the underrated Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto - Natsu no Sora (2008), Kana-chan took vocal moe to a new level. (click photos to enlarge)

But already in 2007 we could hear that there was more to her, in her strangely communicative grunts as the main character in Potemayo. In 2008 she did the quite un-moe Zange in Kannagi, although with uneven results. And in the spring of 2009, she shifted her moe voice to create the fey but powerful ojousama Sharon Rainsworth in Pandora Hearts.

Then in the fall of 2009, as Suou in Darker than Black 2, she broke out as a real actress. She is entirely believable as the conflicted Suou, tossed about in a sea of events she does not understand, but gradually adapts to.

And although the voice is still that of a young girl, she produces a range of sound, from whispers to screams, that shows more and more technical mastery.

Kana-chan broke into voice-acting at 17, in 2006, as the popular character Kaminagi Ryouko in Zegapain. But she had been in show business since at least 2001, when she was a 12-year-old child actress. She was a regular cast member in the TV drama Gakko no Sensei that year. And she had a minor seiyuu role in Last Exile in 2003.

Here are images of a few of her important anime roles: (mouseover for captions)

Kaminagi Ryoko (Zegapain) Anmoto Shiika (Mushi-Uta) Potemayo (Potemayo) Sora (Sketchbook) Sora (Natsu no Sora) Ku-chan (Sekirei) Mikan (To Love-Ru) Zange (Kannagi) Sharon Rainsworth (Pandora Hearts) Nadeko (Bakemonogatari) Kobato (Kobato) Suou (Darker Than Black 2)

After her performance in Zegapain, the highly respected seiyuu agency Osawa Office took her on. Osawa represents such major seiyuu as Kawasumi Ayako and Noto Mamiko. As seiyuu Minagawa Junko said: "Isn't Osawa amazing to have recognized her?" And I agree. Her acting in Zegapain is adequate at best, but she had that voice, and Osawa realized even then that she might have the ability to make the most of it. There is something about her voice that gives presence to her characters.

Here is a video showing clips of her roles up to Natsu no Sora, in the summer of 2008:

Kana-chan (the name she likes to be called by) is rather shy, and comes across in her many radio shows and guest appearances as somewhat out of it, and not too bright. In fact, she is intelligent and capable, just a bit dreamy. She has been a university student since 2007, working and studying at the same time, and will graduate in 2011. And she has hosted her own radio show for over a year. The show is called: Can Hanazawa Kana Do It Alone?

Between her drama work when she was 12 and Zegapain when she was 17, Kana-chan didn't get much work, but kept searching for her place in show business. A post on 2channel describes her as having been an "underground idol," and there are photos to prove it:

Kana-chan doesn't have a great singing voice, and that may be one reason her idol career never took off. But she did do a great job with the partly-spoken OP4 of Bakemonogatari, "Ren-ai Circulation":

The adult Kana-chan (now 20) is no raving beauty, but she is quite attractive in an old-fashioned sort of way, as well as seeming to be a genuinely nice person:

Here are a very recent and the oldest photo here. One of Kana-chan fron an interview this fall about Kobato. One showing her when she was twelve, and just about to begin her entertainment career:

Here's a ridiculously cute video interview she did for Voicha magazine in late 2007:

Here's another video, from about the same time, with her co-stars in Sketchbook, Nakase Asuka (centre) and Makino Yui. The beginning is Kana-chan at her loopy best:

Here's a clip she did with her friend Tomatsu Haruka, talking about strange food combinations that Nagi ate in Kannagi, in which Kana played Zange to Tomatsu's Nagi. Tomatsu puts Italian-style salad dressing on her rice, while Kana-chan puts Bulldog sauce (like HP sauce) on hers. The bubbly Tomatsu thinks the Italian dressing makes the rice taste great, like "Italian cuisine." Kana-chan tries it and says drily: "It's okay."

And here they are doing a brief recording session, reversing their roles in Kannagi so that Kana-chan plays Nagi and Tomatsu plays Zange:

Here is a very recent clip of Kana-chan talking about her role as the heroine Sofia in the Wii game Tales of Graces, which was released 10 December 2009:

Finally, here is a brief clip from the 2006 TV drama Uramiya Honpo, showing the 17-year-old Kana as a girl in hospital first greeting a friend who has come to visit, and then actually dying on screen:


-- born 25 February 1989
-- from Tokyo
-- 158cm tall (5'2")
-- likes: taking baths
-- abilities: mimicry, magic, storytelling
-- favorite food: dried taro
-- likes: men who have dark hair and look good in a suit and glasses
-- likes: Tomatsu Haruka, Kawasumi Ayako, Tsuji Ayumi
-- likes: "picopico pop" electronic music like Perfume, Nakata Yasutaka, MOSAIC.WAV. Asian Kung-fu Generation.

-- the mangaka of Potemayo was a big supporter of hers at auditions for the anime's cast, saying her version of Potemayo's sounds was just right for the character
-- in the early years of elementary school, she and her friends used to "see fairies" and play by kicking and punching them
-- she tends to daydream and lose focus, and her coworkers rag her about it. Toriumi Kousuke (Gil in Pandora Hearts) called her "Kana on a cliff," referring to the Miyazaki film Ponyo On a Cliff.
-- she has one sibling, a brother four years younger, and she shows him her animes
-- she has been a regular on twelve radio shows, two of which are still on

Staff in:
(2007) Sketchbook ~full color'S~ (TV) : Theme Song Performance (ED2)
(2008) Kyouran Kazoku Nikki (TV) : Theme Song Performance (ED)
(2008) Sekirei (TV) : Theme Song Performance
(2009) Bakemonogatari (TV) : Theme Song Performance (OP4)

Cast in:
(2003) Last Exile (TV) as Holy Madosein
(2006) Magical Witch Punie-chan (OVA) as Tanaka Potaru
(2006) Zegapain (TV) as Kaminagi Ryoko
(2007) Getsumen To Heiki Mina (TV) as Hazemi Nakoru/Minazuki Mina
(2007) Mushi-Uta (TV) as Anmoto Shiika
(2007) Higurashi no Naku Koroni Kai (TV) as Tomomi (eps 14.15)
(2007) Potemayo (TV) as Potemayo
(2007) Sketchbook ~full color'S~ (TV) as Kajiwara Sora
(2008) Gunslinger Girl -Il Teatrino- (TV) as Angelica
(2008) Shina Dark - Kuroki Tsuki no Ō to Sōheki no Tsuki no Himegimi (OAV) as Mapul
(2008) To Love-Ru (TV) as Yuuki Mikan
(2008) Blassreiter (TV) as Elea
(2008) Kyouran Kazoku Nikki (TV) as Midarezaki Yuuka
(2008) Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto: Natsu no Sora (TV) as Suzuki Sora
(2008) Sekirei (TV) as Kusano
(2008) Strike Witches (TV) as Suwa Amaki (ep 12)
(2008) Kemeko Deluxe! (TV) as Riko At Androids
(2008) Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens (TV) as Suzushiro Hakua; Zange
(2008) Gunslinger Girl -Il Teatrino- (OAV) as Angelica
(2009) (The) Tower of Druaga: the Sword of Uruk (TV) as Henaro
(2009) Asu no Yoichi! (TV) as Ikaruga Kagome
(2009) Basquash! (TV) as Coco JD
(2009) Pandora Hearts (TV) as Sharon Rainsworth
(2009) To Love-Ru (OAV) as Yuuki Mikan
(2009) Bakemonogatari (TV) as Sengoku Nadeko
(2009) Sora no Manimani (TV) as An Yukie
(2009) Cencoroll (movie) as Yuki
(2009) Kobato. (TV) as Hanato Kobato
(2009) Darker Than Black: Ryuusei no Gemini (TV) as Suou Pavlichenko
(2010) Seikon no Qwaser (TV) as Mitarai Fumika
(2010) Durarara!! (TV) as Sonohara Anri
(2010) Bungaku Shoujo (movie) as Amano Touko

Anime News Network (eng)
Wikipedia (eng)
blog (radio show)
live radio show video from TAF last summer
pic search (English)
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video search (Japanese)
idol photos


Serakah said...

In that role reversal clip Kana is supposed to play Zange originally? I am so confused since it's been a while since I watched Kannagi. Which episode is that? I wanna watch it again lol.

omo said...

Great post, funny to see her older pictures!

hashi said...

@Serakah -- I think it's episode 4. In the real show, Kana plays Zange and Tomatsu plays Nagi.

totoum said...

Another recent non moe role to me is in Cencoroll where I think she did well.

about coming up shows:
-Durarara!! , character description from MAL "A quiet girl who's top of the class, who feels she lacks certain personality traits. " that seems right up her alley.
- Bungaku Shoujo , that one will be interesting , not moe,and apparently a "big sister" kind of character instead of a "little sister" character.

But really,she's able to even have different nuances of moe while other VAs just have one standard moe voice they do,like to me Sora is just pure innocence while Nadeko is kinda sexy for exemple while Kobato is a more energetic Cross between the two.

I could see her doing the japanese dub of Luna lovegood in Harry Potter , if there's a moe character in HP,it's luna!

hashi said...

@totoum -- I agree completely about Cencoroll. And also about her wide variety of moe. I'm still very partial to the pure innocent moe of Shiika, but she seems to me to be steadily learning and broadening her reach. I was just blown away by Suou. Kobato isn't doing a lot for me, for some reason, however. I think her Touko in Bungaku Shoujo will be interesting, and is something like her own real-life "fey" self-presentation. Living in her own world.

Anonymous said...

actually, she really makes me dislike Kobato, because her voice hurts my ears when it gets too high (which is often >< ).

hashi said...

@Anonymous -- I'm not sure why, but I don't like that show (Kobato), myself.

BiriBiriTai said...


haruhi said...

U forgot 2 mention her role as tenshi in angel beats

hashi said...

@haruhi -- The post went up in January. Angel Beats started in April.

kamagra said...

Hanazawa Kana is so beautiful, I thought that she was a kid, but she is a nice woman!She is notable for voice acting leading roles for several anime television shows and other anime-related media in Japan.22dd

chocoyomu said...

There is one thing about her I'm curious about: does she has a foreigner blood?
Etoo, I'm not sure how I can formulate the question. I mean, I noticed in her recent PV (especially Silent Snow), her nose has a foreigner (west, european, not asian) trait. So I wonder if her family (parent, grand parent..) has a non-asian person.
I'm really curious, so if you have any information, even some baseless rumors, please tell me.

hashi said...

@chocoyomu -- I know what you mean. She's got a comparatively large nose. But to me the shape -- turning over a bit halfway down -- could be seen as one kind of Japanese nose shape. I haven't read anything about any foreign connection. But I'll keep my eyes open. It's possible.

chocoyomu said...

Yah, please do so, hashi. And thank you in advance.
I call this kind of nose: broken nose. I think it's most probably from north-west Europe.

Ah, I almost forgot, thanks for the article. I didn't know HanaKana has tv drama appearance.