Interview: Kana Hanazawa [1/2]

Kana Hanazawa has acted in countless popular titles, voicing the role of Akane Tsunemori in Psycho-Pass, Kosaki Onodera in Nisekoi, Satomi Murano in Parasyte -The Maxim-, Mayuri Shiina in Steins;Gate, Kuroneko in Oreimo, and many more. Currently, Kana is playing an active role in the music industry. To the ever-busy Kana, we inquired about her career as a singer, and her live concert at the Budokan.

[Kana Hanazawa’s Profile]
Japanese singer and voice actress. Entered the entertainment industry at a young age as a child actress, and made her debut as a voice actress at age 14 with the role of Holly Mad-thane in the TV anime series Last Exile. Gained popularity within the industry for her talent for acting and her good voice quality, and since then has acted in over 100 anime and game titles. Currently established as one of Japan’s top-class voice actresses. Debuted as a singer in February of 2012 and, since releasing her 1st single, Hoshizora Destination, under Aniplex in April of the same year, has released eight single tracks. Her 1st album, Claire, was released in February of 2013, and her 2nd album, 25, in February 2014. Her 3rd album, Blue Avenue, was released in April of 2015, and she is currently on a nationwide live tour throughout Japan (as of now, June 2015).

The Theme is Music Recommended for Headphones

—What led you to begin seriously pursuing a career as a singer?

I first began pursuing activities as a singer three years ago, when I released my 1st single. The cause: through doing anime voice acting, I also had the opportunity to experience singing character songs, recording, and performing concerts, and just as I was thinking how much I love singing and how fun singing is, I received an offer from Aniplex, and so I decided to take on the opportunity. The project involved using my voice to create songs revolving around the theme of “music recommended for headphones,” and thinking that interesting things might come of it, I decided to take up the challenge.

—Have you been interested in singing since you were little?

Yes, I’ve always loved singing. Although I was a child actress, I also enjoyed singing in front of people. At the time, I really admired Miki Fujimoto from the idol group Hello! Project 1, and I would memorize the choreography of their dances and sing along. I think that the present might be connected to those times.

—I’m sure that as “the singer, Kana Hanazawa” and “the voice actress, Kana Hanazawa” different attitudes and modes of thinking must be necessary. What are some of the differences in the way you think about your work?

Whether as a voice actress or a singer, I have to make my own interpretations and finalize my ideas before taking on the role or the song. I guess in that sense they are similar. Except, while in the case of voice acting you have to think about the character’s role, singing often involves expressing your own emotions, and so I often have to come face to face with myself.

—After recording a song, when you sing it at a live performance or somewhere else, are there cases when your interpretation of a song or the way you express the song changes?

I think that even while just living life normally, people’s emotions and attitudes toward life are constantly changing. While singing in different situations, I sometimes realize, “Ah—you can interpret it in this way too!”

True Happiness at the Budokan Concert

—How did you feel after the first day of the “Hanazawa Kana Live 2015: Blue Avenue” live tour, and about being the eighth person in voice actress history to hold an individual live concert at the Budokan?

When I released my very first album and held a live performance, I remember stepping onto the stage before managing to calm my feelings of extreme nervousness. Now I no longer feel that kind of nervousness, and I think I’ve come to understand what sort of mentality I should take on the stage with. Before the concert at Budokan, my restlessness was limited only to the day before the performance. I was able to take on the performance itself in a positive mindset, thinking, “I’m gonna do it while having a load of fun out there!”

As I was singing at the Budokan, increasingly, I felt a sensation of purity. In that space I felt so happy that it was as if all bad things were being cleansed and purified. Although I’ve experienced this sensation before too, I felt it the strongest at Budokan—I truly felt, “Ah, this really is something I can’t live without,” and from that I felt all the more energetic. Two days after the concert I still felt so exalted that I only managed to get three hours of sleep.

—Is there a particular song that made you feel that sensation especially?

“Koisuru Wakusei.” How should I put it, the song allows me to use it in a variety of situations; no matter when, the song always accepts or receives me and my feelings entirely. After singing this song at the Budokan, I felt once again that this song really allows me to return to my origins. I’ve also told this to Yuho Iwasato, who wrote the lyrics for this song, but at the Budokan I felt once again that the lyrics, composed with vague wording, are fitting for any sort of me.

Also, I did some preparation prior to singing at the Budokan, and I’m really glad that I did. Starting this year, I began doing muscle training once or twice every week. I found that building stamina helps me fully enjoy the live performances. When I walk down the pathway through the crowd leading to the stage and my fans are literally within arms’ reach, it makes me want to walk down that pathway time and time again. But to do that, I need the stamina to make those roundtrips between the stage and the path. I’m so glad I trained.

—What sort of feelings would you like to express to the fans who saw you as a singer in person?

When you’re only in the voice acting industry, you don’t really get a chance to meet everyone who is showing their support to you, or to have fun together in the same physical space. For that reason, the voice of the fans in letters that I received said, “We’re looking forward to your live performance!” At live performances, I sing wishing that with my voice I can create a space in which I can provide encouragement and strength to of all my fans.

—And at concerts, you’re able to experience firsthand the cheering and enthusiasm of the fans.

That’s very true! Even without words, just by their presence in front of me, that is enough to confirm the feelings of everyone in the audience. And that is precisely why at live concerts I really want to properly express in words the feelings of gratitude I bear toward my fans.

To 2nd Part

^1^ Hello! Project is the generic name of the female idol group managed by Japanese musician Tsunku. It is also the name of its members’ fan club. Miki Fujimoto is a former member of Morning Musume, an idol group under the same project. She was also the fifth generation group leader.

Kana Hanazawa’s Official Site

This is a Tokyo Otaku Mode original article.

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