#24 – The Yamayurikai: Ikezawa Haruna

ikezawa1_s
Name: Ikezawa Haruna (池澤 春菜)
DoB: 15th December 1978
Agency: Across Entertainment
Representative Roles: Nishizawa Momoka in Keroro Gunsou series, Pollun in Precure series, Haruna Hiroko in Hamtaro, Seiba Go in Bakuso Kyodai, Asamiya Athena in The King of Fighters video game series, Shimazu Yoshino in Maria-sama ga Miteru

The voice of Shimazu Yoshino. I remember her most fondly for keeping her hair styled like Yoshino’s twin braided pigtails for Marimite-related interviews/events (see here).

Background
To me, Haruna has always been a bit of an outlier – not because she doesn’t fit in with the Marimite group, but because of her background and her work outside of anime. She is one of four children of the Akutagawa Prize-winning author Ikezawa Natsuki from his marriage to former JAL stewardess/career counselor Naomi, though they later divorced and the latter remarried lawyer Thomas J. Schoenbaum. Haruna’s paternal grandfather is writer & poet Fukunaga Takehiko.

Haruna’s path to voice acting wasn’t planned – she had been progressing through the Seijo education system of junior high, high school and university, but upon returning from an exchange study trip in Thailand she experienced mild depression. Instead of going through a rehabilitation programme, Haruna took her grandfather’s advice and decided on a career change, studying acting at his friend Minamisawa Michiyoshi’s agency 81produce. She took her first steps into the industry when she worked as an assistant on KBS Kyoto’s B-univ Virtua Factory radio show before making her seiyuu debut in Mutant Turtles in 1994.

Eventually, Haruna moved to the mainstream entertainment agency Oscar Promotion in 2002, spending a further 12 years there before going freelance in January this year, with rumours that her departure was hastened due to conflict caused by comments Ikezawa made on Twitter questioning the casting of Gouriki Ayame (her then agency colleague) as the lead character in the drama adaptation of popular novel series Biblia Koshodo no Jiken Techo. After a short period spent studying English in Washington DC, Haruna found a new home at Across Entertainment in July 2014.

Career
Her breakout role came in 1996’s anime adaptation of the Bakuso Kyodai series, where she voiced Seiba Go over three 51-episode seasons and a film. Throughout the late 90s and early 00s Haruna continued to pick up roles in Clamp School Detectives, Daa! Daa! Daa! and Hamtaro. She was also part of the Super Sentai show Voicelugger (1999) that featured a cast made up entirely of seiyuu, including Seki Tomokazu, Kusao Takeshi, Nakagawa Akiko, Mizuki Ichiro and Kamiya Akira.

Haruna was actually hand-picked for the role of Marimite’s Yoshino by author Konno Oyuki after she had seen her in the NHK edutainment programme French Conversation, a show that had required her to learn French. In the same year Marimite aired, Haruna filmed a special Olympics programme for NHK in Athens, the city where she was born.

Her body of voice work remains modest ’til today, with her many other activities keeping her busy instead. As a singer, she has released 7 albums and 2 mini-albums, the most recent was released in April this year. She is an enthusiastic Mac/Apple User and a huge fan of sci-fi, combining those interests with her writing talents to pen regular columns for publications such as the Mac Fan magazine, Hon no Zasshi, S-F Magazine and Robocon Magazine. She also appears regularly on TV and at the moment, is part of the hosting lineup for BS Fuji’s Harajuku Book Cafe.

One of her pet projects is the VOCALOID3 software Macne Nana (Nana is Haruna’s nickname). Having discussed the idea in her Mac Fan column, Ikezawa decided to explore the possibilities of creating a Mac version of the Windows-only Vocaloid. She spent 5 years recording her voice and developing the product using GarageBand, and it was released in 2013 with Japanese and English versions (there was a Chinese beta and ambitions for a French conversion). You can read more about the process here.

Illness
In 2013 Ikezawa revealed on her blog that she had experienced dizziness, headache, vertigo and a blockage in her ear whilst sitting in the waiting room at her dentist’s. A visit to an ENT specialist revealed that she was suffering from ‘acute low-tone sensorineural hearing loss’, where her right ear was unable to hear lower (bass) tones. Fearful of permanently losing her hearing, Haruna immediately signed up for a course of acupuncture treatments and gradually, her condition improved.

Her family has homes around the world
Haruna has sometimes been called ‘ojou-sama’, and for good reason. She revealed on TV that her family (extended to her mother’s family after remarriage) has several homes around the globe – in Japan, they have houses in Okinawa, Tokyo and Hokkaido; in Washington, her family’s house has a tennis court and swimming pool, plus they also have a residence in France and her mother is additionally looking to purchase homes in Italy and Greece.

Indoors type
She is an avid gamer and used to be part of the seiyuu Monster Hunter faction a few years ago until she lost her PSP with 70 hours of save data on it after attending Wonder Festival in 2011. At the moment, she is playing the mobile MMORPG Ingress. She is also a good cook and enjoys making sweets.

Other Links:
Her self-maintained website
Twitter
Instagram
Shibuya de Chu! (a seiyuu talk show Haruna co-hosted in the late 90s with manzai duo Jalism, up to #47)

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