Interview With the Five Sailor Soldiers’ Voice Actresses in Comic Natalie October 2014
This is a translation of an interview with the five Sailor Soldiers’ voice actresses in Comic Natalie October 2014. Translation by Alita, a huge fan of Sailor Moon and Morning Musume. Layout by Galadan.
The Five Soldiers Together at Last!
After a 17-year hiatus, the globally popular “Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon” has returned as “Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon Crystal” and is now being streamed on Nico Nico Douga, etc. The first Blu-ray of the series is now being sold in a glamorous limited edition box. Along with a gorgeous package, the limited edition comes with a music box inside it as well as a charm-bracelet and charms specially produced by Bandai.
Comic Natalie decided to celebrate the release by inviting the five soldiers’ voice actresses (Kotono Mitsuishi, Hisako Kanemoto, Rina Satou, Ami Koshimi and Shizuka Itou) to a post-recording round-table chat. This is the first time the five have come together to talk about things regarding the show in public. We asked Mitsuishi, who played Usagi in the previous Sailor Moon series, as well as the four newly-cast members how they felt as they got ready for their roles.
Coverage by: Megumi Kishino Photos: Shigeo Kosaka
At last, the day where I portray her has come…
──So, this is the first time the five of you have come together like this for an interview. I’m wondering, did the four of you who are playing these soldiers for the first time in “Crystal” grow up watching Sailor Moon?
Kanemoto・Satou・Koshimi・Itou: Of course!
──And how would you say you viewed it at that time?
Rina Satou: I wanted to be just like them and, well, my friends and I often pretended to be the characters. Because I was tall, I was always made to be Mako-chan. In my heart, I always dreamed of being Rei-chan and wearing those gorgeous high heels of hers. I never did get the chance to play her back then, not even once. I never could’ve dreamed that one day I would actually be acting as her. On one hand, I feel extremely happy. But on the other, I just don’t know what to do with myself!
Shizuka Itou: My brother was actually way more into it than me. (lol) He bought all the VHS tapes up through the R series and would constantly say “Hey, Shizuya, let’s just watch this one episode, okay?” and make me watch them again and again. I was always the type who wanted to be the opposite of what everyone else was, so because he liked it so much I pretended I wasn’t that into it even though I actually loved it. (lol)
Satou: So, you kind of held yourself back, huh? Your brother wasn’t a Venus fan by any chance, was he?
Itou: Unfortunately, he was more a fan of Mercury. He would speak passionately, saying things like “She’s my ideal woman!” and then I would just laugh at him. (lol) Still, I definitely looked up to the soldiers I saw on screen. Just being able to audition for something like this was like a dream to me. I never could’ve imagined I’d be playing one of the roles.
Hisako Kanemoto: When I was in kindergarten, I played with Sailor Moon toys and accessories a lot. I also remember playing the Super Nintento game all the time.
Ami Koshimi: Oh, I know that one! The side-scroller, right?
Kanemoto: Yeah, that one. The one where you walk along the shopping arcade battling the enemies that come rolling towards you and…
Itou・Satou: They came rolling towards you? (lol)
Kanemoto: Yes, they came rolling towards you. I also pretended to be the characters with my friends.
Koshimi: I also played pretend with my friends. And, because my name’s Ami, I was always made to be Ami-chan! And if the whole class decided to play at the same time, there were at least 3 or 4 Sailor Moons running around. (lol) Oh, and when Minako made her debut in the anime, we would use those plastic ring things they sold at the time, those…
Mitsuishi Kotono: Chain rings? (*A toy geared towards girls during the Showa era)
Koshimi: Yeah, that’s right! Every time I went to a restaurant with my family I’d ask my mom to buy me some and then I’d take only the orange ones and string them together. I’d lift my arms and shout, “Yay! Love Me Chain!” (She raises her arm above her head and swings it in a circle.)
Itou: I don’t think that’s quite how it’s done. That seems more like a cowboy.
Koshimi: Is it? (lol) Honestly, I’ve just got so many good memories. I’m sure if the younger me knew that she’d one day be acting in the new series she’d just look at me and shout “Woah!”
Just coming to the audition was something special
──Tell us about how you felt before the audition.
Satou: Well, my agency called me and said “Mitsuishi will be joining in right from the audition stage” and I felt… well, all I could really feel was nervous.
Itou: After doing our solo lines, everyone was then asked to pair up with her and perform a dialogue from the new show.
Koshimi: And during that time, everyone who auditioned was able to be alone with her. It felt like, like we were able to have our own private Usagi for a little bit… It was really amazing, wasn’t it? I mean, it felt like “All I’ve done is come to the audition. Is it really okay for me to experience this?”
Mitsuishi: Hehe (lol)
Satou: Although it was probably the wrong feeling to have at the time, there definitely was this amazing feeling of having “my own” Usagi.
Koshimi: When it was my turn, we did the scene where Usagi and Makoto are looking at the wedding dresses. It was supposed to be the scene where Makoto says “I want to be a bride someday” and Usagi would make her blush by saying “I think this dress would look perfect on you.” Except, I ended up blushing myself and saying “Usagi… I can’t believe you’d say that to… heh”
Itou: That wasn’t Makoto, that was just you, Koshimi Ami.
Mitsuishi: Koshimi: Hehe. I just, I just felt so happy at that moment.
Kanemoto: Before we started, I was really nervous about performing with Mitsuishi here. But then we got going and I guess I got so relaxed that… that I ended up kicking over the tea I had by my feet when I went to leave. And it spilled everywhere.
Itou: Only the soldier of water could do that!!!
Everyone: A ha ha (lol)
Kanemoto: After that, we all wiped the floor up together; Mitsuishi, Producer Umezawa and Director Sakai…
──So, Ms. Mitsuishi, I’m guessing you yourself felt the passion coming from everyone who auditioned?
Mitsuishi: I did. I walked into the recording studio when we were about to begin. All I said was “Hello!” and what I heard come back to me was just stuttered breathing. I swear some of them were even drooling. (lol) It really hit me that all of these girls watched the series as children and were now all grown up. Even so, I was also quite nervous. I wondered who would end up becoming my ally as a fellow soldier and, well, I just had so many emotions running through me.
Koshimi: There are still times, even now, when I come back to myself after the post-recording has finished and just start grinning at remembering Mitsuishi as Usagi. Oh, but I promise I’m giving each recording my full concentration. It’s like I have flashbacks or something.
Mitsuishi: I find that hard to believe. (lol)
Itou: Hmm, I can sorta see what you’re getting at. You start to think, “Man, that scene was so amazing…”
You can hear Usagi in your heard and she’s the same Usagi you remember
Mitsuishi: The four of them came to watch the post-recording session of Episode 1. There aren’t too many characters in Episode 1, so the studio felt like this giant cavern. I mean, there were probably more staff in the booth than actors in the studio. Because of that, I could hear cries of “Wow!” and “Squee” coming from behind Director Sakai each time I said my lines as Usagi.
Itou: I was sitting beside Ami and the both of us shouted together, “Wow! It’s really her!”
Mitsuishi: I remember the director looking back at you two and giving you this sort of look. He didn’t go so far as to click his tongue at you, but he was definitely giving THAT look. (lol)
──I can’t imagine this is the first time working with Mitsuishi for all of you, though, is it?
Satou・: All of us have worked with her at some point, but not like this. Sailor Moon is… it’s just something special.
Koshimi: I worked with her on Sweet Pretty Cure. I do remember feeling a little giddy, but not like this. Hearing her act as Sailor Moon, I… I… I just started to go into a panic. My breath quickened and I kept thinking “M-my Hami (from Pretty Cure) is… she’s turned into… Sailor Moon!”
Itou: I keep thinking about it over and over again in my head, and all that comes to mind is, “Thank you, thank you so much.” (Bows)
I wanted to, in a way, dirty that image
Mitsuishi: It was my first time recording in that studio. I thought, “Wow, this is going to be tough.” It was so big, and so tall. I really wondered if I’d be able to fill all that space.
──What do you mean by that?
Mitsuishi: Hmm… how should I say it? I wanted to make the studio feel like the world I saw Usagi living in in the script. I felt like, if I did that, I’d be able to give a truly amazing performance and that’d be recognized. But, it was just so big, I think I might’ve missed the mark a little.
──In the Official Visual Book that was published recently, you said “After I watched the finished recording of Episode 1, I made some changes in my acting.”
Mitsuishi: That’s right. This new series is based strongly on the manga and is completely different from the old TV series. The drawings and words are absolutely stunning. When I tried to act to fit this new level of beauty, it felt like something was lacking. I felt like I was just sounding like your average, everyday girl. I didn’t feel like I’d given enough energy as Usagi. I had wanted to be super energetic and upbeat at the beginning of the series, because the climax of the series gets quite serious. The Story Director of the series often criticized me saying things like “Can you say that a little more seriously?” and “Try to hold back just a little.” But then Director Sakai would afterwards tell me, “I actually prefer Usagi Tsukino as you played her at the start!”
Itou: I feel the same. The art-style of this animation is so much more mature than the old animation, so I thought that the acting would be a lot more mature too. But then, the same Usagi I’d grown up with was standing there next to me, and it made me super happy.
Koshimi: From that very first line of “Mama, why didn’t you wake me up!?” it felt just like the old series.
Mitsuishi: Really, I’m happy to hear that. After I… after I watched the first episode, I started to worry… “This is going to become just the same old pretty and pure Sailor Moon!” But, it’s not. Anime titles like that are flooding the world today, but this is different. The art-style is beautiful, true. But I wanted to put more into it. I wanted to put my body heat, my breath, anything that stunk of humanity into it! I might not be saying it in the best way, but there was a part of me that wanted to smear mud across that pure and pretty image of the past.
Shouting “Make up!” while taking a bath is the best way to do it right.
──Did things start to go smoothly for you after the first episode?
Mitsuishi: I guess, though there are still times when I feel like although I’ve gotten it right, I haven’t gotten it JUST right. I guess with it being a new series based on the original manga, things are still being worked out.
Koshimi: I also keep thinking to myself, “Is that right? No, maybe it’s like this?” After I got the script, I really thought I had prepared myself for the role before recording. But then as soon as I stepped up to record at the mic, it was almost like I lost that control over myself. We all talked it over and the most difficult line to record is definitely our transformation phrase. I want it to sound absolutely perfect and yet when we get to that scene, it seems like it’s hard to give it my all..
Kanemoto: Actually, I just re-recorded my transformation today because my voice cracked the first time…
Koshimi: I know that feeling. I practiced it over and over while taking a bath, and I thought I had it perfect. But then I got into the studio, and I just couldn’t do it right… The transformation is supposed to get the viewer excited, but it’s actually a lot more of a hurdle than it seems…
Satou: There’s no music when we’re recording it.
Mitsuishi: When you see it in the episode, there’s an echo added. But when you’re recording it, it’s just your own voice you hear. That might be one of the things throwing you off. If you just imagine it with the echo added while you record, it helps a lot.
Itou: So that’s it. That would make sense why it sounds great when we shout it in the bath. (lol)
The five soldiers came together super quick
──How about the rest of you? Did you have any trouble getting into your roles?
Kanemoto: When we were just starting to record, the director said, “Now, when Ami-chan first appears, she’s a bit of a loner…” and gave me a lot of advice before telling me to just believe in myself and try my best. So, I just psyched myself up by saying “I can do it! I can be the best at this for the next 10 minutes or so!” and started recording. There were a few small things here and there that we talked about and made slight changes to, but that was pretty much it.
Itou: I didn’t have any big criticisms given to me either. Of course, my first appearance wasn’t until Episode 5, so there was about a 2 month gap between the first recording and when I did mine. I couldn’t stand the thought of falling behind the others in developing my character, so I read the original manga over and over. I told myself “You’re a soldier to!” and started wearing, and even buying, all the orange clothes I could find. (lol)
Satou: I was also quite eager to make my appearance in the show. I watched the post-recording of Episodes 1 and 2, and then the five of us went out to dinner. And I kept wondering if I should really be there. I wondered, “Am I really part of this…? It just doesn’t feel real yet.” I wanted to hurry up and join the others as a full member of the team. It wasn’t until Mars finally appeared in Episode 3 that I really felt like it was okay for me to play her. Then suddenly, it all felt real.
Mitsuishi: I don’t think feeling in awe of something you’ve grown up watching can really be helped at first. However, all of you have the true heart of a voice actress and were really able to enter into the world of the soldier you were playing after that. At first, you may have kept hearing the old voices in your heads as you recorded your lines, but the characters you meet in Crystal are completely different from the previous ones; pure and untouched. I knew I had to push you all a bit, but I also knew you wouldn’t hold me back. You would suddenly just “be” the character. I was just waiting for that moment.
──After everyone got over their initial nervousness, was the Sailor Team able to bond as the episodes progressed?
Kanemoto: Before we all came together, it was rather lonely. But now that the five of us are here like this, it really gives me a strength.
Mitsuishi: Since “Crystal” is based on the original manga, the soldiers gather together very quickly. In the old anime, the soldiers’ relationships bloomed naturally episode by episode, but this time is different. This series progresses almost four times faster than the old one and quickly reaches its climax. And… it’s our job to somehow fill in the story, so we all in a way fought our own battles with trying to fit as much meaning into each line as possible. …we all tried our best, at least.
Kanemoto・Satou・・Koshimi・Itou: (All nod deeply)
They’re searching for the true meaning behind their reincarnations.
──Well, as we all know, Sailor Venus will appear in the next episode “Act 8. Minako” and the five soldiers will finally be gathered together. From then on, they will be thrust into the final battle. I’d like each of you to give the fans a message regarding the series.
Koshimi: With the five of them together, you really do feel like everyone has their own value as a soldier during the battles. Personally, I think that’s one of the best parts to watch. My heart starts to race as I watch them transform one after the other, and I hope you’ll enjoy it too!
Kanemoto: Minako-chan will start to lead us and things will start to develop in an even more exciting and spectacular way. And you’ll also get to see the Four Generals gathered together and just how sexy Queen Beryl is. I think that as adults, we can now sympathize with the feelings Beryl has for Mamo-chan. We can see the story in a completely different way from how we saw it as children. Still, it’s seeing Sailor Moon and Mamo-chan together that really makes our hearts flutter. I think everyone should have their own way of enjoying the story.
Satou: Now that the five soldiers are together, the story has really begun. There are still a lot of moments where we see these girls as sweet and innocent, but there is also this mature love story that makes our hearts race… When you really think about it, the balance between the two is really what draws you in. The reason people are so entranced by this is because the old series existed, and I really want to keep that alive with “Crystal.” I want everyone to see the show in whatever way works best for them.
Itou: As someone who watched Sailor Moon for so long, I know that becoming a member of the new vocal cast as a Sailor Soldier is a big task to face. But, I want everyone to know how hard we are all working to show the charm each soldier has, and how much of ourselves we are putting into it.
Mitsuishi: From here on, the soldiers will be thrust into the final battle and Usagi will remember that she was once a princess. She’ll remember all the terrible things that happened in the past and will start to search for the true meaning behind her and the others reincarnations. She’ll think, “There’s no way we were reborn just to repeat the same past” and that hope, that strength will push her and the others forward. They’ll want to keep going believing that things will be different. Usagi will know that she isn’t alone, and that will give her strength. Please cheer her on!
A Sailor Soldier Discussion ~Afterward~ Let’s check out the Limited Edition Blu-ray!
Koshimi: You’ve got to see this! When you open the box, the music box starts to play!
Mitsuishi: It looks like a fancy chocolate box.
Satou: You’re right, it does look like something you’d find snacks in. It’s so cute!
Mitsuishi: It’s quite an amazing feeling opening it together like this. It’s like we’re suddenly singing in a chorus together. (lol)
Itou: The charms are really cute. It makes me happy that I could never get my parents to buy me the toys when I was a kid.
Mitsuishi: The toys back then definitely weren’t as fashionable as this.
Itou: Weren’t they mainly bulky transformation pen type toys?
Mitsuishi: Pretty much.
Kanemoto: I seem to remember them being mostly made of plastic, too.
Mitsuishi: That’s right. They were things like plastic buckets with pictures on them, bath towels and coloring books.
Satou: I remember those! Recently there have been a lot of amazing goods aimed at adults and I can’t help but collect everything that comes in my member color. Remember how Ami-chan said she bought the Peach John underwear set? Well, I bought one too.
Koshimi: You reserved them too, right! I remember camping in front of my computer that day just clicking the same keys again and again. It took about two hours for me to finally connect.
Itou: No way! Though I guess you’re right, there are a lot of really amazing goods coming out for adults now. That charm would look so cute worn as a bracelet…
Mitsuishi: The small ribbon is what really makes it great. It’d have a completely different feel to it without it.
Koshimi: I heard that if you buy all 13 discs of the series you’ll have 13 charms to put on the bracelet.
Kanemoto: That’s amazing! It’s like a version up version.
Everyone else: A version up version?
Koshimi: Japanese isn’t very forgiving, is it? (lol)
Itou: You mean English isn’t.
Everyone: (bursts out laughing)
──Well, I think I’m starting to see the relationship you all have.
Mitsuishi: These two (Koshimi and Kanemoto) are the ones who say stupid things and these two (Satou, Itou) are the ones who call them out on it. It somehow balances out nicely. (lol)
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