This interview with Shoko Nakagawa and Horie Mitsuko in CD Journal February 2014 Issue is a promotion of the 20th Anniversary Sailor Moon Tribute Album. Translation by Miss Dream staff member Izam. Many thanks to Caitlin of Wild Mushroomland for providing the scans!
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Even among the female singers who participated in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon the 20th Anniversary Memorial Tribute and who shine like twinkling stars, Mitsuko Horie is a particularly gigantic star that releases bright light. She’s one of “the big four of anime songs” since the dawn of anime songs. Mitsuko took part in the Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon original animated series as the voice actress of Galaxia, Sailor Moon’s greatest enemy. She sang the character song Golden Queen Galaxia. She has that kind of relationship with Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. And now, we ask her about the passionate thoughts she put into anime songs as we look back on her career up until now.
To be honest, I was a little jealous, not only of her but of the huge distance between us.
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CD Journal: Sailor Star Song, which you did a cover for in this album, was previously the main theme for the last series in which you did the voice acting as Galaxia. What was singing it like?
Horie: I needed more power than I thought I would. It’s a song where both the tempo and rhythm are far away. Anime songs require a lot of power as far as mental and physical strength go.
CD Journal: Speaking of which, Galaxia’s character song Golden Queen Galaxia which you originally sang was a heavy metal number. It would seem that you would need quite a bit of power for that one too…
Horie: That was incredible too! But at that time, it wasn’t painful at all. Because all I had to do was take the character’s ambiance and hit the song with a boom. This time I matched my voice, and in that way, I wasn’t singing, so blending my body into the song was difficult.
CD Journal: The way you’ve related to the work changes, doesn’t it. Ms. Horie, this is the second time you’re participating in Sailor Moon singing, but what kind of work is Sailor Moon to you?
Horie: When Sailor Moon was a big hit, to be honest, while feeling jealous, I put distance between us. And then, I was called on as a villain for the last series. I thought “This is where I come in!” LOL. I played an important villain role in the end of the popular series that continued over many years. I thought that it was a significant responsibility, and that it was tough taking on that role after having put that distance between us.
CD Journal: Even so, you took the challenge.
Horie: I was tickled by the premise of even though she’s a villain, she’s actually strongest sailor warrior in the galaxy! LOL. I thought she was an interesting character and decided to take on the role.
CD Journal: At the time of covering Sailor Star Song this time, was there anything that you were particularly careful about?
Horie: I felt like, “I want to make it a song with a deep flavor that leverages my skills and experiences up until now”, and on the other hand, “I’m someone who’s been singing for such a long time, yet how unsophisticated I am”. Therefore, while I may sound unsophisticated on the whole, if you listen closely, the techniques shine — That’s the kind of song I wanted it to be, so it became even more difficult.
CD Journal: That’s quite the undertaking!
Horie: That’s true. But, now that I’m singing it, wouldn’t I want to make it a song where it’s evident that it’s a shoujo anime theme? So mental power and stamina is needed, but instead of making the listeners feel that, I want the sparkling feeling of girls’ anime and the sentimental aspect to shine through. When singing, it felt like a swan that’s floating in a lake — even if its floating figure looks pretty, its legs are beating fast below water LOL
CD Journal: As expected, do you take into considering the work world view when you song an anime song?
Horie: Of course I do. In the case of an anime song, it’s my job to relay images of the work to everyone, after all. Because I was raised inside the environment where you pick the singer on just how much you express the images of the work using song rather than each singer’s uniqueness.
CD Journal: Ms. Horie made your debut in 1969 with the theme song for anime Judo Boy. At the time, it was like the dawning of anime songs. What kind of feelings were the situation surrounding the anime song of that time?
Horie: Until then, when it came to children’s songs, there were pretty much only school songs and nursery rhymes. In the middle of that, we were overflowing with energy to make anime songs which were a new form of children’s songs. While not knowing what kind of song they would make, both the lyricist and the composer were challenged by various things as they performed trial and error, and they had fun making the song while saying “We can’t make a ballad”. Furthermore, you need to achieve the result within the time of an anime opening. That’s about one minute. If that’s the case, the intro is two measures, and the song is about 45 seconds. So we cram the work’s images into that timeframe. At any rate, it becomes a powerful song.
CD Journal: The melodies were rich with variety.
Horie: From rock to jazz, and enka. Tango and chanson… All the genres were there. It was the era where we had fun making things like that.
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CD Journal: A little while ago, you mentioned that you’ve sung various genres of songs when it came to anime songs — Midori no Youdamari (for the anime series Fables of the Green Forest) written by Mr. Seiichirou Uno was jazz, which is unique for an anime song. Was it difficult?
Horie: I enjoyed singing that one. I was roughly a freshman in high school when I sang that song, but at the time, I had been listening to soul often. I loved Four Tops, The Stylistics, and Philadelphia Sound.
CD Journal: Is that so! What attracted you to soul music?
Horie: As you would expect, it’s the beauty of the melody. Also, as a Japanese person who had trouble with 16-beat, I studied quite a bit.
CD Journal: Do you have any lasting impressions about an anime song where you were able to demonstrate that feeling of groove?
Horie: I’d have to say Kumukumu no Uta (from the anime Kum-Kum) fits the bill. The one who wrote the song was Mr. Koichi Sugiyama, and Shogun performed it, but Mr. Micchii (Nagaoka), bassist of Shogun at the time, told me “You’re capable of 16-beat and whatnot” — I was very happy LOL
CD Journal: You received a certification LOL! Ms. Horie, were you generally a Western music fan?
Horie: That’s true. The first record I bought was Bee Gees’ Melody Fair. When I was in middle school, I went with a boy to a Yokohama movie theater to see Melody, and on the way home, I bought the single at a record shop. Then I tried entering Kankopi (Translator’s Note: Kankopi is where amateur singers, dancers, musicians, etc., attempt to perfectly imitate an existing work.), but it was impossible LOL
CD Journal: Trying to enter Kankopi with that song as a middle schooler LOL Was that before you made your debut?
Horie: I think it was when I made my debut. I also liked Simon & Garfunkel and Deep Purple. There were two leaders for whom I set as my goal in my head. For males it was Barry Manilow; For females, Barbra Streisand. I still don’t even come close, but…
CD Journal: Doing such, you listen to various music and find your songs being influenced. In the case of Pepero no Bouken (from the anime The Adventures of Pepero) written by Mr. Takeo Yamashita it was an Andes folk song, and in the case of Mr. Watanabe’s Tango Muri Sunna! (from the anime Ore wa Abare-Hacchaku) it was tango, but when you sing those kinds of world music songs, have you researched by listening to those kind of songs?
Horie: I didn’t do so in particular. I listened to folklore out of personal like for it, but. I enter the studio, and when the orchestra first jumps into my ear, I greatly value the imagination which comes up. Until now, I’ve sung with those images. Of course, it’s also normally important to listen to various music and make many drawers of sound in your head.
CD Journal: You need to sing songs of various genres while keeping in mind a world view of the story. As expected, the world of anime songs is a deep one. But in the beginning, they were songs geared towards children, so were you ever frustrated at some point because they were seen in a lesser light than popular songs?
Horie: I have been. Hardly singing at a concert hall, it would usually be at a playground, department store, or pool. It was geared towards families, so that was a starting point, but I had a case where instead of a mic, I was handed a megaphone LOL When I worried “How can I change this situation?”, anyways, I figured I would put my all into singing. That way, when I take out my thoughts of frustration on singing, after that, my treatment is completely different. Like how tea comes out LOL The children and mothers who hear that song were extremely pleased, and the related people who saw this thought “Anime songs are this amazing”. With the accumulation of such occurrences, I changed the situation a little bit at a time. So I’ve made sure not to lose my bragging rights and pride when it comes to what I’m doing. In addition, it’s sincere to the children in front of me who are listening to me. I think that relationship is most important.
CD Journal: That kind of Ms. Horie, upon singing an anime song, what do you take as important?
Horie: First of all, making sure the lyrics can be heard. I think that anime songs transcend generation, and they need to be a “song that’s right there” that you can sing to any age person. In order for that, lyrics need to be properly relayed. Anime songs’ lyrics have a universal theme. They’re very straightly singing about needed love, courage, dreams, and peace with regard to people.
CD Journal: The essence of those anime songs are that they are songs that you have children listen to.
Horie: Right. It might even be that anime songs are the first music that children listen to. Therefore, even more so, I think that you need to aim for something of a high quality. After all, the maker of anime songs needs to have love and power.
CD Journal: That means that Sailor Moon songs have creation, love and power.
Horie: That’s true, they’re the definitive shoujo anime song pieces which have a bit of stylish spice added!
Mitsuko Horie Profile
Born in Yokohama, Kanagawa prefecture. She’s the singer/voice actress called the queen of “the anime song world”. She sang the main themes of Candy Candy, Hana no ko Lunlun, Mahou shoujo Lalabel, Kerokko Demetan, and Jim Button, as well as countless other songs. She continues to reign as queen even after such a long period of time.
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When it comes to someone among the artists who participated in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon The 20th Anniversary Memorial Tribute and has a deep love for Sailor Moon, you think of Shoko Nakagawa, aka Shokotan. She has experienced the original manga and anime in real-time — She talks to great lengths about the charm of Sailor Moon.
Kazuki Oe: Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon’s magazine serialization and TV broadcast started in 1992. This was when Ms. Nakagawa was in elementary school. Please tell me about your first interaction with the work.
Nakagawa: I clearly remember the time the moment the TV series started. It was the big bang of my life! Since the day after the broadcast, school was in an uproar, and every day I would draw Sailor Moon. Even Nakayoshi’s covers were Sailor Moon, and such a Nakayoshi was the first magazine I ever bought. In the world of Sailor Moon, all the cute things, cool things, and wonderfulness of girls in the universe was all crammed into one, and I learned various things about life from Sailor Moon. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about Sailor Moon.
Kazuki Oe: I think that many people are affected by Sailor Moon. How about you, Ms. Nakagawa?
Nakagawa: I’m keeping a cat named Luna. I love all things that appear in Sailor Moon like pink, space and cats, and I end up buying things that are like that.
Kazuki Oe: Ms. Nakagawa, you’ve sung many Sailor Moon tunes in the Shokotan Cover series such as Otome no Policy. What’s the appeal of Sailor Moon songs in your eyes?
Nakagawa: When I covered Otome no Policy, I thought that that song was the “stomach medicine song” which gives me energy. Because no matter how depressed I am, I can always return to the feelings of those times when I watched Sailor Moon enjoyably, and no matter how tough things are, I can recover with the first two lines “I definitely won’t give up, no matter how much of a pinch it is. Yes, that is the lovely maiden’s policy.”.
Kazuki Oe: When singing a cover, do you think there are any differences from the original?
Nakagawa: My love for the original is too strong — When recording Heart Moving this time, I recalled the spectacles of that time, and I sang many many takes. I got really hung up on some parts, demanding to myself, “It has to be THIS way”, and I thought about myself, “I am being such a pain”, LOL
Kazuki Oe: If you had to pick your favorite character in the Sailor Moon world, who would that be?
Nakagawa: Usagi, after all. Her figure, which stands up strongly in order to protect those she loves, gives me courage. Even if she’s no good normally, she can become super strong with her emotions. She’s girlish, and I love her, but my favorite guardian changes depending on the season and my mood even within the same day, so it’s difficult. As far as the anime goes, I like Rei.
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Kazuki Oe: Is there a character you’d like to try playing?
Nakagawa: Minako. At the time, she was adult-like even among girls, and I imitated her hair often.
Kazuki Oe: Out of all the Sailor Moon episodes, please tell me if there is an episode or scene which sticks with you?
Nakagawa: The scene before the last episode where the guardians are dying off at the North Pole. The figures of everyone, thinking of Usagi, throwing their lives away and fighting had such impact — I won’t forget it for my life. In particular, Rei was wonderfully cool at that time.
Kazuki Oe: I shall now ask you about Heart Moving, which you were left in charge of this time. Listening to it, I got really excited! Was there anything you were conscious of at the time of singing it?
Nakagawa: A sense of nostalgia and those days. It’s a song I’ve listened to to death, and it’s a song where I feel that it’s got the most retro feeling to it out of all of Sailor Moon songs, so, wanting to bring out a sense of those days no matter what, I sang keeping in mind the original singer. I think that around the D-melody, my six-year-old self is dwelling.
Kazuki Oe: Various people participated in this album. Is there a song that you would recommend?
Nakagawa: The event of Ms. Mitsuko Horie singing Sailor Star Song is historically and electrifyingly happy, so, although I have yet to listen to it, I’m looking forward to listening to it soon.
Kazuki Oe: With this album, I think that there are those who will touch Sailor Moon for the first time. If you were to decisively sum up Sailor Moon in one phrase, how would you do it?
Nakagawa: The wonderfulness of the universe is all crammed in there! “The eternal bible of girls”!!
A talent/singer born in 1985. Her nickname is Shokotan. debuted in 2002. Her deep knowledge depth for anime, manga, etc. is the greatest in the entertainment world. She debuted as a singer in 2006, and she’s released 17 singles at this point. In January of 2010, it was announced that she would sing the main theme of Nuigulumar Z, the first movie she’s played the main role in, by the name of “Tokusatsu x Shoko Nakagawa“.
Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon and the Memorial Tribute CD
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Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon is a monumental girl’s manga/anime which represents the nineties, and it’s a popular work that even after the serialization and broadcasts ended, it became musicals and a live action drama which were broadcasted for many years.
The story is about a heroine, Usagi Tsukino (Sailor Moon) who is the protagonist, whose job it is to fight an evil organization to protect the earth, and it’s a hybrid work of magical girl and battle.
At the time of broadcast, all the media were excited about Sailor Moon, because not only did the female children watch it, as expected, but otaku males were wildly enthusiastic about it. Main voice actresses such as Kotono Mitsuishi and Aya Hisakawa had acquired an idol-like popularity, and CD’s where characters would sing the theme songs and radio stations where voice actors would strive to be a DJ would be broadcasted, and voice actor magazines were launched in succession, and before long, the third voice actor boom, which became the spark that voice actor culture established itself, arrived. It’s probably not an exaggeration to say that Sailor Moon was what prepared us for the voice actor boom which extends into even now. Of course there’s the series of Pretty Cure which has been broadcasted every Sunday morning over the course of ten years, and even franchises such as Puella Magi Madoka Magica — If you consider that influence, there’s no end.
On one hand, it’s referenced extensively in this kind of anime history context, and as for what kind of effect it had on girls at the time who watched it originally, it wasn’t often talked about, but in recent years the females of the generation who watched the show in real time grew up, and the chances for them to speak in magazines and whatnot have increased, and we’ve become able to hear the reassessment voices of females.
Today marks Sailor Moon’s 20th anniversary project, and including the new anime, many projects are being created, but this tribute album was born from that flow, and it’s basically a love letter from females to Sailor Moon.
The main theme Moonlight Densetsu is just the tip of the iceberg, with La Soldier, Ai no senshi, and other insert songs included as well. Taking part in it are Mitsuko Horie, Tommy Heavenly6, and Haruka Fukuhara who include many wonderful aspects from a wide-range of ages and genres which make you think, “This is Sailor Moon”. Momoiro Clover Z sings Moonlight Densetsu. Powerful Momoclo usually has a light, fun impression, but in this song, the gentle essence in them shines through quite strongly. As for Shoko Nakagawa’s Heart Moving and Haruko Momoi’s Rashiku Ikimasho, they were updated to a present day anime song while leaving the feeling of the original song. As for Otome no Policy, sung by Etsuko Yakushimaru’s whisper voice, and Kaze mo sora mo kitto… by Makoto Kawamoto whose figure you can imagine loitering in a vast meadow, while being arranged to each of their world views, they express a “girl property” of Sailor Moon. Mariko Goto x Abu-chan (Jooubachi)’s Ai no senshi, which captivates you visually, also colors the album with a chic sound.
When listening to these songs all over again, what each song vividly echoes is — By drawing sentai hero-like battles and girls’ manga-like everyday occurrences together, the Sailor Moon anime makes you realize that in the process of becoming adults, pubescent girls meet up because animators were allegorically drawing each and every occurrence with love and friendship at the center. The singers who are taking part in this album are people who have continued to face their inner girl. In addition, their songs synchronize with Sailor Moon’s fighting figure.
So that the sailor soldiers continue to fight while repeating their reincarnations, the girls’ battle continues, even now, transcending worlds. Even more so, it’s “Led by the light of the moon, we will see each other again over and over again” (Moonlight Densetsu)!
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