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Animazement
Sailor Moon Voice Actors
2005
In a year when the number of Japanese voice actors at U.S. anime conventions could have been counted on the fingers of one hand, this was special: three seiyuu were on the stage of Animazement's main stage at the same time. All of them had appeared in the Japanese version of Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon, and two of them had been voices of that animated series since the beginning. From left to right they were Keiko Han, Luna the cat and Queen Beryl; translator Taka; Aya Hisakawa, who transformed from schoolgirl Mizuni Ami into Sailor Mercury; and Chika Sakamoto, the androgynous Yaten Kou who also became Sailor Star Healer. Han and Hisakawa were part of the original Sailor Moon voice cast from the beginning, while Sakamoto joined the cast later in the series' five-year run. "It was all fun, not hard work," Han said. "The five years went by very quickly."
Han, who also works as an astrologer, had the tough job of playing a cute hero cat and a villain in the same show - and often the same session. She joked that often she would have to switch from saying "Sailor Moon, time to fight" as Luna to saying "Sailor Moon, time to die" as Beryl. "If you look at an anime script, things are done in cut sequences," explained Han about voice recording sessions, in which actors work in groups. "Luna may be crying in one sequence and Beryl may be cackling in the next sequence. You do that at the peak of your lung capacity, and there were times I thought i was going to faint, but that was when the staff was kind and said I could record Queen Beryl's lines separately." To get ready to play Luna, who had to sound like a cat sometimes and a human the rest of the time, Han said she would seek out neighborhood cats and find if she could "...have conversations with them in cat language." Sailor Moon was one of the first animated shows where female characters transformed into fighting heroes, she said, and the series was a surprise success. Han said the cast wasn't certain if the series would last beyond the original six-month run, but the ratings and toy sales were better than expected, and Sailor Moon was renewed for another six months, then for another year - to the point that the animated series ran for five years.
Hisakawa recalled wondering about the sailor scouts' transformation into fighting heroes who wore sailor uniforms. "It was a very fresh situation that the sailor suits could be used as a combat uniform," she said. "We were very intrigued that when we made our transformation, we didn't have any masks - that we changed to the sailor scout costumes, people could tell who were... we always wondered about that." Hisakawa said she went through a transformation of sorts when she played Sailor Mercury, "the sailor scout of love and knowledge." Ami was written to be the brains of the group, "a natural in math and science...I was never that good when I was growing up and I'm still not that good  but for the brief moment when I'm staring at Ami's picture in the studio, I'm a math genius. That's the magical nature of voice actors." When the Sailor Moon series became popular in Japan, Hisakawa remembered riding a train, spotting a girl carrying Sailor Mercury merchandise and wanting to tell her she was the real Sailor Mercury, "but I couldn't break her heart and I had to refrain from talking to her."
"My character was an idol singer with a bit of an ego problem, so I would never socialize with the others in the studio," said Sakamoto, who claimed she would curl up in a corner while the others worked. Hisakawa happily disagreed, saying "From what I saw she had a good time. She is my senior voice actor, and when she comes in, the studio becomes a very bright and cheerful place." Sakamoto's character appeared near the end of the original animated series, and she had to get used to the way of sailor Moon, including the elaborate transformation calls. "The transformation calls were embarrassing to learn. I've been told that after you get over the initial inhibitions they are very exhilarating to perform, but I never got past that." Sakamoto, who voiced boys in other series, said she always was switching her Sailor Moon character between being male and female. "When I was a male, the character would be played in an introverted fashion. When she was female, she was played with three times as much femininity as usual."

May 2005 Main Page