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."
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.
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
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."