Why Were Both Queen Beryl and Luna Voiced by Keiko Han?

The Evil Queen We Will Defeat

The Evil Queen We Will Defeat

One of the more endearing “behind the scene” mysteries to me about the development of the Sailor Moon anime is just why, exactly, did Luna and Queen Beryl share a voice actress. Certainly, Keiko Han was a very talented – and veteran – voice actress who’s been active in the industry since her debut in 1977,1 but that doesn’t explain why the anime would choose to reuse her talent for two major roles. Today, we’ll take a look at one theory to explain this.

Sailor Moon cast doing an audio recording session

Sailor Moon cast doing an audio recording session

Of course, if I were talking about the United States here, I don’t think anyone would even bat an eyelash at the idea of a voice talent playing multiple roles. After all, it was common practice up until fairly recently for voice actors to not be hired so much for their talent as for their ability to perform multiple roles. It makes sense from a cost-performance point of view – it’s infinitely cheaper to hire one person that can voice multiple characters than two actors.

The voice acting industry in the U.S. even now is still nowhere near the size that of its Japanese counterpart.2 As of 2015, there are approximately 692 voice actresses and 500 voice actors active in the industry in Japan.3 In case that wasn’t enough talent, there are 31 schools in Tokyo alone devoted to training up-and-comping hopefuls in voice acting and narration.4

So what’s the point of all this, and what am I actually trying to say? Well, when you consider the overabundance of talent in the industry and that both Luna and Queen Beryl are major characters in the series, it’s odd that they’d have Ms. Keiko Han do both.

Luna, attentive as always

Luna, attentive as always

By her own admission,5 there were many times when she would have to switch back and forth between Queen Beryl and Luna and would read the lines with the wrong voice. Ouch! But I’d love to hear those recordings…

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, onto the theory!

An interesting theory that I came across on the subject is that having Ms. Han perform dual roles was entirely intentional – specifically, in order to leave kids guessing who the real Tuxedo Mask is until the big reveal later on.

Precisely because it is generally uncommon for main characters to play multiple roles – and especially play roles of multiple main characters – viewers would make an instant connection between Mamoru and Tuxedo Mask and it’d pretty quickly ruin the mystery they were trying to build up to.

By having Luna and Queen Beryl also share a voice actress, it could keep the mystery going a little while longer. As far as the viewer is concerned, the whole Mamoru/Tuxedo Mask connection could simply be a cost-saving measure just like shared voice talent with Luna and Queen Beryl.

Uh, no secrets here...

Uh, no secrets here…

I mean, one look at his face kinda ruins that, but… you know, kids don’t pick up on this stuff? Maybe?

Now, what do I think of this theory? Well, it’s hard to say. I think they do have a pretty strong argument when you consider just how major of a role Luna and Queen Beryl played. They also went well out of their way to disguise who the Moon Princess was until pretty late in the series, too.

But on the other side of the coin, playing multiple characters was by no means rare in the Sailor Moon anime. After all, Ail and An (from the Cardian arc) both came back as Fiore and Xenian in the Sailor Moon R movie. Chiyoko Kawashima voiced both Haruna Sakurada and Shingo Tsukino in the first season before taking on Setsuna from Sailor Moon R. While you could argue that these two were both minor characters,6 The case of Keiichi Namba, voice of both Gurio Umino and Zoisite, pretty much ruins that.

This is probably simply a case of the casting directors feeling that she was perfect for the role. Afterall, Keiko Han has an impressive resume spanning 40 years now (15 at the time), so it’s not unreasonable to have asked her to do multiple voices. What’s more, she wasn’t even credited in most episodes as playing Queen Beryl,7 so fans of the show wouldn’t even know unless they were really good at picking out voices.

Keiko Han interviewed on "Two Beat" (~1981)

Keiko Han interviewed on “Two Beat” (~1981) [YouTube]

So, dear reader, what do you think? Is this just a case of a casting director making the most of the talent they had available to them? Or, possibly, was it a ploy thought up by the anime production staff to keep kids guessing about the the true identity of Tuxedo Mask just a little bit longer?


References:

  1. See Keiko Han’s Anime Roles (Wikipedia)
  2. See Man of a Thousand Voices
  3.  See Number of Voice Actors
  4. See List of Voice Acting Schools
  5. See 7:25 of this interview with Keiko Han
  6.  But that’d be a hard argument to maintain, when you consider how many episodes they both appeared in.
  7. Though I haven’t confirmed every episode, she goes uncredited in episode 1 (first appearance), and I haven’t found her credited as Queen Beryl yet in any others

2 comments

  • Moonchild3000

    In fact, Han was not credited as Beryl until episode 46, the very end of the first series.

    What’s more, the voice actor talk section of the first Nakayoshi Anime Album deliberately avoids showing the name of Beryl’s actress, instead noting that it’s revealed in the credits for episode 46 (see page 123). So there was definitely something going on here, although I always interpreted it as the producers not wanting kids to think that Luna and Beryl were somehow related.

    As for the possibility of them trying to make Tuxedo Mask’s identity less obvious. This does seem like a bit of a stretch, particularly because the mystery only really lasted for Jadeite’s arc and after that they were rather quick to drop plenty of hints followed by an on-screen transformation. Not to mention the *manga* didn’t even try in the first place, honestly. It could be that this was initially going to be a much bigger thing, though, which would explain why the anime chose to have Usagi and Mamoru learn each other’s secrets at the last possible moment and played this entirely for drama. (Not a very strong argument, I admit, since similar cases kept happening later in the anime and seem to be simply a side effect of its plot structure.)

    On the other hand, look at what happened during the Cardian arc. I *do* think Tohru Furuya was actually credited as both Mamoru and the Moonlight Knight, which is interesting considering the events of episode 50.

    • Wow… good catch! It kinda seemed that way to me, too, that they were actually going out of their way to not associate Keiko Han with Queen Beryl, rather than the other way around of making it known. In one of the videos I linked to in the footnotes, where Keiko Han herself mentions that she made a lot of mistakes when recording her lines as Luna/Beryl, she even treats the fact that she played both roles as a big surprise.

      While the idea what they were trying to delay the inevitable discovery of who Tuxedo Mask’s identity is an interesting theory, I think it just doesn’t hold water.

      Honestly though, I kinda wish they did try to keep it a mystery, kind of like who the Moon Princess really was. It would have been fun trying to guess who this mystery character was that kept coming to save the day. Or maybe we’re giving little kids too much credit? =p It’s entirely possible that 5 year olds actually had absolutely no clue who Tuxedo Mask was…

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