Though the arguments have mostly settled down in recent years, discussions over the nature of Haruka and Michiru’s relationship was, at one time, one of the most hotly contested debates in the nascent days of the North American Sailor Moon fandom.
Today, we’re going to take a look at an interview conducted with Megumi Ogata and Masako Katsuki, voice actresses for Haruka Tenoh and Michiru Kaioh respective, and see how they approached figuratively, and literally, breathing life into their characters.
I hope you stick around!
The ironic part of the whole debate surrounding the degree of lesbian-cosity1 in Haruka and Michiru’s relationship is that while fans continued to ardently debate both sides well into the early 2000s thanks in part to CWi’s changing Haruka and Michiru into cousins in the early North American dub,2 Ms. Takeuchi had already answered this question years ago at San Diego Comic Con 1998, where she confirmed that Haruka and Michiru were intended to be seen as lovers.3
It probably also didn’t help that the early online Sailor Moon fandom was filled with 30% made up lies, 30% fanfiction represented as real canon, and 40% nuggets of truth… when you were lucky. I can’t tell you how long it took me to figure out that there weren’t, in fact, “Sailor Knights.” 1997 was a dark year.
Anyway, as much as I love beating dead horses – and I’m sure that you’ve noticed it’s something of a hobby of time – we’re not here to talk about that today. Nope! We’re here to take a look at an interview where they discussed their characters. The interviews were printed in ザ・声優1995 (Za Seiyuu 1995; Voice Talent 1995).4
First off, Masako Katsuki!
— You portray Neptune as rather mysterious.
She definitely doesn’t come across like you would in day-to-day life, and she rarely expresses her feelings in a straight-forward manner. They [the production staff] keep telling me ‘don’t put a lot of feeling into it!’ I really want to put my emotions behind it, but the production staff doesn’t want me to do it like that. But I can’t completely keep my emotions out of it, you know. That’s why I’m constantly thinking about where to put feeling into it, and where to suppress.
Which, I guess, partially explains away at least some of that cool demeanor Michiru has both in her normal life and in her escapades as Sailor Neptune.
So, moving on, let’s take a look at what Megumi had to say about her character!
What is the relationship between Uranus and Neptune?
The director told us to “they may both be women, but play them like a husband and wife,” so I play the role with that in mind.
What does Haruka think of girls? And, in particular, Michiru?
I’m pretty sure she thinks that all girls are cute.
And about the other Sailor Senshi too, for example?
I’d say so. But with Michiru, their relationship is that of equals. I think they’re like friends, like partners, and even like a husband and wife.
Interestingly enough, I don’t have the interview with me offhand, but this isn’t the first time I’ve seen the relationship between Haruka and Michiru described as that of husband and wife.
And yes, I’m aware that I could use the term “spouse,” but that would be going against the dynamic of the relationship that they’re trying to express here, especially in terms of the roles these two play in their interactions together. But that’s more an interesting difficulty in the nuance of translation than anything else.
Unfortunately this magazine spent most of the interviews touching on Masako and Megumi’s careers as voice talents and on their other characters, such as the newly released Magic Knights Rayearth, so there isn’t too much to talk about with respect to their roles in Sailor Moon.
However, I always love reading up on how voice actors and actresses view their characters when bringing their characters to life, and it was definitely interesting for me to see how the anime production staff directed the portrayal of Haruka and Michiru.
On that note, is there a particular voice actress/actor you’d be interested in hearing more about? I have a bunch of old anime magazines and read these reviews often just for fun, but I’d be more than happy to see what I can find if you have any requests!