[Lunar Logs] Kotono, Aya, and Michie Discuss Their Roles as Usagi, Ami, and Rei

October 1992 Animage Interview

October 1992 Animage Interview

Lunar Logs is a weekly series featuring full translations of interviews with Ms. Takeuchi and others — such as the directors, writers, voice cast, and more — responsible for making Sailor Moon into the massively popular franchise we know it as today. Though not every interview will directly address or even mention Sailor Moon, I find it an interesting look into the minds of these influential figures.

Today’s interview was conducted in Fall 1992 with Kotono Mitsuishi (Usagi), Aya Hisakawa (Ami), and Michie Tomizawa (Rei) on their thoughts regarding how they portray their characters, their thoughts on prospective love interests, and even Umino (??)!1

Read on for the interesting behind-the-scenes character development and an inside look at the respective soldiers’ views of romance and their possible love interests!

The Original Sailor Soldiers: Michie Tomizawa (Rei), Kotono Mitsuishi (Usagi), Aya Hisakawa (Ami)

The Original Sailor Soldiers: Michie Tomizawa (Rei), Kotono Mitsuishi (Usagi), Aya Hisakawa (Ami)

Animage (AM): Let’s have you introduce one another. We’ll start with Kotono.

Michie: She’s incredibly cute and very intelligent, with both childish and mature sides to her.

Aya: (whistles in approval)

Michie: While she may look like a posh princess, in actuality she’s really strong-willed. When I saw her playing Usagi, she felt like a perfect fit. She’s not just playing a role, she’s actually just expressing a part of herself. I don’t think anyone but Kotono could really play Sailor Moon.

Aya: I tried out for Sailor Moon at the audition. I really wanted to be the main character, but then they approached me about Ami. When I first went to the studio to play the role of Mercury and I say Kotono’s performance, I knew that I didn’t hold a candle to her. She truly fits Usagi to a t. Her sense [for the character] was just spot on. On the other hand, this inspired me to create the character of Ami that even Kotono couldn’t pull off.

Kotono/Michie: That she couldn’t pull off?

Sailor Mercury

Sailor Mercury

Aya: I was really drawn in by Usagi, you see. I mean, how could anyone think up [such great lines as] “my stomach’s trumpeting, toooot!”

Michie: Sound effects, yeah. Those kind of ad-libbed lines are just so perfectly Usagi.

Aya: Like when the script says イチャイチャしてる (icha icha shiteru; flirting, making out), she’ll read it as イチャコライチャコラ (ichakora ichakora; making out)2 She’s got a great sense [for characterization].

Kotono: Now you’re repeating yourselves. (laugh)

Michie: Of course she can play adult roles as well. But when it comes to Usagi, I’m fascinated by [how she plays the role].

Aya: Absolutely perfect-o.

AM: All right, Aya next.

Kotono: My impression of Aya has changed quite a bit from the first time we met now that we’re working together on Sailor Moon. I don’t know what she did to make it that way, but she was really easy to get close to, though that’s not to say that she wasn’t at the beginning. As we met time and again, we got to talking. Not only are we close in age, but for some time there we were also going to a lot of auditions together too. She’s really quite mature in my opinion.

Aya: Huh? No way, you’re a year older than me.

Kotono: That’s right, even though she’s a year younger than me, from how she acts to the way of thinking, there’s a lot of things about her that give her an air of maturity. I’m jealous. While she may seem reserved on the surface, you can tell there’s a fire burning within her.

Aya: You’re making me blush.

Michie: I love how clear and friendly Aya’s voice sounds. Considering Ami is the nicest and most considerate of the three, I think Aya’s a perfect fit [for the role]. Though she may look thin and dainty, she’s got a lot of energy.

AM: And now Michie.

Aya: I’m not saying this to suck up to her, but I was really surprised to meet someone who was just so kind to everyone, without exception. I’m sure there’s not a single person out there who isn’t wishing for her to be happy.

Michie: If there were a hole here, I’d climb into it [out of embarrassment].

Sailor Moon

Sailor Moon

Kotono: The first time I worked together with Michie was on a show called Gakuen Seven Wonders. Michie played the main character and I was surprised at how, just by her mere presence, the whole mood in the studio changed and became much more light hearted. And that wasn’t limited to her role, either. Even during our breaks she would talk about pretty much anything and make me feel at ease. I was glad to hear it when I found out that she would be playing Sailor Mars. I was all nerves in the beginning, so a part of me was probably seeking out a lifeline.

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Aya: She really does help out a lot when she’s in the studio.

Kotono: Thanks for making us happy. Are you embarrassed [to hear that]?

Michie: Definitely. (laugh)

AM: Tell us what you think about the characters you play.

Kotono: I worry about the fact that Usagi in the manga and the Usagi that I play are pretty different. I have a bit of a playful side which can make Usagi a little crude. (laugh)

Michie: No way! You and Usagi are one and the same, so much so that it’s hard to tell who came first, Kotono or Usagi.

Kotono: Really? But you know, sometimes I worry whether it’s okay to take the character so far when the manga exists and I wonder if I should keep myself in check. The other day, I met up with Ms. Takeuchi, the author of the manga, and apologized for making Usagi so crude, but she said it was fine. But Ms. Takeuchi is such a nice person [that I’m unsure if I can take her reassurance at face value].

Michie: It’s not a problem at all. It’s cute.

Aya: Agreed.

Kotono: But if that’s fine, then I want to just take off [with Usagi’s character]. (laugh)

Aya: I think that’s fine.

AM: Is there anything you like, or find difficult, about Usagi’s personality?

Kotono: Hmm, off the bat, there’s nothing I dislike. In the beginning I thought she was a little carefree [in her interactions], but I came to realize that she’s really doing the best she can. As for difficulties, she’s quite capricious! As soon as she seems some cool person, she’s got hearts in her eyes. But I can understand that too. (laugh)

Michie: And that’s something Rei really looks down on. (laugh) But I think that’s one of Usagi’s good points. She may have many romantic interests, but she’s mostly settled on Tuxedo Mask and Motoki.

Kotono: Though she did think Nephrite was cool when he made his appearance.

AM: Rei is also quite fickle in love, no?

Kotono: Look at you, a pot calling the kettle black!

Michie: But Rei’s all in for Tuxedo Mask.

Kotono: She’s the type that likes to focus on just one person, huh.

Michie: Right. She is the type who’d run headlong into things. Once she’s decided on a person, she’s all in, so I wouldn’t say she’s fickle in love so much as that she loses sight of everything else once she likes someone.

AM: Rei even asked Mamoru out on a date.

Sailor Mars

Sailor Mars

Michie: Well, you know, she’s pretty smart, and a meticulous planner. Maybe I’m just looking at her in a favorable light since I’m playing her. But she’s really adorable. In the beginning, I wanted to play her very formally since she’s such a posh young lady in the manga, but then she and Usagi suddenly became rivals and I was really lost in the beginning. Recently, I’ve come to enjoy teasing Usagi. (laugh) I think has somewhat of a big sisterly disposition [in wanting to look out for the other girls], though she is a tad easy to anger.

Kotono: I agree with that.

AM: And what about the calm and collected Ami?

Aya: There aren’t any scandalous stories to tell about her, and she isn’t romantically interested in Tuxedo Mask. If anything, she plays a plays a mediating role between Usagi and Rei to get them to cut it out. In that sense, she’s quite mature, as far as a junior high schooler goes.

Michie: Hopefully she and Umino can have their own happy ending.

Kotono: Right.

Michie: I mean, they’re both smart.

Aya: Huh? Well, maybe if Umino has some stunning eyes under those glasses. (laugh)

Kotono: But you know, even Ami has some times when she’s kind of aloof and isn’t always on point.

Aya: That’s true. However, the fanboys keep asking to not make Ami aloof like that. Ami alone is a beautiful girl righteous [in her thoughts and actions]… apparently.

Kotono, Michie: What’s that supposed to mean? (burst out laughing)

Aya: I also want to keep Ami as she is, without having her constantly be fixated on love.

AM: Ami is always playing peacemaker between her friends, but do you think she’d ever want to just blow up?

Aya: Hmm… no, I don’t think so.

Kotono: If she did, it’d be a huge deal.

Aya: That’s true, all bets would be off.

Michie: That’s kind of scary. She’s gonna be a delinquent when she gets older, no doubt. (laugh)

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Aya: If she did wind up liking someone, I think they’d be older than her. Like, someone older than her father. She wouldn’t be interested in a classmate.

Michie: I could see that.

AM: Next up, we’d like to hear about which male characters you like.

Kotono: Nephrite is my type of guy. He’s got his own values, doesn’t yield to those superior to him, and follows his own path.

Aya: The park groundskeeper.

Michie: Wow!

Aya: I like how he cheerfully takes care of the plants and works with the earth. As for the Shitennou… hmm. I don’t hate them, but I don’t really have any interest in them either. I’m not really interested in Tuxedo Mask either.

Kotono: We still haven’t really seen much more than the surface level of Tuxedo Mask’s or Mamoru’s personalities.

Aya: How about you, Michie?

Michie: I haven’t really found a character I’m interested in yet.

Kotono: You’ve got high standards.

Michie: No, it’s nothing like that. But… I guess I’d say Tuxedo Mask. I’d love a man who would come and save me any time I’m in danger. (laugh)

Aya: I got it! Rei’s grandpa!

Michie: That’s right, I guess that’s your type.

Aya: I love comedians like that.

Michie: Guys like Beat Takeshi are great, aren’t they?

AM: What do you think of Umino?

Aya: He can do whatever he wants [and I don’t really care]. (laugh)

Kotono: He’s great as a friend. But it’s kind of exhausting [being around him]. (laugh) He doesn’t have any ill intent, though. I think he needs to work on his masculinity a bit. (laugh)

AM: And what about the guy from the arcade?

Kotono: He’s a nice guy and a good person, but that’s all.

Michie: He’s a good guy and pleasant to be around.

Aya: He seems like an older guy who you can go to for advice.

Kotono: I think he’s so frank an open-hearted that it leaves you left wanting a little something more. But when you’re really exhausted, it’s great to have someone like him around. I’m always running around a lot, so I think my perfect guy is someone like Nenji Kobayashi from the “the ingredients are chopped pretty big” [series of commercials]3 He used to do a lot of yakuza and bodyguard roles, which is something I like. He may speak little, but he’s got a lot of emotion under the surface.

Aya: Ever since becoming a voice talent, I’ve always wanted to meet Takeshi Kitano. I really respect his intelligence. In the past, I really liked Junichi Ishida for the fact that he seemed to never age. Recently, I’ve been interested in Ken Ogata. Watching him play those fatherly roles just really strikes a chord with me.

Michie: In terms of actors, I’d say Tatsuya Fuji.

Aya: Wow, he’s pretty understated!

Michie: He feels like the kind of guy who carries with him the scent of the ocean.

Kotono: I could imagine you sniffing you.

Michie: What do you mean? (laugh) I did sports for 14 years and spent my younger years doing entering sports events, so I like manly guys who are a bit selfish.

AM: Finally, do you have any parting words for Animage’s readers?

Kotono: There are a lot of plotlines in Sailor Moon right now that will start coming together, which I’m sure will make the story even all the more interesting. I hope you’re looking forward to it.

Aya: Please keep Ami in her spot at #3 in Animage’s character popularity poll. (laugh)

Michie: We’re going to keep doing our best to work together and make a great Sailor Team, so please support us with all your hearts!

Michie Tomizawa (Rei), Kotono Mitsuishi (Usagi), Aya Hisakawa (Ami)

Michie Tomizawa (Rei), Kotono Mitsuishi (Usagi), Aya Hisakawa (Ami)

That was certainly an… interesting interview. Especially with respect to the suggestion that Ami’s ideal man would be of her father’s age or older. To be fair, however, this was still relatively early in the series and the characters hadn’t been fully developed yet.

If you had a chance to ask the voice talents behind the Sailor Senshi a question, what would you like to know? Let me know down below in the comments!

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References:

  1. See pp. pp. 3 to 8 of the October 1992 issue of Animage
  2. The main difference here being that it’s a more playful word choice and sounds funnier due to the repetition as it’s usually イチャコラ ichakora alone.
  3. You can see the referenced commercial here

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