[Lunar Logs] Yuko Minaguchi On the Challenge of Voicing Hotaru

Hotaru does not approve

Hotaru does not approve

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 we’ll be focusing on two interviews conducted with Yuko Minaguchi, voice of Hotaru Tomoe in the 90s anime. The first one, titled “It was a bit of a challenge, performing four roles in one,” covers the challenge she faced joining the Sailor Moon cast — then an anime she’d only heard of in passing — and in playing the many different aspects of Hotaru’s character.1

The second one? Well, in this “Behind the Voice” interview, she shares information about her home life and her darling rabbits. A rather fitting pet, don’t you think? August 1996 issue of Animage.2

Read on and learn a little something about how Usagi rabbits can help turn a house into a home!

Sorry Hotaru, but you're kinda high maintenance

Sorry Hotaru, but you’re kinda high maintenance

I’d only heard of the series in passing prior to getting the role of Hotaru, so I rushed out to watch videos and read the manga. However, I was quite shocked when I finally started to find that [Sailor Moon] was quite different from the image I had in my mind. I originally thought it was an over-the-top, action-packed anime, but in reality it was strongly based in drama-esque themes and really impressed me in how it managed to expertly mix so many varied elements together. That alone made it an entertaining role worth doing.

As for Hotaru, I’d originally only been told that she was a frail, mind-mannered young girl, so I did my best to convey the image of her putting up a strong front. Since she was being controlled by some unknown source when taking on the form of the Silent Messiah, I intentionally performed the role in a cool, emotionless manner. But, for Hotaru, I also had to play several other characters, such as Mistress 9 and Sailor Saturn, at the same time, even though they were the same person. Let’s just say that I was a bit lost when I had to perform scenes where I held a dialogue with myself. (laugh)

For these past two to three years, I’ve played characters such as Kira in Yadamon and Shadow in [the new] Minky Momo that play opposite to the main character, so I was happy to be able to play a cute girl once again.

Funny how, despite having seen the climactic ending of Sailor Moon S on multiple occasions, it never really struck me how bizarre it was for the same voice actress to carry out a conversation with herself. Also, considering that most Japanese recording sessions don’t perform single takes for each character, does that mean that she was literally swapping back and forth between different speaking styles? I can only imagine how exhausting that’d be!

Next up, an interview with Ms. Minaguchi about her favorite pets: rabbits!

Yuko Minaguchi (March 1995 issue of Animage)

Yuko Minaguchi (March 1995 issue of Animage)

If I happen to come across another great series, I plan to give it my all. Also, I’m considering taking to the stage this year, so I hope I see you all there!

I started keeping rabbits 4 years ago. I wanted a pet, but dogs were out of the question since I lived in a condo. I was wandering around Shinjuku around that time when I found some dwarf rabbits for sale. I bought an all-black one that I named Shotaro. Back then he was absolutely adorable at a mere 160 grams and could fit in the palm of my hand, but now he’s grown to 3 kilograms and as large as a cat. (laugh)

I took in another one, Tarenosuke, two years ago. He got his name from his drooping [垂れる; tareru] ears. He’s a purebred super lop eared rabbit from Europe that I bought from a pet shop in a major department store. His ears were curled up like antennae when I bought him and he was absolutely adorable, but as he got bigger they started to droop and he could no longer stand them up on his own. I guess it may have happened since he and Shotaro are always just lazing about at home. (laugh) As for why I gave them such strange names, it’s because I once heard that animals will live longer if you give them a name with kanji in it.

Shotaro and Tarenosuke couldn’t be more different. Shotaro is mature and a bit lonely and gets along great with me. His personality is similar to a dog, in that he cheerfully runs right up to me when I come home. He runs around in little figure-eights around my feet as a walk and running circles around me when I stop. Once he’s finally dizzy from all that, he starts running circles in the other direction. (laugh) He seems to like physical contact with me and nods off to sleep when I pet him. When I’m really busy and don’t pet him for several days, he skips his bowl during feeding time and puts his head up on my arm, almost as if telling me he needs pets more than food. (laugh)

As for Tarenosuke, perhaps because I was already close with another rabbit (Shotaro) or maybe he was just raised to be selfish, but he won’t listen to a thing I say. I’d figured that all rabbits were well-behaved like Shotaro, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. (laugh) His personality is similar to a cat in that he’s always running around doing his own thing. He won’t come when I call him and when I tell him to go into his hutch, rather than going in on his own like Shotaro, Tarenosuke will dash off in the opposite direction. He darts off so fast, in fact, that sometimes he can’t stop and he slams into balcony’s glass door frame.

They were still pretty friendly with one another back when I took this picture, but as they got older, the two boys started fighting over their own turf. Shotaro is the weaker of the two and will escape into the hutch when Tarenosuke chases after him. Now I take them out at separate times.

If you were to ask me which is cuter, that would definitely be Shotaro. (laugh) I imagine Tarenosuke is selfish because he was treated with great care when he was growing up while Shotaro was just left out in the cold on a table… I guess the cute little rabbits with white or brown mixed in were sold off first while Shotaro, all black as he was, was left unsold. I figure that’s why he truly understands wabi-sabi – the acceptance of imperfection.

But perhaps it’s thanks to Tarenosuke coming into my life that I came to think of Shotaro as cute. Of course I love Tarenosuke, but it’s a different feeling from Shotaro, who feels like something I need to protect. Meanwhile, I love Tarenosuke for his energetic free spirit.

Coming home and having no one there waiting for you is a pretty lonely feeling, right? That’s what makes me happy to have them around. I feel a load off my chest when I see how happy they are upon my return.

Left: Tarenosuke; Right: Shotaro

Left: Tarenosuke; Right: Shotaro

Out of these two interviews, there’s just one thing that I can’t seem to wrap my head around: when she talks about concluding her role as Hotaru, Ms. Minaguchi makes mention of thinking about ライブ活動, which is typically interpreted as performing music (singing, playing an instrument, etc.) live on stage. However, looking through her Wikipedia entry,3 not only does she not appear to have done any such thing in 1995, she doesn’t seem to have performed any musical acts pretty much ever.

In fact, she’s one of the few members of the main cast who doesn’t even have an image song, which seems to imply that she’s not exactly a fan of singing publicly. So in that case, why would she say that in a magazine interview? It’s just so strange…

Anyway, I hoped you enjoyed this edition of Lunar Logs as well! If there are any specific members of the cast or crew that you’d like to read more about, let me know your thoughts down in the comments below!

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2 thoughts on “[Lunar Logs] Yuko Minaguchi On the Challenge of Voicing Hotaru

  1. About your question, I am wondering about OST in Sailormoon S played when Hotaru is nearly faint and attack monsters. There is humming voice. Is it hers?

  2. I loved this! Please do more with her, if you can. The stories about her rabbits were cute. I wonder if she has any more, or maybe still the same ones? (Don’t know how long rabbits live.)

    Yeah, I was always frustrated that Saturn and Pluto never had any songs (done by their VAs), so that last part is strange. And I really wish we had seen more of Saturn. In the original anime, she shows up for like ten seconds, attacks Pharaoh 90 off-screen, then gets turned into a baby. That’s why I like the manga ending better, even if I kinda prefer the S anime overall. Crystal did it some justice, but they sanitized it a bit, like with so many other things.

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