How Did the Voice Cast React to the End of Sailor Moon?

The five Inner Senshi the week before their last recording session (flowers from Ms. Takeuchi)

The five Inner Senshi the week before their last recording session (flowers from Ms. Takeuchi)

As a wise person1 once said, “all good things must come to an end.” Sailor Moon was no exception to this rule, and aired (what would then be) its final episode on February 8, 1997. Even though the series would live on in the form of musicals, a live action TV series, and even a second anime series, that final airing marked the end of a five year journey for the talented actresses and actors that brought our beloved characters to life.

Today, I’d like to take a look at how the Sailor Moon cast felt about the series they gave five years of their life to, their respective characters, and their favorite scenes — all courtesy of a “Sailor Moon Graduation” commemorative interview conducted by Animage magazine.2

Grab a box of tissues, because there are going to be a lot of tears shed before we’re done!

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What Other Anime Have the Sailor Moon Cast Worked on Together?

Ready, set, ACT!

Ready, set, ACT!

When you’re confronted with such an amazing cast like the one in Sailor Moon, it’s easy to forget that there are voice actors behind bringing these characters to life. They seem to truly take their roles to heart, and it becomes nearly impossible to separate the voice from the face on screen.

That is until you hear them so expertly perform the role of an entirely different character in another anime… and yet again, they seem perfect for the role!

For awhile now, I’ve been wanting to discuss the Sailor Moon voice cast in some way or another, but hadn’t quite found the right angle to approach it from. So after far too many hours spent trawling the depths of the internet, I thought it would be fun to take a look at what other projects our favorite voice actors and actresses have worked on together.

I hope you have some free time on your hands, because you may end up unexpectedly getting drawn into some new anime series!

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How Were Haruka and Michiru’s VAs Told to Portray Their Characters?

Masako Katsuki and Megumi Ogata

Masako Katsuki and Megumi Ogata

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!

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Which Character Did Sailor Mercury’s Voice Actress Apply For First?

The original Sailor Moon voice cast and characters

The original Sailor Moon voice cast and characters

Of the many (many!) things that we can praise the Sailor Moon anime production for, I’d definitely rank the excellent and highly talented voice cast right up near the top. Without their wonderful voice work to strike a chord with the viewers, I’m not sure the anime would have been as much of a success as it was.

But things very well could have turned out differently. As it turns out, Aya Hisakawa – voice of our beloved Ami Mizuno – actually went in to try out for someone else at first.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane!

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What Health Problems Did Usagi’s Voice Actress Suffer From During Recording?

Dr. Usagi - Always Willing to Help

Dr. Usagi – Always Willing to Help

Kotono Mitsuishi1 was far from an up-and-comer when she had joined the cast of Sailor Moon to play the lead role — immediately after her graduation from high school in 1986 she joined a voice acting vocational school and got her first voice acting job in 1988 as Tomoyo in the OVA titled Aim for the Ace! 2, based on a manga of the same name.2 Her career really picked up with her taking up the role of Usagi in Sailor Moon, though she continued to play a variety of roles in other anime (including Misato Katsuragi in Neon Genesis Evangelion).

It seems a bit odd, then, that right at the climax of the series — from the awakening of the Princess Serenity, through the fight with Queen Beryl, and into the beginning of the Cardian arc — that the voice of the titular character would suddenly change. From episodes 44 through 50, Kae Araki3 (who would later go on to play ChibiUsa several episodes later during Sailor Moon R) stood in for Kotono and played the roll admirably, though it obviously stood out in fans minds and, even more notably, it apparently stuck with Kotono herself and is said to be one of her greatest regrets. In her essay collection, titled “Moon, Stars, and the Sun” (月 星 太陽),4 she talks frankly about the tough time she had on missing out on episodes 44 through 46 — the conclusion of Sailor Moon — due to being hospitalized.

Kotono Mitsuishi - The Voice of Sailor Moon

Kotono Mitsuishi – The Voice of Sailor Moon

We know that she was hospitalized, but what for? At the time, a public announcement was made (from her agents and voice acting studio, I assume) stating that she had an appendicitis which is why she wouldn’t be able to perform for awhile. The numbers don’t quite add up, though. Typical recovery times for an appendicitis are around two to three weeks5 at maximum, while she was absent for approximately two months.

So what really happened? Well, it turns out that the story was much more alarming (and helps explain why the studio didn’t want to tell this to the enthusiastic fans of the show which were mostly young children) that it seems. As she later revealed on her blog, Kotono had undergone surgery for an ovarian cyst and was in the hospital for a month recovering from it when she missed out on recording episodes 44 through 46, followed by bed-rest at home, which is why she was unable to participate in the recording through episode 50. To make matters worse, she suffered from a concurrent outbreak of peritonitis which actually put her life itself in danger.6




In English:

I just got my health checkup. You can’t be lazy about these things. For men too, of course, but women definitely need to get gynecological checkups, y’know. You absolutely cannot slack off on this! That table really sucks, thus… (-_-;)
You know, when I was 24, a hole opened up in an “ovarian cyst” and at the same time, I suffered a case of peritonitis, which actually put my life at risk. I had emergency surgery and was hospitalized for a month followed by three months’ bed rest.

It was a huge hassle for my family, the staff at work, and everyone else. Even worse, it was just awful for me!
It’s not scary if we all go together!
Let’s get checked up so we don’t need to worry! GO, GO!

So as you can see, the whole situation was actually pretty dangerous which, fortunately, worked out well in the end. But there is a happy ending to this story: it turns out that through the Animate Cassette Collection (audio-only versions of the stories told in the anime, sold exclusively through the Animate store chain), Kotono actually played Usagi for their recording of the final scenes of Sailor Moon.7 One way or another, she was able to take the character through the end of her (first) story!

Sailor Moon Audio Cassette Collection

Sailor Moon Audio Cassette Collection

Why Does Usagi Say Her Stomach is Trumpeting?

In the original run of the Sailor Moon anime, Usagi will occasionally say the hard to understand (and even harder to translate) line about her stomach playing a trumpet:

Japanese:  「おなかのラッパがプー」 (onaka no rappa ga pu~)
Literal Translation: “My stomach’s playing the trumpet”
Localization: “I’m laughing so hard, my tummy hurts!” / “My tummy’s singing!” / Etc.

On the surface of it, and depending on context, it sounds like she’s saying that her stomach’s rumbling, but as you watch through the series, you realize that she uses it more like a personal catch-phrase and not with any one, specific meaning. For example, this phrase comes out both when she’s yelling at Mamoru1 and again later when she’s on her way to lunch and can’t wait to start eating.2

Usagi and Her Trumpeting Stomach (Episode 11; 9m23s)

Usagi and Her Trumpeting Stomach (Episode 11; 9m23s)

So what is this, just another Japanese idiom that doesn’t actually translate well into English? Actually, the story behind it is more interesting than that. It turns out that it wasn’t originally part of the script and was said to be an ad lib on the part of Usagi’s voice actress, Kotono Mitsuishi, in the middle of Usagi’s tirade against Mamoru shown in the image above. But that isn’t where this catch phrase actually really originated.

Actually, this phrase first came about in the manga/anime known as Goldfish Warning!3 and was often uttered by the overly active Wapiko.

Wapiko of Goldfish Report!

Wapiko of Goldfish Warning!

After the anime ended, most of the animation staff (including director Junichi Sato and music composer Takanori Arisawa) moved over to the the Sailor Moon anime, which led to the appearance of many references to this series throughout the first season of Sailor Moon. From thereon, the phrase took on a life of its own, and has become one of the many Usagi-isms that continue to appear throughout the entire run of the anime.

Though this doesn’t really explain what your stomach trumpeting has to do with being emotional or agitated, it’s nice to know the story behind it!