At this point, I’m beginning to think that TOEI Animation simply enjoys toying with Sailor Moon fans’ delicate hearts. Just when you forget that they’re even supposedly making a fourth season to the Sailor Moon Crystal franchise in the form of a movie — bam! — there TOEI Animation is again with just enough information to get your hopes back up.
And that, my dear friends, is exactly where we find ourselves after the most recent release of the fan exclusive Pretty Guardian newsletter.
If it wasn’t enough to just drop the name of famed Sailor Moon character designer and animation director Kazuko Tadano, they also had to throw in just a few dazzling tidbits about Sailor Moon Crystal while they were at it.
Today we’re going to take a look at what she actually said in the interview, and see what information we can glean from it! Are you sitting down for this?
Like all good interviews, the newsletter starts off with a profile summarizing some basic facts about Ms. Tadano:
- Name: Kazuko Tadano
- Hobbies: Karaoko, traveling, collecting miniatures, etc. etc.
- Favorite foods: Watermelons and ｍacarons
- Favorite colors: Black and pink
- Least favorite things: Exercise (though I like walking)
- Places you want to visit: Brazil — I want to go swimming at Lençóis!
From here, the interview is broken up under two primary headings: her memories of working on the Sailor Moon anime back in the 90s, and about the upcoming movie. Because neither the interviewers nor I want to bury the lead, obviously the questions about the 90s anime come first.
How did you wind up working as Sailor Moon‘s character designer back in the first season?
Well, they were holding auditions to pick the designer, and someone reached out to me on the day before the selection was going to be made. I was in a huge rush to get my submission done and fax it in. I distinctly remember being really flustered over how suddenly this all happened.
In spite of how little time I had to work on it, I was happy that they picked the Sailor Moon I designed. I had really given it my all.
Now, I’m not pointing fingers here, but I really have to wonder if this “someone” that asked her to join had wanted to pick her as the animation director the whole time, or if they were perhaps not satisfied with all the other submissions. But hey, what do I know?
Wow, that’s amazing! Now, could you tell us about what you feel the Sailor Moon franchise’s appeal is?
Each member of the Sailor Team all have their own distinct, unique characteristics, and the tempo of the series and dialogue was managed really well. The themes of love, friendship, and of course the battles made it exciting to watch.
Could you tell us about a time back in the 90s when you truly realized what a social phenomenon Sailor Moon was?
Even before it became a huge hit, some of my friends were really into the series, and I was like… what??
Shortly thereafter, things began to unfold just like they had predicted. The “otaku antenna” is truly an awe-inspiring thing. (laugh)
When I started having famous people I’d never even met asking for my signature, I could really tell the series was having an impact.
Back in a previous interview, you had mentioned that “drawing a good Sailor Moon was all in the eyes.” Could you discuss of the strategies you use in your character designs?
Since all of the girls’ faces are shaped pretty much the same, the highlighting of the eyes was the only option left for distinguishing them from each other (other than hair and eye shape), so I really focused on that.
I… somehow never really noticed that when you get down to it, most of the Inner Senshi’s faces are actually pretty similar in shape. Or at least Usagi/Ami and Rei/Minako. Now I feel like I need to go stare at a bunch of screenshots.
The opening, ending, transformation, and attack animation are all quite famous. What was your approach to making them?
Sailor Moon was a shojo manga at its core, so I think we really rode ourselves hard to make them extravagant, cool, and also to really capture the essence of each character.
With such big name creative types working on the series, including your husband Hiromi Matsushita, what kind of details were they particular about as they worked?
You’d have to ask each of the directors personally, but I like to think that everyone put a bit of their own original twist, and their personal feelings toward the characters, into their work.
From her comical gestures to her fashionable style and even sometimes serious demeanor, Usagi truly is an intriguing woman of many faces. Could you discuss some of the interesting points, or even difficulties you faced, with depicting such a unique character like Sailor Moon?
Getting the proportions properly balanced on Usagi’s head was a real challenge. There are just so. many. circles.
But those odango on her head were a big part of her character, so what can ya do? (rueful laugh)
It was actually pretty easy to draw her comical expressions, but where I really struggled was with getting that ever-so-faint hint of maturity that she would occasionally show.
Could you share with us an episode or scene that carries some special significance for you?
Hmm, probably episode 21 of the anime and the Sailor Moon R movie.
Episode 21 was a completely original story and was based on “Studio Live” where I was working at the time. The staff even came to our offices to make it all the more realistic. Since I know about the background [of the animation industry], this episode holds a special place in my heart.
The Sailor Moon R movie is an experience I’ll never forget… in more ways than one.
I was truly exhilarated to be serving as the animation director on this, since it was really going on strong with the love theme that was only gently touched on in the show. Due to the schedule, I spent a month living out of TOEI’s company-owned lodgings while I worked. However, thanks all the members’ efforts coming together, we were able to create a truly magnificent piece. I’m honored to have been a part of it.
And now that TOEI teaser…!
How did you end up working on Crystal Act 4: the Dead Moon Arc?1
By sheer happenstance, I was introduced to the character auditions by someone that I was working together with on a completely different project.
To have worked on the beginning and the end of the same series, it truly feel like fate.
Can you discuss how you’re approaching this project?
There’s been a long blank in my career since I worked on anything Sailor Moon-related, so I want to work hard to make sure my designs are reminiscent of the past while bringing with them a modern nuance, all while being faithful to Ms. Takeuchi’s original imagery.
Also, I’ve grown up a lot since then and have really expanded on my experience and my personal horizons (laugh), so I’m hoping to can bring to the screen things that I wasn’t able to properly visualize in the past.
I hope you’ll enjoy a more grown up Usagi and crew!
And… that’s pretty much all we’re getting in terms of information on the totally-for-reals-going-to-happen Sailor Moon Crystal movie.
So what do you think about the art direction decision for bringing Kazuko Tadano back on board for the new project?
While I personally am not really much of a fan of Sailor Moon Crystal and prefer the 90s anime, I’m not really sure if I can get behind this move. If they’re trying to bring the designs more in line with the old anime, then it seems like a little too late in the series to be doing that. If they’re trying to keep with the new, more manga-inspired designs, then I feel like it would have been a better choice to try to stick with the previous art directors.
Of course, time will tell how this will all play out in the end, but it’ll be an interesting ride one way or another!
- Incidentally, the title is marked as “tentative,” so apparently it may still change. ↩