The Sailor Moon Voice Cast on the Challenges of Their Characters

We scored some time in the green room with the cast at the premiere of Sailor Moon R: The Movie.

In case it wasn’t made clear in our coverage of the premiere of Sailor Moon R: The Movie, it was an awesome experience, and while each part of the evening could be recounted in detail.

Present for roundtable interviews were Stephanie Sheh (Sailor Moon), Robbie Daymond (Tuxedo Mask), Cristina Vee (Sailor Mars), Amanda Celine Miller (Sailor Jupiter), Cherami Leigh (Sailor Venus), Sandy Fox (Chibi-Usa), Ben Diskin (Fiore), and Carrie Keranan (The Xenian Flower). Sitting outside the circle, appropriately enough, was Christine Marie Cabanos, who will be playing Sailor Saturn in the latter half of Sailor Moon S.

It would have been trippy and amazing to meet any one member of the cast. To be in the same room with nearly all of them might have been intimidating if they weren’t the chillest bunch of actors to hang with. I quickly noted that Kate Higgins, the voice of Sailor Mercury, was conspicuously absent as she has been from most public appearances and DVD extras, something I’d been wondering about for quite some time. When asked why their castmate remains so scarce, pretty much everyone had the same answer.

She has a life. A very busy life.

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As a musician and a mother of “new teenagers” who are old enough to be busy but not old enough to drive, Higgins has a lot on her plate. Despite her hectic schedule, however, she’s just as much a member of the family as any of them, and that family is only getting bigger.

When asked about the new additions to the cast for Sailor Moon S, the first volume of which was recently released, Cristina Vee replied, “I was curious to see who would be joining the family. And then Christine came, and Erica [Mendez], and Lauren [Landa]. And they’ve been awesome.”

It turns out the Sailor Moon voice cast family is a lot bigger than just the gang who records over in Burbank. As it turns out, the Viz cast and the cast of DiC’s Sailor Moon English dub from the ’90s keep in pretty good touch. Sheh noted, “Whenever I’m in Canada, they’re always like, ‘We need to grab lunch!’ ”

Miller also had some affectionate words for her ’90s counterpart. “I met them at Sac-Anime. It was kind of awkward at first, because it was the original cast and then me, but they were super-sweet and they brought me in. It was nice. At first, at the autograph table, everyone was getting their autographs and skipping me, and Susan Roman who played the original Jupiter was like, ‘Hey, guys! Talk to her!”’ It was really nice. They were really excited about it.”

One thing the Viz cast doesn’t share with the DiC cast is their recording schedule. Whereas the DiC cast would record snippits of dialogue, maybe a few whole scenes, from random episodes, completely out of order, the Viz cast has the benefit of recording chronologically so that their can experience their characters’ development as it unfolds.

In finding those characters in the performance, a lot of credit is given to Suzanne Goldish, the voice director for all of the Viz dub. Keranen, who voices The Xenian Flower in the R movie, said of getting into her character, whose lines are few, “It’s a challenge. You really have to read between the lines to work with what you’ve got. You have to find the key to that character so you can make every line count. Suzanne was a big help by telling me, ‘She’s a manipulator. Forget about playing it seductive or anything like that. This is a character who always knows what her agenda is and knows how to make people do what she wants.’ And I really just took it from there.”

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“I put a lot of trust in Suzie to know which takes to choose,” Sheh said. “And we kind of know at this point how each of us are going to do call-outs or how we’re going to respond to stuff, but in the beginning, yeah, it was a lot of trust.”

That trust doesn’t just go one way either. “I’ve seen the show before, ‘cause I’m a nerd,” offered Miller. “So, sometimes I’ll tell Suzie, ‘So, this is what’s happening’ when she’s like, ‘I don’t know what the fuck’s happening.’” Hey, any otaku can tell you it doesn’t hurt to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the material on standby.

Perhaps the most different from his role in the series is Ben Diskin, who spent two seasons (and a couple episodes after that) playing Usagi’s classmate, the lovable loser, Umino. Going from a character like that to the R movie’s villain, Fiore, definitely shows, considering Fiore is one smooth, sexy bastard, though it wasn’t as much of a leap for Diskin as one might suspect.

“I got lucky,” Diskin confessed. “All the stuff with Umino, we finished recording that a long time ago … I wasn’t still stuck in Umino mode. Though I am naturally a geek, so it was kind of hard to turn that off to play a character who’s not a complete fuck up.”

As for what the rest of the cast gets out of the show and what they would like more of, were it up to them, it’s not always about their own characters. Miller would like to see an entire prequel series set in the Silver Millennium. And damn near everyone wants more focus on Mamoru sense of style, or rather his desperate lack thereof.

“Just a whole episode dedicated to Mamoru trying to figure out what wear,” Sheh said. “I want to know how many outfits he tried on *before* he settled on that one.”

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“And the monster is one of those shoe-sizer things that comes to life!” Daymond adds! It seems they’ve all given this idea more thought than they let on. And now I totally want to see the Sailors get attacked by sentient shoe store equipment. I mean, why not? There have been weirder monsters.

The cast revealed more about working on the series and the movie in the Q&A that followed the feature, which you can view most of in the video below. One anecdote of particular note, however, could come off as particularly amusing, especially to those moonies with at least a passing acquaintance with Japanese:

There was a “situation” regarding the pronunciation of the villain’s name as “Fiole.” A note given with the translation asked for the name to be pronounced as such despite the name obviously being  play on the Italian word for flower, flowers being the central theme of the film. Eventually common sense won out, and all the characters in the film say “Fiore,” but a short intro before the movie reveals that dialogue was recorded with the actors using the alternate pronunciation and thus, as Robbie Daymond points out, the whole movie exists somewhere on some hard drive with “Fiole” coming  out of everyone’s mouths.

A haunting vision of what could have been. Just the jokes about Mamoru getting “Fio-laid” alone…