You want Sailor Moon cast interviews? Oh, you’re gonna get ‘em, because we got a chance to speak with the Sailor Guardians from the original Season 1 cast all the way up through Sailor Stars, the final season of Sailor Moon, the first volume of which is now available from VIZ Media.
In this free-for-all, we’ve got five Sailors on the docket. In accordance with the Sailors’ debut queue, we start with Cristina Vee, who has rocked a pair of scarlet high heels for the last five years as Sailor Mars.
DEN OF GEEK: You were part of the original power trio that started it all, debuting only ten episodes into a 200-episode run. What has it been like experiencing the cast grow and change over the years? Do you ever get nostalgic for the more intimate interpersonal dynamics of early season one or do you prefer the bigger, ensemble feel of having the full team in play?
CRISTINA VEE: I will always have a soft spot for the first season and R. It focused so much on self-discovery and romance. The upside to adding new characters and cast members was making new friends!! It’s also great to have such a diverse group of characters. I feel like everybody could relate to at least one Guardian.
Look into the flames. Do you think Rei ends up with Yuuichirou, someone else, or does she commit herself exclusively to her calling to serve her princess and eventual queen?
CV: Gosh. I don’t think Rei met her match in the series… but maybe Yuuichiro will grow into his confidence. She has plenty of time to date and settle down if she likes. But she’s whole as she is.
Next up is Amanda Celine Miller, the thirstiest tomboy in superhero-dom (and my personal favorite Sailor Guardian) Sailor Jupiter.
Jupiter was the original powerhouse of the Sailor Guardians, but with the introductions of Uranus and Star Maker, she’s no longer the strongest or the tallest. What aspects of the character do you think have emerged to define her in the later seasons?
AMANDA CELINE MILLER: I think she’s leaned into being the glue of the group and — maybe others will disagree — she’s possibly the most relationally healthy and well-balanced of the Inner Guardians, modeling a positive influence and being a good sounding board for her friends. While she can lose her cool if you push the right buttons, for the most part, Mako is pretty even-keeled and when the girls want to assume the worst about someone, Mako’s usually there to give another possible perspective and shed more understanding and empathy on the situation.
While I as a person tend to be pretty cynical, guarded, and pessimistic, Mako usually wants to believe the best in people, and while sometimes that naïveté or vulnerability gets her heart broken (okay a lot) she doesn’t let it jade her or keep her down for long and she dusts herself off and gets back in the ring.
You’ve been a Sailor Moon fan since you were a kid, watching episodes of the series in several languages. When you were first cast, you stated your goal was to draw from all of them to create a version of Makoto that honors your predecessors but stands on its own. Do you feel you’ve achieved that goal?
ACM: I’d like to think so. It was less that I tried to consciously draw from them to create my portrayal and was more like, they’ve all just resided in my heart since childhood so I didn’t actively try to be like anything, and simply allowed Mako’s voice to channel through me however felt truest to who I knew her to be in my gut.
If you could learn to make the perfect version of any dish from Mako-chan, what would it be?
ACM: That bento box lunch, obvi.
Next up is Lauren Landa, the artist of the Sailor Guardians, Sailor Neptune.
Outside of a brief appearance in SuperS and SuperS: The Movie, the Outers have been out of the picture for a while. How do you think your character has changed in the interim?
LAUREN LANDA: I don’t really see a very big change in Michiru (Neptune) honestly. She still has her values, and she still is loyal to her duty, but I do think she and Haruka (Uranus) have a little bit more trust and confidence in the other girls as opposed to before. However, I do think she still sees herself (and Uranus) as a little more mature and perhaps a little more experienced, therefore they still have the “we know what’s best” mindset.
What do you think the Outers’ place in the story is now that the Starlights have filled the role of the enigmatic third party?
LL: I feel with the Starlights being in the story now, the Outers are simply part of the group now. Meaning they’re all wondering who the Starlights are, and if they are a threat; so while they may not be around all the time, they still have their roles as the older Guardians (they also still need to make a cool entrance every now and then).
(L to R) Cristina Vee, Amanda Celine Miller, Lauren Landa
Heading into Sailor Stars, the final season, we welcome Erika Harlacher, who has stepped into the thigh-high vinyl boots of Sailor Star Maker.
Okay, we’re all adults here, but let’s be real. How many takes before you could say “Star Gentle Uterus” with a straight face? And what exactly do you think that attack does? It’s been twenty-five years, and I still have no idea.
ERIKA HARLACHER: Ha, just one! Though I did laugh a lot after. Everyone was like, “Are you cool with saying this?” and my reply was, “HECK YEAH! This is the best one!” Obviously I think it just shoots pure, concentrated womanly power at the bad guys. Women are super tough! But we can also be gentle as we rip you apart. Uh, that’s probably what it means, right?
Taiki is the first truly literate character in the show. Both Ami and Setsuna are hardcore intellectuals, but they’re more STEM kind of girls, whereas Taiki loves literature and poetry. What was it like to be occasionally spouting verse? Are you a poetry fan in real life?
EH: I’ve always really enjoyed poetry and literature – I’m pretty sure I was one of the only kids in my class who looked forward to the poetry part of English classes back in school. I’ve also studied a good bit of Shakespeare, and performed a few of his plays. So I had a great time with all of those lines! Maybe this is why Taiki and I were made for each other, we both like reciting poems that other people think are hard to follow. Ha.
Next up is Sarah Williams, the sharp-witted and acid-tongued Sailor Star Healer.
Yaten can be kind of rude and mean, but we have seen a kinder, gentler side, like with Luna. Why do you think Yaten effects such a prickly exterior?
SARAH WILLIAMS: I believe it’s from a place of mistrust. They’re on a planet where so many people claim to love them, but know nothing about the Starlights as people, and Yaten can’t understand why anyone would act like that. But with Luna (who at the time he assumes is a normal cat), I think it’s that sense that animals just take you as you are, and if they like you, it’s for you, not whether you’re some big star or famous person. So Yaten doesn’t have to bother with a front or persona with Luna, and can just be themselves.
Not a lot of background is given on Yaten in the anime, but there’s a bit more character detail given in the manga. Did you draw on any of this to inform your performance of the character or did you just try to intuit what you could from the scripts you were given?
SW: I was given a bit of background from my director, who described Yaten/Sailor Star Healer as someone with a kind of internalized PTSD and a lot of hurt from the past trauma involving their planet. I thought of the prickliness as a sort of shield for that wound.
And now for the lightning round: group questions!
Cristina and Amanda, as the main cast has grown, the supprting cast has faded into the background and mostly disappeared. What do you think Grandpa, Yuuichirou, Motoki, Naru, Umino, and Usagi’s family are up to these days?
CV: I feel like they are just blissfully ignorant, living normal everyday lives!
ACM: They’ve actually formed their own hero squad but for non-powered people doing regular practical things. So they make sure dog owners pick up their pets’ crap, go door to door every couple months reminding people it’s time to get their oil changed, and they also keep Grandpa away from teenage girls, so that’s a public service in and of itself.
Looking back on the full run of the series, are there any aspects of your characters or perhaps the world of Sailor Moon in general that you’d like to have seen further explored?
CV: I would love for each Guardian to have their own arc. Maybe solo episodes. We’ve seen Sailor Moon’s story… let’s explore the others!
ACM: I’d love to have seen her get into a real relationship. Not that she’d fall in love per se (she’s still so young) but for her to see that even if she gets what she thinks she wants, it won’t solve all her problems and it would expose the ways she hasn’t quite been there for herself emotionally, and maybe even cause her to seek out a bomb therapist she can work through her self-esteem and abandonment issues with (okay I may be projecting my own experience just a tad). Her parents died when she was young so that’s enough to screw anyone up. I think it would’ve been interesting if the show delved more into her past and the effect that such incredible loss and growing up alone would have on a kid and how it shaped her need and ability (or inability) to form deep, loving relationships and connections.
She obsessively still thinks about her ex and puts him on an undeserved pedestal, and dreams of a knight in shining armor to come save her, but everyone disappoints us eventually, no one can live up to the fantasy of perfection or can save us from ourselves (especially not emotionally unavailable exes who can’t love themselves let alone you). I think being in a relationship and realizing it’s not the end-all-be-all or something she should hinge all her hopes and dreams on would be a huge reality check and launch her on the path to exponential growth, and I’d love to see who she’d be once she truly grew into herself and her potential and bolstered her self-esteem and self-love, regardless of whether a partner was in the picture or not.
Having now been through all five seasons of Sailor Moon, which was our favorite to record? Which is your favorite to watch?
CV: I loved recording Stars. I’ve been waiting so long to see it dubbed, and I felt fully confident with Rei and I knew I could hit those key emotional scenes.
ACM: Surprisingly even though I remember having so much fear at the time (because I didn’t want to let this character or her fans down), looking back, I’d say the first season was my favorite to record because we were discovering who this version of Mako was, what she sounded like, finding what I brought to her, etc. While my favorite season tone and story-wise is S, I love watching Stars because it was this legendary “forbidden” thing growing up, and I don’t think anyone thought there’d be a dub, so to hear the Starlights and Galaxia and everyone in English is so cool. The fact that it’s me and some of my dearest friends bringing this long-awaited dub to life? That’s pretty damn magical.
Lauren and Cristina, despite being the “mystics” of their respective factions, Mars and Neptune haven’t had a lot of one-on-one scenes together, but in the opening arc of Sailor Stars you’re paired up for two episodes. What was it like seeing your characters interact, and what other pairings would you have liked to see for yourselves or other characters?
CV: Oh boy. Their energy together was a bit awkward! I’m glad they found their stride in the end. I would love to hang out with Hotaru. I don’t think I said a word to her in the series, but Christine [Marie Cabanos] is a sister to me IRL and we need more scenes together!!
LL: It was definitely interesting to see Mars and Neptune interact in the beginning of Sailor Stars. I think of them like fire and water (no pun intended). When you think about it their personalities really match their elements. You have Mars who has a lot of spirit and can definitely be fiery at times, and then you have Neptune who most of the time is very calm.
Ever since I saw Sailor Stars a long time ago, I’ve always considered that it was interesting putting those two together to fight as a team. Mainly because while the main five Sailor Guardians have had their moments with the Outer Sailor Guardians, they’ve never had one-on-one time at all really. Certainly not against an enemy. So in a very strange way I feel like this was a moment for Mars and Neptune to honestly get to know each other. What better time than when you have to work together?
Erika and Sarah, you guys are the new kids on the block (boy band reference completely intended). What’s it like coming into the final act of such a long-running saga with so much of the story resting on your shoulders?
EH: It’s so great to be a part of this show, and in the final arc? Even better! I was so excited because that meant I was going to get to be a part of the finale, which, wow, is pretty intense. I did feel a little pressure to live up to such an amazing series, so I remember being pretty nervous before my first session, but once we got into things it was really fun. I hope I measured up to the rest of the incredible cast and did this final arc justice!
SW: A dream come true, and an honor. Sailor Moon was my childhood, and I couldn’t believe I was being trusted with such an important character.
Despite only appearing in the final season, the Starlights are such a beloved part of the Sailor Moon canon. Why do think they’ve made such an impact?
EH: Hey, they’re a hot boy band and also a kick-ass group of superhero women – what’s not to love?! But really, I think they have a very meaningful storyline and are complex characters that fans are able to connect with. Each of the Starlights gets their moment to shine in this final arc, and they’re written in such a way that even when they’re not on Sailor Moon’s side, those watching can understand where they’re coming from. Really it’s just a testament to the amazing storytelling of this show, all the way through to the final episodes.
SW: The introduction of any new Sailor Guardians was pretty monumental to me. I remember as a kid being elated when new fighters came to the show, and what they would add to the group’s dynamic. And yet they feel different from the previous Sailor Guardians, from clothing to how their gender/personas are addressed to their motivations. They cause quite a shake up! 🙂
It’s subtle, but you pitch your voices a little lower in your male forms. Was this intentional or intuitive, and whose idea was it?
EH: Yes of course, that was part of the audition – we were told to do a “male” version of the audition lines, and a “female” version. They wanted them similar enough that someone listening could tell they were the same person, but distinct enough that someone could also tell which form they were in during each scene. Taiki is at the very bottom of my range, while Sailor Star Maker is a bit more of my natural voice. We also had to sing “Happy Birthday” as a man in our audition – I worked for a really long time on that! I’ve done a lot of singing in my day but never as a man until now. Guess I can check that off my bucket list!
SW: I believe it was intended from the audition stage that the Starlights would have slightly different tones between civilian form and Starlight form.
This is the first time Sailor Stars had been dubbed into English professionally. The Starlights and Animamates don’t have any previous English language performances for comparison, so you’re putting your handprints in the cement of these characters. Do you find it freeing or is it just more pressure to get it right?
EH: I love being the first English voice. Since there’s no one else to compare it to, it does feel a little more freeing. Though, I’ve played characters that have had previous English voices before, and there’s never really been a time when we used any previous performance to influence what we were doing, but it is nice to know that I’m bringing something to life for the first time. On the other hand though, I definitely did feel pressure, if only because it was such a complex and different type of character. As mentioned, the Starlights are very beloved, and I didn’t want to let anyone down! I hope the fans who could only imagine them speaking in English for so many years were satisfied.
SW: Both? It’s nice with any dubbing if I can get close to the original voice, but in the end, the only person who will ever be a perfect match is the original voice actor. Since I’m me, my goal is to do right by the character the best I can, rather than trying to copy a past performance. The pressure for me came more from stepping into such an iconic role.
Did you find it challenging to play male characters, or did it not really phase you since they’re really just women in disguise? Do you think living as boys and performing that gender changed Seiya, Taiki, and Yaten or their perception of the world at all? Or do you think it really didn’t make a difference for them?
EH: I’ve played male characters before, including one that was almost an adult man like the Starlights, so I felt pretty good about it from the start. We tried to stray away from them just “pretending” to be men because we wanted them to sound like men, so in my mind when they were on earth, I WAS playing a man, not a woman in disguise. I honestly don’t really think the gender they chose changed any perspective they would have had about the world – gender is fluid, after all. They’re people experiencing people.
SW: I have voiced males before, so this the challenge came more from keeping in voice when switching back and forth. I think for them, gender doesn’t really enter into it. Presenting as male is a means to an end, and I’m not sure it really matters to the Starlights what you see them as beyond how it benefits their ultimate goal. Maybe even that the fuss about it is a bit silly.
This one’s for everyone. Sailor Moon has been LGBTQ-friendly from the word go, making the occasional misstep but being supportive overall of the community. While the genderbending in Sailor Stars was mainly intended as a plot device, it sparked a lot of conversation about gender and gender identity not just in the Sailor Moon fandom but in anime fandom on the whole. With trans and gender issues being such a hot topic in the current cultural conversation, what role do you think something like Sailor Stars has played in shaping that conversation?
CV: I’m glad that they tackled it the way that they did. It’s true that they made some missteps, but it’s still refreshing that they didn’t make a huge deal out of it. They are who they are, and they were accepted as such. This season wrapped at such an important time. I hope that new viewers are excited about the Star Lights and that it helps push the new way of inclusivity not only in our media, but in our everyday lives as well.
AM: I think the jury’s still out on this one. I’ve heard firsthand how many LGBTQ kids were affected by seeing Haruka and Michiru’s relationship on-screen and it made them feel so represented and seen which was such a revolutionary thing for the 90s. Also Haruka (and to some extent Mako) was the first character I’d seen as a kid who modeled some form of bucking gender norms and being unapologetically like “sometimes I like wearing pretty skirts, other times I wear tuxedos and race cars, but you don’t get to label me or decide what I am, how I identify, or what I like.” So now that it’s released and more readily available to a broader audience, I’m excited to see how Sailor Stars continues to shape the conversation. But I think it definitely already says something about how far we’ve come as a society from 1996 when Stars first came out to now, that we’re finally in a place where we can dub it and not have to censor anything and leave the story and characters in their original format. More conversation still needs to be had certainly, but it’s definitely a sign we’re moving forward.
LL: You know, I couldn’t exactly say what kind of role Sailor Stars has had in the conversation/topic! However I truly hope it’s positive. I support the LGBTQ community, and I believe that the entirety of Sailor Moon has a beauty to it that can be shared with everyone.
EH: Well, I hope that the Sailor Starlights are viewed positively by LGBTQ+ fans, as we did our best to play them genuinely and honestly. To me, the Starlights are gender fluid and choose to present themselves as both men and women, depending on the situation. I really like that the show doesn’t make a huge deal about it once their identities are revealed, and the other characters seem to respect their chosen pronouns when they’re in either form. They’re treated normally, because they are normal. Sailor Moon was creating strong, honest characters long before the rest of the world caught up, and it is a real honor to give one of those characters a voice.
SW: I like that it was another voice in presenting LGBTQ issues and people as just a normal part of the story. From the Starlights to Neptune and Uranus and other examples throughout the show, it seemed like generally it was normal, without a lot of the prejudices you’d expect in the real world. Neptune and Uranus are together and the reaction is that they’re so wonderful and suited to each other. Haruka likes to dress more masculine on occasion, and no one bats an eye; if anything, she’s seen as cool and mature. The Starlights switching between civilian and Sailor Guardian form seems only shocking when the secret is initially revealed, but not really because they were switching between male and female forms. It was just how these characters were, and it was nice to see the cast around them accept them as such.
That should be more than enough to chew on, but if you’re chomping at the bit to hear these ladies’ performances for yourself, Sailor Moon: Sailor Stars Vol. 1 is available in stores and online at VIZ.com. As with the previous four seasons of Sailor Moon, this set is the first of two, available in DVD, a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack, or a limited edition collectors set, featuring a chipboard box with holographic foil, a cardboard placeholder for Volume 2 to go when it’s released, and an in-depth guide booklet that covers the entire season.