Even with the scheduled premiere of "Sailor Moon Crystal" just a few months away, the producers of the upcoming anime have been extremely guarded with information regarding the newest version of Japan’s most successful magical girl series ever. Up until now, the only tidbits given out were the title itself, a single piece of artwork, and some vague statements that "Crystal" will stick closer to the original manga than previous animated versions of "Sailor Moon."
The floodgates haven’t exactly opened with the latest, and again brief, announcement, but proving that good things come in small packages, we’ve now got artwork for all five principal characters. Not only that, we now know who’ll be providing their voices, and in a move sure to make long-time fans happy, one voice actress is returning to play the same part she did in the original Sailor Moon.
As promised, the new character designs look much closer to the artwork found in series creator Naoko Takeuchi’s original manga. Compared to their counterparts from the 1992 "Sailor Moon" anime, the characters of "Crystal" have willowier limbs and thicker eyelashes. Fans worried about the new "Sailor Moon" being powerless against modern anime art trends can breathe easy. If anything, the shapes of the Sailor Scouts’ larger, more expressive eyes and intricately detailed hairstyles have an almost retro vibe to them, with more in common with the 1970s classic "The Rose of Versailles" than current otaku favorite "Love Live!"
You can also put to rest any fears that the cast will be composed of nothing but flavor-of-the-month teenage idol singers trying their hands at voice acting for a change of pace. The five main characters will all be played by established voice actresses, with none under the age of 26.
For "Sailor Moon Crystal," girl genius Sailor Mercury/Ami Mizuno will be voiced by Hisako Kanemoto. Kanemoto played the leads in both "Sora no Oto" and "Children who Chase Lost Voices," but she’s best known for her work as another blue-haired anime character, the titular protagonist of "Squid Girl."
Sailor Mars/Rei Hino, who’s looking quite a bit sultrier than she did in her previous anime form, will be played by Rina Sato. Sato’s biggest role to date was the pint-sized magician educator Negi Springfield in the 2005 TV series "Negima! Magister Negi Negi" anime and its 2006 follow-up. More recently, she’s appeared as Mikoto Misaka in "A Certain Magical Index," and also as robotics scientist Elvira Hill in "Buddy Complex," which just finished its broadcast run this March.
Ami Koshimizu has plenty of experience as a leading actress, as hers is the voice of "School Rumble’s" Tenma, "Spice" and Wolf’s" Holo, and "Maoyu Mao Yusha’s" Demon King (who’s actually a woman). Koshimizu also picked up plenty of new fans for her work as heroine Ryuko in the breakout hit "Kill la Kill," and now she’ll have a chance to win even more as Sailor Jupiter/Makoto Kino.
Stepping into the role of Sailor Venus/Minako Aino is Shizuka Ito. While Ito may not boast as many high-profile roles as the rest of the cast, her credits include Yayoi Kunizuka in "Psycho-Pass" and protagonist Ryoko Okami in "Okami and her Seven Companions." Like Sato, Ito was also cast in "A Certain Magical Index," where she played Kari Kanzaki.
And finally, for the star herself, there’s still only one voice for Sailor Moon/Usagi Tsukino, and that’s Kotono Mitsuishi, who reprises her role from the original series.
If you didn’t catch Mitsuishi’s performance the first time she played Sailor Moon, you may have heard her as "Evangelion’s" Misato. Or "One Piece’s" Boa Hancock. Or, perhaps, as the lead character in "Excel Saga," "Birdy the Mighty," "Dagon Half," or one of the dozens of other anime or video games she’s been featured in.
Some might be skeptical about the 46-year-old Kotono’s ability to still convincingly portray Usagi, a character who at this point is roughly three decades younger than the actress herself. We doubt there’s anything to worry about, though. The last animated episode of "Sailor Moon" aired in 1997, and "Evangelion" was first broadcast in 1995, meaning there’s an overlap between her roles as Usagi and Misato. Kotono’s been voicing the latter more or less nonstop for almost 20 years, and sounds the same now as she did when she began, so there’s no reason to suspect she won’t be able to do the same in recreating the voice of Sailor Moon.
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