Anime Diet Monthly Column: The Souls to our anime ladies – Female Seiyuu. This Month: Mitsuishi Kotono

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Well, I decided to start a new monthly column to show my true otaku/geekiness! So without further ado, here’s the first female seiyuu that I will talk about – Ms. Mitsuishi Kotono 三石琴乃 さん。

Here’s the bio taken from Wikipedia, and with some other data mixed in:

Name: Mitsuishi Kotono

DOB: 1967-12-08

POB: Toda, Saitama, Japan.

Blood Type: A

Company: Arts Vision

Debut year: 1989

Bio: Mitsuishi was a DJ at the Arts and Entertainment station at her high school. She graduated from high school in 1986, and entered the Katsuta Seiyū Academy for voice acting. She often practiced her craft by going to on location shows in Hokkaido and do some interning there. While attending the academy, she began working part time as an elevator girl in the Sunshine 60 building. Afterward, she found a position as an office lady, but because of taking too much time off, she was forced to quit.

In 1989, Mitsuishi made her seiyū debut as Tomoyo in the OVA Ace o Nerae! Final Stage. She became an instant celebrity with her role as Usagi Tsukino when Sailor Moon debuted in 1992*, and her popularity increased again with her role as Misato Katsuragi in the anime TV series Neon Genesis Evangelion. She is considered one of the most influential seiyū in the business; the animated adaptation of Ebichu was largely produced because of her interest in the project.

Mitsuishi is married and has one daughter. In a digression to her OL days, she rides a Yamaha FZ250 Phaser motorcycle. Mitsuishi works at the talent management firm Arts Vision.

In addition to being a voice over, she has written proses and has drawn manga.

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My thoughts of her as a seiyuu:

My first true anime love was the Sailor Moon series. I’m not ashamed to say that my love for Sailor Moon, specifically the main character Tsukino Usagi 月野うさぎ, was what really planted my feet firmly and deeply inside the kingdom of Anime. Sure, these days I’m pretty sick of these classic transformation sequences and other conventions such as yoma/daemon/lemure/whatever of the week, girls who transforms but looks exactly the same facial/body featur-wise, silly episodic plots and way-too-simple morals, but back then, watching this show, alongside with CBS’s “Touched By an Angel”, was what helped me not to completely self-destruct. These shows had always managed to get my faith back.

In any case, I didn’t know anything about seiyuu back then. When I watched anime as a kid I used to think all Japanese people sounded the same – because people I heard on Doraemon would often appear on another show (well, I watched Doraemon and…something else subtitled, the rest were dubbed). However, no seiyuu made a huge impression on me until I heard Usagi, no, Kotono-さん, acting it out.

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Certainly, back in my young and impressionable, not to mention self-righteous and pretentious university days, the Sailor Moon series were just the right diet for my appetite. What impressed me about that show was that, unlike all the anime that I saw before, it taught me courage, bravery, dealing with pressure, especially when you know you’re right but your friends, and the people that you admire the most think that you’re wrong, and in Sailor Moon’s case, they think by your decision, the world is doomed. However, because Sailor Moon rather sacrifice herself then others for the sake of the world, the world is ultimately saved. She grows from a whiny, flaky, bratty girl to a mature (mostly), gentler, and more thoughtful young woman by the end of Sailor Stars. The US dubbed version completely destroyed what Sailor Moon meant to be and made it into a bratty and whiny show but without the growth, the issues, the conflicts, and for whatever was left they watered it/dumbed it down to make it acceptable to the US audience. However, before VKLL subs*, I did watch the US version, so I’m not going to pick on that version any further. But here’s why I like the Japanese seiyuu and not American voice overs – the seiyuu simply make these characters really come alive without sounding odd, pretentious, or unatural.

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Kotono-さん really captures the essence of a character so well that I often feel like the character comes out of the screen and draws me inside the world that she is in. Also, she always manages to play good or great roles that’s suitable to her style of voice acting. She’s capable of playing a completely wacky or aloof hamster or crazy agent in a couple of shows, and yet in other shows she acts completely serious and being a deep, authoritative and grim commander under the pressure of the fate of the world, or she can play both of these in one show. She plays blonds well as one can see in Noir – Mireille, that stylish, a little laid-back but still elegant flair with a hint of deadliness French babe that captured the hearts of many male Otaku (and probably became their endless wet dreams at least until the end of the series). But she’s not just great by herself, she can play off, against, and with others well. She often teams up with another of my favorite seiyuu – Kuwashima Houko, who I’ll be talking about in next month’s female seiyuu column. It’s hard to describe the dynamics of these two but they simply gel. With Kotono-さん’s character being mostly cooler and calmer, and often more thoughtful, and Houko-さん’s character more rash, fierce, defiant and often aggressive and confrontational in many ways.

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In Eva, Kotono plays Misato, who tries so hard to show her good side, even to the point of pretending to be happy and carefree all the time all the while being highly vulnerable and sensitive inside. She hurts but she can never show that, except to the rather untrust worthy Kaji, who just knows how to get the real Misato out of her happy armor casing.

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As Captain Ramius, Kotono becomes a different kind of captain than the ever-classic Captain Bright from the classic gundam. Captain Bright is extremely authoritative. One either obeys him or get his ass kicked and send to the brig. But Captain Ramius is rather diplomatic and willing to listen, and also she takes on the role of caring for the mental well being of her crew members. She’s more like a caring parent who’s willing to put down some discipline when needed, but often try not to force her authority on anyone.

Kotono can act as a super competent and serious leader, and yet she can act as a ditsy and highly incompetent but comedic jester. She’s great playing as opposite extreme characters as what her roles call for.

I find it hard to talk about Kotono apart from her characters, because she acts them out so well. I find that I really love the deeper, harsher and sometimes deadly voice with a tamed fiery passion that she uses for characters such as the chairwomen for the Witches’ Council in El Cazador. Her performance in Cazador with one of her former cast mate in the Sailor Moon series – Hisakawa Aya, who played Salior Mercury/Mizuno Ami – often lifts the show up quite a few notches above the uncalled-for silliness that it has.

Mitsuishi Kotono is a classic seiyuu. She doesn’t have great looks and isn’t super cutesy or able to sing like one of the latest Japanese idols, but she does what a voice-actress is supposed to do well – voice acting.

Her most recent role that I know of is Jean in Claymore, where she teams up with Kuwashima Houko again. I hope Kotono’s character stays around a few more episodes longer. Also, really looking forward to hearing her voice acting for many years to come!

Notes:

*The beginning of the ’90s was when the idol seiyuu boom began.

*VKLL – thank you so much for your hard work back then. Also, take note, fansubbers, his way of showing his credits concerning his work is correct. You guys are very cool and we can’t appreciate y’all enough but y’all can get very intrusive at times. Still, thank y’all very much for your hard work.)

11 thoughts on “Anime Diet Monthly Column: The Souls to our anime ladies – Female Seiyuu. This Month: Mitsuishi Kotono”

  1. -sighs- Ah SailorMoon…. I remember growing up as a kid yelling “SEREEEEENNAHHHHHH” haha and I must say 3 quarters of the time I’d stare at the screen and wonder howcome such a whiny bratty crybaby with meatball hair (hehe) could be the main protagonist…
    As time flew by Pokeman cmae butting in on the scene and took up lots of the space in my heart… And later on Sakura Chaseuse de Carte (yes I watched it in french but at least they don’t cut out the shoujo-ai or shounen-ai) However 4 years ago when a SM special appeared on TV showing the 3 movies, I recoreded them (on good ‘ol VHS) and still have them to this day. It’s only in the past 2 years that I really fell in to diehard anime fandom by reading the SM manga and searching for the original japanese version on the internet. I was amazed at the difference between most of the character’s personality (the english dub making them practically all bitchy) and the voices. Usagi-Serena’s voice was mind-bogglingly cute compared to the whinny squeaky anglophone one.
    But the Seiyuu on Sailormoon that really caught my heart was Ogata Megumi (I hope you’ll feature her here ^^) who played Tenou Haruka – Sailor Uranus.
    ANyways this blog is a great idea so keep ’em coming!

  2. TheBigN – you’re right, I did forget. However, I never like Excel Saga that much and I didn’t find her that funny for whatever odd reason. Wow…it’s been a long time since I watched it I completely forgot about her lampooning Sailor Moon!

    Amaya – cool. Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. I. Love. Mitsuishi Kotono.

    I like all her mature women voices (Mireille! Muriel!) but oddly enough, my favourite role of hers is Ebichu the Housekeeping Hamster. She’s totally whacko in that role. The show’s humour might not be for everyone, but I listen to Ebichu laugh “chupopopopopopopopo” and I am laughing for the rest of the week.

  4. Some of you guys in here can bad mouth all you want about how the American version of Sailor Moon took away the true meaning of Anime, or flat out sucked!

    I say…..Shame On You!!!!

    For me, I will always be a hugh die hard Sailor Moon fan till the day I die. Back in 1995 I fell in love with the English version of Sailor Moon. And still loving it today!

    It also inspired me to goto radio announcing school to become and radio announcer. Where I got my first job reading Ad’s for FM radio stations in California.

    In mid 1995 I started the very first webcast show called Sailor Moon Classics NET Radio. 12 years and going strong. I still hold the title for the longest running Sailor Moon Webcast show to this date. (^_^)/

    In 1996 on, I watched Sailor Moon from all over the world off my Satellite Dish in German, French, Italian, Spanish, and many others around the world.

    I just got a best friend of mine into Sailor Moon for the first time and now is hooked on it. Says he love both the Japanese and English versions.

    So, weather Sailor Moon is subbed or dubbed, makes no differance as long as you enjoy them all. And, who cares that Serena, Sailor Moon was made to be a cry baby.

    To me, the show always ended with good morals, and a good feeling inside that you never want to give up on your dreams, and to always do your best in life.

    On a personal note, If it wasn’t for Sailor Moon, I wouldn’t have never gotten into radio, nor pushed harder in collage to become secessfull in my time, even though I’m retired now. (^_^)/ hehehe

    All in All, Sailor Moon in the U.S. and Japan has changed my life in such a positive way and I am so thank full for it.

    That was my two cents worth.

    Thanks. (^-^)/

  5. Jerry – wow, that’s a very cool story.
    As for both “versions”, this is a topic firmly inside the territory full of mines and anti-personal explosives. It involves the debate of Sub VS Dub, modifications of the original art VS changing it so it can be played in US/Canada, modifications that changes the meaning of the show VS taking out some sensitive elements to the US audience, and so on.
    But, to have such a devotion to a show and all its extensions, man, I salute you.

  6. rayyhum777: I understand how a topic on Sub.vs Dub can becomes a feeding ground for flames, attacks, and what not. I have had my share of the Otaku wars on most message boards in my time. Won some, lost some. Been in the middle of debates that went on for six months.

    I did a show about the reasons why most countries do not follow the Anime story board from Japan by removing, adding, or even rewriting Sailor Moon, and or other Animes some years ago.

    The reason most countries do this, is simple. It’s called (Life Style) and (Way of Thinking) but in short, When we look at how the different cultures in this world live their lives, how they think in terms of everyday life, and beliefs, you begin to create a huge conflict in interest.

    You may agree or disagree on this next part, but sometimes in order for, lets say Sailor Moon, to become successful in America, is to understand how Americans would understand the full meaning of an action or expression taking place that only the Japanese would get, but not others.

    Sort of like the so called, “Inside Joke” Had to have been there to understand it. By removing some parts and re-translating one meaning to another, the writers goal was to try and portray one meaning that Americans wouldn’t get, or understand, and to change it to a new meaning or action that gets close to point of why that person did what they did, said, expressed, and so on.

    Take the famous tear drop that falls behind the head of an Anime character as they bow down. Most people, including myself had no idea what the heck that meant.

    But in Japan, it’s used a lot as a form of expression, so the people of Japan would relate to that.

    Other things that would boarder on what is considered appropriate for that country viewing that Anime, would be weather or not it offends, or shows a scene of nudity, would be replaced with something else.

    I can go one about the reasons why, but you get the point. Bottom line is, it’s all about the life style and way of thinking for that country. If the meanings and actions make no sence to the average viewer, the show will fail.

    I fully agree that all Animes need to stay the way they were writen, and left alone. But the sad news is, until everyone stops being so uptight about the human body and except it for what it is, you will always see hacked up Animes.

    Very Sad… (@_@)?

  7. I really enjoyed reading that article, which is no surprise since Mitsuishi Kotono is my favourite seiyuu. I actually rewatched Gundam SEED not because I like it that much but because of her voicing Murrue Ramius and I have considered (and in some cases tried) watching quite a few series only because she was cast in them. Talk about fanboyism. :) Mireille from Noir is the first anim character that I fell in love with…and I still am in love with her, the voiceacting being a major part of that feeling.

    P.S. Down with the idol seiyuu trend!

  8. Matrim – yeah, the idol seiyuu trend is what’s making a lot of great seiyuus and probably a lot with potentials unable to make it simply because they’re too old, or not great looking. Some of the newer seiyuu really sound alike – cutesy, flaky, little-girlish. While seiyuu with distinct characters in their voices don’t get as many prominent roles (Megumi-sama, for example).

  9. Thanks – you’ve done a great article about my favorite seiyuu! I completely agree with rewatching the old series not because I like them (not to mention NGE and Noir) but just because she’s acting in them.
    I wish she took important role in Trinity Blood – anime adaptation of such an epitome would be more classy with her as Caterina Sforza, Ashtaroshe Ashran or the shortlived Noelle Bor.  Too bad she didn’t, even though she did the CD drama… :'(

    Ah.. I miss the good old days of the prolific seiyuus…..

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