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 ä¸‰çŸ³ç´ä¹ƒ ã•ã‚“ã€‚
Name: Mitsuishi Kotono
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 SeiyÅ« 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 seiyÅ« 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 seiyÅ« 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.
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 æœˆé‡Žã†ã•ãŽ, 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-ã•ã‚“, acting it out.
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.
Kotono-ã•ã‚“ 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-ã•ã‚“’s character being mostly cooler and calmer, and often more thoughtful, and Houko-ã•ã‚“’s character more rash, fierce, defiant and often aggressive and confrontational in many ways.
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.
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!
*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.)