Sera Myu Sightings Late March 2010 – Part 1

We’re a little behind on our posts – so this week will be mostly Sera Myu and PGSM will carry on until next week. Thank you Moonies! As of this writing we have 505 surveys for Phase 4! Only 195 to go till we hit our goal of 700! Today’s actor updates are all dealing with doramas and DVDs!

Yuu Shirota’s New Samurai Drama to Get Boxset Release!

Yuu Shirota (Tuxedo Kamen from 2003-2004) keeps popping up in lots of different places! Last fall, he played Tsuyoshi Nakamura in the Japanese dorama Samurai High School. Tsuyoshi befriends the main character named Kotaro Mochizuki, who is a very special person. He experiences flashbacks of his past life as a samurai, and even awakens his ancestors within him to save the day. The show’s premise seems a little silly but it was a lot more popular than you’d expect, and it ran for 9 episodes on NTV! The show is set to get a DVD Boxset release on March 26th. It will be packed with extras including cast interviews, event footage, making ofs, and special stickers. Last fall on his blog, Yuu said that this was the first time he had ever played a good-for-nothing student, and said that this is the funniest dorama he has ever been in! He also wanted to assure his fans that his character’s pants were not rolled up because they were too tall for him, that it was just the way his character was supposed to dress.

Fumina Hara in Drama Special!

Fuji TV aired a 4-night special drama event in the beginning of March, and Fumina Hara (Sailor Moon from 1998-1999) was featured in the very last episode. Sotsu Uta was a slice-of-life/coming of age dorama featuring four women’s stories of graduation, that are based on popular graduation songs in Japan. Her episode aired on March 4th, and was titled Sotsugyou Shashin and was based on the song by Yumi Matsutoya. J-pop Queen Ayumi Hamasaki sang a version of this song on her A Ballads album, and fans can hear a version of it here. The story was about a radio personality named Hitomi Tachibana (played by Masami Nagasawa) who moved back to her hometown after working in the brutal Tokyo working world for a long time. She makes a brand new start in her old hometown with the help and support of a classmate from high school days. Fumina played Manami Kiguchi in the episode, and appeared for only a few moments. She played another employee at the same office as Hitomi, who was “sleeping her way to the top”.

Fumina also appeared on NHK’s office sketch comedy series Salaryman Neo last year. That show is also on its way to DVD on April 10th.

Reiko Kataoka Comes a Long Way From Being an Ensemble Member

Reiko Kataoka is probably one of those Sera Myu stars who is barely remembered. She only appeared in one musical – Gaiden Dark Kingdom Fukkatsu Hen as an ensemble member. She has since gone on to appear in many doramas and films, and one of those doramas is Gaiji Keisatsu. This show is about a special police unit that deals with threats like international terrorism and espionage. She played the leading role of Sargent Ayane Igarashi, a gutsy Sargent who is ruthless and given many tough assignments. She tires of her job and wants to retire. The show was just released on DVD on February 23rd. It’s surprising how far some actors from Sera Myu have come, even if they were only featured in a very minor role in the musicals!

New Thoughts from Kotono Mitsuishi and HIMEKA!

Yesterday, The Asahi Shimbun featured a short article with new thoughts and musings about Sailor Moon from Kotono Mitsuishi and Canadian-Turned-Japanese Songstress Himeka. This piece was written by Atsushi Nohara, and she is someone who is very lucky because she got to learn a lot that we never got to know before! The article’s title loosely translates to “In the name of the Moon, gives me courage”, and you will see why below. The story begins with “There are not many anime that have been televised in over 50 countries. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon made the girls of the world crazy.”

Kotono Mitsuishi:

Kotono Mitsuishi played our hero Sailor Moon. But, there was a time when she had to put that away for five episodes. In January of 1993, she was experiencing severe pains in her abdomen, and it was time for her to finally go in to get it treated. Turns out Kotono was suffering from an ovarian cyst (and not appendicitis as has been reported in the past) and needed to go in to the emergency room. Kae Araki played her role for the first five episodes while she recovered. Kotono was sad to step down from such an amazing role, and she cried to everyone around her because she had a little Usagi in her. Kotono said that she was a blundering crybaby, like most middle school girls are everywhere. But Usagi can transform into a Sailor Suit and fight evil. She screams “In the name of the Moon, I will punish you.” Even if a colleague were to point out that she did something wrong, Usagi was always strong enough to make it better. She is a good and honest child. Kotono landed her first anime leading role when she was just 24. Sailor Moon featured both a magical girl and a girl who could fight evil, and was one of the first anime to really put the two together. This was a big hit for Toei Animation and it ran for 5 years. Girls would always cheer for Sailor Moon when she had to fight, and the show was a symbol of girl’s independence back in its heyday.

Kotono returned after those 5 episodes were recorded to her beloved role, and when she recorded the first sound drama cassettes, she remembered the fighting spirit Sailor Moon had in the last episodes of the first season. It was that spirit, that carried her voice throughout. She actually cried when she recorded those episodes, because she felt for not only her character but the others. She remembers so many tears and having a runny nose while trying to play Usagi during those times. Producer Junichi Sato commented that Kotono’s voice was very versatile and could flip expressions very quickly. She impressed the animators and the crew! Kotono learned the importance of hard work when she got the role of Sailor Moon, and even though it was difficult, her hard work paid off. Sailor Moon is one of her most cherished roles!

At her house, the DVDs play over and over because her daughter is a big fan of Sailor Moon. Just like the show steps generations, it also stepped from country to country…

Himeka:

The 29-year-old singer from Canada (real name: Catherine St-Onge) sang the Sailor Moon theme song at the DVD launch and reunion event last year. At the end of the event, she sang the theme song again, full of tears and clinging on to Kotono. Himeka says that was the day her life had changed.

Himeka was 15 years old when she saw her first episode of Sailor Moon. Unlike the Disney Princesses, Sailor Moon was not just a pretty face that had to be protected. She saw similarities in her own life to that of Sailor Moon’s. Himeka says that she was a hardworking crybaby that had the power to change her life. She instantly became fascinated with Japanese culture and began to learn more about anime and manga as well. She wanted to learn so much more about these different kinds of superheroes, and also started to study Japanese on her own. She knew she wanted to be an anime singer, and worked in factories and fast-food service joints throughout her 20s. She would sing songs from many anime in her room at night, never losing sight of her dream. In the spring of 2008, she moved to Japan and started to get involved in the Anison competitions. In the Fall of 2008, she became the first non-Japanese person to win ANIMAX’s Anison Grand Prix, and in the spring of 2009 released her first single. Just like she was inspired by Sailor Moon, she hopes to inspire girls all over the world. She is happy to be where she is right now, and she hopes to one day share her strength to inspire someone else, like she had been inspired before.

The article ends saying that Japanese Animation is the most popular and sought after animation in the world. With fierce competition from both large and small anime companies, Toei Animation has embodied the bulk of the history of anime, inspiring other people to follow their own dreams and imaginations to bring them to life.

This was a nice article to read about how two very different people found strength and courage in dark times from Sailor Moon.

Yoshihiro Togashi – Hay Fever, Games and Bookmarks

Yoshihiro Togashi continues to be both a source of good news and bad for Hunter x Hunter fans. His anecdote accompanying issue 14 of Hunter x Hunter shows promise:

My hay fever has lightened each year.
I think I’m recovering

Some fans hope that this windfall will free him more time for HxH, but other signs point to bad news.

Issue 15 ended with this quote:

I saw my Senreki.
But I’m annoyed by the fairy that accompanies me.

We’re almost positive he’s referring to Dragon Quest IX again. Senreki is the combat log screen, showing a list of your defeated monsters as well as other “collectibles” for those who like to obtain a 100% completion. The fairy is the much maligned, ganguro-esque fairy guide Sandy, whom everyone loves to hate.

Right on the heels of his continuing Dragon Quest IX obsession (which is still making other various headlines), there are rumors that he may be addicted to the 11th incarnation of the other popular Square-Enix series. Since the level cap in Final Fantasy 11 was recently increased from 75 to 99, Togashi may just have a new excuse to indulge.

Fans do get a little treat from Shounen Jump very soon. For three weeks, starting March 20th, the magazine is having a special fair at all Animate locations. All of their products will be on sale and with each purchase, customers get one of 40 clear bookmarks with art from their most popular series, including Hunter x Hunter! You can check out the HxH bookmark as well as the other 39 here!

Chieko Kawabe launches cookbook, plus Seiyu Awards announcement.


It turns out that Naoko Takeuchi is not the only person in the world of Sailor Moon that is publically involved in the making of bento lunches. Chieko Kawabe (Sailor Mercury in Sera-Myu and Naru Osaka in PGSM) recently announced on her Twitter account the launch campaign for her new bento cookbook, titled Master Bento. Kawabe held a press conference as part of the campaign, where she opened up about her book to fans. During the press conference (attended by her husband, Masato Ochi), Kawabe prepared a baked ginger dish for those in attendance. Kawabe posted on her blog that while she was initially nervous about the appearance, the warmth of the audience made it a pleasant experience overall.

Kawabe, who is now seven months into pregnancy, also talked about the upcoming child with her fans, stating that the “fetal movement is superb” and that the child is a girl! Kawabe has picked a name for her first child; however she will not reveal the name until her baby is born.

Sailor Moon winners at the Seiyu Awards

The annual Seiyu Awards (one of the highest honors to be bestowed upon the voice actors in the anime industry) were recently announced and there were two winners in this year’s field who have ties to the Sailor Moon anime series. Masaya Onosaka, who portrayed Jaedite in the first Sailor Moon series, recently won the Best Personality Award for his work in various anime radio programs. Kikuko Inoue (Sailor Aluminum Siren in the final Sailor Moon series) won a Best Supporting Actress award for her portrayal of Sanae Furukawa in the show Clannad’s After Story and Grace O’Connor in the show Macross Frontier. For more information on the award ceremony, visit http://www.seiyuawards.jp/.

Kaerenmama’s Sailor Moon Charaben Recipe!

This was too irresistible not to translate – I have done something different though. I have not translated the steps word for word, but instead combined her ideas with helpful hints on how to do this on your own. This is probably a little more effective for those of us who have never made a charaben before to try! She also has a post on her own blog with the recipe. She also has a post about the event itself, but no photos of Naoko :(. The photos on the ANIMAX page basically show daughters working with their mothers to assemble the bentos. I have included the Japanese names of as many of the ingredients as I could.

Before I go on though, here’s the copyright warning. All Images Below are property of Kaerenmama, Foodies TV, and ANIMAX. These are solely being used for non-profit purposes, only to educate English readers about how to make these lunches!

Ingredients and Materials:

(ご飯) Go Giri (Cooked Rice – Usagi’s head will be an Onigiri or rice ball). (There is a recipe here on how to make the rice ball/onigiri, but you can add whichever filling you want. Kaerenmama uses Tarako)
(たらこ) Tarako – called “Cod Roe” in Japan, but it is really Alaskan Pollock roe (fish eggs). Roe can be used as a filling raw in Japanese cuisine, or if you want you can add a little soy sauce to it (but use a low sodium soy sauce because Roe is very salty).
(カニかま) Kani Kama (Crab Sticks) (Note: for a vegetarian or no seafood version, you could probably get away with steamed carrot sticks, just make sure that they are not very thick)
(薄焼き卵を)Usuyaki Tamago (Egg Sheets) (Sailordees’ Note – this is really easy to make, whip up an egg, and then put a very thin layer in the pan and be very carefully not to burn! Else, there’s a great recipe for how to make it here.)
(スライスチーズ) Suraisu Chizu (Cheese Slice) (No idea what kind she is using in the photos, up to you entirely, but choose something that is a lighter color like swiss or gouda)
(海苔)Nori (seaweed sheets) (These are usually located in your grocer’s deli section or near the Asian food section)
(丸い型抜きなど) Marui Katanuki Kinado (Literally, something that can punch out a round shape, in this case, Karenmama suggests a Pop Bottle Cap, or you can use a round mini-cookie cutter)
Cupcake/Muffin Baking Cups (they have silicone ones, but you could probably get away with using 3-4 stacked together to hold the rice, or better yet see if you can find the foil kind).
Clean Tweezers (or chopsticks if you don’t have dexterity issues like I do and want to do things properly :p) for proper setting
Plastic wrap
(ストロー) Sutoro (Drinking Straw) You will need straws of at least 3 different sizes (I suggest getting a big slurpee/bubble tea straw, a regular straw, and a small one either from a bar or from a juice box, but make sure one end is slanted and the other is not)
(包丁) Houchou (Big Chef Knife) (to cut off the edges of the egg sheet that might be too thin).
(ハサミ) Hasami (Scissors – make sure they are clean!) to cut the Nori

Directions:

Step 1: Form your rice into a ball (onigiri) and use the plastic wrap to help set it properly. Squish and shape it between the palms of your hands until you have a ball that is big enough to fit in the baking cup. If you decide to use Tarako, Kaerenmama suggests to grill it to your liking for this recipe. Form a deep dent in the rice ball, and put some of the roe inside using a spoon. Then squish and shape the rice between the palms of your hand such that the rest of the rice completely covers the filling and you have a perfectly shaped rice ball! The plastic wrap will help to keep it in shape, and also to store it for later.

Step 2: Using the stencil found here (we have posted it below), and the pop bottle cap, cut out two circles for her odangoes, her ponytails, bangs, and tiara out of the egg sheet (usuyaki tamogo). Note: in one of the videos, she also uses the bottle cap to make moon shapes (pictured to the right, sorry about the terrible image quality). Cut out a circle with the bottle cap, and use your tweezers/chopsticks to pop out the circle. Then cut out another circle in that circle about a third of the way through the shape. YOU HAS A MOON!

Step 3: Onto the crab or carrot sticks! Using your straws, use your biggest to make Usagi’s red hair gems, your smallest to make her tiara jewel (the end that is not slanted), and the slanted end of the smallest one to make her mouth.

Step 4: White cheese slice of some sort. Could be swiss, could be aged cheddar, the fan can decide. Using all three of your straw sizes and the straight ends only, cut out two shapes for each size (these will make her eyes).

Step 5: Cut out two small circles that will fit just inside your biggest cheese circle with the scissors from the nori. Kaerenmama suggests folding the sheet in half and then cutting out your circles so they are both the same size.

Step 6 + 7:Using your hands, first tuck in the ponytails behind the rice ball on one side, and then the odangoes overtop. Add Sailor Moon’s red hair accessories, then place down her tiara, jewel, and finally, the bangs. I suppose you could do the mouth now (with clean tweezers or chopsticks).

Step 8: The eyes are a little tricky and you will need to use tweezers – first, down goes your biggest cheese rounds, then the nori circles overtop. She went a step further later and suggested to cut out eyelashes, but this is completely up to you. Then comes your 2nd biggest cheese round, centered on the nori, and the tiniest goes to the bottom side of the round – just for that extra glare! If you have not set in her mouth, now is the time!

Step 9: You’re done! Fill your bento with whatever else you would like to – to create other shapes, you can actually go to the craft store and find single hole punches in different shapes. You can use these to cut them out of thin sheets of nori, vegetables, cheeses, colored tofu slices, or meats! Be creative! Hers showed a mini salad with flowers made from (I think) thin ham or salami ribbons. Mini cookie cutters also work well too. Another variation she shows has “Usa” over top and fried chicken wings, mushrooms, potatoes, and steamed veggies. She uses small pieces of bamboo skewers (you could probably get away with toothpicks) to hold everything in place. Here again, are the images we posted before so you can eyeball your way around, and the variation.

You can probably make the whole Sailor Moon by cutting out shapes from the meat and nori, and using very thin ribbons of the egg sheet or cheese for stripes. And, if you want to make Luna, I am assuming that her rice just has some diluted purple food coloring (blue + red) and has mini triangular rice balls for ears. I’m tempted to try a variation of Sailor Moon using eggs, toast, and omelet veggies for breakfast. If and when I have the time to attempt this I actually do succeed, I will post pictures :). Fans you are also welcome to send in your Sailor Moon Charaben experiments and they will be featured on our site!