Here’s the English translation of a conversation between Naoko Takeuchi and Kazuko Tadano, originally published in a German magazine. See below for source. No clue when the interview was conducted but it was before the words “anime” and “manga” were common in the German language so I decided to stick to “comic” and “cartoon” which are used throughout the interview unless anime or manga are explicitly used.
Though I have native speaker level in English and German, neither is my mother tongue, so I apologise for potential mistakes and typos. Enjoy!
Anime-Artist Tadano works on the television series “Sailor Moon.”
Author Takeuchi works on the comic series “Sailor Moon.”
As a comic, as well as as a television series, “Sailor Moon” is popular. Author Naoko Takeuchi draws the comic. Kazuko Tadano adapts Sailor Moon for television. A conversation between the two is definitely interesting...
Please tell us how you got to design the characters for “Sailor Moon.”
Tadano: After we - the team at Toei - finished work on “Goldfish Warning!”, we started looking for a new project. For a long time we couldn’t decide on what to do next. We even discussed remaking an old cartoon series which was what I thought we’d do but then I was suddenly told that we were going to do “Sailor Moon.”
Takeuchi: It was really sudden. I was surprised, too.
Tadano: Yes. There was a call for a job as a character designer which I applied for and then I was hired.
How did you tackle the task? What was your first impression?
Tadano: Bunny’s [Translator’s note: Usagi’s German name. She’s the only one whose name is changed in the German version] hair reminded me of a character that I used to draw so I took care to not make them look similar. The other character didn’t have buns in her hair though.
Takeuchi: Bunny’s hair is meant to call to mind bunny ears.
Tadano: Apart from that, I didn’t really have any problems. I just followed the character designs of Miss Takeuchi. To me, the hardest part was that the physique of Sailor Moon was very different to the physique of the character in my previous series. Sailor Moon has really long legs.
Designing the demonesses [youma] is a lot of fun. My colleagues at the animation studio all have different preferences. There was some discussion on the length of the Sailor Guardians’ skirts. Some people at the studio found them too short, too revealing. Yet you never see any underwear! But I think even that wouldn’t have been a problem. Most sports clothing is more revealing today after all. There were some scenes here and there in which you can catch a glimpse of underwear. This really depends on the director.
The manga and the television series differ from another.
Takeuchi: I have a story to tell about that. When my next door neighbour asked me to draw him a picture of Sailor Moon, he complained that it didn’t look like the television series at all. It really startled me.
Tadano: This tends to happen with cartoons that are based on manga.
Takeuchi: Some of my fans think, that I draw the “Sailor Moon” comic, as well as the television series. They tell me I must have lots of work to do.
Tadano: I keep hearing that it’s the television series that differs from the original.
Takeuchi: I’m really glad that you’re doing the character designs for the television series. I keep hearing about manga-artists being disappointed with how their works are adapted and how the adaptation turns out to be completely different form how they imagined it. That’s why some authors stoically say that comics and television series are just different. But I think “Sailor Moon” is alright. It’s how I imagined it.
Tadano: I’m happy you feel that way.
It was your [Takeuchi’s] editor’s idea to put the girls into sailor uniforms?
Takeuchi: Yes, he wanted it badly. He was convinced that heroes wearing sailor suits [sailor fuku], which are based on commonly used Japanese school uniforms, would be cool!
Did you two wear sailor suits at school?
Tadano: Yes, at Junior High.
Takeuchi: Me too. Our uniform was the most beautiful around.
Tadano: Ours wasn’t special. I remember they made the uniforms for girls at Junior High School bigger because they expected us to grow during our school years.
Takeuchi: Yes, that’s why the uniforms looked weird at first.
Tadano: I didn’t get any taller. In third year (the last year of Junior High), when I was 16, I still looked like a 14-year old first grader.
Takeuchi: The sailor suits are made out of a specific material.
Tadano: Yes, it’s hard to draw.
Takeuchi: I suffer from that, too.
Tadano: Men can draw that material better.
Takeuchi: I think so, too. When I draw it, it looks to light. The fabric seems too thin.
Tadano: Your drawings looking light is exactly what makes them look nice. I like it.
Many men love such sailor suits. A fellow artist asked an acquaintance for her old school uniform and she gave it to him.
Takeuchi: Oh, what’s he doing with it?
Tadano: No idea.
Takeuchi: Maybe he wears it himself?
Tadano: It would never fit him.
Please choose your favourite character expect for Bunny.
Takeuchi: I like Sailor V because I created her first, before the other five Sailor Guardian. I also like Tuxedo Mask.
Tadano: I like Rei. I like her type. On the other hand, I don’t like Ami because her hair is hard to draw but she’s popular with the fans.
Takeuchi: I’m having troubles drawing her hair as well. It hard to draw it evenly.
Tadano: Tuxedo Mask’s top hat is also hard to draw . Sometimes it’s too long, other times too short.
Takeuchi: Yes, I have the same problem.
What’s your favourite episode?
Tadano: I like episode 24 of the first season, the end of Neflite [translator’s note: Nephrite].
Takeuchi: Me too. I also like episode 9 because of the pacing. In that episode you see the younger as well as the older Bunny. I really like that. I think it’s cute.
Tadano: And I also like the first episode because I drew a lot for it.
Takeuchi: I like the first episode as well. It’s just like my comic which was exciting to see.
By the way, how do you decide on who’s key animator?
Tadano: It was decided from the get go who would be key animator for episode 21 because it was the episode about our animation studio. But usually it just depends on shifts. You can’t just pick an episode.
Takeuchi: The art style differs depending on the key animator. That’s why my assistants all have their personal favourites. Of course they like you, Miss Tadano, the most.
Tadano: Who else do they like?
Takeuchi: Miss [Ikuno] Ito. The artist who drew the doll episode (episode 18). Her drawings are very popular.
Tadano: Oh, Ikuno Ito. She also drew Neflite’s end. I like episodes like that. I wanted to draw that, too. I also like funny episode, like the one with Rhett Butler the cat (episode 31). However, emotional episodes are my favourite.
Takeuchi: I prefer emotional ones as well. But the cat episode was really funny. Sometimes you need that.
Tadano: That’s true. Humour is important.
Takeuchi: I think the dialogues are funny.
Tadano: The voice actors add many ad libs which aren’t in the screenplay. In episode 10, Tuxedo Masks says “I’m the bus driver” which was ad libbed by his voice actor.
Takeuchi: I have a lot of work to do so I can visit the studio only occasionally but one time, I was able to hear the voice actors improvise during rehearsal...
Tadano: Unfortunately, we can’t record those improvisations most of the time.
Takeuchi: If I had more time, I would visit the studio much more often.
A question from our readers: How can I improve my drawing skills?
Takeuchi: Oh, that’s hard.
Tadano: Eyes are important. If you can draw eyes beautifully, you can draw beautifully in general.
Takeuchi: Try drawing in a cute way.
Miss Tadano, do you read fan mail?
Tadano: Yes, the studio sends them to me. Miss Takeuchi, do you also get a lot of fan mail?
Takeuchi: Yes, ever since the start of the series, I get a box full everyday. Thank you all very much.
A closing comment, please!
Tadano: I hope everyone keeps enjoying “Sailor Moon.”
Takeuchi: I wish you lots of fun as well. I will work hard to make “Sailor Moon” even more interesting.
Naoko Takeuchi’s Profile:
Birthday: March 15
1986 - Nakayoshi New Mangaka Award
Debut: “Love Call” (1986)
Most Important Works: “Maria”, “The Cherry Project”, “Code Name Sailor V”, “Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon”
Kazuko Tadano’s Profile:
Birthday: March 14
Working at Studio Live since 1980
First characters designs for “Dougram”
Most Important Works: “Dancougar”, “Crystal Triangle”, “Memole mit dem spitzen Hut” [”Tongari Bōshi no Memoru”], “Goldfish Warning”, etc.