Knight Sabers Memorial Meeting

Our Treasure Chest of Memories, Bubblegum Crisis

Knight Sabers: Reunion as a band after 7 years?

Tazaki: Everyone, Long time no see!

(All): Long time no see!

Hiramatsu Akiko (Nene): It's been so long since I've seen you, Yoshiko-san.

Sakakibara Yoshiko (Sylia): That is right!

Tomizawa Michie (Linna): It's so good to see everyone.

Tazaki: As a commemoration of the release of all the Bubblegum Crisis episodes together in a box set, we tried hard to get all of you together. It's a pity that Kinuko-chan (Oomori Kinuko (Priss)) couldn't come, but according to what her office said, she's gone to the States.

Sakakibara: Is that so.

Tomizawa & Hiramatsu: What? She's returned to Japan.

Tazaki: You're kidding!

Hiramatsu: She's here in Tokyo, now.

Tomizawa: I spoke with her on the phone yesterday.

Hiramatsu: She called me first, and we touched bases, and I told her Mitchan-san's (Tomizawa) contact number.

Tomizawa: And I got a call from her yesterday.

Tazaki: Oh.. I had already given up on her a week ago.

Hiramatsu: I think she came back right after Tazaki-san gave up.

Tazaki: Right after… Oh, no! Was she well?

Hiramatsu: She sounded really well on the phone. We were screaming together!

Sakakibara:Hahahaha!

Tazaki: It's been 7 years sincethe eighth episode was finished. A lot has happened… I didn't even think the time would come when Akiko (Hiramatsu Akiko) would be getter into her big three zero (30s).

Hiramatsu: Time flies.

Sakakibara: What, you're in your 30s?

Hiramatsu: Yep. I have upgraded into a mature women.

(All): Aha ha ha ha ha!

Tazaki: Was it, Kiss, Seventeen Girl(Nene's image-song)? Talking about 17 years old, how far is that?

Hiramatsu: That song blows me away when I hear it now!

Sakakibara: Can you still sing it? Heh heh.

Hiramatsu: I remember it, at least the best part.

Tazaki: When you did the first voiceover (January 1987), you were only nineteen, weren't you?

Hiramatsu: That's right. And I caught a cold…

Tomizawa: What? Really?

Hiramatsu: Yoshiko-san even gave me a tissue.

Sakakibara: Hah hah hah hah!

Hiramatsu: I still remember it. I thought you were so sweet. I probably told this story to Yoshiko-san a million times already, but I was watching Nausicaa right before doing the voiceover, and I had a strong image of Yoshiko-san equals Kushana-san, so I thought, what would I do if she was really scary like that?

Sakakibara: Everyone thinks I'm scary at first (chocking Laughter).

Hiramatsu: Nowadays there are voiceover session with newbies in the majority, but at that time it was like only small number of newbies were mixed in with lots of veterans, it was kind of tough to ask questions. Kinu-chan was a singer on top of that so she's in a completely different field, we were both newbies and didn't quite know what was going on, so it was like, “who can I ask about what?” And, I was shaking, on top of that, I was just feeling ill. “Why do all these bad things happen all at once?… waah,” I thought. Now that you mention it, I couldn't sleep the night before that!

Sakakibara: At that time I was sitting next to you and could see her profile, but your eyes were wandering in space, I couldn't tell where you were looking.

Hiramatsu: Uwaha ha ha ha ha!

Sakakibara: Aah, I thought, she must be so nervous.

Hiramatsu: Girl, I was completely tensed up.

Sakakibara: You had a cold, you felt like your life was over, you got this chance after all and this is the end—you must've been feeling like that.

(All) Aha ha ha ha ha!

Hiramatsu: It really felt like that. On top of that the office got mad at me, saying “you, how could you catch a cold! Health maintenance is part of your job as an actor!” I just went “I'm sorry… sniff.”

Tomizawa: I see…

Sakakibara: When the pressure's on, it's just like that. Once when I got the starring role for a foreign film, Romeo & Juliet (dubbing Juliet into Japanese), and a week before that I hurt my vocal cords, so I thought, “aah,this absolutely is not good.” That's when I thought all the way to show time, “I went all the trouble to get this chance. But now my life is over”. When it came to the show time I didn't think anything, I went to the doctor… and he sprayed medicine in my throat (laugh). So, when I saw Akko-chan at that time, I thought, “Aah, she must be thinking same kind of things.” I know exactly how you feel.

Hiramatsu: It was a feeling like pin pon pin pon! Thinking, how Unlucky.

Sakakibara: Yes yes yes.

Hiramatsu: On top of that, I did not do anything which would cause me to catch a cold…. for example, it would've been one thing if I were drinking the day before “Yay, who cares I got a big job tomorrow!, Waha ha ha ha!” ButI was seriously trying to sleep instead, “Oh boy, I got an important job tomorrow, but I can't sleep… Help!” Then, when I woke up in the morning, it was like, “A-choo.”

(All): Ahha ha ha ha!

Hiramatsu: So, I'm thinking, “what's going on? Give me a break.” I was sp upset, and felt like a total shlemazl.

Tomizawa: Ah, being a shlemazl. I know, I know.

Hiramatsu: I thought I couldn't believe in God or Buddha. I thought there's nothing to believe in, in this world.

Sakakibara: At times like I know we veterans should just leave you alone, otherwise, you would abosuletly become baffled, so I didn't say anything and just watched silently (laugh).

Hiramatsu: And the tissue that you gave me quietly, was so full of love and warmth (laugh).

(All): Aha ha ha ha ha.

Hiramatsu: I felt really saved… But anyway, I was glad when the voiceover for episode 1 finished uneventfully.

Tomizawa: Speaking of episode 1, Kinuko-chan was also so fresh!

Tazaki: We were most worried about Kinuko-chan. We chose her out of rock singers, and she hadn't studied anything to be a voice actor.

Tomizawa: But her voice had intense impact.

Tazaki: Fujita (President of Youmex) and I went to Being (a music company), we had auditions and found her.

Tomizawa: It was a revolutionary casting decision. To use the same Rock singer and the voice actress too. That was a wonderful idea.

Tazaki: Our intention was to match singing voicewith the voice-over voice as much as possible. We were concerned that she might not be able to act well since she has no acting experience. And being the main character, she has lots of lines. However, her straight forward acting style matched well with the personality of Priss. It worked out very well. Besides, BGC was designed to be a music anime to begin with. And we put lots of emphasis on the music. So we made 35 image songs of BGC. Even now, I think there is no other OVA series with as many songs in it.

The Knight Sabers become one in Bali.

Tomizawa: Among alll the work we have done for BGC, the shooting in Bali was the most memorable for me, I suppose.

Sakakibara: It was a very tiring trip for me. I joined later, then I needed to leave early. I slept all the time, even during transit time.

Tomizawa: I have lots of memories of Bali.

Hiramatsu: Yes, it meant so very much to me.

Tomizawa: We finally become friends in Bali with Akko.

Hiramatsu: Yes, it was in Bali (laugh). I think I chatted with you more than anybody else.

Tomizawa: I think I told you million of times, you WERE alien to me. “Hiramatsu Akiko” was a total alien to me!” (laugh)

Hiramatsu: I know you thought, “Who the heck IS that girl?!” (laugh)

Tomizawa: I never had anybody like you around me before… (choking laugh), I had no idea how to deal with you. I normally am very friendly and can become friends with pretty much anybody. But you were an exception. Hiramatsu: HA ha ha ha.

Tomizawa: I did my best to be non-judgmental. But one day when we had some tea together, you said “Due to unexplainable circumstances, I needed to move one friend's place to the other…” After that, I had an even tougher time to figure out how to cope with you.

Hiramatsu: I was born to be a gypsy!

Tomizawa: That made me think “No way, I can never be friends with her.” (laugh)

Hiramatsu: But, I never knew that you were taking me that way to begin with. I met you for the first time at a BGC event. I'd never met you before since we recorded at different times. I saw you introduce yourself to Kinuko0chan like “Hi, you must be Kinuko-chan. I am Tomizawa Michie” very politely. I was very impressed to see you that way since you seemed to be very well socialized person.

Sakakibara: (huge laugh with clapped hands)

Hiramatsu: I thought you were very mature. Then when we took a cab to go to the event hall, you introduced yourself “Akko-chan, I am Tomizawa Michie, very nice to meet you!” and I said “Very nice to meet you!” That day, I happened to have art manicures, all different art on all 10 fingers. When you saw them you said “ Wow, 10 different drawings on 10 different fingers!” I thought that might be a great ice breaker to start chatting with you. But later I learned you thought “how weird!” (laugh)

Tomizawa: I thought you were the last one I wanted to be friends with! (laugh). OK to do jobs with but nothing personal! I had no idea how to deal with you. Then we had a long chat on the way back from Bali in the airplane, we talked about the spiritual world, ect. I thought, “Why I could not understand this very nice part of her until now.” I thought I wasted all my time with you being judgmental. We spent time together at Bali and talked about all sorts of things. And only after that do I find out, “She really is the owner of a very pure heart.” And so, it took too long for me to understand you.

Tazaki: Toshiko-san, you had the same kind of story about (Tomizawa) didn't you? You had a chance t get together with her on the way back home after meeting on the Bali shooting trip.

Sakakibara: Yes, we had a streak dinner. I did not have a good chance to get to know her until then, in part because I am much older then her.

Hiramatsu: I was very excited to see you all after such a while and I was expected to have dinner with all of you together. But Mit-chan, Kinu-chan and Maiko-chan all left for home because they had a job the next day. Then I was depressed since my chance to have dinner with them went up in smoke. Then, Probably out of sympathy, Ryuko-can asked me to have dinner together. Then I was like “Yes! Yes!”. But later, I realized that I did not have much chance to talk to you and kind of started feeling that I was expecting something too much. But, we had great time together for dinner, so I was very relieved.

Tazaki: I think it was at the Bali taping that you four finally became the “Knight Sabers”. Probably due to the afe differences, it took the longest for Yoshiko-san to be part of it. And due to the fact that prior to that, most of the events only had three of you. But, I strongly felt that you all finally became one in Bali.

Sakakibara: I suppose so. I had busy schedule at that time. And I tend to keep distance from others on purpose.

Takaki: We decided to make the 8th episode the last one. And right before that, we went to Bali, which was in a way like a field trip. Akko helped to bond all of them together there. I think that was a chance for all of you to be one.

Sakakibara: When I arrived in Bali, Tazaki-san and the trip coordinator were waiting for me. On the way to the hotel, they said “The shoot is going on too long, we are running out of time” (choking laugh). I thought “ Will there be anything for me to do?” (laugh)

Tazaki: In fact, the other three shaped up soon after you arrived.

Hiramatsu: Hey, that is NOT true! We were doing fine!

Tomizawa: I did not have much time to sleep. We needed to start shooting right after I got there, the pool side scene. Boy, the schedule was so tough! (only 7 days) We taped 6 promotion songs there too?. By the way, the ethnic costume scene was hilarious. (laugh)

Sakakibara: I looked like a monster demon. (laugh) Later on, I showed the video to somebody I know and, he said “It was hysterical!”, so I decided to just agree and said “Yes, this is a comedy!” (big laugh)

Tomizawa: Ha ha ha! I agreed. I see myself in the costume and thought “I looked like a cheap Ginza bar owner lady.” (laugh)

Hiramatsu: I remember that very well – your line “Sera Mattatan (“Welcome” in Indonesian). I stll remember the way we sang and the lines since I practiced them with Kinuko-chan and Maiko-chan.

Sakakibara: We were behind schedule and everybody had lots of scenes they wanted to shoot, so I encouraged them, saying “OK guys, we rehearse once, then make it work in just one take! No more.” (laugh) I only got three hours sleep a night the whole time we were there. One time, the screw was still checking the day's tapes at 4am, when they were surprised to see me taking a early-morning dip in the pool.

Tomizawa: Yeah, that was what I heard!

Sakakibara: Swimming in pool was like taking a wake-up shower to get the energy to survive the busy schedule. That way I thought we could push it through; we could save an extra 10-20 minutes between shots if we did it right. We had a set schedule for the return flight so, I thought, “Yeah, we got to DO it.”

Tazaki: We were not originally planning to shoot on the last day.

Sakakigara: But, we did till the last moment.

Hiramatsu: But we had a great time! I think the time was perfect for us.

Tomizawa: I agree. Tazaki: The Bali video sold well too. Even people who don't know Bubblegum said that was fun, and it was well made.

Tomizawa: That film was really funny! (laugh)

Hiramatsu: But that video, it's hysterical! I was in a bathing suit! It is tough to believe now that I actually did it.

Sakakibara: Oh yeah, that's when you did the para-gliding.

Hiramatsu: It was on the para-glider, so that I agree to wear the swimming suit (since I thought it would be mostly hidden).

Tomizawa: During the contract negotiations, I declared that “ I would NOT be in the film if I had to be in a bathing suit!” (laugh)

Tazaki: Well, I might as well tell you now that the DVD box will include all the episodes 1 to 8, Hurricane Life and the Bali video…

Hiramatsu: What! I have a little trouble with the swimsuit scene, No, it's absolutely not acceptable!

Tomizawa: You should disguise me every time I appear with a digital mosaic. Yes, mosaic!

Sakakibara: Oh, so you mean those intros with us in the makeup will still be in? (laugh)

(All): Ahha ha ha ha!

Our “Bubble” will never burst!

Tazaki: Lastly, what I would like to ask you all, looking back at your BGC experience, did you see any changes in yourselves after Bubblegum finished?

Sakakibara: Let's see… the time when I was doing Bubblegum was when I was psychologically in somewhat of an intense slump. It was a time when I just didn't like my own acting, and I didn't have any confidence. I got out of that slump just about the time that Bubblegum was finished, I think. Even though I exerted all the energy I had at that time into Bubblegum, I was feeling some kind of void inside of myself… Of course, had I not had that psychological slump kind of thing, I would have gone without noticing anything…

Sakakibara: What I was most frustrated about was my own acting. In fact, I had a high standard of performance I was aiming for. But whenever I'd try it, it was so frightening. If you ask why, it's because I was seeking “to act like I'm speaking right now.” But that's a difficult thing. I think it's the pinnacle of acting. Last year, when I became a freelancer and made a sample CD to pitch myself, I decided to challenge that mode of expression. I read some prose, I grasped the visual images that came up the instant I saw the words, and I just started to mutter… But in the midst of it, my throat got scratchy against my will, and my expressions would subtly change.

Sakakibara: In fact, that was the moment-to-moment acting that I was looking for. Of course, I could not do it perfectly at that time, I was just at the starting point of the challenge. There was pain, there was anguish, I'd hold my head and be in distress: “why doesn't anyone understand me…?” But the fact it was gradually taking shape, means it was worth going through the struggle.

Sakakibara: Up until then I didn't have any confidence. No matter what I'd do… I was totally unsatisfied with what I had done. People around me thought that I was a person who could hold my own, but I didn't think of myself as being capable. I pushed myself and hurt myself telling “this is not good. I should go beyond it.” But after BGC, I could accept that level of accomplishment.

Sakakibara: Modes of expression should always change with the times. I think that you have to always be aware of that, and in the process of doing this work, you have to repeatedly shed your skin. Of course there is the pain of shedding skin, and there's also fear and insecurity, because you have to eventually cast aside that which you yourself have built up. Well, actually, speaking of a succession of things I've had to cast aside… the scariness when you're throwing something away is unfathomable… but I think that's where the quintessence of it all is at, simultaneously with the pain of shedding skin.

Sakakibara: As long as I'm a pro, I can't get complacent. A pro of pros has to have taste and has to always be fresh. Could I ever get there before I die… this is the kind of thing I think a lot about (laugh). But probubly I'll say, “I wasn't able to do it!” and die (laugh). But see, people are selfish,so sometimes the ego comes out (laugh) . As I get older I get more self-protective… So you know, there's stuff that I think about. Heh heh heh.

Tomizawa: Aha ha ha! When I was doing Bubblegum, it was the “season of midsummer” when the scorching sun was shining… So I was recklessly doing everything… Mine was the complete opposite from the time when Yoshiko-san had complications with her parts and with her parts in acting, but now I feel that it was a time in which all that I could do was to do what was given to me. But in the midst of it all, I became fascinated with the musical parts, so I was thinking that maybe I'd give a try in making lyrics, songwriting, and so on. I feel like I started opening myself up and challenging myself.

Tomizawa: I went through difference stages and being in my late 20s, I was not happy about the things I had accomplished. I wanted to do adult roles, but my roles were limited to happy, simple, funny and sporty ones. I needed to accept my charecters, but still I had to let people know that I wanted to do different roles in the future. That was around the time when we were about to finish BGC. Just as Toshiko-san said, my way of shedding skin was to transform visually. Up until then I dressed in sporty clothes, then I started wearing suits, ect. That was the beginning of my transation.

Tomizawa: In fact, the impact of BGC on me was huge. It gave me a lot of energy. I was the convergence matrix of everything, without it I wouldn't be what I am now. I was very lucky to get the job. BGC was a real treasure for me. I could take part in something which would last for years.

Hiramatsu: For me, it was my starting point. I got this job when I began to work as a voice actress, everything was unknown to me (laugh). It was the most chaotic time in my career. The chaos ended right when BGC did. BGC was really the beginning of my career, the beginning of everything. It focused for me all the essential elements of this profession, I.E., including things I thought about, things I worried about, even inclduing catching a cold (laugh). It really gave me a variety of experiences. It gave me a chance to think about a lot of other things but work.

Hiramatsu: Unlike a TV series, the pace, in which we'd meet twice or three times a year over the several years of the video series was just right for me. In the midst of everyone changing, I too changed… As a result I was ableto spend undiluted time for myself, and I have the strong conviction that I was able to gradually make forward progress within myself. So I have nothing else to say about BGC, I just want you to enjoy! However, why do you have to include my bathing suit scene now?… I think I shouldn't have done it.

Tomizawa: What, you were very cute on it!

Hiramatsu: Well, I did not quite like it…

Tomizawa: I'll have them put mosaic over it

Hiramatsu: Where?

Tomizawa: Serramattatan! The Bali costume part (laugh)

Hiramatsu: That's not fair!

Tomizawa: I would like them to cut it if they could!

Hiramatsu: Then, I want a body double for that part – Mabye Yamada maria (A performer from daytime TV) or someone (laugh).

Tomizawa: Can't you fix something like that?

Tazaki: With CG or something? Like make you skinnier?

Hiramatsu: Them make me into Yamada Maria.

Tazaki: That'll cost a lot! But your face won't change.

Hiramatsu: My face is fine! But I was a little pudgier back then…

Tomizawa: When you're down, when you're hurting, watch that scene!

All: Aha ha ha ha ha!

Tomizawa: It is a truly happy thing for all of us voice actors that our memorable BGC is now being re-released as a box set. We gave it our all and really worked hard. I think that even new fans will acknowledge the high level of its quality. And I'm greatful for the older fans who loved Bubblegum from the beginning, for the fact they keep on loving it even now. This title is like a 'treasure chest' for us filled with all kinds of things. I hope they will kindly watch it again. I am sure you'll probably find something new in it.

Hiramatsu: I think that our fun memories will be transmitted to all who will see it, and I want everyone to enjoy it. So if there's anything that I can say to everyone who watches it, it's “Take action!” That's about all. Yeah! Tazaki: Akko, you've become mature enough to say impressive things like that…

All: Aha ha ha ha!

(2/14/1998, transcript from Sokyo, Shinuku/ Organization: Ugetsu Midori)

Sylvia Stingray / Sakakibara Yoshiko “When I was doing Bubblegum, I was deep in psychological slump, trying to change something, but I did not know how to change. There's of course a lot of things that are bound to happen, but endeavor, sleep and wait for the rewarding fruits of your labor… There are times when you're stuck and just can't get out of it, but it was just about the time that Bubblegum was over that I was able to think that all I had to do was 'endeavor, just sleep and wait' …”

Linna Tamazaki / Tomizawa Michie “There were lots of productions at that time emphasizing team play, so I feel that my hands were full with not just voice-overs but recordings, events, choreography, and just doing what was given to me to do… But I was able to enter a very changed life after Bubblegum was finished.”

Nene Romanova / Hiramatsu Akiko “The 4 years that I was going Bubblegum, it was like I was being rotated inside of a big washing machine, and as soon as I thought it as over, the next thing is the water gets spun out (laugh)! So I was calling out for help and writhing… it was that kind of time. I think I found out who I am from that kind of process.