#30 – The Yamayurikai: Shinohara Emi

Name: Shinohara Emi (篠原 恵美)
DoB: 8th August 1963
Hometown: born in Fukushima, grew up in Nagano
Agency: 81produce
Representative Roles: Kino Makoto/Sailor Jupiter in Sailor Moon series, B-Ko in Project A-KO series, Mokuren in Boku no Chikyuu o Mamotte (Please Save My Earth), Angel Rosewater in The Big O, Ophelia in Claymore, Presea in Magic Knight Rayearth series, Uzumaki Kushina in Naruto series

When the cast list for Marimite was revealed, Shinohara-san’s name was the one that was most familiar to me. A regular fixture in 90s anime, Shinohara tended to get cast in strong, smart female roles. She is a graduate of the Kunitachi College of Music and was actually planning to be a music teacher before she became a seiyuu. An excellent singer, Shinohara released several albums as a solo artist and as part of Peach Hips, the seiyuu unit formed by the actresses from Sailor Moon.

As the elder stateswoman of the Marimite cast, Shinohara-san felt an added sense of responsibility (along with fellow veteran & good friend Ito Miki) in leading her younger castmates, the same way her character in Marimite, Mizuno Yoko the first Rosa Chinensis we meet, feels towards the Yamayurikai. Shinohara is actually younger than Ito-san, but gives off a much more mature air (though this is likely because Ito is a bit of a…天然ボケ). Incidentally, Shinohara was Ikezawa Haruna’s agency senior at 81produce and they actually worked together in the latter’s first ever anime show Mutant Turtles.

The following is a translation of a note on Shinohara Emi, written by acquaintance Suwa Michihiko, an executive producer attached to Yomiuri Television (ytv)’s anime division who has been in charge of the Detective Conan series since its inception. Given Shinohara’s tendency to stay out of the limelight, this piece at least gives some insight into her character and personality we don’t normally hear about.

“Today I will talk about the seiyuu Shinohara Emi-san. Here, I will refer to Shinohara-san as Emi-san like I always do. The first time I met Emi-san was during City Hunter 2. She came into the show as a guest, playing a client of the lead character Saeba Ryou, and from then began our long association.

I think the (role of hers that left the) deepest impression is probably Presea from Magic Knights Rayearth. She’s a character with a strong personality who lives with Mokona, and if my memory serves me correctly, she is the person who forges weapons for Hikaru and her group. Despite her position, the larger-than-life conversations she had with Hikaru’s group seemed to have a strange edge to them. For this reason most of the characters Emi-san voices are the smart, serious onee-san types. When Emi-san breathes life into those characters through her voice, regardless of the type of character it is she has the ability to take away their antagonistic edge. Perhaps this is a reflection of Emi-san’s real-life personality.

When I took up wine drinking sometime back in the 20th century, we’d have meals together in the private room of an established Western restaurant in Soshigaya-Okura. It was a space that was comfortable enough to live in, and the four of us (note: Suwa does not say who) along with Yoshida Rihoko-san would spend time eating and drinking there. I remember well, how good of a drinker Emi-san was, and just how endlessly cheerful she was.

Emi-san’s signature role is that of Sailor Moon’s Sailor Jupiter. Through the character’s popularity, I got to know her good friend Fukami Rica, voice of Sailor Venus. At the occasional staff wedding (or even at their own weddings), I would have the opportunity to see Emi-san’s lively, wonderful performances that brought blessings not only to the couple in question, but to everyone in attendance. It truly fills me with joy to have seen such scenes so many times in my life.

For a while we have been exchanging New Year greeting cards. Her husband is the actor Wata Hiroshi-san. The years have flown by as we continued to update each other on the progress of our children as they grew up. Another point through which we have connected is birthdays. Emi-san and (Fukami) Rica-san share the same date of birth – 8th of August, which is easy to remember, and they’ve held birthday concerts together to celebrate before, so whenever that date comes around I will naturally give her a call to convey my wishes.

So this ‘twice-a-year-contact’ kind of relationship continued for some time, until I got in touch with her recently to get her to come in as a guest on Detective Conan. The role I asked her to do was that of the pool bar Blue Parrot’s bartender Fukui Yuzuki. Actually, there is a reason why we have the Blue Parrot as a setting in the show, so we’ll probably get to see more of (Yuzuki) in episodes to come. I look forward to seeing how this particular bartender carries out her duties diligently at the counter, as well the little relationships she’ll build with the characters who stop by the bar.

What did you guys think of the first part of the storyline that aired on the 10th of May? The second and final part of ‘Kogoro in the BAR’ that airs on the 17th will see Yuzuki getting a little more deeply involved in the storyline and is a must-see. Let’s enjoy her conversations with the unchanging Kogoro, or I should say, her conversations with Conan and Kogoro at the scene (of the crime). So please look forward to seeing the sharp-mindedness and brilliant reasoning of Yuzuki-chan as she gets to grips with the strange incidents that are occuring in her bar. Emi-san, I look forward to having you as part of our Conan team from now on.”

These days Shinohara-san is more or less limited to the motherly type of roles, but even amongst those she has produced some memorable work – Ushiromiya Natsuhi in the Umineko series, Misaka Misuzu in the Index/Railgun series, Uzumaki Kushina in the Naruto series, to name but a few. She is currently a lecturer in seiyuu and acting training at the Bunka Gakuin vocational school.


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