Shimamoto in Seattle

Actress Sumi Shimamoto will be attending Sakura-Con in Seattle early next month. If anyone has plans to be in the Seattle area, then maybe you should consider going and paying a visit.

And wouldn't ya know it, I find out about this only one day before the online registration deadline. Nice. I've been kicking myself for failing to make the trip to Boston last autumn for Shimamoto's first American appearance at an anime convention. I've told myself that I need to sit down with Shimamoto and interview her, either for podcast or (better yet) a documentary short. I wish I had more time to prepare and gather a small film crew for a trip. It could be really great; unfortunately, I can't make it to Seattle. I'd need enough time for all my rock 'n roll pilgrimages.

As a general rule, I don't have any interest in anime conventions. I got the whole sci-fi, Star Trek nerd con back in my teens, and the sight of all the nerd girls dressed up like skimpy cupie dolls will most likely fill me with embarrassment or jealousy. Where the heck were all of you when I was 18 years old?!

For those who don't recognize the name Sumi Shimamoto, she was the actress who played the heroine Clarisse in Castle in Cagliostro back in 1979. I think that was her film debut. Miyazaki liked her enough to bring her back for the second Lupin III television series' finale, "Farewell, Beloved Lupin." She has also made appearances in Ghibli films My Neighbor Totoro and Umi Ga Kikoeru.

Her most famous role, and justly so, was Nausicaa, one of the great (if not the greatest) voice roles in an animation film. Her mixture of demure quietness and fiery passion was a molotov cocktail. I have no idea where she found that fire; it's as though she suddenly started channeling Toshiro Mifune or Brando. Nobody can shout better, nobody can pull off that wail of panicked desperation, as Shimamoto. Shimamoto IS the voice of the Miyazaki Heroine, the gold standard.

So, yeah, if you can spare a free Saturday in early April, head over to Sakura-Con in Seattle and say hi.

Thanks to for breaking the news.

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