Veteran vocalist shows she can sing in English like nobody’s business in preview for Japanese release of animated musical Sing.

Many anime voice actors and actresses pull double duty by contributing vocals to the production’s associated collection of songs. Often, though, the major appeal of their singing stems from the goodwill fans feel towards the characters they portray, an so the less-than-stellar technical aspects of their musical performance get smoothed out by harmonizing with a handful of other singers, or perhaps being relegated to special “character image song” CDs that aren’t part of the actual in-anime soundtrack.

However, Maaya Sakamoto has no need for such smokescreens. Since her big break as both the sole opening theme vocalist and the protagonist of 1996 TV anime The Vision of Escaflowne, the 36-year-old Sakamoto has proven time and again that she’s equally skilled at performing character dialogue and carrying a high-profile tune all by herself.

That skill set made Sakamoto an easy choice for the producers of the Japanese-dubbed version of Illumination Entertainment’s computer-animated musical Sing, in which she takes over the role of Rosita the pig from Reese Witherspoon. In the original, English-language version of the film, Witherspoon provides both Rosita’s speaking and singing voice, and so Sakamoto does likewise in the Japanese dub. But while Rita speaks in Japanese in the dub, she apparently still sings in English, which means Sakamoto does too, as shown in this clip of the anime veteran covering Katy Perry’s “Firework.”

Despite singing in a language other than her native tongue, Sakamoto’s vocals are clear and filled with passion. They’re arguably even better than the American-born Witherspoon’s, whom Sakamoto has much more extensive experience than as a singer.

▼ Witherspoon’s cover from the English-language Sing

Sing, in both its original-language English and Japanese-dubbed version, finally hits theaters in Japan on March 17, three months after it premiered in the U.S. That sort of delay is par for the course in Japan, though and at least this time Sakamoto’s vocals mean there’s something new to look forward to after the long wait.

Source, featured image: YouTube/編集部 eigafan
Top image: Sing official Japanese website

Follow Casey on Twitter, where now he really wants to rewatch Escaflowne.