[This is a translation of a post on the ‘We love babymetal’ blog. I do not have a way to contact the writer and so this was done without permission. If you are the writer or know of a way to contact the writer, please contact me.]
Is Nakamoto Suzuka-chan a ‘true natural’? A collection of funny episodes about this side of her.
If you watch Sakura Gakuin DVDs or online videos you will know that the other members often comment that Nakamoto Suzuka-chan, or, Su-chan is a truly interesting girl. And that is true and something no one doubts. She has a wonderful sense of humor, a richly imaginative character and a great sense of comic timing.
‘Sakura Gakuin, Hajimemashita’
[Sakura Gakuin starts now!]
The first time I realized that Su-chan has a great sense of humor and was also kind of blown away by her was when I saw a scene titled ‘Sakura Gakuin, Hajimemashita’ [Sakura Gakuin starts now!] which is included in the DVD, ‘Sakura Gakuin First Live & Documentary 2010 to 2011 ~ Smile ~’. This scene can be found at (Disk 2 13:10) of this DVD.
This DVD was made with a documentary-like feel to it and featured the upper grade members of Mutou Ayami-chan, Matsui Airi-chan and Miyoshi Ayaka-chan talking seriously about their state of mind and feelings at that time in Sakura Gakuin along with scenes showing SG lessons and a look into the filming of the DVD.
The girls were asked to speak about what it was like ‘the first time they performed in front of an audience’. Moa-chan said that she was really nervous and couldn’t speak very well. Next, it was Su-chan’s turn.
Su-chan tilted her head and looked up toward the ceiling saying, ‘What can I say? How shall I express this? It was a feeling of ‘Sakura Gakuin, Hajimemashita’ [Sakura Gakuin starts now!]. Speaking personally, this scene just absolutely floored me.
This one line kind blasted away the documentary tone that had led up to her comment, putting the whole DVD back to square one. I was truly amazed and could only laugh at how brilliant was her choice of words and expression.
Note: I highly advise you to watch or rewatch this scene to get a feel for the unique comedic feel with which Su-chan delivers this line.
During an appearance on the TV show, ‘Gekkan MelodiX!’, the story was brought up that Su-chan has in the past put her shoes on with right and left switched backwards and Su then went on to speak about it. ‘Well, you know, I was walking along and something seemed out of the ordinary. Just as I was thinking that everyone said to me that my shoes were on the wrong feet. I thought, ‘What? What is going on?’, and when I looked down my shoes seemed to be different in shape than usual. I was like, ‘Whoa! That’s strange’. She seemed to be enjoying herself recalling and retelling this event.
When Su-chan relates these episodes from her life that show her naturally goofy side she speaks in a quite detailed manner making it easy for the listener to envision the story and the way she speaks allows us to depict the scene clearly in our mind.
And then there is that part in her story where she says, ‘What? What is going on?’, and when I looked down….’ that is a way of communicating that only Su-chan can do. It is when she speaks like this that we can feel her natural sense of humor. Even with, or perhaps in part because of, her sense of humor, Su-chan is oh, so cute.
The scene talked about starts around 5:35 in the YouTube video.
Su-chan’s valued possession- a spatula (Hera)
One of my favorite episodes involving Su-chan, and it is one where her sense of humor really shines through, relates to the photo shoot for the jacket cover of Sakura Gakuin’s first album, ‘Sakura Gakuin 2010 ~ message ~ (Ku edition)’. For this photo shoot the girls were asked to bring one of their favorite possessions with them.
Look at the photograph. Su-chan is standing there with a lovely smile on her face holding her beloved spatula (Hera). The idea of bringing a spatula to the shoot is just so wonderful, isn’t it? This story makes me so happy I can’t stop grinning.
She didn’t show up with a spatula as a joke or to get a laugh out of everyone, right? And just how rare is it that someone would think, ‘My favorite thing?….ah, yes, a spatula!’, right? I am sure there are many fans who roared with laughter to themselves thinking, ‘So, this is how you approached this assignment, Su-chan?!’.
In her blog that came out after this she wrote, ‘The Okonomiyaki that Su makes is ridiculously delicious, you know’. I would love to try Su-chan’s Okonomiyaki.
Some other episodes
As her self-selected research assignment during summer vacation when she was in the first grade of Jr. High school, Su-chan chose to do a joint research project with her sister into, ‘The secret behind how pudding solidifies’.
Her big ears that are tilted rather forward are great for hearing sounds in front of her, but she has a difficult time hearing what people are saying when they are speaking in hushed tones behind her.
‘Su went to a lesson (practice) wearing pyjamas under a long skirt and didn’t realise she had done so under she arrived.
When Su-chan was Elementary she once forgot her school backpack (Randoseru) on the way to school with her sister, but didn’t notice and continued on to school without it.
It was discovered that all of the answers to the math problems that Su-chan had taught to Yui-chan and Moa-chan were actually wrong. The 2 girls often like to bring this story up for retelling.
Somewhere along the way collecting 1-yen coins became a hobby of Su-chan to the point where she stopped using them even if she had them in her coin purse when shopping. She has told with great enthusiasm about finding a ‘rare’ 1-yen coin that had changed to a greenish color.
She is very particular about making sure her bangs are completely tucked inside the cap when she wears a knit hat. The members of Sakura Gakuin included this in the lyrics to a song later on.
After begrudgingly riding on a roller coaster at an amusement park with her friends she became so afraid of the feeling of falling that she was afraid to get on elevators after that.
At times she gets uncontrollable cravings for milk and one drank 2 liters of milk at one sitting-of course her mother got very angry at her.
She enjoys joking around with e-mails to herself where she does both the ‘Boke’ and the ‘Tsukkomi’ roles. Note: You will have to look these up for yourself as it would take too long to explain. In other words, she does a kind of 2-person comedy skit ‘Manzai’ with herself in her e-mails.
“A question from Himetan’s blog!Where does a snake’s tail begin? This was the topic of discussion amongst our family.
Mama: Where does a snake’s tail begin?
Himeka: A snake doesn’t have a tail.
Suzuka: Snakes have hands, don’t they? Maa, if they do or don’t who cares?
Anyway, Mama wants to know the borderline between a snake’s body and it’s tail. If you happen to know please let me know.”
Note: I didn’t translate every story, but to make up for that I added the final ‘Snake story’.
Boh: “My impressions with Babymetal in New York and London”
We finished our two additional concerts on the World Tour of New York and London without incident.
Things were really full out exciting this time as well.
First about the 11/4 New York show.
Not only this show with Babymetal but for myself as well this was the first time to play at Hammerstein Ballroom.
I arrived at the concert hall amidst a full blown case of jet lag. First we started with a sound check followed by rehearsal.
Due perhaps to the way the hall is constructed sound really reverberates. The sound here is just a slightly different taste from the way things sound in Japan. Maybe because the voltage is higher here than in Japan, or maybe because I am in high spirits, the sounds come out powerfully and with a rich feeling of expression. For myself personally, at this show I have changed from a Shure ear monitor to a Fitear one and this makes it possible to hear more minute and fine details in all aspects of performance. Following rehearsal I went outside and found that some fans had already started waiting in line… I thought, “No one will recognize me if I am not all made up”…but I was found out. People called out to me and I stopped to take pictures with them.
I try to approach these kinds of situations with an attitude of gratefulness and appreciation (Seeing as these will become good memories for both parties) Some people that I always see in Japan are here as well. Thank you for coming from so far away.
If we get too many people taking pictures together it actually become a nuisance for others so I hurried back as fast as possible and changed in to my stealth disguise of being the Kami of Bass. From this moment on, no matter how itchy my face gets I can not scratch. (And the entire head in my case) No matter how tired I am from traveling, just before the actual performance I mysteriously get charged with energy. Almost time for the Babymetal show to start.
The feeling of nervousness that exists from the calls from the audience the moment we step on stage to time we start playing contains an indescribable feeling of comfort and stability. And then when the performance begins I can truly feel my life energy burning. “This is my dream”. I murmured this unconsciously as I was playing.
I get the impression that rather than just going wild and thrashing around, the New York fans seem to really listen carefully to the performance and give themselves over to the sounds as they take them in to their respective perspectives.
I was also surprised by the large number of people who were taking videos. Since in Japan it is a matter of course that filming is not allowed it was quite an interesting experience to brush up against such a difference in culture. I saw some people carrying flags that said, “BOH” on them as well as some people dressed up like me. I am grateful for this. We in the Kami band are really happy to have attention paid to us and to have fans call out in support. Su-metal, Yuimetal and Moametal are members and we are the back band, you see. We could not be paid so much attention as a back band in any other country or setting and so I am
filled with gratitude.
Next, the 11/8 London, O2 Academy show.
The tickets were Sold Out! It started raining before the show began and I got worried about the health of the fans getting soaked waiting in line outside. I hope they don’t catch colds.
Perhaps due to England being the birthplace of Rock the excitement and energy given off made it feel like the hall would collapse.
There was a lot of power behind the Mosshushu what with there being so many largely structured Europeans. I beg of you don’t get injured or cause injury to others, OK?
This theatre type of historical hall has transformed into a Metal Live house. I feel so fortunate that while performing I am able to take in the view of so many different types of people from young children to older metallers all enjoying the show together. We are all humans, all the same. We can all have a great time together going beyond differences in race, religion and the environments we were brought up in. That is one of the charms of music. I am proud of the fact that we can do this with Babymetal.
OK, now about the contents of this tour… I am sure that the fans from Japan as well as the fans living overseas have verified this through videos uploaded to Youtube….but Su-metal, Yuimetal and Moametal are all continuing to grow. Giving my own impression I would say that it goes without saying that Su-metal’s vocal range as well as her power have both increased but it is her “ability to convey her feelings to the audience” that has dramatically gone up. However, it is not that she is particularly trying to sing more skillfully it is that she has a wonderful aura (presence) as a vocalist and frontman (frontwoman?).
The same goes for Yuimetal and Moametal. They are not simply dancing in unison with the songs, one can feel the the passion they bring to the stage, and the unshakable intent they have in exciting and entertaining the audience coming from the bottom of their hearts.
Being able to sing while dancing such wild and aggressive dances is something in itself that is no small feat.
Babymetal plays without MC…This does not simply signify that they perform “without a break time”, it means there is no place to slack mentally and there is no leeway to kind of zone out and no way to do things over… If one is lacking in even one of the features of concentration, mental power, Kiai, stamina, guts, or passion one could not carry these performances out and yet the 3 members do it everytime. I have an unlimited amount of respect for these 3 girls.
When I was a Jr. High/High school student I would not have been able to carry on and do my best the way they do… really this is not a trifling matter. I respect the 3 members of Babymetal as artists. There are also skills that we have acquired through these performances together with the girls. We are not treated simply as a back band and are given emphasis as the Kami band, an important part of the Babymetal show. And without mistake it is Su-metal, Yuimetal and Moametal that pull up and give significance to the existence of us, the Kami band. It is a matter of course that our performing abilities and techniques are professional in caliber but we also perform with high quality not only loud, showy performances but also back up music and sound effects. It is because of the incredible combination of members who can perform with these skills that we are able to play music as Babymetal that seems to surpass the human range of ability. Not just playing as a back band but changing us into being an existence with value is the existence of the 3 members.
And also, this goes for the fans who are always supporting us.
Without your existence there would not be the Kami band that we are now. Especially in Japan it is very rare that session musicians like us ever get a great deal of attention paid to them. There seem to be a lot of people who do not understand the difference between a bass and a guitar.
Amidst this background it is because of you all that come to be recognized and regarded by larger population of people as being “BOH, the man who plays the 6 stringed Japanese bass”.
The house I live in, the car I drive and the beer I drink are all because of you, the fans. I am playing the bass just because I like to do so. This occupation comes into being because there is and artist and the fans who support and cheer on that artist.
My talk has gotten off track a bit. Doing these two shows and I may be repeating things, of particularly deep impression was the increase in “the power to reach and affect the hearts of the audience” of the 3 members.
At the end of the London show we performed a new song that had not previously been performed.
In spite of the fact that this was the first time to perform the song and it was done in a country away from home, the song created a chorus call and response feature, the fans kept cheering after the song had ended like they didn’t want to leave, and so many fans were crying holding up their hands in the sing of Kitsune-sama moved by a song whose lyrics they could not understand. Seeing all of this I was convinced that we will see “these girls get ever, evermore great”.
I do not care a hoot about these opinions one sees such as “Babymetal is not Metal.” Or, “Well, real Metal is….” These kinds of disputes are just ridiculous and there is no room or reason for debating about them. These girls have gone to a place that is way beyond any of these trifling matters. I personally have never considered what genre Babymetal should be classified as.
What I have interest in as a Kami band member (Bass no Kami) is “continuing to create Babymetal shows that are one and only, original and unique in existence together with the 3 girls of Babymetal and the world wide fans of Babymetal.” And that is all.
Further, I hope to continue to polish my playing skills and promulgate the Japanese 6 stringed bass to as many people as possible. If I can do these things nothing could make me happier. The things I have acquired from working with Babymetal I hope to utilize elsewhere, and the things I get from other performances I hope to bring to Babymetal and the things I have gained through many experiences I hope to make use of in my own life. That is the 6 string bass path of the bassist BOH.
Gratitude and thanks to all, feel the connection of all, provide dreams while chasing them.
That is my life. And as you can see, my blog from today has become officialized.
I think this will make it possible for more people to be able to read my blog and that is something fun to look forward to.
By the way, my previous blog was translated by someone overseas, so I hope that will happen again (translator note: that appears to be the case) I do not have the skill to translate such a long blog. To all the fans throughout the world-let’s continue to excite and build up Babymetal together. I look forward to seeing you all again at a stage filled with Love, Peace and Kawaii.
I have written earnestly so I would like to add one more comment…
I am not bald due to sickness. Do not consult with a doctor if you start getting thin on top when in your 30’s!
If you start to lose hair, just shave it off yourself. Do it openly. You will understand this if you do it.
The President of Tower Records, Minewaki Ikuo-san speaks passionately about Sakura Gakuin’s Kikuchi Moa-chan once again! (Complete article/First section- calling a storm)
An article that we ran on this site in the early days of 2014 created quite a stir amongst not only ordinary viewers but also ardent fans, “Tower Records president, Minewaki Ikuo-san speaks about Kikuchi Moa-chan for 90 minutes!”. This theme comes back and it is powered up.
Our media coverage team visited the head office of Tower Records to cover the “The Idol Award 2014-Minewaki-Shachou determines the best of Kikuchi Moa award” which is reported in our 2015, February edition of “Monthly Entertainment”. The one we were waiting patiently for was the response from Minewaki-shachou who was waiting for us prepared to the teeth to deal with our coverage.
This year as well, the president’s passionate talk exceeded the time allotted for our media coverage. But, that is OK, We will present the whole version of his talk. So, Mr. President please talk to your heart’s content.
Q: Before we get into the main topic and looking back over last year, how do you feel Kikuchi Moa-chan has grown over the year?
Minewaki- “After becoming the student council president she kind of stepped back a bit. Before she took on that position she was the type that liked to go to the front and lead everyone. But, this year, Moa-chan held herself in reserve in live performances and in SG classroom’s as well, and she often lead other members into the more visible positions. The current 3rd year team is very kind and they allow the younger members to perform freely as they want. This is due to the techniques employed by Moa-chan that creates such an atmosphere and that creates an environment that allows them to all carry out activities that they wish to perform. She has taken on a sense of responsibility and has grown immensely.”
Q: She is still only 15 though. (laughs)
Minewaki- “I think that Moa-chan is at her end as the student council president as she did the most she could do going to the places she needed to go to, but with her overseas excursions with Babymetal she could not carry out completely every task she had been assigned with. Also she could not be present for the Fan club limited performance. She missed about 1 out of every 2 public performances. I was unable to watch the Haiku public class as regrettably I had to attend the Oosaka T-Palette thanksgiving festival that day. At the public classes Moa-chan also did not try to stand out and helped others to carry out their performances.”
Q: That ability to create such an atmosphere is also a great thing.
Minewaki- “And now in 2015 the real “The Road to Graduation” begins.”
Q: Are you ready mentally?
Minewaki- “I wonder how 2015 will progress…. I still don’t have a firm grasp on how this year is going, but this spring Berryz Koubou will take an indefinite break and Moa-chan will graduate. With these “2 big things that I love” dropping away I feel a bit empty. Of course even after she graduates Moa-chan will continue to support Sakura Gakuin. And Babymetal is scheduled to perform at the Rock festival “Rock on the the Range 2015” in Ohio in May.”
Q: In 2014 Babymetal performed on March 1st and 2nd at the Nippon BudouKan.
Minewaki- “I went to both day’s performances. I was really surprised on the first day when Yui-chan (Mizuno) fell off the stage. And then in “IDZ” Moa-chan fell down. “Live performances are the best!” but I get so worried about those two. After the first day’s performance I went to eat with my wife, and we were talking excitedly saying, “Will Yui-chan be able to perform tomorrow?” and “Do you think she injured her leg?”. I am so happy that she was not seriously injured.”
Q: Let’s get in to the main topic. Let’s start with the 5th place entry.
Minewaki- “I was thinking about this until 2 O’clock yesterday.”
Minewaki- “On this day there was a Sakura Gakuin live performance at EX Theater Roppongi, and it was the date of Moa-chan’s 100th diary entry. In it she wrote 100 items about herself and it being February and the fans are cold waiting in line to buy merchandise so she wrote this diary entry so the fans would not have too much free time on their hands. And so the title was, “Please read this as you wait”. This is truly an exceptional demonstration of caring for her fans. In the first column where her name is introduced she puts a circle around “Chi-地-land” so it will not be mistaken for “Ike-池-pond” in the Kikuchi part of her name. In the 3rd column she has a picture showing her height with it written as 157 cm. In column 4 she says, “when I entered SG my weight was equal to 2 koalas but now it is that of 4. In other areas of the diary she says she is an only child, that she wants to become “Super Moa-chan” and that she love anime. I think writing 100 items was quite a chore.”
Q: Just thinking about writing so many items is quite an exhausting chore.
Minewaki- “As I said last year, you can really see that she thinks about her readers when she writes her diary. And moreover, this was written specifically for fans who were waiting. The contents are quite detailed so reading it is quite a task as well. This really shows us Moa-chan’s character, she really has her stuff together. Hey! Look here! She has two less bottom teeth than ordinary people!”
Q: Shachou, please settle down (laughs)
Minewaki- “Sorry. But, when you read this you can understand that she has a small jaw because she is short 2 lower teeth. It is because she writes things that you would ordinarily not be able to understand at all that her fans are so pleased with her diaries. And following this diary entry we had planned with “Monthly Entertaiment” to do a “100 questions for Moa-chan (2014 August), right? When you read this together with that it is fantastic!”
Q: Those questions were thought up by several adult writers and they apparently had quite a hard time coming up with 100 questions.
Minewaki- “If you read both of these even if you are just getting interested in Moametal, you will be able to understand Moa-chan very well.”
Q: Thank you for slipping in a bit of advertising for us.
Q: So what is 4th?
Minewaki- “Moa-chan and Yui-chan were not present at the 2014 TIF, right?”
Q: Yes, they couldn’t attend because they were touring as Babymetal with Lady Gaga on her live tour.
Minewaki- “However, they appeared on the screen for “Yume ni Mukatte”. And so, Yui/Moa who were not expected to be in attendance seemed to be singing together with the other members.”
Q: Their sense of presence increased even though they were not there.
Minewaki- “True, their sense of presence stood out due to not actually being there. It was that sort of stage. I felt like I was standing in the presence of a truly great people. (laughs)”
Q: What great people do you mean (laughs).
Minewaki- “The Moa-chan in my brain was supremely cute when they synchronized with the other members! I thought how can she be so cute even though it is 2-dimensional. I burned the 2-dimension Moa-chan into my brain, and in front of all of us were the 8 actual members plus the 2 graduates of Iida Raura-chan and Horiuchi Marina-chan acting as assistants performing “Yume ni Mukatte”. And without doubt Yui/Moa were there as well.”
Q: In the July 30th diary entry of Moa-chan, she wrote that she was “not present at TIF”.
Minewaki- “This was where Moa-chan debuted so the TIF events are of great importance to her. Every year, the members of TIF get into fights amongst themselves and then they reform into new units. For Sakura Gakuin it is kind of like a ritual that the members must pass through. It is interesting to think that they could not attend because they were opening for Lady Gaga.”
Q: And a 15 year old girl feels bad about that (laughs)
Minewaki- “Speaking of Lady Gaga, you know she is a global pop icon (laughs). In this diary entry she writes passionately about her feelings for TIF, and there are pair photographs with everyone in the end of it. I think this is one of her great entries. Any Fukei who reads this and then gets angry that “Yui/Moa are not present at TIF” is not a real Fukei!”
Q: Yes, like, “Don’t say such an absurd thing” (laughs)
Minewaki- “Even though they are not there you can see them (laughs). And remember, more than anything else, the student council president is saying, “Even if we are apart our hearts are one”. Of course since we have to support them the same as the previous year, the 2014 TIF was a Sakura composition. The performances by Sakura Gakuin were a bit less than usual but I was able to able to watch each stage that the members performed on.”
Q: But of all those “Yume ni Mukatte” was the best.
Minewaki- “Yes, I was so excited. It goes without saying that Idols are cute, that is a given, but in my thinking the songs also have to be good. This song was a trigger to change that way of thinking for me. “Kawaii” can at times surpass the song.”
Q: So, you were reverted back to the basics of liking Idols, right?
Minewaki- “Composers can be broken easily! For a long time I also used to say, “I can’t like a performance if the song is no good”. Sorry for thinking like that. There is no need for me to make excuses!”
The producer of Babymetal who should more properly be called the “Metal command tower” appears in “Hedoban” for the first time in about 1 year!
-“Road of Resistance”!
-“Live at Budoukan ~ Red night”!
-Overseas warrior training journey!
-This can not be reduced simply to the genre of “Melodic Speed Metal”.
-“Road of Resistance” which should be referred to as the greatest Metal Anthem coming of out Japan in recent years.
-The clear and blaring sound of the “Red Night Edition” is knocking people over right and left.
-The multitude of Miracles shown during the overseas warrior training journey that followed on the heels of the “Live at Budoukan, Red Night”.
Due to the fervent love call of “Hedoban” Kobametal answered our requests with a mail based interview about hints as to where Babymetal is headed following their “Legend 2015, New Year Kitsune Festival” performance.
Regarding “Road Of Resistance”
When did you begin to start creating “Road of Resistance”? I remember you saying before when we talked with you when you were working on the Babymetal album that “you had a song in the works that had an even higher BPM”. Were you referring to the “Road of Resistance”?
Kobametal: “The basic form of the song was ready quite a ways back, but it took on the structure of a song in 2013, I think.”
With Babymetal songs made up to this point you have incorporated things from a variety of Metal sub-genres. “Road of Resistance” has a 100% degree of pure so-called “Melodic Speed Metal” to it. Were you, Kobametal, personally pondering doing a “Melodic Speed Metal with Babymetal”?
Kobametal: “With the songs of “IDZ” and “Akatsuki” that we have released in the past we already had incorporated Melodic Speed Metal aspects so I was not particularly making an attempt to do so anew with this song.”
Is the Metal sub-genre of Melodic Speed Metal one of the types of Metal that you personally like? Also, what facets of Melodic Speed Metal attract you?
Kobametal: “Personally, Melodic Speed Metal is a type of music that I have been listening to from a long time ago. With its high speed guitar work and drumming laid over with a melody I am attracted by, and I mean this as a compliment to this type of music, to its various components that are often called somewhat “uncool”.”
The first time I heard “Road of Resistance” in London I was truly surprised, but when I heard the finished studio song with all the various sounds packed into it I was once again and further surprised. Were there certain things you were focusing on or any difficulties you may have encountered when working on it?
Kobametal: “The point I was really trying to pay attention to was just how “Babymetal” could we make it sound. The difficult part was the high tempo of the song I guess you could say.”
In Vol. 1 of “Hedoban”, “Kobametal-san’s selections <29 Loud/Metal albums (+1) >,” you selected Dragon Force and so I would assume that they are a band that you like and so I would like to ask you what you find appealing about them from your point of view?
Kobametal: “It would be the fact that they do not let you down in your expectations of them and so speaking kind of metaphorically, it is like when you order a dish at a restaurant hoping to get the exact same taste that you got when you ordered and tasted it before. I feel that they have an originality that could be called the “Dragon Force beat” that they provide at just the right place in a song with just the right sound and melody.”
In having the guitarists Sam Totman and Herman Li of Dragon Force collaborate with you on this song was there anything in particular you requested of them? Also, was that excessive “Baka Tech” (term for someone who is possessed with a unique and highly skilled musical technique) high speed guitar play born out of the instructions of a Kobametal who likes that kind of guitar technique perhaps? (laughs)
Kobametal: “Since we were envisioning the incorporation of Dragon Force playing from the demo making stage I feel there was not much of a wide ranging change from the initial image. They worked very cooperatively with the requests made to them from the Babymetal side of things. Thanks to this positive attitude we were able to add in this wonderful guitar performance and I feel create music that is even more powerful.”
Putting the lyrics of “Road of Resistance” into a massive song progression that could be considered a rather stereotypical has led fans to sometimes referring to this song as an “Anthem”. Were you deliberately trying to make this song into an anthem-like piece?
Kobametal: “Regarding the sound of the song, when we were creating the theme of song we wanted it to start off with a lead in that had a strong sense of making an appearance like Judas Priest’s “Hellion/Electric Eye” followed by the appearance of a high speed Melodic Speed Metal sound like that of Dragon Force with a sing along where the audience can cry together with the band. Since we were attempting to make a song with this kind of image I think it was destined to come out as an anthem-like song.”
The chorus with “Woa Woa” makes a deep impression on one. At the Saitama Super Arena performance this turned into a huge group chorus with 20,000 members. Said in a favorable meaning, it seems to me that you created this with deliberately with Arena Metal in mind.
Kobametal: “Up to now we have intentionally incorporated parts of the songs known as “Ai no Te” and the Death Voices into Babymetal songs so the fans could sing along together with the girls, but in the 2014 overseas tour I realized that “there were many foreign fans who wanted to sing along together from the beginning to the end of the show”. Especially in the overseas performances since the girls sing in Japanese and there is no MC this sing along part symbolically became a trigger for bringing Babymetal together with their fans into a unified, “The One””.
The lyrics of the “Road of Resistance” are of a type that has not been seen in Babymetal songs previously. Simply put, what is the theme of this song?
Kobametal: “The theme of the lyrics is the image of the road that Babymetal has traversed so far and the road that they will continue to walk here on out and I feel that this is not limited just to Babymetal but to all who participate in the Metal Resistance with the message to them being one of encouraging them to “Believe in oneself and charge ahead”. This is a song that has an important meaning and serves as a thematic song in the Babymetal Metal Resistance.”
“Road of Resistance” has a very strong feel of stately British Metal to it. Did this have anything to do with it being debuted in England?
Kobametal: “Since the Live performance at the O2 Academy in London on November 8th last year was the final show in the WORLD TOUR 2014 and was done under the theme of it being both the ???? of Chapter 2 of the Metal Resistance and the introduction of Chapter 3, presenting it at this venue at this time for the first time had significance as being the theme song for the 3rd Chapter. Further, Yuimetal ardently expressed her wish that it performed saying, “It must be so!”. (laughs)”
“Live at Budoukan, Red Night”
I feel that the number of artists who can put out Live performance editions is rather limited. Do you, Kobametal-san, personally have any special thoughts regarding Live performance albums?
Kobametal: “I think that Live Performance albums are interesting in that they offer a way to express differences in the way a guitar solo can be phrased or in the way the song arrangements can be presented. I may be possible to enjoy music even more by discovering the slight differences that occur in each performance.”
Q: “Live at Budoukan, Red Night” is being highly praised by the fans and because of many people have come to be fans or have come to look upon Babymetal in a more favorable light. With this Live album were you aiming to “draw out the core musical essence of Babymetal”?
Kobametal: “I was not in particular deliberately attempting to do so, but in that it contains all of the songs on the 1st album, “Babymetal” performed live without break, it could be said that it attempts to be a sort of “Best Live” album.”
Idols often release DVDs but one doesn’t often hear of them putting out Live performance editions. Including the opinions of the 3 Babymetal members did you have?
Kobametal: “With Babymetal I feel we have already come to the point where they can not be contained in the bracket of being an Idol band, and since in some cases I feel they are putting on Live shows that are richer and heavier than other rock bands I have absolutely no worries regarding this matter”.
One of the jewels of this Live album is the involvement of Ted Jensen. Why did you think of asking Ted Jensen to work with you on this Live performance album?
Kobametal: “This is also the workings of Fate, or rather the divine instructions of Kitsune-Sama, I feel.”
Incidentally, could you tell us how Ted Jensen thinks about Babymetal?
Kobametal: “He said he feels they are an extremely unique entity.”
I felt there were some differences in the way the sound was handled such as the way the sound was recorded and the way some sections were emphasized between “Red Night” and “Black Night”. If that is so, could you tell us why? And were these due to the ideas of Ted Jensen?
Kobametal: “We did not deliberately set out to create a difference in the sound and I feel the sound on the day of the recording plays a big part in this.”
Following the overseas warrior training journey
And then following upon the heels of the BudouKan shows the band suddenly embarked upon an overseas tour. Did you feel from before that this would develop into an overseas tour based on what came before?
Kobametal: “I did think that eventually we would develop into performing overseas, but I thought it would take a bit more time to do so. The speed of things following the release of the album was very fast.”
The staff at “Hedoban”’s sense of the outlook regarding Metal changed after experiencing the Metal Festival of Sonisphere with its gathering of everyone from small children to the elderly. Did you, Kobametal-San feel a change in your outlook toward Metal after experiencing Sonisphere from the inside realm of that world?
Kobametal: “I discovered many things by experiencing this authentic English Rock festival known as Sonisphere. I actually experienced the fact that the Headlining act, Iron Maiden is a people’s band. I felt the wide range as well as the history and scope of Metal on seeing everyone from grandchildren to elderly grandfathers and grandmothers participating in the festival wearing Iron Maiden T-shirts.”
There is an image that more than America that Europe has an enthusiastic fan base regarding Babymetal. How did you yourself feel about this?
Kobametal: “Since each country has its own way of reacting to and enjoying Babymetal, it is difficult for me to say which country is the most enthusiastic about Babymetal, but I do have the impression that within even Europe it is especially Germany and England in which there seems to be a bigger ratio of fans excited about Rock and Heavy Metal. Through the tour I heard from various people from many different countries that when Japanese artists perform in Europe it is usually the Asians living in Europe or people who are interested in Japanese culture that come to these shows, but that with Babymetal the fan base is different.”
Is there anything that you feel is interesting in the difference between the Japanese fans and the European fans?
Kobametal: “That would be that they really “sing a lot”.”
In England long time standing Metal media sources such as “Hammer” or “Kerrang” have been out and upfront in covering Babymetal. Please let us know your straight, unadulterated feelings regarding this.
Kobametal: “I feel it is a great honor.”
I am certain that you have received a great deal of foreign media coverage up to this point, and I would like to know if this differs from the Japanese media in any way?
Kobametal: “There does not seem to be too much different in the way both the Japanese media and the foreign media cover Babymetal as being a unique presence, but I feel that since the overseas cultures do not have the concept of Idol that the foreign press tends to treat Babymetal more as an artist in their own right or as Metal band. And I feel that the overseas media seems to be more enthusiastic in their coverage.”
Q: Along with Sonisphere of course, I feel that Babymetal acting as the opening band for Lady Gaga was an extremely precious experience for the girls. How do you, Kobametal-san yourself feel about this?
Kobametal: “Even if they differ in genres I feel it was an extremely important experience for Babymetal to be able to travel on a tour with an artist that is performing on the world stage.”
Q: In Japan the number of Metal fans who come to Babymetal shows dressed in Metal T-shirts has increased and because of Babymetal there are many former Metal fans who are returning to the fold so it seems that Babymetal has touched the hearts and minds of many Metal fans. What do you think about this situation?
Kobametal: “I feel that this is a sign that the Metal Resistance is moving steadily ahead.”
Q: Are you still responsible for the BGM that is played as fans file into Live performances? And if this is so is there something that you are paying attention to in selecting the songs played following the overseas warrior training journey? There are cases of Iron Maiden songs being prevalent and with the recent SSA there were many Judas Priest songs played…
Kobametal: “I am pretty sure that the songs selected are according to the whims of Kitsune-Sama on that day.”
Q: On January 10th at the Saitama Super Arena (SSA) there were about 20,000 fans in attendance. This is something in the Metal world in Japan that has not happened recently for Live performances. What do you, Kobametal-san think of this excitement?
Kobametal: “Since I have the impression that we were allowed to appear in the Loud Park event known as the “Big show” I was a bit worried whether we could fill out the arena with just Babymetal fans. And so when we were actually able to fill the entire arena with a sold out show I was filled with excitement.”
Q: I am sure that you are looking forward anxiously to the new overseas developments from May. And we here at “Hedoban” are looking forward both mentally and “financially” to this development (laughs). Is there a possibility of Babymetal venturing into unknown foreign countries?
“There was a monster inside of me. When I snapped that monster out of me it flew off and bounded freely away.”
Where did she come from?
The following is a 15,000 character interview pursuing the truth about Su-metal.
When I am in good condition everything goes smoothly as if someone has taken me by the hand and is leading me on. Everything proceeds exactly as I wish it to, almost as if I am seeing reality 1 or 2 seconds ahead of time.
We shall start out with a super long interview with Su-metal.
No matter how gigantic the stage or venue may be her vocal ability is so incredible that her voice spreads out equally to the farthest possible reaches. Her voice has a galant power to it that makes us the listener sit up with our backs straight at attention. There is a perception of some kind of centripetal force emanating from the stage the instant she makes her appearance. These are all aspects of of this girl who brings this very rare entity known as Babymetal into being and to whom alone these incredible powers belong. Earlier in the introduction for this publication I wrote that it is the existence of all three members that is absolutely essential but to add or expand on that I feel that it is Su-metal’s overwhelming power and abilities that must be placed first and foremost.
This article’s aim is to dive deeply and thoroughly into this girl in her role as a singer and to unravel truth behind Su-metal’s almost Miko-like <Miko-a mystical shrine maiden> way of performing and how it all fits together. Where did this greatest of all symbols of Babymetal- Su-metal, come from? As I was listening to her tell her story I was moved emotionally from beginning to end.
Shall we start things out by talking about the album? Now that you have completed this second album, what is your state of mind at the moment?
The first album was used as kind of a business card for all of us. And since I felt that we had created an album that represented us to that level when I heard that we would be putting out a second album, speaking honestly, I felt a great deal of pressure. And so we started recording with this kind of pressure as a backdrop but I feel that this recording had even more of an unique and individualistic feel to it and the lyrics and melodies were more mature in nature and I felt that there were more aspects that approached closer to our current state of affairs. And so I felt that there were so many songs on this album that I could feel were part of my own outlook on life.
When you speak of pressure what exactly is the feeling of it on your side?
I loved the first album and there was a feeling that we are also creating new songs as we traveled around on tours for 2 years while performing these songs. In the midst of that I felt that we are creating new songs was something I felt and so I thought that each and every new song was of great importance and that they all stand for what Babymetal is all about. And so I was unsure about whether they could truly reflect the state of this new form of Babymetal and how can we show this was a bit of a source of worry. But as we went on to perform these new songs this all changed into a sense of fun and so it was only the early stages that were worrisome.
I see. The comparison between the the new album and the first one and whether you can make a great new album was a source of stress. Wasn’t this a source of great stress for you?
Hmm…let me think about this. Just taking upon the challenge of making new songs was in and of itself a source of stress. Just by performing songs over this 2 year period and fostering new songs these new songs must have a have greater quality is what is expected in the world and that pressure is there. And so I felt that in accordance with those expectations we must raise the levels of the songs.
Every time I see you perform I think the same thing, it is much more like you do not think, ‘We must perform properly as is written in some curriculum, but rather we must go beyond what we did before and how shall we do that?’ And that is how I see you doing your live performances.
When we first started Babymetal that is how we worked as hard as we could to do our shows. But now it is more a feeling of wanting to enjoy our songs as they are. It is more like we are now more able to respond to the reactions of the audience and what is more is that live shows can be really difficult (laughs). They are really tough, but since we have already overcome the difficulties of previous shows, even if we think, ‘what is this song now?’ we can now say to ourselves we have already been through all this and are now full of confidence and this confidence that comes from doing so many shows is of great importance, I think.
I will ask this simply. You do shows that make me think how in the world do you hold yourselves together through the whole show. What is it that gets you through all of this?
(laughs) We started our shows without know much about other music or other live performances in our Babymetal performances and that is how we approached our live performances for the most part.
You were not aware of the other ways of performing but were told that your performances were incredible. Is that how it has been for you?
Yes, that is how it has been.
But what is important must be that when you realized that Babymetal has been doing the same thing as other surrounding acts, I would think.
No actually, contrary to that, when we were told that and that it was great we realized that what we do with Babymetal is something that only we can do which led to us having a great deal of confidence. And so we want to put a great deal of emphasis on this. And so, of course since we want to not lose to what we did at a live performance yesterday and do not want to be beaten by our selves of yesterday, we get stronger and stronger in our determination to keep getting better day by day.
You are a type of people who are only able to live doing your best that kind of environment.
That may just be true (laughs).
Your default button is different from other people. We could even say that you are slightly broken (laughs).
(laughs) We performed a the BudouKan and at the RokumeiKan and those two performances were really tough for the three of us. Conversely, I would like to see how things would play out if we did the same set list as we did then now. That could be a sign that I want to feel how much I myself have grown perhaps.
Are you talking about physical stamina?
I think the strongest thing is the physical side of things. We really were totally fatigued with those shows. I think the ability to have some physical power remaining is a pre-requisite to being able to being able to enjoy things.
But, of course you must get tired out. Su-metal is human after all.
That is true (laughs)
It is generally thought that it is rather rather rock-ish for a band to end a concert because they have gotten all tired out. But, Babymetal differs from that way of thinking. You feel that it is more in line with your world view to show your bodily reactions as they are to the audience. It seems that you are ready to deal with those situations and feel responsible for them strongly. How is that for you?
I really feel this way. And that is that I feel like I am a totally different personality on the stage. When I exit the stage I immediately feel like something has gone away from me. And so I think that there is a separate personality that is assisting me. When I am in good condition for a live show, it feels like there is a someone or something taking me by the hand and leading me along so that all goes well. So, I feel a high sense of pride when on stage. It is as if I must carry out a mission to mysteriously be really cool on stage.
I see. Could you speak in more detail about the feeling of someone leading you when you are on stage? What kind of feeling is it?
What kind of feeling is it…..? From the middle of a show toward the end…it is like how they say that sometimes when you are running a marathon and you are really tired out but for some reason you get into a kind of high and make it through to the end faster than even the first half. It is a feeling like that I think. It may be that toward the end of a show I get into a higher state of consciousness and actually enjoy it more that usual perhaps. It is like we have made it this far so the rest will be all OK. It is like when I am singing and I think I will sing in a certain way and the voice that I thought would come out comes out exactly as I hoped. And when I am dancing I think this is how I want to dance in a cool manner and as I think that I am able to pull it off exactly as I had hoped. It is as if I am 1 or 2 seconds ahead in time watching myself making it possible for everything to go just as I want. Especially it was when we were playing at the Saitama Super Arena and when we were performing ‘Road of Resistance’ it felt like the ‘Whoa, whoa’ of the fans was totally supporting me making me feel like, ”Alright, everyone follow along with us’-that kind of feeling. I get into a place where I have a very strong feeling and from time to time there is a ‘me’ that gets enveloped in that sensation and that seems to be happening more and more recently.
I see. That is similar to this occurrence in the sports world.
Yes, that could be the same thing.
It is reported that when Ichiro was asked why he went out of his way to hit a pitch that didn’t make it to home plate and he had to hit it after it bounced one time, he said that his body had just responded to it without his thinking about it. That seems similar to your situation. It is as if he (you) are just following through with something that has already been decided.
That’s true. And so when things have not gone well there are times I think to myself that ‘I want to get off the stage’. That seldom ever happens though. There are times when things are really tough and in the early days I had a sense of resistance against the shows we performed away from our home ground. But, even if I felt that way there I was, for some reason, back up on the stage. So, I think that there must be a ‘me’ that is like that and as I was listening to your story just now I remembered all that. It is a feeling that whatever I want to do will go off just as I want it to. When that happens it is an extremely good feeling.
When did you first ever feel that way?
In last year’s Zepp tour. Up to that time there were instances where I would get into a good state mind and everything would go exceedingly well as if being lead by someone but it was around this time that I was able to truly understand this phenomena inside my own mind.
When you were able to understand it, how did you feel?
I felt relieved and at ease. Since up to that point in time I could not understand why I could think things would be alright and once I was able to truly figure it out in my head I was able to say to myself, ‘Don’t forget, you are totally ready for anything’. I gained an unshakable confidence that most likely in the future there will be many occasions where everything will work out perfectly without my trying, if I can put it like that.
In the project known as Babymetal this aspect of Su-metal being led in the way you feel it is something that I feel is of great importance. Stating this simply it is as if the project itself becomes a trifling thing at the instant that you want to ‘express yourself as a you are in your individual human character’. Do you understand this point of view?
Yes, I do.
Regarding this the way you are as yourself, as ‘you’ is something that you have developed on your own. I would feel that this is exactly equivalent to having a separate personality.
That is so. There is a scene in the song ‘Doki Doki Morning’ which we were performing from the very early stages of Babymetal where we have a dance move where we lie down, right? When we first performed that song the audience got all excited when we did that, right? At that time I remember a ‘me’ that felt like, ‘OK, we did that!’. Up to that point in time I would have felt that having the audience laugh at what we did would be rather embarrassing, but that time there was a ‘me’ who was able to think it was a happy incident. At that time, I realized that there is a ‘me’ who is different from the normal, day to day, ‘me’. From that point on I started to look upon a Babymetal ‘me’ that is different from my everyday self. That feeling has not changed from that point to now, and now there is a ‘me’ that enjoys performing as that separate personality. At times I am able to view myself from a 3rd person perspective and my usual self is kind of able to design my other self you could say to do things in a more interesting manner. Doing things like this I am able to enjoy things from my side of things. Since I am now of the understanding that there are things that ‘this me’ can do there are things that most likely only this created version of myself can do. I would not go so far as to say it is a manga like character but I do at times feel that this version of myself will be completely fine with whatever she does. And so I feel that there is nothing I can not do in a live performance.
The level of trust you put in your other self is truly amazing. She is totally fine, or something like that must be the way you feel.
Yes, that is right (laughs). I think that is how I feel. I totally trust her.
You trust her and you have opened your heart and mind totally to this existence known as Su-metal and you must really like this Su-metal figure. You must also have the sense on your end of wanting to make this character into the strongest Su-metal possible. Why is it do you think that you have become a person who enjoy this situation?
I wonder why that is myself. But, recently I think to myself that perhaps that Metal is that kind of thing.
That is very perceptive. I think you are spot on with that.
When you listen to Metal it is not a listening that takes place with your ears, but is rather something that enters your heart and mind and strikes you emotionally. I think that when you listen to music with your usual approach you do so with your ears, but when you go to a live show it hits you with a stab to the heart and it flips your normal common sense on its head. And so I feels to me that this existence known as Su-metal is a totally different type of personality that completely out of the ordinary, you see. So when I attempt to deal with this character as just another human being because she is so far removed from myself we get into fights with each other. So, rather than deal with Su-metal in that manner if I let her have some space away from me I am able to look upon her from an objective position and even cheer her on – I am able to give her advice and support you could say. If we were one and the same person I think I would be afraid to make mistakes.
Listening to you talk right now I get the feeling that by you attempting to get this other you some space and distance from you that she must have been with you from the very first live performance, right?
Yes, I think so. It is often said that people have two faces or something to that effect, right? So, speaking in the sense of that meaning I think in my case that this other personality is my other face and I first thought that at that time.
An ordinary person would get into an internal duel in that situation. It would be like where can I go to satisfy my own desires and impulses, or something like that. But that is not the case with Su-metal. You have a sound, healthy kind of pressure on you with a sense of responsibility. How do you think this was fostered in Su-metal?
The instant I discovered this other face of mine, and this goes for the music that drew this out of me as well, I was thought that more than anything it was truly interesting that I have been able to see this other face. It is as if there is a monster existing in my heart and mind. I thought to myself what would happen if I were to let that monster go free. And when I let snapped it away from myself it flew off and away freely. Ever since that time she only makes her appearance in live performances. Now in her freedom she continues to grow bigger and bigger as she moves around wildly in her natural state. When I came to realize what was happening her existence came to be extremely important to me. And that is how I feel about this other entity.
I see. You have a clear sense that this existence known as Su-metal is an entity that was born out of you, correct?
Yes, that is the sense I have.
So you could say that it is not like you are acting out something that is totally unknown to you but is rather perhaps better to say that it is like a monster seed that was in you has grown to what it is now.
It is kind of like this, that this girl grows bigger bigger and stronger when she ventures to a new place, then returns to where she was and this cycle keeps repeating itself. It is a feeling kind of like that.
I would like to take this talk a step further. I think that this feeling of having a monster within you from before makes Su-metal grow in dimension. What is it that connects you to this existence known as Su-metal that was inside you from the outset?
I too wonder about that. This is something that I don’t really understand all that well myself. Part of it is I am able to enjoy pressure, and when there is some kind of emergency or out of the ordinary happening that occurs there is something there that I had never felt with my ordinary day to day self before. So, this feeling of being able to have fun even when playing away from Japan and being able to enjoy traveling overseas is something that I feel that I had never experienced with my usual self.
You learned that this is something to get really excited about. This must be a feeling that you could most definitely not come to just by merely singing songs as a girl on your own and that now without this you could not go on living, or that you would fall into a state where something vital is missing from your life.
Honestly the more we do live shows the more I want to keep performing. I am extremely grateful for being able to perform as Babymetal and to be able to thus meet up with this side of myself and yet every time we do a show I wonder to myself if this is OK. Meaning I worry have gotten to a place where I am not able to stop doing this. Su-metal allows me to expel from myself the things that I don’t like that are hidden deep inside of myself along with any stress I may have – all of the things like that. So, if this girl were to hide away, and I had to return to my old self, I think it would be a really difficult thing to do.
How different are you comparing yourself before a live performance starts with how you are after it ends?
I wonder how much myself. Again my way of explaining this might sound a bit strange, but it is like if I had a clump of chocolate, a clump that was inside of me that is. That clump of chocolate would melt from the heat of the live performance and become this light, soft thing. It is a feeling kind of like that. It is like it all becomes liquified, like my heart and mind totally open up, and even though my body is totally tired out, or rather perhaps in proportion to that, my mind, heart and spirit and all that are all set totally free. Because of that I am pretty sure that the live shows get rid of my stress. Also, I feel like I have gotten stronger…when we have completed a show that is. There is a feeling of having gotten stronger by playing a fighting style of game, right? It is like that but just one rank higher. I feel that I have gotten stronger to point that if some subtitles appeared on the screen saying so, I don’t think that would be out of place (laughs).
Hahaha…I follow what you mean.
Especially since we started touring overseas the environment changes with each and every new venue. The way the fans get into and enjoy the songs differ and the aspects of the shows that the fans of each location find interesting also differ. I made new discoveries that some fans would find ‘this’ or ‘that’ interesting and that whole experience is a kind of a sense of a new kind of study for me. With the conclusion of each and every live performance I get a really strong feeling of having accomplished something and that is especially so for the overseas shows.
In this thing called Babymetal I feel that it would be appropriate to say that it has been your role regarding Su-metal to stoically eliminate your own desires and wants for the overall picture. And while that is a correct interpretation of things now that Su-metal has gotten an understanding of the underlying good feeling of her existence there must be an even furthered motivation in this direction.
The existence known as Su-metal is something that lies so outside of normal common sense that she became a separate personality on her own.
If I attempt to deal with this character as just another human being because she is so far removed from myself we get into fights with each other and I fear I will make mistakes.
And so no matter how heavy or tough of a situation you find yourself in, because you know that you will feel great after overcoming it you come to crave that feeling. I feel that that style works better as a way of explaining this perhaps.
I personally do not think I am particularly stoic. I just simply and honestly enjoy doing the live shows and they have become kind of an addiction. They may be hard and tough but because I know how incredibly wonderful is the sense of accomplishment when I have overcome those difficulties is what makes me keep going.
I think that is right. You are undertaking a strong training and so your desire to move on ahead must also be equally outrageously strong. It could be perhaps considered to be like a black hole in its level of desire.
That just might be correct (laughs). I think that that desire and craving is really big in nature.
In most cases this is referred to as talent, right? It is like even if you eat and eat you are never satisfied.
Probably it is because I have met up with the existence of music, or songs that I have been able to realize my own existence and that may be the reason that because I seen this as my life work that I have been able to come this far with it.
It is wonderful that there is this thing called singing. It is wonderful that we have songs. What do kind of person do you think you would be now if we didn’t?
I am so glad that they exist (laughs). I am sometimes told that I am, ‘an either 0 or 100 type of person’. And I think this is exactly right. I didn’t continue on in my studies with extra-curricular classes at all and the only one I continued on with was singing. When I realized that I truly only enjoy studying singing I thought that this is the path for me. Once I realized that I totally dived into it. Recently I have really come to understand that I am a type of person who really digs into what she loves to do when she comes across it. I see only that and everything else falls by the wayside, out of sight. I think that just by nature that is the type of person that I am.
Up to this point we have focused on the mental side of things, but from now I want to hear about the songs. In the truest sense the most awesome thing for you is singing, I feel. This discovery of this style of singing is the greatest weapon for Su-metal and it has gone on to be the most interesting side of Babymetal. Were the songs of Su-metal like they are now from the very beginning?
I think from the outset, from the beginning, that they were like this. I don’t have a graspable sense of it but since I was told that I have a good vocal quality from people I feel that that may be the case. But that said, for me I am just singing in an ordinary manner from my way of thinking.
Is that said as Su-metal? Or are you singing as you yourself?
Let me think about that. When the songs veer into the realm of hot, passionate types of songs I think feeling-wise I transform into Su-metal but the vocal qualities are obviously my own from the outset. I feel that the singing ‘me’ is the real me.
In a manner of speaking that may be that you are giving permission to your own emotions or something like that.
Yes, that sounds right. And so, said in the best sense of that meaning this existence known as Su-metal and myself may be creating songs out of a mixed combination between the two of us.
The singing and the songs go on to become more incredible step by step. Many varied songwriters have written songs for this new album and it seems that the span of the songs has really widened when compared with the first album. Along with thinking that this is due partly because of the increased skill on the side of the persons creating the album it seems that you the singers and performers of Babymetal have rapidly changed and because of this your growth is an element that leads to the changes in the songs. The thing more than anything else that has drawn out the wonderfulness of this album is none other than the three of you. How do you feel when you have been told this?
The way I sing now compared with the say I sang when we were making the first album is different. When we were first starting out it was all I could do to just meet the demands of the Babymetal songs and doing the Babymetal live shows and I was just doing my utmost to successfully deal with the work that we had been given but now I have been able to get to a place beyond all that and now have a leeway to be able to enjoy these things. I think it is a big change to now be able to make the choreography and the way of singing more fun and enjoyable, to be able pay attention to how the fans are working with the shows and to include them to sing with us – in other words there is more a sense of play in everything now. The songs on this album have a sense of playfulness about them. I want to expand the world of Babymetal more widely. A rebirth after 2 years is what this album reflects, I think.
Putting it briefly, I feel that this album is an expression of who the three of you are. Writing music or writing songs and these kinds of things are of course important but they are not the essential core thing. It is because it is Su-metal who is singing that these songs all come together. It is because of your singing and all that goes with it that this wonderful work of expression has been brought into existence here and now, I feel. The more the three of you grow in greatness the more the works of music that you create will advance in greatness and I feel that the three of are aware of this cycle.
The appreciation and understanding that it is an interesting process to see the music change as we continue to carry on doing live shows is something that has begun to come to fruition lately. And that is because as we travel around doing tours together with the Kami band members, the music of the bands as well as our way of singing all changes as we move from show to show. While I don’t think there is a right way or a wrong way to perform music, I do feel that the music that we are playing now is a wonderful thing. The music on the 1st album has changed since we put it out as an album and since the music that we put out as the 2nd album will also go on to change I am of the feeling that I want to be able to enjoy that process.
Do have a sense of confidence about and an awareness of the fact that you are able to envelop the people around through your own efforts and you own performances?
Yes, I guess so. I do have a strong desire to bring people along through the power of song. This is because being at the center position when we do live performances I have the feeling that it is my role to lead on the two girls at my side, the band members, the staff and all of the fans as well. I hope that that sense of responsibility will come together with my singing and I will be able to lead all of this along as we move ahead.
Babymetal is a project that is composed of the ideas and love of a variety of people, right? But I get the feeling that somewhere inside of you you have the feeling that in the end equation that if I, Su-metal, am stable and have my stuff together that Babymetal will be just fine. You must have a determined mindset something like that I would assume.
I do have that mindset. There is a sense of pride that goes along with taking up the center position. I surely have the sense of being supported by everyone but also I most definitely have the feeling that am in a position where I must lead everyone on as well. And also, because I have the tangible realization that I am growing and developing through the help of everyone’s power with each show that we do I also know that I must continue to grow in light of the meaning behind this.
Around when was it that you first felt this feeling that you must lead people on?
As you can probably guess it was when we did our first solo show I think. In that show we had to sing 5 songs in succession and following that in the shows in the early stages of Babymetal we would gradually get tired out during the shows and that was something that we felt quite often. On top of that the final song at that time was ‘Ijime, Dame, Zettai’ and Moametal and Yuimetal were so incredibly serious performing the fight scene at the end. When they would get to the point of being so into what they were doing that it was a question of whether they could even stand up or not that I felt I had to be strong and steadfast on my side of things. In that period before the Kami band had joined us it was just the three of us doing all the singing and dancing and it was in that period that I was of the mindset that it was up to me to lead the other two along. Following that as the number of staff members increased and the number of fans increased and as I began to realize that I was being supported by everyone, the scale of the whole thing gradually grew bigger and bigger.
When you would get tired out and you felt things were getting tough you would see these two girls who you have to pull along giving it all they have right in front of you. And so seeing them doing their utmost best you felt you had to make even stronger efforts, right?
Yes, that is right. The year before last when we were performing at a lot of Festivals in Japan, there were many really tough situations performing under the glaring sun where they would be dancing so wild and aggressively that their shoes would fall apart or other things like that would happen. The staff would be watching over the situation from the stage wings with a look of apprehension and worry and I would be feeling the same watching them dancing in front of me on the stage, and it was at those times that even though I would feel overwhelmed or feel like giving up, seeing those two going at it at 100% that I realized that I just can not slacken up and give in to the pressure. It was from around that time that I started to get stronger.
So, do you mean to say that you began to think that you should be singing songs for other people and not for your own self?
Yes, that is right. Yes, when singing ‘Ijime, Dame, Zettai’ there were times when the strength of ‘Ijime! Dame!’ would overlay exactly with how I was feeling.
The reason I am asking you about this in such detail is because the way Su-metal resolves her mind to the task at hand or you could say how she carries the burden of this mission on her back runs on a parallel line with the story of Babymetal itself and is kind of a ledger of its growth and development, you see. In the world view of Babymetal the tale of the Metal Resistance is advancing along but at the same time there is also running alongside it the story of the growth and development of Su-metal herself and this a kind of thing that if either of these stories drop in precision the whole thing will fall apart.
Since this is a made up world there are times when I want to place myself inside this world that differs from ordinary reality and I sometimes want to run and play around inside it. I feel that after all there is someone, and I feel it is Kitsune-sama, who is pulling and leading this whole thing along. And it is all I can do just to keep up with it and not fall behind. Even at this point in time I have that kind of feeling. Since there is always some challenge at hand, even if I think I have overcome one of the tasks there is always a new one that pops up. I think that it is kind of a rule that we must live by and that is that we must keep running ahead.
Speaking from my perspective I would say that it is not that you have become who you are because there is rule like that, but rather it is because you are the kind of person you are that has brought this rule into existence. (laughs)
Moving on, for you what is the newest thing in the ‘Metal Resistance’?
I would say, ‘Road of Resistance’. Ever since encountering this song my sense of responsibility has gotten larger, and I think I have become more of an adult by singing this song. I am of the feeling that this song mirrors exactly what kind of situation I find myself in at the present. Last year we carried out our activities centering on the theme of traveling down this pathless road, the ‘Road of Resistance’ as we pioneered a new path for us. You know, I listen to ‘Road of Resistance’ in my daily life as it is a piece of music that really encourages me. I think it is a song that is extremely symbolic of Babymetal at the moment. Also, since it is a song that is able to grant me a mysterious sense of confidence that makes me feel if we jump on the sense of speed of this song that we will be able to go anywhere we like. When I listen to the lyrics of ‘Road of Resistance’ they seem be a bit of an exaggeration but actually that is not so because here I am in a place and situation that is not an exaggeration. I feel like it expresses who I am. I think that the world view of this song is one that is a theme of a time similar to that of the era of the warring states in Japan. But differing from that time, this is not about a anguishing type of battle but rather a battle that we fight so that all of us can become as One, you could say. A sense of accomplishment comes into being when we overcome some kind of difficulty and because we have overcome obstacles together we can all become a unified One. Thinking along those lines that is probably why I always think that performing live shows is kind of like fighting a battle.
These live performances are a battle with the aim of all us coming together as One.
So, in that sense I am always fighting this battle.
Since I feel the destination of where this battle ends is place that feels good where one has been lead by someone as I stated earlier, it feels to me that when one listens to this song you can see that it expresses who we are. And so, when I am singing in a live show it feels so wonderful. It is like, ‘Ah, it is happening now!’.
I see, it is like you feel that you can enter that state of being.
Yes, there is a good feeling when we elongate that final ‘Resistance’ in the song. Sometimes I stretch it out a bit too long and it seems like in ends up with Moametal and Yuimetal being in a rather uncomfortable body position for quite some time (laughs). At times the calls from the fans of ‘Whaaaa’ feels so good that I stretch it out a bit too long. There are times when that happens. I am so happy that we are able to share a song together like this. That is because I think that parts of songs like this really express how I feel.
I see. The other song on this album that I felt was really great is ‘No Rain, No Rainbow’. What I think is especially good about it is that I feel the meaning of the song really comes to life through the fact that Su-metal is singing it.
(laughs) I get what you mean.
This might be a strange way of expressing what I mean, but for example, the lyrics of, ‘Even desperation changes into light’ <Zetsubou sae mo, Hikari ni naru> is rather difficult to understand. But when one hears it sung as a song, the feeling conveyed by the words, ‘Even desperation changes into light’ are made easy to understand. I feel there is some like of magic at work there. I think that what it is that is casting that magic spell is that Su-metal is singing it.
This song was already completed just before we released the first album and would have not been out of place to have been included on it. But, it was the first time for me to sing a ballad and moreover speaking honestly, I had a hard time understanding what it meant and would approach it as for the time being all I needed to do was to get a good grasp on the melody of the song and try not to make mistakes with the lyrics when I performed it at live shows. I have the impression to myself that if we had included it on the first album it would not have had the effect that it deserves. After doing many shows over two years I think that it is a song that I can only now sing as it should be sung. Seeing people come to tears listening to this song in the live shows I now have the first hand realization that some songs can move people emotionally on a deep level. And so now inside of me I have the conviction that it was a correct decision to include it on this album.
It is difficult to understand the meaning of ‘Even desperation changes into light’ just by reading the lyrics, but when Su-metal sings this phrase I listen to her voice and think to myself, ‘Yes, even desperation has changed into light’ (laughs). This is a kind of magic possessed by pop music. Speaking of things from the perspective of a gigantic world view I feel that whether a singer can stir people’s hearts and minds emotionally in a real tangible way or not depends upon the degree of power possessed by the singer and his or her ability to properly interpret the lyrics and the intent of the music. I think that Su-metal has gone deeply into this on a variety of songs. And so, I would love to hear what you are thinking when you are singing.
There is a world view inside of myself created for each separate song. For example, I have called up various colors and scenery for the songs and in each song I will decide on one particular lyrical part that I especially like and will attempt to sing those lyrics with stupendous importance. That will, of course, change from show to show however. That is something that I deliberately try to do. For songs where it is the three of us dancing together we like to get together and envision ‘where we are at a certain point in the song’. Just by bringing the scenery that we see together in unison really helps to put our dance moves into harmony with each other.
Is that something different from determining what character you will act for each separate song?
In the early days such as for songs like, ‘Doki Doki Morning’ and the like I would make distinctions in acting out characters for the songs. For instance, I would distinguish them separately part by part where in one case I would act in a cute manner, in another I would act cooly and in still others I would perform in more of a robot-like manner. And those parts I would separate by facial expressions and dance moves but recently I feel that I can do all this without separating them like that and so now don’t do that.
So what do you consider to be the part of being a singer that has changed the most?
I have come to try to convey as properly as possible the meaning of the lyrics and that is the case with ‘No Rain, No Rainbow’ as well. Up until recently I would be focusing on singing in the right pitch, or whether to stretch my voice out here or there, or to try not to make mistakes with the lyrics and so I placed the majority of my awareness on making sure I was doing the fundamental aspects of performing correctly. However, I have come to realize that there is something more important than all of that. I now try in particular to convey the meaning of the lyrics and try to enjoy the music and you could say there is now more emphasis on performing with my own feelings being given more priority. By doing so I am better able to see the reactions of the fans. Up until recently I had the feeling thatI had to kind of hole up in my own world and just make sure that I sang correctly, but now I am able to open up my heart and mind a bit more and sing taking into consideration the thoughts of the fans as well. I have come to realize that that is what a live performance is really all about. That incorporation of the thoughts of the fans may come from a totally outrageous direction and yet I have to be able to deal effectively with that and even have come to be able to enjoy those kinds of situations.
You have come to see what it is that you need to do and you have a strong sense that you are being led on by something at a rapid pace, it seems. So even if something occurs that just totally knocks you off course you are able to get to where you need to go to – you have a feeling that everything will always work out just fine. Is that how it is for you?
It could be that I have reached a point where I can feel that since I already know what the end outcome will be it doesn’t really matter what happens along the way. My confidence has grown much stronger.
I want to ask you one more thing in conclusion. Several years have elapsed since Babymetal started and now you have arrived at this new album. Inclusive of all that and regarding what you yourself can do for Babymetal and what you yourself can do for Su-metal, what is it that has changed the most?
What I think regarding the existence known as Su-metal at the moment is that up until now I have kind of said to her, ‘Please, go out and have fun’ and have let her fly around and do as she wants in freedom, but now perhaps I could say that I am able to tell her to ‘come back’ as is proper for her to do. I think that because my mind has opened up that much to try and accept her existence. Up to now it has been as if she was just running around at her own heart’s desire and the tale of Babymetal was also moving on and being created in and of its own accord and it felt like for some reason that I was just watching that objectively. Even now I think it is like that to some extent, but recently I get the sense that I myself am also now a part of all that. And so, my own growth and development and the growth and development of Su-metal are proceeding ahead at the same time and pace and in addition to that the growth and development of Babymetal is also proceeding along simultaneous with these two. I feel that perhaps the opportunities for me to enter into the tale of Su-metal have increased. I have the sense that I have been able to allow the existence known as Su-metal to enter more into myself and we have become closer in distance to each other.
You have really come to understand Su-metal, right?
In the live performances and other similar circumstances I occasionally get the sense that I am standing right behind her watching what unfolds in an objective manner. So, it is like I will be saying to myself while ‘I’ am singing, ‘the audience is really amazing today’, or, ‘the two girls are really doing their best’ or things like that (laughs) Occasionally there are times when I see things from an intensely 3rd party perspective. I could be perhaps that those times are the instances when I have unexpectedly come back to my own self.
What do you think or feel when those kinds of experiences happen?
It feels like that feeling you get when you catch yourself nodding off to sleep on a train. That happens and then I come gently back and the show kind of begins again. For a split second everything moves in slow motion, you see. And so, when a live performance ends more than anything else it is those instances that I remember more than anything else. What I feel in those split seconds is really amazing. There are times recently where I feel I am wandering around half dazed and not able to know if I am in the world of reality or in an unreal world (laughs).
The main theme for today’s interview was ‘Who is Su-metal?’. I had my own hypothesis set up in my head but now I feel I understand this question much better. From one point of view you could say you are a very stoic singer, and from another perspective you could say you are a person who has a very strong, intense desire and who handles that desire well. Thinking about it once again, how do you yourself think about this question?
I think I am really full of desires. When I perform in a show, and this is especially true with Babymetal as they truly are amazing…the Babymetal shows, right? Once you experience that you can’t dismiss the desire to do it again. Naturally I want more of that experience and I know very well that in order to be able to continue with this I have grow and develop myself. With every show we do the pressure gets bigger and the pressure I put on myself as goes up. However, I have really come to know that there is a truly splendid world that I can experience and enjoy that is much bigger than all of that. So the give and take between those two goes on repeating. Even as we are speaking I want to be performing like nothing else (laughs). I get really impatient waiting to perform. We are doing rehearsals at the moment and even just rehearsing I can get a good sense of achievement (laughs).
On May 6th, Sakura Gakuin put on its ‘Sakura Gakuin 2016 Nendo ~ Transfer student entrance ceremony ~’ at Tokyo’s Nakano Sun Plaza Hall.
In March at the Graduation ceremony the three 3rd year Jr. High school students of Isono Rinon, Ooga Saki and Shirai Saki graduated from Jr. High which of course means they also graduate from Sakura Gakuin bringing the membership rooster of Sakura Gakuin into a 9 member unit. At the ‘ Transfer student entrance ceremony’ held today the 2016 Nendo raised the curtain with the introduction of 3 new Transfer students, Jr. High school 1st student, Shintani Yutzumi and the Elementary school 6th grade students, Aritomo Tsugumi and Mori Momoe.
To start things off the current nine members of, Kurashima Sara, Kurosawa Mirena, Yamaide Aiko, Okada Megumi, Okasaki Momoko, Aso Maaya, Hidaka Marin, Fujihira Kano and Yoshida Soyoka made their appearance on the stage and started the event with a performance of ‘Verishuvi’. They continued on with performances of ‘Chime’ and ‘Otome Gokoro’ and then did self introductions making use of the theme of their favorite color. In these introductions Yoshida and Yamaide said they like red, Kurosawa said she likes blue, Aso stated orange, Kurashima favors yellow, Fujihira said she likes light blue, Okasaki said she likes the pastel color of purple while Okada said she likes pink which ‘matches perfectly with Megu’ and Hidaka said she likes olive green the best.
After performing with high levels of energy and fun, the charming song ‘Hana Hana’ with its cute choreography, ‘Song for smiling’ which highlighted the proficient English abilities of Hida and the Sakura colored flag waving song of ‘Hello! IVY’, the nine girls temporarily exited the stage. This was followed by Yoshida giving it her all to introduce Sakura Gakuin merchandise as her responsibility as the now solo member of the Koubaibu <Purchasing club> due to the graduation last Nendo of her previous partner, Shirai Saki. The event then moved on to a presentation of the new uniforms in the form of a fashion show. This fashion show introduced the charm points of the new uniforms set to a backdrop of a cool dance track.
Mori Hayashi also made his appearance in the home room section of the event. The comical skit routine where Yoshida would point out the main features of the new uniforms while Hidaka would totally over-react in the manner of a late night TV commercial sales show was met with huge laughter from the Fukei. After this, the event built up in excitement as Mori-sensei and the students talked about the new Transfer students. Amidst the backdrop of all kinds of speculation about the new Transfer students, Mori Hayashi announced that there would be three new members and went on to introduce them through a quiz show like format based on information about the new girls. Following this, the Transfer students of Shintani, Aritomo and More appeared on the stage and went on to break the Fukei into laughter by performing impersonations and other special talents that were revealed in the contents of the quiz show. The now 12 member Sakura Gakuin unit then performed ‘Friends’ and exited the stage.
A Student Council meeting was held as part of the encore which featured announcements about the members of the Student Council and their positions by the Principal, Kuramoto Mitsuru. These announcements revealed that Kurashima is to be the 6th generation Student Council President, the Vice President is to be Yamaide and Kurosawa was appointed to the newly established position of MC committee chief. Being appointed to the position of Vice President while still in the 2nd grade Yamaide stated that, ‘I am totally full of unease about this, but I hope that I can suport Sara and Mirena to go on to create a Sakura Gakuin that will develop as Sara and Mirena envision it to be’. Kurosawa peppered her statement with hope saying, ‘I don’t really yet know what is entailed by the position of MC committee chief but I will do everything I can and not hold back to become a MC that is able to draw out all of the individuality of each member’. The newly appointed Student Council President, Kurashima stated, in a powerful manner, ‘I am not like the other Student Council Presidents who proceeded me in that I was not a member of Sakura Gakuin from the beginning like they all were. I am shy and uncomfortable around people I am not familiar with and so am not of the kind of personality that fits this position and so I am sure there are some Fukei-san thinking to themselves, “Is it alright to have Sara as the President?”, but I want to present to the members and the Fukei-san a Sakura Gakuin that falls in line with all I have been taught by the Senpai that came before me. I don’t want to break the tradition that proceeds from the initial generation of Sakura Gakuin and so I will have confidence in myself and do my best with the 12 members in this year! Please look favorably upon this 2016 Nendo of Sakura Gakuin!’
Following the completion of the Student Council meeting the 12 girls performed ‘School days’ led by Kurashima and the debut song of Sakura Gakuin, ‘Yume ni Mukatte’. In conclusion the girls announced the upcoming event which will focus on the new Transfer Students-‘Sakura Gakuin 2016 ~ Transfer student orientation ~’ which will be held at Kanagawa’s Hamagin Hall Viamare on June 19th and brought the event to a close.
View of the ‘Sakura Gakuin 2016 Nendo ~ Transfer student entrance ceremony ~’
The new uniform Fashion show
The new Transfer Students. From the left, Mori Momoe, Aritomo Tsugumi, Shintani Yutzumi
Coming about two years following its debut album, Babymetal’s new album, ‘Metal Resistance’, richly and colorfully expresses the world of ‘Babymetal’ that has now been enhanced with the experiences gained from their World Tours.
Evermore freely expressing a Metal sound that is uniquely Babymetal
–I was truly surprised upon listening to this new album that the degree of ‘Metal-ness’ has increased even more than the first album. It is an absolutely wonderful album!
I think with this album that we have been able to express more freely our unique Babymetal form of Metal. I feel the range of our music has expanded on this album with cool songs as well as some cute ones.
The album has a really rich feel to it. There are songs that even make me laugh when listen to them. The song, ‘META! MetaTarou’ is especially very comfortable to ears with a music that seems familiar to the listener.
–How about Yuimetal? What are your thoughts?
Each song on the album has its own world view impressed into it and I feel that is very interesting. Also, I think when compared with the first album this one has more songs with lyrics that convey a message. Yuimetal tends to put emphasis on the lyrics when she listens to music so I hope that the meaning contained in the lyrics gets conveyed to the listener.
— I see.
The lyrics to ‘Sis. Anger’ are pretty scary (laughs). There are many factors in the album that really get me motivated when I listen to it. The songs, ‘Road of Resistance’ and ‘The One’ really tie in to our current state of affairs and I hope that the listener will also be able to make it have relevance to their lives.
–What do you mean when you say it ties in with your situation?
The feelings of pioneering a pathless road as in ‘Road of Resistance’ and of everyone coming together as a unified One in ‘The One’. Because we also have desire to make the world into one.
–Following your previous album you have carried out numerous overseas tours, right? How was last year’s World Tour that you kicked off with a performance in Mexico? I myself also made my way to the Mexico, Canda, Germany, France, Switzerland and Italy shows.
It was quite tough because of the drastic differences in temperature from country to country but we somehow had enough leeway to enjoy ourselves.
The World tour was quite a task but we are glad we did it-Death! Last year I was able to gain physical strength and stamina and I was so happy I was able to eat some many delicious foods.
— How about Yuimetal?
I did have feelings of apprehension about last year’s World tour but fact that it is the three of us gave me the mental support I needed to be able to overcome any obstacles.
— Speaking personally, the Bologna, Italy show really stands out in my mind. The Live house atmosphere of the venue was different that your other shows.
That show was particularly a tough one for us but it was just that difficulty that propelled us to do our absolute best.
Yes, that is so. When we are invited to a challenge it is at that time that we really get motivated. It was really hot in Italy but that really brought out a flow of adrenaline. We really had a gigantic sense of accomplishment after the conclusion of that show.
–Finishing up these tours has there been a change in how you approach your shows?
“Alright! The battle is about to begin. Everyone come along with us!” This is what I always say to myself to build myself up for a performance and that started with this World tour. Even ourselves have no idea what things will be like a year from now and so all we can do is continue to plow ahead. I really love the lyrics in ‘Amore-Aoihoshi’ of ‘this fate that continues to run on’ as it seems to hit home about the state of affairs we find ourselves in. To myself personally, Live shows are very close to the feeling of going into battle.
— I see. By the way, do you get a chance to do any sightseeing during the tours?
We saw some pyramids in Mexico. They were at a high elevation but it was really fun for us!
That really exhausted us (Laughs).
Hahaha….yes but that increased the value of our experience.
Switzerland really sticks in my memory. Because I love cheese and milk. The scenery that reminds one of Heidi of the Alps was really splendid.
I personally really love the stars. From our hotel window in Switzerland we could had a very good view of the stars and I would spend a lot of time gazing at them. They were truly beautiful.
–Also, last June at England’s biggest Metal Festival, ‘Download Fes’ you performed jointly with Dragon Force on ‘Gimme Choco!’.
We were unable to rehearse for that, you know.
We were amazed at just how much ‘Gimme Choco!’ could change. We were looking at each other with surprise in our eyes.
I was amazed that just by changing who plays the instruments that it could change that much.
— I follow you. I would like to touch upon your present work. ‘Karate’ is a song that you performed for the first time last December at Yokohama Arena. The song, along with the choreography, is one that makes a big impact.
‘Karate’ is my favorite song. They say that Karate ‘Begins with a bow and ends with a bow’ <as in bows of mutual respect>, right? That is something that I feel is essential for all of us in our lives. I also love the sense of the 3 of us fighting.
When we played ‘Road of Resistance’ and ‘Yaba!’ with the Kami band there were instances when the sound and the dance would link up perfectly. Those times feel so wonderful that I feel I could totally give myself up to them and everything would go totally smoothly. These two songs really grant one power.
While we haven’t performed at a show yet, my favorite is ‘META! MetaTarou’. It is a song we can all sing together and the choreography is such that it makes one want to mimic the movements. I really look forward to seeing everyone’s reaction to this one. And then there is ‘No Rain, No Rainbow’ a ballad that was quite a task for me to sing 2 years ago but which I am now able to take on, I feel.
— And there is the progressive metal song, ‘Tales of the Destinies’ which really blows things out of the water.
That was really difficult to record. I have no confidence to perform it live. (Laughs) Most likely this one will continue to cause me hardships from here on out.
It is scary thinking of working on the choreography for that song.
— The final song, ‘The One’ you performed for the first time suspended from a gondola at last December’s Yokohama Arena.
I am surprisingly not afraid of heights so I was not scared at all. Also, I was really moved by the fact that the fans began to sing along with us even though it was the first time to perform it. I thought if I looked down I would cry so I kept my eyes directed upward.
I am sure that during the World Tour the fans will want to sing along and I am happy that since it is mostly in English this song fills that need.
I want to foster and develop this song in a manner similar with ‘Road of Resistance’. I hope that by the time we perform it at the Tokyo Dome that ‘The One’ will come across almost as a different song from the time we performed it at Yokohama Arena.
— So this year you have the 2016 World Tour and it concludes with a performance at the Tokyo Dome.
The idea of playing at the Tokyo Dome has still not kicked in. I want to eat lots of delicious food again this year during the ‘World Tour 2016’ (Laughs).
I hope we can show the results of our overseas training when we perform at the Tokyo Dome.
During the ‘World Tour 2016’ I hope we will grow and develop into a Babymetal that is matches with the stature of the Tokyo Dome.
Whoa! Hey! Ooga breaks out in Ooga fashion in the Sakura Gakuin ‘Lesson on Rakugo’.
2016 January 22
Ooga Saki breaks up the crowd with her unique ‘Ariyo! Ariyo!’
Sakura Gakuin put on a ‘Lesson on Rakugo’ open class event at the Hamagin hall Bimare on January 17th.
The ‘Lesson on Rakugo’ began with the entrance of the Rakugo artist Tatekawa Shirano who is a Rakugo performer who was awarded with the National performers outstanding performance award for 2015 and who is a 2nd removed student of the renowned Rakugo master, Tatekawa Danshi. After watching the performance by Tatekawa Shirano the students were asked to perform a short version of ancient Rakugo that had been prepared by him.
In the first hour the Sakura Gakuin students of Ooga Saki, Yamaide Aiko, Hidaka Marin and Yoshida Soyoka were featured. As soon as Tatekawa Shirano made his way on to the stage he said to the homeroom teacher Mori Hayashi who had appeared in the previous day’s open class event, ‘Rhythmic gymnastics lesson’ and who had spoken only about women university students, ‘I am so sorry that I am not a woman university student’! Mori answered, ‘OK, so I will go and change into leotards!’ which caused the audience to erupt into laughter. Following this little episode, Tatekawa Shirano performed an ancient Rakugo story known as ‘Tsuru’ to serve as a sample representative of what Rakugo is. Yamaide was amazed saying, ‘even though there are no visual props it was like the scenery of the story appeared in front of my eyes’. Replying to this Shirano said, ‘That is not the work of the Rakugo storyteller but rather the result of the imaginations of those listening’. The fact that you responded like this to the story shows that all of you have rich imaginative powers.
After this the 4 girls put on pink or red Haori jackets and tried their hand at performing Rakugo. The 2 elementary school girls, Hidaka and Yoshida performed ‘Tsuru’ which was met with a warm round of applause from the Fukei who were impressed with their earnest attempts. The Jr. High members, Ooga and Yamaide performed the story, ‘Hantaiguruma’ <The Rickshaw>. Ooga put on a performance filled with originality including her unique and original call back verse of ‘Ariyo’, ‘Ariyo!’ to which Shirano proclaimed, ‘That was outstandingly interesting. It is very rare to get so much laughter out of this story! From here on out this story is all yours!’.
In the second hour which was attended by Isono Rinon, Okada Megumi, Kurosawa Mirena and Aso Maaya the two stories of ‘Tsuru’ and ‘Oyako Zake’ <Parent/child sake> were used. In her performance of ‘Tsuru’ Okada counted the cranes <Tsuru> as ‘1, 2, …’ using the counting words usually used only for people and interjected her own comic phrase of ‘Megu knows, Megu knows’ that is so familiar to the Fukei causing them to laugh in a soft and knowing manner. Aso who also performed ‘Tsuru’ replaced the main character with herself and did her story with a cute smile on her face. It was assumed that the story ‘Oyako Zake’ <Parent/child sake> would be a very difficult topic for Isono and Kurosawa since they obviously have never experienced being drunk. However, they both skillfully acted as if they were actually drunk astounding both the Fukei and Shirano. Apparently Shirano researched about Sakura Gakuin and he said that he particularly liked the graduate student Horiuchi and even used her name in ”Oyako Zake’ <Parent/child sake> when he performed it as a sample. Picking up on this, Isono included a imitation of Horiuchi in her storytelling performance much to the delight of the Fukei.
The third hour was attended by the 3 members of Kurashima Sara, Okazaki Momoko and Fujihira Kano. First the 3 girls watched a performance of ‘Tsubozan’ by Shirano. Following this they each did performance of the same story, ‘Tsuru’. Finishing her performance, Kurashima said with a smiling face, ‘It was surprisingly enjoyable. The Zabuton <cushion> is God, isn’t it? That feeling of sinking into it gives on a feeling of security and relief’. Okazaki agreed saying, ‘It is God. The words just kind of descend into one’. As with the first hour, the third hour members also performed the story ‘Hantaiguruma’. With a look of absolute confidence on her face Fujihira proceeded with her performance while spreading an air of confusion throughout the hall with her addition of a mysterious ‘Zaaaa’ vocalization. When she was asked what the strange that she was making was all about after she finished, Fujihira gave an totally out of the ballpark answer of ‘I was moving over the ocean!’ sending the Fukei into laughter. In conclusion Kurashima skillfully gave a performance of ‘Hantaiguruma’ that faithfully reproduced the sample performance of Shirano. The Fukei awarded Kurashima with a hearty round of applause for her performance that was so fitting for the girl who will be in her final year at Sakura Gakuin from this April. This however turned out not to be the final act as on the urging of Shirano it was decided that Mori-sensei would also perform ‘Hantaiguruma’. He brought the show to a conclusion borrowing heavily from Ooga’s performance and sweating a bit under the pressure as he did. Following the conclusion of the third hour Mori and Shirano held a after show talk which kept the Fukei laughing right up until the final curtain came down on the day’s open lesson.
We have asked these four Sakura Gakuin members, you do know that ‘your first performance in the new year is an open class performance’, right?
With just a slight amount of time remaining in the year, you know that you have only 3 months left being in Sakura Gakuin. Of the remaining events in this Nendo the events you will perform will have increased in power until you graduate and none of them can we afford to miss! Taking a turn in direction from the last interview ‘http://www.entamenext.com/news/detail/id=1696 we have asked, the Jr. High 3rd grader, Ooga Saki, the 2nd grader Kurashima Sara, the 1st grader Okazaki Momoko and the elementary school 5th grader, Fujihira Kano to talk with us. In our approach of not getting to much into the brass tacks of things we at Entame NEXT want to continue on in a soft and non-obtrusive manner to approach the next topic of ‘The first performance in the new is an Open Class show’. …Please look forward to what is covered!
*This media coverage was on December 7th.
— To begin with, thank you all for your work on the 2-day Debut 5th anniversary performance!
Kurashima Sara – (Hereafter referred to as Kurashima) Since this 5th year anniversary is so important for not only Sakura Gakuin but also the Fukei-san, we worked hard to exceed our normal practice sessions. In the real performance we were greeted with a surprise from the initial SG members and we got so excited that Fujihira Kano fell down and (there was an occurrence where when I set Fujihira down from a shoulder ride in ‘Wonderful Journey’ and she missed her landing point) that happened, but I felt that we all enjoyed all of that anyway!
— That double microphone was really wonderful! (On the second day in the middle of ‘Kimi ni Todoke’ the microphone slipped out of the hands of Hidaka Marin but Kurashima immediately picked it up. And she went on to perform the song with the microphone held in two hands) It was truly amazing that you were able to perform so cooly in that situation.
Kurashima – (With a wry smile) I am sorry. Somehow or other… I was wondering at first ‘what should I do?’.
Ooga Saki – (Hereafter referred to as Ooga) Hey,…it was just by chance that the choreography called for making a fist and was just at the perfect timing.
Kurashima – (With an expression of ‘That’s so right!’) Yes, yes, yes!
— With that kind of occurrence of a somewhat concerning kind of fine play like that it seemed that Fujihira-san landed on her face. Didn’t that hurt?
Fujihira Kano – (Hereafter referred to as Fujihira) Eh!? NOT AT ALL! I was totally fine. And, you must know I landed with my hands softening the fall!
Okazaki Momoko – (Hereafter referred to as Okazaki) Yes, she moved in a fashion like a frog (Laughs)
Fujihira – I may have moved like a frog but I did properly protect my head. More important than all that I was able to appear in the 5th anniversary live show and that made me so ha….(with a bit of a gap) ppy!
Everyone – (Laugh in unison)
— Fujihira-san are there scenes that particularly made a big impression on you or ‘I am so glad I could sing this song’ that stayed with you from the 5th anniversary live performance?
Fujihira – I was so happy that I was able to sing ‘Mikansei Silhouette’, ‘Jump Up ~ Chiisana Yuuki ~ ‘, and the new song, ”Kirameki no Kakera’.
— It was amazing that you being the smallest in the group were able to perform all with the others on this most difficult dance songs, ‘Let’s Dance’.
Fujihira – (Spilling over with energy) Yes!
— (Pulled in by her super energy) OK, thank you!!
Everyone – (Laugh in unison)
Jr. High school 3 grader
Education committee Chairperson/Kitaku club ‘Sleepiece’/Tennis club ‘Pastel wind’
— Looking at things from your perspective as a 3rd grader wouldn’t you say it was quite a difficult task to get all 12 members to perform ‘Let’s Dance’ in unison especially with some members doing so for the very first time?
Ooga – Yes, I guess so. The dance movements to this song differ in style from the dances we usually do in Sakura Gakuin so the way to move our bodies differed as well so some members were really good at it and some were dancing that way for the first time so….
Kurashima – That is right.
Ooga – And so we practiced over and over! And maybe exactly because of that we got into the choreography of it rather quickly. Everyone practiced at home, right? (Said staring at the other 3 members with an expression of ‘Hey, you practiced enough, right?!’).
Everyone – (Laugh in unison)
Kurashima – Saki-chan was a bit scary just now! (Bursts out in laughter)
Okazaki – Yes, she was a bit scary at the end!
Fujihira – A bit….(gives a wry smile)
— Looks like you put the pressure on (Laughs). Watching you all perform ‘Let’s Dance’ I got the feeling that Kurashima-san was really good at locking (A type of dance. It is characterized by suddenly freezing up the movements of parts of the body into a pose). Is that so?
Kurashima – Eh, really? The style of dance I learned early on was Hip Hop so while you can’t say I am good at it at least it is something I have practiced.
— I see. That makes sense. For Okazaki-san and Fujihira-san it was your first anniversary live performance. How was it for you?
Okazaki – Yes, well, at the end Matsui Airi-san and Miyoshi Ayaka-san made a surprise appearance and there were many troubling happenings so it was all very memorable. And to be able to perform ‘Let’s Dance’ and a new song….(Sinks into deep thought)…it was truly fun (said with an explosive smile).
Everyone – (Burst into laughter)
Okazaki – Yes, it was really so fun! (Laughs)
— And additionally on the first day in the theatre part of the show KYG (referring to the Wacha Wacha group- ‘frightening Yeah army’ composed of Okazaki, Aso and Fujihira) made an appearance. Wow, that totally free feeling that was strangely stable and reassuring was truly interesting! And even when you all disappeared from the stage in a manner like R.Y.U.S.E.I. At the end you all exited clapping out the rhythm.
Everyone – (Laugh in unison)
Okazaki – That is true. We made it through OK!
— Also, on the first day the music suddenly stopped in the middle of ‘Planet Episode 008’ and yet somehow you continued on by clapping out the rhythm and singing a capella! Is that kind of what it felt like?
Everyone – Ah, yes that sounds right!
— In the end you had to reorganize everything after that. Did the teachers teach about what to do in the case that the an incident like, ‘the music stopping in the middle of a song’, should occur?
Ooga – There are two patterns-one where we ‘keep performing as is’ and one where we ‘stop and reorganize.
Kurashima – The both occurred at the same time.
Ooga – That’s right! The 12 members were divided into those who thought we should continue and those that thought we should reorganize. However, Rinon stopped so we recognised we should ‘stop and reorganize’.
Jr. High school 2nd grader
Science club ‘Science research team Logica? Ver. 1.2’/
Baton club ‘Twinklestars’
— At that time, were there some members who seemed to be indicating that ‘we should continue as is!’?
Ooga – The music stopped right during the Kinsei part and so those three (Kurosawa Mirena, Okazaki Momoko, Aso Maaya) seemed pretty firm on continuing on. (Laughs)
Kurashima – They were doing that! It was right when they were trying to be cool, right? (Wry laugh)
Ooga – And then they got tapped on the shoulder by Rinon. (Laughs)
Kurashima – With a nuance of ‘Hey, hey slow down!’.
Everyone – (Laughs)
Ooga – But I feel it was a good experience for us.
Okazaki – (Said with force) Yes, it was!
Fujihira – Yes!
Ooga – Even though it is called a 5th year anniversary with the members changing each year I would say that most of the members of Sakura Gakuin this year do not know the original initial year members. And so I think that amongst the transfer students some of them may not have really understood what it was all about. I think some may not have gotten a real grasp on what went on for 5 years until we came to appear on that stage. But, when the graduates Ayaka-chan and Airi-chan said that, ‘the Sakura Gakuin that we have now is proof of the hard work and growth of the Kouhai’, I feel the transfer students grew one step deeper in their feelings toward Sakura Gakuin. I myself had never before appeared on the stage with those 2 girls but I felt a revived feeling that ‘Sakura Gakuin is a long running connection’ and so I hope that served as a good motivation for them.
— That is a thoughtful and lucid statement that sounds fitting of the Education committee Chairperson. Thank you!
Okazaki – Trying to unrealistically sum up the event with a comment like, ‘It was fun’, makes me feel a bit embarrassed.
Everyone – (Bursts in laughter.
— Really, Senpai Ooga-san really said a wonderful comment. And more than that I am really fascinated in the way Kurashima-san who is sitting next to her is looking upon Ooga-san!
Ooga – She was looking at me the whole time. (Laughs)
— She had her gaze fixed firmly upon you sitting just about 30 cm to one side. What was up with that? Was she trying to absorb the good parts of the Education committee Chairperson?
Ooga – Ah, wonderful <or, ‘Ah, I am great’-hard to tell>
— Or, perhaps she was not happy with Ooga-san and was glaring at you.
Ooga – Eh?
Okazaki – Ah, she was really looking at you with a serious look on her face!
Kurashima – (Trying her best) No, no that is not it! (Laughs) I was simply thinking that we are sitting way too close to each other!
— It seems that Kurashima-san is still trying at present to separate from Ooga-san. (Laughs) OK, we have had a fun time talking about the 5th year anniversary show, but we also asked you 4 members here to talk about the open class shows as well. Have all of you been informed about the contents of the upcoming open class shows?
Everyone – Yes!
— On the 16th of January there will be a ‘Rhythmic Gymnastics class’ taught by a teacher from the Tokyo Women’s College of Physical Education’s Gymnastic’s club and on the next day, the 17th there will be ‘Rakugo <Japanese ‘sit down’ comedy> class’ taught by Tatekawa Shirano-sensei. By the way, have any of you ever seen a Rakugo perfomance?
Kurashima – No.
Fujihira – Yes. <or, saying no as in agreement with Kurashima-san, hard to tell>
Ooga – It is not…so familiar for us…
Okazaki – I have seen one.
Ooga – Never..(after a short gap) Desu!
Everyone – (Big laughter)
— I am unclear on why you paused there, but anyway this means that it will be a first time experience for all of you. Alright, so who here has experience doing rhythmic gymnastics?
Fujihira – Ah! Yeah….
— Oh, really you have practiced rhythmic gymnastics before?
Fujihira – I did it at a house of a friend who is studying it and I went for a sample lesson at a rhythmic gymnastics classroom. But, I have never actually studied it.
Ooga – Chiyahahaha (Laughs)
— That was quite an unusual way for you to laugh, Ooga-san. But, Fujihira-san you do have some degree of interest in it, correct?
Fujihira – Just a little interest!
Everyone – Oh!
Okazaki – But you are soft and flexible…in your face!
Jr. High school 1st grader
Cooking club ‘Mini Pati’
Okazaki – No, no, I didn’t mean your face, I meant your body!
Fujihira – (Poking her cheeks with her finger) My face is soft too.
Everyone – (Laughs)
Ooga – The other day in school we did apparatus gymnastics and I felt that maybe this is connected into rhythmic gymnastics. And so I am looking forward to see how Saki who is good at apparatus gymnastics will do (looking down on everyone with a smug look).
Fujihira – Eh, that is called apparatus gymnastics.
Ooga – (With an air of superiority) Yes, and it is also called mat gymnastics. I have a bit of confidence with this!
— But, when Ooga-san challenges something with an air of confidence like this, for example on LoGiRL or at open classes usually it ends up wihtout you doing anything of greatness, I feel.
Ooga – In the end…in the end, yes (wry smile). Yes, that is right, I can’t do it, you know. Really.
Everyone – (Laughs)
— Hmm..well, even if you ability at something there are times when you can’t execute something properly. But, really I wonder what you will be doing.
Ooga – Yes, that’s right! We don’t know what we will be doing.
Fujihira – But if they have a horizontal bar I want to try it.
Okazaki – No way. I don’t like the horizontal bar !
— I didn’t press the issue just a bit ago but that is a true apparatus gymnastics style. (with a bitter smile) Rhythmic Gymnastics makes use of ribbons and balls and things like that.
Ooga – Ah, that is right!
Kurashima – That is so true!
Okazaki – (Pretends to be spinning a ball around) Like this, right?
Fujihira – Is that right? I didn’t know that! (Astonished)
Elementary school 5th grader
— Plus you wear leotards in a manner like that of the anime ‘Tacchi”s Nan-chan.
Fujihira – Ah, that one? I was a bit confused. (Wry laugh)
Kurashima – If it wasn’t that kind of gymnastics it would turn out to be quite a tough open class (Laughs).
— If you were suddenly told to ‘do a giant swing’ on the horizontal bar I am sure the Fukei-san would get all nervous and worried as well. (Laughs) I think Ooga-san must be good at Rakugo, don’t you think? One of the main characteristics of Rakugo is the ability to act the part of multiple characters as they appear in the story.
Ooga – Is that right?! (With a not so displeased face) I guess it seems I will be good at it! (Said with finality)
Kurashima – There she goes again!
Okazaki – That side of Ooga-san has popped up again! (Laughs)
Fujihira – Even though she can’t do it as well as she says she can!
— Just now weren’t we saying ‘you can’t depend on Ooga-san confidence’?
Ooga – Nah. (Laughs) It is, you know, like that…you tell a story, right? And you do things
like eat soba.
— Oh, you know it well. That is a famous part of an act called, ‘Toki Soba’ <Time soba>.
Okazaki – I don’t understand this at all!
Ooga – I like the act of performing like that so …. I should be good at it. Perhaps (Laughs).
Everyone – (Burst into laughter)
Ooga – Even though I say that, I can never pull it off. Just letting you know my secret!
Okazaki – Hahaha… You have admitted it to yourself. (Laughs)
— How about you, Kurashima-san?
Kurashima – I have never seen Rakugo and don’t know much about it…. (Wry smile). More than that I am just worried about whether I will be able to talk well.
— That is the crux of the issue. You have to speak a great deal all by yourself. If you are not good at MC then it would be a bit worrisome.
Fujihira – Plus if we don’t know Rakugo I am afraid the teacher will get angry at us.
Okazaki – Yes, I have a feeling that we will definitely get angered at!
Ooga – We have to practice up.
— Since there will definitely be Rakugo shows on TV during the New Year so it might be a good idea to watch some. OK, since starting in 2011 there have been 33 Open Classes. Which ones made a deep impression on each of you?
Okazaki – Ah, it would have to be that one. The ‘Thing’ one….
Kurashima – The ‘Class on inventions’?
— The one with the unique foreign teacher (Joseph Tame-san) that was performed in August of last year, right?
Okazaki – Yes, that one made a big impression on me.
— I am pretty sure that the Okazaki and Ooga team didn’t complete their invention within the allocated time, right?
Okazaki – We didn’t finish!
Ooga – Ah, I hate thinking about that! It all came back to me….
Okazaki – I had the vinegar ready to go.
Ooga – Hey, we really thought things out, you know! And because of our deep thinking on things we were really confident.
Okazaki – And then, the Sara-chan and Mirena-chan team was just too strong…right?
Ooga – The level of competition was too high! In the end the Jr. High 2nd grade teamwork was overwhelming!
Okazaki – (Looking at Ooga in a mysterious way) ….but you are a 3rd grader, right?
Fujihira – In spite of you being my Senpai!
Ooga – Eh! That 1st grader did that….
Everyone – (Big laughter)
— Do you mean that Okazaki-san pulled you down?
Ooga – (Looking towards a staring Okazaki) Eh? I may have said things like that. (Laughs)
Okazaki – Ahahaha..(Laughs) This is so fun.
Ooga – No, wait that comment was a bit too strange.
Fujihira – You said it yourself and already you are regretting it. (Laughs)
Ooga – You know we needed a bit more teamwork. Cause, you know at that time, Momoko had just transferred in and all.
— It was in August so at least 3 months had gone by. (Wry smile) Ooga-san, do you have an Open class that stands out in your mind?
Ooga – Yes, that one where we took pictures…
— That would be the 2013 September 1st ‘Portrait class ~ Lets take and have pictures taken’.
Okazaki – Oh, that was 2 years ago!
Ooga – We would pair up and take strange pictures of each other mutually and then present the best ones to the Fukei-san! But at that time Saki had never created an adult looking or kind of princess looking expression in her life and so this class was kind of a way for me to burst out of my shell and be able to show more mature kinds of expressions.
— So, you had the Fukei-san look at the pictures you took and had them pass judgement on them! And for the next part of this we will hand it over to Kurashima-san!
Kurashima – The ‘Image performance class’ with White A-sensei, right? At that time I did not know of White A-sensei. After that I was able to go to his live performances and he came to Sakura Gakuin shows. The thing I was most impressed by was that he would point out our bad points and give us advice.
Fujihira and Okazaki – Wow!
— So, a real authentic teacher. And finally how about Fujihira-san?
Fujihira – Sho, sho, sho, sho…..(calligraphy X4)
Ooga – You mean the ‘Calligraphy class’? Writing, writing, writing?
Fujihira – Writing? …Writing! The impression I got from that class was really strong!
— I see. You mean out of the things you experienced in this Nendo for your self? The ‘Language class’ with Furukawa Miyoko-sensei, right?
Fujihira – Hmmm… I am with Momoko-chan taking the ‘Invention class’. I made a pair of glasses that you could wear in class, go sleep and not be detected. That I … invented.
Ooga – Eh, did you actually use them?
Kurashima – How were they when you used them?
Fujihira – Now.. well, you know.. I am using them perhaps?!
Kurashima – Heee, no way you are using them!
Everyone – That is so obvious! (Burst into laughter)
Ooga – That is right, she is not using them. It is OK though as in most cases we don’t use what we make.
Okazaki – Yes, well, plus (With a smug look) in our case we have no need of them anyway!
— Well, anyway that definitely seems like a fabrication (Laughs). With that I hope this time’s Rhythmic Gymnastics and Rakugo will create great memories for both the students and for the Fukei-san. By the way, there are only 3 months left of the 2015 Nendo and soon we will come to ‘The Road to Graduation 2015’.
Okazaki – Yes, this year has already come to a close.
— And so we really hope that everyone will come to the Open Class where we can all meet for the first time in the new year.
Everyone – Yeah!
Ooga Saki, Okazaki Momoko, Fujihira Kano, Kurashima Sara
Sakura Gakuin is gaining in even added momentum following the conclusion of their ‘Sakura Gakuin 5th Anniversay LIVE ~ for you ~’ which is a live performance celebrating 5th anniversary held on December 5th and 6th. Commenting on this 2 day live performance which displayed among a variety of topics, a surprise appearance by graduate students and a new song are the 4 members of Jr. High 3rd grader, Shirai Saki, 1st graders, Yamaide Aiko and Okada Megumi as well as Elementary school 6th grader, Hidaka Marin. Without getting too heavy and overbearing and in the backdrop of our Entame NEXT unique soft and gentle mood the girls talk about ‘How the 5th anniversary live show’ really was occasionally saying some silly and fun comments. With that, we hope you will enjoy the talk!
*The interview was carried out on December 7th.
–Thank you all for your hard work on the 2-day 5th anniversary live performance. I totally enjoyed all the shows over the 2 days, but especially the skit that was performed early in the first day show following the opening ‘Chime’ was really excellent. I am sure that other than the seasoned seniors there must have been many Fukei-san who were unsure about what is the truth and what is not concerning this remake of the performances of first the 2011 Nendo graduates Horiuchi Marina-san and Satou Hinata-san and then Kikuchi Moa-san and Mizuno Yui-san.
Okada Megumi – (Hereafter referred to as Okada) We practiced pretending to fail a lot!
Yamaide Aiko – (Hereafter referred to as Yamaide) That looked really hard to perform.
— The Sakura-demy <Play on academy> award winning level of performance made the Fukei-san in attendance scream out with spontaneous calls of ‘Megu!’ and ‘Megu, Ganbare!’ (Laughs)
Okada – That is true. Somehow or other I feel I need to say sorry….
Yamaide – Yes, but actually it is more difficult to perform a mistaken skit that a real one, you know (Laughs)
— That is so. To perform a song like this that has been presented so many times and to do it in such a dramatic way and deliberately make mistakes is just about unheard of.
Okada – That is so but in the end I myself felt I couldn’t tell which was real and which was the mistaken version (gives a wry smile).
— Absolutely. That situation where you start off with a mistake and go on to further fall apart was amazing and it seemed so real including your facial expressions.
Shirai Saki – (Hereafter referred to as Shirai) Yes! That was so well done!
Jr. High 3rd grader
3rd Talk Chairperson/member of Purchasing club
— Of course your FRIENDS BARI friendship performance after that with Yamaide-san was really impressive. Have you perhaps polished your acting abilities since receiving the Sakura-demi award at the School Festival?
Yamaide – Really? No, not at all, you know.
Shirai – However, Aiko also did a lot of training.
Yamaide – I was practicing up until 10 minutes before opening curtain.
Okada and Yamaide – (Voices in perfect harmony) We were practicing together!
— You lined up perfectly there (Laughs)
All together – (Thunderous laughter)
— OK, lets get back on track. Could you tell us your impressions of the 2 days?
Hidaka Marin – (Hereafter referred to as Hidaka) On both of the 2 days we were able to present our new song, ‘Kirameki no Kakera’ <A sparkling shard> and I really felt like we ‘became unified as one’ with the Fukei-san who cheered us on at the concert hall and with the Fukei-san who were watching through live viewing. It all made me happy and I had a really fun time.
— Of course ‘Song for smiling’ which makes great use of your proficient English abilities was fantastic, but I personally was blown away by the scene where you sing after coming through the door when you are called ‘Wa ~tashi yo ~bu ~ koe ~’ <a voice that calls me>.
Hidaka – Thank you so much! (Said shyly)
Yamaide – I was able to perform with Megu (Okada Megumi) and there were many songs we performed for the first time in this show, but I was so very happy to be able to revitalize the song ‘Let’s Dance’ which is a particularly traditional song in the stock of Sakura Gakuin songs and was only performed once by the 2011 Nendo unit. Additionaly, the fact that this show was shown as an opportunity for people to watch in live viewing which is something we had not even imagined could be realized made us so happy to know that people all over Japan who wanted to see us live could watch the show!
Jr. High school 1st grader
Member of the cooking club, ‘Mini pati’ and the baton club ‘Twinklestars’
— I am sure that the Fukei-san living around the country and those in the Kantou area where you are not able to travel to so easily were very happy. By the way, of all the Sakura Gakuin songs the one that is perhaps the most difficult to dance to is ‘Let’s Dance’.
Yamaide – That is so. While there is also the song ‘Motte Ike! Sailor Fuku’ I am sure the coaches feel that this one is really difficult as well.
Okada – I also really practiced this at home. I am not so good at squating down and moving….on many occasions I asked my mother to watch my movements and give me advice. My grandmother would watch me and say, ‘You need to lower your hips more!’. (Laughs)
— You wrote about that in your diary as well, right? I find it hard to believe that someone like you who has studied how to lower your hips and move with your center of gravity lowered would find this too difficult. Regardless, I am sure that your mother and grandmother must have been able to watch this actual scene on the stage with ease.
Okada – Aiko also said the same worried whether I would be able to perform this part of the scene or not. But doing the performance… if at all possible I came to like Aiko even more.
— So, as we assumed you two are actually really fond of each other, right?
Everyone – (Loud laughter)
Yamaide – (Speaking shyly but with force) We are not so in love with each other’ (Laughs)
Shirai – But just this morning you were chopping at Megu, right?
Yamaide – Today she said ‘I am really busy so could you buy lunch for me?’. I bought what she wanted but in the end she forgot that she had asked me to do so and she went out and bought lunch on her own. That is why I hit her with a cross chop!
— I see. The chop is not like the ‘Bop on the head’ like you see in girl’s Manga but more like the graduate student Taguchi Hana’s chop ‘with both hands formed into one’. And recently I see so many pictures of the two of you together in your recent diaries.
Shirai – Recently they are in love once again.
Okada – Yes, recently we are in love, you know.
Shirai – (While smiling with a malicious looking smile) But, I am sure your period of tedium will come in the near future, don’t you think?
Everyone – (Laughter)
Yamaide – Meg getting all close to me…is ….you know a bit….yucky, you know (Said with a wry laugh)
Shirai – Ahh…that means that Aiko’s period of tedium has already arrived perhaps.
Okada – (Hugging Aiko sitting next to her with a look of surprise) Eh!
Yamaide – I am not good at her sticking next to me like this (wry laughter)
Okada – (separating from Aiko with a look of loneliness) I hear you.
Shirai – You both have to adjust to each other mutually.
— Shirai-san, you really seem to be grown up. When we got into the sticking love flow of talk just before, Yamaide-san seemed to try to not make eye contact with Okada-san. (Laughs) Well, let us try to be a bit conscious of the spacial distance with our partners, Okada-san. And so, next, on to the Talk Chairperson, Shirai-san!
Shirai – This performance the new Nendo members had a number of new songs to perform including ‘Kirameki no Kakera’ and ‘Let’s Dance’ as part of a really content packed performance. And although we had less time to practice than we had with the School Festival leading us to be running against the clock, I was so happy that we were able to perform all the songs without mishap!
— The songwriter and lyricist for the the new song that we mentioned before, ‘Kirameki no Kakera’ is cAnON.-san. In the ‘OVERTURE vol. 005’ that goes on sale this month features a dialouge between Mori Yuriko-san and cAnON.-san in the Sakura Gakuin special. For that feature I asked a bit about this song and apparently this is ‘cAnON. Verse on full steam ahead and is created as a song perfect for the Sakura Gakuin 5th anniversary live show.
Shiari – It really is a great song.
Hidaka – It is a good song, you know.
Okada – It is truly a masterpiece.
Yamaide – Or better said, every song of Sakura Gakuin is a masterpiece!
— THAT is so true! By the way, when I asked them about this song in their dialouge they answered that it is a song that is a ‘summation of the 5 years of Sakura Gakuin’s history’. So, how about singing this song? When you actually sing it, is it a difficult song to sing?
Shirai – Hmm.. I wonder …. It is broken up minutely into parts with each grade singing a separate part and so I feel it is really interesting. Perhaps?
Yamaide – If you read each line one by one you realize that there is a lot of nuance included in the lyrics so you can read a lot of variation into it and so it is both difficult and at the same time, interesting.
— As we are now, we all hope you will plow ahead singing in the remaining live performances. We hope you will bring out your attractiveness to its full potential. Also, both day’s shows featured the surprise appearance of SG graduates. The 2013 graduates also seemed really happy and healthy in the video message they sent.
Shirai – Yes, they all looked so happy.
Yamaide – So incredibly happy! (Laughs)
— And especially it was so long since the last time that Sugisaki Nene-san showed herself to the Fukei-san, and it was so wonderful to see the initial Sakura Gakuin students of Miyoshi Ayaka-san and Matsui Airi-san come out and sing together with you.
Shirai – That is so true. But this time there were many graduates who are so busy that they could not come to the event. But that can not be helped.
Yamaide – True, but Nenedon came.
Okada – And, Raura-chan….
Hidaka – And (Honjo) Yunano-chan as well!
Jr. High 1st grader, Science club (Lojika?)
— And in the midst of their busy lives there are the Senpai who came to cheer us on at the concert hall and there are Senpai who are busy traveling along their own SuperLady paths who support us from the sidelines. I think the ‘Sakura Gakuin bond’ was conveyed firmly to the Fukei-san as well. Next, from your viewpoint of being a ‘presently active Fukei/Shirai Saki’, could you reflect on this 5th year anniversary live show?
Shirai – Wow, there are so many things to talk about. First of all, ‘Let’s Dance’. I think this was quite a highlight of this show. Since the average age of the members this time was so young, I frankly think that many people did not assume we could perform to this level. And so one stand out point was that we were able to show this gap between expectation and to what degree we were able to really sing and dance. Further, ‘Wonderful Journey’ which we sang as a medley is one of my favorite songs to dance and perform. It made me so happy to enjoy this song that I like so much as the Fukei-san waved their flags along with us. And so, next time I hope we can perform a full version of the song.
— I see. So in the end this ‘Raura problem’ was masterfully avoided and has not been resolved completely. By all means I hope that you will be able to perform in full someday (Looking somewhat towards the teacher’s room).
Shirai – Let’s do it!
Yamaide and Okada and Hidaka – Lets, lets do it!!
Teacher’s room – That is fine, IF you have a way to resolve the ‘Raura problem’.
Shirai – So, that is why I thought about this, right?!
Yamaide – Raura-chan could come and sing with us. Each time (Laughs).
— Just for 1 song?! Well, anyway, that could be the next graduate student appearance. Lets look forward to that perhaps happening next time (Laughs). But, she did come to teach you for ‘Let’s Dance’, right? Was she strict?
Shirai – Yes!
Okada – Yes, she was.
Hidaka – Bishibashi! (Doing a gesture like swinging a whip).
Yamaide – But, that is not actually true, don’t you think? I think she was really kind…
Elementary school 6th grader, Cooking club ‘Mini pati’
— Does that mean that she was scary when she was an active member?
Yamaide – It is not really like that (smiles wryly). There is an image that Raura-chan = scary regarding new students but rather I would say she kind of, ‘puts one into high attention mode’.
Shirai – It is true that all the new transfer students say that but in actuality it is not so, I think.
Yamaide – In my case it may be because I had one full year to perform and study with her that I felt she was extremely friendly.
Okada – Yes, she would teach us each part piece by piece in detail.
— From the viewpoint of the transfer students this Nendo she would perhaps come across as being a bit of an older Senpai and have a bit of a strict image. How do you feel, Hidaka-san?
Hidaka – (in a soft tone) Yeeees.
— For you, Hidaka-san, how was this 5th anniversary live performance?
Hidaka – A 5th year anniversary….(drops into deep contemplation as she moves her hands in mysterious way as if pulling something out of the air)
Shirai – We were often paired up in the songs we performed this time. That goes for the dance in ‘Mikansei Silhouette’ and the new song, ‘Kirameki no Kakera’ as well.
Hidaka – There are so many times when I get paired up with C-chan, and when we make eye contact and sing, ‘I am about to be caught, I feel I am about to be swallowed up’, we grip each others hands firmly, ‘Gyuggyu’. (Laughs)
— Is that a secret type of play only for the two of you?
Shirai – You could say ‘play’ but it is more of a type of communication.
Okada – If we are going to talk about this, then I can say WE do it as well.
Yamaide – We do it ‘SOMETIMES’ only.
Okada – We do it ‘ALL THE TIME’!!
— What is this? Are you trying to make a plea for the ‘in love’ theme again?
Yamaide – No, I don’t want to draw attention to that (Wry smile)
Shirai – ‘Noroke’ <Showing off their love> (Laughs)
Yamaide – It is not something to draw attention to but the Sakura Gakuin members decide the things that they want to enjoy we each other all by themselves.
— You also face each other and make eye contact, don’t you.
Shirai – That’s right. In Sakura Gakuin we pair up and also often do choreography with the members all entwined together and these are things that I hope everyone will pay close attention to and enjoy in our shows.
— Next time we will pay close attention! By the way, recently Yamaide-san is really quiet and reserved. Before I think you were more aggressive.
Yamaide – Eh, really?! Personally I have no intention of being like that.
Shirai – She is not aware of it herself.
Hidaka – Eh, Aiko-chan is always so bursting with excited energy, right?
— Hearing that I would love to play the recording of our last interview for Hidaka-san. Especially in the open class on physics….
Shirai – That is true. In the past she was really talkative! (Laughs)
Yamaide – (Quite seriously) Just knock it off! I was a bit strange at those times. I was just
full of nervous energy…(Laughs quietly)
Okada – Ah, ah at that time Aiko was really going off the wall. I remember that!
— Well, anyway that is one of the special characteristics of the period of growth.
Yamaide – I have grown up! I don’t know how to express it but…(Laughs)
— Alright, lets return to the subject of the 5th anniversary live show. How many songs did you perform for the first time again?
Shirai – There were many.
Everyone in unison – ‘Let’s Dance’, ‘Jump Up ~ Chiisana Yuuki ~’, Sleepwonder’, ‘Mikansei Silhouette’, Kirameki no Kakera’!
Yamaide – So, there were 5 songs we performed for the first time.
— Concerning one of those songs, ‘Sleepwonder’, last year Taguchi-san caused a stir by asking who would be in charge of playing the role of the ill mannered cat. Are you all OK with Maaya-san being chosen to do so?
Okada – ‘Nyannyan’ feeling (said like a car purring)
Hidaka – (With cat like gestures) Nyannyan.
— Why is it that Hidaka-san has jumped on the phrase that Maaya-san uses in her diaries so often? (Laughs)
Okada – This cat has a different kind of a Nyannyan feeling to it but it does resemble Maaya a bit.
Yamaide – Since Maaya can act out as an energetic cat as well as a silly cat she is really perfect for that role, I feel.
— Yamaide-san, didn’t you want to do that role?
Yamaide – If asked for directions this cat would not respond. It is kind of an ill natured cat, right? That kind of cat….
Shirai – What, do you mean your image would be tarnished if you did that kind of role?
Yamaide – That is not what I meant! (Laughs)
Everyone – (Big laugh)
Yamaide – Conversely I thought that image ‘would be suitable for me perhaps’ but cats have slanted eyes and that differs in looks from me.
Okada – You have droopy eyes. That is right.
— So that means that you are all convinced she was the right selection, right?
Everyone – (Again with voices in unison) Yes!!
— Speaking of first performances, we can not forget about the medley that came up a bit ago in Shirai-san’s comments. However, that was a totally new linkage. The editor of ‘OVERTURE’ was expecting to hear his/her favorites, ‘Otome Gokoro’ and ‘Kita!’ but the medley ended before they appeared. (Laughs)
Everyone – (Big laughter)
Shirai – Right, just he first part, ‘Uouuou’ (Laughs).
— When you practice for medleys do you practice each respective song in whole or do you practice with them lined up in connection?
Shirai – In a connected state. Since there are no gaps it is quite difficult to work out the breathing between each part.
Hidaka – Yes, you get out of breath…
Shirai – Also, you have to move into different formations one after the other.
Okada – But, it was a lot of fun.
Everyone – It was fun.
— As Shirai-san wrote in her diary it would be great if you can fulfill her desire to perform all of the songs in the good condition you are all in now.
Hidaka – I would love to make that happen!
Shirai – In a medley you do part by part including ‘Otome Gokoro’ (Laughs). It would be wonderful to at least put parts of each song in. That of course includes ‘Sakura Hyakunin Isshu’!
— If you do it in a ‘Otome Gokoro’ format bit by bit, it just might be possible.
Yamaide – Yeah, like just have the introduction play and not sing or something like that. (Laughs)
— Yes, just dance the first choreography and finish (Laughs). By the way, is there in existence a choreography for ‘Sakura Hyakunin Isshu’?
Shirai – Yes! It ‘seems’ there is one.
Yamaide – But, only Rinon-chan knows it.
Shirai – That is right. There are no video images of it.
— By all means please convey that to us by the time you graduate. I hope you will make part of your tradition from next year on!
Why is the Idol group that ‘does not put on Handshake events’, Sakura Gakuin able to continually create star after star
Miyoshi Ayaka who is being praised for her performance as the heroine, Shanin in the TV drama ‘Angel Heart’ (Nihon TV) appeared on the November 23rd ‘Shabekuri 007’. She talked about preparing for her role as a former assassin and revealed her special training methods.
When they were introducing her career history on the show she mentioned on her about having previously being a member of the Idol group, Sakura Gakuin. She also touched upon fellow members, Matsui Airi who has appeared in J:COM’s commercials, ‘Dokonjou’ and ‘DoShinpuru’ and in such movies as ‘Tsuugaku Densha’, as well as Babymetal, the 3 member band that fuses together Idol with Heavy Metal and is now extremely popular all around the world.
Recently, Sakura Gakuin which sends graduates out into the world filled with great potential and promise became the subject of attention when it was discovered that its member Okazaki Momoko is the daughter of the comedian Hakata Hanamaru. On December 8th, Sakura Gakuin will be celebrating its 5th anniversary since its debut. Sakura Gakuin carries out its activities from a very unique standpoint when compared with the countless number of other Idol groups.
5 years ago riding on the boom of AKB48 all of the major production companies were pumping out Idol group after Idol group into the entertainment world. Stardust Promotions which is a production agency that is home to such major stars as Shibasaki Kou and Kitagawa Keiko scored a major hit with the major debut of MomoIro Clover. And through its first huge Idol audition process, Avex came up with Super Girls.
Sakura Gakuin also belongs to a major production agency, Amuse, who hosts a large number of very popular artists such as Southern All Stars, Fukuyama Masaharu, Ueno Juri and Yoshitaka Yuriko. However, they differ from other Idol groups in their policy of being a ‘limited to the period of growth unit’. The members are compose a group of girls from elementary school to Jr. High school who as a rule graduate as they graduate from Jr. High school. In line with this, the group centers around ‘school life and school club activities’.
At its outset it was set up to differ from other Idol groups. Speaking honestly, some people came along and said it was set up for Lolita lovers. But, Sakura Gakuin went on to hold ‘Open lessons and other live events that went beyond the live performances that aligned with their ‘School life styles’. The members performing as students of the school learned about everything from dance to music, art, science, Haiku and other subjects covering a wide range of subjects with teachers invited to teach on their area of expertise with these subjects turning into songs.
From this were born such groups as the ‘Baton club, the cooking club’ and the newspaper club that featured the tall girls of Miyoshi and Matsui. Babymetal was also a school club unit that sprang from Sakura Gakuin as the ‘Juuonbu’ club <Heavy sound club> which went on to perform in a wide range of influence.
And the thing that is decisively different from Idol groups is that they do not carry out Handshake events with their fans. These Handshake events that have changed from being a ‘special feature’ of Idols groups to becoming a ‘common, of course you will do that’ feature changed with Sakura Gakuin where the fans are called ‘Fukei’ <literally Father/son, or guardian> where the Fukei function to look over and protect the activities of Sakura Gakuin. Of course there are a lot of fans who call for Handshake events but in the concept of Sakura Gakuin it would be strange for the Fukei to ask for a direct handshake type of contact. Sakura Gakuin is set up to healthily and soundly create an environment where the fans who are often of an age that would be equivalent to being the parents of these elementary and Jr. High school girls can work as fans.
They do not use the sales of their CD and other products as being a ticket for Handshake events. Perhaps partly because of this, Sakura Gakuin has yet to break into the big time. However, while there are many Idols who disappear from the public once they graduate from their Idol group, Sakura Gakuin has delivered Miyoshi and Matusi and of course, Babymetal, who are extremely active and popular even after they have graduated from Sakura Gakuin.
The girls may be thought of as being too early to leave when they graduate from Jr. High school and must also graduate from Sakura Gakuin. After all the peak of Idolness is when a girl is in High School. But because the girls are able to cut off with dramatic fashion the image of being an Idol that they are able to go on to be actresses and models. It is not the aim of Sakura Gakuin to become the top Idol group, but rather to produce girls who can become prepared to truly fulfill their aims after they graduate. This is actually just like a real school that prepares students to do their best once they enter the adult world after they have sufficiently studied.
From the viewpoint of the production agency it would be more merit-filled to produce girls who can continue to perform for a very long time once they have graduated instead of simply dropping off the screen once they have ceased to be teenagers. This could be said to be something that only an agency of the massive size of Amuse could attempt to do.
This year in May, Miyoshi uploaded a picture of herself with the Kouhai members when she went to see the Gakuin Transfer student ceremony (an event that introduces new students) to her Instagram account. She already looks like a guardian of the other elementary school and Jr. High school members in the picture. We can see from this that she has a strong love for her ‘home school’. This school will continue to create stars following in the footsteps of Miyoshi and when we can stand back and say ‘wow, once again a star has been born’ we can say that Sakura Gakuin has been a successful endeavor.
Interview: Sakura Gakukuin ‘s Shirai Saki and Otomeshintou’s Ogata Mayu
A dream come true talk between two ‘Idols who love Idols’
This is the realization of a talk between Sakura Gakuin’s Shirai Saki and Otomeshintou’s Ogata Mayu.
This is a talk with 2 girls who love Idols concerning their hope to talk about wanting to ‘wanting to talk about Idols’ taking place between this summer’s ‘Tokyo Idol Festival 2015’ and the ‘@Jam Expo 2015′.
This is set up to talk frankly about the Tokyo Idol as we have heard concerning the idea of ‘Lets talk about Idols as we have heard about them’. We will begin with their respective heart felt talk about Idols including Ogata Mayu’s talk about her handshake events continuing on to talking about Idols!
-Lets start the conversation. You both seem so nervous…
Ogata: Well, yes… I am really nervous.
Shirai: This is the first time I have spoken with an Idol-san like this and so I am nervous. But, that said, I am really looking forward to today’s talk.
-To begin with, what led you each to each other?
Shirai: I learned about Mayu-chan from a video of the first 6-member formation of Otomeshintou-san at their first stage performance at the TIF 2014 sky stage performance. At first I felt that since they loved Idols they were in line with my feelings and because of this they were able to perform to their full potential and I came to love them more and more as I watched their cuteness.
Ogata: That really floors me. (laughs) The first time I knew of Shirai-chan I realized that she was performing as an MC like I was assigned to do.
-The first time you both talked with each other was the TIF 2015 show.
Shirai: When I was able to greet them on the rehearsal day of the TIF 2015 show I was totally unable to talk with her….That was a Doll Factory location, right?
Ogata: That is true. I was only able to say, ‘Please look upon us favorably’.
-It was after that that you started to communicate with each other….the Jam EXPO 2015.
Ogata: Really just about 30 minutes before our show Shirai-chan came to our dressing room and we were able to talk about Idols before the show.
Shirai: I thought that this would be the last time we could meet and so I plowed ahead with what we could talk about. (laughs) And so I am soooo happy that we could meet again!
-Celebrating your reunion, we hope you will talk as Idols to your heart’s content (laughs). Please tell us about your most favored Idol Fan history talk.
Shirai: I began originally with Sakura Gakuin. This was the same agency and I became aware of Sakura Gakuin and this led me to become interested in Idols. At first I thought AKB48-san was really good, and then I was able to watch many other Idol-san after becoming a member of Sakura Gakuin and I became a fan of upupgirls-san, Otomeshintou-san, Passpo-san and from Passpo-san this led to Palet-san.
-Even though you have become a member of Sakura Gakuin you are a big fan, right?
Shirai: I know them from before they started performing, right from the beginning (laughs). I really liked them all, the whole unit. I would look upon them with their differing ages and think, ‘this girl will go on to high school and become a star, and I hope this girl will polish her ability…’ and I watched them like this.
-It would be interesting to continue this talk along these line (laughs)
Ogata: I would love to do so.
Shirai: I think I got excited and spoke too much (laughs). Since becoming a member I continue to give advice to as a Senpai, and from my view point as a Fukei I talk to them like, ‘This girl has this good point and so she should perform like this, right?’ and still see them from this angle as a producer. The same Jr. High school 2nd grade members Kurashima Sara and Kurosawa Mirena really make me think about how they will perform this year. I wonder how they will be with both of them being fans of deep sea creatures. (laughs.)
-Don’t you Shira Saki-san get involved in their talk?
Shirai: I love to look upon their conversations.
Ogata: Your love is amazing!
-As we continue to talk about this from the very beginning (laughs), please tell us your history as being both hard core Idol fans.
Ogata: At the very beginning I was influenced to watch AKB48 from a fan who loved Idols and I felt wow, Idols are really amazing. And it was from that that I became a big Idol fan (laughs). I really began to like SKE48-san, NMB48-san and HKT48-san and also Star dust-san. At first I really liked Momoiro Clover and then watched Ebichuu-san, Shachi-san, Takoyaki Rainbow-san and then on to what I like now, 3B Junior-san.
Shirai: The age of the groups you like keeps getting younger and younger (laughs)
Ogatga: Wow! You have seen through me! Now, I like groups that are between 12 and 15 years old!
Ogata: The age of artists in Sakura Gakuin is the perfect age zone. The time that the girls change from ribbons to neckties really changes the atmosphere of the group (Note: the time when the girls go from elementary school to jr. High). When they wear ribbons they are cute but then they change to neckties and immediately become adult in feeling. I really like this feeling of them growing into adulthood!
-Who do you really support and like in Sakura Gakuin?
Ogata: Of course, Saki-chan!!
Shirai: Thank you very much!
Ogata: Her cleverness spills out into everything she does.
Shirai: I may actually be clever within the confines of Sakura Gakuin (laughs). Since the other members are so child-like I am often said to be mature. That may lead to this feeling of me being adult-like, maybe?
Ogata: My mother said to me that she is more mature than me. (Note: Ogata is 1 year older than Shirai)
-What is it again that they call you in Sakura Gakuin? Was it not, aunt Shirai?
Shirai: No, they called me Office lady! They did not say I was Aunt Shirai! (laughs)
-Sorry about that! So they do not call you Aunt Shirai (laughs).
Shirai: I may appear to be so (laughs), but I think they say that because what I say is more adult-like. I like reading and studying.
-What influence have you gotten from your friends?
Shirai: My friends are all really smart. But as for the members of Sakura Gakuin…welll…(laughs)
Ogata: I wonder also about the intelligence of the members of Otomeshintou. In our group we have the problem child of Tajime Ayame <yellow> (laughs).
-What do the two groups think of each other?
Shirai: When Otomeshintou was a 4 member group they had a very clean, innocent feeling about them and now they are really cute. Their title songs are really bright and fun while their new song ‘Do you believe in Tsuchinoko?’s coupling song ‘Lets go with our chests held high’ shows a feeling of a gap with that sense of innocence. I really like this song.
Ogata: I am so happy that you listened to our coupling song!
-So, you know Otomeshintou from the time they were a 4 member unit?
Shirai: Yes, I do not know about them in detail but I learned about them after getting a CD from someone. After that I got interested and since they are of the same age group I really have paid attention to them.
-What is your impression of Sakura Gakuin, Ogata-san?
Ogata: There was an attached Sakura Gakuin PV DVD with a copy of ‘Chao’, and that is how I knew of them. I was a big fan of Miyoshi Ayaka by reading ‘Nikopuchi’ and I felt that they were a group overflowing with a feeing of cleanliness and innocence. Also, I love school uniforms and wished that I too could wear a Sakura Gakuin uniform.
-How do you feel with a member sitting right in front of you?
Ogata: Perfect! She looks wonderful in the uniform. The perfect color of the jacket and the feeling of wool is really nice. I really like that combination. I think it is really beautiful and while know that they are asked to wear it I get the feeling that it requires one to do their best until they graduate when they are 3rd graduate.
Shirai: Hmm… Actually the uniforms are all newly issued uniforms for Sakura Gakuin (laughs). The ones that have a sense of wool are ones that have been handed down from the Senpai. The jackets and the vests are used for 3 years and are embedded with sweat in the neckties (laughs), and I really like knowing that the thoughts and feelings of the Senpai are imprinted in what we wear.
Ogata: So, you get the uniforms from you Senpai. That is really cool.
Shirai: I like the brown colored uniforms of Otomeshintou-san. This time’s uniform is really cute and it has the face of a Tsuchinoko. (looking upon Ogata’s uniform), ‘Is this a fang?’ It is really cute….. I wonder about your hair decorations as well…wow! I can see Tsuchinoko1
Ogata: Ahhh… I am embarrassed and happy at the same time. What should I do? (laughs)
-By the way, how have you taken your experiences of being an Idol fan up until now and applied them to your own life as an Idol?
Ogata: Since I often used to go to AKB-san’s handshake events I would often talk about how ‘I would be happy if they talked about this or that’ and I knew that myself included many Idol fans do not approach the Idols aggressively. And so, I think it is a good idea for Idols to put themselves in the place of their fans and to speak about lots of things.
-OK, so right here and now lets have you do a sudden handshake event with Shirai-san.
Ogata: Eh? My hands may be perspiring…. (laughs)
~The first handshake event for Shirai Saki and Ogata Mayu!
(Shirai gingerly takes Ogata’s hand from the aisle.)
Ogata: Ah…Thank you…. How was today’s event for you?
Shirai: You were very cute!
Ogata: Thank you so much! I am waiting for you so please come again (Super smiling face).
-Wow, Thank you so much for that.
Shirai: So cute!!
Ogata: This can’t be good.
Shirai: I have come to like her even more!
Ogata: I am glad we did that!
Shirai: I had heard that the response to all the fans for a Otomeshintou handshake event was fantastic and so I had always wanted to go to one. I am so happy I could shake her hand!!
-Amazing that Ogata-san has the handshake magic to make a real life Idol fall in love with her (laughs). Changing the subject, what would you think about you two mutually changing places in your respective groups?
Ogata: I am sure that all the fans would flow to Saki-chan…
Shirai: No, no way.
Ogata: I am sure that the Talk chairperson, Saki-chan could neutralize the sharp, biting style of MC talk that I use. In Otomeshintou there is not a single girl with such straight black hair as she. She is so pure and clean!
-The uniform could be playing a big part of that. She might look different wearing a Tsuchinoko costume.
Shirai: Ah, yes I would love to exchange costumes with her. And I would love to dance and sing, ‘Tokimeki Paradox’….’Me, too’. (laughs)
Ogata: I am sure you would be cute!
-How would it be if Ogata-san joined Sakura Gakuin?
Ogata: In Otomeshintou everyone calls me their ‘younger sister’, but there is absolutely no way that anyone would say that in Sakura Gakuin. There are so many girls who feel like younger sisters that I would come across as a real full blown older lady. If Saki-chan plays the part of an office worker, I would play the part of a middle aged woman (laughs).
-That is too bad (laughs). And in Sakura Gakuin there are club activities as well.
Ogata: Speaking of their club activities, I would love to try my hand at the really cute, Mini Pati!
Shirai: Absolutely! I think it would be cute. Also I think Otomeshintou-san would be great performing ‘Verishubittsu’.
Ogata: It would be great if we can actually do that someday.
-This may be a rather big topic, but do you have an image of your ideal Idol?
Ogata: There are so many cute Idols out there already that I hope to become an All Mightly Idol along the lines of Sashihara Rino-san. Looking at things in the long term I feel that that way I could continue on in my career after finishing as an Idol. (laughs)
Shirai: I hope to be myself as I am without damaging the image of Sakura Gakuin and then going on to be a cool woman as other graduates have already done. I have not decided anything about my future yet, but there are many things I would like to try. I have been getting a lot of advance about future plans from the Sakura Gakuin graduates.
Ogata: That is wonderful that you can get advice. I am a new member and although I have with me the Senpai of Ayame-chan and Yurika-chan, when I try to consult with them it usually turns around to me giving them advice. So, I think I will just try things out on my own. (laughs)
-In the future is there something you would like to try with your two groups?
Ogata: A group battle would of course be interesting, but first of all I want to see a live Sakura Gakuin performance. I would love to go to Saki-chan’s graduation ceremony.
Shirai: Please, by all means! The graduation ceremony has a very unique atmosphere to it. The Fukei-san also come dressed in suits as opposed to the normal event and women Fukei-san come dressed in Kimono. It is just like a real school graduation ceremony with our names written on the graduation diplomas and everything. By the way, we sell diplomas in their case with a picture, please check it out. (laughs)
-Two girls posing happily together in the Purchasing club pose!-
-That sounds like something a member of the Purchasing club would say (laughs). The two of you really talked about a lot of things today.
Ogata: I learned a lot. Especially I learned to ‘make anything into a product for sale’.
Shirai: If you make whatever the members use at live shows into goods the fans will make them into their own possessions.
Ogata: I too hope to take possession of things that my favorite Idols have.
-Is that the concluding point of today’s talk? (laughs) OK, in conclusion could you both give us
your impression of today?
Ogata: I am a shy person. And so I was quite nervous from this morning. But I feel I have never talked so frankly as I did today and I fell ever more in love with the cuteness of Saki-chan and so when I go home I will gaze into pictures of Saki-chan on my Smart phone (laughs)
Shirai: Thank you (laughs). I thought I would never get to meet her and even planned to go to a handshake event if I couldn’t. I am so fulfilled being able to talk about so many things, and I came to love Otomeshintou-san even more and I was even able to really shake her hand! I hope in the future we can perform together, exchange music together and as a member of the Purchasing club I hope we an come up with some collaboration goods (laughs)!
Babymetal, charging ahead with a powerful punch throughout the world ever since their inception in 2010. These girls have make a global movement in locations throughout the worldwith their 2014 World Tour and serving as the opening act for Lady Gaga. In 2016 they are scheduled to perform a solo show in April at the world-renowned Wembley Arena in London. Regardless of whether they hope for this or whether it is their fate, there is no doubt that these girls have evolved to play on the world stage. How do these still teenage girls feel about and consider this role that they play? Moametal states, ‘We don’t think that we have changed at all. While we are now on TV quite a bit and we are in the public eye, we can still walk down the street of any town and not be recognized at all. The other day there was a really interesting happening. (saying this she looks at Su-metal and Yuimetal) We went to a family restaurant the other day and the people sitting at the table next to us were talking about Babymetal. But, they were totally unaware of us. It was really nice to know that they were only saying nice things about us, but we were really anxious about what was going on.
While she spoke like this we could see her smiling face filled with a great sense of confidence. What we felt was not simply happiness but more a sense of strength. This confidence of theirs certainly comes from the numerous live performances they play both in domestic Japan and overseas.
Su-metal went on to say, ‘We always had a sense of a very strong group bond including the staff we work with. But as we continue to perform these overseas shows and travel and eat together this bond has grown into a sense of being part of a family, of being part of a team. Our feeling that we must perform each show with a great sense of correctness has not changed and it is something that we will continue to make sure does not change. Whether we play a small live house or a big arena we always talk with each other saying, ‘We need to perform as we always do’. From our experiences so far we have learned that we can not perform to our best if we get into a panic state. We feel that it is best if we perform at each show in our usual manner.’
‘Performing in the usual manner for real concerts’ no matter what genre one talks about is a very difficult task to carry out. But the girls say that this is something they are able to do.
Yuimetal adds, ‘We have been together now for 5 years as a unit. We are who we are because of the many hardships that we have encountered. Whatever happens we all work together to support one another and so we are able to overcome anything that comes our way. Because we have that kind of confidence we are able to face anything with out fear and with a sense of an ordinary state of mind. We often look at each other’s faces and expressions as we are performing. By inquiring into each other’s facial expressions we are able to know what the others are thinking and in what situation they are in. So, if one of us is having a potentially difficult time we are able to send a look of, ‘Are you OK?’ and if things are going super great we tap each other on the shoulder signifying, ‘All looks great’.
They have performed a great deal of concerts. Even though they are teenagers one wonders, don’t they ever get tired?
Moametal answers, ‘No doubt we do use a great deal of energy. However, we get way more back than that from the fans who are there with us. And moreover, when we eat the local food of the place we are performing, we are completely restored. That includes the delicious food as well as the rather unusual, right (said looking at the other members). I think the other members will agree with me that we really liked the sausages and potatoes we ate in Germany. Everything was so delicious in Germany we would get extremely excited everytime we heard it was time to eat! We always eat way too much when we perform overseas. But, apparently we are able to burn it all off because we are always moving so much.
London is a special place
When one is talking with these three baby fox like girls sitting in front of oneself it is hard to tell if they are adults or are they are children, are they tough faced girls or are they cute. But that is their charm you would have to say. Their real identity is hard to grasp. They are a kind of surreal entity. And exactly because of this, their every movement, every action fascinates us so much. I feel that I really want to follow how they we continue on their path.
These girls who continue to challenge the limits
The world is chasing after these girls
The Metal dance unit, Babymetal-the receivers of this time’s Discovery award.
Given to honor their incredible activities so far as artists that are the focus of attention of the entire world and to show that we expect great things from them in the future as well.
Yuimetal continues, ‘Anyway, during the first part of 2016 we want to do our best to get ready for Wembley. Since we have still only played at a limited number of locations inside Japan we hoope to perform at many more new places’.
Moametal goes on to say, ‘London always presents us with a good opportunities. It is a location that serves as a turning point for us. We are certain therefore that this time as well will allow us a chance to discover new sides to ourselves’.
Su-metal takes over saying, ‘We have done our absolute best to absorb as much of the culture of the localities we visit on these overseas tours as we continue to learn more and more about Metal as we travel the globe. In the song ‘Road of Resistance’ there are the lyrics, “If you believe, you can travel ahead even on a pathless road”. That is exactly the situation we find ourselves in now. While we may not be able to see the finish line we know that our aim is to bring the music that only the three of can perform to as many countries and to as many people as possible’.
It is long past the point where the girls could even fit into the costumes they wore when they debuted. The three girls have grown in big jumps every year during these past four years. It is the special right of youth that it is able to grow in an almost limitless fashion.
It can be expected that the full frontal attack of Babymetal will continue smoothly in 2016 as well. It is very possible that next year at this time these three will not be able to sit down together for dinner or to walk around town together. Even if that becomes so we can be quite certain that the three girls will continue to look ahead and plow into the future. It is very likely that these girls will venture into realms that no other Japanese artist has ever reached.
-We have never before, nor ever will we be afraid of anything.
Babymetal accepts the ‘GQ Men of the year award’ with the statement of ‘We are women who are the only ones, without a second’
Babymetal received the ‘Discovery of the Year’ award as a special award for their ‘GQ Men of the Year 2015’ award.
The ‘GQ Men of the Year’ is an award that the magazine ‘GQ Japan’ has been holding since 2006 and it honors the men who show overwhelming activity in the each respective category. The award Babymetal was granted, ‘Discovery of the Year’ is a special award for people who can be expected to go on to great accomplishments and was established for the first time with this year’s award.
The 3 members of Babymetal made their way on to the stage to receive their award following the appearances of Matayoshi Naoki, Hakase Tarou, Suzuki Ryouhei, Matsuoka Shuuzou, Yoshida Kotarou and Goroumaru Ayumu. The girls smiled happily after receiving their trophy from the ‘GQ JAPAN’ editor, Suzuki-san. Representing the group, Su-metal took the microphone and said, ‘We are very happy to be granted with such a lovely award today. Thank you so much.’
When asked her impressions upon receiving the award at the Talk session, Su-metal said, ‘We wonder with a feeling of unease about whether we are worthy of standing alongside such wonderful people on the stage and yet we are very happy about it. We want to give this award to the wonderful fans who have supported us for so long.’ She went on to look back on this year’s activities saying, ‘It was a year filled with many new experiences including a 10-country World Tour and the reception of music awards in England. We were able to spread the music that we think is interesting to a wide range of people and found that so many said, ‘Babymetal’s music is really interesting’. ‘We sing in Japanese but at our live performances the overseas fans sing along together with us. Now that we know that music can overcome the barriers of language, we hope to be able to convey our music to a large number of various people’, said Su-metal expressing her future wishes.
When asked by the MC what is her ‘conception of the ideal woman’, Su-metal presented a placard upon which was written, ‘Yuuitsu Muni’ <Only one with no second>, meaning that we wish to ‘become an only one presence on this pathless path’ and will serve as a model for the ideal woman for those strong in mind. On the other hand, when she was asked, ‘In what situation do you wish you had been born as a man?’, she answered, ‘When I attempt to lift a heavy object I think, “Ah, if only I were a man” displaying a soft smile. Su-metal’s cute answers softened the hearts of Yoshida, Matsuoka and the other men who received the ‘GQ Men of the Year’ award.
Sakura Gakuin studies the importance of communication from TBS announcer, Yoshikawa Miyoko at their ‘Language class’
Translated from a ‘Natalie’ article
On September 20th Sakura Gakuin put on an Open class event titled, the ‘Language class’ at Mt. Rainier Hall, Shibuya Pleasure Pleasure.
The instructor for this event was Yoshikawa Miyoko who is currently working as a freelance announcer and who after joining TBS in 1977 went on to a career there as an announcer and anchorwoman for 37-years. With such impressive achievements as serving as the Principal of the TBS announcer’s school for 12-years, she is truly a professional when it comes to “conveying information through words”. Making use of the methods she employed at the TBS announcer’s school Yoshikawa utilized her skills to teach the girls of Sakura Gakuin at this open class.
In the first hour attended by Isono Rinon, Yamaide Aiko, Okazaki Momoko and Fujihira Kano Yoshikawa spoke about the just how important the voice is in carrying out effective communication. Following this she had the girls one by one state their current school grade and their name along with examples of the bad points in their way of speaking that have been pointed out to them by others and she then went on to give advice to each of them on how to correct their way of speaking. Regarding the fact that Yamaide used ‘Okaasan’ instead of ‘Haha’ <different ways of referring to one’s mother that differ in politeness>, Yoshikawa explained that it is not good to try to make yourself look cute by the way you speak or the words you use, rather it is better to show cuteness through the contents of what you say. Next, the 4 members learned how to create what is called, ‘The zero voice’ which refers to a one’s most relaxed state in which one’s emotions are left out of one’s speaking voice. To study this they tried out pronunciation drills used in the TBS announcer’s school. In conclusion, to strive for better and smoother ways of speaking they did pronunciation drills where they held their lips in check with both hands and spoke without opening their mouths.
The 2nd hour was attended by Ooga Saki, Kurashima Sara, Kurosaki Mirena and Hidaka Marin. After the girls worked with pronunciation drills they were asked to talk about what each of them had for breakfast and about their grandparents. Kurosawa chattered on about her grandfather who really likes fruits which was met with a high evaluation by Yoshikawa. Following this the 4 members worked on a simulation where they were to guide Mori Hayashi to the Mt. Rainier Hall Shibuya Pleasure Pleasure site through the telephone pretending it was his first visit to Shibuya. The Fukei-san were amazed at the ability of the youngest member of the 2nd hour, Hidaka as she guided him clearly and precisely using the easily understandable landmark of Shibuya 109. Meanwhile, on the other hand, Kurosawa ended up leading Mori Hayashi to an totally unexpected direction because she could not envision a realistic map inside her head. Kurashima introduced a high level set up when she changed the starting point from Shibuya station to Tower Records and while there were moments where she shed tears in the end she was met with a huge round of applause from the Fukei-san when she safely guided Mori Hayashi to the Mt. Rainier Hall Shibuya Pleasure Pleasure location. The eldest member, Ooga attempted to guide him starting out from the Ginza line’s Shibuya station but since Mori did not know the Ginza line station he ended her attempts saying he would ‘ask someone else’. The girls truly got a taste of the difficulty of conveying information through their hardships.
The day’s final and 3rd hour class was attended by Shirai Saki, Okada Megumi, Aso Maaya and Yoshida Soyoka. The 3rd Talk Chairperson, Shirai Saki revealed her sophistication of that role through her smooth flowing reading of weather information in the pronunciation segment. Following this segment, the girls read aloud from their respective favorite books. Yoshida read from ‘The Nose Knows’, the first piece in the ‘McGurk Detective Organization’ series in a very cute manner. Aso read the last scene from a story that she really loves, ‘GonGitsune’ from one of her 4th grade textbooks in rich, emotional tones.
Okada who had selected the picture book, ‘Kuma no ko u-fu <Ufu, the baby bear>’ first relayed the story that she had been brought out of being blue this summer because of a verse in the book, ‘I am made of the stuff of me! Ufu is made of the stuff of Ufu!, and then went on to read each word with such expressions of love that the whole audience was wrapped in emotion. And finally, Shirai read from Natsume Soseki’s ‘Kokoro’ in a relaxed, calm manner. Throughout the 3 classes that varied widely in content, Yoshikawa continually stressed the main theme of ‘the importance of desire to communicate’.