Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Millenium Girls: Sato Masaki x Kudo Haruka

Cool-up Girls Vol. 1 (April 2014)

The big opening feature
Millennium Girls!
Middle school idols taking over the scene!

In this so-called Idol Warring States Period, there are many idol groups currently flourishing. Having to balance school life and work as an idol, they are intently doing their best. Amongst them are the so-called 'millenium' generation of those born around the year 2000, and it's remarkable how these girls in middle school are flourishing. And thus, the editorial department felt that there should be a discussion with this next generation, and would like to try tackling in this in a feature that puts the spotlight on idols currently in middle school. Well then, let us have a careful look at what these girls are thinking about now, and what their goals are for the future!!

Cool up Girls Front Special 01
Sato Masaki x Kudo Haruka 
from Morning Musume. '14

With a concert tour from March, and a single release in April, plus commercial appearances; it's getting harder and harder to tear your eyes away from Morning Musume. '14! From their ranks, we will be care~fully asking these 2 girls from the 10th generation, Sato Masaki and Kudo Haruka, about their activities as middle school students and their thoughts at present, as well as about Morning Musume. '14 in the future!

You two happen to be the same age and in the same generation, but there's a complete contrast between both of you (laughs).

Kudo: That's right, completely (laughs). Maachan was born in May while I was born in October, but Maachan seems like the younger one.

At the 10th generation auditions, what did you think of each other?

Kudo: She was a girl who did things at her own pace. She was frolicking around, and it felt like that she was there to make friends. Since I wholeheartedly wanted to get in, I thought that, 'This girl's completely unsuited for this' (laughs).

Sato: I was always trying to talk to Duu. Things like, 'What's your name?' But, she'd end the conversation by curtly going, 'Haruka'. It made me think, 'How gloomy. Such a waste, despite her cuteness' (laughs). I was doing things like playing tag during the audition, but seeing Duu's concentration and her focus on her dancing, that left an impression.

Kudo: I practised a lot with Ishida Ayumi-chan. Since Ishida Ayumi was giving it her all towards the goal. While Maachan, in comparison, was artless.

Sato: I thought about wanting to do my best too, but my mother had told me to enjoy myself.

You didn't just enjoy the lessons, but you really played around and enjoyed yourself, right (laughs)?

Sato: Since I hadn't danced before, I really didn't get what it meant. When we were first assigned a song to do, I was made the centre, and the mood turned into one of 'Why this kid?', but I wasn't involved with the sides.

In the end, 4 of you were chosen.

Kudo: I was surprised. The question of who would pass, it went beyond my expectations.

Sato: But, we bumped into each other (laughs).

Kudo: When the 10th generation was unveiled at the Budokan, we joined in with the senpai members to sing just one song. We had to memorise the dance moves, and the 4 of us had been given videos, but at the lesson, Maachan was like, 'I haven't watched it-' (laughs). That was a shocker. The rest of us had gone all out.

Sato: I hadn't watched anything, I really was clueless.

Kudo: Since I was part of the Hello! Pro Eggs, I definitely knew about all sorts of things, and I think that from Maachan's standpoint there were a lot of things she wouldn't have known. But at that time, I was wondering why we were so different despite being the same age, I really had misgivings (laughs).

Sato: When I asked those from the same generation to teach me, they went, 'Come on, you know it'. I wasn't being told what I should do and I couldn't move forward, all I could do was just ask around. The person who helped me out was Tanaka Reina-san, asking 'What's up?'

Kudo: We'd never met a person like Maachan, a person who's beyond natural airheadedness, so we were completely clueless on how to treat her.

Kudo-san, when you were in primary school, you were always class representative, right?

Kudo: As a control freak, I'm the type of person who immediately volunteers with an 'I want to do it!', whatever it is. I even applied for the Hello! Pro Eggs myself. At any rate, it would be a waste if I only had confidence without any foundation (laughs), so I'll challenge anything.

And Sato-san, how were you in high school?

Sato: We played tag in the corridors, we shadowed our teachers until we got caught1, and we had a game where 3 of us would slip out of the classroom and aim to be the last to remain undiscovered (laughs). In winter, we'd make huge snowmen.
Initially had this down as them flipping the teachers' skirts. Kudos to maxperkins84 for the correction.

Kudo: You'd expect no less from Hokkaido.

By the way, how did you end up applying for Morning Musume.?

Sato: A friend of mine joined an idol group in Hokkaido, so I felt left behind. They were fairly well known in my home town, and when I went to an event, they were really popular. I wanted to be like that! With that in mind, I asked a favour of my father and went for auditions. I got through all four that I applied for, but the last leaflet I discovered was Morning Musume.'s, so I gave all the others up.

Kudo: At the beginning I wanted to be a person who showed up on television, so I went for all sorts of auditions.

Sato: I thought that only Americans appeared on the television.


Kudo: In Maachan's home, they were enthusiastic about English education, so I think that the only things she watched on the television were probably nothing but foreign series and overseas programmes.

Sato: I watched nothing besides the Disney channel. And so, when the news about Takahashi Ai-san's graduation was on 'Mezamashi TV', I had a glance at the video being played. I was surprised and asked, 'Why is Tokyo in there?' I had been keeping a low profile and hadn't mentioned that I had been accepted into Morning Musume., so I was like 'How do they know?'

I believe that you are now busy with your activities as Morning Musume. '14, but are you enjoying your life as middle schoolers?

Kudo: It's fun.

Sato: School is amazing, but I get a bit lonely on the way there. My house is the furthest away from my class. It takes 14 minutes.

Kudo: What's up with that half-baked number? (laughs)

Sato: From when I left the house with an 'I'm off', I immediately phoned my mother, so I got to measure the time it took for me to arrive at school. And so, it took me a lacklustre 14 minutes and 2 seconds to arrive (laughs). It's tough since I walked the whole distance.

Kudo: On the other hand, for myself, the distance between my home and school is really close. I always go together with my friends... Or rather, since I'm bad with mornings (laughs), they come for me.

Which period did you most enjoy at school?

Sato: Lunch break! This might be a bit of a no-go topic, but we went skirt-flipping (laughs). It wasn't that we particularly wanted to see what was underneath, we just enjoyed it in a normal way. It was like a game, where we were trying to win against the target whose skirt we planned to flip. Also, at lunch break everyone would go to the grounds, sit in a circle and chat. In my school grade, guys and girls just played together normally.

Kudo: At my school, I'd casually go and hang with my friends in the other classes during break periods. On rainy days, we'd play tag inside the school building (laughs). My school went through an expansion in its structure, and after that was done, the number of school buildings increased, with the buildings being really irregular. It takes 10 minutes to get from my classroom to the music room. Just getting there used up all of our break (laughs). But it turned into a maze, so it gets really fun when we play tag (laughs).

Did you work hard at studies too?

Kudo: I did. Getting back from work in the dead of night, I studied for tests. But for the areas I was weak with, my friend would lend me a ring of vocabulary flash cards, and in that case I would go all out staring at it and memorising.

Even when you got back from work and were exhausted, you studied?

Kudo: Yes. The other girls stayed up late studying too. So I'd contact a girl I'm close with, and we'd both ask each other about the things we didn't understand.

Sato: Though in my mind, I have this image of Duu having no friends.

Kudo: What!?

Sato: Since you're boyish, I feel like you'd play football outside with the guys. I can imagine Duu and the guys she'd be playing with discussing the girls they like, like 'Why is that girl so...'

Like something you'd often see in a manga or a drama, eh? (laughs)

Sato: Duu always talks about her friends, but it makes me think that she's like 'Actually, as a woman, I should be cold'.

Kudo: It's nothing like that (laughs)! All of my friends are straightforward types. A collection of active girls. So it's not like what Maachan was mentioning. We have amusing conversations, I feel like wanting to use those as replacements for MCs (laughs).

And so, does Sato-san study at home?

Sato: More than half the time, I sleep (laughs). If I can't go to school because of work, my friends would take notes and memos for me and put it in my desk.

Kudo: How kind of them.

Sato: But to tell you the truth, I don't take a look at those notes (laughs).

Kudo: Take a look at them, you~ (laughs)

Sato: For me, I'm useless when faced with a barrage of kanji. So Japanese is definitely impossible for me. While I'm thankful to my friends and I'm trying my very hardest, midway through I get sleepy (laughs). But last time, I got the kanji for 'toru2'! 
2That would be 取る, which my dictionary says is 3rd grade level

Kudo: You've only got it to that extent (laughs)!

Sato: I was so happy I almost choked (laughs). I got to understand the enjoyment of being able to study. But the journey to be able to do it is tough (laughs).

Did you find the lyrics to your own songs difficult, being in middle school?

Kudo: Isn't that true for our current song 'Toki wo Koe Sora wo Koe'? What is 'Koi ni Yaburete SanGa ari3' about? I listened to it, but I don't know its origin. I'm struggling to understand how the mountains and rivers are related to romance. The 2nd chorus' 'Itoshikute Toutosa wo Kanjiteru4' and 'Me wo Tojite Kimi no koto Kanjiru5', it's something I can't wrap my head around completely... These romantic lyrics are complicated.
3My attempt:There are mountains and rivers that can tear apart romance
4My attempt: Beloved, I feel you are priceless
5My attempt: I close my eyes, and I can feel you

Sato: Every time, I think that Tsunku♂-san's amazing for coming out with these sort of lyrics, like magic. Like reading '時空' (Jikuu) as 'Toki' and '宇宙' (Uchuu) as 'Sora'6.  Who else could have thought up such Japanese? I want to become a genius like Tsunku♂-san (laughs).
Based on the kanji, TokiSora's title would be read 'Jikuu wo Koe, Uchuu wo Koe' without any reference

And Sato-san, were you indisposed to the large amount of kanji in the lyrics?

Sato: I'm the type who doesn't really look at the lyrics, but recently I haven't been able to understand their meaning, so I've been going through the lyrics before I go on to listening to the song. 'Toki wo Koe Sora wo Koe' is a mid-tempo rhythm-heavy song. While the other A-side, 'Password is 0', is an upbeat, tight song. The 2 songs are really different.

Kudo: Their moods, right?

Sato: They're exact opposites. 'Password~' feels like it's telling you to 'Wake up!' in the mornings, while 'TokiSora wo Koe' is like saying 'Good night'. I want the people who buy it to play it with that feeling.

Morning Musume. '14 is doing well, but have you two, who are the youngest, ever thought that someday, the day would come where you'd be at the core?

Kudo: The present 10 will slowly graduate, and when Maachan and myself remain, then Maachan would be leader based on age, and I'd be next in line, and we'd have kouhai... I really can't imagine that sort of future. The day Maachan becomes leader, I'd go 'Eh?' (laughs)

It feels like you'll have become an amazing group (laughs).

Kudo: But, we'd certainly have kouhai, and in 10 years time, there'll be girls who'll have been born at the time the 9th gen joined, doesn't it boggle the mind?

Yet the two of you were born in the year that 'Love Machine' became a hit, right?

Kudo: The requirement for the current 'Golden Audition' starts from 10 years old. That means that there could be girls born after Michishige (Sayumi)-san joined in 'Shabondama'. Just thinking about it gives me the shivers, you can't help but be scared (laughs). I feel it deeply, that time really does fly like an arrow.

That's what it feels when the world looks at the 2 of you (laughs), but Kudo-san, what if you were to become the leader?

Kudo: If that time comes, that means I'd be the only one left from the 10th gen? At any rate, I don't think I can graduate leaving Maachan behind (laughs). Of course, I expect we'll already be adults, but thinking of it from the present circumstances, I think I'd like Maachan to depart first, give her a proper seeing off, then I'd graduate.

Sato: Nothing comes to mind when I think of the future. I've been like that from long ago. That's because I think that God will decide the future, and show me the way. When I'm flailing around with worry, I think 'God is currently thinking about me'. Even during the Morning Musume. auditions, the inspection period was so long that I had almost forgotten about it when I got through (laughs), God reminded me again. Perhaps Tsunku♂-san might be God, but what'll happen to me and how it'll happen, I'll leave that up to God. So if God doesn't want to raise me to the position of Leader, I'll just fizzle out and take my leave (laughs).

This might be in the future, but at that time how would you like Morning Musume. to have developed, do you have any aspirations for then?

Kudo: I'd like it if we got to the status of 'If you're speaking about national idols, it's got to be Morning Musume.' like the days of the past. Recently we've often been covered as making 'a second break into the business', so I'd like to bring the strength of performance of our current 10 members even higher, and solidify our formation dancing. Once the 12th gen enter, it would be great if we could advance with even more power.

Question Time!

Q. The first idol you looked up to was?

Sato: I knew nothing about idols. When I got into Morning Musume., I didn't even know about AKB48-san or MomoClo-san. For Morning Musume., the only thing I had done before the audition was watch the PV for 'LOVE Machine'. I got to know about all sorts of songs when I got in, which made me think that it was amazing, and I got to understand what was great about Morning Musume.

Kudo: At any rate, it started with me liking MiniMoni. My parents like Morning Musume., so that influenced me to watch them. I danced to 'Hyokkori Hyoutanjima' at the Parents Day when I was in kindergarten. I looked up all sorts of auditions, and when I got the chance to join the Hello! Pro Eggs, I thought that since I knew that it was under the same company as Morning Musume., there might be a chance to meet them (laughs).

Q. What was the first CD you ever bought?

Sato: When I was in my 4th year of primary school, I bought 'The Mickey Mouse March'. Everyone was doing it at our school's art festival, and I didn't buy the original but a musical variation, I burned the CD and brought it to school. When I was a lot smaller, the first songs I heard were English lullabies.

Kudo: It was 'Koi ☆ Kana' sung by Kusumi Koharu-san as Tsukushima Kirari in 'Kirarin ☆ Revolution'. I also liked sentai stuff, but I was really into 'KiraRevo'. The CD was only 1000 yen as usual, but that was hard as a primary school student, so I did my chores and saved up my allowance, and bought a used one for 400 yen (laughs).

Q. Your favourite school subject?

Sato: Music. That's where my results are the best. Although my fingers can't reach the length of the recorder (laughs). The other day, I went in to the music room before our music teacher came in, and changed the CD that would be played to Morning Musume.'s 'The Best!' (laughs). The teacher said 'This is what we'll be listening to today', and 'LOVE Machine' played, that was funny (laughs).

Kudo: I like the history of society. I went to watch a play which had some of my '1974' co-stars appearing, it was a story about Sekigahara, and that just happened to be what we were learning in class. So I understood the story of Tokugawa Ieyasu, and when the topic of Ieyasu came out in class, I listened while thinking 'He was that sort of person', that was fun. It's difficult to think of it as a subject, but I got interested in it through a show.


  1. These are 2 of my 3 favorite members (Riho is the 3rd). I'm so glad to be able to read this interview. Thanks very much for translating!

  2. I had the idea people online exaggerated Maachan's craziness, but reading her own words I see that isn't the case!

  3. "Sato: They're exact opposites. 'Password~' feels like it's telling you to 'Wake up!' in the mornings, while 'TokiSora wo Koe' is like saying 'Good night'. I want the people who buy it to play it with that feeling."
    Thank you so much for the translation!